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Nov

17

2017

Should You Let a Bot Manage Your Instagram Account?

Published by in category Bots, Daily, Popular | Leave a Comment

Doesn’t it feel like most people are falling a little too much in love with automation just because it’s faster and easier?

Sure, automation can save you time and mitigate the grind associated with repetitive tasks. But does it produce better results?

Can a bot truly be effective at replacing human interaction?

Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips  and tricks.We wanted to see the best way to build an engaged audience on Instagram, so we decided to test outbound automation against human engagement — and see which one got better results.

What Do We Mean By Engaged Audience?

An engaged audience contains people who actually care about what you post.

What’s the point in running up a large follower count if the people on that list don’t engage with your content?

It’s easy to artificially inflate your follower numbers, which is impressive at a superficial glance — but it doesn’t indicate that your content actually has any impact.

An engaged audience contains followers who like your posts, comment when you add something, and respond to your comments. It’s about creating a loyal following that opens up conversation and opportunity for all parties involved.

The Experiment

I teamed up with Fouad Tolaib, Founder of Jolted, to develop the framework for the experiment.

We had two initial hypotheses:

  1. The automated account will have more followers. A bot’s ability to reach more people would be more seamless than a human’s.
  2. Automation currently isn’t sophisticated enough to be as effective at connecting with an audience peer-to-peer.

The Profiles

The experiment featured two identical profiles where I branded myself as a digital nomad. The first account, @liveworksee, had Instagram interactions come from a person:

The second account, @work_live_see, was automated.

Rules for the Instagram Experiment

After setting up two Instagram profiles, we set the following parameters around the experiment:

  1. Each account contained the same profile description.
  2. We posted the same content at the same time on both profiles each day, for one month.
  3. Every post contained the same hashtags to drive inbound engagement.

All of the results over 30 days were tracked by Minter.io.

The Human Profile (@liveworksee)

All outbound engagement was done by a human. We defined “human” by using organic engagement — that means a real person commented on and liked other Instagram posts from this account.

The Automated Profile (@work_live_see)

All outbound engagement was controlled by Gramista’s automation software. We allowed it to log in on our behalf, set specific hashtags to target, applied restrictive filters, set the algorithm on ‘auto like,’ and gave permission for the bot to leave a certain amount of generic comments.

The Results

Thirty days later, we found some surprising results.

The average post engagement rate — which we calculated by taking the sum of likes and comments, divided by the number of posts on a profile, then divided by followers — on our organic engagement profile was nearly 3X higher.

That meant one thing:

The Loser: Bots. The Winner: Humans!

In addition to a significantly higher engagement, the organic engagement profile had over 2,000 more likes, and the number of comments was 41% higher.

Follower Demographics

The demographics of followers also skewed significantly. Female followers of the automated account were just 35.8%, compared to 47.8% on the organic engagement profile. At last check, Instagram users overall are predominantly female.

The number of private users that followed the organic engagement profile was also close to 3X more.

The top country of origin for followers on the automated profile was India (28%), followed by the United States (13%). For the human-run account, U.S. was first (22%), and Italy second (8%). On the organic profile, India was sixth, comprising 4% of followers.

Reaching Influencers

We then looked at the number of popular, or influencer profiles. Minter.io defines “popular” or “influencer” according to a user’s  follower-to-following ratio. The more followers that user has, compared to the number of users they follow, the more influential they are per this metric.

Popular and influencer profiles comprised 30.95% of the organic engagement profile’s followers, compared to 15.41% on the automated profile.

image16.pngimage5-3.png

Photo Engagement

Interestingly, despite posting uniform content on each profile, the most engaged-with photos on each account were also different.

The most engaging photos on the human-run profile were:

  • A small harbor in Colombia.
  • A shot of Macchu Picchu.
  • A little boy and woman walking in Viacha, Bolivia.

And on the automated profile:

  • A shot of the moon hanging over a mountain range in La Paz, Bolivia.
  • A man in sunglasses posing next to a bunch of flags left at the top of a mountain.
  • An archaeological site in western Bolivia.

The best performing hashtags on the human-operated profile were #ilovetravel, #neverstopexploring, and #travelgoals, while the automated profile’s top three were #neverstopexploring, #digitalnomads, and #ilovetravel.

The only two hashtags to crack the organic profile’s top ten that didn’t make it on the automated results were #instatravel (just over 1,500 interactions) and #backpack (1,450).

Alternatively, #nomadlife (900 interactions) and #travellife (910 interactions) made the automated profile’s top ten hashtags, but not the human-run profile’s.

The key point here: Automated software may not necessarily detect all hashtags generating a high number of interactions.

Scheduling Future Posts

Minter.io also determined, based on the organic profile’s data, that the best time of the week to post for engagement was Monday night and Tuesday evening.

An aggregate report from CoSchedule confirms that the best time to post is typically Monday mornings and evenings.

However, on the automated account, the greatest time for engagement was on Saturday afternoons.

Lessons Learned

1. Automation Leads to Less Engagement.

The end number of followers on the automated profile was 799, compared to 621 for the personally managed account. Automated tools will run up the follower count faster and get you off to a quicker start, but organic engagement creates a more engaged audience.

Generic comments and rapid liking does not create the same kind of human connection that followers actually crave. The organic profile generated a significantly larger amount of engagement with the average rate being nearly three times more.

2. Organic Engagement Has A Higher Content Reach Potential

For the organic profile, the potential reach of content (regramming, future partnerships, etc.) was also higher as we looked at the number of followers who were influencers or popular. Responding to each comment with a personal touch made for more engagement with private Instagram users as well.

3. Automation Connects More With Bots Than Humans.

We found the automated profile had more automated followers. Yes: bots following bots. In other words, these followers were either scheduling a large amount posts of posts, or leaving very generic messages.

That’s likely due to a bot’s inability to recognize the difference between generic comments and real responses. However, humans will naturally connect more with a thoughtful response and ignore a meaningless “awesome!” comment.

So, How Do I Build an Engaged Audience?

Have someone (yes, a real person) spend two-to-three hours per day per day on your Instagram profile completing tasks including:

  • Replying to all comments
  • Liking other posts
  • Adding insightful comments to other posts
  • Asking followers questions to connect with them
  • Researching emerging content trends and hashtags
  • Reaching out to influencers

From our observations, we believe tailoring your content to your target audience, engaging naturally and consistently with both followers and non-followers, and using targeted tags (up to 30) in your post’s first comment all contribute to an increased rate of post engagement.

Automation can supplement the speed of your growth, particularly in regards to follower count, but it should not be relied on as the only strategy for Instagram.

If you’re tight on time, a combination of automated and manual outbound engagement might work best.

However, when it comes to commenting on other people’s content, there’s no better alternative than a human responding with something specific. This has proved to be true in our case study and resulted in a higher conversion (non-follower to follower) ratio.

After all, this is social media – it’s about human connection and social sharing.

If we all just have bots running our profiles and interacting with each other, what’s the point of doing it at all?

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Oct

11

2017

If You’re Not Building a Bot, You’re Already Behind. [Video]

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Leave a Comment

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Sep

26

2017

5 of the Coolest Bots of 2017

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Leave a Comment

In case you haven’t already heard, bots are the new black.

Seriously. The new strategy of providing 1:1, instantaneous assistance to users and customers is proving successful for brands across industries. 

And although we’ve rounded up AI and bot use cases for you as they relate to productivity and marketing, we wanted to round up other cool ones, too — that anyone can use, even for fun. So read on to learn about a few neat bots we’ve enjoyed using so far this year.

5 of the Coolest Bots of 2017

1) Poncho

You might recognize Poncho from the website or mobile app — it’s a friendly “weathercat” dressed in a raincoat, that delivers daily personalized weather reports. But this report goes beyond what time it will rain and if it’s sunny or cloudy. Poncho also shares relevant insights like allergen levels, transportation delays due to weather, and a heads up if it’ll be a bad hair day.

You’ll love the useful details — as well as Poncho’s quirky, sassy voice and daily lifehacks and mantras.

poncho bot.png

You can start using Poncho’s bot on Messenger, Kik, Slack, or Viber.

2) ResistBot

Have you ever wanted to send an angry message to one of your U.S. Congressional representatives? Or, do you love what they’re doing and want to send them a thank-you note? ResistBot makes it quick and easy to send messages to your representatives — without having to actually send a letter. Simply text “Resist” to 50409 (or drop them a Facebook Message), and Resistbot will walk you through a series of prompts to confirm your identity and representatives.

resistbot.jpg

You can start using ResistBot on your native SMS messaging app or on Messenger.

3) Domino’s AnyWare

Domino’s Pizza made a name for itself with its 24-hour availability and delicious pizza. Now, hungry diners don’t even have to log onto a site or call to order delivery — they can just use Domino’s AnyWare (a.k.a., a bot for pizza.)

dominos bot.png

You can start using the bot, affectionately known as “Dom,” on Messenger, Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, or via SMS message (by texting a pizza emoji to 88607).

4) Kayak Travel Hacker

Kayak, a travel booking site, unveiled Travel Hacker to make finding and booking affordable trips even easier. The bot gives you insights on the most affordable times to travel, updates you on travel plans in real-time, and lets you plan and book travel with ease during a 1:1 message exchange. You can even put in filters for specific requests, like “nonstop flights only” or “four-star hotels.”

kayak.png

You can start using Travel Hacker on Messenger, Slack, or Amazon Echo.

