Who needs a chatbot? Well right now if you have a large ecommerce website offering a lot of goods and/or services, your business probably would benefit from having a little helper to answer standard, oft-repeated customer queries round the clock.
The chatbot technology is not new, but it’s widespread use is, relatively. It certainly is set to become more efficient and widely used in the future with the development and integration of artificial intelligence (AI). AI with machine learning ability will enable chatbots to respond and interact more like a human being, rather than just software that is programmed to recognise and answer standard requests or queries.
Already we are meeting chatbots on a variety of websites (mostly big brands) like online fashion stores and medical advice services: anywhere that the user needs to be pointed in the right direction to find specifically what he/she wants. You can already talk to a chatbot to order pizza, beef up your cooking skills with the Heston Blumenthal bot, find a date, check the weather and book and plan a holiday. Then of course there are virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana. Admittedly many currently used chatbots are a bit laborious, usually offering you multiple choice answers and, if none suit your purpose, directing you to contact the host company representative (a human) to take matters further – or even worse, just leave you hanging on looking at a sad face emoticon.
The day will undoubtedly dawn when consumers will not even be aware that they are interacting and holding a conversation with a chatbot instead of a real person. You’ll be able to converse with chatbots about anything, and be able to tap into an almost infinite database of knowledge. It sounds like science fiction – but as we all know, fiction in the realm of technology has a way of becoming a fast fact!
We aren’t all the way there yet, as even the likes of John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, appreciates. He said recently: “Most chatbots I see are really basic and useless”.
Maybe so, but even at this early – some might even say experimental – stage in their development, chatbots are being lauded as having benefits for business, particularly in the area of PPC marketing.
BENEFITS FOR PPC ADVERTISING
Digital marketers (ours here at Dentons included) believe that interactive chatbots can – in concert with traditional conversion rate optimisation tactics like unique landing pages – improve the user experience and thereby improve your PPC strategy.
In fact, a chatbot on a PPC landing page works two ways – you can interact with your visitor and gain valuable information about their preferences, enabling you to better chase conversions. Being able to anticipate the needs of your customer helps personalise their experience and helps you increase conversions. From the customer’s point of view it is reassuring to be greeted with customer service that can be utilised 24/7, and to be able to ask questions about a product or service before committing to a purchase.
Landing page chatbots can be programmed to ask specific questions or make alternative suggestions based on the product or service you are advertising. They can also offer clickable links that direct to other products. Any means that gleans information about those who click on your advert makes it easier to refine your targeting, and therefore keep your conversions up and your CPC down.
In the long term yes, every business, large or small, will need a chatbot, not necessarily on their website, but on a messaging platform. But not just yet!
It is obvious from recent statistics that the public at large are gradually swinging away from social media platforms towards messenger apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Telegram. As this new trend evolves it will certainly become wise – if not essential – for business to engage with this new huge audience on message apps, and the way to do it will be via chatbots.
At present chatbots are too costly for small business websites to afford, and the technology also needs refining in the area of AI. When chatbots are good enough to equal or better talking to a human, then they will definitely be worth investing in!