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Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

How to build a successful bot strategy

Sachin Kumar, associate director – digital campaign management, MEC Interaction, MEC MENA


How to build a successful bot strategy

By Sachin Kumar, associate director – digital campaign management, MEC Interaction, MEC MENA

There is a lot of news in 2017 and big hype around conversational interfaces, or more popularly called Chatbots. Chatbots are being seen as the next revolution on how people engage with brands online and what will drive the next wave of digital commerce.

According to Research Nester, the global Chatbots market was valued at $88.5 million in 2015 and is anticipated to witness a substantial compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.08 percent over the period of 2015-2023.

Now or never

Speed is everything in today’s constantly moving world. Consumers want everything now. According to a ubisend Ltd. survey, more than 50 percent of people feel that businesses should be available 24/7. Customers will approach brands based on the customer service they receive. Businesses, at the same time, realize the competition in the market to thrive and to respond to this demand, making Chatbot adoption essential.

The MEC Chatbot

At MEC MENA, we work with our brands to educate and showcase how Chatbot technology can be embraced in the marketing mix. However, as an agency, are we practicing what we preach and adopting these innovations and technologies ourselves? This question led to an agency innovation, which is our own Chatbot.

We have built our Chatbot using IBM Watson technology. Chatbot is currently deployed on Facebook Messenger and assists employees on digital benchmarks, campaign tagging strategy, best practice for campaigns, and even job openings from HR! It can help with practically any of our needs and is currently changing the agency’s internal service offerings. 

What’s a successful bot strategy?

It is still very early to say what is and isn’t successful; however, we do have some key early learnings.

Firstly, it’s no surprise that Chatbots can grow your business. If built correctly with the right people and technology, Chatbots have the power to deliver a unique customer experience in the digital space.

  1. Clear and specific goals

Chatbots can do many things and therefore, it’s important to outline what business goals and specific outcomes to achieve from Chatbots and who are the responsible stakeholders, especially as roles are converging today and becoming less defined.

  1. Determine the audience and their preference

Who are you looking to reach? Which customer segments will use your bot? Survey reveals that millennials prefer live chatting systems to the phone while contacting a business.

However, generation X may be on different channels, such as emails, text messaging and websites. You can start with one platform then quickly grow to become platform agnostic and create custom user experiences for each platform to suit your customer’s needs.

  1. Show personality and integrity

Chatbots are the extension of your brand’s personality. Therefore, give your bot a character. It could be a celebrity or an imaginary character that your bot could bring to life. Don’t trick customers into thinking that the bot is a real person; manage expectations from the very first interactions. While the bot should feel honest and human, it’s crucial to be upfront of its limitations.

  1. Set the flow from beginning

It’s important that the bot starts with a greeting and what it can do in order to make it clear to the customer. Therefore, well-designed bots should have a welcome message that describes what the bot does, a persistent menu that reminds customer of what they can do and buttons with quick replies to guide the flow.

Here is an example:

“Hi, I’m XYZ bot. How can I help you today?” compared to “Hi, I’m XYZ bot. I can help you book brunches.”

  1. Keep responding; never stop!

Always be prepared to handle off topic questions and get creative to sustain the customer interaction with the bot.

You can either train your bot to understand the intent from historical data and tailor the response or have a list of most commonly asked questions with appealing answers. Here are some of the questions we have received from our bot building experience: What’s your name? What’s my name? Are you alive? What’s your age? Who created you? Are you a robot? Who are you?

PS: Ask Siri or Google Now to get some funny responses

  1. Measure, analyze and improve

Like most digital marketing platforms, chatbots bring a huge amount of data to the table. Bot requires a different set of performance evaluation metrics unlike traditional ones such as daily/monthly active users, sessions etc. which are applicable for website and mobile apps.

Here’s what we’ve learned are some important metrics that yield the most valuable insights.

  • Average number of conversations/user. According to Botanalytics, an analytics platform for Bots, the average conversations per month range from 1.42 to 4.79 percent.
  • Context match rate is the percentage of accurate responses produced by the bot to the given queries by a user using contextual data such as date/time, location, or information about a user by keeping track of what has been said and what information has been exchanged.
  • Engagement and retention. This obviously differs but according to Botanalytics, bots that offer repeat services in FMCG should focus on 7-day retention, whereas a content or media bot relies on daily engagement and benefits most from analyzing 1-day retention. Therefore, utilizing increased volume of data to measure and improve the changing needs of the user is what boosts the long-term use and engagement. This is where you start extending your social content strategy to chatbot content strategy

All in all, when building a chatbot, one should seriously consider the actual business problem that you are trying to solve through the bot and by paying enough attention to niceties of human language. And those who evolve their brand and stay connected to what’s going on with technology to be emerging leaders, get started now, gather data, learn from your experiences and adjust as you go.

The right bot strategy will enhance the brand and reinforce its relationship with customers and stakeholders, which ultimately drives revenue. Using chatbots in your social media mix is the perfect approach to get ahead of the game.

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