By: Alexandra Miller, Sales Strategist, Valassis Digital
Published Friday, Aug 4, 2017
With the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence driving new technologies, messaging apps are presenting brands with new platforms and opportunities to drive lead generation and sales through chatbots.
You may be wondering, “just what is a chatbot?” Chatbots are software applications that use instant messaging as a communication tool to simulate human conversation. They can live in popular instant messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, which has over 120 million users in the U.S.1 Increased use of messaging applications has also driven consumer willingness to use chatbots. With 33.8 percent of U.S. internet users open to trying chatbots for shopping-related activities,2 brands have a unique opportunity to leverage chatbots for consumer activities ranging from customer service inquiries, to product research, to making a purchase.
According to a recent report by eMarketer, 65 percent of U.S. smartphone owners say they would feel comfortable using a chatbot to engage with companies for various activities.2 In fact, when trying to contact a retailer directly while making a purchase, 26 percent of internet users prefer to use online chat.2 So, as long as they have a good experience and chatbots provide a fast answer to their needs, consumers will increase their use of chatbots as a way to seek out recommendations and make purchases directly from a retailer or brand.
Chatbots can be helpful across industries; examples include retail, travel and auto. When conducting shopping-related activities online, 22 percent of U.S. internet users prefer to use chatbots for product recommendations from a retailer or brand, and 20 percent prefer to receive hotel/accommodation recommendations via chatbot.2
In the end, retailers and brands can take advantage of consumers’ interest in chatbots to directly engage with customers, generate leads and maintain relationships.
(1): “Facebook Messenger Users,” eMarketer 2017
(2): “Conversational Commerce 2017: Chatbots and Virtual Assistants,” eMarketer