Chatbots are nothing new. So, why are digital marketers suddenly so hyped?
According to ManyChat’s co-founder, Mikael Yang, “…it’s not about the chatbots.”
Actually, chatbots have been in existence for decades, having debuted some time in the 70s or 80s. More than that, chatbot technology has not drastically improved since those days. Instead, this new wave of excitement for chatbots seems to be driven by the sweeping popularity of online messenger platforms. The growing volume of messenger-users means chatbots now have larger and more targeted audiences to “chat” with.
What Is A Chatbot?
Chatbots have existed longer than many people might think. While they made their first appearances on forums and often served entertainment purposes, today chatbots help businesses market their products and services directly to potential customers, handle customer services with loyal patrons, and, in some cases, even process customer transactions.
While the technology behind chatbots hasn’t transformed entirely since then, it has certainly grown more effective in delivering value and has become more simple to use than ever before. Chatbots communicate with consumers in an intuitive way, offering consumers menus of options and calls to action.
Though developers continue expanding the breadth of their functionality and making them more human-like, chatbots have also became simpler for businesses to use for marketing efforts. Today, business owners can set up chatbots to represent their brand through Facebook Messenger without a deep, technical understanding of their workings.
With their interactive features, chatbots are statistically shown to be more effective in marketing efforts than traditional email marketing techniques; however, many email marketers remain hesitant to make the switch.
According to Mikael, one common misconception holding these traditional digital marketers back is that chatbots are bulky and difficult to build up. In reality, chatbots are not much more than structured conversations, and designing one can be easy and fun.
Mikael explains that ultimately, the focus should not be placed on chatbot technology itself. Instead, marketers should celebrate chatbots for allowing them to “…connect with customers through a channel that they actually are engaged in and in a place where they actually read your messages.” After all, Mikael’s data suggests that chatbots have higher open rates, CTRs, and levels of engagement.
Is Email Marketing In Decline?
Just how much more engagement can a business experience by switching from traditional email marketing tactics to messenger-based chatbots? According to Mikael, “it’s about how do you map [chatbots] to the actual conversation, to the actual channel where you’re getting 80% open rates and 20% CTRs.”
In other words, some chatbot marketers have reached amazing benchmarks in terms of engagement, but such success depends on how you build up a chatbot. Just as email marketing involves an element of strategy, so too do chatbots. You cannot create a chatbot without careful planning.
As online messaging platforms take off, email marketers are experiencing ongoing trends of lower open rates and insignificant CTRs. Companies all over the world are familiar with email marketing, and by now, consumers are too. In fact, the practice is so common that many email inboxes provide a separate folder to keep these marketing attempts out of your main inbox. In short, consumers have become desensitized to email marketing.
Messenger has a different “architecture,” Mikael emphasizes. The dynamic allows consumers to control the majority of communication. Email marketers can purchase lists of contacts and send messages en masse, putting marketers at risk of “spamming” their recipients with unwelcomed information. In contrast, many online messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, monitor exchanges to prevent companies from bombarding consumers with information they do not value.
Describing another hypothetical example, Mikael explains how email marketers may regain subscribers after they have already opted out of receiving more messages. This is possible when the consumer interacts with the company through a different channel, such as their homepage, and are required to input their email address, such as to retrieve a forgotten password. Regaining lost subscribers through chatbots on messengers can be a challenge, as businesses can no longer contact any unsubscribers.
Email marketing may still benefit businesses, but the margin return on investment is decreasing over time. Marketers are likely to enjoy higher CTRs and open rates by changing the way they interact with customers.
Why Aren’t Chatbots Booming Yet?
Chatbots are clearly a useful business tool and yet not every company has one. Mikael explains how some business-owners are uneasy about implementing chatbot marketing because they do not understand how little effort and time it entails. Many who dare to give chatbot marketing a try find themselves frustrated when their unrealistic expectations are shattered. If businesses were better educated about how chatbots work, they would be more eager to attempt it themselves.
How To Build The Best Chatbot For Your Company
Every business is entirely unique, and every CEO has different dreams and goals. Due to a high level of flexibility and the variety of functions they provide, chatbots make a great marketing solution for a breadth of industries. Mikael explains how chatbots can help distribute brand content, assist in lead generation, demand generation, and re-engaging customers, replace card-based loyalty systems, work as a live chat support, allow customers to leave useful feedback, perform business transactions, and more.
No matter what your chatbot is up to, a human can always override it to provide more personalized, human communication where needed.
Ultimately, Mikael stresses that “messenger is a very engaging communication channel that will help you achieve most of the goals that you set for your business.” The possibilities seem to be endless when it comes to chatbot marketing.
- Marketers should focus on communicating with customers in the proper channels
- Email marketing may work well for B2B campaigns, but chatbots are 10x more successful than email marketers at B2C communication.
- Chatbots are not difficult to create, and more businesses should explore implementing chatbots as a marketing strategy
- Chatbots on messenger platforms are sure to catch on once marketers realize they are easy to build, simple to use, and provide better results than email marketing
- Customers will choose and change their favorite communication platforms and marketers should adjust
- Messenger marketing is here to stay