Email claimed its place as champion of the marketing world with the humble rise of Hotmail.
It’s been the champion of personalization, cold contacting, and lead generation for over a decade.
And its name is chatbot.
For the most part, these robots live on social media platforms, which is the perfect place for them to gain their foothold. After all, social media usership has grown from nothing to nearly 70% of adults over the last ten years.
That growth gives chatbots a lucrative environment for expansion.
In particular, here are four reasons that chatbots are beating email to the punch.
Why Messaging is Better Than Email
We’re going to start off by discussing reasons why messaging is better than email marketing. Then, we’ll turn our attention to how you can jump on the messaging train.
Reason #1: Messaging is new and email is old
Whenever something new and intriguing comes on the marketing scene, interest explodes.
And that’s not surprising. Think about when a new restaurant opens up in your town. Everyone in the city wants to try the newest food joint.
But why does everyone flock to a new restaurant before they know if it’s any good?
Because humans want to try new stuff.
Here’s the psychology behind it in the words of Dr. Duzel:
“When we see something new, we see it has a potential for rewarding us in some way. This potential that lies in new things motivates us to explore our environment for rewards. The brain learns that the stimulus, once familiar, has no reward associated with it and so it loses its potential. For this reason, only completely new objects activate the midbrain area and increase our levels of dopamine.”
The same is true for Facebook Messenger.
In fact, when Facebook launched its chatbot integration with Facebook Messenger, the spike in interest was undeniable.
Chatbots are new, and that’s one of the reasons that people are more apt to engage with them out of pure curiosity.
Compare that with email. We all know what email is, and we’re all used to letting our inboxes rot with thousands of unopened messages.
But messenger platforms? Not so much.
I, for one, can say that my Facebook Messenger and iOS Messenger apps almost always have zero unread messages.
And it’s not just me. Lauren Kunze, CEO of Pandorabots, mentions that “…while email marketing has an open rate of 24%, a recent chatbot rocketed past that at 80%.”
Chatbots grab the attention of your target audience better than email since people don’t yet ignore messenger notifications.
Before I get ahead of myself, though, let’s point out some stats that you’ve probably already seen.
As you can tell, instant messaging and text messaging come in second only to email in popularity. Doesn’t that mean that email is a more effective marketing strategy than chatbots and messenger platforms?
Assuming that email is more effective than messaging based on the above data is the equivalent of assuming that a website with slightly more traffic is also bringing in more leads and conversions.
The reality is that chatbots are far better at engaging your target market simply because the space isn’t yet crowded. Email, on the other hand, is old, cluttered, and easy for most people to ignore.
Reason #2: People always have their phones
I’ll bet that whether you’re in the bathroom, car, office, or at the dinner table, you have your phone on you.
Despite how some of those habits might hurt humanity’s relationships, it’s the reality.
Most of us can’t put our phones down.
Which means that we almost always have them with us.
Luckily for marketers, chatbots thrive best on mobile devices.
And since people always have their phones on them — millennials especially — chatbots also always have access to consumers, whether they’re on public transportation, waiting in a line, walking down the street, or even at a restaurant.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You can also set up email notifications on your phone.
But if you’re like me, turning on those notifications would turn your phone into a vibrating back-massager rather than the mobile device it’s supposed to be.
So even though people can turn on their email notifications, many people don’t. Which means that you can only access people via email when they’re looking.
Facebook Messenger, on the other hand, with its active 1 billion users, allows you to access your customer base at any time during the day since most people keep their notifications on.
Reason #3: Messaging is more personal
Email feels impersonal because it’s old and familiar.
Of course, email marketers are doing their best to personalize their campaigns. Interactive emails and big data personalization are two of the top email marketing priorities for 2017.
But, when it comes to email marketing on mobile devices, the complaints are plentiful. Such as receiving too many notifications that are irrelevant to the consumer.
The reason that email marketers are failing to personalize their messages lies in the nature of email itself.
First of all, email is always a shotgun blast approach. Even segmented campaigns go to a large group of people. And the worst part is that everyone knows it.
So when email marketers try to include name tags and other personal elements, it does little to actually increase conversion rates.
Email personalization efforts end up feeling more like subtle deceit than true friendship.
But is messaging better?
Well, even though everyone knows they’re talking to a bot, you can set up that bot to interact with them in ways that strengthen your brand image and feel human.
In the words of Mark Zuckerberg, “We want you to message a business just as you message a friend.”
And technically speaking, each interaction is individual, making the experience seem more personal than a single email sent to thousands of people.
