It’s safe to say that a lot has changed over the past decade. Over the years, business owners have been presented with new marketing opportunities, from social media campaigns to email blasts. Every year it seems like there is some new best practice for marketers to take advantage of in order to increase sales and grow their brand’s loyal following.
One such “trend” that is becoming increasingly popular among marketers and business owners is chatbots. This relatively new form of digital strategy marketing has many people wondering what it’s all about and how to use them effectively.
What Are Chatbots?
The term “chatbot,” or chatterbot, originally became popular back in 1966 after an MIT researcher invented the first chatterbot program, ELIZA. The goal was to create a program that would pass the Turing test and imitate human conversation.
“Chatbots” as we know them today are much more advanced than ELIZA, and they can be integrated into many platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, Slack, and Twitter.
Today, chatbots are used for a variety of purposes including customer service, digital strategy marketing, sales, and branding efforts.
Chatbots Have Been on the Rise Since 2012 ─ So Why All the Excitement Now?
There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not chatbots can increase brand revenue. While they haven’t become mainstream just yet, there has been a massive increase in the use of chatbots over the past few years.
There are four major reasons why chatbots have started to gain in popularity:
One of the biggest advantages chatbots offer is compatibility with mobile devices. The rise of the smartphone has changed consumer habits and transformed how businesses operate, so much so that it’s no longer an option for companies to ignore mobile users.
It’s estimated that today, there are over 15 billion mobile devices in use around the world. Chatbots make it easy for marketers to stay connected with their target audience on the go.
Not only has technology advanced, but so have consumer habits and expectations. It’s no longer enough to just create a website or even have an app for your business. Today, consumers want to be able to communicate with brands directly via their mobile devices ─ they expect each brand interaction to be personalized and customized, almost like a real conversation with another person.
Chatbots make this possible ─ businesses can use them as stand-ins for human customer service representatives (CSRs) to communicate with customers and even provide personalized recommendations based on previous purchases or browsing history.
In addition to improved technology, there has been an increase in internet usage over the past few years ─ which means more traffic for businesses’ websites and mobile apps.
Chatbots give marketers a way to capitalize on this increased interest in their products and services by directing more traffic to their websites, apps, social media pages, and other online touchpoints.
While chatbots offer many benefits, they also happen to be very affordable compared with other digital marketing tools (e.g. email blasts). For the most part, building a bot is free ─ there are options out there for mass-building chatbots with no programming required.
It’s only when marketers want to personalize their bots do they have to pay a few dollars. There are also many enterprise tools that let brands integrate tailored chatbots within their own mobile apps or websites ─ these tools come at an affordable monthly or annual fee.
Chatbots are also great for businesses that want to experiment with new strategies without breaking the bank ─ they’re an affordable way to test out the waters before diving in headfirst.
Even though chatbots are still in their infancy, marketing companies are already beginning to use them more frequently. Not only will this save money and resources that would otherwise be spent on different advertising strategies, but it will also result in better customer service and an easier time for customers who may otherwise not buy products online or make purchases at all. The future of marketing looks bright with chatbots leading the way.