Those Pesky Chatbots: Are They Really Replacing Email?

Say goodbye to email marketing -- it is about to be replaced by Facebook Messenger and other apps, according to Grant Fraser, the CEO of Digitonic.

Not that Messenger will prevail strictly as an app: It’s more that Messenger hosts 300,000 active chatbots — the real future of personalized marketing, Fraser says.

We have one question: Will the death of email marketing happen before or after Facebook is broken up, as demanded by Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat-Mass.)?

It’s not easy predicting the digital marketing future, nor to get into a debate about it. But we think Fraser’s argument is just another headline-grabber, and not a very wise one, given the fact that Facebook has brought an international privacy crisis down on everyone’s head and is trying to weasel its way out of it.

Fraser starts by telling BusinessCloud that chatbot click-through rates range from 15% to 60%, compared with 4% for emails.

Then he indulges in a meditation on artificial intelligence and today’s marketing: 



"A 'one size fits all' approach will no longer suffice, and the best way to stay ahead of the fast-evolving curve with chatbots is to get involved as soon as possible."

“One of the biggest challenges businesses face is providing customers with a deeper and more personal connection to brands. 

“At the heart of this challenge lies conversation to ensure they feel both heard and valued.

“Through equipping chatbots with interactive, rich media content such as quizzes, surveys and games, making conversation more fun and interesting to the user, businesses can use them to cut through crowded markets and get to the heart of consumer demands.” 

There’s nothing to argue with there — chatbots should be part of any well-conceived marketing strategy. As should email.

But have you ever tried to communicate with a badly run chatbot? Based on personal experience, many firms can’t deliver on the promise, although 80% of want chatbots, according to a report by KoeppelDirect. 

Anyway, why position this as an either-or proposition? The two channels should work together, in tandem with all the others.

Email is still widely preferred by consumers. A recent study by Visual Objects showed that 31% favor email for contacting a business. Only 9% prefer chatbots.

Millennials, however, choose social media in general.

One benefit of email is that it delivers huge ROI, and can help firms deliver both promotional and transactional messages. It will remain the marketing workhorse.



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