Reason #4: People already use their phones to check email
We’ve already discussed three reasons why messaging is a better way to contact your customers. But here’s what we haven’t discussed. People are already using their phones to check email.
In fact, 27% of smartphone owners check their email on their phone as their emails come in.
Not to mention that users prefer messenger apps over social networking as well.
Why is that important?
If people check their email on their phone instead of desktop, and chatbots are a better platform for accessing your customers through mobile, then it stands to reason that chatbots create a better experience for your customer base.
In other words, since consumers prefer to interact with businesses on their phones, mobile-based messaging beats desktop-based email marketing.
How to Leverage Messaging
Now we’re going to turn our attention to three tips to leverage messaging today. These are the three fundamental requirements you should have for any chatbot — regardless of the product or service you offer.
Tip #1: Make your bot conversational
One of the great strengths of chatbots is that they feel personal… even though they aren’t.
Users can have a full conversation with these robots in much the same way that they would with a real person.
So despite the chatbot’s automated answers, users feel like the experience is personal.
Which, to some degree, it is.
After all, chatbots respond based specifically on the user’s choices, making it more like a choose-your-own-adventure book than a linear experience.
This means that you need to make your chatbot feel as personal as possible for the people who interact with it.
Consider, for instance, Botsworth…
The primary thing that chatbots have that email doesn’t is a strong sense of personalization. You can leverage that fact by creating interactions that feel human, even though they aren’t.
Tip #2: Automate as much as possible
The last thing you want to do is create a chatbot that isn’t completely automated. Ideally, you want to only worry about interacting with customers manually as a last resort.
After all, the entire reason that you want to create a chatbot in the first place is to make your life easier.
Chatbots can handle a variety of customer interactions. They can do a heavy amount of customer support, selling, and retargeting.
For your reference, these are the top messaging apps in the world. You might want to consider placing your chatbot on one of these.
But one thing is for sure: If you automate your chatbot, your bot will be a whole lot more effective, and your business will be more efficient.
In fact, chatbots can help sales departments save on 36% of their costs.
Of course, have an option for users to speak to a real person when necessary so they don’t become frustrated, trying but failing to choose the right options that will take them to a representative.
Ultimately, automate everything that you can. The up-front work will pay off when you start saving marketing time and money.
Tip #3: Funnel bot analytics to a cohesive dashboard
As with all marketing methods, the analytics is where the real test of your strategy comes in.
Without analytics to inform your current chatbot, you’ll probably end up swimming in the wrong direction. Or the best case scenario, you’ll swim in the right direction without even knowing why or how.
Choosing an analytics platform for your chatbot is absolutely critical to the effectiveness of your strategy.
Botanalytics is one place you can host these analytics.
Here are some things that you’ll want to consider when it comes to chatbot analytics.
- At which point do people stop engaging?
- Which interaction seems to be the most effective at gaining leads?
- How can your bot do a better job of re-engaging people who are close to leaving?
While overall analytics help determine where your chatbot is going wrong, A/B testing is a great way to determine what your chatbot is doing right.
If you’re a marketer, you know that the more you A/B test a strategy, the better.
And since the chatbot industry is so new and largely unexplored, that truth is even more vital to understand.
- Where the “buy” button is located.
- Discounts with a dollar-off amount vs. a percentage-off amount.
- Different product images.
- Varying chatbot responses to high-interest queries.
- How and where product descriptions show up on your chatbot.
It’s often easy to ignore analytics when you feel your strategy is working.
There are two problems with that.
You can’t know your strategy is working without data, and you can’t iterate your strategy and make it even better without A/B testing. That means data needs to be a vital part of your chatbot marketing strategy.
Paying attention to your overall analytics dashboard and running a consistent series of A/B tests will likely separate the wheat from the chaff in the world of chatbot success.
While email has been the leader of the marketing pack for over a decade, chatbots are giving the dinosaur a run for its money. The robots might not dominate humanity, but it’s looking like they’ll dominate email.
If for no other reason than that they allow marketers to speak to their customer base where it matters, when it matters, and how it matters.
Chatbots allow for an increase in personalization, and the fact that people always have their phones on them makes it a lucrative and largely untapped marketing space.
When building your own chatbot, though, you’ll want to make sure that you keep it conversational, automate everything that you can, and funnel bot analytics to a cohesive dashboard.
With that preparation, you can leverage the marketing potential that chatbots have to offer and interact with your target market in a way that email has never allowed you to.