What is a Chatbot? Why Your Marketing Strategy Needs Them


I don’t make very many predictions when it comes to the future of technology, but when I see technology advance I often see the incredible potential for marketers. The evolution of artificial intelligence combined with unlimited resources of bandwidth, processing power, memory and space are going to put chatbots front in center for marketers.

What is a Chatbot?

Chat bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence. They can transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation. Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian

Chatbots aren’t new, they’ve actually been around as long as chat has been around. What’s changed is their ability to actually hold a conversation with a human. In fact, the technology is so advanced that there’s a chance you may have already had a conversation with a chatbot and not even realized it.

Why Marketers Will Use Chatbots

There are two ways to interact via the web. Passive interaction leaves it up to the visitor to initiate contact with your brand. Proactive interaction initiates the contact with the visitor. When a brand initiates contact with the visitor; for example, asking the visitor if they need assistance, the majority of visitors will respond. If you’re able to engage and assist that visitor, you can accomplish multiple goals:

  • Visitor Engagement – Does your company have the resources to ask every visitor how you can help them? I don’t know of a company that does… but a chatbot can scale and respond to as many visitors as needed, when needed.
  • Site Feedback – Collecting critical data about your page from your visitor can help you improve your site. If everyone is landing on a product page but confused about pricing, your marketing team can enhance the page with pricing information to improve conversions.
  • Lead Qualification – A significant amount of visitors may not be qualified to work with you. They may not have budget. They may not have the timeline. They may not have other resources that are necessary. A chatbot can help determine which leads are qualified and drive them to your sales team or to the conversion.
  • Lead Nurturing – Collecting information about your prospect can help you personalize and engage with them throughout the customer journey or when they return to the site.
  • Guidance – A visitor has landed on a page but can’t find the resource they’re looking for. Your chatbot asks them, the prospect responds, and the chatbot presents them with a product page, a whitepaper, a blog post, a photo or even an video that can help push them through their journey.
  • Negotiation – Marketers already know how well remarketing and retargeting work once a visitor leaves your site. What if you could negotiate before they leave? Perhaps the pricing is a bit steep so you could offer a payment plan.

Imagine having an unlimited team of greeters to engage with your visitors and help guide them through to a purchase… wouldn’t that be a dream come true? Well, that’s what artificial intelligence and chatbots will be for your sales team.

The History of Chatbots

History of Chatbots

Infographic from Futurism.

One comment

  1. 1

    Really into this article and infographic, but I sure hope we don’t think of chatbots as the obvious evolutionary step for all bots!

    We’ve been wondering about bots and how they should be helpful for 6+ years. Our opinion ? Really revolutionary bots will be so much better than these chat bots – and we’ll probably stop referring to these kinds of chat bots as bots at all.

    An analogy – these bots are like the Web 1.0. They do a job, but it doesn’t feel social – it feels like when automated voice systems replace real life customer support.

    Along with users of our software, UBot Studio, which lets anyone build bots, we’ve been wondering what are bots really useful for, long term.

    We put together an informational site that has a lot more bot-building information, including some slightly off-the-wall predictions. Check it out at http://www.botsoftware.org. It’s about bots in general, not just chat bots, but it should be useful for anyone who wants to learn more!

    Thanks for your article!


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