In the first week of November, Dharmesh Shah, CTO of HubSpot, stood before a huge crowd of 19,000 excited conference attendees at the…
Human Interaction to the Bot Power — Could Chatbots Be the Future of Marketing?
In the first week of November, Dharmesh Shah, CTO of HubSpot, stood before a huge crowd of 19,000 excited conference attendees at the marketing and technology conference known as INBOUND 2016.
While his speech covered several areas of interest, one portion stood out above the rest as a wake-up call to digital marketers:
“The biggest wave we’ve seen in technology in the last two decades.”
What was he describing? Virtual reality? Self-driving cars?
No. It was chatbots.
Enabled by incredible advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, tomorrow’s chatbots are going to be so adept at natural language interaction, they’ll become essentially indistinguishable from humans within the confines of their prescribed purpose.
“Bots are going to be a boon to sales, marketing, and customer service, delivering human (interaction) to the bot power,” proclaimed Shah.
Another factor in the growth and popularity of chatbots and their role in our personal and professional lives is the explosion of the use of messaging apps like Slack, Facebook Messenger, and What’sApp. These popular messaging apps currently have more active daily users than the top four social networks — a truly staggering figure when you consider how little time it took these apps to accumulate their current user bases.
The simultaneous exponential growth in the Internet of Things world of “smart” devices for the body, home, and car has further increased the opportunities for AI-powered chatbots to offer natural human-like interaction at every touchpoint between users and the apps, services, and devices they use throughout each day.
The emergence of Amazon’s Echo (with Alexa), and Google Home (featuring Assistant) are just the icebreakers in what promises to be a huge incoming wave of interactive tech based largely around the evolving role of chatbots serving as translators, consultants, and — for lack of a better term — friends to end-users the world over.
THE RISE OF THE MARKETING CHATBOT
As a natural outworking of HubSpot and Shah’s passion for the latest technology as applied to marketing, Shah took the opportunity during his keynote to officially announce the HubSpot-developed GrowthBot — a chatbot specifically designed to aid digital marketers with numerous helpful tasks which learns as it grows.
While most of the bot’s functions can save the modern marketer time and/or offer a convenient alternative to the usual searching and collating tasks, there’s actually an even grander vision for what Growthbot — and really all marketing-focused chatbots — should be able to do in the near future.
In vision, these artificial customer service agents will soon be much more than just a digital assistant for digital marketers. Rather, they can be valuable time-saving tools to aid in content creation, curation, discovery, distribution, and optimization — all labor-intensive yet essential skills for successful modern marketing.
MARKETING CHATBOTS — A GROWING FIELD
The messaging app revolution and accompanying explosion in chatbot development has spawned a wide array of tools that marketers can use to aid in research, analysis, and strategy.
For example, Advertise.ai — a bot specializing in Facebook Ads — is another option with exciting opportunities available for marketers. A search through the vast Bots topic on ProductHunt reveals over a thousand up and coming chatbots, many of which have either a direct or tangential application to marketing.
It’s exciting to imagine where chatbots will be in the near future, even if current iterations face limitations here and there. While bot development has exploded in recent years and many of today’s chatbots are truly impressive, it’s the promise of an even brighter tomorrow that keeps developers, marketers, and business leaders alike eager to jump in as soon as possible.