The digital revolution gave marketers direct access to millions of people. From banners, slide-ins and sponsored posts to email, social and influencers, these tactics all provide new ways to reach new audiences. The goal is then to understand and segment an audience and create messaging to encourage them to take action; often to click, call, or buy. 

This mindset amongst marketers has created years of ‘brand broadcasting’ in the hope someone will bite. However, what if instead of trying to guess what a person wants and when they want it, a marketer could just say: "Hi, how can we help?" or "What can we do for you?"

This concept is nothing new. Shop owners and sales staff have been doing it ever since humans started selling. However, what is new is the ability to do this digitally on a personal level and at scale.

Imagine the insights marketers would gain.

The ability to learn your audiences' wants and needs directly from them. The chance to see the time of day, month or year people are asking for certain things. The opportunity to talk personally to every user simultaneously.

This is the promise of chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI). While we are not near human-level interactions yet, marketers are already using this new technology to gain greater insight into customer behaviour while ensuring optimal satisfaction. 

The ultimate goal is to satisfy both sides of the table. To fuel growth in a marketer's knowledge and understanding, while delighting customers by rapidly answering questions, giving sensible purchase advice and the right message at the right time.

One of the most cited benefits of a chatbot implementation is its always-on nature. It sits ready and willing to deal with any human 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From attracting and engaging Facebook users to help direct website visitors to relevant case studies and product information.

While this all sounds great, often overlooked is the 'always-listening' aspect. Chatbots are great listeners, and if a business gets data capture and reporting right, a chatbot provides direct and in-depth insight into a user's thoughts and needs. We are going beyond product selection and timing here, into the realms of language, behaviour, emotion and problem/solution fit. These insights can then power marketing across every function, from helping choose the best keywords for SEO, to PPC copywriting and selecting locations for the next print budget.

To ensure users are not alienated and put off by this technology, however, brands have to go through a certain level of internal change. 

Marketers almost always lead this change.

A brand needs to develop their conversational personality to deliver a consistent voice across the business. There is less emphasis on design, iconography, colour and font and more on personality, tone, use of humour and vocabulary. Not only do marketers need to ensure a chatbot matches a brand, but they must also guarantee it will match the audience.

Although still rapidly evolving, chatbots and AI are making an impact and look likely to become a key channel for customer service and marketing. In fact, our recent research amongst 2,000 consumers revealed over a third want to see more companies using chatbots.

When it comes to staying up to date and adopting new technology, marketers are often one of the first in line. To the proactive, chatbots are a new channel and a new marketing tool. To some, however, they are just another thing to learn, to monitor, to test and optimise.

Ultimately, brands should consider the approach that chatbots allow; listening and conversing rather than broadcasting. Not only will they learn from the interactions their chatbot has but they’ll engage customers through two-way conversations. Brave and innovative marketers are already leading this ‘chatbot charge’; when will you try the listening approach?

 

By Dean Withey, CEO at ubisend


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