Digital marketers should care about chatbots. Here's why.


One of the biggest announcements during the recent F8 summit was from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who opened up the opportunity for chatbot technology to merge with Facebook Messenger. So what does this mean for consumers? It unlocks even more ways to interact with brands. Users have the potential to chat with brands and get in touch with them in the same way that they’d use Facebook Messenger to talk with friends. Chatbots are AI-powered “robots” that sit within a messaging app and can turn them into a powerful tool for brands.

Consumers are already becoming increasingly comfortable with using digital assistants, like Siri and Cortana. Digital assistants are activated by voice search and provide a user with the information that they ask for. Chatbots differ because they are representing a brand and aiming to be a substitute for human interaction. They are conversational tools that will transcend the question and answer format of voice search and provide an engaging chit-chat interaction, where the chatbot can display humour, emotion and change topics. The days of being put on hold are numbered. 

Digital Marketers should keep an eye on chatbots as they have the potential to significantly impact personalisation. The challenge for digital marketers is to ensure that sophisticated chatbots can offer personality and vibrancy, instead of bland answers to customer queries. By working with chatbots and feeding them consumer data, marketers can help provide a service that can collate consumer behaviours, intent and history and create the most effective response for a customer. If marketers can use chatbots in the right way and in the right context then they can be a figurehead for brand loyalty. Competitors will aim to provide the funniest, friendliest and most valuable chatbot content. 

Creating effective marketing campaigns across a range of ever increasing platforms is a tough task, but chatbots could provide a way for marketers to seamlessly show a consistent brand voice across all platforms. Chatbots can be interlinked and updated easily and if they are integrated across all platforms then huge marketing campaigns can be tweaked and personalised easily. The data and analysis from campaigns can be used to work out what’s effective and what consumers are responding to. Chatbots allow marketers to access this information quickly and make changes accordingly. Marketers have to keep up with emerging trends, so it’s important that they can be highly responsive and adaptable. New content can be scheduled in response to changes and customers can easily interact with chatbots that carry a tweaked brand voice and this can be done across time-zones. Marketing strategy can be far more streamlined.

Consumers are increasingly expecting instant responses. When humans are behind the screens, phones and counters, they can’t physically respond to every customer within the same timeframe. Chatbots cater for the instantaneous demands of consumers by being responsive in whatever context and whatever the time of day. They will also be able to correspond with a consistent brand voice. The availability of chatbots will become something that consumers look for when choosing a brand and they’ll download apps because of this feature.

Chatbots fit into a general trend of conversational marketing that is influencing digital strategy. By having a marketing tool like a chatbot, brands can show off their personality and strengthen their ties with customers. Brands are looking for loyalty and the personalisation that’s possible with chatbots delivers this. Chatbots have the power to collate information about customers and use it to relate to them and interact with them on a humanistic level. There is massive potential for digital marketers to create seamless cross-platform campaigns that appeal to consumers and shape conversational commerce.