Chatbots, The New-Age Marketers


We’ve all heard that bots are the future. In fact, if you’re pondering whether or not to implement a bot for your business, it’s a redundant question. Modern-day commerce is bot-powered.

As marketers, we have a bad habit. We often tend to grab hold of glimmering, new age channels and scorch them to ground zero. It starts with a sense of panic. Our customer base is ever-dwindling and competition ever-rising-yet, we end up only trying to meet our monthly goals. The result- we create more content, send more notifications and cross our fingers. And when a blue ocean channel opens up, we run- forgetting the reason people flocked there in the first place.

Messaging without a doubt will the next great marketing channel. But would we copy and paste our strategies of old and repeat the same mistakes?

Without over-complicating our lives, let’s try and figure out bots. It’s nothing more than a computer powered program that automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface. More advanced versions of these bots are powered by artificial intelligence, helping the bot in understanding complex requests, give personalized responses and improve the conversation over time. This AI-driven technology is still in its nascent stage as most bots follow a set of rules programmed by a human via a bot-building platform. It is literally as simple as ordering a list of if-then statements and writing canned responses, often without needing to know a single line of code.

Bots accomplish their task, start to finish, in the places where you’re already spending most of your day: messaging apps. Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Viber, bots integrate with most apps and are easily available. Remember the days when we loathed about apps? Bots solve for those things. As a user, you do not have to download something you’ll never use again. It’s said that most people stick within five apps. And they’re increasingly being claimed by messaging apps. More than social media apps.

This all is a part of a larger shift we’re seeing in consumer behavior.

With email inboxes becoming cluttered, there has to be a better touch-point for consumers as well as brands. Ultimately, users also want the ability to opt-out, block, and unfollow any brand that betrays their trust.

With the aid of messaging apps, bots truly help consumers find solutions no matter where they are or what device they use- no forms, spammy inboxes, or wasted hours finding and scrolling through old content. Communication, service, and transactions intertwine and unlike the self-servicing marketing of the past, bots provide a service.

After decades of disruptive ads, spammy emails, and cold calls, content marketing was heralded as a way to build relationships based on trust – marketing teams could love. But the more content we created, the less lovable it became. Somehow making a purchase meant brands having the permission to email users every day from now until eternity.

Unfortunately, we as marketers have had a bad track record with new-age communication channels. And to be honest it’s not hard to see us ruining bots just like we did with content and email.

Coupled with messaging, bots have a double-edged sword. They provide a scalable way to interact one-on-one with buyers. Yet, they fail when they don’t deliver an experience as efficient and delightful as the complex conversations people are accustomed to having with humans.

But this time, our marketing efforts hit much closer to home. When we spammed someone’s email, at least there was technology to filter out the noise. But since chatbots function within messaging apps, we are invading and polluting a personal space. Users will unsubscribe from our bot without thinking.

The stakes are very high to get messaging right.

The issue of building a bot isn’t a technical one. It’s about making it conversational. Our job is to understand the interactions our audience is already having with our brand and then harness the chat interface in a way that yields maximum impact with minimum friction.

There’s no downplaying what bots could do. For brands and consumers alike, we have an opportunity to retrieve communication and commerce. Research would become convenient, purchases streamlined, and services personalized.

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