There’s no way around it: 2018 is the year of Chat Marketing. While Chat Marketing is still in its (relative) infancy, it’s nearly impossible to escape the feverish buzz surrounding chat and how it’s helping companies revolutionize their sales, marketing, customer service, and branding efforts. Given that 1.2 billion people engage in chat conversations with businesses and brands each month, it’s clear that chat is shaping the future of how brands communicate with people.
But brands need to be wary of jumping on the bandwagon without properly evaluating which Chat Marketing platform they’re using and why. Considering Chat Marketing is a hugely potent revenue channel—it provides brands with 3x the conversion rate of email and 10x the engagement rate of ads—and considering this is where your most crucial first-party data will live, you want to pick a Chat Marketing partner you can stick with over the long term.
Here’s how to ensure your bot platform is the ideal partner for your brand:
1. It’s a fully integrated Chat Marketing platform, not merely a bot builder.
There are a lot of bot-building platforms out there, and they’re definitely not all created equal. As chatbots have become hotter, more companies have tried to cash in by developing bots that simply let brands build conversations with no larger strategy or purpose. These companies roll out an impersonal, one-size-fits-all campaign for every client.
The effects of this free-for-all can be dire. Building a marketing strategy around a bot without a larger purpose is a surefire way for your bot to remain a nifty gimmick, instead of becoming a key revenue driver. And it could seriously injure a company’s bottom line, too. Say your bot inundates a customer with too many messages, or a customer isn’t even aware they’re chatting with a bot. 73% of people say they’ll never interact with a chatbot they have a negative experience with again.
What brands need instead is a full-service Chat Marketing partner who will work with you to identify and execute a comprehensive marketing plan. Your Chat Marketing platform team should be comprised of expert performance marketers who will help you identify your goals, build a targeted and bespoke strategy to achieve those goals, and work with you to implement that strategy. They should collaborate with you on both strategic and tactical execution, whether it’s setting benchmarks or designing, say, abandoned cart campaigns. Remember: your brand and your platform team are partners.
2. They’re integrated with your other platforms.
As we mentioned, a chatbot alone is not a marketing strategy; it’s simply a tool in your larger Chat Marketing plan. But integrating your bot with your other marketing, CRM, and ecommerce platforms is an excellent way to create a seamless and cohesive funnel.
For example, if you’re a Shopify store, or if you use another ecommerce platform, you’re going to want a bot that’s integrated with your platform’s ordering, payment, and tracking system, so customers can place and pay for orders with the bot, or they can ask the bot when their orders will arrive. And if you track leads using a given CRM platform, you want your chatbot to automatically push leads into that platform. A fully integrated platform makes your job as a marketer easier and more manageable.
3. They help you own and understand your data.
One of the biggest advantages of chat is the ability to procure first-party data on a large scale. Unlike email or direct mail, you have the opportunity to see exactly who your data’s coming from and what those people want. But it’s not enough just to provide data haphazardly: your Chat Marketing partner should provide a flexible, tailored approach to tracking and understanding data. That means the platform should make your data easy to understand, and it should segment that data according to your needs.
It also means your bot partner should enable you to employ analytics that create better, more personalized customer interactions. For example, if you’re a shoe company, you know exactly who to message about black pumps and who to message about high-performance sneakers, and you know what hours which people are most likely to respond. That way, your data works to provide your customers with the most personalized experience ever—one that is certain to drive revenue and retention over the long term.
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