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What does your morning routine look like?

If you think about how your day starts, who you’re in contact with, and what you’re using to do all of this, you might be surprised by what it reveals about you. For instance, my day started like this:

When I woke up this morning, I checked my phone and had two texts from my parents in our iMessage family group text.

Next, I checked my GroupMe group I have with my roommates before I hopped in the shower.

After my shower, I got in my car, slid through the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru, and was on my way to headquarters.

Upon arrival, I waved to the team, opened my laptop, and hopped on Slack to message Courtney: “Good morning, I finished up Acuity’s KPI’s and I have a quick question to ask you.”

Within the first three hours of my day, I had already used three different messaging apps. That’s a lot of interaction for one individual. It says a lot about what I prioritize in the morning, but also how much information I’m consuming in a short period of time and how I’m doing it.

Right now, I’m just talking to my friends. But what if I was using the same methods to chat with someone at my favorite music venue about what shows were coming up? Or even the manufacturer of my hot tub about potential upgrades? What if businesses were messaging me directly about what they offer and how it can help me? It would be incredible. A revolution.

And it’s exactly what’s happening right now. For the first time in history, marketers can organically build a foundation with each subscriber that joins their audience with the mighty chatbot. Cool right? The better news that the audience for chatbots and messaging apps are already there.

Let’s look at the numbers.

In 2016, the top four messaging apps had more global users than the top four social networking apps according to Business Insider. Yep, that’s right — more people were on WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn combined. With falling data prices, cheaper devices, and improved features, messaging apps are continuing to grow at an incredibly fast rate.

In 2016, the total time spent on social and messaging app time grew 394% — that’s a huge increase. In comparison, business and finance apps grew 43%, shopping apps grew 31%, sports apps grew 25%, and gaming apps declined, decreasing by 4%.

Another recent study found that 51% of people say that a business should be available 24/7. For businesses without the manpower or the budget, chatbots make this possible. By taking advantage of the tools that chatbots offer, marketers can have constant communication with their subscribers without having to actually be on the other side of the conversation. A good example of a company using a chatbot successfully is Domino’s Pizza. If you go on to Domino’s Facebook page, you can order a pizza at almost any time. You can reorder your favorite pie with Google Assistant or Alexa. You can even complete an order with SMS messaging — just text a pizza emoji to Dominos and you can choose from your Favorites list and have it delivered. Cool, right?

The best part is that any business can include a flow of messages to engage with the subscriber and make them feel as if they are conversing with a company employee. It’s a goldmine — no matter if you’re selling pizza, computers, or hot tubs.

Bots

For the million dollar question:  What’s a chatbot?

A chatbot is a software that communicates with humans via chat application, and you’re probably already familiar with them. Bots are part of the messaging apps you already use. In Groupme, you can add a chatbot that tells jokes and gives group members nicknames (totally worth it). Slack even uses numerous bots to you can add to chats with varying purposes. This technology is more developed than you may believe and there is no better time to take advantage of it.

Key Features

Here’s a question: How will chatbots affect email marketing? Will they totally take over? Matthew Howells-Barby, the director of acquisition from Hubspot doesn’t think so — he believes that chatbots will not replace email but rather act as a “partner in crime.”

How will that look? Chatbots can live and communicate across multiple platforms — including all of your owned web properties. Wherever you’re asking people to sign up for your company newsletter, you can also get people to sign up for your chatbot. Once the subscribers opt-in, you can immediately begin your branded chatbot experience, delivering everything from the latest updates to gated content.

It’s also useful at events. Have someone from your company speaking at a conference? You can generate a QR code, have event attendees scan it with their messenger app on the way in (or out), and jumpstart your nurture from there.

Or, if you want to get subscribers through a comment growth tool, you can set trigger keywords throughout a page or post, and readers can simply comment with a specific word and instantly be signed up for your chatbot.

All of these scenarios are places where TIME is of the essence. With email marketing, users have to go to their inbox to get updates. With a chatbot, they just need to be around their phone. And with the amount of time spent on phones increasing each year — in 2018, users increased their device time by 11 minutes — chatbots will become increasingly relevant as mobile will surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes in the U.S.

Chatbots allow us to communicate with potential consumers in the same way you would message a friend. And that’s why they’ll be really powerful.

Relationships are built through the sharing of GIFs, photos, and lines of texts. Now those relationships can be made between you and your customer through automation. It’s a brave new world out there, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Ian Hatfield

Author Ian Hatfield

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