5) Foxsy

Foxsy is a matchmaker bot — but not the kind you might think.

Foxsy leaves the romance aside and matches people together to help them find and chat with new friends. So if you’re looking to add a new member to your crew, start answering Foxsy’s questions so they can get to know you.

foxsy.png

You can start using Foxsy on Messenger or Viber.

Editor’s note: HubSpot has acquired Motion AI, which enables everyone (developer or not) to build bots. Learn more here: HubSpot Acquires Motion AI.

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Sep

22

2017

Why 2017 Is the Year of Bots [Video]

Published by in category Bots | Leave a Comment

Last week, while I was using a website’s chat feature to get some much-needed customer service, I realized something shocking:

I couldn’t tell if I was chatting with a human or a bot.

Before 2017, my notion of bots — and chatbots, specifically — was that they could only provide canned, basic responses before escalating to a human being. In short, I thought chatbots seemed, well, robotic, and they couldn’t get me the help I needed with a human touch.

Now, of course, I know that chatbots are the future of marketing, and you might feel the same. More brands have started using chatbots for marketing, sales, and customer service — and these are just a few examples.

If you’re wondering why bots are proliferating so rapidly — and how they’ve advanced to the point where we can’t differentiate their capabilities from those of humans — watch our chat with Motion AI CEO David Nelson above. He sat down and chatted with my colleague, Jami Oetting, about how bots have grown so significantly this year and why businesses should consider implementing a bot strategy of their own.

Why 2017 Is the Year of Bots

1) Natural language understanding has progressed.

Remember my story earlier?

The progression of natural language understanding has made chatbots more human than ever, making 2017 an ideal time to deploy a chatbot to answer questions and provide information.

2) Customer service expectations have changed.

It’s harder than ever to keep customers happy. And that’s because they have more options than ever (from your competition), and they want assistance made for the 21st century — instead of having to wait on hold for hours and repeat their information over and over.

Now, bots can perceive context and use data to give people the relevant information they need, and customers are more willing to interact with bots that give them the help they need — they’re fast, efficient, and just as helpful when they need assistance, on any channel.

3) Chatbots can make your job easier.

Bots can now answer frequently-asked questions, qualify new leads, and even distribute content. Here on the HubSpot Blog, we’re using a Facebook Messenger bot to help readers subscribe and read blog posts like these. Bots can automate processes humans have to do over and over again — saving time and valuable resources.

4) Chatbots can use data you already have to personalize your marketing.

The key to good marketing content is personalization. Bots can help you mine and analyze data you’ve already collected about prospects and customers to send them more customized emails and to have helpful context on calls.

5) Chatbots are easier than ever to create and deploy.

With help from industry leaders like Motion AI, you don’t have to try to demystify bots on your own — it’s easy to create and deploy bots anywhere on your site to help achieve your goals.

Editor’s note: HubSpot has acquired Motion AI, which enables everyone (developer or not) to build bots. Learn more here: HubSpot Acquires Motion AI.

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Sep

21

2017

Should You Even Bother With Bots? An Expert Weighs In [Video]

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Leave a Comment

 

If you’re a human with internet access in 2017, you’ve probably talked to a bot recently — even if you weren’t fully aware of it.

With over five billion monthly active users on messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, the current tech landscape is set for a veritable explosion of chatbots and AI-based assistants over the next few years. And marketers should be racing to explore the potential power of this exciting new space — with some thoughtful restraint, of course.  

This isn’t the first time we’re talking about the importance of investing early in bots on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, but it’s one thing to recognize the potential of a new technology and quite another to start incorporating it into your exisiting business model.

Especially for businesses on the smaller side, pivoting towards a new strategy can feel like a terrifying leap. You’ve probably asked yourself: should I even bother with bots?

To learn more about practical use cases for bots, we turned to Vedant Misra, the founder and CEO of Kemvi (an AI and machine learning startup recently aquired by HubSpot), and current artificial intelligence tech lead here at HubSpot.

Check out the interview above, and decide for yourself: are bots the right next move for your business?

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Sep

21

2017

Thanks Live Chat, Messaging Will Take It From Here

Published by in category Bots | Leave a Comment

Automation is a funny thing. Too little is the enemy of efficiency. Too much kills engagement.

Think about email. Automated email nurturing campaigns were the answer to individually following up with every single person who downloaded a piece of content from your website. In the name of efficiency, marketers queued up a series of emails via workflows to automatically deliver ever-more-helpful content and insights, gradually increasing the person’s trust in the company and stoking the flames of their buying intent. If at any time they had a question, they could respond to the email and get routed to a person who could help.

But as the number of inbound leads skyrocketed, this system became untenable. The dreaded noreply@company.com address was the solution for scalability. Over time, this set the expectation with buyers that marketers didn’t want to have a conversation with them via email.

Automation made us more efficient, but at the cost of relationships — ultimately defeating the purpose.

Then came live chat, and it felt like a revelation. Buyers were empowered to get answers to their questions in real time from a real person. Better yet, this interaction took place directly on the company’s website — where they were already doing their research.

We started using website chat at HubSpot in 2013. Over the past four years, live chat has facilitated countless conversations between curious prospects and our business. We even created our own live chat product — Messages — to help our customers adopt this model and serve their own prospects better, faster, and directly on the website.

But, just like what happened with email nurturing, at a certain point the system started to strain. According to our usage data, one in every 30 website visits results in a chat. For companies that receive thousands of website visits a day, trying to keep up is daunting.

And similar to how “noreply@company.com” frustrated buyers looking for information via email, customers are again the ones suffering when companies can’t manage the demands of live chat. Recent research found that 21% of live chat support requests go completely unanswered. Even if the buyer gets a response, they can expect to wait an average of 2 minutes and 40 seconds for it. I wouldn’t call this “live” — would you?

Responding slowly (or failing to respond at all) on a channel advertised as “live” is a contradiction in terms. Forcing customers to wait after we’ve set the expectation of immediacy is unacceptable. We can do better.

Today, we’re at the same inflection point we came to with email. What should companies do to accommodate the tidal wave of live chat conversations? Hiring an increasing number of chat coordinators clearly isn’t a scalable answer. But more importantly, apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Slack have changed consumers’ definition of a real time conversation (and also created the infrastructure to support them). If marketers are going to advertise “live” channels — and we must if we want to stay relevant — we need to step up and deliver.

It’s with this in mind that I assert the era of live chat is over. “Conversations” were once synonymous with website chat and incoming phone calls, but in the world of messaging apps and bots, the website is only one small piece of the puzzle. Buyers are thinking beyond the website, but most businesses aren’t.

Buyers’ New Expectations for Business Conversations

Website chat enabled buyers to have conversations with businesses like never before. It was a good start, but just that — a start. Similar to how inbound changed marketing, social changed content discovery and consumption, and conversational search changed SEO, messaging apps have changed how buyers expect to interact with businesses.

Why tether your prospects and customers to your website when they want to chat? Why force them to re-explain their question when they switch channels, or when chat coordinators switch shifts? Why make them wait until the next rep is available to get the information they need right now? This isn’t world-class marketing and customer service even today, and it’ll become even more archaic and frustrating in the years to come.

Think your buyers wouldn’t want to interact with your company via a messaging app? Actually, 71% of consumers globally are willing to use messaging apps to get customer assistance.

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Even if your prospects fall in the “none of the above” bucket today, they won’t forever. Cutting the data by age foretells the inevitability of messaging apps in a business context over time: The majority of consumers currently between the ages 18 and 34 are willing to use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to contact companies for assistance.

content-trends-2-2.png

When communicating with a business, today’s buyer expects that:

  • Conversations happen where they are. That might be the website, but it could also be social media, or Skype, or Slack, or a messaging app.
  • Conversations are portable. Regardless of where a conversation gets started, it should be able to be transferred to any other channel seamlessly. A thread kicked off on live chat should be able to be passed to Facebook Messenger or email without data loss or crossed wires.
  • Conversations have context. Context shouldn’t leave with the person who fielded the initial inquiry. All of a customer or prospect’s historical interactions and information should be attached to a common record which populates instantaneously.

We need new technology paired with automation to live up to our buyers’ expectations and make these types of conversations a reality. On the technology side, live website chat is part of a conversation strategy, sure, but it can’t be the whole strategy. As for automation, marketers got it wrong with email, but we have the opportunity to get it right with chat.

Stop Chatting, Start Having Conversations

At HubSpot, we’ve always been about helping marketers and salespeople adapt to the ever-changing modern buyer. It’s time, once again, to step up and serve our prospects and customers the way they expect — and deserve — to be served.

Fortunately, this is possible today with the right strategy. Businesses need to do the following three things to enable truly valuable conversations at scale:

1) Make it possible for buyers to have conversations with your business where they are.

Create a presence on website chat, messaging apps, social media — wherever your prospects might want to talk.

2) Add an automation layer with chatbots.

Set up bots that immediately respond on each channel (or even proactively kick off the conversation) and are equipped to answer common questions. This eliminates customers’ wait time and provides immediate responses for the majority of queries. Bots put the “live” in “live chat.”

3) Adopt technology that helps bots and human service reps to “tag team.”

When a complex question arises, the right technology can loop in a human chat coordinator, and provide a unified record of everything that’s happened in this interaction as well as the customer’s entire history. This way, the context never gets left behind in the handoff between bot and human, or the switch from one communication channel to another.

