Chatbots: The new Marketing tool

By | August 17, 2018

Pic shows Chatbots or robots chatting on desktops. Content for chatbots is created by Ascezen Consulting Lucknow India

Did you ever notice a small chat window, which pops up on a website, asking if it can help you? One might think that it’s human on the other side of the computer but it is actually a chatbot that has been programmed to assist you. Essentially, they are software applications that perform automated tasks, mostly by interacting with users using spoken or written communication. Chatbots are also known as talkbots, IM bots or simply bots, even though the original term was ‘Chatterbot’, given by Michael Mauldin who created the first bot- Julia in 1994.

Chatbots are instant, interactive, and they are here to stay. They have become increasingly popular as an engagement tool and deemed to be the next big thing in the world of marketing and business communication.  Moving beyond old-style online advertising, brands all across are now integrating chatbots into their strategies to offer a more personalised experience to the consumers or prospective customers.

Chatbots are designed to have a conversational interface that emulates how humans behave in real life while talking to each other. They rely heavily on sophisticated technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). The more modest systems scan the inputs for keywords and produce the most relevant response accordingly.

Today, bots are mostly used for B2C customer service and marketing across different categories that include e-commerce, education, entertainment, finance, marketing, shopping, travel and customer support, to name a few.  Many companies rely on messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Telegram to place their bots. Even WhatsApp is testing a pilot program, allowing developers to run their bots from the platform.

At present, bots are either accessed through these web-based applications or through virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. Some brands also offer them as stand-alone apps to act as personal shopping assistants for the consumers.

Even though still in its nascent stages, chatbots are responsive, provide quick services to the users and are a powerful link between brands and their consumers. But like most things on the web, the success of chatbots is largely dependent on content. Chatbots are computer programs that are designed to have good conversations. There a lot of tools on the internet that a layman can use to create the structure of a bot. It is developing the conversational interface that is challenging because unlike humans, bots are not capable of understanding contextual conversation.

While designing content for bots, one thing to keep in mind is that it should give the user exactly what they are looking for. Short and precise content and a perfect balance of images are important for better appeal and utility. This is, however, the somewhat easy part. The real challenge lies in replicating the human behaviour in conversational situations. This is why content creators today need to have an in-depth knowledge of the way people communicate with each other. Nobody would like to interact with a bot that throws up abrupt and unrelated responses. The messages – right from how the bot greets the user to the actual response should feel ‘human-like’. A good chatbot must be able to offer the nearest replicas of real-time communication transactions. This can be ensured by hiring accomplished content agencies.

Chatbots are capable for redefining how businesses communicate with their consumers or target population and are undoubtedly the future of communication and engagement platforms. Designing content for chatbots requires a deep understanding of human behaviour and their reactions. Ultimately, a chatbot is simply a software that has been designed to ‘converse’ with users. It needs human intervention that can transform it from a bot to human-like, and complicated to helpful.  Given this newfound opportunity, it would be fair to assume that the importance of expert content agencies will continue to grow in the time to come. Content, still is the King.