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Conversational Marketing
A New Paradigm For Marketeers

It is a whole new world out there. The old recipe to Write a tagline, Make a TV Commercial, Make a Poster and paste it wherever you can in the name of ‘integrated marketing’ has turned sour. This does not appeal to the new demographics.

 

What is the New Demographics and what they want?

New demographics comprise of the so called the younger generation of today or like the marketeers like to call it the Gen Z. This is a generation of digital natives, they learned using a smartphone or tablet even before they could talk. They not only understand technology but also speak it, technology has become their native language.
 
The digital revolution has already forced the marketeers to change its strategy from ‘digital first’ to ‘mobile first’. The Gen Z combined with the digital revolution is a puzzle which has forced the CEO’s and CMO’s to realign with their priorities.

 

Messaging is the new medium
After spending a little time amongst Gen Z, the one thing I learned is that they send messages as they breathe, they are mean texting machines. They send messages to each other literally sitting in the same room without anyone else to eavesdrop their chat and in doing so they do not have the slightest sense of social awkwardness. I’ve come to believe they might feel awkward the other way around.

 

Talking about the numbers from business insider, The monthly active users from each of the top 4 messaging apps is more than top 4 social networks combined and is constantly increasing. Now this does not symbolize a trend but rather it signals to a paradigm shift. Goodbye Interruptions, Hello Conversations. To truly leverage this conversational opportunity the marketeers not only have to learn new rules of the game but have to embrace it arms spread. Here are a few of them.

 

  • One-to-One VS One-to-Many

    For the first time in the history of advertising/marketing the brands have the golden opportunity to connect with the customers on personal level rather than broadcasting the brand message. We can no longer use the same message across all platforms. Marketeers will have to tailor every message to the context, timing and the nature of the conversation since no person or platform is created equal.

    With this opportunity comes immense responsibility of rethinking our strategy of broadcasting brand messages. You cannot use the conventional ‘yell and sell’ strategy because messaging is about chat and listen.

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  • The Big Data Game

    One-to-one communication creates a platform to sequence  messages in a natural,contextual and a human way. This gives us tons of personal insights and actionable data. The aggregate of conversational insights is  more valuable because it is much more structured which allows the marketeers to break it down into smaller units and sub-units of data (conversions, phrases, to words) that is easy to comprehend and execute on. This actionable data puts any marketeer into the game of big data, which if used wisely would give revelations like never before.

    This is the only reason why conversational marketing has become a potential goldmine for marketeers which only an ill-advised imbicible will overlook.

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  • Picture Perfect VS. Available
    Unlike Gen X, the Gen Z has a high affinity towards the real and raw thanks to applications like periscope & snapchat which define the new social currency. Therefore always being available for your customers has become more real and important than being picture perfect. Conversational marketing tools such as chat bots give the brands a native advantage of being always available without requiring a lot of resources and attention. They give your customers 24×7 access into your world where you define the conceptual and functional boundaries, which might not always be picture perfect.

    The sense of being available at the time of need works as an invite to the customers messaging network giving you unprecedented access to their needs, wants and psyche. In the new world being genuine and instantaneous is much more important than perfection.

 

Messaging truly is king. Conversations will become the new engagement metrics of the modern day, it’s time for marketeers to review their priority list as shouting might turn out to be a losing game in this new paradigm. The later the brands jump on to the bandwagon, the further behind they might find themselves in a few months or years.

 

Messaging as a new marketing medium has endless possibilities and is like a blank canvas waiting for the new gen marketeers to explore it, exploit it and paint it the way they like.
 

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Bots Without Conversation

Earlier this year, we had seen the hype about bots at its peak when Facebook opened its bot platform for messenger and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella went on to predict that bots will be as big as apps. But today it seems that the hype has somewhat cooled down and people have started asking “What was the big fuss about?”
 
We at ZiPi agree with everyone else so far, there has not been a killer bot uptil now that is even close to what the hype promised, yet we remain bullish and optimistic about bots. It has only been a few months and the technology itself is in its nascent stage, we are doing everything with the best of our capabilities to deliver what has been promised in the least possible time.
 
One thing that has been evidently clear in the learning so far is that the emphasis of conversational commerce has been a mistake and the problem with the conversational aspects of bots is the fact that natural language processing and artificial intelligence are yet not accomplished in handling human like conversations. Industry experts have expressed similar views across the globe and so had Siddharth (our COO) rightly pointed out in his blog ‘AI v/s UI’ on May 11.
 
So Why are Bots the next big thing ? The point is that the time people are spending on chat applications is unparalleled and bots enable people to do more while they are there, creation of these experiences inside the chat for the user is what makes the bots so amazing. Despite of the conversational aspect bots have a lot of value propositions to offer, few out of which are

 

  • Adaptable:- Bots are extremely easy to use as there is no new app to download, no new account to create and no new interface to learn.