Marketing automation used to solely refer to workflows + drip email campaigns. Today, it’s much more than that. The new marketing automation is conversational technology + bots. This is automation that makes us more efficient, but more importantly, more effective for our customers. This is automation that creates relationships instead of frustration.

Today, we announced HubSpot’s acquisition of motion.ai — a platform that enables anyone to build and deploy bots across any messaging channel. With this acquisition, we not only hope to enable marketers, salespeople, and service folks to serve their customers better, faster, and with more context than ever before, but we also intend to create the “all in one” experience our customers have come to rely on.

The only constant in business and consumer behavior today is change — which I know firsthand can feel overwhelming. But you’re not in it alone. As your customers change, HubSpot empowers you to adapt to and surpass their expectations. As your business grows, we grow with you. And when new technology emerges, we build it into the growth stack so you can stay ahead of the curve without the headache of wrangling countless disparate apps.

Live chat is the standard today, but I think we should aspire to do better for our buyers. Now I want to hear from you. Do you think live chat in its current manifestation is dead? Is your company prepared to meet the expectations of today’s buyers, and the buyers of tomorrow?

Send HubSpot a note on Facebook Messenger. Tell me what you think the future of communication between buyers and businesses should be.

Let’s have a conversation.

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Aug

21

2017

Talking the Talk: The Beginner’s Guide to Designing a Chatbot Conversation

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Leave a Comment

Nothing will impact the way we communicate quite like chatbots.

Whether you need to summon a Lyft, book a flight, or even test out a new shade of lipstick, it’s now safe to say, “There’s an bot for that.”

By plugging into the messaging apps we already use to talk with friends every day, chatbots sit at the intersection of convenience and utility, redefining what it means for brands to be helpful for their customers.

And the numbers live up to the hype. Today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users, surpassing that of the top social networks. On Facebook Messenger alone there are 100,000 bots, not to mention the growing offerings on Kik, Slack, WeChat, and more.

Needless to say, bots are the future of brand communication.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t frustrate the hell out of you from time to time.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 9.21.16 AM-2.png

Image: Why Chatbots Fail

Let’s face it. Aside from the one-year-olds in your life, humans are really good at conversation. We remember contextual details. We get sarcasm. We read between the lines.

Bots don’t.

dorothy-1.gif

Image: Giphy

No matter the amount of headlines you read proclaiming that it’s the “Year of Chatbots”, natural language processing technology is still early, and there will still be those bots that make you want to sling your phone against the wall.

Besides, an entire lifetime of conversations has taught us to expect those we talk with to be relevant, clear, and brief. But, as more and more marketers race to this new communication channel without carefully considering the customer experience, we risk messing up messaging.

It’s safe to say, the greatest challenge of creating a bot is developing the conversational flow.

Don’t get hung up on development. Thanks to platforms like Motion.ai, building a bot is as easy as drawing a flowchart, meaning you can get the whole process done without knowing a line of code.

However, crafting a productive conversation is an art. There’s no absolute template to follow.

It’s really the double-edged sword of messaging. When done well, bots provide a scalable way to have one-on-one conversations with buyers unlike any other communication channel us marketers have gotten our hands on. Yet, bots fail when they don’t deliver an experience as efficient and delightful as the complex, multi-layered conversations people are accustomed to having with other humans on messaging apps.

If this sounds like nothing you’ve ever done before as a marketer, you’re not alone. Designing a great chatbot conversation will take more than some witty copywriting.

To help you wrap your mind around the concept, we’ve created the Inbound Messaging Framework — a beginner’s guide to structuring chatbot conversations that keep the greater customer experience in mind.

So, get out those dry erase markers. It’s time to whiteboard your first chatbot conversation.

The Inbound Messaging Framework

MessagingFramework-01-2.jpg

 

Connect

The first step of the Inbound Messaging Framework is to connect with your audience. Before you write a line of copy, understand your audience enough to know the messaging app where they’re most likely to spend their time so you’re available when their problem arises. For example, with its wide reach, Facebook Messenger could be the best option for audiences over the age of 18. But it overlooks the teenage demographic, who has proved loyal to Kik.

Engage the user in a conversational tone authentic to the feel of the messaging app, but remains true to your brand’s personality. For example, notice how the Sephora bot for Kik welcomes users with a casual tone and isn’t shy with the emojis.

kik_sephora-1.jpg

Image: NewsWhip

The Sephora bot begins the conversation by getting to know the customer as if they’ve walked into the store and are greeted by a personal stylist. The bot then recalls these details to cater product suggestions accordingly.

This sort of personalization is just the beginning of what the Connect stage could be in the future. Imagine chatting with a bot that remembers your exact shade of foundation or recalls your shipping address automatically. As bot building platforms make connecting to your business’s CRM even easier, personalization will have a new whole meaning for marketers.

Understand

A common misconception with chatbots is that they’re supposed to be chatty. Remember, with each joke or silly GIF, you’re adding another barrier between the user and the solution they’re looking for.

Instead, the goal of the Understand phase is to lead the user through a series of dependent questions to to collect the necessary information to understand their intent or problem.

Here’s where the flow-charting begins. The progression of questions is neither random, nor one-size-fits-all. Start with a leading question that helps you narrow down the user’s intent as much as possible. Then, use the answer to alter each follow-up question until you’re able to hone in on a solution.

As described on the Prototypr blog, one method is to consider the who, what, when, where, and why of the situation and order your questions with the most telling variable first. For instance, Spring, a personal shopping bot, begins by asking whether the user wants women’s or men’s items to cut the product options in half from the start.

Spring_messenger1-1.png

Image: SendBird Blog

Deliver

You’ve heard it said before: bots are the new apps. We’ve grown tired of having to download an app we’ll never use again. In fact, half of U.S. smartphone users download a whopping zero apps per month. But since bots are accessed via messaging apps, there’s no longer a need to clutter up your phone with new downloads.

The best bots complete a transaction or deliver a solution without forcing the user to leave the conversational interface. Thankfully, most bot building platforms provide a variety of rich media options to help make this a reality, including image carousels and buy buttons.

Note how TechCrunch’s Facebook Messenger bot delivers content via Instant Articles to prevent mobile users from having to load their website.

techcrunch-1.png

Refine

The process doesn’t end when the user closes the chat window. The best bots apply what they’ve learned from each and every interaction and use it to make subsequent experiences more unique and streamlined.

As Clara de Soto, co-founder of Reply.ai, told VentureBeat, “You’re never just ‘building a bot’ so much as launching a ‘conversational strategy’ — one that’s constantly evolving and being optimized based on how users are actually interacting with it.”

We’re swimming in data these days, and the more we market within the world of messaging, the more we’ll find this to be true. Consider updating the options in the menu based on the options users select or altering the syntax of questions that cause users to bounce.

Remember, building a bot is one thing, but understanding the cyclical nature of this field is another. The conversational flow is the heart of your chatbot and should be something you come back to refine time and time again.

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Aug

21

2017

Talking the Talk: The Beginner’s Guide to Designing a Chatbot Conversation

Nothing will impact the way we communicate quite like chatbots.

Whether you need to summon a Lyft, book a flight, or even test out a new shade of lipstick, it’s now safe to say, “There’s an bot for that.”

By plugging into the messaging apps we already use to talk with friends every day, chatbots sit at the intersection of convenience and utility, redefining what it means for brands to be helpful for their customers.

And the numbers live up to the hype. Today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users, surpassing that of the top social networks. On Facebook Messenger alone there are 100,000 bots, not to mention the growing offerings on Kik, Slack, WeChat, and more.

Needless to say, bots are the future of brand communication.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t frustrate the hell out of you from time to time.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 9.21.16 AM-2.png

Image: Why Chatbots Fail

Let’s face it. Aside from the one-year-olds in your life, humans are really good at conversation. We remember contextual details. We get sarcasm. We read between the lines.

Bots don’t.

dorothy-1.gif

Image: Giphy

No matter the amount of headlines you read proclaiming that it’s the “Year of Chatbots”, natural language processing technology is still early, and there will still be those bots that make you want to sling your phone against the wall.

Besides, an entire lifetime of conversations has taught us to expect those we talk with to be relevant, clear, and brief. But, as more and more marketers race to this new communication channel without carefully considering the customer experience, we risk messing up messaging.

It’s safe to say, the greatest challenge of creating a bot is developing the conversational flow.

Don’t get hung up on development. Thanks to platforms like Motion.ai, building a bot is as easy as drawing a flowchart, meaning you can get the whole process done without knowing a line of code.

However, crafting a productive conversation is an art. There’s no absolute template to follow.

It’s really the double-edged sword of messaging. When done well, bots provide a scalable way to have one-on-one conversations with buyers unlike any other communication channel us marketers have gotten our hands on. Yet, bots fail when they don’t deliver an experience as efficient and delightful as the complex, multi-layered conversations people are accustomed to having with other humans on messaging apps.

If this sounds like nothing you’ve ever done before as a marketer, you’re not alone. Designing a great chatbot conversation will take more than some witty copywriting.

To help you wrap your mind around the concept, we’ve created the Inbound Messaging Framework — a beginner’s guide to structuring chatbot conversations that keep the greater customer experience in mind.

So, get out those dry erase markers. It’s time to whiteboard your first chatbot conversation.

