HubSpot, a leader in the outbound marketing revolution, has posted a useful introduction to the world of Bots, those now infamous programs that perform automated tasks online. The article takes on the subject in a playful way beginning with a glimpse into a dystopian future. The fear that bots will be (they have been) misused to disseminate false information and barrage hapless users with unending marketing is very real.
“Okay, maybe that sounds a bit too much like the next superhero blockbuster.
But it wouldn't be the first time brands abused a new technology until people
were buried in spam up to their eyeballs.”
It’s true that when presented with a “glimmering new communications channel” marketers can get carried away. Optimistic by nature, they tend to underestimate the potential dangers should such technologies fall into the wrong hands.
In order to avoid repeating past mistakes, HubSpot suggests taking a new tact. The article explains how artificial intelligence (AI) chat bots can assist a customer in finding exactly what they’re looking for on a website consisting of hundreds, even thousands, of pages. Using natural language, a Bot can guide you through the process and place your order more quickly then you could have left to your own devices. This is possible because AI is capable of refining its approach as it learns from each interaction. And, all of this can be done through an interface we all know well - the text messaging app. Think WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc
Bots interpret key phrases in their conversation with a customer to aid them in finding what they’re looking for. This burgeoning evolution will appeal to those of us with cluttered in-boxes who have turned to social media to communicate with not just friends and family, but businesses large and small as well. “Ultimately, they (the consumers) now have the control — the ability to opt out, block, and unfollow any brand that betrays their trust.”
A direct line and a double-edged sword
- The article cites the history, “of disruptive ads, spammy emails, and cold calls” used to promote so-called meaningful content to consumers.
- How Bots can be frustrating when they fail to understand the context of a conversation. “To make it worse, they don't make it clear that they're a Bot in the first place, leaving no option to escalate the matter to a human representative.”
- How developing and deploying Bots will mean getting it right the first time so that customers won’t unsubscribe.
- Also covered are building a Bot and how to create a conversational flow chart.
For those of you considering employing Bots to manage admissions processes, signing up for classes, or any number of processes Battle of the Bots is a fun introduction to the marketing future. To read the full article click here.
Marketers: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, by Kipp Bodnar for HubSpot
How to Build a Chatbot from Pitch to Promotion, by Amanda Zantal-Wiener
Report: Mobile Users Spend 80 Percent of Time in Just Five Apps, by Greg Sterling
Messaging apps are now bigger than social networks, Business Insider
Facebook to expand Messenger home screen ads beta worldwide, & Facebook Messenger hits 100,000 bots by Khari Johnson Facebook Messenger Day hits 70M daily users as the app reaches 1.3B monthlies, by Josh Constantine