Wikipedia describes bot as a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet. But, the bots have since then come a long way and now carry out countless tasks for multiple industries ranging from engineering to healthcare. Whether or not we may be aware of it, as consumers we are already using bots. We may not be able to explain what they are but use them regularly when we check our bank balances, visit online stores or order food online.
With bots getting advanced by the day, brands must realize their potential and use bots to drive their businesses forward. Marketing chatbots are greatly cutting down on costs incurred by the companies and time spent in areas of advertising, selling, promotion and feedback. Besides being cheap to set up and run, bots are also easy to program and owing to this marketing bots have become a popular form of automation.
If you’re interested in incorporating bots into your digital marketing strategy, here are some of the ways they can be used to make a business impact.
1. Customized Search and Advertising
Unwanted promotional emails are a big nuisance and generally act as a deterrent for a brand. Bots help you get rid of this hurdle. Personalized offerings are made by studying consumer interactions across multiple channels thereby increasing the brand impact. Early adopters of this system include eBay and 1-800 Flowers but now with the introduction of IBM Watson, more and more brands have joined the bandwagon. By providing a cloud-based digital marketing platform that integrates easily with other customer data sources and applications, IBM’s Watson empowers marketers and retailers to continually improve customer services. As an example, North Face, an outdoor clothing retailer uses Watson to help assistants engage in a quick ‘question and answer’ round with the shoppers to figure out their exact needs.
2. In-the-moment Customer Service
Bots provide instant and frictionless solutions to customer problems and queries without wasting time. With a small customer support team it gets difficult to handle existing and potential customers. These are the situations where bots come in. The Swedish furniture giant IKEA adopted a help desk solution by nanoRep in 2011. With the self-populating feature the company is now able to answer eighty percent of the queries about specific products, as well as general questions about the company’s premium services, including assembly and kitchen planning. This led to a significant call deflection with email queries dropping down from 10,000 to 1,000 in a month. The only precaution to be taken here is to ensure that your bot doesn’t sound too stiff and always provides solutions in a manner aligning with your company and branding.
3. Lead Management
Lead management acts often as a cause of headache. While nurturing good leads is worth the result and time but it can be quite tiring as well. Introducing bots into the system can help qualify leads as well. Bots understand the prospect behavior and score on that behavior, ensuring that quality leads are pursued at the right time by the sales people. Drift’s Driftbot works on a similar kind of software with a set of questions programed to find out the exact position of a customer in the sales funnel. The grunt work of finding quality leads is done by the bot whereas the reps handle the closing of the deal.
4. Automating the Transaction Process
Messaging platforms and voice assistants can revolutionize a bland marketing strategy. Facebook Messenger bots are probably the best and a fresh way to interact with customers. Netatmo, a smart home allows its users to operate their smart appliances simply through text commands via the Facebook Messenger Bot. In 2016, eBay also integrated with Messenger to increase its customer reach. NLP technologies like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and the likes are also on their way to transforming shopping experiences. They are being designed in a way to understand intent of questions asked by the customers, their context and words while simultaneously making educated guesses based on the customer’s chat history.
5. Risk Anticipation
Always remember your bot is an important first impression. If the thing doesn’t get through, you could lose money, time, customers and risk brand loyalty. Taking risks and managing expectations can be a huge trade off. You don’t want to end up in a position where you go about promising the moon and then end up not being able to fulfill it.
Finally, don’t expect the bots to take away or replace humans anytime soon because the management sector would always be in need of humans with empathy and conscience and above all who can negotiate. As of now such a technology doesn’t exist. The process to create a perfect marketing bot is still in progress. The day bots start sensing and responding to emotions, then they’ll finally be able to unleash their true potential in this sector. So, are you ready for the rise of bots?