Essential Digital Marketing Tools for Brands – Chatbots

There has never been more pressure on businesses to keep pace with the hyper-competitive digital environment and deliver a wide range of digital capabilities. In our new ‘Essential Digital Marketing Tools for Brands’ knowledge series, we explore the most relevant tools that marketers can and should leverage right away to drive digital visibility and RoI for their brands.

Today, we talk about Chatbots, why they’re a big opportunity, and ways for brands to start leveraging them for business.

chatbots

A Chatbot is a computer program that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Most Chatbots use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to process language, mimic a conversational interface, communicate and perform tasks for a user.

Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, thereby passing the Turing test. The Turing test essentially assesses the machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

Today, many websites use Chatbots to manage and guide their customers and clients. They are typically used in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition. They can also be integrated with E-commerce platforms, allowing brands to monetize their social media accounts and instant messaging profiles.

How Chatbots work:

There are two types of Chatbots – those that function based on rules, and those that are supported by an AI Natural Processing Language (NPL) engine. NPL, integrated with artificial intelligence, allows a Chatbot application to understand human speech, text messages, images etc.

Chatbots that have rule based functionality are comparatively more limited than those that work with AI as they only respond to specific commands; and AI-based bots need somewhat more complex integration than the basic rule-based bots.

AI-powered Chatbot tools are more dynamic as they respond to language and do not require specific commands. They are continuously learning from the conversations they have with users and can therefore help fulfill an array of tasks without monumental amount of programming.

The biggest advantage of using bot tools is that they are robust and have very good infrastructure support in terms of compute power. Secondly, they are pretty easy to learn and use as most of these tools provide GUI interfaces for creation of the bots. As these are all API driven and SaaS modules, there is no need for any type of coding as such. The deployment of the bot is an easy process too.

Which Chatbot tool to opt for?

There are many bot tools available today in the market. Right from free versions to enterprise solutions, simple to complex, there are several options. Here is our pick of the best bot tools out there that brands can explore to improve their digital engagement –

IBM Watson Conversation

IBM’s Watson Conversation allows you to quickly build, test and deploy a bot or virtual agent across mobile devices and messaging platforms (like Slack) or even on a physical robot. Conversation has a visual dialog builder to help brands create natural conversations between apps and users, without any coding experience required.

API.AI from Google

With API.AI, marketers can create conversational scenarios within minutes; then build advanced dialogues to manage the conversation flow with the user. Once the agent is built, it can be integrated with SDKs. When the product is launched, it constantly improves through machine learning and can be updated in real-time, based on user interactions. These  APIs can be used for  wearables, apps, automotive industries, Smart Homes as well as Smart TVs.

Lex from Amazon Web Services

Lex is a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using speech and text. Amazon Lex provides the advanced deep learning functionalities of automatic speech recognition (ASR) for converting speech to text, and natural language understanding (NLU) to recognize the intent of the text. This enables marketers to build applications with highly engaging user experiences and lifelike conversational interactions.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger lets brands building their own bot directly through the platform’s landing page. Though this method may be a little bit more complicated, there are many helpful resources that Facebook Messenger provides to make the task easier. With full-fledged guides, case studies, a forum for Facebook developers, and more, you are sure to become a professional Chatbot developer in no time.

Chattypeople

Chattypeople is the best chatbot platform for creating an AI chatbot on Facebook with Facebook commerce integrated. With Chattypeople, marketers can create a Facebook message quickly and easily with no coding required. The platform’s simplicity makes it ideal for entrepreneurs and marketers in smaller enterprises. You can make a simple bot that can answer customer service questions and integrate it with your website.

To empower your digital business with high-value Chatbots for any use case or channel, speak to us.

The Future of SEO – Why Brands Need to be Prepared

The way we utilise search engines is changing. It’s leading to a major, though mildly unpredictable revolution in how marketers approach Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Search was always about ‘User Intent’; but as more netizens go mobile, search engine results are becoming unforeseeably dynamic. Why? Because people don’t want to research anymore, they just want to interact with their devices.

deepaktiwari

Deepak Tiwari, Team Lead (SEO) at BC Web Wise

Mobile penetration and changing search habits are about to radically transform SEO and SEM tactics of businesses. While most of what lies ahead is beyond our imagination, there are certain scenarios that we can predict and prepare for, based on the trends and innovations we see today.

