When we call customer service at most companies with which we do business, we deal with types of chatbots. We are asked questions and can respond to our voices. Based on what those chatbots have learned through AI and machine learning, they are able to pick up keywords from our statements and then attempt to correctly direct us.
Alexa is basically a chatbot. This personal assistant has been programmed, of course, but part of that programming is that she learns as she is confronted with interactions containing new words and phrases.
There are also chatbots that we interact with online
- Some are for customer service through chat features on company websites. These bots attempt to resolve the common issues and problems and answer the most frequently asked questions. This allows the more complex issues to be resolved by real humans at the help desk. And they are successful enough that 65% of those recently surveyed state they are happy to interact with chatbots.
- Some are for information and even a bit of entertainment in the process. Consider Poncho, the weather bot that offers more than just the weather. Here’s a typical interaction:
As users of Poncho continue to return, they are offered options other than the weather – their horoscopes, for example.
- Chatbots can be used for ordering and paying when customers contact by phone messaging. Chatbots present the menu, offer options, and answer questions. Taco Bell’s Tacobot is an early example. Belly Hungry is another chatbot that will find nearby restaurants for customers based upon their favorite foods.
This is a new and exciting technology, to be sure. And many are predicting that chatbots will totally change the face of marketing, making many other methods obsolete – methods such as email. But here’s the thing – chatbots can actually be combined with other marketing strategies for more effective campaigns.
Combining Chatbots and Email Marketing – How Can This Happen?
Consider the Collaboration Between SMS and Email Marketing
Until recently, it was hard to imagine how SMS and email marketing could collaborate. Now, it is a given. When consumers opt into receiving SMS from companies, they will receive those short messages throughout the day on their smartphones. And those short messages can announce all sorts of good stuff, can keep connections going, and can drive recipients to a personalized email you have sent. For people who use phone messaging more than they check their emails, SMS is the perfect way to alert them that there is a valuable email waiting for them.
And here is a key stat: 96% of messages sent to phones are opened within three minutes of receipt. This just does not happen with email – it may be checked a couple of times a day.
Now, think about chatbots as SMS messaging on steroids. They are popups that not only deliver key marketing messages, can personalize those messages based upon a consumer’s past history with the company, and can then engage in conversation with that person, answering questions, making purchasing recommendations, etc.
And they can also prompt consumers to check out a marketing email that has been personalized and sent.
In short, chatbots will give you more access to your customers, bring them back to your site, but also lure them to either provide their email address or to check out the value in an email they have received.
Let’s have a look at the details of this powerful collaboration.
Tips for Combining Bots and Emails
Chatbots, by their very nature, incorporate AI, ML, and natural language processing. They can remember individual customers; they can respond to voice questions and statements; they can make contact via smartphones; they can engage in conversations on your website. And, they can engage consumers via smartphone popups. Email marketing can remember customers, but not reach out to them – it is dependent upon a customer to check his email and then actually open yours. Bots can drive customers to your emails. It is then up to you to craft that creative subject line that entices and content that delivers what your bot has promised.
Chatbots can send quick alerts and messages. They can pop up with a simple message – Hey Julie. How are you doing today? I noticed you were looking at our (name of the product). Can I answer any question about it for you? By the way, you’re going to find an email from us that is giving a 20% discount for the next 48 hours. Thought you might be interested. So long til we meet again – don’t be a stranger. Between each question, there will be a pause so that Julie can answer, by voice, via her smartphone.
Your chatbot can also engage in customer service activities.
- Hey Julie. Glad you ordered (name of the product). Know you’ll love it. By the way, it was shipped out this morning and should be arriving in three days. Check your email for more details and the tracking number.
- Hey Julie. How is (name of the product) working out for you? (pause for answer). Do you have any questions about it? (pause). If you have time, check your email for a feedback survey – it’s worth 10% off your next purchase. And it looks like your weather today is great – hope you enjoy it! (Now, you have really personalized the message, too).
And since your recipients are already on their phones, they can check their emails immediately – in fact,43% of people with smartphones use them to access their emails on a daily basis.
Tips for Using Chatbot Marketing Successfully
Consider chatbots as one more piece of a content marketing toolbox that, while still in its infancy, is growing in popularity, because they can engage your audience natively. And they can offer valuable content via personalized conversation. Here are some tips for making your chatbot tool successful – promoting your brand in a whole new way.
Chatbots are a Perfect Tool for Storytelling
Consider the content that your bot provides as a type of storytelling with your audience as participants. What better way to strengthen connections and relationships? Your bot can engage, entertain, educate, and even inspire.
Bots Should Have Tailored Messages and Expand Them as Chats Occur
Just as email segments out audiences, so must chatbots. The same messages do not go out to a prospect and a returning loyal customer. The conversations that ensue will be totally different. And those segmented bot messages can then drive people to their personalized email information and offers designed specifically for where they are in your sales funnel. As Neightan White, Content Marketer for Supreme Dissertations writing service states: “We are in the early stages of experimenting with a chatbot to connect with both prospects and current customers. We began with our live chat option to provide customer service. It has been a huge success, but we are ready to move on to using proactive bot messaging via voice. We can do much more to engage and add humor and inspiration when we have a bit more control over actually opening conversations that can be highly personalized.”
Tommy Hilfiger has recently incorporated TMY.GRL, a personal fashion advisor. It's available through Facebook Messenger. The bot asks a series of questions of the target, and based upon the answers, makes recommendations for the “look” the individual is trying to achieve. This then sends users to its website where they can look at the recommended items. The voice tone and vocabulary are geared to Millennials and Gen Z and truly emulates the experience of having a real human fashion advisor.
Bots Should Gather Insights and Data
Use the conversations, the questions asked, and the comments and feedback as methods by which you can improve or offer new products or services. Use aggregated feedback to improve customer service as well as the types of messages and interactions you program into your bot.
Bot Messages Should Promote Your Brand Voice
Be silly, be serious, be humorous, or be emotional – you want your bot to reflect who you are as a brand. Provide stories, surveys, games, and exclusive content.
If you are struggling with your bot scripts and the coordination of them with your email content and the right “voice,” or with the crafting of creative content that will truly engage, then get some help. There is a number of sources:
- Rewarded Essays: This is a writing service with a department of creatives and journalists specifically suited for content creation
- Freelancer.com: Lots of creative writers are registered on this site. You can “interview” them and look at samples
- Upwork: Another site that can match you with a creative copywriter. Again, check out samples and reviews.
- Hot Essay Service: Here’s a writing service that originally focused only on helping students with essays and papers. Now it has expanded to include creative copywriting and has good reviews from its business clients.
- Indeed.com: This job board site has a great reputation
- Grab My Essay: The website that receives exceptional scoring in the area of creative content writing.
Are You Ready?
Messaging technology for bots is already in the hands of your audience, via their smartphones and access to social media. Chatbots are just a natural outgrowth of social media, and they are forcing brands to improve their communications, especially for younger generations who are fully comfortable with them by now.
Don’t ignore a technology that your competitors are probably already using very successfully.