The rise of conversational commerce has paved the way for more direct relationships between brands and consumers. With key uses such as lead generation, customer service, and content marketing, messaging apps and chatbots are helping companies increase efficiency, showcase innovation, and provide a better, more personalized customer experience.
A recent study by Twilio reveals that 66 percent of consumers now prefer to interact with brands through messaging apps. Meanwhile, Gartner predicts that within the next year, messaging apps will overtake social media apps in popularity, and by 2020, a customer will manage 85 percent of his or her relationship with a business without interacting with humans.
Following in the footsteps of China’s incredibly popular WeChat, Facebook Messenger launched chatbots in 2016, and now has more than 10,000 active bots. Since then, a variety of businesses have taken advantage of this technology in innovative ways.
The Whole Foods Facebook Messenger chatbot is an easy and convenient source of delicious recipes—particularly on the go. Users can list specific ingredients or dietary preferences, and the chatbot will provide a list of recipes featuring those items. An especially fun addition is the use of emojis as another way to input ingredients.
The Quartz Facebook Messenger chatbot offers a new way for its readers to discover breaking news, interesting topics (what the publication calls “obsessions”), and projects such as mindfulness challenges and recipe experiments. With this new bot, Quartz took lessons learned from its own messaging app to Facebook Messenger’s 1.3 billion daily active users.
This hotel booking company relies solely on Facebook Messenger and SMS for customer interactions and bookings. Users simply share basic information like desired destination and travel dates, and the bot replies with a list of best available options. In less than a year, SnapTravel has amassed $1 million in hotel bookings using Facebook Messenger.
Drawing inspiration from the rising trend of “in-your-pocket” style therapy apps, Woebot is a chatbot trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. Originally created for young adults in college and graduate school, Woebot hopes to make psychological tools available to all. The bot offers insights and techniques to combat depression. Woebot also tracks users’ moods as they evolve to find patterns between the changes that would be otherwise difficult to identify.
U-Report, Unicef’s chatbot, takes a different approach and aims to give its users a voice. The goal of the bot is to gather opinions from its database (now totaling almost five million people) and leverage them to influence policy. U-Report polls users on a variety of topics and compares their answers to the demographical data inputted during the sign-up process. Unicef has been able to use U-Report to influence policy and drive social change.
As chatbots continue to rise in popularity, brands are finding more unique and innovative ways to use the capability. By balancing automation with personalization, chatbots are a great way for brands to connect with their customers directly, driving engagement, sales, and loyalty.