Where Are We Now?
Marketing trends come and go all the time. Engaging clients and consumers alike requires in-depth knowledge about certain demographics. Moving into the future doesn’t mean that all of this goes out the window but there are new technologies that are helping marketers to offer new solutions to clients.
Marketers make calculated moves and with the rise of social media, influencers and targeted advertisements, reaching a target audience can seem harder than ever before. Competition is ever-rising and staying ahead of the game is crucial.
There are trends that come and go, and marketing fads that don’t last. So what does the future hold? The answer that keeps presenting itself is chatbot technology (chatbots).
The definition of a chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. They are designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner.
To ensure that chatbots are here to play the long game and enrich the world of marketing, it pays to better understand what they are and how they work. Our digital world is constantly expanding, and bots seem like a natural or techno-natural way of moving forward.
Imagine having a sales agent available on your website or mobile platform 24/7. A customer can come to your website, scroll through 20 to 30 product pages, fill out payment and shipping information, and so on. With a bot, you’d simply tell it what you want and it will guide you through the options. It’s as easy as asking a friend to pick it up for you from the store!
The most advanced bots are powered by artificial intelligence, helping it to understand complex requests, personalise responses, and improve interactions over time. Inside the workings of the bot it follows a set of rules programmed via a bot-building platform.
Chatbots seem to find the balance between speaking with a real person and doing it yourself online. Waiting on hold is tedious and for simple tasks it almost seems pointless. Having the option to engage with ‘someone’ on your mobile device or online and ask it questions gets you straight to the core of your query or purchase.
When it comes to engaging clients, selling product, offering service and advice around the clock, chatbots definitely lead the way. Once you have a bot up and running, it can eliminate the need to hire extra staff to handle customer enquiries, therefore saving you money.
Chatbots in Real-time
As this technology solidifies its place in the world, that hasn’t stopped it from making a mark with some of the world’s biggest brands. Starbucks, Spotify, Mastercard, and even The Wall Street Journal have been using chatbots to delight customers.
Domino’s Pizza are a worldwide company that have taken advantage of chatbot technology. When ordering online, customers are given the option of using their DRU Assist chatbot which has a casual conversation with them while ordering their pizza. Domino’s describe it best, by using machine learning and voice recognition technologies, DRU Assist can help customers order their favourite pizza, customise their order, find their nearest store and receive great offers.
Simple questions such as “What would you like to order?” prompt the customer to reply in a casual fashion, as they might with their friends. The bot then asks follow up questions to make a complete order. This process eliminates having to navigate the website which is often filled with popup promotional material. Orders come through faster, and customers feel like they have had a personalised service.
5% of companies worldwide said they were using chatbots regularly in 2016, 20% were piloting them, and 32% were planning to use or test them in 2017. It’s easy to see why marketers are pushing chatbot technology.
The Future is Now
Offering a chatbot option on your website or mobile platform is just the beginning. When we talk about the future we need to find ways to integrate chatbots into the way we operate daily tasks.
Mobile services are increasingly popular, with 2.58 billion people having access to a smartphone and the internet. Consumers are becoming aware of algorithms and how to manipulate what they see advertised.
As people research, they want the information they need as quickly as possible. Email inboxes have become more and more cluttered, so buyers have moved to social media to follow the brands they really care about. Ultimately, they now have the control — the ability to opt out, block, and unfollow any brand that betrays their trust.
Research shows that people work and socialise within a few select apps, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are some of the most popular. The future sees chatbots coming into these apps as a conversational partner that eliminates the use of another app altogether. If you were making plans with a friend, for instance, you could invite a bot into the thread to place a takeout order or call an Uber – no need to leave the messaging app to open a browser tab, or even another app.
For now, chatbots largely appeal to tech-savvy consumer already using Facebook and other platforms to chat with friends. The audience for bot technology is expected to grow as these types of communication (Facebook, WhatsApp) become even bigger. As companies become more attuned to what bots can do, they’ll promote them more widely. Marketers are ready NOW, they see the benefits of adding bots to business and have faith in their abilities.
Trends are changing and technology is advancing, the good news is that future solutions are available. Chatbots are making an impact, and might be the best thing to happen to marketing yet.
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