It’s always enlightening to look back at the holiday sales season to see how brands engaged with consumers in new and innovative ways. In Q4 2018, we saw unprecedented use of chatbots as a marketing channel. Here are some of the successful strategies brands using chatbots employed.
1. Interactive Holiday Gift Guide
Naturally, one of the best ways to engage with shoppers during the holidays is through a gift guide. While in the past we’ve seen paper and online versions of gift guides — as well as mobile guides — this year, chatbots featured heavily into the equation.
Retailer Saks Fifth Avenue launched its chatbot gift guide on Facebook Messenger. After taking a quiz about who they were shopping for, users received customized gift recommendations that they could then click to buy. The year before, this feature resulted in 55% of users who took the quiz clicking to the ecommerce site.
Mr Porter is another brand that used Facebook Messenger to provide gift ideas based on style, budget, and product category. Other brands will follow next year, to be sure.
2. Creating Interactive Fun
There’s no better time than the holidays to spur a little joy and delight, and brands like Mall of America recognize that chatbots are a great way to provide it. Last year, Ellie the Elf, the first Shopping Concierge Hologram, made her debut at the mall. Shoppers could discover the most popular gift items and get directions to the store that sold them by interacting with a hologram image of an adorable elf.
Shoppers could even see their own hologram next to Ellie and get a video to share on social media.
3. Sending Gifts Digitally
With such great technology, why bother to wrap up a present? UK-based bakery chain Greggs used chatbots to let customers text to buy gifts and send them to friends...no need to wrap up a plastic gift card! Customers in stores could scan their smartphones to redeem a purchase using the digital gift.
The State of Chatbots Moving Forward
The fact that there are 300,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger being used in 200 countries indicates that this isn’t a flash in the pan. The challenge brands have is both in encouraging adoption and finding unique ways to use chatbots.
While 74% of shoppers are comfortable making a purchase using a chatbot, most don’t realize that they can do so. But holiday campaigns like these, as well as those from brands like H&M and Sephora happening year ‘round will make chatbot purchases more ubiquitous.
The good news for brands is that there is so much opportunity to get creative with chatbot use, as we saw in the examples above. How can your brand leverage this technology? Maybe it can play games with kids for your children’s apparel retail brand. Or help drivers find the best car insurance coverage. Give recipe ideas based on certain ingredients. Help plan a special night at your restaurant. Process ecommerce returns. The possibilities really are limitless.
The important takeaway here is to understand that chatbots are a piece of the overall mobile marketing equation. Combined with other tools like mobile wallet and text message marketing, you can completely transform the relationship you have with your customers.
Today’s marketing isn’t about screaming your message from rooftops. It’s about meaningfully interacting with consumers in ways that excite and engage them. Chatbots are so innovative that they’re delighting customers every day. Find a way to tap into that, and you’ll find success.