As an avid marketer, you must have heard of chatbots by now.

They are everywhere, talked about on most tech forums and marketing Slack channels.

Are chatbots the marketing tool we have all been waiting for? Will artificial intelligence automation increase our sales? Are we in the middle of a messaging revolution?

In this article, I want to cover these questions with a focus on email marketing and how both email and chatbots can work together.

Marketer, be at the top of your game. Learn how #email and #chatbotmarketing are new BFFs via @alexdebecker Click to Tweet

What is a chatbot?

Let us start at the beginning and catch everyone up. What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a program you can talk to, usually using text. By utilising artificial intelligence, the chatbot is able to understand what you are saying and answer appropriately.

We have come a long way from the very first attempt to create a chatbot. In 1964, Joseph Weizenbaum created ELIZA, a computer program capable of simulating conversations.

ELIZA-chatbot

Over the years, technology has evolved, and humans are now able to communicate with chatbots over many different channels such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat, website live chat, and more.

The progress we have made in artificial intelligence and mobile messaging has created the perfect opportunity for marketers to leverage chatbots as an incredibly effective tool, allowing automated personalised interactions 24/7.

Sounds interesting, right?

I am going to keep the history of chatbots short for the purpose of this article. If you would like to learn more about them have a read through this.

Email vs. chatbots: the obvious match up

As you can see, chatbots are an excellent way to engage users.

They allow you to talk - because that is what they do, they 'talk' - on a personal level with each and every one of their users. And users, as it turns out, love them. In recent research, 35% of 2,000 UK consumers said they want to see more companies using chatbots.

consumers_want_more_chatbots

Chatbots are often compared against email. After all, email has been the number one way for businesses to engage with their customers on a one-to-one level.

Email automation and personalisation tokens have made it incredibly easy to nurture subscribers, leads, or customers. Thanks to this, email marketing has moved from blindly blasting a list of confused subscribers to putting the customer's personal needs first.

Should we really compare chatbots to email? Or, does it make more sense to put them side by side, much like social media and email, or content marketing and email?

You can probably see where I am going with this.

Email and chatbot marketing - new BFFs

Instead, I propose we put the tools together and offer our customers the best experience possible, and more importantly, a choice.

Why do chatbots and email marketing work together? Glad you asked.

They have a common goal

We touched on this earlier. Both email and chatbots can be used to service a customer.

Their common goal is making our customers' experience amazing.

Sometimes this means offering a drip campaign of beautifully crafted emails over an extended period of time, delighting your user in discovering more about what you do.

Other times, a consumer may need access to an automated smart AI chatbot that answers their questions in a split second. Not only are their questions answered fast, but your staff are free to deal with more complex enquiries.

In both cases, the user is delighted, and our goal is met.

Common goal of #emailmarketing and #chatbots is making our customers' experience amazing Click to Tweet

They deliver different content types

The beauty of using different channels to delight your customers is they help you deliver various types of content.

Social media helps you broadcast short, to the point snippets of content to a broad audience.

Email helps you deliver a more in-depth experience such as a series of rich media emails on how to use your product.

A chatbot helps you be available 24/7 thanks to artificial intelligence and automated answers to queries and direction to external resources or support.

Chatbots will become one of your marketer's tools

The conclusion is simple. As a marketer, you need to be at the top of your game. Right now, this means getting to know how you could use chatbots in your marketing mix.

Success stories for chatbots and mobile messaging are undeniable. We have seen incredible metrics, such as an 84% open rate and 53% click-through rate, which is unheard from any digital marketing channel.

Your role, as a marketer, is to adopt chatbots and make them part of your toolset. At this point, comparing to, or stopping email marketing would be a mistake.

Learn and understand the power of chatbots, and decide how they can compliment your business or solve a problem. You will soon find they make the greatest BFF.

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