By Sonia Slattery
We’ve landed robots on mars, sent them into the unfathomable depths of the ocean, heck, they even have them scuttling around cleaning swimming pools while you laze poolside with a pina colada. Humans have explored and accomplished so much with robots, yet we’re still to create a robot that can help us keep up with the pace of the modern world. But now there are signs of a revolution—chatbots and messenger apps. Chatbots and messenger apps are the new, unexplored frontier, that is ripe with opportunities and set to boom. Make sure your business is ready for the journey.
Short for chat robot, chatbots sit within a website and simulate conversation with users. Hang on, I hear you say, this better not be like that annoying Clippy the Paperclip from Microsoft Office! It isn’t. The difference between a chatbot and Clippy is chatbots use artificial intelligence to understand your questions and deliver the answers.
And it learns
The technology combines artificial intelligence and machine learning. e.g. You have a visitor to your beautiful website. Great! An unintrusive chatbox appears, letting the visitor know they can ask a question. “What services do you offer?” they ask. “We specialise in web development, content strategies, SEO, and social media,” the bot answers. “Do you help plan blogs?” the user asks, digging deeper. “Yes, yes we do,” responds our friend the bot, warmly, and then links them to the services page. Later that day, “What services do you offer?” asks another visitor. “We specialise in web development, content strategies, including blogging, SEO, and social media,” the bot answers. Machine learning makes it easy to streamline users through your business. Meanwhile, you’re off with a pina colada while the pool gets cleaned.
This opens a new world for sales and marketing. Instead of style guides, there will be interaction guides to ensure bots are on brand. For example meet chatbot, Chaz. "Chaz is friendly, but informal, with a dry wit. He also uses contractions and when he isn’t answering customer queries, he likes reciting pi and taking digital walks on the Google street view beach.” Chatbots are going to change the way brands present themselves and interact with their customers. Make sure you’re ready because it will move fast.
The potential for the use of data collected from these bot queries is huge. E.g. if your data indicated that you’d had 10,000 users ask the chatbot where the download button was, then you’ve a clear indication of a quick win for your web team to implement. More importantly, you’ve got an answer to the mystical question, what do customers want?—without asking them a thing.
There are more than 4 billion monthly users of messenger apps worldwide, with the top four apps exceeding the number of users of the top four social media platforms. Although much of this is banter between friends, or messaging between coworkers, there has been an increase in the number of people interacting with messenger app chatbots to get information or even perform tasks.
Didn’t even have to ask
It can start pretty simply. E.g. You’re speaking with a coworker about a project and decide to have a meeting at 12pm, Tuesday. Ding! The app offers to set up a meeting request and you accept at the click of a button. Wow. Imagine if you could do the same with customers? Soon you won’t have to imagine.
One app to rule them all
That is the tip of the digital iceberg when it comes to potential. What we’re seeing is an ability for users to cut out the middle-man and search for information without leaving the app. Over 500 million WeChat users in China use their app not only to search but to book tickets, do their banking, shop online, manage their exercise plan, you name it. Their busy little lives can all be managed through the one app. Senior Staff writer, David Pearch, from Wired, said, "It takes a phone full of apps and replicates its entire functionality."
We’ve got our own bot here at Engaging Partners, HubSpot's GrowthBot. GrowthBot fits snuggly within our Slack messaging system. The technology is in beta so it’s relatively new, but we’re finding it useful, and like many others, we’re picking it to grow into an amazing resource and tool. Chatbots and messenger apps are the latest revolution, having been earmarked by HubSpot Co-Founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah to be “the biggest wave we’ve seen in technology in the last two decades.” The opportunities for marketing and sales are bountiful, so make sure you stay ahead of the race and be ready to evolve your digital marketing strategy in 2017.
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