Three Things You Need to Know Before Deploying Your First Chatbot

Chatbots are the big trend in customer service today and many experts predict that they’ll completely alter the way that people and brands interact going forward. Chatbots can not only ease the burden on customer service agents but they can in eliminate the need for costly mobile apps that many smaller businesses can’t afford. But before you invest time and money in developing and deploying a chatbot for your small business, here are three things you need to know first.

Who is your audience?

Your chatbot can’t interact effectively with your customer base if it doesn’t understand who they are and what makes them tick. And the only way your chatbot can be programmed to know your audience is if you already know them and make the effort to program your bot with that same knowledge. Some obvious places to start is with obvious demographics. Are they primarily male or female or an even mix? Are they younger or older or does their age vary widely? Do they come from wealthier or poorer backgrounds? Do they lean conservative or liberal? Chances are your customers will usually divide along these lines. Another thing to consider about your customer base is where they usually turn for customer service help. To they go to your website, call a customer service line or do they turn to social media for help?

What is your goal and how can you achieve it?

You need to have well-defined goals for your chatbot or it will be a complete failure. A surprising number of companies are just programming chatbots just to do it because everyone else is. To improve the customer service experience is a given but how specifically do you want to improve it? Are you trying to reduce wait times? If so, how can your chatbot help you accomplish that? Also recognize that your chatbot won’t be an overnight success. Chatbots learn by making mistakes. You will almost certainly need to go in and make adjustments to make it more effective and achieving the goals you’ve set for your bot.

How will you get customers to use it?

No matter how much time and effort you put into creating a useful chatbot, it will all be a waste if your customers don’t know about it or don’t wish to use it. Revisit the question of audience and where they turn to for customer assistance. If you have a customer service line they usually call, maybe you can provide instructions for reaching out to your chatbot in the automated phone answering system you use so customers waiting for a live agent might hang up and go to your chatbot. If they go to your website, you might have your chatbot initiate a conversation when it seems your customers are stuck on a webpage. You can use existing marketing channels whether that’s email, SMS, or something else to tell your frequent customers about your newest customer service agent. Give it a catchy name that people will remember and be excited about.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: smallbiztrends.com/2017/08/chatbots-for-customer-service.html

#ai-chatbots, #chatbot-ai, #chatbot-programming, #chatbots, #customer-service-chatbots

How to Use SMS and Email Marketing Strategies in Tandem

When email first came on the scene, it was the hottest thing in marketing since the television. But the numbers for email marketing don’t look as good as they used to. Now it’s overdone and 80% of all emails sent are never even opened, let alone read. Email providers started automatically filtering out spam mail and the effectiveness of email marketing took a hit. More recently, SMS, or text messaging, has become the new email. The open rates for text messages is even higher (98%) than email’s open rates were at the very beginning and it’s the preferred method of communication for the majority of people, especially younger people.

If SMS is so great, you may be wondering why email marketing should even be invested in at all. There are actually several reasons to continue with email marketing and the effectiveness of both email and SMS marketing can be improved when they’re used in connection with each other.

Different strengths and weaknesses

The SMS protocol limits the length of text messages to 160 characters. While your actual message can be longer than this, the cell phone provider will break this message into smaller messages of 153 characters with no regard to the break in sentences. Texts messages may be incoherent if they break off mid-word. The 160 character limit is perfect for mobile offers, order statuses, and quick announcements but it won’t work for all messages.

Email on the other hand is a great way to send longer form messages such as newsletters or catalogues.

Texting’s lower annoyance threshold

People are generally less annoyed by promotional emails than texts because they’re easier to ignore and you can send hundreds of ignored message to the trash folder with a couple of clicks. And make no mistake, more of your emails will be deleted unread than text messages. But there is a benefit to this as well. With SMS you’re much more limited in how many texts you want to send per month with most recommending so send no more than about 8. Much more than that and you start to get a lot of opt-outs. By using email marketing, you can send more messages and leave only the very most important to SMS.

Divide and conquer

Email can be a great channel for growing your SMS opt-ins and SMS can be a great channel for getting more email opt-ins. By diversifying your channels you increase the audience for both. There will be some who prefer one over the other and there will be some who like to receive both. A good strategy is to include some exclusive offers/content for both so that you can’t get everything by just subscribing to one channel.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: business2community.com/email-marketing/using-sms-part-email-marketing-strategy-01889822#KWPihXOL2CkRYVLE.97

 

#email-marketing, #mobile-marketing, #mobile-marketing-tips, #sms-marketing, #text-message-marketing

Four Ways to Use SMS Marketing in the Salon Industry

Summer can be a difficult time in the salon industry since people are too busy taking vacations and having fun to schedule a haircut or get their nails done. If you’ve got a wide open appointment book to fill whether it be for haircuts, massages, or manicures, SMS marketing can help. Here are four ways you can use it to get people through the doors.

Flash deals

Great deals that are too good to pass up and available for a very limited time–think hours not days–are especially effective when sent via text. Because they’re time sensitive messages, SMS is the ideal channel for delivering them. Approximately 95% of recipients will receive and read the text within three minutes of receiving it.

