Our expert, Amanda Gilmour, weighs in on the buzzword you’ve been hearing everywhere: Chatbots.

The increasing need for personalized messaging throughout the marketing world has brought to light an exciting opportunity for marketers to share brand messages easily with fans via artificial intelligence. More specifically, chatbots have taken off as a method for brands to change the experience of their consumers in a variety of ways. Due to the flexibility of bots, messenger apps have seen rapid growth in the last year and it’s no surprise that this trend will continue to grow with the Facebook messenger app being one of the most downloaded apps in the USA.

So, what the heck is a chatbot?
In the simplest terms, it’s a piece of software that a person can chat with to answer their questions, be presented special offers, fulfill desired requests, or simply be entertained all without having to leave a messaging portal. Essentially, they are a cheaper, cloud-based, computer program utilized by brands that chats with users through a conversational interface.

Utilizing AI technology in the form of chatbots in messenger allows a brand to build an automated response to consumer inquiries. The bot provides one-on-one interaction 24/7. This is huge for brands without the human resources to turn out quick response times or companies that receive high quantities of questions via messenger.

And the best part? Chatbots are 100% customizable, allowing a brand to control the tone, voice, and responses that will be delivered to a consumer.

Oh, my bot, they’re everywhere!
Haven’t had an experience with a chatbot before? You might be surprised to find out that bots are everywhere and are starting to rapidly take over messenger apps. That’s because brands know how important it is to be where their customers are! Messenger apps have already surpassed many social media platforms in terms of usage and this movement in consumer behavior is expected to increase.

The possibilities are endless with chatbots in messenger and a variety of other platforms like Twitter, websites, and just about all app messaging services. Bots are being used from something as small as ordering coffee in messenger to booking a flight without leaving the app. Brands are also utilizing bots to deliver personalized offers and discounts to customers, give users personally curated news, and even provide quick dinner recipes or fulfill a customer’s delivery order.

And in a world of immediacy, consumers want the ability to receive quick responses, in fewer steps, and an instant connection. For a consumer, a successful bot will give them what they are looking for in the most efficient way. That’s because chatbots only ask what they need to know to help. This allows a consumer to get exactly what they need as quickly as possible. And the longer a bot is active and continues to interact with humans, the more it learns, develops, and leads consumers to where they want to go.

Welcoming a bot to the team
If you’re not talking about building a bot for your business, organization, or brand then you’re already falling behind on this fast-growing trend.

Don’t know how to get started? There are tons of free chatbot builders available to anyone with a business page on Facebook. These platforms require a member of your team to build out the chatbot with discussion paths, keyword replies, and deliverable content. Luckily, most platforms like Chat Fuel and Chat Club also offer the ability to contract an AI expert to assist in the build.

After vetting through platforms and deciding on the right one to fit your needs, you can begin building out the bots. While doing so, your team should keep in mind some important points regarding your customer experience.

  1. Your bot should skip the small talk and get right to the “How can I help you?” phase. This allows for fans to get what they need as quickly as possible without additional fluff. This is sure to make your user’s experience more satisfactory.
  2. Your bot should not confuse or annoy a consumer. Make sure all your menu choices and directing links are correct so that no mistakes happen in the conversation process between your user and the chatbot.
  3. Don’t overload your bot with possibilities. Bots are great for being great at a few tasks. If you want your bot to allow consumers to register for your event as simply as possible, stick to mastering that process before you also expand your chatbot to answer questions, incorporate built in fundraising, or give directions. It’s still okay to direct consumers to a human for additional support.
  4. Test your chatbot and then test it again! Your team should spend an ample amount of time ensuring that the conversation flow of your bot is appropriate for your brand. It never hurts to get an outside perspective or soft launch the bot to a few loyal customers first.

Chatbots are the next big thing because trends are showing that traditional forms of delivering messages to fans and seeking conversions are decreasing in effectiveness. Email open rates and click through rates are becoming stale and often get lost in the masses. So, it only makes sense to begin to deliver better ways for consumers to convert and receive the messaging your brand wants them to see. In the 21st century, it’s time to give our consumers a better way to interact with us and that begins with chatbots.

Amanda Gilmour (LinkedIn) is a Digital and Social Marketing Specialist at Event 360. She manages all things social and the digital execution for MMRF Team for Cures 5K and Florida AIDS Walk in addition to working with other organizations like Bike MS and Susan G. Komen to launch digital marketing strategies that support participant cultivation and engagement. Amanda currently lives in Chicago and enjoys exploring the hidden gems of the city ranging from new restaurants, farmers markets, and bookstores.

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