Although the idea of chatbots has been around for quite some time (see: A Visual History of Chatbots), it has only been over the past several years that they have really come into the mainstream. Businesses like Pizza Hut, Sephora, Starbucks, and many others have used chatbots to streamline their customer service, reinforce brand awareness and personalize the customer experience.

In fact, chatbots have already changed the way many marketers think about reaching and engaging customers. By 2021, it is expected that 50% of enterprise companies will spend more on bots and chatbot creation than they will on traditional mobile app development. Customers are also eager to adopt chatbots; 40% of millennials say that they chat with chatbots on a daily basis.

What Exactly is an AI Chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer program that imitates human conversation — spoken, written or both. Chatbots can conduct conversations with people who won’t know they aren’t speaking with a real person.

How an AI Chatbot works

How an AI Chatbot works

Photo Source: Smartsheet

What Role Does AI Play?

Artificial intelligence makes it possible for chatbots to “learn” how to respond to customer requests by discovering patterns in the data. They can apply identified patterns to solve similar problems or questions. This allows the chatbot to act with more sophistication and “intelligence.” AI-powered chatbots are able to perform tasks, solve problems, and manage information, all without human intervention.

While the concept of AI chatbots may seem overwhelming, there are many benefits to incorporating them into your marketing and customer experience strategy.

What Are the Benefits of AI Chatbots?

  • AI Chatbots provide better customer service: live chat software has a 73% satisfaction rate as a way for customers to interact with businesses.
  • Chatbots allow businesses to operate 24/7 and this is important: over 50% of customers expect a business to be open 24/7.
  • Chatbots save businesses money: chatbots can reduce customer support costs by up to 30%.
  • AI chatbots are also effective at keeping customers engaged after their purchase, adding personality to a company’s brand, and creating more personalized experiences for customers.

The AI Chatbot Revolution is Coming

By 2020, it is predicted that 85% of consumer interactions will be handled without a human agent. However, there is a disconnect between marketers who believe this prediction and those who have a confident understanding of artificial intelligence. According to a survey by Demandbase, only 26% of marketers feel they “understand” AI and only 10% are already using AI in their marketing.

As marketers, it is vital that we bridge this gap. As customer expectations continue to rise, the successful use of chatbots will be a key factor in keeping your brand trending upward. To help you prepare for the revolution, here are five examples of how AI Chatbots can help you boost your brand’s marketing power.

1. Sephora’s Chatbot Engages Audiences with Conversational Marketing

Sephora AI Chatbo

Sephora AI Chatbot

Photo Source: ShopyGen

Conversational marketing is a way of engaging your audience in order to gather feedback. This information is then used to personalize the customer buying cycle and generally improve their overall customer experience.

Sephora’s chatbot, available on both Kik and Facebook Messenger, aims to do exactly that. The bot uses an engaging quiz to understand what type of content will be best suited to each customer. This tool helps customers shop and purchase products, but it also serves them inspiration, tutorials, and support that is tailored to their interests.

Sephora’s ability to personalize communication is a key strategy in keeping their customers engaged and loyal to their brand. 52% of consumers are more inclined to change brands if a company doesn’t offer personalized communication.

2. Structurely Generates and Qualifies Leads with Chatbot Aisa Holmes

Structurely AI Chatbot

Structurely AI Chatbot

Photo Credit: Structurely

Structurely is the leading Artificial Intelligence solution for real estate agents, teams and brokerages. Their chatbot, named Aisa Holmes, acts as an inside sales agent. Through 24/7 online messaging, Aisa Holmes can identify potential clients, qualify them and follow up all before a live agent gets involved. Users can ask Aisa Holmes to send home updates and identify ideal listings for them. The chatbot also gathers information on the client to determine when they will be ready to buy.

According to Structurely, “Our AI understands not every lead is ready to make a decision today. Which is why it’s flexible and respectful to those leads that are ‘just looking’ and empathizes with leads that mention a new child, new job, divorce, and other life-changing events.”

The result is a customer experience that feels personal, while still streamlining lead qualification so that human real estate agents can close sales faster.

3. Domino’s Reinforces Their Branding by Engaging Users in a Unique Way

Video Credit: I.Spot TV

Dominos was an early adopter of chatbots, using the technology to reinforce their brand personality and communicate with customers in a simple, yet engaging manner. To order a pizza, existing customers simply need to text a pizza emoji (🍕) to the Dominos chatbot. While initial options for ordering by emoji were somewhat limited, the video above shows how Dominos used the feature to relate to their customer base. According to a Domino’s spokesperson, the goal of the chatbot is to be where their customers are: “We know that customers spend a lot of time on messaging apps and that messaging is an important place for ordering to be offered.”

Recently, the Dominos chatbot has evolved, using an AI-powered voice-recognition system. This allows the bot to take telephone calls and answer questions when customers call in to check on the status of their order.

4. Marriott Improves its Customer Experience with Botlr

Marriott Chatbots

Marriott Chatbots

Photo Credit: Marriott International

Marriott International developed ‘ChatBotlr’ for its Aloft Hotels to act as an extension of the front desk and concierge service for its customers. The bot, available on Facebook and Slack, allows guests to request basic hotel services right from their own smartphones.

Use of Artificial Intelligence powers the bot, which features conversational language and gets smarter the more it interacts with guests. According to early reports from the hotel chain, 2 out of 3 Aloft guests were interacting with the ChatBotler.

According to Global Chief Commercial Officer, Stephanie Linnartz, the brand used emerging messaging technologies in order to “expand service[s] to our guests on their terms and through communication channels they increasingly prefer and feel comfortable using. The delivery of on-demand service enables Marriott to simplify travel, remove friction and power up even better service for our guests at more moments throughout their travel journey.”

5. The Wall Street Journal Keeps Subscribers Up to Date

WSJ Chatbot

WSJ Chatbot

Photo Credit: Social Media Today

It’s no secret that while email marketing can be incredibly effective, it is also increasingly challenging to cut through the email noise. Recent data shows that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day.

In response, brands are beginning to look to chatbots as an alternative to sending emails.

For example, readers of the Wall Street Journal can interact with their chatbot to easily choose when they want to be alerted. Readers can choose to receive company information, key financial metrics, live stock quotes as well as the latest news posts. This allows subscribers to stay informed without overwhelming them with information.

Chatbots are also effective at letting customers know about updates from your brand, such as announcements, webinars or special promotions. Chatbots offer a great way to approach your customers without being too invasive, while simultaneously growing your database of customers and their data.

AI Chatbots: Not Just a Buzzword

Over the past several years, Chatbots have become quite the marketing buzzword. However, this is not without good reason. Chatbots have altered customer communication, experience, and the makeup of customer service teams in significant ways. Chatbots are so effective that it is expected that 80% of businesses will have some sort of chatbot automation by 2020.

As artificial intelligence continues to improve and develop this technology, chatbots will become more and more important to businesses and the customers that engage with them. It is important for marketers to gain an understanding of this emerging industry in order to effectively incorporate chatbots into your marketing strategy.

Is your brand using chatbots to communicate with customers? If not, do you have plans to over the next year? How do you think chatbots change your business? Tell us in the post comments.

If you’re interested in learning how chatbots can better complement your social and digital strategy, attend one of our social media strategy conferences.

Another post you might want to check out: 10 Impressive Examples of AI in Marketing.