One of the digital marketing trends of the year – in vogue since 2016 – is the use of chatbots for customer communications, support, and even sales.
Grand View Research predicts that the global chatbot market will reach $1.23 billion by 2025 with the bots for the marketing segment expected to have the most substantial growth as these chatbots can connect the customers directly to service providers.
In its 2018 State of Chatbots report, Drift made several fascinating notes:
- 41% of people starting online chat conversations with businesses are executives
- 15% of consumers have used chatbots to communicate with companies in the past 12 months (but this number is on the rise)
- 64% of consumers turn to chatbots for 24 hours service
- 55% of consumers prefer chatbots to get instant responses to inquiries or to simple questions
- 43% of consumers still prefer human-to-human interactions, with 30% of these worried that the chatbot could make a mistake
- 15% of consumers said nothing would stop them from using chatbots
These statistics reveal that consumers value ease of use and quick answers when they use a chatbot. This means that companies should build bots that comply with these requirements to provide a positive customer experience.
Drift is not the only company encouraging the use of chatbots. NativeMsg is optimistic as well, predicting that “efficient correct chatbot interaction is expected to increase from just 20% in 2017 to 93% in 2022.” And, a survey by Oracle, stated that 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020.
These statistics reveal that the use of chatbots cannot be viewed as a passing trend. Hundreds of large and small businesses use them effectively to support their marketing efforts.
As early as April 2017, Facebook announced having 100000 bots on Messenger and you can expect the number is higher in 2018, although there’s no official statement to support this claim from Facebook just yet. But Messenger, where over 2 billion messages are exchanged between businesses and consumers every day, offers statistics that show just how chatbots can benefit your business:
- 63% of people are messaging more than they did two years ago
- 80% of adults and 91% of teens use messaging apps every day
- 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can message
- 56% of people would rather message than call customer service
In The Chatbot Consumer Report, 3Cinteractive Corp found that one in four consumers use chatbots daily. But the same report found that 71% of consumers said the chatbot they interacted with could not answer their question or help them. This is a considerable number, but not a surprising one. Chatbot technology is still in its infancy, and although there are some success stories of using it effectively in marketing, there’s still a lot to do until it will become a mainstream channel of communication.
One of the main reasons to use chatbots is to reply to customers quickly.
According to research by HubSpot, “consumers want to use chat tools (whether it’s onsite chat or Facebook Messenger) at every stage of the customer lifecycle.”
Because consumers want to chat, chatbots make sense for instant answers to common inquiries. An example of how chatbots can be successfully used for marketing efforts is KLM’s Messenger chatbot developed in collaboration with Digital Genius. After implementing its AI chatbot on Messenger, KLM recorded a 40% increase in customer interactions with Messenger. Moreover, 15% of KLM’s online boarding passes overall are sent via Messenger:
“Messenger gives our customers the opportunity to talk to us throughout their entire journey,” explains Karlijn Vogel-Meijer , Director of Social, KLM. “We believe we can strengthen customer relationships by being where our customers are, which is Facebook and Messenger. Our next initiative is to allow people to book directly on Messenger.”
KLM’s Blue Bot is a self-learning AI chatbot adaptable to almost any device or channel. It works on Messenger, but also wherever the Google Assistant is, for instance on Google Home.
And Facebook Messenger showcases many other success stories to illustrate how to use live chatbots to improve the customer experience.
Even hotels include chatbots more and more to improve the customer experience. In Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas counts on Rose, “a virtual VIP host with a witty personality that helps guests have a better time while they're in Las Vegas,” according to Mamie Peers, the hotel’s senior director of digital, social, and eCommerce.
Rose offers bar and restaurant recommendations, plays games, offers guided tours of the hotel, and even allows guests to ask for extra pillows or other amenities delivered straight to their rooms. Rose was developed in 2017 by R/GA:
“Once we designed the unique voice of Rose, over 1,000 conversation threads were created to offer guests ways to book experiences such as restaurant reservations, spa treatments, event tickets, and spontaneous adventures like self-guided art tours.”
Marriott International uses ChatBotlr in its Aloft Hotels. This bot enables guests to text to request services, information about the hotel, listen to the brand’s #AloftLive playlist and connect with the front desk team during their stay, even when the guest is not on-property. ChatBotlr is a second generation chatbot, following Botlr, which launched in 2014. Besides ChatBotlr, Marriott Rewards chatbots are available on Facebook Messenger, Slack and soon, WeChat, and Google Assistant.
In 2016, Clarion Hotel Amaranten in Stockholm was the first in the world to have a chatbot serve guests in their suites. The bot, based on Amazon Echo, can make wake up calls, play music, call a taxi, search the web, offer information about the weather, and much more.
These few examples suffice to understand the value of chatbots for marketing:
- They can be excellent social listening and communication tools, helping your staff save time and money.
- The bots can answer fundamental questions, allowing staff to focus on sales and other marketing efforts.
- Chatbots provide 24/7 support, reducing customer wait times for answers. SproutSocial found that users expect a response from a brand in 0 to 4 hours, while most brands can guarantee a response in 10 hours.
- Chatbots eliminate this point of pain.
- Chatbots enable brands to communicate with customers in unique, memorable ways. See Rose by The
- Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas above as an example.
- Chatbots can gather emails and customer data for more leads.
- Chatbots can deliver personalized content and special offers.
- Chatbots can engage buyers after a sale, sending them personalized follow-up messages.
Sure, building a great chatbot requires skill and resources. Big companies hire outside help and develop unique bots, but smaller companies can still compete using chatbot templates
After you develop a chatbot, it is essential to promote it, to let customers know it is available and what features it offers to make their experience better. Most businesses announce the release of their chatbots with press releases and demo videos showing consumers how to use them. They have dedicated landing pages describing why and how these communication tools can benefit the users. These are things required from the moment you decide to launch your chatbot. Marketing possibilities for chatbots will continue to grow, so take advantage of the trend now. Early adopters tend to gain more in the long term.