The Inbound Messaging Framework

MessagingFramework-01-2.jpg

 

Connect

The first step of the Inbound Messaging Framework is to connect with your audience. Before you write a line of copy, understand your audience enough to know the messaging app where they’re most likely to spend their time so you’re available when their problem arises. For example, with its wide reach, Facebook Messenger could be the best option for audiences over the age of 18. But it overlooks the teenage demographic, who has proved loyal to Kik.

Engage the user in a conversational tone authentic to the feel of the messaging app, but remains true to your brand’s personality. For example, notice how the Sephora bot for Kik welcomes users with a casual tone and isn’t shy with the emojis.

kik_sephora-1.jpg

Image: NewsWhip

The Sephora bot begins the conversation by getting to know the customer as if they’ve walked into the store and are greeted by a personal stylist. The bot then recalls these details to cater product suggestions accordingly.

This sort of personalization is just the beginning of what the Connect stage could be in the future. Imagine chatting with a bot that remembers your exact shade of foundation or recalls your shipping address automatically. As bot building platforms make connecting to your business’s CRM even easier, personalization will have a new whole meaning for marketers.

Understand

A common misconception with chatbots is that they’re supposed to be chatty. Remember, with each joke or silly GIF, you’re adding another barrier between the user and the solution they’re looking for.

Instead, the goal of the Understand phase is to lead the user through a series of dependent questions to to collect the necessary information to understand their intent or problem.

Here’s where the flow-charting begins. The progression of questions is neither random, nor one-size-fits-all. Start with a leading question that helps you narrow down the user’s intent as much as possible. Then, use the answer to alter each follow-up question until you’re able to hone in on a solution.

As described on the Prototypr blog, one method is to consider the who, what, when, where, and why of the situation and order your questions with the most telling variable first. For instance, Spring, a personal shopping bot, begins by asking whether the user wants women’s or men’s items to cut the product options in half from the start.

Spring_messenger1-1.png

Image: SendBird Blog

Deliver

You’ve heard it said before: bots are the new apps. We’ve grown tired of having to download an app we’ll never use again. In fact, half of U.S. smartphone users download a whopping zero apps per month. But since bots are accessed via messaging apps, there’s no longer a need to clutter up your phone with new downloads.

The best bots complete a transaction or deliver a solution without forcing the user to leave the conversational interface. Thankfully, most bot building platforms provide a variety of rich media options to help make this a reality, including image carousels and buy buttons.

Note how TechCrunch’s Facebook Messenger bot delivers content via Instant Articles to prevent mobile users from having to load their website.

techcrunch-1.png

Refine

The process doesn’t end when the user closes the chat window. The best bots apply what they’ve learned from each and every interaction and use it to make subsequent experiences more unique and streamlined.

As Clara de Soto, co-founder of Reply.ai, told VentureBeat, “You’re never just ‘building a bot’ so much as launching a ‘conversational strategy’ — one that’s constantly evolving and being optimized based on how users are actually interacting with it.”

We’re swimming in data these days, and the more we market within the world of messaging, the more we’ll find this to be true. Consider updating the options in the menu based on the options users select or altering the syntax of questions that cause users to bounce.

Remember, building a bot is one thing, but understanding the cyclical nature of this field is another. The conversational flow is the heart of your chatbot and should be something you come back to refine time and time again.

Aug

15

2017

How to Build a Chatbot from Pitch to Promotion

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Leave a Comment

In April 2016, something happened at Facebook that would quickly result in a revolutionary paradigm shift on the horizon of online communication — from mobile to desktop, marketing to services, personal to corporate — everything, really.

Messenger opened its doors to developers with an invitation to create chatbots — something of which roughly 78% of online adults were unaware. 

Within six months, developers had created about 30,000 active Messenger bots. Today, less than a year later, that number is up 233%, with 100,000 active bots on the platform. 

But it’s not just a popular, funky thing to do. Businesses using chatbots are seeing results, like Sephora, which reportedly earns “an average spend of over $50 from clients who have booked an in-store service via its Messenger assistant,” according to VentureBeat.

In case you’re wondering what the heck a chatbot actually is, though, here’s the condensed definition: A bot is nothing more than a computer program that automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface.

There’s a vast range of chatbots. They can be rule-based, or powered by artificial intelligence (AI), both of which will drastically change the process of developing one. And if you’re looking to formulate your own chatbot strategy — from building the bot from scratch to promoting it and getting customers to use it — we’ve developed a basic framework for just that.

Read on, and let’s start building.

How to Build a Chatbot from Pitch to Promotion

1) Decide your bot’s purpose.

Ultimately, the purpose of a bot is to provide a service people actually want to use — time and time again. No bot is meant to do everything, so when you set out to create your own, think of an existing problem that it can fix in a more efficient way.

While there are many types of chatbots, if you’re building one for the first time, you’ll likely want to choose from the following two options:

Informational bots

As the name suggests, these bots provide users with a new format of information consumption. For example, breaking news bots send developing stories as the information becomes available. TechCrunch has a bot of that nature — check it out below:

Utility bots

These bots are automated to complete tasks and answer questions. In other words, they solve a user’s problem or inquiry via a chat transaction. Customer service bots might immediately come to mind here, but a growing number of utility bots are being built for purposes like booking appointments or shopping online. One of our personal favorites is TacoBot: Taco Bell’s still-in-development bot that allows people to order food via Slack. Join the waitlist here, and check out the preview:

tacobot_preview.gif

Source: Taco Bell

2) Decide what messaging app your bot will live on.

Earlier, we provided examples of bots that live on Messenger and Slack, respectively. And while those are two very popular options, there are many more available — for example, Kik and Viber.

Your chatbot’s “home” will largely depend on who’s using what. You’ll want to aim for the apps with an audience that matches the one you’re trying to reach. Slack, for example, tends to be more business-focused, so productivity bots are particularly helpful there.

Sephora is a great example. While the brand has bots on both Messenger and Kik, each one functions differently. The Messenger version is used for customer service, feedback, and booking makeovers:

The Kik version, on the other hand, is designed to help users find products and makeup tips:

3) Decide which platform you’ll use to build the chatbot.

Most messenger apps have tools and documents to help developers build bots — for example, Messenger has an entire library of resources here.

However, there are numerous platforms that can also help you build your bot — in some cases, without a lot of coding required. Here are a few that we recommend:

  1. Motion AI
  2. Chatfuel
  3. Botsify
  4. Beep Boop
  5. Bot Kit
  6. Octane.ai

4) Create your bot’s personality.

Remember when we mentioned the importance of matching your bot’s home with the audience you’re trying to reach? Well, we have a similar guiding principle for your bot’s personality: It should match your brand.

One of our favorite examples here is Pegg, a financial assistant designed for startups and small businesses — but speaking as someone who recently returned from vacation, it’s helpful for anyone trying to track their spending. And while finance isn’t something that’s usually associated with a fun, playful voice, Pegg’s bot, HelloPegg, flips that connotation on its head with a cute logo and friendly voice.

5) Build your bot’s flow.

When you begin creating your chatbot, the platform you’re using should provide options on how to build out conversations. Usually, this is by way of providing the user with drag-and-drop or multiple choice responses, or frontloading the bot with if/then statements. For example, with the HelloPegg app above, the if/then flow might look like this:

If the user begins the sentence with, “Spent” — then respond with, “Who did you pay?”

It’s a way of building a series of questions that are dependent on certain input criteria from the user to reach a given response or solution. Remember, a bot is supposed to be able to understand intent and deliver a solution in the most efficient way possible — that’s the main point of building a conversational strategy. Unlike a type form, for example, not every user can receive the same questions, and each answer the user gives should alter the following question to make the conversation as productive as possible.

Chatbots don’t necessarily need to be loquacious — they serve the purpose solving real problems from real people with the same (or better) ability as a human.

Things like buttons, cards, or other UI elements can be helpful here. For example, when chatting with a friend on Messenger, you might notice that the app prompts you to do certain things, depending on what you’ve typed in — like when I used it to wish my colleague, Eric Peters, a happy birthday.

EPMessenger.png

To help you build out these various pieces, we created the conversational framework below.

Finally, you’ll need to set up your chatbot’s ability to process the natural language that most users will input — meaning, the conversational vernacular that we use day-to-day. For example, “People don’t typically chat using words like ‘affirmative’ and ‘negative’,” explains HubSpot Senior Manager of Web Development Dmitry Shamis. “They say things like ‘yup’ and ‘nah, playa’ so natural language processing allows your bot to understand the underlying message and sentiment of those words.”

The way to do this varies with each platform, so depending on what you’re using to create the bot, going about this step will vary.

6) Connect the bot to the messaging app.

Once you’ve reached this step, you’ve likely finished building your bot. Now, it’s time to connect it to the app where you want it to live.

Many of the resources we listed in section 3 will allow you to do this within the same platform you used to build the bot. Both Motion AI and Chatfuel, for instance, have buttons in the interface that allow you to simply attach your bot directly to your Messenger page. But before you commit to those options, make sure you do thorough research to make sure you won’t be expected to pay any fees to the platform in the case that your bot sees a high level of success.

There are a few tools available to help you do this, one of which is the Recast.ai Bot Connector. It’s integrated with a number of apps, including Kik, Messenger, and Slack. It’s open source and free — check out the instructions for getting started here.

7) Test and train with a beta group.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve finished a project of which I’m particularly proud, I’m impatient to share it with the world. But as much as we want to get our work out into the hands of the adoring masses, it’s imperative to make sure it works — especially with something as highly customer-facing and interacting as a chatbot.

