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    2019 Facebook Messenger Updates You Need to Know

    It’s no secret that Facebook has been taking strides to improve their business features and to continue to position the Messenger app as a “serious channel for business communication”. In fact, at the F8 2019, Zuckerberg notably kicked off his keynote speech saying, “If we would rebuild the Facebook platform today, we would focus it on messaging.” Fast-forward to September 2019 and we find that Zuckerberg has held true to his promise with various updates having been rolled out recently for the Messenger app. Perhaps the most notable of these is subscription messaging.

    If you’re interested in learning more about the subscription messaging update, how you can apply for the service and remain compliant if accepted, as well as other various updates recently announced, then look no further than these next few lines.

    Subscription Messaging

    Facebook is now offering what is considered to be an advanced messaging feature which allows business pages “to send non-promotional content on a recurring basis” via the Messenger application. This service essentially allows you to keep in contact with your customers on a recurring basis as long as the content you are sending is not considered to be promotional in nature. This means that as of July 31st, Facebook business pages which aren’t approved for subscription messaging are no longer able to send chat blasts to their customers unless they do so via the sponsored messages feature.

    So, what exactly are sponsored messages?

    They’re essentially ads.

    That’s right – if you’re not approved for subscription messaging, your chat blasts are going to start costing you a pretty penny. How much, exactly? Sponsored messages will cost around $20.00 – $40.00 per 1,000 impressions. However, the platform recommends that businesses set their bids at $30.00 per 1,000 impressions.

    The 24+1 Rule

    Bear in mind that the 24+1 Rule for Facebook Messenger is still in full effect. For those of you who are unaware, the rule essentially allows businesses to send unlimited updates and messages to users who have opted in for messaging for the first 24 hours. These forms of communication may be either promotional or non-promotional in nature. However, after 24 hours, companies are no longer able to send unlimited promotional updates. Instead, they can only send unlimited non-promotional messages and just one single promotional follow up message.

    Any promotional message must now be initiated through the sponsored messages feature for a fee and if you’re looking to send non-promotional subscription messages, you must receive approval first.

    How do you initiate a request to be considered for subscription messaging?

    Fortunately, there’s no fee associated with applying for the subscription messaging feature. In order to do this, companies must have a page administrator initiate a request for review. The downside is that while the application process is indeed short, the review process is tricky and many times it takes businesses several applications in order to obtain approval.

    In order to initiate the process, you can start by clicking on the Settings tab on the top right corner of your Facebook page next to the “Help” icon. From there you will go to your Messenger Platform.

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    You then go to Advanced Messaging Features and click on Request within the Subscription Messaging box.

    Once this is completed, you will be directed to the application.  You will then be asked to describe how your page intends to use the subscription messaging feature. You have three options:

    1) News

    2) Productivity

    3) Personal Tracking

    You also have the ability to provide them with additional details. An actual person will be reviewing your application, so it helps to personalize what you’re writing and to add as much detail as you can about the information, updates and services that your bot provides.

    PRO TIP: We’ve found through our research that it’s rather difficult to get approved for productivity and personal tracking. As a result, if you choose the “News” option, be sure to provide examples in your application which are actually newsworthy in nature. That means if it sounds like a news site would pick up the story, then you’re good. If not, then don’t include it.

    You will then be asked to provide examples of the blasts that you plan on sending to your customers via your chatbot.

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    PRO TIP: The most common cause for denials is for inappropriate descriptions and examples. Accounts are also often denied based on the 24-hour standard messaging window. The platform may find that based on the examples you’ve provided, your Messenger experience simply doesn’t need subscription.

    Once you complete the application, the platform is then supposed to respond to your request within five business days. However, the truth of the matter is that according to various reports, this is not always the case. In fact, the five business day review period is turning out to be more of a rough estimate than anything else. Users interested in submitting requests should instead realistically expect a response time of a few weeks to a month.

    It’s also worth mentioning that responses to requests are not made via email. Instead, users must head to the Page Settings > Messenger Platform > Advanced Messaging Features page and look for a green check mark next to the Subscription Messaging option in order to identify whether or not they’ve been approved.

