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The evolution of the chatbot

Chatbots have gone from a futuristic idea to one of the most exciting things in digital marketing. They offer a whole new way to connect to your audience, and can change the face of your brand. Are you wondering what’s next for your business’ online marketing? The rise of the chat-robots could offer some hints.

 

In the beginning

Chatbots can help us with everything from ordering pizza to organising flights. But while the tech is cutting-edge, the basic ideas behind them are very old.

Did you ever read those ‘choose your own adventure’ books as a kid? Although chatbots are rarely used to solve mysteries or fight goblins, the basic principle isn’t that far away: a ‘yes or no’ decision tree with a user-friendly interface.

Of course, it’s the conversational interface that makes a chatbot more than a page-skipping paperback or a glorified flowchart. The idea of an automaton you can talk to goes back to ancient times, but it was the mathematician Alan Turing who first seriously considered the human-computer conversations in the 1950s.

It wasn’t long before the idea came to life. In 1966 developers created a program called ELIZA that replied to people’s typed questions by picking up keywords. The researchers were surprised to discover that users were willing to share their personal problems with ELIZA, despite – or maybe because of – the fact they knew she was just a machine.

 

Chatbots today

Modern commercial chatbots have come a long way since ELIZA. They can be used to automate customer service or market to potential customers in a natural, helpful tone. Good marketing teams can craft chatbot content that matches your brand’s voice and meets your audience’s needs.

One of the reasons chatbots are great for your business marketing is that they let users navigate large amounts of information efficiently. Every second of your audience’s time is precious – on average they’ll only spend a handful of them on your site. You don’t want them to waste that time scrolling through endless FAQ pages.

In the age of the instant message, it makes sense to meet your audience where they’re at. Chatbots in 2019 increasingly resemble messaging apps, or are integrated into the apps themselves to reach customers directly.

 

The future is chatty

Some of the most exciting implications of chatbots are emerging as we speak.

Take machine-learning chatbots, for example. They do a lot more than direct readers to a set of predetermined results. Every time they interact with users, they take on new information and adjust. Emerging advances in artificial intelligence are making it possible for chatbots to construct sentences and seem to be conscious (even though they won’t be). As more and more data is collected, we’re not far away from having chatbots that can tailor their conversation style to the individual using them.

Chatbots can help you personalise your brand, gather valuable data and engage with your customers on deeper levels than ever before. If you’re interested in implementing chatbots, you might like to speak to a team of professionals. Redline is a trusted digital marketing agency that can find cutting-edge solutions to your online marketing needs. Get in touch today.

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