Messaging apps are now officially bigger than social media, particularly with millennials. While young people talking to one another is nothing new, the reality is that more and more millennials aren’t talking to one another: they’re talking to branded chatbots.
In fact, Kik recently reported over 20,000 branded chatbots on its platform. With this rise in this automated consumer-brand technology, brands are able to deliver more and better customer interactions without requiring the same resources that have been needed in the past. However, where chatbots have largely succeeded is in helping brands solve customer problems and answer questions, but the use case stops there.
Though conversations are beginning to ramp up for how marketers can harness chatbot power, less has been said about what this responsive technology means for the nuts and bolts of integrating marketing content with chatbot tech. Content marketing has a strong foothold for most brands, and marketers are wisely (finally!) thinking about the next level of analytics, targeting, and cross-channel approaches. But, with chat becoming a preferred channel for many consumers — particularly the valuable millennial demographic — it’s imperative that brands go where the people are and find ways to make chatbots work harder for the entire organization. Could this be the start of Content 3.0?
Let marketing in on the programing
Encouraging sales-marketing alignment is old news; chatbot technology means we need to talk about customer service-marketing alignment. When a consumer turns to your chat service for help with an issue, you’re offered a one-on-one interaction with someone who is solidly within your sales funnel — it’s the marketing Holy Grail. While the person’s original request should be the primary focus, chatbots provide an incredible opportunity to develop and deepen the relationship and bring the customer deeper into your brand and your products.
For instance, a brand like Lowe’s or Home Depot could receive a question about the best time to plant grass seed or the differences between varieties. Using a chatbot, the consumer would be given the answer while also being served an article from the Lowe’s blog about the best fertilizer to add to the soil when planting. By integrating these marketing assets into the chatbot service, there’s a consistent customer experience that keeps buyers coming back.
A brand that has begun to do this well is the Sephora chatbot on Kik. The beauty retailer delivers branded, educational content in a conversational format: users can request tips and then follow the chatbot’s prompts in order to receive specific information on how to best use Sephora products. For other brands looking to perform a similar interactive, automated chat service, it’s a matter of organizing the content you already have.
Build content for chatbot delivery
If a company is using the power of live chat, integrating content marketing materials is simply a matter of training your service team members to pull the right content for each customer interaction. However, with the ease of automated chatbot technology comes the need for additional preparation. Not only does content need to be tagged for certain chat keywords, but it will also need to be developed in a “if this, then that” decision tree model to continue bringing a consumer through the journey.
Content marketers are used to creating contained stories, so this is a revolutionary way of looking at the delivery of content. Whether through an article, a video or an infographic, we deliver a clear and, ideally, a direct path from beginning to middle to end.
However, with chatbots, we’re looking a whole new paradigm in content creation. Content needs to be thought of as a true conversation mapped out in full, with plans for what content should be delivered based on any number of pre-identified customer responses. This is content as a decision tree — it’s going to have diversions, branches and detours before you get to the core message. It’s not a natural way to think about content for many marketers but in order to adapt to chatbot-using millennial customers, it’s more necessary than ever to have a profound understanding of the customer and his or her interests, goals, concerns and potential responses to the message.
Chatbots provide an incredible opportunity for brands. A customer has asked to engage directly, so don’t just chat to them. Have a conversation.