The digital marketing sphere is evolving at an astounding pace. These changes happen for an obvious reason- to make online users’ browsing experience more pleasant. Just look at the voice search revolution that has been redefining the way we make search queries and interact with search engines. This example clearly shows us how we have gradually shifted from outbound marketing efforts to inbound, highly personalized ones.
And, chatbots are expected to soon become the backbone of inbound marketing. Sure, I’m not talking about annoying popups we come across when communicating with brands right now. I’m talking about powerful, AI-powered chatbots that mimic human language and constantly improve their conversation patterns, ensuring that “the dialogue” between the brand and a user goes smoothly.
As we’re already witnessing the incremental rise of this trend, let’s see what their benefits are and how they’ll evolve in the future.
Redefining Customer Engagement
From the viewpoint of old-school marketing, an engaged customer is the one that interacts with a brand by clicking on a piece of content, commenting on or sharing your post, or making a purchase. However, chatbots have been changing the mere idea of customer engagement for good. Based on an active, human-like conversation, chatbots boost people’s excitement and engage them in longer, meaningful conversations.
Let’s take an example of an awesome Spiderman bot released by Marvel Comics to build hype around their new storyline, Secret Empire. The bot is based on an amazing “choose your own adventure” principle, where a user is given multiple options and needs to make instant decisions. The language perfectly aligns with the exciting comic landscape, letting the users become a part of the story. Additionally, famous Spidey will even give you a cool nickname and tell you to “report for duty” and purchase the whole comic book in one of the nearby stores. You must admit that this form of customer interaction is far more engaging than posting an explainer video or an article.
Personalized Customer Experiences
Today, uniform conversations with your customers don’t work anymore. To engage them and inspire them to stay loyal to your brand, you first need to show that you value them as individuals. Highly personalized customer experiences build a positive perception of your brand and improve your target audience’s satisfaction.
Now, personalized conversations have been implemented extensively into all aspects of digital marketing, from social media to content marketing. However, with chatbots, they’ll be taken to a whole new level. And, Duolingo’s bot backs me up on this.
Namely, aware that the majority of foreign language students are embarrassed to speak a new language in an everyday conversational setting, Duolingo has created a bot within their app. This way, they help their non-native users practice conversation effectively with a nice bot companion, irrespective of their location or time zone.
Humanizing Brand Identity
The digital marketing landscape has become highly competitive and businesses similar to yours are constantly appearing. So, to set yourself apart from them and get customers to choose you, you need to brand yourself wisely. You need to build an authentic brand identity and, above all, show the human side of your brand.
Branding is nowadays migrating from text to speech, from logos to faces, and chatbots will finally make it fully personalized. They will give your brand the tone and voice it needs and infuse your personality, goals, and values into casual customer conversations.
One of the coolest ways to engage your users is to give them the opportunity to talk to someone they admire. Above, Marvel’s superhero bot is great, but what if we told you that you can talk to Albert Einstein about the greatest world’s questions. No, I’m not kidding. I’m talking about the recent project by National Geographic. They designed a Messenger bot to boost excitement about their new show about Albert Einstein. The chatbot was designed specifically to speak as Einstein would, helping users learn more about the famous scientist and discover the details about the show in a more organic way.
Maintaining Seamless Conversations is the Greatest Challenge
One of the greatest mistakes digital marketers make is not appreciating the true value of the most popular marketing channels. As soon as we notice that a certain technique works, we latch on and keep exploiting it until it loses its effectiveness. That happened with guest blogging (remember that video by Matt Cutts, where he said that guest blogging has become too spammy?) or email marketing (honestly, how many of your emails go to spam?). And, the same could happen to chatbots if we don’t start using them strategically from the very beginning.
When customizing your chatbot, you need to implement the fundamental principles of inbound marketing into it:
- Connect. Always be available to answer your user’s question or help them solve a problem via the messaging app.
- Understand. You’re not creating only a bot. Instead, you’re establishing a whole new conversational strategy for your brand. And, to do so, you need to understand who your customers are and what their needs, expectations, and problems are.
- Refine. Your conversational strategy should be updated regularly based on previous customer interactions.
- Deliver. Create seamless customer interactions and use the omnichannel approach to deliver the right solution to your user without forcing them to leave the app.
Another immensely important aspect of building chatbots is usefulness. Even though chatbot personalization is important, you should never forget that guiding your customers down the sales funnel and getting them to complete the desired action is your priority. Focus on the simplicity of the interaction and delivering the desired solutions quickly.
Most importantly, give your customers the opportunity to choose how to interact with your brand. Even though chatbots are the latest of your marketing channels, they’re not the only one. You will still need an SEO agency to optimize your site, build your brand reputation, and create interactive content, as well as live customer support representatives, FAQ pages, and contact forms to handle those aspects of customer support that cannot be done by chatbots.
Finally, combine your live customer support with chatbots for better results. Even though 63% of people are using AI-powered bots without even knowing it, you should never fool them and try to pass your bot as a human being.
The Unlimited Possibilities We need to Unveil
These are still humble beginnings for powerful AI chatbots and it’s difficult to predict how they’ll grow. However, one thing is sure- they’ll help us with the repetitive tasks, build a solid brand identity, and nourish strong relationships with our customers. Given these facts, they have the potential to reinvent the inbound marketing as we know it and become the holy grail of targeted customer interactions. And, it’s up to us as marketers to choose whether their future will be bright or bleak.