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.

Why Consumers Display Less Brand Loyalty when Shopping Online

Jaydeep Savant, Director - Strategy & Innovation, BC Web Wise

Jaydeep Savant, Director – Strategy & Innovation, BC Web Wise

The landscape of online shopping in India is seeing radical changes. The perception of the Indian consumer is changing considerably .With more of internet and easily available Wi-Fi zones the awareness and engagement is ever increasing.

Increasingly, consumers are using internet as a tool for pre purchase information collection. Although technical details and specifications about the product or service are gleaned from the brand, online brand communities are becoming vital conduits for customers to share product information, expert reviews and experiences.

We are seeing a huge change happening in the supporting ecosystem. New entrants and existing champions are upgrading their payment infrastructure and logistics, to make the best bait in the Indian eCommerce market. With VC confidence in eCommerce increasing, new players are putting big bets in the online space; typically online travel, retail, Food, Nutrition, Health, Airlines, Matrimonial etc.

The consumer mindset is changing with every purchase they do online, so do their loyalties. With so many hybrid marketplaces and hyper localization, the customer is always exploring, trying to make the best for his money. The Deals and the Discount market have made his purchase cycle very interesting. He browses around with the most sites in real-time till he targets the lowest bid price. This is a unique use case for the changing consumer behaviour.

The realization is there is a lot of data coming in and out, thereby leading to various micro-segments of consumers. The sellers are pressed to be data centric, thereby clustering, filtering, and aggregating data to creating multiple models of their customers.

Data, which was earlier sitting on remote worksheets and data marts, is fast moving to central hubs and infrastructures wherein the data is mined in real-time to give a single view of the customer. Big Data and Hadoop have become the new buzz words.

Analytics, Advanced Analytics is the new science that will connect with this new consumer to fulfil this very basic need to his highest aspiration. Online retailers are moving up the maturity value chain to integrate the marketing promise with the right service delivery.

Analytics has a huge spectrum – ranging from data warehousing to BI to OLAP to Predictive. We at BC Web Wise have a strong focus on both, B2C and B2B Consumers and thereby strongly advocate Customer Analytics, Funnel Analytics and Predictive Analytics. We want to embed this in our clients’ business processes to scale and optimize their growth with respect to ROI and loyal customers. To achieve this we have blended our services with a unique mix of experience management and data analytics.

The affinity towards a brand from a consumer standpoint, either positive or negative starts with a due diligence via an Online Reputation Diagnostic tool.  We suggest an analytical approach to find the social equity gathered by a brand in the digital space. We measure the dynamics of influence (Positive and Negative) that are playing a role in the mind of consumer, pre and post purchase.

Our Customer Journey Mapping process thrives on this research to help our clients start in the right step to set up the funnel at every stage (Awareness>Consideration>Engagement>Conversion) and post-purchase. Our Analytics approach embarks on this interesting customer journey in the most qualitative manner looking into the complete customer life-cycle and personalization to embrace loyalty.

We believe analytics is the perpetual working engine for eCommerce optimization and incremental growth strategy in the digital space. For more information on how our Analytics services can help your eCommerce strategy, contact us here.

Or you can write to me with any questions at jaydeep.savant@bcwebwise.com.

What Do You Need To Start An E-commerce Business: A Checklist

bcwebwise ecommerceIt is time to get online and create a cost effective sales channel, after all consumers are researching your products online and reading peer recommendations. It just makes sense to get online and enable the target customers to buy your product with a click of the mouse. So just what do you need to start an Ecommerce business. We have tried to simplify it for you here:

1. Choose a Ecommerce System/ Shopping Cart Platform:

Foremost, you need to select a technology platform for the Ecommerce to run on. You may not understand the nitty gritties of this, but an online research on the subject, reviews and recommendations will help. If you can speak to a successful Ecommerce business and get their recommendation, even better.

We highly reccomend using the Magento e-commerce system. . Magento is extremely scalable, open source, easy to use and quickly becoming the most popular shopping cart system around.

You may also want to explore being available on other popular online stores and weigh the options of your exclusive store plus being present on other online shopping networks such as: India Times Shop, Rediff Shopping, Ebay, Flipkart, etc.

2. Domain Name Registration and Web Hosting

You need to plan and book a domain name for your ecommerce site and get this registered. If you are starting a serious e-commerce business, start with the right web host to ensure that your website will be fast and reliable. The data centre that will provide you with the servers for hosting your website should be able to provide you with 24/7 support. The data centre should also have the necessary firewalls and security in place.

