Chatbots have taken the internet by storm, and have quickly become a preferred solution for businesses to communicate with customers. At its most basic level, a chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory and text methods.
Brands have much to gain from chatbots. They’re uniquely poised to provide 24/7 availability to customers and can deliver them a more personalized user experience. Even more, it provides a new channel for brands to meaningfully engage with customers and another way to drive traffic to their sites or apps.
The way we use apps and social are changing
With private messaging being used more than traditional social sites, a new term has emerged to describe this new form of interaction — and it’s called “dark social.” Coined by Sr. Editor at The Atlantic Alexis C. Madrigal, dark social channels include messaging apps, email, and private browsing, and refer specifically to interactions that cannot be traced by web analytics. According to Statista, 69 percent of social media is dark social, compared to 23 percent being Facebook and 8 percent being all other forms of social media.
In a 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report by comScore, it says Americans typically spend about half their app time to one app and spend a majority of their app time using just three apps. On top of that, a whopping 66 percent of smartphone users download zero apps per month.
To conclude, we know people use dark social more than any other kind and their app time is concentrated to just a few apps. The most downloaded apps as of June 2016, were Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram and the most used was Facebook and Facebook Messenger sat at number three.
What does this have to do with chatbots?
Brands like Fandango, Disney, NBA, and eBay use Facebook messenger as a host for customers to use their chatbot. Facebook Messenger has a billion possible users to engage with. Messaging apps are more popular than social media apps today and proving to be an important way to build online business.
A report by Business Insider found, “The combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks. Chat apps also have higher retention and usage rates than most mobile apps. Finally, the majority of their users are young, an extremely important demographic for brands, advertisers and publishers.”
Creating conversational commerce
Where there’s an opportunity for commerce, there’s an opportunity for marketing. Chatbots can enhance your brand by adding a service to make your customer’s life easier. Let’s say your brand has a chatbot that can have conversations with your customers.
Now their purpose isn’t to replace human interaction, but to program the bot to use your brand’s voice and provide links to your products. Take Casper’s Insomnobot-300 for example, where you can actually speak to a bot if you can’t sleep at night. This bot provides a service for people, spreads brand awareness, and can control what it brings up in the conversation.
You can personalize the conversation
When your customer is in a conversation with your chatbot, the chatbot is constantly learning about the customer to provide it with the best advice possible. You can even have your chatbot give your customer a questionnaire before starting a conversation with them.
From calling them by their first name, to giving them a movie time to a film with their favorite actor, you can control and personalize the conversation with the customer. This type of personalization will be essential in delivering customers incredible experiences in the digital age.
Digital experimentation doesn’t have to be costly
If you’re worried about the initial startup investment of a chatbot, don’t. They’re simple and cheap, and with an increasing number of companies like Google open sourcing their chatbot code, the opportunities are boundless. Companies can leverage any number of free open-source tools to build a chatbot and then deploy it using messaging apps like Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Kik.