Everything marketers need to know about chatbots (in under 3 minutes)

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Chatbots here, chatbots there, chatbots everywhere.

Do you work in marketing, advertising or communication and recently asked yourself what everyone – including that know-it-all intern with the smarty pants glasses – is talking about?

I know that feel, bro.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I myself - a marketer and advertiser of 10 years - started fresh at oratio, an IT startup dealing in customer service through mobile messengers and the development of smart chatbots for eCommerce. Since then I devoured every piece of information on that topic and recapped my findings so you don't have to.

You're welcome.

Read this everything-you-need-to-know-article if you want to find out what all the fuss is about and if you should invest in learning everything about these so-called "chatbots".

PS: Read it twice if you are still pitching apps.

Why you should jump on the botwagon right now

Before we talk about chatbots, let's just have a look at why they will be important in the future.

Unlike marketers who like to exaggerate the facts every now and then, there's only one acceptable currency in the tech sphere, cold hard numbers. So additional BS aside, here it is, the mother of all chatbot data. It turned out that the big 4 mobile messaging apps have surpassed the big 4 social media sites in terms of MAU. Yes, this alone should keep us thinking.

Business Insider: Monthly Active Users on messaging apps and social networks

Messengers climbing on top of the Zuckerberg

While marketers are still looking for new strategies on how to reach their customers in the already overcrowded social media jungle, the industry leaders behind these gigantic platforms have their eyes already set on a new baby: the potential of mobile messengers.

After strategically splitting Messenger from Facebook in 2014, Marc Zuckerberg introduced chatbots and AI support for Messenger at this year's F8 developer conference. If the CEO of Facebook is betting on chatbots, then marketers probably should too. I mean, this guy has his own movie and most of us are still writing our own Wikipedia entries.

Mark Zuckerberg is very happy about mobile messaging

Messaging is one of the few things people do more than social networking – Mark Zuckerberg

Anyways, now that we know why messengers and chatbots are of value to marketing let's focus on the what.

Messengers + chatbots = New mobile experience

Chatbots... are they only good for chatting? What can they do? And most importantly will they eat me one day?

There's no reason to be afraid and it's also very unlikely that an artificial intelligence will wipe out planet earth (soon). Chatbots are just the technical term that is most popular right now and over a hundred synonyms already exist.

What is likely though is that in a few years from now, chatbots will be the new norm. We probably won't be using that exact term anymore, but maybe something like virtual assistant or anything else that someone in marketing came up with. If it should be you and you found out about bots in this post, write me and I will send you my bank details.

But what are chatbots now exactly?

Chatbots can be seen as light-weight apps with conversational features that operate within messengers.

The game will never be the same again once a chatbot is integrated into your favorite messaging app. Call it messaging on steroids if you want to, but if you thought that sending emojis, stickers or gifs is fun, try writing "pizza" to DOM the pizza bot and order a pizza right away in Messenger.

With the added features such as browsing, placing orders, making payments or watching cat videos, messaging apps will quickly evolve into something way more than just a communication tool. Your mobile experience will increase a thousandfold once you can control the whole of the internet via one single interface.

Don't just talk about it, make it happen

eCommerce is dead, long live conversational commerce

Here's the final thing you really need to know to sound like an expert in the field of mobile messaging and chatbots.

Every marketer knows that you can't call yourself great at what you are doing if you can't namedrop a few important industry heroes or some of the most trending #buzzwords. Lucky for you, there is definitely at least this one guy that you need to know and he also happens to coin one of the most important marketing terms of 2016, conversational commerce.

Meet Chris Messina, inventor of the hashtag and former Googler while now working at UBER in San Francisco. In his progressive post on the outlook of the chatbot industry, he defines #ConvComm as:

[...] utilizing chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.

Big words aside, this is what it really means for communication. Our interaction or the way how we talk to brands or services will change similar to how we experienced it on social media in the past years. What was once meant for your friends only, has evolved into a platform for businesses as well and users don't make a difference anymore.

And here lies the beauty. Soon you will be able to discover brands, services, and their chatbots on your preferred messenger and will be able to talk with them as if it would be the most normal thing in the world. No matter if you want to browse, shop, complain, or simply have a conversation with a random bot, your messenger will be able to do it all – thanks to chatbots!

Chris Messina aka the Ryan Gosling of Silicon Valley

Chris Messina aka Silicon Valley's Ryan Gosling (on CNN Money)

tl;dr

  • Monthly active users (MAU) of messaging apps have already surpassed social media apps and continue to grow
  • Brands will switch from social media to messengers for certain kinds of interaction to position themselves where their customers are (this will be an inevitable platform switch!)
  • Intelligent chatbots will be able to handle the majority of customer service and sales requests - 24/7
  • Placing orders, doing payments, recommendations etc. in messengers will be the new norm. Say hello to the new windows to the web & conversational commerce!

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Ashley Lapiz
Ashley Lapiz

Head of Marketing and Communications at oratio | Intrigued by technology, design and the sweet science. In a love-hate relationship with advertising. Hit me up on twitter @aboutadlife