Chatbots, messaging platforms and the future of mobile

9 Aug, 2017
4 Min Read Dan Ward

Chatbots, messaging platforms and the future of mobile


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Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past decade, you probably know that apps are one of the biggest marketing tools of recent years. As consumers opt for smartphones over desktops, apps that simplify everyday activities - from shopping to banking - are a necessity.

But while the number of apps on Google Play increased almost 19,000 percent between 2009 and 2017, research shows that consumers’ appetite for apps is declining. Around increased almost 19,000 percent don’t download any new apps in an average month.

Instead, consumers are spending more time on a handful of apps that help them stay connected, informed and heard. Can you guess what they are?

You got it… messaging.

Mobile messaging apps are big business

The largest mobile messaging services now boast hundreds of millions of monthly active users. Between 2015 and 2016, time spent on messaging appsincreased by 44 percent. And research shows that the number of monthly active users on the big four messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Viber) surpasses users of the big four social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn).

A study by Ubisend found that63.9 percent of consumersbelieve a business should be available and contactable via messaging applications. But from a business standpoint, this is a little terrifying when you consider the workforce army needed to maintain 24/7 customer support.

The solution? Chatbots. This revolutionary customer service tool is rapidly changing the digital landscape, with its ability to conduct any number of conversations, at any time, with customers anywhere in the world.

How chatbots work

Chatbots harness computer programming, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to simulate human conversations. They can efficiently:

  • Provide information and support
  • Facilitate sales
  • Process returns
  • Offer personalised product suggestions
  • Proactively engage
  • Prompt a store visit through geo tagging
  • Add personality to a brand

At the end of 2016, Facebook reported that Messenger now had 34,000 chatbots integrated with the platform. Global brands such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are investing in chatbots to fill a wide range of internal and customer-facing functions.

Organisations from food and travel to accommodation and retail have embraced chatbots as a way of amplifying and simplifying customer service.

Developers of messaging apps are also working hard to create a better chatbot/customer experience by improving chatbot building toolkits that make it easy for developers to add new chatbots into the ecosystem.

Research tells us that far from being annoyed, consumers enjoy the immediate and efficient service chatbots provide. Millennials appear to be the largest and most optimistic group of early adopters. A study by Retale found that almost 60 percent of respondents had used a chatbot.

The study, which examined chatbot adoption and experiences among millennials, also found that 70 percent had a positive experience. Around 71 percent were interested in using chatbots from major brands. When asked if brands should use chatbots to “promote deals, products and services to consumers,” 86 percent said yes.

It seems that conversational commerce, supported by clever chatbots, will be an essential element in the future of mobile and digital marketing. Far from avoiding customer service, due to cost and time constraints, organisations can now embrace it – leading to a level of customer intimacy previously thought impossible in the online world.

As chatbot advocate Chris Messina argued in an article in Wired last year, “What people really want are integrated tools that make it easier to do regular tasks in a comfortable and familiar place: Within a conversation.”

For more information about how to deploy a chatbot in your organisation, download our whitepaper: Digital Platform Trends 2017: Diving into chatbot-driven conversational commerce