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    How to remain compliant with the subscription messaging feature when approved

    If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who gain approval for the subscription messaging feature, it’s important to keep in mind that there are usage guidelines with which you must comply. Failure to do so will result in your account being flagged.

    First and foremost – the recipient of your message must have already opted in to subscription messaging. You absolutely cannot take advantage of this feature by using it to send content to individuals who have not opted in to subscription messaging from you.

    Second – never send any promotional content to your users through the subscription messaging feature. The platform is pretty much giving you a hard “no” when it comes to this. Keep in mind Facebook uses machine learning to analyze content and as a result, even words such as “free” or including a link  to your website can be considered promotional in nature and cause your account to be flagged.

    Third – subscription messaging is only allowed for three very specific use cases. Any use outside of these three is considered a violation. They are as follows:

    1) News

    2) Productivity

    3) Personal Tracking

    According to platform, news is considered content which  informs individuals about “recent or important events” or provides them with “information in categories such as sports, finance, business, real estate weather, traffic, politics, government, non-profit organizations, religion, celebrities, and entertainment”.

    Productivity on the other hand includes “integrations whose primary purpose is to enable people to manage their personal productivity with tasks such as managing calendar events, receiving reminders, and paying bills.”

    Personal tracking is de fined as integrations which “enable people to receive and monitor information about themselves in categories such as fitness, health, wellness and finance”.

    Fourth – If you find that a user responds to one of your subscription messages, the conversation is then considered standard messaging and as a result, it must “comply with standard messaging policies”.

    What happens if you get denied for the subscription messaging feature?

    If you submit your application and find that you’ve been denied, rest assured that you’re far from alone. As we mentioned earlier, the approval process can be quite tricky. There are pretty much two options you can take from this point:

    1) Modify and resubmit your application for approval.

    2) Try to obtain permission from your customers to contact them on a different channel such as SMS, email or phone.

    If you plan on taking the first option and resubmitting your application, chances are there was an issue with the descriptions or examples you provided. Take a look at our PRO TIPs mentioned in the article to ensure that you’ve done your due diligence in providing the best descriptions and examples possible to ensure approval.

    7 Additional Facebook Messenger Updates

    While this article has primarily focused on the very newsworthy subscription messaging update, that’s not the only feature that’s been making waves in the Facebook community. Take a look at these seven updates which are rolling out this year as well so you can get one step ahead of the game when it comes to crafting your best Facebook Messenger strategy.

    1. Messenger Desktop App
    On the consumer end, Facebook is continuing to seek out ways in which they can further improve their user experience. One of the updates they noted they will be introducing to the public is a standalone desktop application for Messenger.

    2. End-to-end Encryption
    At F8 2019, Zuckerberg announced that the team will be prioritizing the transformation of Facebook into a “privacy-focused social platform”. To achieve this goal, Zuckerberg stated that the platform will be focusing on “six main principles” in order to make the platform more secure. Of the six principles mentioned, encryption was included as one of their priorities with the team seeking to expand end-to-end encryption across their apps including Messenger.

    3. 24-Hour Response Window
    Among the updates includes the implementation of a 24-hour response window for businesses on Facebook. This means that business accounts will now have one full day to respond to incoming messages from users. This change is being implemented as a way to “ensure fast responses and better service”.

    4. Message Tags
    The platform will also be implementing what are called “message tags” for business accounts. These tags enable businesses on Facebook to send personalized tags for “specific use cases”. These tags are se up to help enhance the customer experience even further by including features such as event reminders, post-purchase updates and more.

    5. Automatic Lead Qualification
    The platform is also taking steps to make lead generation more organized, simple and efficient for business users. Their automatic lead qualification process in messenger includes templates which are available in the Ads Manager and the ability to sync these with your company’s CRM tools.

    6. Appointment Booking
    There’s also a new interface within the Messenger app for booking appointments. These can now be done directly in chats and include real-time confirmation as well as the ability to integrate appointments with calendar software.

