The digital marketing and advertising landscape is an ever-changing world, where the technology, design, creativity and functionality improve continuously. Each and every day, there's a shiny, new toy for consumers and marketers to play with; some of these toys are merely fads that disappear in a New York minute (see: Peach), while others forever change the way we communicate and express ourselves via digital platforms (see: Facebook and Snapchat). You never know what will happen next.
2016 witnessed a variety of evolutions in the digital marketing landscape. Snapchat matured into a legitimate media and advertising platform, programmatic buying truly became an industry standard, and digital video, especially in live formats, exploded. Virtual and augmented reality platforms began to break into the mainstream.
What's in store for 2017?
Our focus, for now, will be geared toward the rise of chatbot marketing and artificial intelligence (aka AI) as a standard way for businesses to communicate and engage with consumers.
What Are Chatbots?
Chatbots, as explained by NBC, are "simple artificial intelligence systems that you interact with via text. Those interactions can be straightforward, like asking a bot to give you a weather report, or more complex, like having one troubleshoot a problem with your Internet service." Think of it like an automatic conversation machine that can talk to people in a relatively human-like way about limited subjects.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, social media and messaging apps have given way to the rise and popularity of chatbots. Facebook's properties and WeChat, a popular consumer technology platform in China, have been leading the way.
"Facebook signaled the messaging stakes in 2014 with its $22 billion cash-and-stock deal for WhatsApp. That service and Facebook's Messenger app rank solidly as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in monthly average users, according to Activate's data... Interest is intensifying. One reason is the rise of China's WeChat, a unit of Tencent Holdings Ltd. that helped pioneer wider uses than chat such as hailing rides, booking doctor's appointments, and sending money to friends."
Thanks to these platforms and their massive audiences, the use of chatbots will only continue to increase.
How Chatbot Marketing Words
Digital marketing benefits usually boil down to taking advantage of data and technology to personalize the content and messaging of the consumer, based on their interests and web habits. Chatbots put this concept on steroids.
With the improvement in personalization and targeting capabilities, chatbot marketing will become more popular with marketers as a way of sending individualized messages to meet consumers' needs. It is also a great channel for consumer engagement wherever he or she travels (through the convenience of mobile apps).
eConsultancy details a few great examples where marketers employed chatbots to engage consumers, providing their expertise and service to meet the individual's needs at that moment in time.
Sephora, the beauty and cosmetics retail store, created a chatbot on Kik, a popular messaging app. This bot would ask users who messaged it to take a quiz, which would give the bot insights into how to provide custom beauty tips, such as makeup to use and how to properly style their look.
Bank of America
Bank of America, the banking giant, created a bot that could be used across a variety of platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and SMS text messaging, where users would receive detailed information on their bank account and spending habits.
Finally, Pizza Hut is using chatbot marketing as an extension of their social media strategy to receive food orders for delivery. Now, you can place an order for a pizza right through Facebook or Twitter. Forget leaving your house, now you can get your cheesy pie without even switching tabs.
Why Are Chatbots the Wave of the Future?
The technological capabilities, customization and individuality that the chatbots can unleash could be harped upon all day. The fact of the matter, though, is that marketers love chatbots for these reasons. To them, chatbots capitalize on automation through platforms that have amassed large audiences.
To drive the point home further, here are some stats, courtesy of Pypestream, that show why marketers love the engagement that mobile messaging provides:
28.2 trillion mobile messages are expected to be sent in 2017. This number is about double the amount of messages sent in 2012.
The open rate for mobile messages is a near perfect 98 percent, which is exponentially higher than the 22 percent rate emails employ.
Six of the top apps used globally are messaging apps.
Retention rate of messaging apps is about double the amount of other types of apps.
Take these metrics on consumer usage of the platforms where chatbots are used, and combine them with the creativity and expansive technological usage. What do you get? You get a marketer's dream of reaching consumers at scale through cool technology that accrues personalized data and massive engagement. That's the power of chatbot marketing
As David Ogilvy once said, "Concentrate your time, your brains, and your advertising money on your successes. Back your winners, and abandon your losers."
If you ask me, you should back chatbots.
Author: Brian Link writes about marketing and business for Scripted