That’s why we recommend forming a beta group to test the bot before it’s launched for public consumption. That can be internal or external — here at HubSpot, for example, we often test new products and features by sharing them with our colleagues and asking them to check for functionality, quality, and bugs.

But whoever you choose to test your chatbot, make sure they’re not afraid to give you their honest feedback. In order to fix a mistake, it needs to be unabashedly pointed out to you first.

8) Promote your chatbot.

Once your chatbot has been thoroughly QA’d and de-bugged, it’s time to release it to the public — and, of course, promote it.

There are several ways to go about the latter, but for the sake of keeping your strategy focused, we recommend the following steps to get started.

Add it to chatbot directories and catalogs.

Not every app will have a listing like this, but if you’re using one that does, make sure your app is included. (For example, here’s Slack’s.) Otherwise, look to third-party directories like BotList or Bot Finder for such listings.

Create a dedicated, SEO-friendly landing page.

For us, there’s often nothing more frustrating than catching wind of a great chatbot and being unable to find a dedicated website for it. That’s why we encourage you to create a dedicated, central page to explain the purpose, features, and where to find/install your chatbot to avoid any difficulty finding it, or other confusion.

TOPBOTS marketing and strategy specialist Adelyn Zhou emphasizes the importance of such a page. “A dedicated landing page for your bot gives users the option to first read and understand your distinct value add,” she writes on Medium. “Without the introduction, you’re leaving them to deduce your functionality by themselves.”

Include a messaging option in your emails.

Many emails include CTAs and icons for the reader to follow the sender on social media. Now, you can also add an option for your audience to engage with you via chatbot, by including icons for Messenger and Slack, for example.

Continuing the Conversation

Before you begin, remember: The hardest part of this process is not building your chatbot.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you re-read the steps above, you’ll see that while the actual bot buildout isn’t without its challenges, it doesn’t present the most difficulty. Rather, the hardest part is improving your conversational strategy over time — based on how actual humans are interacting with it.

Even after you’ve completed the steps we’ve outlined, your work won’t be completely done. You’ll want to see how users are engaging with your chatbot, and if they’re not, what might be the cause of it. Is it truly addressing the problem it was built to solve? Has it turned out that your audience has other issues it wishes to resolve with a bot?

Think about these different factors once your chatbot goes live, and the various ways you can continue to make it even better.

HubSp

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Aug

15

2017

How to Build a Chatbot from Pitch to Promotion

In April 2016, something happened at Facebook that would quickly result in a revolutionary paradigm shift on the horizon of online communication — from mobile to desktop, marketing to services, personal to corporate — everything, really.

Messenger opened its doors to developers with an invitation to create chatbots — something of which roughly 78% of online adults were unaware. 

Within six months, developers had created about 30,000 active Messenger bots. Today, less than a year later, that number is up 233%, with 100,000 active bots on the platform. 

But it’s not just a popular, funky thing to do. Businesses using chatbots are seeing results, like Sephora, which reportedly earns “an average spend of over $50 from clients who have booked an in-store service via its Messenger assistant,” according to VentureBeat.

In case you’re wondering what the heck a chatbot actually is, though, here’s the condensed definition: A bot is nothing more than a computer program that automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface.

There’s a vast range of chatbots. They can be rule-based, or powered by artificial intelligence (AI), both of which will drastically change the process of developing one. And if you’re looking to formulate your own chatbot strategy — from building the bot from scratch to promoting it and getting customers to use it — we’ve developed a basic framework for just that.

Read on, and let’s start building.

How to Build a Chatbot from Pitch to Promotion

1) Decide your bot’s purpose.

Ultimately, the purpose of a bot is to provide a service people actually want to use — time and time again. No bot is meant to do everything, so when you set out to create your own, think of an existing problem that it can fix in a more efficient way.

While there are many types of chatbots, if you’re building one for the first time, you’ll likely want to choose from the following two options:

Informational bots

As the name suggests, these bots provide users with a new format of information consumption. For example, breaking news bots send developing stories as the information becomes available. TechCrunch has a bot of that nature — check it out below:

Utility bots

These bots are automated to complete tasks and answer questions. In other words, they solve a user’s problem or inquiry via a chat transaction. Customer service bots might immediately come to mind here, but a growing number of utility bots are being built for purposes like booking appointments or shopping online. One of our personal favorites is TacoBot: Taco Bell’s still-in-development bot that allows people to order food via Slack. Join the waitlist here, and check out the preview:

tacobot_preview.gif

Source: Taco Bell

2) Decide what messaging app your bot will live on.

Earlier, we provided examples of bots that live on Messenger and Slack, respectively. And while those are two very popular options, there are many more available — for example, Kik and Viber.

Your chatbot’s “home” will largely depend on who’s using what. You’ll want to aim for the apps with an audience that matches the one you’re trying to reach. Slack, for example, tends to be more business-focused, so productivity bots are particularly helpful there.

Sephora is a great example. While the brand has bots on both Messenger and Kik, each one functions differently. The Messenger version is used for customer service, feedback, and booking makeovers:

The Kik version, on the other hand, is designed to help users find products and makeup tips:

3) Decide which platform you’ll use to build the chatbot.

Most messenger apps have tools and documents to help developers build bots — for example, Messenger has an entire library of resources here.

However, there are numerous platforms that can also help you build your bot — in some cases, without a lot of coding required. Here are a few that we recommend:

  1. Motion AI
  2. Chatfuel
  3. Botsify
  4. Beep Boop
  5. Bot Kit
  6. Octane.ai

4) Create your bot’s personality.

Remember when we mentioned the importance of matching your bot’s home with the audience you’re trying to reach? Well, we have a similar guiding principle for your bot’s personality: It should match your brand.

One of our favorite examples here is Pegg, a financial assistant designed for startups and small businesses — but speaking as someone who recently returned from vacation, it’s helpful for anyone trying to track their spending. And while finance isn’t something that’s usually associated with a fun, playful voice, Pegg’s bot, HelloPegg, flips that connotation on its head with a cute logo and friendly voice.

5) Build your bot’s flow.

When you begin creating your chatbot, the platform you’re using should provide options on how to build out conversations. Usually, this is by way of providing the user with drag-and-drop or multiple choice responses, or frontloading the bot with if/then statements. For example, with the HelloPegg app above, the if/then flow might look like this:

If the user begins the sentence with, “Spent” — then respond with, “Who did you pay?”

It’s a way of building a series of questions that are dependent on certain input criteria from the user to reach a given response or solution. Remember, a bot is supposed to be able to understand intent and deliver a solution in the most efficient way possible — that’s the main point of building a conversational strategy. Unlike a type form, for example, not every user can receive the same questions, and each answer the user gives should alter the following question to make the conversation as productive as possible.

Chatbots don’t necessarily need to be loquacious — they serve the purpose solving real problems from real people with the same (or better) ability as a human.

Things like buttons, cards, or other UI elements can be helpful here. For example, when chatting with a friend on Messenger, you might notice that the app prompts you to do certain things, depending on what you’ve typed in — like when I used it to wish my colleague, Eric Peters, a happy birthday.

EPMessenger.png

To help you build out these various pieces, we created the conversational framework below.

Finally, you’ll need to set up your chatbot’s ability to process the natural language that most users will input — meaning, the conversational vernacular that we use day-to-day. For example, “People don’t typically chat using words like ‘affirmative’ and ‘negative’,” explains HubSpot Senior Manager of Web Development Dmitry Shamis. “They say things like ‘yup’ and ‘nah, playa’ so natural language processing allows your bot to understand the underlying message and sentiment of those words.”

The way to do this varies with each platform, so depending on what you’re using to create the bot, going about this step will vary.

6) Connect the bot to the messaging app.

Once you’ve reached this step, you’ve likely finished building your bot. Now, it’s time to connect it to the app where you want it to live.

Many of the resources we listed in section 3 will allow you to do this within the same platform you used to build the bot. Both Motion AI and Chatfuel, for instance, have buttons in the interface that allow you to simply attach your bot directly to your Messenger page. But before you commit to those options, make sure you do thorough research to make sure you won’t be expected to pay any fees to the platform in the case that your bot sees a high level of success.

There are a few tools available to help you do this, one of which is the Recast.ai Bot Connector. It’s integrated with a number of apps, including Kik, Messenger, and Slack. It’s open source and free — check out the instructions for getting started here.

7) Test and train with a beta group.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve finished a project of which I’m particularly proud, I’m impatient to share it with the world. But as much as we want to get our work out into the hands of the adoring masses, it’s imperative to make sure it works — especially with something as highly customer-facing and interacting as a chatbot.

That’s why we recommend forming a beta group to test the bot before it’s launched for public consumption. That can be internal or external — here at HubSpot, for example, we often test new products and features by sharing them with our colleagues and asking them to check for functionality, quality, and bugs.

But whoever you choose to test your chatbot, make sure they’re not afraid to give you their honest feedback. In order to fix a mistake, it needs to be unabashedly pointed out to you first.

8) Promote your chatbot.

Once your chatbot has been thoroughly QA’d and de-bugged, it’s time to release it to the public — and, of course, promote it.

There are several ways to go about the latter, but for the sake of keeping your strategy focused, we recommend the following steps to get started.

Add it to chatbot directories and catalogs.

Not every app will have a listing like this, but if you’re using one that does, make sure your app is included. (For example, here’s Slack’s.) Otherwise, look to third-party directories like BotList or Bot Finder for such listings.