    7. Conversion Tracking
    Facebook will also be updating their conversion tracking features so that businesses are able to track certain events in Messenger which happen during a conversation.

    Conclusion

    Facebook Messenger is quickly being transformed into a serious channel for businesses and marketers alike to leverage in their efforts to attract more customers and engage with them in more effective and efficient ways than ever before. According to recent reports, Messenger alone has over 1.3 billion users who are sending a whopping 8 billion messages “between businesses and people” every month. Furthermore, one experiment by HubSpot found that content sent through Facebook Messenger had an astounding open rate of 80% as well as a click-through-rate of 13%. These rates are more than twice as high as those for email. So, the question begs to be asked – are you currently taking advantage of the opportunity?

     

    What’s your opinion on the new updates rolling out this year? Do you plan on taking advantage of any of them? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

     

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    9 Ways to Generate More Leads on Facebook Messenger

    Did you know that Facebook is officially the most downloaded app of all time? Now, this may not come as such a huge surprise given the platform’s insane popularity, but do you know which app came in at the number two spot?

    Facebook Messenger.

    That’s right — and it’s popularity is steadily increasing every single day.

    With statistics such as these it’s easy to see why Facebook’s Messenger app is quickly becoming an extremely popular and powerful tool for businesses of all backgrounds and sizes. This is due in part to the fact that the company has rolled out various features making it a legitimate and highly effective platform to use for marketing purposes. This in combination with Facebook’s massive reach makes it an ideal channel to leverage in order to generate high quality business leads.

    So, let’s say that you’re a business interested in leveraging Facecbook Messenger, but you’re not exactly sure where to start. Well, if this is the case, then you’re in luck. This article will detail nine ways you can use Facebook’s Messenger to generate high quality leads to increase conversions and boost business growth.

     

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    Create a chatbot

    A main reason why Facebook Messenger has become such a popular platform to leverage for marketing purposes is due to the fact that you can create custom chatbots to integrate into it. In fact, many of the tactics listed in this article are used in conjunction with a chatbot. As a result, it is highly recommended that you consider moving forward with a  custom chatbot development solution if your looking to ensure your efforts are most effective.

    With these nifty little guys you can automate and personalize conversations with customers and nurture them into leads through communicating important information about your business, products and special offers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Chatbots are not only highly programmable, they can have intelligent conversations with the help of natural language machine learning and are capable of handling and processing thousands of conversations simultaneously. Talk about productivity.

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    Use Messenger to qualify leads

    Did you know that you can program your chatbot to ask your customers qualifying questions and gather important information to store for marketing purposes? That’s not all, you can also use it to segment audiences based on their response to various questions created for the purpose of doing just that. Using Facebook Messenger in conjunction with an automated chatbot gives you the ability to qualify potential leads all while adding the personal touch of a conversation.

     

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    Use messenger campaigns to target people who have visited your website

    You can create messenger campaigns through your Ads Manager for the purpose of targeting hot audiences with the use of Facebook’s website custom audiences feature.  As long as you have Facebook’s pixel installed on your website, Facebook can effectively track the individuals that visit it and market to them. The platform automatically defaults the setting to target individuals who have visited your website in the last 30 days, however you can customize this number to your liking as well as target individuals who have visited specific pages such as a product page, landing page, contact page or blog.

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    Use messenger campaigns to target warm audiences via video custom audiences

    Facebook also gives you the ability to target warm audiences via the video custom audiences option. All you have to do is head to your Ads Manager, click on Menu in the top left corner, select All Tools, Audiences and then click on Create Audience. From there, choose Custom Audience and click on the option that says Engagement on Facebook in the pop-up box that follows and then select Video. From here you will be able to target audiences based on the percentage of your video that they’ve viewed.

     

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    Use messenger campaigns to target warm audiences via page engagement custom audiences

    You can also create Facebook Messenger campaigns which target individuals who have engaged with your Facebook page. This is a great option compared to traditional targeting options presented on the platform. This is because targeting audiences based on generic demographic data such as age, location and income simply isn’t as effective. However, audiences who have visited and furthermore engaged with your page are officially considered warm leads.