Deepak Tiwari, our in-house SEO Samurai, gives us his insight on what’s becoming the global norm, and how it will soon be a staple of the Search strategies of Indian brands.

Meet AI, the new Guardian of Search

Search algorithms aren’t just about keywords anymore. Today, every single Google search goes through RankBrain; and it has only started learning. Machine-learning AI algorithms like RankBrain are great for Search because they will greatly improve the quality of results over time.

And if experts are to be believed, there is nothing you can do to ‘optimize’ your website for RankBrain.

Image source: zampedigallina.blogspot.in

Image source: zampedigallina.blogspot.in

Microsoft, Amazon, Apple etc. are developing similar AI capabilities that utilize user experience, big data, and machine learning to produce results that meet user requirements more accurately while learning and improving with every search.

To prepare for the age of AI, brands need to get the basics right:

  1. Create content that’s both informative and engaging for users;
  2. Keep in mind that small things like on-page SEO still make a big difference;
  3. Only legitimate editorial links will produce long-term results;
  4. Build for mobile responsiveness, speed, avg. time on site and overall UX; and
  5. Implement Schema to make content Google-friendly

You asked for it!

If there is one disruption you should keep an eye on, it’s Voice Search. It’s not just the technology itself but also the fact that it’s an entirely new way of looking at how humans will interact with technology in general. As digital assistants infiltrate every device we own, Voice Search is going to become more conversational and automatic making search results more personalized and relevant than we’ve known before.

As voice search becomes mainstream, it is critical for brands to –

  1. Be the first result as opposed to just being somewhere at the top
  2. Build content strategy using long-tail keywords and natural, everyday language
  3. Create location-specific content because voice search queries and results tend to be more location-specific

Local is Focal

Social media is the new filter sorting out and ranking nearby businesses. SEO is now about appealing to those around you and searching for your product. Advancements in Big Data analytics and burgeoning IOT features in devices have led to an explosion in customer and behavioural data. Marketers have the ability to use that information to target the right customer with the right message. From Google Business listings to new Search tools like GBoard, they are all focussed on prioritizing local search results.

Image source: idownloadblog.com

Image source: idownloadblog.com

The best ways for brands to conquer local search are:

  1. Claim your location on as many listing and review sites as quickly as possible;
  2. Use location-specific keywords including neighbourhood names or landmarks; and
  3. Try earning inbound links from local publications and blogs and positive reviews on social media.

AMP Up or Die

Mobile is king! But going mobile-first is much more than just having a responsive site. Users want speed and accuracy, not just something that looks nice on their phones. That’s why Google and others have been pushing the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. Further, Mobile Apps have taken over browsers so Google has been indexing the content inside mobile applications (for 2+ years). Soon we’ll be able to see app content without installing the app.

Here’s what brands need to keep in mind about the future of mobile search:

  1. AMP is here to stay. Upgrade while it’s yet an unofficial ranking signal; or at least ensure your mobile site loads in less than 3 seconds;
  2. Experiment with bots that users can use to perform crucial tasks without leaving the app or website;
  3. Watch out for “micro-moments” to engage mobile search users in real time; and
  4. Invest in mobile optimized video content.

Search aka Social

Social Media and Search will become one. Twitter and Google already have a partnership that lets the latter index tweets from accounts with a large following. Google itself uses its Knowledge Graph to serve rich content based on search queries. An official partnership between Facebook and Google isn’t likely, but at the same time, third-party data extraction tools are expected to gain prominence. Ultimately, the web will align itself to users’ social presence and search preferences.

As the gap between search and social diminishes, brands will have to –

  1. Centralize their digital content and strategy on a mobile-first website;
  2. Adapt different social media optimization techniques and repurpose content for different platforms;
  3. Optimize social media strategy to get better quality leads on their website; and
  4. Keep in mind that social signals impact your keyword ranking indirectly, whether Google admits it or not.

No UX, no gain

Image source: SearchEngineLand.com

Image source: SearchEngineLand.com

UX may be a separate discipline, but it is the future of SEO. If a website isn’t mobile friendly, loads slowly, is complicated to navigate or has a poor visual appeal, then don’t expect repeat visitors where at least 80% of business revenue comes from. For brands to build a long-term sustainable online presence, UX that fulfils user expectations is going to be vital. Without it, your search rankings face a slow death.

