By Nick Rojas
For this week, ISM will feature a another Guest Blog Post from Nick Rojas concerning Artificial Intelligence.
Digital marketing has revolutionized customer acquisition in several ways. On the one hand, it has provided a wealth of new tools to help marketers engage prospective buyers and drive them into their purchasing funnels. On the other hand, it’s also set new standards in place that marketers will have to meet if they hope to stay competitive. One of these standards has to do with the successful implementation of Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence is still new enough to be novel and exciting to consumers, but marketers need to learn how to make the best possible use of it right away if they want to ride the initial wave of public interest.
One of the most popular and effective forms of Artificial Intelligence used in marketing today is the chatbot. Chatbots are a huge boon to customer acquisition in the digital sphere. They can effectively impersonate sales, customer service and tech support all at once, while also throwing in a couple of unique features that make them intriguing to users. This means that chatbots have an impact on virtually every aspect of CRM.
Chatbots vary greatly in their complexity though—some of them are limited to performing simple functions like answering basic questions with scripted responses, while others are designed to collect information about visitors and generate whole personalized conversations with them from scratch.
The Basic Choice: Retrieval-based vs Generative Chatbots
There are two predominant models for building chatbots: retrieval-based and generative. The difference is fairly cut-and-dried: retrieval-based bots use a database of ready-made responses to interact with customers, whereas generative bots create their own. The work of a retrieval based bot consists of matching it’s replies to a potential customer’s queries, so these bots can be great for providing simple answers to questions like “Can you tell me about your company’s newest product?” or “How long has your organization been in business?” However, a retrieval-based bot is less likely to sustain a visitor’s interest over long periods of time, since their ability to carry on a conversation is limited.
Generative bots, on the other hand, can continue to come up with new conversation fodder based on information they’ve collected over time. Take Mitsuku for instance, a bot designed specifically to have life-like conversations with visitors. Mitsuku isn’t technically a sales bot, but it is an extraordinarily popular one. As of 2016, Mitsuku had over 5 million users on the web—and that’s not even counting the people who accessed the bot over platforms like Skype or Kik. Not bad for bot that doesn’t even represent a product or service.
This brings up another crucial point. Providing essential info about a company isn’t the only way in which bots can acquire customers—in fact, it may not even be the most effective. Artificial Intelligence can also be designed to perform a number of other behaviors, from telling jokes and playing games to giving recommendations. This last example is particularly useful when it comes to customer acquisition.
Take Barchick for instance, a virtual concierge service whose chatbot can provide users with recommendations for nightlife. Barchick’s leadership realized something incredibly valuable: due to the proliferation of advanced smartphone technology and other factors that allowed access to messaging apps on the go, a huge number of consumers were using these apps when it came time to decide on a bar to visit. By putting their bot in popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Barchick ensured that they would be in a valuable position to acquire subscribers—which are as good as customers if you make your revenue by selling ad space.
With so many potential applications for Artificial Intelligence in the digital marketplace, ambitious companies can hardly afford to ignore them. Deciding on the right model for your chatbot, optimizing it for mobile use via phone-friendly apps, and outfitting it with a few features that add value to your users’ experiences is an excellent way to make sure that you’re using this technology to your advantage.
In our next post, ISM will return to the topic of Gamification. We will discuss how Gamification is capable of delivering meaningful business results for an organization.
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Nick Rojas is a small business consultant and business journalist, currently splitting time between Southern California and Chicago. He is an occasional contributor to ISM’s blog. Please visit Nick’s twitter account: @NickARojas.