Chatbots are gaining popularity and are becoming a useful tool for global marketers. They deliver an interactive messaging service, driven by computer programs or sometimes artificial intelligence (AI) and can conduct online conversations by messaging or “speaking” to users. Instead of browsing a website or having to go through a frustrating “phone tree”, users simply engage in a conversation with a chatbot. For the first time ever, people are using messenger apps more than they are using social networks. As the usage of messenger apps increases, chatbots provide a huge business opportunity to deliver more value and give competitive advantage for many products and services.
“Chatbots are the new apps,” said Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
There are primarily two ways a chatbot can function: based on a set of rules, or through using machine learning, which is a more advanced version. A chatbot that operates based on a set of rules has very limited functions, it can only respond to specific, pre-set commands. On the other hand, one that functions using machine learning has AI. AI versions are not limited to commands, as they continuously get more intelligent with the more interactions they have with people.
Here are some reasons as to why chatbots may be the next big thing in global marketing:
Chatbots can be more accessible to a wider range of people.
Chatbots are able to reach people who may not be tech-savvy. For the audiences who are unable to handle complex user experiences and want to feel that they are receiving a personal service, chatbots provide a good solution. They are straight forward and easy to use as they resemble normal text messaging which most people are familiar with.
Today’s consumers are more demanding than ever.
As cited in The Guardian, a study suggests that about 90% of messages from customers to companies on social networks are not responded to, and it takes an average of 10 hours for them to reply to the other 10%. Today’s customers have become accustomed to instant gratification and expect a reply within a couple of hours. Chatbots increase consumer interaction, and are able to assist straightaway. Backed by machine learning technology, chatbots will be able to learn from past conversations and with new ones. They build up data over time, which enables them to respond to a wider variety of queries. Machine-learning technology will gradually improve the chatbots’ ability to interact better, enhancing the customers’ experiences.
They are excellent tools for data collection and analysis.
They can gather important data about consumer behaviors, habits, and purchasing patterns. Therefore, Chatbots play an important role in global digital marketing campaigns, especially when global marketers are planning to cater their campaigns to different segments of a market.
As chatbots become more significant, it is time for businesses to look into utilizing this tool to reach global markets and gain competitive advantage.
Chatbots and Localization
Global businesses need to ensure that chatbots are able to interact as naturally as possible, like that of a real person. This is where language and localization will play an increasing key role in their development. Chatbots who serve multiple language markets must be able to understand the language and any relevant cultural references and colloquialisms. For chatbots that use a synthetic voice, accent will also play a key role. Localization of their software and design will become an important aspect to ensure a truly local experience for any global brand.
Cecilia Tang is a member of the Welocalize Global Marketing and Sales Support team.