Location based marketing

People are more likely to redeem a mobile coupon or show up for a limited time deal if they’re already in the area when they receive it. SMS campaigns can use smartphones’ built-in GPS to automatically send a special offer when a person gets within a specified distance of the place of business.

Appointment reminders

In addition to getting new appointments, you need to try to limit the number of missed ones since every missed appointment is lost revenue. Print reminders are likely to end up in the trash and emailed reminders may accidentally get filtered into a junk folder. Text reminders are usually received and the recipient has the option to click on the date and time listed in the text to set a reminder or add it to their calendar app.

Invitation for reviews

In addition to retaining existing customers, you want to win over customers who are growing dissatisfied with their regular stylist. When a person is trying to find a new salon, one of the first places they’ll look is on online directories like Google or Yelp to read customer reviews. You can use SMS to send recent customers a link to these direction along with an invitation to leave feedback. Lots of good reviews will help you continue to build your customer base and keep busy, even during the summer months.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: salontoday.com/article/81556/avoid-the-summertime-salon-slump-with-these-proven-strategies

#business-texting, #sms-marketing, #sms-marketing-tips, #text-message-marketing, #text-message-marketing-tips

When Will Chatbots be Able to Pass the Turing Test?

Alan Turing was a renowned computer scientist and mathematician and a pioneer of artificial intelligence and machine learning research. It was Turing who proposed a test for distinguishing between “true” artificial intelligence and the machines that can kind of replicate it.

The Turing Test

The Turing Test is rather simple: a human converses with a machine (either verbally written) without seeing it. If the human cannot tell whether the machine is human or not, it is said to has passed the Turing Test. Artificial intelligence and machine learning research has come a long way since Alan Turing’s death in 1954 but we still haven’t been able to create a machine capable of tricking a human into thinking it’s human. For a good example of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go, look no further than the growing popularity of chatbots.

What are chatbots

Chatbots are computer programs that can be deployed on SMS or other messaging platforms to communicate textually with humans. They’re a perfect real-world example of the Turing Test in action. The problem is that it doesn’t take humans very long to realize that the entity they’re chatting with online isn’t human.

What chatbots can and can’t do

Most chatbots are designed to do one or two simple tasks that humans ask of them or they might be programmed to select the appropriate response to a predetermined set of frequently asked questions. More advanced programs like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri have been programmed to respond to a wider number of questions but they still fall short of passing the Turing Test because they aren’t actually able to think as humans do. They have access to vast amounts of information that they can draw from to answer questions or perform certain tasks. What they can’t do is infer meaning from language. They can select an appropriate response to a question when certain keywords are used or when it’s worded in a way they’re programmed to recognize. But they can’t parse language as humans and take into account the context of when it was said and by whom and with what tone to know what the person is meaning.

What are they good for

More intelligent chatbots that can fool humans and pass the infamously difficult Turing Test may yet be developed but in the meantime, the chatbots that are being developed serve a purpose. They automate customer service and free up human resources by fielding the easy questions and handling the more mundane parts of the job that require less critical thinking. And many consumers prefer dealing with chatbots than having to get on the phone and be put on hold.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/when-will-alexa-google-assistant-and-other-chatbots-finally-talk-us-real-people

#ai-chatbots, #chatbot-ai, #chatbot-customer-service, #chatbots, #mobile-marketing

The Three Biggest Mobile Marketing Mistakes Your Small Business Can Make

Mobile is the future of advertising. With more than three-quarters of American now owning smartphones, it’s become the most effective way for businesses to communicate with and market to their audience. As businesses rush to keep up with the ever-advancing mobile technology, it’s easy to make mistakes along the way. That’s inevitable. But these three mistakes are the worst of the worst and should be avoided at all costs.

Not optimizing for mobile

The year 2016 was the year mobile web traffic surpassed non-mobile web traffic. With each passing year, mobile web traffic will put distance between it and traditional web traffic. In short, more and more people are accessing the web on tiny screens as opposed to bigger ones. Despite this, there are still many business websites that are designed solely to be viewed on computers or laptops. This creates an unpleasant experience for people trying to access it from a tablet and especially a smartphone. Pinching, zooming, squinting, and waiting for slow loading times wear out smartphone users quickly and many will leave the website never to return again. Every day your website isn’t optimized for mobile is a day you’re losing potential customers. Not only do non mobile-friendly sites annoy customers, they’re more likely to be ignored by search engines like Google that utilize advanced algorithms to give preference to websites over others and one of the things they look at is mobile optimization.

Not using the SMS marketing channel

Of all the mobile marketing channels out there, SMS is the oldest and most effective and important. While some may see it as old fashioned and pass it up in favor of in-app advertising or even developing new apps, SMS marketing needs to be a part of your strategy–a big part. Texting is far cheaper than the cost to advertise in apps or to develop an app. It’s also more effective since 95% of all texts are opened and read within three minutes of being received.

