The launch of Facebook’s Messenger Platform and its associated bots this past spring signals a new day in marketing automation and direct customer interaction. Embracing the best of these tools early on can revolutionize content marketing and customer relationships in unique ways.
The app revolution is over. Brands are now entering the Age of the Bots, and marketing may never be the same. Also known as chatbots, marketing bots are popping up everywhere from websites to common apps, aimed at offering users easy, personalized communication with brands. Yet they remain untested, and some forays into AI, like Microsoft’s Tay, have marketers wondering if this is an investment worth making, especially because it may lead to the end of their jobs.
Following Facebook’s April announcement, 2016 was dubbed the year for bots to rise.
However, automation has always been one of the prime goals of any marketing initiative, and at the basic level, marketing bots are just one more system of automation. While debate rages about the effect that these tools will have on the field as a whole, recognizing the early advantages of marketing bots benefits individual marketing campaigns and customer relationships alike.
By their very definition, marketing bots offer customer-users a personalized experience because they’re interactive and learn from users. Whether offered as chat on a website, as an appendage to an app or as integrated messenger bots through services like Facebook Messenger, bots encourage communication with brands and personalize that communication according to customer responses.
Getting customers to use marketing bots is easy. Facebook has designed simple plug-ins that allow users to direct message bots via their desktops and mobile devices. Website chat boxes are easy to install and follow users around, offering help the same way an on-site customer service rep does.
Facebook’s Messenger Platform also lets users streamline bot usage with other customer data, enhancing brand recognition. Through Messenger’s Customer Match feature, marketers can combine lists and access customers who have opted into text messaging through Messenger instead. This gives them direct, branded communication that reinforces their image.
Facebook Messenger has 900 million monthly active users.
Bots allow customers to do more than just talk or present articles in a news feed. Certain bots can take orders, answer common product or usage questions and even connect users to customer service in a more convenient format. They also eliminate problems companies encounter when developing and redesigning apps. Bots are not apps — they live on servers, just like websites. This makes them easier to update and less of a hassle for users who are tired of constantly switching between apps.
Unlike customer service calls, which are limited to business hours or outsourced to non-experts, a bot gives customers easy access to common answers at all times and ensures a level of product and brand knowledge that humans cannot acquire as easily. While bots may never be able to write content, they still have their role in the marketing sphere.