THE H-WORD
 
A CMO’s Guide to Chatbots

 

There’s always some new digital technology that other industries, in particular brands targeting younger consumers, are quick to adopt. There’s a lot less risk in promoting a video game than a hospital connecting with patients about a planned surgery or details on a health record. Even for the most adventurous healthcare organization, HIPAA regulations can make the prospect of launching new technologies a very expensive and risky endeavor. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep up on the latest, as they will often eventually make their way into the lives of healthcare marketers. For example, chatbots are the latest technology on the scene. In particular, the technology has been embraced by service companies. Could this technology make its way into our digital toolbox in the future? It’s quite possible in some form. In the meantime, here’s a great guide to chatbots published in Advertising Age:

As brand apps lose their luster, marketers need to reassess how they connect with consumers in a mobile-first world. Chatbots are one way they can speak with consumers one-on-one in a place where they are already spending the bulk of their time.

“Chatbots will replace the search window,” said Will Wiseman, chief strategy officer, PHD U.S. “There will be a rapid decline in app usage. The last three years, we have gone from brands’ desire to have mobile-friendly websites, then apps, and [we] now expect to see app activity get cannibalized by bots.” But before you get chatty, here are some basics on bots.

What’s a chatbot?

A chatbot is an application typically powered by artificial intelligence that is designed to simulate a conversation with another human.

What are the benefits of bots?

Bots allow for a two-way, personalized interaction between the consumer and a brand and provide an ease of access and immediacy that can’t be achieved via email, filling out a form on a website or even through tweeting, said Jeff Malmad, managing director-head of mobile and Life+ at Mindshare North America.

But the benefit of bots isn’t necessarily to reach a large audience. While scale will likely come, Mr. Wiseman said right now bots are most useful to provide brands with data to help them better understand their consumer.

Are bots right for my brand?

Service-oriented brands stand to benefit the most from bots. Travel companies such as airlines and hotels can use bots to streamline the process for booking a flight or room.

Bots can also be beneficial to categories that are more reliant on curation like fashion and home goods, Mr. Wiseman said. For purchases that are typically research-intensive and require digital tools and additional content, bots can help expedite the process.

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