  • Consolidated:- Instead of numerous similar looking and similar working apps on your mobile home screen, you can find all the bots in a chat like interface occupying extremely low storage in a single app on your phone

  • Apps in Messages:- All have agreed chat to be an indispensable tool for customer service. Rather than adding a messaging layer to all the apps, bots offer a role reversal by adding everyday apps of the user into messaging.

 

WeChat has completely taken over China. It is not a conversation based service, instead a lot of instant interactions and the reasons for its success as an exosystem are pretty much the same as we offer.

  • Frictionless access to apps
  • Sharing related discovery (as well as QR codes)
  • Standardized UI
  • Messaging as the gateway to new digital experience


These are early days and there are still few missing pieces in the puzzle and the Eureka moment for the bots is still to come. Our soon to come developer platform will help us thrust forward towards delivering on our promises. The developers will open a gateway of innovation for the bots.

 

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How Bots Will Work

Chat bots are computer programs designed specifically to communicate with users as if it were human. Chat bot is still in it’s early days and yet a lot of people have stated the chat bots to be replace webpages.

 

From an outsider’s perspective chat bots look extremely simple as it is nothing more than a bunch of decision based flow charts with predictable outcomes but we beg to differ. We have spent a lot of time in understanding and building our playbook for How Bots Will Work?  and this blog is a sneak peak into what we figure as the points of extreme caution in building the chat bots.

 

  1. Bots are meant to make life simpler
    The bots should be able to lead you to a valuable result with minimal inputs from the user. The bot should be aware, and even anticipate the needs of the user by leveraging previously stored information. Integrations and contextual relevancy are the key for an experience that saves time, effort and stress with minimum friction, if not for this how are bots better from websites or apps that came before it.
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  3. Start simple and focused

    The number of paths the conversation can take increases the potential for dead ends. Every bit of information you show competes with relevant information thus decreasing the relative visibility of the information. It is better to build a focused chat bot with a clear value proposition rather than filling the container with more than what it can hold and creating a mess. Chatting with a dumb chat bot is no different than an IVR, Nobody likes it!

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  5. Bots need to be self explanatory

    The bot needs to be designed smartly to incorporate a learning curve for the new users, not only should the bot inform the user of its capabilities but also present with opportunities to explore other features of the bot. You cannot expect a new user to figure everything out on its own.

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  7. Personality makes an impression

    The first impression does matter and giving your bot a personality will help you make an impression on your users. There is clear distinction between the content and the deliver, i.e. the what and how. Every business needs to define its relationship with its user and this will define the personality of the bot, for instance a law firm will have a very professional relation with its user while a fashion store needs to have more a friendly approach, these personality traits need to be reflected in the bots. If you muss out on this key element, you will have successfully accomplished in creating a unattractive and un-interactive alternate to an application.

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  9. Interaction should be short and simple

    Chat bots represent a transition from GUI to no UI, long messages sent to fast are difficult to comprehend and moreover you don’t want your users to have to scroll back up to read the entire messages. Also the user tends to skim the messages rather than reading it all in case of long messages increasing the chance of missing important communication. Contextual and previously stored information should help shorten the complicated flows and allow repetitive tasks to be done as simply as one click.

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  11. Create an hybrid experience

    GUI replaced the text based terminals for a reason, some tasks are simply faster with touch or click. Though most of the users are accustomed to use text for communicating, but it not be efficient for all use cases. Structured information is a very interesting way, however over reliance on structured messages may quickly lose the conversational element and alienate the user into an artificial world. Structured messages can efficiently be used as a guiding tool. For example rather than asking user to type his response in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, you can use structured message with two buttons.

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  13. Suggest the next step

    A smart bot should suggest the next steps to the user, this will not only help you steer the conversation in the desired direction but also help users discover additional functionalities. To top it off you plan your flows properly you can avoid bombarding the user with a wall of information and help them move forward. For example when your bot responds with a confirmation of an travel ticket, that bot can suggest booking of hotel rooms along with it.

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  15. Always reply back

    Basic human courtesy is whenever somebody communicates with you, you always respond it might be a simple gesture of acknowledgement or answer to its question, likewise make it a point that your bot responds to the user input every time or you will never be able to provide a human like experience to the user. The last conversations by the user not only demand an acknowledgement from the bot, but also present a unique opportunity to upsell, or bridge the gap between you and your user by showing you care.

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Building Customer Facing Chat Bots

Bots are the new apps, continued and mass development that it is undergoing will likely change how we seek both service and information from a business entirely. Though in the present scenario some businesses may be better suited for chat bots but overall every brand and business needs to consider the impact of this new conversational web era on both the business and the customer.

 

The evolution of messaging conversation will imply that rather than the customer being forced to adhere to the UI while navigating the company’s website or app, now the brands will have to learn to understand the natural language of customers, thus the burden will shift from the customer to the brands/business.