Create a dedicated, SEO-friendly landing page.

For us, there’s often nothing more frustrating than catching wind of a great chatbot and being unable to find a dedicated website for it. That’s why we encourage you to create a dedicated, central page to explain the purpose, features, and where to find/install your chatbot to avoid any difficulty finding it, or other confusion.

TOPBOTS marketing and strategy specialist Adelyn Zhou emphasizes the importance of such a page. “A dedicated landing page for your bot gives users the option to first read and understand your distinct value add,” she writes on Medium. “Without the introduction, you’re leaving them to deduce your functionality by themselves.”

Include a messaging option in your emails.

Many emails include CTAs and icons for the reader to follow the sender on social media. Now, you can also add an option for your audience to engage with you via chatbot, by including icons for Messenger and Slack, for example.

Continuing the Conversation

Before you begin, remember: The hardest part of this process is not building your chatbot.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you re-read the steps above, you’ll see that while the actual bot buildout isn’t without its challenges, it doesn’t present the most difficulty. Rather, the hardest part is improving your conversational strategy over time — based on how actual humans are interacting with it.

Even after you’ve completed the steps we’ve outlined, your work won’t be completely done. You’ll want to see how users are engaging with your chatbot, and if they’re not, what might be the cause of it. Is it truly addressing the problem it was built to solve? Has it turned out that your audience has other issues it wishes to resolve with a bot?

Think about these different factors once your chatbot goes live, and the various ways you can continue to make it even better.

Intro to Lead Gen

Aug

11

2017

The 5 Best Messaging Apps for Marketing in 2017

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Leave a Comment

Remember only being able to send 1,000 texts each month?

My mom definitely remembers our phone bills when I doubled that amount every week in middle school.

Thankfully, companies created messaging apps to provide free and unlimited messaging, which was a refreshing solution for rigid text message limits and their lofty costs.

Click here to download a free, 5-part kit to help you grow your mobile  audience.

But messaging apps refused to be just another form of text messaging. They kept innovating and evolved into apps for almost every digital interaction possible.

Now, within a single app, you can chat with your friends, communicate with brands, make calls, play games, consume content, buy products, and even call a cab.

These added functionalities make messaging apps sticky. They draw users to the app more often and keep them there for a longer time. Today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users worldwide.

Most messaging apps also let businesses market to their massive, engaged user bases. Marketers can now use chatbots to provide customer service, send content to users, sell products, and advertise.

Naturally, different countries and age groups prefer some apps to others. Read on to learn how you can tailor your messaging app marketing for five different global messaging apps.

5 Best Messaging Apps for Marketing in 2017

1) WhatsApp

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.20.08 PM.png

Monthly active users:1.3 billion

Most Popular Regions: Latin America, Europe, The Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, Russia, and Africa

Age Group: 25-44

Marketing Features:

WhatsApp doesn’t sell ads, prohibits third-party bots, and limits its broadcast message feature and group chats to 256 people. How are marketers supposed to leverage the most popular messaging app in the world then?

Since WhatsApp isn’t conducive to large-scale content distribution, marketers must take advantage of its one-to-one messaging capabilities. And by interacting with WhatsApp users like a normal user would, marketers can execute hyper-targeted and personalized campaigns.

In 2014, Hellman’s Brazil created WhatsCook, a live recipe service that connected people to real chefs. This wasn’t a service that just recommended recipes, though. It created recipes with the ingredients users already had.

After signing up for the service on their website, users would send a picture of their refrigerator’s contents to WhatsCook. Then a chef would whip up a unique recipe using the person’s available ingredients and teach them how to cook it using pictures, videos, and other WhatsApp features.

Over 13,000 people people signed up for WhatsCook and each user spent an average of 65 minutes interacting with Hellman’s chefs. The service also received a 99.5% approval rating.

WhatsCook is a prime example of creative WhatsApp marketing. By attracting users with a helpful service, they engaged thousands of more people than they could by blasting content through a broadcast or group chat.

To start a service like WhatsCook, you just need users’ phone numbers or they can add your number to their contact list.

Fortunately, WhatsApp offers a click-to-chat link that you can embed in your website, email signature, or social profiles, allowing you to effectively promote your service.

2) Facebook Messenger

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.25.36 PM.png

Monthly active users: 1.2 billion

Most Popular Regions: North America, Europe, Australia, The Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa

Age group: 16-44

Marketing Features:

Facebook messenger offers brands a stockpile of marketing features.

For instance, you can serve destination ads in people’s newsfeed to drive them to your messenger and spark a conversation, send sponsored messages to people who’ve messaged you in the past, integrate messenger bots like Chatfuel and ManyChat to interact with customers, and more.

At HubSpot, we use chatbots to automate Facebook conversations with people. Whenever someone messages our Facebook account, our chatbot will message back with a menu of options.

People can then search and subscribe to our content, check out our software, look at job openings, ask for customer support, and manage their Facebook messenger blog subscription.

FB-Messenger.gif

 

3) WeChat

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.29.22 PM.png

Monthly active users: 938 million

Most popular regions: China

Age Group: 18-50

Marketing Features:

WeChat isn’t just a popular Chinese messaging app. Most Chinese citizens use it to run their entire lives.

In one app, they can:

  • Message friends
  • Post social updates in WeChat Moments
  • Read the news
  • Make in-store payments
  • Pay for bills
  • Transfer money
  • Shop online
  • Play games
  • Make voice and video calls
  • Book a taxi
  • And manage their personal finances

WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app for a reason. And it also provides marketers a lot of opportunity to engage and delight users.

But if you want to market to users in China, or 90% of the user base, your business must be registered in Mainland China.

Businesses based in the United States, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, South Africa, Taiwan, and Thailand can only market to around 100 million of WeChat’s international users.

To establish a strong presence on WeChat, you should set up an official account for your business. This will allow you to create a company micro-site, publish content, and provide customer services all within the WeChat app.

There are two types of official accounts. Content publishers usually sign up for subscription accounts that let you broadcast one message per day to your subscribers in their subscription accounts folder.

Big retail chains usually sign up for service accounts that let you broadcast four messages per month to your subscribers in their friend session list.

Verified service accounts have access to 9 advanced APIs and WeChat payment. With access to these APIs, marketers can:

  • Leverage personalized content marketing, location-based marketing, influencer marketing, and QR code marketing
  • Open micro-stores
  • And run lotteries

All accounts also offer bots that can interact with users and deliver keyword-triggered content.

BuzzFeed uses these bots to send WeChat users instant, personalized content whenever they message them a certain keyword like “dogs”, “lol”, or “fail”.

BuzzFeed WeChat.png

 

4) Line

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.32.02 PM.png

Monthly active users: 217 million

Most popular regions: Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia

Age group: 10-49

Marketing Features:

Line is a free messaging app that offers a profile page, stickers, games, video calling, music streaming, ride-sharing, and about 30 other features. It dominates Japan’s messaging app market, where 94% of messaging app users use the app.

Line is chock full of opportunity for marketers. In its four most popular countries, 73% of monthly active users use the app every day. This abundance of user engagement allows brands to build huge followings and boost engagement rates.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal acquired 2 million Line followers in only 15 months, which is the fastest social channel growth they’ve ever seen. They also claim that 30% of its followers like, comment, and share all their posts.

When brands sign up for Line official accounts, they can:

  • Set up a profile page
  • Send chat messages to each of their subscribers
  • Post content on their subscribers’ timelines
  • Activate chatbots that deliver keyword-triggered responses and content
  • Optimize Line advertisements based on user demographics and interests
  • Distribute free branded stickers
  • And reward customers with stickers after they buy a product

For Paul McCartney, Line is actually the best way to reach fans. His 12.5 million Line followers are more than all his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers combined.

And since he can send private messages to each of his 12.5 million Line followers, he also engages with them a lot more than he can with his traditional social media following.

Paul McCartney.png

Photo Credit: TechCrunch

5) Slack

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.38.30 PM.png

Daily active users: 5 million

Most popular regions: United States

Age group: 25-54

Marketing Features:

Slack is the main internal communications platform for many businesses. In fact, 77% of Fortune 100 companies use it. If you work in B2B, Slack could be your most targeted marketing channel.

At HubSpot, we knew Slack could be an effective content delivery channel, so we decided to offer a Slack blog subscription. When users sign up for it, they add the HubSpot Blog app to their Slack profile, where they receive a weekly broadcast of content. They can also search for content in the app.

slack.gif

What messaging apps do you use for your marketing? Let us know on Twitter!

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Aug

11

2017

The 5 Best Messaging Apps for Marketing in 2017

Remember only being able to send 1,000 texts each month?

My mom definitely remembers our phone bills when I doubled that amount every week in middle school.

Thankfully, companies created messaging apps to provide free and unlimited messaging, which was a refreshing solution for rigid text message limits and their lofty costs.

Click here to download a free, 5-part kit to help you grow your mobile  audience.

But messaging apps refused to be just another form of text messaging. They kept innovating and evolved into apps for almost every digital interaction possible.

Now, within a single app, you can chat with your friends, communicate with brands, make calls, play games, consume content, buy products, and even call a cab.

These added functionalities make messaging apps sticky. They draw users to the app more often and keep them there for a longer time. Today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users worldwide.

Most messaging apps also let businesses market to their massive, engaged user bases. Marketers can now use chatbots to provide customer service, send content to users, sell products, and advertise.

