It's said that 'great stories happen to those who can tell them,' and in today's ever-evolving world of marketing, this definitely seems very apt.
Globalisation has brought about greater competition. Today, consumers have more choices for buying/ purchasing than ever before; a stark challenge has emerged for companies - how do they differentiate themselves?
The solution for many businesses has been simple - brand storytelling. Storytelling is not just creating a story; in fact, it is the reason why your business exists, why you have to develop a unique value proposition and why you have developed products and services. Modern buyers expect modern brands to have an intrinsic story - a face and a voice.
As consumers' usage of online services increases, it becomes more challenging for marketers to stay ahead and to act on their likes, preferences and behaviours. Emerging technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning are progressing rapidly. The landscape of the marketing world is undergoing an undeniable shift into the future and robots are that future to marketing automation. This is an idea that is often skimmed over, but it is going to be the single most disruptive innovation in times to come and will make a big difference to marketing communications and product design.
The rise and phenomenal adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) offer a unique platform for brands to tell their brand story. It deepens customer relationships after purchase and adds a crucial point of differentiation for the brands. The recent phenomenon of Pokémon GO demonstrates the benefits of augmented reality. The idea behind the technology is to mix the virtual with the real world in order to provide consumers with entertainment and to make their experience more personal than ever.
In 2016, Facebook started to invest heavily in chatbots. Mark Zuckerberg justified the strategy in his speech at the F8 Facebook's developer conference saying, "I don't know anyone who likes calling a business. And no one wants to have to install a new app for every business or service that they interact with. We think you should be able to message a business in the same way you would message a friend."
2016 has been the year of debate about robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) emerging from academic/ IT circles and into public consciousness. 2017 is seen as the year of the chatbot as people are becoming more comfortable in having two-way conversations with brands. The consumer's cultural shift from 'social networking' to 'social messaging' means brands are increasingly seeing the need to adopt a conversational and 'always-on' approach to match or exceed consumer expectations of how brands should interact with them. As the race to launch driverless cars accelerated, Uber acquired an AI startup last year. In the US, Dominos let people order pizza through a bot on Facebook Messenger and Starbucks lets customers order a coffee via a bot.
Nowadays, we are in an age where convenience wins and the ability to tackle issues quickly and efficiently is a competitive advantage for businesses. It has been anticipated that machines will overtake human intelligence in the near future due to the advancement of computer power and increase in data collection. Companies like Google and IBM are already developing machines with neural networks that function like our brains do.
The development of technologies like 'Kit' are an extraordinary accomplishment and offers certain industries like digital marketing, a better, more successful way of doing business. Kit, the artificially intelligent marketing robot, is looking to be one of the first robots to successfully plan your e-commerce digital marketing strategy.
Yet, this marketing automation technology is far from perfect as customer acceptance of robots for these types of interactions, is still low. As we are all aware, there are actually quite a few chatbot implementations around and it is increasingly hard to make out the difference for usual tasks. It's true, chatbots cannot handle extreme cases, like frustrated customers very well, but this would be for every marketer to decide how and when to utilise the chatbot to manage a conversation.
(The author is the founder and director of Envigo, a full-service digital agency)