Since their inception in the 1950s, chatbots have come a long way. They have slowly become a part of almost every business task possible – from customer service and employee enablement to sales and many more. The results have been fruitful enough to ensure that the technology is here to stay and chatbot applications are being explored further.
Amongst the plethora of their use cases, however, one clear business field that is being revolutionized by chatbots is marketing. Customer expectations today know no bounds and it is getting harder for brands to deliver a seamless experience every single time. Companies are realizing that marketing their brand might need more than just the human effort!
The Significance of “Chatting” in Marketing Strategies
The power and effectiveness of messenger apps and texting in the present-day marketing scenario is a well-known phenomenon. Communicating via apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, or even Instant Messaging (IM) is a smart way that guarantees the success of campaign initiatives and even brand messaging. This is where chatbots are making a difference.
Marketing chatbots leverage the demographic frenzy of this millennium. It uses “texting” as a medium throughout the marketing funnel for acquiring customers, creating awareness, generating interests, and walking them through the brand offerings all the way till the actual purchase happens. Companies are able to “connect” with different target audiences via a variety of messaging modes with a marketing chatbot. To top it all off, marketing chatbots are backed by numbers that help in identifying specific KPIs. The number of clicks on buttons in the chatbot and the number of static queries asked helps identify customer orientation and preferences. If it is deployed in e-mail or messenger, the redirection to certain websites is the actual number of lead generation. Marketing chatbots even accurately capture product discovery rate (search and filter) and conversion rates (cart abandonment and checkouts). They can be a marketer’s all-in-one tool to organic/inorganic traffic measurement across individual platforms like websites, social media, and so on.
Here are a few of the aspects of the marketing ecosystem that are highly impacted by chatbot deployment:
User Experience or UX has gradually become a deciding factor for customers to make the actual purchase and for businesses to convert prospects into buyers. With booming digitalization, connectivity, mobile phone usage, and hi-tech retail features with AI and AR/VR technologies, marketing chatbots pose as a viable and effective investment for creating personalized yet consistent engagement. These bots (rule-based or infused with natural language processing) can draw traction, helping visitors navigate the brand, and assisting throughout the buying journey. The personalized messages and useful information/links reduce the time and effort a visitor spends in narrowing down the search on the website all the while creating an enriched experience. With the simulation of such human-like contact, they prove to have higher click-through rates (CTR) than traditional platforms. Chatbots infused in SMSs, IMs, e-mails, or any other messenger platforms are critically instrumental in generating leads, increasing brand awareness, and accelerating product discovery.
With growing competition and soaring customer expectations, companies strive to deliver maximum satisfaction by facilitating customers at every stage of the brand journey. One of the biggest challenges for customer service, however, is for the brand to be active 24*7 with instant and effective solutions to customer queries. Marketing bots solve this issue for good. They can take up simple support tasks like resolving queries, redirecting to desired web pages/sites, and assisting in basic food ordering to complex ones like making a bill payment or even issuing an insurance claim. This leaves an impression on the users and builds trust which is the foundation of successful marketing.
Marketers are aware of the 15-second rule. A 15-second long scroll of the website is enough to interest or disinterest prospective buyers/clients. Which is why, companies need to hook visitors (esp. new ones) in those first fifteen seconds. Moreover, 39% of people stop engaging with a website if it takes too long to load. 86% of website visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services on the homepage.
There are many such stats that clearly indicate the need for a “personal sales rep” present to assist users at different stages to make a genuine impact. Marketing chatbots have a “smart” advantage up their sleeves – an intelligent data analysis and recommendation feature. What better way to market your products and services and create a lasting impression than engaging the customers in a friendly conversation like “I understand your problems and I will help you address them.” A marketing chatbot does the same by recording past interactions and analyzing them to remember the username, requirement, preference, etc. The high scalability also enables them to initiate a conversation with website users and segregate interested users.
How have marketing chatbots been incorporated in industries so far?
A well-planned, utility-centric chatbot – be it on any platform – can connect with the audiences in a fun way while achieving the marketing goals efficiently. And that is why marketing chatbots find popularity in several industries and sectors.
