How Chatbots are Shaking up Digital Marketing

5 min read
Watb Team
Two cartoon style robots offering flowers

Chatbots might sound like a potential Black Mirror plot or another sinister part of the robot uprising which will inevitably lead to Blade Runner having to save us all, but they’re going to be big in the digital marketing world…and that’s all that matters, right? In fact, they already are big; Chatbots are the future, they’re already increasingly becoming the present and here’s why everyone’s excited about them. And why you should bow down to our robot overlords of course.

Wait, what is a chatbot?

A chatbot is an artificially intelligent program whos primary aim is usually to serve the need of a human user. For example, Siri or Cortana, or a chatbot we especially like here at WATB – Slackbot. They can quickly reply with information the users requires. Here is a very basic example of how Slackbot can help out a user:

Slackbot AI chat

The F8 conference in April saw Facebook announce that they’re opening up their messenger app to brands. So through Facebook, brands will be able to have a lovely chat with Facebook’s massive community of users. It’s a clever move; messaging platforms like Facebook already have bucket loads of active users, so grabbing people’s attention is easier. And Chatbots can pull all sorts of data from Facebook about what you ‘like’, what you’ve been searching for and what you’re engaging with.

This will see loads of new, creative ways for brands to market themselves and transform customer service. A really cool chatbot example we’ve come across is a marketing campaign for the new second series of the Channel 4 show, Humans; it’s all tongue in cheek and you can interact with a Chatbot and…well, see for yourself.

Channel 4 Humans Chatbot

Chatbots offer improved user experience

People are already comfortable with using virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana and Chatbots are just AI powered bots that sit within messaging apps. The difference being that they’re representing a brand and mimicking human interaction you’d have with someone in customer service, instead of being a virtual assistant that’s triggered by voice search. Virtual assistants offer a more Q&A type format, but Chatbots…chat more freely, basically. There’s also a limit to how many apps people will want to download on their smartphone, so enabling brands to develop Chatbots that sit within popular messaging platforms gets around this problem.

The aim is to make Chatbots more friendly, funny and human. Brands are trying to develop more user-friendly, personalised interfaces. Instead of phoning up and being put on hold by Sean while he frantically finds someone who knows the answer to your question, a Chatbot will devote all of its attention to you and search for a solution. If someone knows the customer service will be easy and instantaneous with Chatbots, they’ll become a prime reason to interact with a brand, reflecting people’s desire for convenience.

Chatbots are adaptable to business and user needs

This is where creatives and brands can succeed, by trying to make their Chatbots the funniest and most approachable on the market. Feeding a Chatbot with accurate consumer behaviours, intent and history can help it to provide relevant and personalised content. Showing personality fits into the trend for conversational marketing. This can improve customer loyalty and make customer service a fun experience, rather than something tedious and easy to moan about.

Sometimes it can be difficult to create a consistent brand voice across all platforms. With trends coming out of your ears, Chatbots are easily adaptable and responsive. So, if you’re rolling out big marketing campaigns and need to make changes to your bots, this can be done from one place and you can deliver new messages and content across platforms, because the same Chatbot will be sitting in lots of messaging apps. The best chatbots can be interlinked and updated and sitting in lots of messaging apps allows them to be tweaked and personalised easily to improve user experience.

Chatbots are not just consumer-facing

In an earlier example we mentioned how here at WATB we use Slackbot to help us with reminders, drawing basic data from some of our online tools and scheduling. But the future of chatbots for business use is only just beginning. Take Kit, for example. This is a ‘virtual assistant’ which, through a few simple text or facebook chat messages, allows a business owner to delegate tasks from marketing goal setting, creating ads, scheduling ads, social media posts and more. Here is a video about how Kit integrates with Instagram and makes creating and posting Instagram adverts super easy.

Introducing Kit’s Latest Skill Set: Instagram from Kit on Vimeo.

There’s massive potential for Chatbots to become part of the digital furniture and a really normal occurrence in someone’s interaction with a brand and their customer journey. Chatbots will be your new BFF, but if they start to talk about world domination then let someone know.

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A chatbot is an artificially intelligent program whos primary aim is usually to serve the need of a human user. For example, Siri or Cortana.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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