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Part 2: Are Chatbots About To Send Email Marketing To The Trash Folder?

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In part 1, we examined the differences between email marketing and chatbots, digging deep into platform functionalities, demographics, and the intimacy of the two mediums. Today, we’ll take a look at factors such as existing infrastructure and deliverability.

What’s In place: Existing Marketing and Technological Infrastructure

Email marketing is deeply ingrained in the strategies of many businesses, and will likely grow. In 2017, 58% of marketers plan on increasing email spend, while only 7.5% indicate that they will decrease it. This establishes two main challenges for the uptake of bots.

1) Integrating with current technological and marketing infrastructure

A major benefit of email marketing lies in the email address itself. It is generally provided to the company in situations ranging from a car tune-up to buying shoes. From there, it is input to databases where the business can analyze that customer’s behaviors and purchases. Welcome emails can be sent based on purchases and retention emails delivered when that customer is approaching the time when another purchase should be made.

However, have you ever bought something, and while paying, had the cashier ask you for your Facebook profile? Most likely you have not (unless they’re looking for a date).

Luckily, e-commerce provides the opportunity get around this and start linking Facebook profiles to purchases. When consumers buy something online, the site usually requests an email address, to which a purchase confirmation and receipt are sent. If this email address was replaced with Facebook, the same post-purchase information could be sent through Messenger.

This would:

  • Initiate customers to the concept of communicating with brands through Messenger.
  • Introduce them to chatbots (if not already familiar).
  • Open the possibility of the customer subscribing to further bot communications.

While this would accomplish those bot-specific needs, it would provide the added benefit of accessing the customer’s Facebook profile for increased data collection and analysis.

2) Swaying brands from a medium that’s working.

As mentioned throughout this post, email is an extremely successful marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. It therefore becomes more challenging to move brands to a new medium.

The solution to this issue likely lies in persuading brands that email and bots are not mutually exclusive. Simply, each has it’s own specialties. Also, many products have customers across all ages. Going all-in on Messenger would exclude older customers, while relying solely on email means missing out on younger, growing audiences.

Deliverability

Roughly 99% of marketing emails are delivered. Alongside bots, email is among the most effective ways to ensure customers receive a message.

While deliverability generally deals with the percentage of emails that successfully reach the correct inbox, there are additional factors to be considered when comparing email and Messenger chatbots.

The nature of the inbox

Messenger and email receive and store messages in very different ways. Each email is treated as it’s own entity, and kept separate with a distinct subject line. Some providers such as Gmail go so far as to classify messages into separate folders such as Promotions and Social.

With Messenger, all messages from a sender are kept in one, continuous conversation. This means that sending a new message will bump your previous conversations further up the screen. If you send too frequently, some messages will end up pushed to a place where they are unlikely to be read. Also, bot conversations change in appearance as the consumer proceeds through them. For example, once a Quick Reply is selected, the other options are no longer displayed. Bot builders need to understand this, and adjust to the entirety of their messaging existing in one place.

Consistency of appearance

The appearance of an email is affected by email domain (Gmail, yahoo, etc.), device brand and operating system (Apple, Android, etc.), and platform (web browser, desktop app, mobile app, etc.). With so many possible combinations of domain, brand/OS, and platform, there’s a near infinite amount of outcomes.

As a result, coding and testing an email so that it displays perfectly across all combinations is one of the most expensive and time consuming aspects of email marketing. But, should you choose to skip this step, it’s likely that images, layout, and links may break when a recipient opens the email on a setup different than yours.

Messenger is the clear winner over email in consistency. Despite slight differences, Messenger functions nearly identically across platforms. What you see on your desktop is virtually the same thing you would see on your mobile device. This eliminates the time and money email requires to get to market, while also ensuring that the message appears exactly as it is intended.

Takeaways

At the end of the day, Messenger chatbots and email should be judged for their merits based on how they match up with your brand’s needs. Your product, target market and existing strategies and infrastructure will determine your uptake and usage of either medium.

Ultimately, it would be a rare case that a brand should go 100% Messenger, or 100% email. Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages and can even be upgraded by having the two work in conjunction. After all, marketing is at it’s best when it’s unified.

At the very least brands should evaluate and test how Messenger chabots can take the stress off of their email plan open up new doors to customer acquisition and retention. Top-tier bot building platforms like Snatchbot allow you to do just that — for free.

The early bird gets the worm, so get out there and start shaking things up.


Part 2: Are Chatbots About To Send Email Marketing To The Trash Folder? was originally published in Chatbots Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Chatbots Magazine

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