By Victoria Page

Bots make up almost half of the internet right now, and a quarter of them are bad. Chatbots are not those bots.

Chatbots are computer programs that initiate and hold digital conversations with consumers. They are often inserted into messaging apps and respond with automatic replies. Their language repertoire is programmed by either artificial intelligence or by humans, but of course AI produces a broader range. Similar to voice search, the query results are instantaneous, and there is little to no scrolling involved.

Right now, 78% of the world’s smartphone users are messaging via a mobile app every month, and it’s on the rise. In case you haven’t noticed, a growing number of platforms that have employed messaging capabilities. In addition to Facebook, platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn have hopped on the bandwagon. If you can do more things in one place, you can consolidate your mobile apps and reduce screen clutter.

In a previous post, I talked about how people are conducting searches within the Facebook app rather than using Google or Bing. This implies that people don’t want to jump from app to app when they don’t have to.

Bots exist to make this easier, by allowing people to complete tasks within a messenger app. Without exiting the platform used to talk to your friends, you can order food, or an Uber.

For instance, the Starbucks app allows you to place even the most complicated beverage orders via a bot, and remembers your order for future use:

Retail stores, like Sephora, are making the most of chatbots as well. Customers can access makeup tutorials, tips, as well as read and write product reviews via a bot. Bots also simplify the shipping notification process for online orders. This approach for retailers keeps bot marketing relevant and informative, and provides information that users would otherwise have to go to Sephora’s website to find.

So, should you use them? Yes, but with purpose.

Interaction with bots is forever limited. Though the fun, conversational tone of a bot helps to establish trust, there is no way chatting with a bot can be as open and complex as chatting with a live human being. They very well may not be programmed to properly answer the questions you have in completion or understand your conversational tone, which is why bots are still in the beginning stages.

Just like email marketing, it’s important to know the limits of your presence. You don’t want to be so invasive that people unsubscribe, but you want to be noticed. People use messenger apps to talk to people they know, or at least people they want to talk to, and they will be quick to resist any form of interruptions. In contrast to email marketing, bots make the entire process faster and more user friendly.
The future of bot marketing is exciting and has a lot of potential, but should be approached with care.

By Victoria Page