Forget Apps: Use Marketing Bots To Connect With Consumers
A new paradigm is emerging that gives consumers the utility they desire while giving brands a platform for conversion.
According to Forrester Research, consumers spend 84% of their time in just five apps each month, and more likely than not, those apps involve social media. Unfortunately for many brands that have spent a great deal of energy building and promoting their apps, their app just isn’t used that much.
The reason: The vast majority of apps lack utility and force the consumer to shoulder the burden of finding what they need—whether that be information, customer service, or sales support. Truth be told, many consumers simply give up because it’s too much work. However, a new paradigm is emerging that gives consumers the utility they desire while giving brands a platform for conversion: marketing bots.
Marketing bots hit the headlines in full force with Facebook’s F8 announcement in April that it was releasing a set of tools to allow developers to create bots for Messenger. And while it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new interface—especially one that is as disruptive as this—I encourage marketers to think about chatbots as an opportunity to build a customer experience focused on utility that can convert. Let’s dive into just how that can be accomplished.
Consumers demand utility, and marketers who provide it will be those that are able to maintain value in the customer relationship and maximize customer lifetime value. Utility is more than convenience. When it comes to chatbots, it is a holistic connection of the interface to meaningful experiences, back-end business processes, and consumer programs that already exist within the organization.
Maximize the relationships your customers already have with your organization through established programs they are already comfortable with, giving them added utility when interacting with your brand. Loyalty programs are an ideal example of an existing program designed for utility as program members can engage deeply with them via chatbots. Providing this level of utility allows your most loyal customers to interact with the brand in ways that are meaningful to them and encourages a symbiotic relationship with points and/or other rewards in exchange for participation.
Chatbots should create outcomes driven by the customer, which means that they should ideally offer a spectrum of options for interaction. More to the point, paying bots for goods and services is still a nascent market. Yet consumers are happy to interact with brands in a self-serve manner in order to:
- Receive content, promo codes, discounts, or other incentives—and they are in fact four times more likely to do so.
- Be invited as a VIP, given a preview, or allowed access to other special events.
- Get an upgrade or sneak peek.
- Check rewards totals or see what the next promo is.
- Unlock access to URLs or content.
- Find personalized offers, early access, and more.
At the end of the day, brands need to embrace conversion opportunities in order to provide the utility customers desire. By interacting with your natural language bot, consumers can engage in a wide variety of campaigns—effectively converting both on and offline campaigns—customer service, and utility marketing moments on a one-to-one basis. This allows the brand to capture new customers, deepen relationships, and grow loyalty among existing customers.
Last but not least, data from chatbot-enabled platforms allows marketers to tie chat identity, demographics, and other first-party data to email and other information in your CRM and/or marketing database. Being able to connect the dots on this information gives your team more extensive knowledge of your customers so you can create a virtuous cycle of feedback and customer experience improvements that all lead to greater customer utility and significant business advantage.
In social media, we’ve been taught that first mover status is vital, that the brand with the first land grab does best. However, when it comes to chatbots, simply having a presence is not enough. While enabling consumers to engage with your natural language bot is a step forward in user experience, I would encourage brands to analyze their approach to the considerations listed here and challenge themselves to create a better experience driven by the utility that modern consumers demand—and by which they measure today’s brands.