Rather than visiting a company’s website, scrolling through multiple product pages, filling out forms and payment plus shipment details, a customer can simply order a chatbot to do the same. The chatbot would guide them through the various options and place the order. On the backend, the chatbot is leading customers through a series of dependent questions to gather the necessary information to understand intents and deliver the right content. Here are few of the most common and efficient examples of marketing chatbots driving revenue results and optimizing customer relations:
Apart from the widely popular chatbot “EVA” (Electronic Virtual Assistant), HDFC Bank and Senseforth also partnered to build another campaign chatbot for easy EMIs. This chatbot was used in SMS and email for marketing initiatives and campaigns.
Both the chatbots use AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the user query and fetch the relevant information in milliseconds. They slowly become smarter over time, collecting more information about their target audience and figuring out exactly what people want or need to hear. EVA has more than 40,000 conversations every day with customers from all parts of the world and has answered more than 20 million queries as of now with 95% accuracy.
By integrating a personal assistant chatbot with apps like Kik and Facebook Messenger, the cosmetics brand, Sephora, tailored a unique experience to engage teens before their prom night. Their chatbot was designed to guide customers with on-demand access to tutorials, product descriptions, and even seasonal promotions. The standout feature was that it allowed users to try any beauty product from the brand. All the customers had to do was provide a clear picture of themselves. This not only facilitated marketing the online presence of the brand but also drove sales for brick-and-mortar stores by keeping customers updated about the products and bookings available nearby.
SBI Card’s “ILA” is a customer support chatbot that has been successfully lifting the company’s revenues. Developed on Senseforth’s proprietary platform, A.ware, ILA was deployed for both websites and mobile apps of SBI Card. ILA had an accuracy rate of 97% and was trained to handle over 200 types of questions, including 42 types of transactions. It can handle static queries, FAQs, and answer transactional queries related to one’s account i.e., account summary, mini statement, balance transfer, credit limit, etc. Deployed on the premise, it had a carousel list to showcase list information followed by call-to-action buttons. The bot was very useful in lead generation and product recommendations which complemented SBI’s digital marketing strategy. Since its launch in 2018, ILA has addressed over 23 million queries, booked thousands of service requests, and helped acquire more than a 100,000 leads since inception.
A weekly subscription-based recipe and ingredient delivery service provider, HelloFresh, built a chatbot personality on Facebook Messenger with the goal of reducing average customer care response time. Named “Freddy”, this chatbot could answer FAQs and respond to common inquiries, acting as the first point of contact with the brand before involving human agents. The self-aware bot is friendly and offers bot-specific discount codes such as FRESHBOT25 and BOOZYBOT! Customized codes make it easier for the brand to track and assess the ROI. With the chatbot in place, HelloFresh has been able to decrease the response time and increase incoming messages.
English football club Arsenal F.C. uses chatbots in a unique way for timely news and content delivery. Personified as “Robot Pires”, this chatbot is available on apps like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype, and Telegram. It gives the users personalized and unique access to the club covering the latest news, fixtures, results, videos, player stats, and ticket information. Robot Pires is built on an AI chat application platform, GameOn, with the NLP engine. This makes it capable of answering not only common queries but also responding to specific requests for news, scores, stats, videos and more. Fans can personalize their experience by following their favorite topics and players, customizing their match alerts, and getting targeted updates and real-time engagement from the club.
Chatbot Marketing is the Future
One of the key things to remember when adding the chatbot element to your existing marketing strategy is to understand the differential advantage it can bring to your specific marketing goals. It can be for deciphering insights on campaign segmentation, extracting personalized product or service recommendations, or upselling a product or service.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that while chatbots have evolved into crucial tools for marketers, they are still just one component of a broader conversational marketing strategy. Marketing efficacy can be tapped from beyond chatbots, i.e. textual conversations. It can be conducted over speech (voice assistants enabled through Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Alexa), e-mail (automated email bots for recurring follow-ups and information exchange), or even sign-language! After all, with the rising sales of smart speakers, it is evident that the combination of AI and voice search is changing the face of e-commerce. Voice-based smart devices are exceeding the expectations of customers and companies are furthering their capabilities in the realm of conversational marketing.
Now is the time to experiment with bot frameworks and platforms that allow virtual assistants to connect with your customer, be it via text or speech.