Naturally, different countries and age groups prefer some apps to others. Read on to learn how you can tailor your messaging app marketing for five different global messaging apps.

5 Best Messaging Apps for Marketing in 2017

1) WhatsApp

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.20.08 PM.png

Monthly active users:1.3 billion

Most Popular Regions: Latin America, Europe, The Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, Russia, and Africa

Age Group: 25-44

Marketing Features:

WhatsApp doesn’t sell ads, prohibits third-party bots, and limits its broadcast message feature and group chats to 256 people. How are marketers supposed to leverage the most popular messaging app in the world then?

Since WhatsApp isn’t conducive to large-scale content distribution, marketers must take advantage of its one-to-one messaging capabilities. And by interacting with WhatsApp users like a normal user would, marketers can execute hyper-targeted and personalized campaigns.

In 2014, Hellman’s Brazil created WhatsCook, a live recipe service that connected people to real chefs. This wasn’t a service that just recommended recipes, though. It created recipes with the ingredients users already had.

After signing up for the service on their website, users would send a picture of their refrigerator’s contents to WhatsCook. Then a chef would whip up a unique recipe using the person’s available ingredients and teach them how to cook it using pictures, videos, and other WhatsApp features.

Over 13,000 people people signed up for WhatsCook and each user spent an average of 65 minutes interacting with Hellman’s chefs. The service also received a 99.5% approval rating.

WhatsCook is a prime example of creative WhatsApp marketing. By attracting users with a helpful service, they engaged thousands of more people than they could by blasting content through a broadcast or group chat.

To start a service like WhatsCook, you just need users’ phone numbers or they can add your number to their contact list.

Fortunately, WhatsApp offers a click-to-chat link that you can embed in your website, email signature, or social profiles, allowing you to effectively promote your service.

2) Facebook Messenger

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.25.36 PM.png

Monthly active users: 1.2 billion

Most Popular Regions: North America, Europe, Australia, The Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa

Age group: 16-44

Marketing Features:

Facebook messenger offers brands a stockpile of marketing features.

For instance, you can serve destination ads in people’s newsfeed to drive them to your messenger and spark a conversation, send sponsored messages to people who’ve messaged you in the past, integrate messenger bots like Chatfuel and ManyChat to interact with customers, and more.

At HubSpot, we use chatbots to automate Facebook conversations with people. Whenever someone messages our Facebook account, our chatbot will message back with a menu of options.

People can then search and subscribe to our content, check out our software, look at job openings, ask for customer support, and manage their Facebook messenger blog subscription.

FB-Messenger.gif

 

3) WeChat

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.29.22 PM.png

Monthly active users: 938 million

Most popular regions: China

Age Group: 18-50

Marketing Features:

WeChat isn’t just a popular Chinese messaging app. Most Chinese citizens use it to run their entire lives.

In one app, they can:

  • Message friends
  • Post social updates in WeChat Moments
  • Read the news
  • Make in-store payments
  • Pay for bills
  • Transfer money
  • Shop online
  • Play games
  • Make voice and video calls
  • Book a taxi
  • And manage their personal finances

WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app for a reason. And it also provides marketers a lot of opportunity to engage and delight users.

But if you want to market to users in China, or 90% of the user base, your business must be registered in Mainland China.

Businesses based in the United States, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, South Africa, Taiwan, and Thailand can only market to around 100 million of WeChat’s international users.

To establish a strong presence on WeChat, you should set up an official account for your business. This will allow you to create a company micro-site, publish content, and provide customer services all within the WeChat app.

There are two types of official accounts. Content publishers usually sign up for subscription accounts that let you broadcast one message per day to your subscribers in their subscription accounts folder.

Big retail chains usually sign up for service accounts that let you broadcast four messages per month to your subscribers in their friend session list.

Verified service accounts have access to 9 advanced APIs and WeChat payment. With access to these APIs, marketers can:

  • Leverage personalized content marketing, location-based marketing, influencer marketing, and QR code marketing
  • Open micro-stores
  • And run lotteries

All accounts also offer bots that can interact with users and deliver keyword-triggered content.

BuzzFeed uses these bots to send WeChat users instant, personalized content whenever they message them a certain keyword like “dogs”, “lol”, or “fail”.

BuzzFeed WeChat.png

 

4) Line

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.32.02 PM.png

Monthly active users: 217 million

Most popular regions: Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia

Age group: 10-49

Marketing Features:

Line is a free messaging app that offers a profile page, stickers, games, video calling, music streaming, ride-sharing, and about 30 other features. It dominates Japan’s messaging app market, where 94% of messaging app users use the app.

Line is chock full of opportunity for marketers. In its four most popular countries, 73% of monthly active users use the app every day. This abundance of user engagement allows brands to build huge followings and boost engagement rates.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal acquired 2 million Line followers in only 15 months, which is the fastest social channel growth they’ve ever seen. They also claim that 30% of its followers like, comment, and share all their posts.

When brands sign up for Line official accounts, they can:

  • Set up a profile page
  • Send chat messages to each of their subscribers
  • Post content on their subscribers’ timelines
  • Activate chatbots that deliver keyword-triggered responses and content
  • Optimize Line advertisements based on user demographics and interests
  • Distribute free branded stickers
  • And reward customers with stickers after they buy a product

For Paul McCartney, Line is actually the best way to reach fans. His 12.5 million Line followers are more than all his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers combined.

And since he can send private messages to each of his 12.5 million Line followers, he also engages with them a lot more than he can with his traditional social media following.

Paul McCartney.png

Photo Credit: TechCrunch

5) Slack

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 5.38.30 PM.png

Daily active users: 5 million

Most popular regions: United States

Age group: 25-54

Marketing Features:

Slack is the main internal communications platform for many businesses. In fact, 77% of Fortune 100 companies use it. If you work in B2B, Slack could be your most targeted marketing channel.

At HubSpot, we knew Slack could be an effective content delivery channel, so we decided to offer a Slack blog subscription. When users sign up for it, they add the HubSpot Blog app to their Slack profile, where they receive a weekly broadcast of content. They can also search for content in the app.

slack.gif

What messaging apps do you use for your marketing? Let us know on Twitter!

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Free Download Guide to Mobile

Aug

8

2017

7 Brands Already Using Chatbots in Their Marketing

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Comments are closed

By now, you’ve probably realized that the bots have us surrounded. If recent success stories like Arby’s hilarious pizza slider bot are any indication, the future of brand awareness as we know it just might rest in the little digital paws of chatbots.

They might seem like “the simpletons of the artificial intelligence world,” but chatbots offer marketers from any industry the opportunity to engage with consumers on a personal, direct level — as long as they can capture (and hold) users’ attention with an engaging narrative.

The emergence of accessible artificial intelligence gives us unprecedented access to consumers, but the tech needs to be fed by compelling creative work to be used successfully as a marketing tool.

As AOL’s David Shingy writes in Adweek, “The challenge [with chatbots] will be thinking about creative from a whole different view: Can we have creative that scales? That customizes itself? We find ourselves hurtling toward another handoff from man to machine — what larger system of creative or complex storytelling structure can I design such that a machine can use it appropriately and effectively?”

Some brands already seem to be getting the balance right. A bot needs to capture a user’s attention quickly and display a healthy curiosity about their new acquaintance, but too much curiosity can easily push them into creepy territory and turn people off. They have to display more than a basic knowledge of human conversational patterns, but they can’t claim to be an actual human — again, let’s keep things from getting too creepy here.

To inspire your first (or next) foray into the weird and wonderful world of chatbots, we’ve compiled a list of seven brands whose bot-based campaigns were fueled by an astute knowledge of their target audiences and solid copywriting. Check them out below, and start considering if a chatbot is the right move for your own company’s next big marketing campaign.

7 Brands Already Using Chatbots for Marketing

1) National Geographic’s Genius


Image Credit: Top Bots

Who wouldn’t want a little Albert Einstein at their disposal to answer pressing questions about space, time, and the meaning of life?

Back in April, National Geographic launched a Facebook Messenger bot to promote their new show about the theoretical physicist’s work and personal life. Developed by 360i, the charismatic Einstein bot reintroduced audiences to the scientific figure in a more intimate setting, inviting them to learn about the lesser-known aspects of his life through a friendly, natural conversation with the man himself.

“Rather than having the campaign speak for Einstein, we wanted Einstein to speak for himself,” Layne Harris, 360i’s VP, Head of Innovation Technology, said to GeoMarketing. “We decided to pursue a conversational chatbot that would feel natural and speak as Einstein would. This provides a more intimate and immersive experience for users to really connect with him one on one and organically discover more content from the show.”

Unfortunately the Genius bot is no longer active, but apparently he had a pretty good sense of humor — persistent existential dread aside.

2) Whole Foods

Tonight’s dinner plans could be just a single emoji send away.

Whole Foods’ Facebook Messenger bot — launched in 2016 at MobileBeat — lets users search for recipes, products, and food inspiration without leaving Messenger.

The friendly foodie bot was developed by Conversable, and the team plans to expand its capabilities in the near future to include coupons, a saved recipe library, and direct shopping. 

If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, you can give the bot some details about your dietary restrictions and flavor preferences, and it will serve up some options. And if you’re in the mood to embrace every millennial stereotype, you can just send an emoji of a food item for instant recommendations. The future is truly now.