 

Here we are talking about our recipe for building customer facing bots

 

  1. Getting the basics right
  2. The basics of implementing any customer facing technology is customer satisfaction and it has only one golden rule “Do what is best for your customer” and we need to answer The Why, The Who and The What to understand the best interest of the customer.

    • What are the queries that the customer may possibly have while contacting us?
    • Which of my customer segment will be amongst the first users of chat bots?
    • Does the customer know what he is looking for, or will he require assisted navigation?
    • Does the customer know about the entire spectrum of services we offer?

 

  1. Reconnaissance
  2. The soul for any automation lies in the data, similarly the foundation of the chat bots should be grounded deep into data. Answers of the above questions will help you identify and gather relevant data which largely comprises of user behaviour statistics and reveal the following.

    • Where is the biggest volume of customer interaction taking place?
    • What are the most common and highly repetitive enquiries for the business?
    • What is the most repetitive patterns in the frequent enquiries?
    • Which are the most significant scenarios that require the most efforts without increasing revenues resulting in poor unit economics?
    • Which are the most significant scenarios that require the most efforts without any significant impact on revenues?

    These insights will not only present the immediate opportunities for implementing chat bots but will also outline the potential opportunities in the future along with possible pitfalls you may run into it.

 

  1. Automating the low hanging fruits
  2. Before getting carried away into building bots and scaling automation we need to validate our strategy for which we choose the path of least resistance and automate the easiest queries and scenarios. This will help us understand our customer satisfaction and behaviour better and allow us to plan future growth.
     
    We usually prefer those queries that do not present any significant impact on the bottom line and yet arise frequently, for example checking the account balance for bank accounts or wallets. Starting small allows us a few mistakes and also a better understanding for automating the frequent queries that directly impact the revenues.

 

  1. Scaling automation to be where we want to be
  2. Using the data and intelligence gathered from automation of the initial interactions to drive future implementation of chat bots reduces the risk of an overall frustrating user experience, which no business wants because customer delight is the only winning formula for a business.


Now is an ideal time for any business to start exploring how chat bots can help you smoothly and effectively transition into the conversational web era. Automation technology or artificial intelligence as the world calls it is only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of its application in day to day lives, so experimenting it today will help you through out the journey of its unfolding and help you stay ahead of the curve in providing a great customer experience.

 

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The Next Big Paradigm

The history of personal computing has seen many small shifts and changes; it is only gradually, when these small changes are put together do we get a paradigm shift. Personal computing at large witnesses’ a paradigm shift every decade and before we reach to the next big paradigm shift, it is only fair that we walkthrough the previous ones. Now most of our team members were not even born when personal computing was revolutionized by what is largely remarked as it’s first paradigm shift, The Personal Desktop Computers.
 
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Now in the mid 80’s the personal computing was completely transformed by developers who wanted to go that extra mile to deliver an unparalleled computing experience and give features that were never heard of by means of desktop softwares. This gave birth to a major developer ecosystem which became the stepping stone for the paradigm shifts to follow. But soon as is human nature everybody started wanting more and softwares having user end domination had high development costs and the cost of upgrades which either required a workforce to upgrade or yet another download.
 
By Mid 90’s with people growing agile to softwares and improved network speeds were standing on the gateways of the web era. In this era the browsers became the platforms while website became its means. The advantages of this era was that it was cheaper to build and highly dynamic, this meant no more downloads for upgrades. The developers started building the website for anything from specific use cases to mass generalization. It was this time in which the so called tech giants of today rose to power. But there is one difference that looks microscopic which was actually the backbone for victory of websites over softwares, the major efforts in building a software was deployed at the user end whereas it changed to the server side with websites.

 

Then came the new millennium along with which came the age of mobile phones. In the mid 00’s the smartphones dominated the entire industry and was the major reason for the paradigm shift of this era. Here the Mobile OS was the platform which grew its popularity by means of Applications. The small screen added mobility and enabled its widespread to billions of people. Apps much like the softwares, was highly managed at the user end and therefore it had the same set of problems as the softwares, high cost of development and upgrades. There are millions of apps with lesser number of users and also the learning involved with so many apps is creating problems for the user. An average user switches only within half a dozen apps in a given day. We are truly apped out!

 

Now we are looking at the dawn of this new paradigm shift into the world of chat. Messaging platforms is the word on the streets and they will grow immensely by means of the chat bots. Chat bots offer the same advantage over mobile apps that the website offered over softwares with a few add-ons such as a universal interface. Since the chat bots are accessed from the messaging platform itself and need not be downloaded the users can switch smoothly between bots and use many more bots available on the platform.

 

History repeats itself and the developer community is betting big on chat bots, like previous eras this one will also create opportunities for new leaders to emerge and challenge the current leaders of the industry

It is time to welcome this new creative technology disruption Chat Bots.
 

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