Why 2018 is the Year of Chat Marketing

It seemed Chat Marketing was everywhere in 2017. From the AndChill Netflix recommendation bot to the Kayak reservation bot and the Calm App’s Medidate Bot, brands employed chat in a multitude of clever, engaging ways. Given that people exchange over 1 billion chat messages with businesses each month, Chat Marketing is poised to only grow larger and more relevant in 2018.

But, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s not enough just to build a chatbot and let said bot run amok. In fact, building a marketing strategy around a bot without a larger plan or purpose is a surefire way for your bot to remain a nifty gimmick, instead of becoming a key marketing tool. And the effects of launching a chatbot simply to stay on trend, instead of using it strategically, can be dire. Remember Microsoft’s errant Nazibot, Tay?

That’s why it’s crucial that brands deploy their chatbots as part of a larger Chat Marketing Strategy. As chatbots become a mainstay of digital marketing, and as their underlying AI becomes smarter and more sophisticated, brands are recognizing the need to be tactical about where chat fits into an organization’s larger marketing goals. Brands also recognize that chatbots are the best way to engage people long term — which makes the need for a comprehensive strategy around them all the more pressing.

This is why 2018 is poised to be the year of Chat Marketing.

So what is Chat Marketing?

Chat Marketing is a revenue channel that uses conversation to engage customers, build long-term customer loyalty, and increase sales.

In the past, brands could talk at their customers — through email, on their website, via their social media page — but they struggled to talk with their customers. Even if brands could get people to listen, it was difficult to keep them listening — and nearly impossible to get people to respond. Even on social media, when people were liking companies’ statuses and retweeting them, the level of engagement was passive and shallow.

Chat Marketing, on the other hand, enables brands to engage people in deeper, more meaningful interactions. Say someone has just bought a new pair of sneakers. You can message them shortly after their purchase and ask how they like the sneakers, or invite them to send a photo with the sneakers on. A month later, you can suggest a new gym bag to go along with those sneakers. Or new socks. If you’re having a sale on pumps  and your customer has already told you they work at a law firm in an urban area , you can suggest those next.

Or say that customer added those sneakers to their cart but then clicked away from your site. Instead of merely sending them an email reminder that’ll go to spam, you can chat with them and find out why they didn’t buy. Perhaps the shoes were too expensive — but you have a sale coming up. Or perhaps they didn’t like the color — but you have more colors coming in next week. Chat Marketing makes relaying that information seamless and relevant.

Thus, a good Chat Marketing plan doesn’t just cover marketing. It’s a holistic strategy that ties into sales, customer service, and even R&D. Your chatbot becomes part of a broader strategy that engages people and keeps them engaged over their lifecycle as a customer.

But how can I patrol these conversations?

The truth is that you can’t patrol every customer conversation. That’s the beauty of Chat Marketing: you program your bot to have the conversations you’re not there to have. That means you can engage a large number of customers at once without any actual human presence. While it’s still crucial that people can talk to a human assistant if they need more in-depth assistance, the AI at the core of Chat Marketing is only becoming more intelligent and more powerful. The conversations your chatbot is having are only getting more advanced.

When you team up with the right Chat Marketing partner, you won’t need to patrol conversations between your bot and your customer. Instead, you can mine them for from-the-source customer insights to personalize future interactions and provide people with the best brand experience possible. You will learn exactly what messages will resonate with people at what times, and you’ll become expert at anticipating people’s needs.

In short, Chat Marketing has the power to transform the way you communicate with people. You just need to hone it properly.

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