    To do this, you simply go to your Facecbook Ads Manager and create custom audiences in a similar manner to the way you would if you were creating custom video audiences. From your Ads Manager, you go to Menu, click on All Tools, select Audiences, then Create Audience. Select Custom Audience and then click on the Engagement on Facebook option, then Page. For the “Include” option, select Everyone who engaged with your Page, or, customize it accordingly to your liking.

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    Use your Messenger bot for website chat

    Did you know that by adding a chatbot to your website you can effectively increase conversions by as much as 45%? Use your Facebook Messenger chatbot to handle and automate tasks such as answering popular FAQs. You can also use it to promote special offers, products, discounts and services that your business offers. Furthermore, you can additionally program it to alert a human to take over the chat when necessary. What’s even better is that it’s mobile friendly and you can additionally save new contacts into your system as leads. Tools such as MobileMonkey make implementing it onto your website easy as pie.

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    Create a messenger landing page

    Did you know that you can use tools such as MobileMonkey  to create customized messenger landing pages as well? The first step to carrying this out is obviously ensuring that you have an effective landing page set up in order to implement your Facebook Messenger button. From there, all you need is a quality lead magnet such as a special offer, discount or download in order to entice your audiences to learn more about your business through the Facebook Messenger platform.

    Once the button is clicked, you can send your audiences to certain conversations that you’ve programmed into your chatbot and gather further information such as their name, location and contact data. From there you are able to send your contacts follow up  messages, get to know them, qualify them as leads and guide them effectively through your sales funnel.

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    Use a Messenger checkbox to convert more people with your website forms.

    With tools such as MobileMonkey you can also implement Facebook Messenger on your website forms. This is particularly useful if you’re having an issue with conversions. With the MobileMonkey platform,  all of the forms have a Facebook Messenger checkbox plugin that can be used for chat opt-in which can effectively be used to nurture your audience into leads and increase conversions.

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    Create Facebook QR codes

    Did you know that recent research projected that a whopping 11 million households in the United States alone will scan QR (quick response) codes in 2020? Believe it or not, this number is steadily continuing to grow year after year and has increased from 9.76 million in 2018. QR codes present an interesting and unique opportunity for businesses looking to stand out in the crowd.

    Facebook QR codes allow your audiences to scan a code with their phone which can then direct them to your website content. You can also implement this technology with the help of chatbots. QR codes are great because they can be used both online and offline to convert audiences into leads and generate interest in your business.

    With tools such as MobileMonkey, creating a custom QR code can be done in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is head to your Lead Magnets section and click on Scan Codes in order to create a new one. From there, you can select which chatbot dialogue you want the code to link individuals to, save it and then proceed to distribute it on various channels such as Facebook Messenger.

    Conclusion

    Recent data shows that over 1.3 billion individuals actively use Facebook Messenger on a monthly basis. This translates to roughly 11% of the global population. It comes as no surprise that messenger bots can easily present the biggest opportunity for both marketers and businesses alike. However, what does come as a surprise is the fact that so little businesses are actively leveraging this platform in order to market to their online audiences. In fact, recent research found that just 1% of businesses are actively engaging their customers through chatbot messaging.

    The good news about this statistic is that you as a business officially have an opportunity to stand out in the crowd. So, what are you waiting for? Get started on using Facebook Messenger to generate higher quality leads and greater returns in 2019.

     

    Are you interested in learning how you can develop a customized chatbot perfectly tailored to your business in order to implement on Facebook Messenger? VisioneerIT offers chatbot development for businesses of all backgrounds and sizes. Contact us today to learn more about our custom chatbot development services!

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    Chatbot Technology: Chatbot Creation Platforms vs. Custom Development Solutions

    Did you know that according to recent research by Business Insider, chat apps are officially dominating the mobile journey? In fact, a whopping 46% of smartphone sessions were found to have either a social media or messaging app as one of the first apps launched. Consumers are so active on chat apps that a 2016 study by the same company also found that messenger app use actually surpassed social media platform use in recent years.

