A large-scale skepticism is seen among masses whenever the rise of Artificial Intelligence is spoken about. In his book, ‘The Rise of the Robots’, Martin Ford talks endlessly about how automation can lead to mass unemployment in most sectors. He says, “A computer that exceeded human-level intelligence might be capable of ‘outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand.”
Having said that, it is not difficult to fathom how AI could replace the predictable and less challenging jobs that humans do as of now. Direct interaction with consumers and providing helplines for marketing strategies, for instance, is no more a job only humans can do, courtesy of Chatbots.
What are chatbots?
Chatbots are automated artificial intelligence systems, which are built into messaging apps and can respond to user queries without human assistance. These systems are designed to help businesses improve their customer service, sell their products and services better, and earn more profit on the same.
One of the major reasons chatbots are on the rise is the increase in the popularity of messaging apps. Chatbots are not a new phenomenon. ELIZA was an early bot that had been designed to psychoanalyze people in the ’60s. However, the last few years have seen a rise in the number of applications that make people interact with bots to replicate interaction with another person.
How do chatbots work?
There modern chatbots can be classified into two broad categories: Rule-based chatbots that are programmed to respond to specific commands and AI-powered chatbots that respond to natural language. A rule-based chatbot performs a basic pre-processing on any input that is fed into the system.
On the basis of the processed input data, a command is generated which triggers a series of actions that the chatbot is designed to do. An example would be the basic text messaging application that various vendors use to promote their products, for instance schemes that run in the form, “Text GETPIZZA to 12345 to get a 50 percent off coupon.” The bot here is designed to recognize the keyword ‘GETPIZZA’ and would not respond to any other command.
However, if you club natural language processing (NLP) with artificial intelligence to design a chatbot, I can be trained to understand human speech or text messages, even with ambiguity. This second category of smart chatbots represents the greatest opportunity in the marketing space for improved customer service, sales, and profits.
How can chatbots improve your marketing strategy?
The constant theme that marketing products and services revolves around is to connect with the customers. To get them to use a new channel for building that communication, however, requires additional effort. The chatbot channel is an innovative one with an element of convenience attached to it. This will ensure that your customers are more comfortable interacting with your brand.
Imagine the trouble you save them by patching them up to a smart bot instead of human executives who would would them hold the line for minutes without the guarantee of offering significant help. Chatbots can do way more than just bridging the gap between the customer and your organization. They can help you store and analyze customer data which can further be used to optimize sales and marketing strategies.
An article in Forbes says, “Chatbots can be programmed to track purchasing patterns and monitor data from consumers. This tells a company which products to market differently, which to market more and which to redevelop for relaunch.” In addition to that, chatbots can be used to design personalized ads using the customer-information, as per the customer segment you target at a given time.
While proactive customer interaction and prompt feedback processes are in place with the advent of chatbots, it is also necessary to not spam the customers with repetitive messages. Chatbots give your customers exclusive attention and advice during the communication and answer any questions about the product or service concerned. In addition to that, it might suggest similar/ complementary products that the customer might be interested in, thus adding to your sales.
Points to note
Having stated the benefits of including chatbots in your marketing strategies, it is important to note a few points. The underlying technology of a chatbot will undergo massive evolution over the years. Hence, it is necessary for you to keep updating your strategies to cater to the customers in the best possible way. While adapting to newer strategies is necessary, one should not ignore the other conventional marketing channels.