Chatbots are a huge new trend and a great way to help you grow your digital marketing and branding efforts.

What are chatbots?

A chatbot is in simple terms a piece of software that is programmed to learn, grow and simulate human behaviours in a conversational form over a web or mobile based chat app.

What are chatbots being used for?

Chatbots are growing year on year along with artificial intelligence and are expected to keep growing over the next few years following the AI boom. A concept of AI might be a bit complicated if you’ve never worked with it before. You might need to learn more about AI and chatbots, in particular, if you would like to understand the way this works

Chatbots are being used for everything from chat assistance on websites helping with enquiries and product information all the way through to taking online bookings and acting as virtual sales assistants.

Why are chatbots such a big opportunity?
Research from Peter Rojas over at Betaworks, show’s that AI and chatbots are now the main platforms, rather that Social Media platforms, that people are spending their time – This is why chatbots have become such a big opportunity.

This makes perfect sense as it’s where the people are – So you market using the right media to get your message to your market.

How do chatbots work?

Although chatbots use AI to grow and learn a lot of it comes down to some simple rules and triggers that you pre-program within your chatbot.

There are limitations though.

Chatbots that are built purely on rules don’t grow as a pure AI based learning chatbot.

It will only be as clever as you program it to be and the specifics of the programming may not allow the bot to answer questions outside of a specific pre-text.

Pure AI driven chatbots grow and learn on the job, you don’t have to be specific and they will be able to piece elements together to give a very accurate answer as though it were a human.

That is a very over simplified version of what a chatbot is and there can be tons of data to run through and analyse to fine tune and ensure your bot is growing.

Whether its for customer support, selling an item or fetching and retrieving specific information – A bot can be built and pre-programmed for any specific cause.

A chatbot dealing with customer service and online sales saves the need for additional in house staff and streamline your costs.

The evolution of the chatbot

Chatbots have been around for a very long time, as far back as 1966 and evolved into systems such the Microsoft paperclip and Apples Siri.
Siri is where it all kicked off and started the real big chatbot movement.

Siri is able to process all sorts of requests from calling someone to writing a text message or finding you search results on Google.
The evolution of AI has lead these chatbots to no longer just respond to keywords pre-programmed but to really understand, similar to how a human would, and respond in a logical way.

2018 and 2019 saw a huge rise in the usage of chatbots as Facebook messenger became one of the first mainstream and accessible chatbots to be used by businesses.

It allowed website owners to do all sorts of cool things including answering basic questions such as opening times, products, prices and also connecting to a human when required.

These bots will only get smarter as they slowly (or quickly) learn how to piece things together like a human would.

What can chatbots do?

The main idea behind a chatbot is to act as a natural conversational partner between the AI chatbot and your websites end user with the goal of appearing as natural as possible.

The main things chatbots can do include:

  • Saving you time and money not needing additional support staff to deal with your chat support requests and offer things such as discounts and retrieve product links.
  • Provide 24/7 support.
  • Provide an instant response and respond quicker than a human could.
  • Reduce friction – If you need to collect data, then a web form would be the typical way, but a chatbot could collect the same information without the need for a web form.

Chatbots aren’t human, they’re designed to be very helpful to the front end user and save time for the backend website owner, as the technology gets better so will the AI chatbot interaction.

5 best uses of a chatbot

Chatbots, well AI and the technology behind chatbots can be used for many things, not just website live chats, here’s a few examples of some best uses of a chatbot.

  • Ordering food – With tools like Alexa and Google Home, you can order fast food through them with very minimal friction. Simply ask “Alexa, order me a meat feat from Pizza hut” and it can be done.
  • Storing messages – Using the same devices, you can store messages in voice form for play back at a later date. This has been emphasized in the Amazon Alexa TV adverts when the Alexa is used to remind an elderly gentleman about an event later that night.
  • Telling you your favourite sports scores – The devices can pull out data like tomorrow and the results to your favourite football teams match or the Formula 1 race results can all be requested at the tone of your voice.
  • Getting the weather/TV – As well as being sued to check up on your favourite sports team, chatbots can give you TV listings for your favourite channels and also tell you the weather forecast for that day.
  • Ecommerce shopping – Chatbots can be used to place orders online on your fvavourite ecommerce websites, and the great thing is, a number of online ecommerce stores such as Amazon have even started using Facebook Messenger instead of emails for order confirmations!

Chatbots and digital marketing

Chatbots can’t build backlinks for your SEO services or do outreach for you – But there are some benefits that chatbots bring to digital marketing.

Chatbots can be used to free you time, free up your staff and quite simply streamline and automate your digital marketing efforts.

Using bots to gather data, organize data and piece it all together for your upcoming marketing campaign could save your hours.

There are automated chatbots that work on Social Networks and automatically message your contacts, engage in conversation and do to an extent, elements of lead generation for you.

This opens up the number of simultaneous conversations your company could have with prospects for very little cost.

Chatbots can also be used as mentioned previously, to answer FAQs, provide links to products/services that you offer, greet visitors as they land on your website and even schedule meetings/calls/appointments on your behalf.

Can AI design websites?

AI can to an extent design websites and in the future could change the way websites are designed. Does this mean the end of web designers? Probably not, but the way in which websites are designed could certainly change.

It uses something called ADI – Artificial Design Intelligence which uses AI to automate elements of the web design process.

The theory is that the machine learning behind ADI will understand web design trends and patterns and build a website automatically based around this understanding.

How this will tie into User Experience, use of colours and actual conversions is yet to be seen.

As it stands the only 2 ways to design a website are to hire a web designer or learn to build it yourself, ADI aims to make doing it yourself far easier.

Expect the ADI trend to grow over the coming years along with AI and the use of AI and chatbots.

There are lots of ways to use a chatbot, Siri was one of the first, chatbots aren’t just there to use on website live chat messaging systems, but can also be used for many other things and come with incredible money and time saving benefits that humans just can’t match.