    Now more than ever consumers are active on chat apps, but their actual activity may surprise you. While many individuals look to messenger apps to connect with friends, research has shown that they are increasingly using these same apps to also connect with brands and browse merchandise.

    So, what does this mean for your company?

    It means that if you still don’t have  a presence on these apps, then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to grow your business and stay competitive.

    So, how do you do it? Chatbot technology.

    Chatbot technology is primarily used to enhance the consumer experience and scale customer service capabilities. However, in today’s world, they’re essential for establishing your presence as a brand on messenger platforms. There are literally hundreds of millions of consumers that are using messenger apps every day and as a result, your business can’t afford to not maintain a presence.

    If you’re interested in learning more about chatbot technology and how it can impact your business, then look no further than these next few lines. This article will detail several benefits of chatbot technology, as well as help guide you in the right direction when it comes to finding the best solution for your company.

     

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    Benefits of Chatbots

    If you’re like most people, then you were probably a bit skeptical about the rollout of the chatbot and its adoption into mainstream businesses. However, a little bit of research will show you that not only are chatbots being adopted by virtually every business of every size, but that they are indeed an excellent solution to a number of issues.

    Enhancing the consumer experience

    First and foremost, chatbot use enhances the consumer experience. A 2018 research project by SurveyMonkey Audience found that 64% of individuals felt that “24-hour service” was the single most important benefit of chatbots. With a chatbot, your company is available 24/7 regardless of whether or not your staff is. Furthermore, chatbots can provide your company with a significantly increased handling capacity. Humans are only capable of handling so many interactions at once, however a chatbot is able to  manage thousands of interactions at a time, thus not only improving your customer service abilities, but also enabling your business to scale.


    Increased customer retention rates

    The quality of your customer service directly impacts your customer retention rates. When your business makes things easy for your customer by being consistently available and providing service at all hours of the day, every day of the week, on numerous platforms (i.e. messenger apps), your customer is more likely to view your business in a positive manner than if this weren’t the case. Happy customers stay with companies they like and this directly impacts your ROI and bottom line.


    Increased conversions

    Chatbots increase the convenience of your business offerings by giving customers immediate access to information when they need it most. Without a chatbot service, your company can easily miss out on potential conversions due to the fact that customers will not be able to get timely access to information they need in order to make a purchasing decision. These decisions are often made quickly and as a result, time is always of the essence.

     

    Reductions in the workload of frontline staff

    Let’s face it, your frontline staff probably already have their hands full. By implementing chatbot technology you are able to effectively reduce the workload of your frontline staff by automating an essential part of their workload. This enables them to focus on other pressing matters and gives them the ability to handle the duties of their position more effectively.

    Additional sales channel opportunity

    One major benefit of chatbot technology is that it provides your business with an additional sales channel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is because chatbots are often integrated on websites, social media platforms and messenger apps and configured to recommend products and business offerings to consumers through conversation based on their particular needs. As a result, your company can essentially sell in its sleep.

     

    Increased business intelligence

    Another huge benefit of chatbot technology has to do with the analytics that come along with the interactions that your chatbot has with your consumers. These interactions are a treasure trove of information on consumer behaviors and experiences and as a result, provide a wealth of insight to help inform and drive essential business decisions and open you up to more revenue opportunities.

     

    Finding the perfect chatbot solution for your business

    So, you’re thinking about implementing chatbots for your business. If this is the case, then you’re  essentially going to find yourself at a crossroads of sorts: Should you develop a custom chatbot from the ground up or should you move forward with a chatbot creation platform?

    The truth of the matter is that this all depends on exactly what you’re looking for in your chatbot solution.

     

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    Using a chatbot creation platform

    A chatbot creation platform, much as its name implies is a platform that is designed for the purpose of creating chatbots for individuals who aren’t exactly well-versed in the technical aspects of the process such as coding. These platforms tend to offer a drag and drop interface that allows you to easily add features, pre-built templates, analytics and a handful of integrations.

