Spoiler alert: Chatbots are not the death of email marketing. Every year or so a new technology comes around claiming to bring about the end of email marketing. Fortunately, for people such as myself (email marketers), this is far from the truth. While email marketing should co-exist and even thrive off of new technology like chatbots, it still is the #1 preferred channel for consumers to hear from their favorite brand. Plus, it also brings in $40 in ROI to every $1 spent. While chatbots bring about great potential, they still have a way to go before they can rake in that much ROI. In this article we’ll break down chatbots, what they hold in store for 2017 and how this technology will co-exist with email marketing.
What is a bot anyway?
A bot is software that impersonates a real-live person. While bots exist now to eliminate mundane tasks, that was not always the case. Bots started off actually annoying the common marketer. By increasing page views or spamming your Twitter feed, bots have been around for quite some time, but now they finally work in favor of the marketer.
With the help of technology, chat bots are progressing and becoming more contextually relevant for the end user. For example, TechCrunch has toted that Facebook’s Messenger bot store could be the most important launch since the App Store.
Below are major companies that embraced this trend within the past two years:
Messaging apps are not the only platform to succeed with bots. eCommerce is seeing a huge surge in bots being adopted on their website. For example, if someone was searching for shoes on a shoe store site, they could message with the bot asking for grey dress shoes, opposed to searching the site for a while in an effort to find the type and color of shoe they are looking for. With this type of personalization and customer service, bots are a powerful tool.
The issues at hand
Frankly, one of the main reasons email marketing has nothing to fear is that the technology just isn’t there yet for bots to be taking over anything. “The conversations aren’t fluent or smart enough to either trick the consumer to believe they’re talking to a human, or to deliver a good enough experience so that the human doesn’t care,” said Dean Withey, the CEO of ubisend, a mobile messaging solutions firm.
Plus, according to Forrester research only 4% of digital business professionals are actually using chatbots. Andrew Hogan, an analyst serving customer service professionals at Forrester said, “What’s really happening is that there’s been an explosion of attention and development but not necessarily a real business impact.”
There is just too much room for error at the moment for businesses to reply solely on chatbots to provide the support a real customer is looking for. Let’s put it this way, chatbots are good for engaging, not necessarily closing.
Chatbots, email and AI
When thinking about chatbots moving forward, you shouldn’t look at it as email vs. chatbots, having to choose one or the other. Instead, think about chatbots as being a new component to test and interweave into your email strategy.
A great example of this already in motion is through a company called Conversica. Conversica offers a virtual sales assistance that starts reaching out to leads 24/7 within minutes of a user showing interest in your brand. Through email, this virtual assistant sends AI emails that appear to be coming from an employee. Wondering if the copy reads like a robot? Not quite. In fact, 50% of leads reply to AI emails as they are written in a conversational manner and can be more engaging than lead-nurturing autoresponders.
With Conversica, it’s almost like having a little robot on payroll, engaging and nurturing a lead for days, weeks or even months until they make that sale or the lead opts out. When a lead is ready to purchase, Conversica's lead nurturing software alerts a sales representative that it’s time to reach out and make the sales pitch. We’re still not at the point yet where human interaction is completely removed from the sales cycle.
Relevancy is what matters most
At the end of the day, the most powerful strategy on your side is providing relevant information to the end user. That’s why email is here to stay and thanks to the new and helpful technology chatbots provide, us marketers are even closer to ensuring we deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person. So email marketers, embrace the bots and incorporate them into your email strategy to ensure you’re delivering to the best of your ability.
With email here to stay, how are you testing your email before you hit send? Every email client is different, so test your campaign across the most popular inboxes in seconds to ensure your message is not only relevant, but will look fantastic in every inbox.