3) Aerie

Image Credit: VB

With a predominantly millennial and Gen Z target audience, it makes sense that lingerie and apparel retailer Aerie was quick to adopt bot technology in their marketing approach.

Available on Kik, the bot helps users select products with an engaging game of this or that: you’re presented with two product images, and you select the one that most suits your body type and preferences. After a few rounds, the bot is able to make personalized product recommendations based on your selections.

“We worked closely with the Aerie team, including copywriters, designers, and brand voice to create a chatbot with a distinct persona that celebrates body positivity and promotes confidence in young women,” said Lauren Kunze, the CEO of Pandorabots, the company behind Aerie’s bot.

4) Harper Collins

Having trouble finding your next read? Harper Collins’ Epic Reads chatbot is here to help. With a few simple questions about your past favorites and genre preferences, this powerful little Facebook Messenger bot can find a book that matches your unique literary tastes.

The Epic Reads bot caters specifically to teens, but Harper Collins hasn’t forgotten adult readers — in early 2017, they launched a second book recommendation bot, Book Genie, which offers up a broader range of book suggestions for all ages. 

5) Marvel’s Spiderman

You might not ever be able to fight like a superhero, but now you can at least chat like one.

Marvel released a choose-your-own-adventure style Facebook Messenger bot to build hype for the summer blockbuster’s theatrical release.

The good news is that the bot will give you a cool nickname. The bad news is that the nickname it gave me was “The Wobbler.”

Through some urgent back-and-forth with the users, the bot eventually reveals panels of a secret comic. If you share your location, the bot will instruct you to “report for duty” by purchasing the full comic book in stores.

6) Starbucks

Image Credit: GeekWire

Perfect proof that simplicity can be the best route, the Starbucks Barista bot for Facebook Messenger serves a very specific, very important purpose: it orders you coffee.

When you have a desperate need for a java fix with minimal human interaction and effort, this bot has you covered. According to a demo led by Gerri Martin-Flickinger, the coffee chain’s chief technology officer, the bot even understands complex orders with special requests, like “double upside down macchiato half decaf with room and a splash of cream in a grande cup.”

That’s pretty impressive. I, an adult human and problematically frequent Starbucks customer, barely understood that. 

7) Duolingo

Image Credit: Duolingo

Learning a new language takes a lot of practice, and if you’re doing it on your own, you might miss out on gaining valuable conversational knowledge. Enter online language-learning platform Duolingo’s chatbot service.

Available in a wide variety of foreign languages within the Duolingo app, the bot helps language students overcome the fear of embarrassment that often comes with speaking a new language in a conversational setting by providing them with virtual, judgment-free option.

“A very common request that we get is people want to practice conversation,” said Duolingo’s co-founder and CEO, Luis von Ahn. The company originally tried pairing up non-native speakers with native speakers for practice sessions, but according to von Ahn, “about three-quarters of the people we try it with are very embarrassed to speak in a foreign language with another person.”

The chatbot offers the perfect solution: a friendly bot companion to practice with, any time of the day, with no fear of embarrassment. “As far as we can tell,” von Ahn told The Guardian, “computers can’t judge us.”

Which branded bots are you engaging with these days? Let us know on Twitter.

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Aug

7

2017

7 Brands Already Using Chatbots in Their Marketing

By now, you’ve probably realized that the bots have us surrounded. If recent success stories like Arby’s hilarious pizza slider bot are any indication, the future of brand awareness as we know it just might rest in the little digital paws of chatbots.

They might seem like “the simpletons of the artificial intelligence world,” but chatbots offer marketers from any industry the opportunity to engage with consumers on a personal, direct level — as long as they can capture (and hold) users’ attention with an engaging narrative.

The emergence of accessible artificial intelligence gives us unprecedented access to consumers, but the tech needs to be fed by compelling creative work to be used successfully as a marketing tool.

As AOL’s David Shingy writes in Adweek, “The challenge [with chatbots] will be thinking about creative from a whole different view: Can we have creative that scales? That customizes itself? We find ourselves hurtling toward another handoff from man to machine — what larger system of creative or complex storytelling structure can I design such that a machine can use it appropriately and effectively?”

Some brands already seem to be getting the balance right. A bot needs to capture a user’s attention quickly and display a healthy curiosity about their new acquaintance, but too much curiosity can easily push them into creepy territory and turn people off. They have to display more than a basic knowledge of human conversational patterns, but they can’t claim to be an actual human — again, let’s keep things from getting too creepy here.

To inspire your first (or next) foray into the weird and wonderful world of chatbots, we’ve compiled a list of seven brands whose bot-based campaigns were fueled by an astute knowledge of their target audiences and solid copywriting. Check them out below, and start considering if a chatbot is the right move for your own company’s next big marketing campaign.

7 Brands Already Using Chatbots for Marketing

1) National Geographic’s Genius


Image Credit: Top Bots

Who wouldn’t want a little Albert Einstein at their disposal to answer pressing questions about space, time, and the meaning of life?

Back in April, National Geographic launched a Facebook Messenger bot to promote their new show about the theoretical physicist’s work and personal life. Developed by 360i, the charismatic Einstein bot reintroduced audiences to the scientific figure in a more intimate setting, inviting them to learn about the lesser-known aspects of his life through a friendly, natural conversation with the man himself.

“Rather than having the campaign speak for Einstein, we wanted Einstein to speak for himself,” Layne Harris, 360i’s VP, Head of Innovation Technology, said to GeoMarketing. “We decided to pursue a conversational chatbot that would feel natural and speak as Einstein would. This provides a more intimate and immersive experience for users to really connect with him one on one and organically discover more content from the show.”

Unfortunately the Genius bot is no longer active, but apparently he had a pretty good sense of humor — persistent existential dread aside.

2) Whole Foods

Tonight’s dinner plans could be just a single emoji send away.

Whole Foods’ Facebook Messenger bot — launched in 2016 at MobileBeat — lets users search for recipes, products, and food inspiration without leaving Messenger.

The friendly foodie bot was developed by Conversable, and the team plans to expand its capabilities in the near future to include coupons, a saved recipe library, and direct shopping. 

If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, you can give the bot some details about your dietary restrictions and flavor preferences, and it will serve up some options. And if you’re in the mood to embrace every millennial stereotype, you can just send an emoji of a food item for instant recommendations. The future is truly now.

3) Aerie

Image Credit: VB

With a predominantly millennial and Gen Z target audience, it makes sense that lingerie and apparel retailer Aerie was quick to adopt bot technology in their marketing approach.

Available on Kik, the bot helps users select products with an engaging game of this or that: you’re presented with two product images, and you select the one that most suits your body type and preferences. After a few rounds, the bot is able to make personalized product recommendations based on your selections.

“We worked closely with the Aerie team, including copywriters, designers, and brand voice to create a chatbot with a distinct persona that celebrates body positivity and promotes confidence in young women,” said Lauren Kunze, the CEO of Pandorabots, the company behind Aerie’s bot.

4) Harper Collins

Having trouble finding your next read? Harper Collins’ Epic Reads chatbot is here to help. With a few simple questions about your past favorites and genre preferences, this powerful little Facebook Messenger bot can find a book that matches your unique literary tastes.

The Epic Reads bot caters specifically to teens, but Harper Collins hasn’t forgotten adult readers — in early 2017, they launched a second book recommendation bot, Book Genie, which offers up a broader range of book suggestions for all ages. 

5) Marvel’s Spiderman

You might not ever be able to fight like a superhero, but now you can at least chat like one.

Marvel released a choose-your-own-adventure style Facebook Messenger bot to build hype for the summer blockbuster’s theatrical release.

The good news is that the bot will give you a cool nickname. The bad news is that the nickname it gave me was “The Wobbler.”

Through some urgent back-and-forth with the users, the bot eventually reveals panels of a secret comic. If you share your location, the bot will instruct you to “report for duty” by purchasing the full comic book in stores.

6) Starbucks

Image Credit: GeekWire

Perfect proof that simplicity can be the best route, the Starbucks Barista bot for Facebook Messenger serves a very specific, very important purpose: it orders you coffee.

When you have a desperate need for a java fix with minimal human interaction and effort, this bot has you covered. According to a demo led by Gerri Martin-Flickinger, the coffee chain’s chief technology officer, the bot even understands complex orders with special requests, like “double upside down macchiato half decaf with room and a splash of cream in a grande cup.”

That’s pretty impressive. I, an adult human and problematically frequent Starbucks customer, barely understood that. 

7) Duolingo

Image Credit: Duolingo

Learning a new language takes a lot of practice, and if you’re doing it on your own, you might miss out on gaining valuable conversational knowledge. Enter online language-learning platform Duolingo’s chatbot service.

Available in a wide variety of foreign languages within the Duolingo app, the bot helps language students overcome the fear of embarrassment that often comes with speaking a new language in a conversational setting by providing them with virtual, judgment-free option.

“A very common request that we get is people want to practice conversation,” said Duolingo’s co-founder and CEO, Luis von Ahn. The company originally tried pairing up non-native speakers with native speakers for practice sessions, but according to von Ahn, “about three-quarters of the people we try it with are very embarrassed to speak in a foreign language with another person.”

The chatbot offers the perfect solution: a friendly bot companion to practice with, any time of the day, with no fear of embarrassment. “As far as we can tell,” von Ahn told The Guardian, “computers can’t judge us.”

Which branded bots are you engaging with these days? Let us know on Twitter.

HubSpot Blog Design

 
HubSpot Blog Redesign