    Some of these platforms offer free plans. For example, on Chatfuel you can create a custom bot for free until it reaches a certain number of conversions, at which point you will need to upgrade to a premium subscriber account. Other platforms price based on factors such as the number of conversations that will be had or the number of bots you need.

    There are several creation platforms on the market and the one you choose will vary depending on your technical savviness, specific needs or preferences.

    The benefits to these are that they tend to be a more cost-effective solution initially than outsourcing for custom chatbot development services. However, this is due to the fact that you’re not receiving the level of customization, features and integrations that you can get with a custom chatbot development solution.

    Also, many of these platforms vary in complexity and as a result, manually creating your chatbot can quickly become an arduous process (i.e. you still may have to set up code) depending on which platform you use and your technical prowess.

    It’s important to keep in mind that everything is done manually on these platforms. You will have to set up the chatbot yourself and make sure that you have  a team in place in order to  mange all future updates in a timely manner. This also includes potential technical issues which could result in your chatbot incorrectly answering a question or not functioning in some proper manner. These especially need to be addressed immediately, regardless of the time or day.

    Furthermore, when choosing a chatbot creation platform, it’s important to understand that you are always going to be subject to a certain degree of platform limitations. For example, you may find that you need one feature or integration that the platform doesn’t offer (i.e. integration with Shopify). If this is the case, your only option is to switch to another platform entirely or to simply settle with the fact that you’re not going to be able to get a valuable feature that you desire.

    As a result, doing your research and making sure you have all of your ducks in a row, as well as a dedicated team to manage the technology prior to getting started is going to be essential to your success when choosing a chatbot creation platform.

     

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    Outsourcing for custom chatbot development services

    If your company is looking for a customized solution that fits the specific needs of your business, then a custom approach may be your best bet.

    There are several benefits to choosing a chatbot company such as VisioneerIT as your custom chatbot development solution.  Most importantly perhaps is the fact that  you are not subject to the same constraints that you are with a standard chatbot creation platform.

    As we discussed earlier, if the platform doesn’t have a feature or integration you need, you will either need to move to a different platform entirely or settle for not having the feature. However, when choosing a custom chatbot development solution with a company such as Visioneer IT, the sky is pretty much the limit as the saying goes. You can get just about any feature or integration with enough time and money.

    Furthermore, when choosing a company to handle chatbot development, you can rest assured that  no coding skills or technical knowledge will be necessary in any capacity. Deciding on features and integrations can be handled via a phone call and as a result, require no technical expertise or manual setup on your end. This is a particularly great option for companies who aren’t especially familiar with the chatbot industry or are first-time users and perhaps need a little bit more hand holding than others.

    Another benefit to choosing a company to manage chatbot development is the fact that you are not only outsourcing the setup, but future updates and any potential technical issues as well. As a result, you save valuable resources such as time, manpower and energy that otherwise would be spent managing your chatbot solution.

    Overall, the decision really boils down to what exactly you need your chatbot to do and your company’s resources. If you’re looking for a relatively straightforward and simple solution and you have the resources to develop and manage your updates and any technical issues on an ongoing basis, then moving forward with a chatbot creation platform may be your best bet.

    However, if you’re looking for a customized solution perfectly tailored to your business needs and you have the budget to outsource to a company in order to handle the setup, management and technical aspects, then moving forward in that direction will be the best option for you.

     

    Conclusion

    Businesses of all sizes and industries are using chatbots now more than ever – especially in the United States. In fact, according to recent research, the U.S. ranks number one on the list of countries who are engaging customers through chatbot interfaces.

    If you haven’t made the decision to implement chatbot technology then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to enhance your consumer experiences at scale, increase conversions and drive down the operating costs of your business. So, what are you waiting for? Get started on implementing chatbot technology today and get on the road to a new and improved, competitive business model in 2019.