3. Product List/Catalogue

Identify list of products that you want to sell online. Research on products or information related to your products that are currently searched by the target customers will help in finalizing the product list. Check if competing products are currently sold online and if yes, look for information on how they are currently being sold, and how has the online sales of these products been, how are they being promoted, what is right and not about the ecommerce for these products.

4. Product Images

Having your products shown clearly on your website is extremely important to the overall look of the site as well as the conversion rate of the site. It might cost a bit more than you expect to have professional photos of your products taken it can really separate the websites that get sales from those that do not. Whether it is a fashion garment or an OTC drug, seeing the product image gives consumer’s confidence to click the buy button.

5. Product Titles & Descriptions

Appropriate titles and descriptions for your products is necessary. Copy should inform plus do the selling. Attention to doing this for each product in your catalogue is a must, as this can make or break your sale. Also from a search engine view point, this descriptive information will help in optimization of the pages for search engines helping in the product being found when someone is searching for it.

Do a competitive search of other successful ecommerce sites to study how they do it.

6. Shipping Account

When someone buys something, you have to send it to them. Make sure that you sign up for a reliable delivery service such as Fedex or DHL.

7. Packing/ Shipping Products

How you will pack the products for delivery, labeling, etc. also need to be looked into and should be the starting point. Work out the logistics and if that is not in place no matter what you do with your e-shop, it is bound to fail.

8. Security (SSL)

Your website is going to need an SSL certificate to encrypt credit card transactions. All modern web browsers will warn users that they are about to enter a site that does not follow necessary security protocols, in other words it is unlikely the customer is going to proceed visiting your page.

9. Helpline Number – Preferably Toll Free and 24/7

A toll free phone number for your customers to call if they have a problem. A 24/7 online chat system will also help.

10. Newsletter Management System

Your customer list will need to be sent regular emails relating to their transaction plus to promote other related products, seasonal/festive offers etc.

11. Establish Ecommerce Policies

Your ecommerce store should include a policies section that covers all of your policies for shipping costs, returns, exchanges and customer service inquiries. A frequently asked questions section can be implemented based on the email questions you receive most often through your toll-free number or through your customer service email. In the end, this can save time and money and also help in closing a sale online.

12. Ecommerce Team

Managing your online presence is an important task that should have dedicated staff, just as you would have for your brick and mortar store. In addition to processing orders, the website needs to be continually updated with new product offerings and inventory status of available stock. Customer service inquiries should be handled promptly and customers should be kept in the loop about the status of their order. This staff can also handle the marketing of your ecommerce site.

13. Payment Options

When the planning of ecommerce is done, simultaneously one needs to select the payment gateway that will be used. How are you geographically targeting your audience can help to address this. Ideally prefer the gateway that supports most of currency.

14. Getting Verisign

Vulnerability and Malware scan is a must on the website. Ideally go with a Verisign trusted seal, it also gives consumer confidence to see this seal on your e-commerce pages and the final transaction pages.

15. Integration with third-party software

Normally all ecommerce product section is integrated with POS or some ERP system that is used to also manage the offline sales. While designing ecommerce sections it is important to be clear about the modules from the ERP system that need to be integrated with the online database. Further how this database (particularly for product stocks) will be updated and in what frequency needs to be defined.

16. Explore Enabling Shopping On Mobile Phones

Where and when is your customer likely to look for you? If your target audience is on the go, and in India we all know that just about everyone carries a phone today, it may be wise to build a mobile friendly shopping site. Today’s digital consumer expects a seamless, personalized, online shopping experience via whatever device they choose.

17. Increasing Your Site’s accessibility

You may want to explore the option of building separate sites, or building just one site that Is device friendly by opting for a responsive design. Read more about it in our previous post. http://blog.bcwebwise.com/2012/04/19/responsive-design/

18. Market Your Site & Driving Sales

Finally, it would take investment in online marketing to create awareness about your e-store and drive the footfalls. Explore SEO, plus PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, network advertising, etc.

To finally convert the visitors to buyers, ensure that the online shopping experience is visually appealing, is seamless and smooth, friendly and usability driven at every step. So do dry runs of the page designs and flows with User-testing before you finalize the wireframe, design and the flow of the pages.

So get ready to do some real business online!