How would you like finding out today’s news from a discussion with a friendly robot right on your phone? What if you could purchase a shirt from the same tool that made suggestions based on your tastes?
Chatbots, interactive messaging programs powered by artificial intelligence, are helping companies connect with their customers on a more personal level. Log into Facebook Messenger or Kik and you can now talk directly with a chatbot to find the weather, see the news and even shop.
Facebook, Kik, Microsoft, Google and Skype are just a few of the big technology companies that are investing in chatbots. Over 40 companies have created bots for Facebook Messenger from CNN to Uber to 1-800-Flowers and many more are in the works.
Instead of opening a website browser or downloading separate apps, bots allow you to engage with brands all in one place. For example, open your messenger app and the weatherbot will tell you if it’s raining, a news bot will suggest articles based on your interests, and an airline bot lets you purchase your tickets, check into your flight, and will even give you updates on flight status.
How can chatbots be useful tools for marketers?
- Targeted Marketing: Chatbots learn users’ tastes and preferences over time based on their past interactions. This allows brands to personalize marketing efforts and collect better data on their audience.
- Building Engagement: Brands can engage with consumers on a more personal level with human-like conversation. This helps users develop a deeper relationship with brands.
- Sponsored Messages: Companies like Facebook are cautiously allowing companies to send sponsored messages to users if the user has already initiated engagement with them once before.
While technology companies have high hopes for chatbots – even saying that they’ll replace apps – user experience has had a rocky start. Unless users can ask the chatbot the right question and phrase it in the right way, they won’t get the information they need. Developers are working to make chatbot’s speech as natural and human-like as possible, but so far, users have been frustrated trying to get answers.
Though chatbots on mobile are in their beginning stages, they are a tool marketers should keep an eye on. The trick will be for brands to jump on early enough to be at the forefront of this technology movement, but not too early that the bugs will leave users frustrated and give up on the bot altogether.
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