We spoke to Ryan Dearlove, Founder at Chit Chat Agency to discuss the rise of social messaging apps and how businesses are using them to increase sales, nurtures leads, boost engagement and improve customer care.
Ryan’s helped leading and ambitious brands transform their social messaging channels into powerful marketing and customer support tools.
What makes chat marketing and social messaging bots so exciting?
Social messaging chatbots make it easy for consumers to get answers and complete actions in messaging platforms they already use every day without the need to download any new apps. How people discover, decide, buy, share and become brand advocates is a process that has moved online, and increasingly mobile. Most notably, the upsurge of real-time messaging has led to a huge shift in how people choose to connect with businesses. Messaging apps have overtaken social media platforms in the number of active monthly users by over 20%.
It’s clear more people are using messaging apps to communicate online, are brands joining them?
Conversations are how humans on the internet connect with each other. Unfortunately, that’s not how most marketing on the internet connects with humans. But that is changing. This new type of communication between brands and people means talking with them, not at them.
Are you seeing a shift in marketing budgets?
Despite the huge growth in messaging apps many brands’ marketing budget allocations do not reflect this shift in how people prefer to consume and communicate online. However, smart brands are beginning to realize the opportunities available on messaging apps such as Messenger, Instagram Direct, and WhatsApp to shape consumers’ decisions and experiences. People are using messenger apps for more than just text. People are using messaging apps to book a reservation, get instant answers, perform research, get granular recommendations, get quick quotes, buy products and so much more.
Does the rise of real-time messaging mark the decline of email marketing?
I think this is often brought up because it’s a very easy comparison and one everyone can relate to. Messenger bots are not about replacing email or any other channel for that matter, at Chit Chat we often create multichannel channel campaigns with real-time messaging playing a central role, email still plays a very important role in the overall omnichannel strategy. According to Mailchimp’s data, email open rates are about 20%, on average. For Messenger, it’s about 80% percent, the engagement metrics on messaging channels are so much higher which of course grabs the headlines. For me, what makes conversational marketing so exciting is that it is the only marketing channel that allows you to extend the conversation beyond the initial click on a 1-to-1 basis at scale.
Many chatbots include AI, how do you see AI progressing?
AI is very exciting and I think in the coming years we will see use cases no one expected or predicted. From a chat marketing and customer care perspective, AI allows us to add another dimension to the conversational experiences that we create. The most frequent use of AI in our chatbot projects is knowledgebase assistants, we can train the bots to understand frequently asked questions. Typically, we are able to answer up to 80% of questions asked and for the queries the bot is unable to understand we can flag these and assign them to a the customer care team to manually follow-up, AI is not perfect, it’s really important to set expectations. It’s a huge time saver, reduces costs and it allows the customer care teams to focus on more important tasks rather than answering repetitive questions.
How do you create the AI element of your bot builds?
Not every bot we create needs to include AI, we always design and build bots around the clients objectives. When we identify that a bot will be improved by including AI we typically use Google Dialogflow to design, create and train the AI element of our bot builds, it’s platform agnostic which means we can integrate the AI agents into our chatbots that are deployed on platforms such as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Do you have any examples of innovative AI builds?
Yes, just in the past year we created a virtual cheese connoisseur that was able to process information on over 1000 cheeses, the questions you could ask were very complex. We also created a Messenger and Instagram chatbot for a start-up company that used AI to interpret peoples dreams and helped them understand the hidden connections within their waking life. As I previously mentioned the most common use of AI in our social messaging chatbots is more focused around customer care such as answering frequently asked questions but it’s always fun to work on these more ground-breaking projects.
Do you find that people are frustrated when using bots?
The world “bot” is unfortunately associated with negative connotations. I think people may have outdated understandings of what chatbots are and what role they play, however, I believe these misconceptions are changing as people become more exposed to them and the technology improves. I think people are frustrated by poor experiences in general, that’s the bottom line. These experiences can come in many forms, a poorly designed website, an app plagued with bugs, a badly designed chatbot or perhaps an automated voice system that sends you in circles. If a problem can be solved or a conversion completed in under a minute on a messaging app you already have installed on your phone that pretty much beats any other option out there. I hate having to wait 30 minutes just to chat with a representative on a call or waiting hours for a response via email. We are in the era of instant gratification, consumers expect to be able to find and access the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. And when a business can’t provide that type of experience, they quickly become frustrated, when done right, chatbots can undoubtedly ease these types of frustrations.
What tools do you use to create your bots?
We are agency partners with leading bot building platforms such as ManyChat and ChatFuel which are great for creating the front-end of your social messaging bots. Every person who communicates with your chatbot becomes a contact or subscriber, these bot building platforms allow you to easily store and use this data, you could call them social CRMs rather than bot building platforms. You can leverage this data captured during your conversations such as product preferences, interests, and customer intents to create customer profiles and segment customers like never before. More complex chatbots will require 3rd party integrations and perhaps some custom coding.
How do people access bots that businesses have created?
Convenient entry points into social messaging bots can be created that make it easier for people to connect with your conversational experience in an instant. For example, QR codes can be used as an entry point, unique URL links can also trigger specific messages within your chatbot, a chat widget can be embedded on your site, people can visit your social profile to message directly and of course you can tap into Facebooks powerful advertising capabilities that allow you to connect ads to your messaging experience.
What types of businesses can benefit from social messaging bots?
Chatbots are not just for big businesses. Social messaging bots are suited for any business that sells products or services to consumers or any organisation that interacts with the public in general. Universities, consumer packaged goods, ecommerce businesses, car dealerships, insurance brokers, Amazon sellers, entertainment venues, restaurants, government agencies, financial institutes, travel operators and even legal firms have all benefited from chat marketing strategies.
What new opportunities do you foresee for chatbots in 2022?
In terms of daily usage, more people use social messaging apps than social media, so Facebook is investing heavily in this area. The standalone improvements of chat apps such as WhatsApp and the cross-platform integration of Messenger and Instagram DMs is a great opportunity for brands. Adam Mosseri (Head Of Instagram) recently said that for 2022 Instagram “will focus more on messaging” that statement is very exciting. The vast majority of incoming messages are pre-purchase, so brands that use Instagram messaging will have a marketing edge, with the crumbling of third-party cookies taking ownership of these one-to-one relationships is even more important.
How will the demise of 3rd party cookies impact chat marketing?
The mobile advertising industry is in flux at the moment as Apple continues to push privacy policies to prevent its customers from being tracked over the internet. Google is also planning to roll-out changes that will impact 3rd party cookies. Chat marketing is somewhat shielded from these changes as it uses first-party data rather than third-party data. Businesses will need to move from third-party to first-party data if they want to establish meaningful connections and drive growth, channels that use first-party data such as email, chat and SMS will witness further growth. To reduce dependence on third-party data and enable one-to-one customer relationships, I believe you’ll start to see brands launch first-party data strategies to gain new insights and engage consumers in new and innovative ways. Businesses need to re-invent how they connect and build relationships.
If you’d like to learn more about why smart businesses are investing in chat marketing you can download Chit Chat Agency’s chat marketing guide for free. In the guide you can discover how businesses are using social chatbots to improve their bottom-line, boost customer satisfaction levels, and reduce overheads.