In the beginning (1966) there was ELIZA – she was the first bot of her kind, had about 200 code lines and was extremely smart. But you probably don’t know her. Later came PARRY who was smarter than ELIZA (and could mimic a paranoid schizophrenic patient). But you probably don’t know PARRY either. Or ALICE (1995) or JABBERWACKY (2005). But you know Siri! And right there, there is brilliant marketing.
The bots have been around for a long time now, but they weren’t always popular until Apple. Always one step ahead of its competition, Apple not only introduced the services of a chatbot, but also used it to create a unique brand image. It killed two birds with a metaphorical rock known as Siri. No one came back from there. Siri was / is a household name. She can read stories, predict the weather, give extremely witty answers, just like a human would, and in one case Siri is also known to have called 911 and saved a life.
Why marketing with bots is a good idea
Even in the early days, chat bots changes the way brands communicate, thereby marketing themselves. First, individuals are spoiled by a million apps rooting in their digital space. Where apps and websites have failed, the bots succeed. It performs relevant functions, such as addressing queries, providing customer support, offering suggestions and, in addition, secure messaging platforms that are visited by customers. Facebook Messenger with over 800 million users is one such example. If Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s words are anything to go by, chatbots are the next big thing.
Chatbots also replace traditional marketing methods with personal conversations, laced with subtle upsells. Take, for example, Tacobot – Taco Bell’s latest bot. The next time someone wants to order tacos, Tacobot here will list the menu and tell the user if there is an offer with a plus one. It will also suggest additions like fried beans and salsa. If the user accepts and places an order, the bot has just made an improved sale without resorting to exacting sales tactics. It is fine as a customer service for you; a very effective one at that time. Another benefit: chatbots are smart cookies. They scan internet cookies and track predictive analytics to provide suggestions based on past searches and purchases. A lot of the time it’s pretty effective.
Today, all major brands have developed chatbots. Amazon has Echo that allows users to order a pizza or buy a pen, while Microsoft’s Cortana is always ready to answer questions. Bots have this brilliant quality of being human and logical at the same time, less the human complication. It sounds like the perfect relationship any brand should have for its customer, and the bot can help you get there. It’s a marketing pro, after all.