    References:

    https://chrismakara.com/digital-marketing/how-to-build-a-chatbot/

    Have you thought about using chatbot technology to improve your business operations? Did you follow through with it? Tell us about your experience! We’d love to hear from you!

     

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    The Shocking Truth About Chatbots

    Are chatbots really preparing to take over the world?

    There’s definitely a decent amount of individuals out there who feel legitimately threatened by the exponentially increasing knowledge being cultivated by artificial intelligence. Will they soon surpass us to the point that they become self-aware, sentient beings?

    The recent hype surrounding Facebook’s failed AI experiment definitely didn’t do much to ease the ever-growing sense of public paranoia on the concept.

    News exploded onto the digital scene recently from every heavy hitting media outlet from Forbes to Wired and TechCrunch that Facebook’s AI experiment was shut down because staff discovered the chatbots were beginning to create their own secret language between each other.

    The actual truth behind the scenario is far less horrifying than many media outlets would like you to believe. I mean, can you blame them? Would you have clicked on their article if you hadn’t been fed the idea of an imminent technological apocalypse?

    While many can agree that chatbot technology is still in it’s infancy stage, the fact of the matter is that the AI technology working behind the scenes has the potential to immensely impact the economy, job market and businesses all over.

    So, if you’ve been interested in learning more about chatbot technology, the science behind it, how they’re impacting the business industry and their potential effects on the job market, then you’re in luck.

    This article will delve into all of these subjects and hopefully leave you with a greater amount of insight on the topic and how it can and will impact your current and future business pursuits.

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    What are chatbots and how do they work?

    For some reason people want to fantasize about bots being these highly intelligent Terminator-like robots. Well – not exactly. The truth of the matter a chatbot is a relatively uncomplicated concept.

    Chatbots are computer programs that are created to automate certain tasks and these tasks typically involve some form of communication with  a user via a “conversational interface”. This is why they’ve become so popular for use on your favorite messaging apps such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

    These bots follow a set of programming rules, often in an “if-then statement” format, stipulated by engineers via what is coined a “bot-building platform” and often can be done without needing to have extensive coding knowledge.

    Bots are generally broken down into two types:

    1) Informational bots

    2) Utility bots

    The purpose of an informational bot is to provide a user with a new format for content consumption and involve things such as subscriptions to various newsworthy alerts in various industries.

    A utility bot solves a problem for a consumer “via a user-prompted transaction”, with the most readily available example being a shopping bot that helps you order your favorite latte at your local coffee shop or a new pair of shoes. These bots are great for administrative purposes as they excel in automating tasks such as appointment booking and notification alerts.

    The more advanced of these bots are powered by artificial intelligence and capable of processing more complex matters which include everything from personalization of responses and the ability to exponentially grow and improve their abilities over time.

    This is a breakdown of the science behind the reason why you can ask Siri to find you the best pho restaurant in your neighborhood instead of having to search through dozens of listings and websites in order to get this answer yourself.

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    What is their impact?

    According to Ray Kurzwell, a Google engineer who Inc.com also describes as an “inventor” and “futurist”, chatbots will be practically indistinguishable from humans pretty much within the next decade.

    Kurzweil was quoted in The Verge as saying “…you’ll be able to have a meaningful conversation with an AI in 2029. But you’ll be able to have interesting conversations before that,”

    That’s a pretty powerful projection from an insanely knowledgeable guy.

    So what does that mean for our future? How will bots be implemented, how can we benefit from them, and how will they impact our job market?

    Bot-powered commerce is definitely the game of the future (37% of Americans say they’re willing to make purchases through chatbots), but when it comes down to it, they are currently most used in a messaging and/or administrative capacity.

    Messaging apps inherently provide the “conversational interface” necessary in order for bots to operate best – and ironically, according to Hubspot, this is where most people spend their time.

    A recent report by MarketingLand stated that mobile users spend a whopping “80% of time in just five apps” with Facebook and Google dominating the market. Who’d have thought? Even more interesting is the fact that these five spots are “increasingly being claimed by messaging apps”, which as of today, claim more users than any social network (5 billion monthly active users to be exact).