Not allocating enough of your marketing budget for mobile

Mobile marketing needs to be getting the majority of your digital ad spending. Businesses will spend more than 100 billion dollars globally on mobile marketing in 2017. That accounts for just over half of all digital advertising spending. By 2020, mobile marketing will account for 75% of digital ad spending or more. Businesses are recognizing the power of mobile and any business that wants to keep up will have to do the same.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: techworm.net/2017/06/3-brutal-mobile-marketing-mistakes-can-wreck-business.html

 

#business-texting, #mobile-marketing, #mobile-marketing-tips, #sms-marketing, #text-message-marketing

SMS still King when it comes to ROI

All the data suggests that when it comes to how to allocate your mobile marketing funds, SMS marketing needs to remain at the center. The first text message was sent in December of 1992 via computer. By the mid 90’s cellular phones began to be designed with text messaging capability but adoption of the technology was still slow with the average cell phone user sending just .4 texts per billing cycle. In 2017, Americans collectively will send several billions texts each day. Despite the growing popularity of messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, SMS remains the preferred way to send and receive short text messages. So while it’s the original and oldest mobile marketing channel in existence, it’s not slowing down any time soon. SMS marketing spending continues to increase each year and for good reason.

The cost of text messaging

One of the reasons text message marketing remains so popular is because it’s inexpensive. Bulk SMS providers charge just a few pennies per text and the more texts you send the lower that cost per text usually is. In addition to paying per text, you can pay to have a short code (a five or six digit number that customers send a text to in order to opt-in to receive texts) and a registered keyword (the word customers must text to the short code in order to opt in). All told, you can send hundreds or even thousands of texts per month for around $100 or $200 per month depending on the platform used and the number of keywords and other features.

It works

Not only is it inexpensive but it’s extremely effective. Text messages have an open rate of about 98%. In other words, for every 100 recipients of your text message, 98 of them will at least open the text (90% within three minutes of receiving it). That 98% open rate is especially effective when compared to email’s open rate of 20%.

Coupons sent via text are also more effective with a redemption rate of around 10%. Print coupons are only redeemed about .5% of the time and emailed coupons are only redeemed about 3% of the time.

Though texts are limited by the number of characters that can be sent at one time, those characters can be a hyperlink to a website. When links are included in text messages, they’re clicked on approximately one third of the time. That’s ten times more than included links in emails are clicked on by recipients.

In conclusion

The relatively low cost combined with insanely high open and click-through rates make SMS marketing a no-brainer. If your budget is tight and you have to choose between SMS marketing and other mobile channels such as in-app advertising or banner ads for mobile sites, SMS marketing should get the funds every time.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: zeebiz.com/companies/news-sms-still-generates-the-maximum-roi-for-advertisers-in-digital-marketing-today-17538

#business-texting, #customer-service-texting, #mobile-marketing, #sms-marketing, #text-message-marketing

Why SMS Needs to be at the Center of Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

Smartphones and tablets have changed virtually everything about our day-to-day lives. It’s changed the way we plan and coordinate our schedules through calendar and other productivity-based applications. It’s changed the way we socialize by revolutionizing social media platforms and the way we use them. It’s even changed the way we communicate with family and friends to the ease of video and wi-fi calling solutions. So it’s no surprise that mobile technologies are also changing the way that consumers interact with their favorite brands and companies.

Businesses big and small are reallocating their marketing budgets to make sure they’re communicating with their customers across their favorite channels. Though mobile technology is constantly advancing and there are always new ways to communicate via mobile, the one that has really stood the test of time and remained at the center of companies’ mobile marketing efforts is SMS (or texting). Here’s why.

It’s the most reliable

Not all mobile phones are smartphones. Some aren’t connected to the internet and can’t have apps installed. But nearly all mobile phones can send and receive texts. Of all the mobile channels, SMS is the one that is the most likely to work for every customer.

Not only does SMS work with most phones, they’re more likely to be received. Push notifications through apps can be turned off the moment a user installs the app. Mobile optimized emails (though more likely to be read than regular emails) still aren’t as good as texts because many email services filter out promotional emails as junk and they’re never seen yet alone read. Texts, on the other hand, have a 98% open rate so it’s almost guaranteed that the recipient will receive and read the message.

SMS is a doorway

A perceived weakness of text messaging as a marketing channel is actually a strength. Most cell phone service providers limit texts to 160 characters. But a text message can include a link that is a portal to other interactive mobile content. Simply put, text messages can be used to link customers to mobile-optimized websites, video content, and social media pages. Another benefit to the 160 character limit is that it forces businesses to be concise and direct and carefully consider the absolute best way to convey a message. Many emailed messages lack the power of a carefully worded text because of the longer format.

The top brands like Coca Cola recognize the power of SMS marketing and have been known to spend up to 70% of their mobile marketing budget on texting. If you’re considering expanding on your mobile marketing efforts, SMS needs to play a central role.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: bandt.com.au/opinion/importance-sms-successful-mobile-marketing-campaign

#business-texting, #mobile-marketing, #mobile-marketing-strategies, #mobile-marketing-tips, #sms-marketing, #text-message-marketing