Chatbots in Marketing: Why You Should Care

Chatbots in Marketing: Why You Should Care

Philippa Dods
6 June 2017

“The Robots Are Gonna Take Our Jobs!”

~Hysterical Marketers everywhere

In an incredibly exciting and fascinating time where artificial intelligence is disrupting almost every industry – chatbots have become something of a buzzword. What are these little machines, what is their function and main purpose and how important are they, really, in enhancing customer experience and ultimately increasing sales revenue?

Is all the paranoia around people losing their jobs to robots within the next 5-10 years just noise, or is it a possibility that we need to consider? Some experts believe that failure simply means failing to adapt. The digital era in which we live in today, where change is rife, means that we should adapt, or at least understand, these changes in technological advances. If we ignore it, however, the consequences may mean that we are forced to close doors of the business.


They say forewarned is forearmed, so to help our fellow marketers out, we have compiled a list of pros and cons about chatbots – and why you should care.


1. High training costs

First on the list because it is applicable to everyone, the high price involved in training chatbots is arguably its biggest disadvantage.

The cost of training a chatbot has several variables: size of the business, the business goal it wants to achieve with chatbots, the number of chatbots and messaging applications used and the expected volume of conversations had by the chatbots.

A large enterprise which hires a software development company to create the robots can spend the equivalent of between R65 000 and R130 000 per chatbot as well as monthly management costs. Using an in-house team can be expensive too but will depend on what you pay employees who match this career profile. Self-service platforms may then be the easiest route but also the most complicated. The price is around R250/month for 15 bots and 2 500 interactions, or R650/month for 25 bots and 20 000 messages. But isn’t one message equal to one interaction? And how can you estimate how many bots you’ll need and how many interactions there’ll be?

2. Technological limitations

These may include limitations in NLP (natural language processing) technologies, which is not yet as strong as the average human. It is difficult to program a machine to deal with the unknown, whereas when humans face the unknown, they handle it by using reason and experience to get to a conclusion. People are also better at detecting emotion, tone, nonverbal language such as body language, and therefore can better gauge the success or failure of a real-time interaction.


3. Risk of replicating errors at scale

Other inherent risks associated with chatbots and high levels of automation is that of automated mistakes. When it comes to personalised conversations, there is the question of privacy standards and ethical concerns. Chatbots may be explicitly biased in their automation, unable to solve complicated customer challenges, and one mistake can quickly lead to thousands of the same error within minutes.



1. Visitor engagement

If blog posts are glanced over within 15 seconds by most website visitors, and video marketing marginally increases time spent on the website, it’s clear that marketers need personal relationship managers in order to make and retain meaningful relationships with visitors and potential customers. Introducing chatbots, that not only increase visitor engagement, but make visitor engagement possible in the first place, by doing what they do best – chat.

2. Customer support made easy

You’re a busy digital marketer juggling several to-dos and responsibilities when you find customer support slowly dropping down on your priority list.

With a chatbot, you have a way to keep customers happy, answer their FAQs, ask them for feedback, and provide support whenever they need it.

91% of unsatisfied customers will not return for a repeat purchase or service. Online brands that have a chatbot who can greet visitors, ask them if they have any queries or complaints, or give them a time frame for delivery, are much less likely to dissatisfy customers.

They may be expensive to purchase and train, but an artificial intelligence chatbot will remember every piece of information you’ve shared with it and will never turn a potential customer away. Could there be a more worthwhile results-driven time-saver?


3. Pulls only targeted content

With the simple question, “What would you like to see today?” Chatbots can determine several things about visitor behaviours and trends. As the visitor answers, the chatbot can pull specifically targeted content so that the visitor doesn’t have to waste their time searching through irrelevant pages. The chatbot can also recommend prospective blog posts in the future based on their answer.

Chatbots are beneficial especially for e-commerce companies, as they can easily influence purchasing decisions. This also helps blog managers with content ideas, as visitors are asked what they’d like to explore or what they’d like to see more of.


The Future Is Here

Chatbots are proven to decrease bounce rates, increase conversion rates and enhance the customer experience with personalisation and engagement.

While presenting on the topic of disruptive innovation at a recent IMC Conference held in Cape Town, Valter Adão (Digital Leader at Deloitte, Africa) had issued businesses the warning, “Uber yourself before you get Kodaked.” This quote perfectly sums up the importance of keeping up-to-date with digital trends.

Adão also used Microsoft to illustrate his point on adapting companies keeping abreast of so many changes. The company that brought us Powerpoint and Word, is now finding us the cure for cancer. As technology breaks down the barriers to market, companies are increasingly shifting across industry boundaries to find relevance. If you’re not continuously adapting, you stand to be made redundant.

Stay current, stay relevant, and stay curious. Get in touch with Meltwater today to learn how media intelligence can help you get to the top of your game and keep ahead of disruption, whatever your industry.