    According to Business Insider, by next year, more than 25% of the world population will be using mobile messaging apps such as Kik, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

    Messaging apps provide users with solutions in an unparalleled effective and efficient manner. Why do people turn to messaging apps? Because 71% of consumers want to get customer assistance so they can find a problem to their solution – fast. Forget spammy emails, forget forms and clutter or countless minutes wasted on searches. Bots provide a service and their purpose is being useful with “minimal user input”.

    Source

    Another one of the more readily available ideas for chatbot use is in the world of virtual administration. It’s pretty much a no-brainer conclusion and this use has long been capitalized on with the implementation of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, among others.

    Why not? A bot can do everything from making appointments, handling reminders, sorting out calendar issues, handling simple negotiations or ordering an Uber or lunch.

    However, the drawback with these guys lie in the fact  that they simply “can’t engage in complex negotiations”, as Facebook’s Mike Lewis point’s out.

    “If we want bots to help us with more complex tasks, they need to become dealmakers, especially if the task involves cooperation or compromise…” Lewis then goes on to point out that these sorts of skills would be necessary for situations such as handling negotiations of real estate purchases.

    As a result, using bots in a supplementary manner may be a more viable option in the near future. For example, a virtual assistant could handle complex negotiations while the bot could offer “useful tips to the buyer” and provide imperative advice such as “when to withhold certain pieces of information”.

    Regardless of the specifics surrounding their future foothold in the world, one thing is for certain – businesses are taking notice of this trend and jumping on it with gusto.

    According to Research from Forrester, 5% of companies worldwide said they “regularly” used chatbots while 20% of these companies were “piloting them” and 32% of companies were “planning to use or test them”.

    If companies are really looking to become effective in their efforts, Hubspot suggests that they shouldn’t look to bots as simply another communication channel as the “best bots harness the micro-decisions consumers experience on a daily basis and see them as an opportunity to help”. I’m sure you can see the difference.

    The end-goal with bot technology isn’t to use it as an all-in-one solution for an issue, but to have it focus on “a single function” and excel at whatever this function may be.

    Source

    Conclusion

    There’s no denying the fact that general public sentiment around chatbots and artificial intelligence is pretty split. On one hand, we have the “Doomsday” viewpoints which insist that chatbots will soon surpass the cognitive abilities of humans so much so that they will form into sentient beings and eventually claim their true destiny as the overlords of mankind.

    That’s what we like to coin the “glass half empty” view.

    Then, on the other hand, we have the optimistic types who see the technology for the numerous benefits it yields and the countless ways in which it can positively impact humanity.

    Regardless of your personal point of view, one thing is certain, AI technology is some pretty powerful stuff that has the potential to practically transform the economic landscape depending on how it is harnessed and implemented.

    Regardless of public sentiment often leaning towards paranoia, the fact remains that consumers aren’t just ready to interact with chatbots, they prefer them in many cases, especially when they’re made aware of the fact they’re communicating with one.

    According to a recent report, “63% of people would consider messaging an online chatbot to communicate with a  business or brand”. Furthermore, according to Inc.com, 37% of consumers and 48% of millennials are “open to receiving recommendations or advice from chatbots”.

    Perhaps this is the most shocking truth of all.

    What are your opinions on artificial intelligence and chatbots? Tell us about your experience and/or thoughts! We’d love to hear your feedback!

     

    Sources:

    https://chatbotsmagazine.com/3-uncomfortable-reasons-why-chatbots-are-failing-8913901a29e5

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/the-secret-language-of-chatbots/

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23431304-300-chatbots-learn-how-to-drive-a-hard-bargain/

    https://www.inc.com/larry-kim/11-amazing-facts-you-might-not-know-about-chatbots.html

    http://www.mindshareworld.com/sites/default/files/MINDSHARE_HUDDLE_HUMANITY_MACHINE_2016_0.pdf

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-messaging-app-report-2015-11

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