To quickly check their UX score, brands can look into the following metrics:

  1. On-Page Time – The more relevant your content is to the user’s search intent, the longer they are expected to stay on the site or navigate it further.
  2. Bounce Rate – Keep this in check; when a disappointed user hits the Back button after landing on your site, it sends a bad signal to Google.
  3. Click-Through-Rate (CTR) – Ranking for industry keywords isn’t enough. Your titles, meta-titles etc. and overall content strategy should be persuasive to make users open your site.

We believe that its important for brands to start preparing for the new landscape, because it will be impossible to win the catch-up game once it becomes the definitive reality. It almost already is!

To find out what new things you can add to your search strategy to achieve better results today, contact us here.

How Does Zomato Make It So Yummy?

internet-online-food-delivery-1000x600

Zomato has invented some sort of secret ingredient, I think; something to add just the right amount of ‘masala’ along with the tempting flavour of urgency in everything they do.

I don’t intend to undercut the gravity of the recent crisis situation at Zomato wherein its servers were hacked and personal data of its 17 million users stolen. But more importantly, the average Indian consumer has never come so close to a massive security breach involving a brand that serves as innate and simple a purpose as Zomato does.

That’s why its making news!

Remember the Big Billion fiasco at Flipkart? The online sale purportedly went wrong because Flipkart’s servers couldn’t handle the unexpected overload, while India woke up to the realization that our e-shopping market has come of age.

Anyhow, being a regular Zomato user, I was genuinely alarmed when I first read about the hacker attack last week – “OMG! Did they get my credit card details?”

The article was quick to point out that no such sensitive data was stolen. “Great! So what information was stolen?” I wondered. I was informed that it’s just my name, phone number and email ID. “Ah well, every mobile operator, bank and spa in India has that,” I thought.

But over the next few days, not only was Zomato trending on social media, it was simply all over the place. The English papers were writing about it, and the vernacular papers were covering it. And one fact kept popping up everywhere – 17 million users.

That’s just a little less than the entire population of Mumbai!

A crisis of this scale can easily spin out of control, with social media providing the necessary fuel. But in Zomato’s case, stuff always unfolds in unexpected ways! As it turned out, on Zomato’s initiative the hackers agreed to pull down all that ‘non-sensitive’ data they had briefly put up for sale on the dark web.

There was just one twist missing in this roller coaster ride – the ‘our-Founder-explains-in-a-blog-post’ tactic that Zomato has employed so well in the past. That happened this week, and you can read it here.

The blog post tries to centre media attention on it being an ‘ethical hack’ intended to apprise Zomato of its vulnerabilities. But it also says what I was hoping it would – the hack happened because the personal login information of a Zomato developer was compromised.

By rule of thumb, honesty is the best policy in a crisis. The truth always diverts attention away from our other questionable virtues.

One wouldn’t easily forget the Zomato #foodporn ads of 2015. It was the exact same story then – innuendo based ads displayed only on pornographic sites post midnight, a somewhat shocking guerrilla marketing tactic that Indian consumers had simply never been dealt before.

#Foodporn was also followed by a media frenzy as well as the classic ‘Founder-explains-in-a-blog-post’. While Zomato ultimately pulled off the digital campaign as ‘some people might have found it in bad taste’, it didn’t shy from sharing spicy facts about the porn surfing habits of Indians –

Zomato Blog – This post is probably safe for work.

The amount of attention Zomato received from #foodporn in the press and on social media was exemplary. Interestingly, these news stories, and the ad gurus they quoted, never really criticized Zomato for the ads. For there was nothing to criticize, only a lot to debate!

Zomato exists in a growing and highly competitive sector. Raising a decent revenue and finding new funding is dependent on growth of the user base. But Zomato has managed to retain its top of mind recall among consumers, successfully sidelining all the new and younger entrants in the market.

Forward to 2017, the recipe is new but the flavour is the same. The widespread national and international publicity of the hack has underscored one simple fact – Zomato possesses the largest user base in its category by far. No debates about that.

I mean, people who don’t order food online are forced to think – “17 million people are using Zomato, then why not I?”

Those who are using competing services wonder – “17 million users? I guess they have a lot more restaurant and food options…”

And folks who actually care about online data privacy are like – “What India really needs is a good DND law.”

As for me, I somehow ended up ordering twice on the same day via Zomato, the day after it got hacked.