Just as we feared, the chatbots are taking over. In the near future, conversational AI will render all carbon-based marketers and salesperson obsolete. Right? Of course not. Despite the rapid adoption of this technology, human beings -- especially writers -- have an enormous role to play inthe success of conversational AI. Here are a few examples...
Presenting the right message at the right time has long been a challenge for marketing teams. Back in the days of static web pages and forms, marketers were left to guess about who their visitors were and hence had to write content that cast a very large net. Not so today. The rise of conversational AI platforms likeDriftand Facebook messenger give markers the ability to customize their automated messages based on a number of factors, including:
- Page views (i.e. what pages they've visited, and what page they are currently on)
- Previous activity (i.e. where they are in the buyer journey, what they've done in the past and other historical data)
- IPaddress (i.e. business or personal)
- Demographic traits
The list goes on. While they can be driven by this type of data, chatbots will never be able to fully create messaging independently. That's where human writers come into play. Without them, brands will likely opt for a generic "what can I help you with?" message for every instance and leave a huge opportunity on the table.
Speaking of generic messages, it's quite common to encounter chatbots that, well, seem like chatbots. Their messages contain no context and little personality. Not only do these types of message fail to engage the visitor, they sometimesenragethem...think of the frustration associated with automated robo-calls or telephone banking (gah!). So in addition to understanding the contextual elements mentioned above, writers must arm these chatbots with copy and messaging that feels like it's coming from a real human. Here's a good example from an even betterQuora thread on the subject:
Ultimately, the purpose of chatbots is to help users find what they're looking for, or getting them to take a specific action. This is at the heart of effective copywriting. Brands that only invest in the science of chatbots (while neglecting the art) will not see much of an ROI saidchatbot expert Ari Zilnik:
'Coming from a user experience design background—the word ‘storytelling’ gets thrown around a lot. Your design needsto tell astory. What is thestory we’re trying to tell the user? How does this app help the user’s ownstory? When you design a chatbot, you strip everything away. You strip the buttons, you chip off the chrome, you bust apart the UI.The only thing left to help guide the useristhe story.
The future of user-experience design for chat-based interfaces is personality design. When you think about a conversation with an individual, so much of the experience and one’s comfort in that conversation is directed by personality. We believe that to design a killer experience,we need to make sure we were designing the appropriate personality.'
Although this advice was more about visual design, the same holds true for writing. Chatbots aren't simply replacing forms. They are often the first (and last) interaction a potential customer has with your brand, which makes the message crucial.
It's easy to view conversational AI as a set-it-and-forget-it type of approach. It's not. the messaging must constantly be tweaked and optimized based on analytics and user activity. And again, this is where human writers and marketers enter the fray. Certain platforms will display this information, but it's up to the human writer to adapt the messaging based on the findings. Data points to review and analyze could include:
- Response times (between messages)
- Response rate (how often visitors engage)
- Chat time (length of conversation in time, or number of messages)
- Topics addressed (types of questions)
What do these and other KPIs have in common? They can only be improved through more effective writing--and this gets to the crux of conversational AI success.
Tech Will Deliver But Only With Human Talent
We're rapidly approaching feature parody when it comes to chatbot technology vendors. Sure, certain platforms will have some unique features, but they'll soon be replicated by competitors. Thus, the real difference-maker in this space isn't the technology. It's the talent; the people crafting the messages, examining user behavior, and producing the best customer experience. Though it's perceived as a new and promising technology, conversational AI faces the same limitations of every other marketing tool: it's only as good asthe people and strategy behind it.