This is a guest contribution by Nick Rojas
If you work in digital marketing, you already understand the challenges of keeping up with new technology. Other mediums are less subject to sudden changes, whereas the digital sphere is constantly undergoing new revisions. This makes it important for digital marketers to embrace new trends thoroughly if they want to stay competitive. Chief among such trends in 2017 is AI, which has more practical applications than ever before.
Using AI for Your Business
Artificial Intelligence used to be regarded as a pretty far-our concept, but it’s real and it’s here. Furthermore, smart marketing professionals recommend using AI for customer service, sales, and branding. One of the most flexible and powerful tools for achieving these aims is the chatbot. Chatbots come in many forms, but the most effective mimic the kinds of interactions that visitors to a page or platform might have with a human customer service representative.
There are, however, some notable exceptions to this rule. In fact, some of the most successful chatbots to date have been extremely limited in terms of their functions—a few even restrict their engagement options to binary choices. Whether you want to use a simple chat bot or a complex one is really up to you, and it depends on your goals as a marketer. If you’re trying to push new visitors into your purchasing funnel, you’ll probably want to keep things fairly straightforward, whereas those of you more interested in branding will want your chatbot to have some novelty bells and whistles. This can create significant buzz around your bot, and consequently your brand—meaning that more potential customers come to take a look at your page.
The Simple Route
Let’s look at one example of an extremely successful and simple chatbot: 1-800-Flowers.com. When you engage with this company via Facebook Messenger, you’ll instantly be given two options: “Order now” or “Customer service”. Choosing the former option automatically makes you feel like you’re past the point of deciding to make a purchase, even if you’re just curious. The latter option puts you in touch with a representative who can tell you more about the company or help to answer your questions. This keeps the customer engaged while providing the opportunity to smooth out any issues with the bot’s performance.
Then there are more complex bots like Yeshi—a bot designed to play the role of a young Ethiopian girl searching for clean water, as part of a charity’s attempt to raise awareness of the country’s water crisis. Using personal storytelling, geolocation and a host of other advanced features, the team behind Yeshi was able to create an impressive and immersive storytelling experience. People who were drawn into Yeshi’s world became much more likely to donate to the parent company’s fundraiser. In this case, a more nuanced approach was far more effective than a simple sales pitch.
Determining the right kind of chatbot for your business is completely up to you and your marketing team, but one thing is clear: no serious ecommerce organisation should be without one. Even simple bots need to be smartly created, so do some research—but make sure that you’re making the most of this technology well before it becomes commonplace.
Nick Rojas wears many hats — business consultant, serial entrepreneur, business and technology journalist. For the past 20 years, this self-taught marketing strategy has worked with small to medium sized businesses offering his personal brand of expertise. His latest adventure includes working with Brilliance.