Are marketing chatbots here to stay?

Tipped to be one of the biggest marketing trends of this year, chatbots are set to completely change the way that consumers and brands interact. Before we take a look at whether or not chatbots are in for the long haul, let’s define what a chatbot actually is…

Put simply, a chatbot is a service that brands use to interact with consumers. It sits within online chat services like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and text.

If a chatbot is integrated with Artificial Intelligence then the possibilities for interaction are endless.

You can ask a weather bot to tell you the local weather forecast; you can ask a news bot to tell you when anything interesting happens around the world; and you can even befriend a chatbot (in China there’s a Microsoft bot called Xiaoice which has over 20 million ‘friends’ who talk to it).

Huge corporations and brands are making the most of chatbot technology with Amazon launching Echo in 2014 and Google bringing out Home in April of this year. They clearly see the marketing potential.

Their connected home devices allow users to get information and answers, order services, and set personalised alerts based on their behavioural patterns. This technology has taken away the need for screen interaction or typing and is completely redefining how brands communicate with consumers.

But are chatbots here to stay?

There’s no doubt that bigger brands are rapidly adopting chatbot technology, and Facebook’s roll-out of news feed ads that open directly into Messenger chats, and products such as Google Allo (a smart messaging app with an integrated AI assistant) are just the beginning of what looks set to continue.

Here are a few marketing statistics from 2016 that imply chatbots will be around for some time yet:

1. 51% of people expect a business to be available 24/7

This means being responsive, answering questions and fixing problems. Consumers are looking for instant answers; and just as we’ve gone from high street opening hours to 24/7 online shopping, it makes sense that customer support goes the same way.

2. 8 percent would rather contact a business through messaging than email.

Again, this need for instant gratification means that email now feels like an outdated and long-winded form of communication compared to messenger services. Chat feels more like a proper two-way conversation with less waiting time.

3. 4 percent would rather contact a business through messaging than phone.

Despite the fact that people are looking for a two-way chat, picking up the phone is a hassle for consumers. Let’s face it, many of us don’t even call our friends these days and tend to resort to messaging to catch up and organise our social lives.

It may have something to do with automated menus that take an age to work through, or it could be due to bad experiences of being put on hold. Whatever the reason, more and more people are turning to messaging services.

Chatbots are the answer to all of the problems above. They can allow a business to be contactable and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They’re delivered through messaging apps like Messenger and people can steer clear of annoying automated phone systems.

As the stats prove, consumers are ready to interact with chatbots and brands are happy to have systems in place that allow ‘robots’ to take over when the queries come flooding in.

Whether we’re talking about marketing content or customer service, it’s a win-win for consumers and businesses alike.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on info@hotcow.co.uk.

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