Industry POV

Chatbots and The Future of Marketing

16 May 2017

The journey of digital marketing has been intriguing and quite interesting. Marketing in the 2000s was dominated by SEM and SEO. In the early 2010s it moved to marketing via FB and other social media channels. And, most recently we’ve seen mobile marketing rise and plateau as users have stopped downloading new apps. 

As we all know, we are now in the era of messaging. And naturally, marketing and interfacing with the consumer is taking advantage of this novel platform in the form of Chatbots. Even buyer behaviour has witnessed a shift from social networks to messaging platforms such as SMS, FB Messenger, Apple iMessage, Slack, etc. Hence, technology companies are now building Chatbots on these platforms to offer AI driven intelligent and more engaging channels to brands to deliver efficient customer service. Needless to say, Chatbots are now an integral part of their marketing strategies.

As a professional, while working with brands across several industry verticals, including tourism, hospitality, entertainment, media, etc., I have seen innovations happening rapidly, and the basic approach towards experimenting with technology by brands has seen a vast difference. If we have to look at an apparel industry or a hospitality industry, brands are leveraging Chatbots and making them an inseparable part of their CRM systems to manage loyalty programmes, redressal forums, product launches, etc. The list is endless.

Chatbots offer true engagement beyond clicks and views. Along with personalisation of conversation, they help brands get insights directly from the consumers. All in all, Chatbots bring the brand’s personality to life. What more could one ask for?

(A brand such as Sephora has created a bot on Kik, and shares beauty tips with teenagers. The bot first enquires what users are interested in learning about — eyes, skin, hair, nails, etc. — and only suggests relevant products, beauty tips, and tutorials.)

Facebook Messenger, which has 11,000 bots, has become the top choice for businesses for bot development. So, this may be a good place to start out when taking a first look at developing Chatbots that live within Messenger apps. 

Chatbots come mobile optimised, thanks to the market using the mobile-first approach. You don’t have to go through the additional trouble of getting them mobile-optimised. More importantly, they are easy to implement. 

By integrating chatbots across all social media platforms and then having them interlinked, marketers can update brand messages at once across all platforms. This makes sure you have a consistent brand voice across all platforms.
It's still early in the chatbot game, but not so early that numerous brands aren't seeing great ROI. There's little downside, given the growing Internet of Things, and consumers' dependence on technology overall. 

The future of chatbots is still a curiosity, as technology evolves and as the bots themselves get ‘smarter’ and more ‘humanlike’ in their analyses and responses.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house