Whether you’re a budding start-up or a large enterprise looking to expand your empire, both customer service and digital marketing should be at the core of your business strategy.

In today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected digital world, the average consumer is no longer susceptible to plastic promotional campaigns or static banner ads. No, these days, people want to be engaged, enlightened and entertained.

At present, there is a seemingly endless number of mediums and platforms on which to connect, campaign and spark up meaningful dialogues with your target audience. But, with so many channels to maintain and such little time, it can be difficult to use every resource to its full potential. Fortunately, we are living in the age of artificial intelligence (AI).

In fact, by 2018, 75% of developer teams will include some sort of Artificial Intelligence functionality. What’s more, according to a report from Business Insider, 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020.

When it comes to smart and superior business automation, chatbots are one of the most valuable branches of AI available today, with the ability to seriously assist a brand or business’s marketing or customer service efforts. But before we delve any further, let’s consider…

What are chatbots?

“I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans, and I’m rooting for the machines.” – Claude Shannon“The father of information theory”

Hand holding smartphone with chatting bot application on the screen. Chatbot concept. Man’s hand holding a phone concept. Dialogue on the smartphone screen. Mobile app vector illustration.

Essentially, chatbots are sophisticated computer programs that can simulate human conversation, or chat, through the power of artificial intelligence.

At present, a chatbot can communicate with a real live person, but now applications are being created where multiple chatbots can communicate with one another to achieve specific commercial outcomes.

In business, chatbots are used to communicate with customers via various platforms to assist with queries and carry out a range of practical tasks – and the more chatbots communicate, the more they learn.

Chatbots and customer service

Once upon a time, building and maintaining solid customer relationships used to be as easy as assigning a personable, reliable service representative to handle any consumer queries or concerns. But, now, it’s a little more complicated than that.

What was once a case of dealing with calls and emails has now expanded to dealing with a host of public social media inquiries, issues and testimonials on channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as dark social platforms like SnapChat and WhatsApp.

As businesses have evolved, they’ve developed their models to meet their target consumers directly where they live, work or play, facilitating the use of chatbots for messaging platforms as well as responses on sites including Facebook and Twitter.

Not only can chatbots respond to your customers in a personable, timely fashion, but as they can track user data, each bot can improve the way it interacts with new and existing prospects, making the consumer experience feel incredibly personal.

For instance, Taco Bell has implemented the use of chatbot technology via Slack Chat, a facility that allows customers to order their food from their smartphones as if they’re conversing with a genuine human being. Also, Ticketmaster customers have access to a new website chat widget developed on the Chatbot Development Platform from Inbenta – a platform that allows event goers to ask detailed questions about their orders or find out more about relevant events through an automated recommendations function.

It’s plain to see that when it comes to frontline customer service, chatbots serve to increase customer engagement and boost productivity in a big way – and if you’re looking to keep your audience engaged on all valuable mediums available to you, this kind of technology is essential.

For companies looking to dip their toes into the chatbot water, NLP (Natural Language Processing) gives you the power to create custom bots that adopt your brand’s personality and tone by leveraging existing communication systems to connect directly with customers in their everyday, informal tongue. It’s possible to integrate these types of chatbot across the business, helping you to maintain an active social presence while carrying out core business objectives – a real win-win.

Chatbots and marketing/sales

“I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.” – Alan Turing

As mentioned, chatbots can learn and refine their abilities by tracking user behavior and mimicking your brand’s tone or the general voice of your customer base.

In the modern age, chatbots are incredibly versatile and as such, can engage with consumers on many levels while keeping within a brand’s style parameters. This means that not only can chatbots respond to customer queries in a conversational tone, but they are also able to communicate with people on a deeper, more complex level – which is priceless for marketing.

Here are some of the key ways chatbots can help boost your brand’s marketing efforts…

  • Consumer analysis: As chatbots are programmed to track consumer purchasing patterns and monitor data, while they interact with your customers they will gather invaluable insights that will help you refine your marketing campaigns and tweak your content to meet the exact needs of your audience, in turn encouraging conversions and optimising sales.
  • Personalised ads: When a customer branches out to a chatbot with a customer service related question, the bot will greet the them, gather a little basic personal information and then ask that they wait for a moment or two. During that time, the customer’s name and details can be used to generate personalised advertisements tailored to their preferences. According to a recent poll, one-third of senior marketers said they feel personalisation is their top priority and it’s little wonder – personalised ads convert very well.
  • Lead-nurturing: Moving on from our last point, chatbots prove hugely effective for lead-nurturing. By using the information that chatbots collect about your customers, it’s possible to create customised messaging campaigns that steers the consumer along their buyer journey – helping you to boost sales and achieve higher conversion rates as a result.

30 Seconds To Fly is a great example. When technology like this works well, most people would prefer using it than conversing with real people !

With standard app downloads dropping by around 20% in the US alone, there has never been a better time to employ the use of chatbots as part of your ongoing business strategy.

Social media interaction is stronger than ever, and chat based platforms are on the rise, so to connect with your customers and gather priceless consumer insights through the undeniable influence of artificial intelligence, chatbots are critical.

As mentioned, by 2020 80% of businesses are likely to be using chatbots, and if you want to compete in the commercial battlefield, you must do the same. Taking care of your customers and your marketing strategy will result in more sales, and in today’s and indeed tomorrow’s world, the chatbot is certainly your friend.

Embrace chatbots to help your business today.