By the year 2020, half of all online searches will be carried out by voice, and 30 percent of them will be made using no screen at all. AI assistants will manage our day-to-day schedules, and chatbots will drive sales and manage the customer experience. These tech trends will create a sea of change in the marketplace. How do businesses keep from falling behind?
Companies that are heavily investing in their digital accessibility and innovation will be the winners going forward. Harvard Business Review conducted research on First Mover Advantage and found that companies that are forefront in adopting new technologies are more likely to lead in growth and marketing position than competitors that lag in embracing new technologies. Companies that are already incorporating artificial intelligence into their marketing approaches are positioning themselves for success in the future.
Companies that invest in AI marketing software that integrates native consumer behaviors will have the highest ROIs. The incorporation of the marketing event into the natural experiences of the consumer authenticates the marketing experience and produces higher consumer conversion and retention rates.
Here are some AI technologies companies should be investing in now:
Digital marketing as a discipline is undergoing a revolution in terms of effectiveness and intelligence. This revolution is characterized by the rise of chat marketing, meaning direct marketing to customers on a one-to-one basis through their chat apps, namely SMS and Facebook (META) Messenger. The messages are populated with a company’s products and content, have strategic funnels for sales conversions, and enable robust follow-up marketing to cohorts of users. AI algorithms do things like determine the time at which each individual consumer receives the message, which messages are best for conversion rates, and which messages consumers will respond best to through A/B testing.
The potency of this marketing channel is immediately apparent in the data on conversion and click through rates as compared to other marketing channels. In contrast to the industry averages for email marketing, which typically has open rates of 20 percent and click-through rates of 3 percent, chat marketing campaigns are achieving opening rates as high as 88 percent and click-through rates of 56 percent. This higher conversion and click-through stems first from the extraordinary reach of chat apps. As of January 2018, Facebook has 2.13 billion monthly users, and the top four messaging apps (Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber) together have surpassed the amount of monthly active users of the top four social networking apps. Facebook Messenger alone has over 1.2 billion monthly active users who rely on it as a primary form of communication with friends, family, and, increasingly, with retailers and brands.
Chatbots are AI-powered programs that can respond to user plain-text queries with human-like responses. Consumers can interact with chatbots via SMS, text or messaging apps, and companies are increasingly implementing them as part of their marketing and customer service operations. Companies have been rolling out cross-platform bots, but many have turned to Facebook Messenger as a primary channel for deploying bots ever since that platform opened up its Bot API to developers in April 2016.
For example, one popular implementation of chatbot technology is Pizza Express’ chatbot, which allows customers to book tables at restaurants through a Facebook Messenger bot. Single-purpose tasks, such as booking a table at a restaurant, are the optimal use cases for chatbots. They reduce inefficiencies on both the agent and client side; routine tasks of human agents are replaced with AI technology, and customers receive information more promptly.
Voice search is a voice controlled system containing AI “personal assistant” software; a person voices a query or a command and the AI assistant produces results or executes the task. Popular renditions today are Siri, Amazon (AMZN) Alexa and Google (GOOGL) Home.
In today’s marketplace, adopting voice search technology can leverage big gains for a company in organic traffic with purchase intent from voice search traffic. Take National Public Radio: its news, radio and storytelling app, NPR One, made a deal with Amazon Alexa in February 2017 to stream its content through Alexa. Within six months, the phrase, “Alexa, play NPR One” has been heard regularly in 400,000 homes.
In the ever-changing tech space, introducing AI software technologies that integrate native consumer behaviors to a company’s marketing approach is key to staying relevant and ahead of the trends. The returns will be felt across all operations and processes: in labor efficiencies, company reach, cost reduction and customer conversion.
Dana Gibber is an expert in chatbot UX and UI, natural language processing and consumer conversions and co-founder and COO of Headliner Labs, a chat marketing platform.