PMG Digital Made for Humans

Lightning in a BOTtle

3 MINUTE READ | June 26, 2017

Lightning in a BOTtle

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Katie Friedman

Katie Friedman has written this article. More details coming soon.

We’ve all talked to a robot – and that doesn’t mean we’re lonely. It means brands are quickly building and launching conversation bots to expand their marketing and customer experience efforts. A bot is software that can automate certain tasks. Messenger bots, or chatbots, have the ability to automate conversations with their users.

If you were around for the AIM craze back in the 1990’s, then you probably flirted with your crush late into the night, and you likely encountered (hopefully separately) a bot like this when talking to the username SmarterChild. Smarterchild was a bot that developed friendships with over 30 million AIM users over the course of its robo-life.

While messaging bots have been around since we were posting emo lyrics on our AIM away messages, they are just now truly finding their footing in the digital marketing space. Why? Because with more than 3 billion people currently using messaging apps globally – marketers can find a simple, data-driven way to engage with their customers in a space where their users are already comfortable talking.

Types of BotsThere are currently three types of bots: Scripted bots that only work within a defined set of rules, dynamic bots which can pull from a predefined conversational flow and learning bots which can process information and learns human behavior to get smarter over time.

Right now, the differences between these types of bots are quite distinct, but there is nothing to indicate that this will be the case for long. As bots learning capabilities improve, they’ll be able to meet a wider variety of needs and uses. A retailer that wants to present their users with a unique voice may blend a more conversational tone to their scripts to leverage their brand. A company that’s focused on branding and events can take advantage of talent to help engage customers, and a call to action to drive sales. Gone will be the days when the best a bot could hope was amusing teenagers on AIM.

The challenge for brands going forward will be attempting to find the right use for a bot that takes a piece of each of the three types of bots for a more holistic product which engages users and drives results. Does a brand need a unique voice? Does it need to drive e-comm sales, or does it need to raise awareness for a product or service? Does it engage the customers and present a memorable experience? Does using a bot rather than a person make sense for the brand? But most importantly, what is the purpose of the bot, and does it aligns with the user’s expectations?

There are a lot of options that a brand can pursue, and companies should remember that bots still serve as a direct touch-point between them and the customer. If a customer has a negative experience, they will remember that for a long time before they try the bot again.

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