To Bot, or Not to Bot, that is the Question
Dustin Dye

Chatbots are appearing on messaging platforms in droves. They’re everywhere. And I’m not just talking about generic customer service bots that live on websites – those have been around awhile.

I’m talking about branded bots that live on messaging platforms like Facebook, Slack, Skype, Kik, even SMS, that engage users in fun conversations, offer services, and boost conversions.

Yes, boost conversions. A lot of these bots aren't mere gimmicks or experiments. They drive business.

Who’s building bots that drive business? Forward-thinking companies, old and new. Possibly even your competitors.

So here's the deal: if you haven't browsed the bot store on Facebook, now would be a good time. It'll speak volumes about how things have changed in a few short months.

Should you jump on the bot bandwagon?

It depends. Are your customers on messaging platforms? If so, a bot is a way to engage your customers where they spend time.

A fun, relatable, well-scripted bot can get users to tap links, provide data, and even buy products.

The whole interaction can take place in the confines of a conversational interface. Dialogue is, of course, a natural way to communicate and build rapport. We've been doing it as a species for thousands of years. That's why experts predict conversational UIs will become more common than graphical ones.

Bots are relatively low-cost, low-risk, easy-to-program investments that come with measurable ROI. When they work, they boost visibility, traffic, and sales, and gather valuable data.

When they don’t work, you still learn a heck of a lot in a short period. You find out which messages users find confusing or irrelevant. And you can apply this learning to guide your marketing.

It comes down to this: If you have fans, customers, or prospects, and want them to do or think something, a bot can help.

If you were to launch a bot today, what would you want your bot to get your users to do?

Visit a landing page? Set up an appointment? Buy something? Interact with your brand, laugh, learn, and share with friends?

That and much more is possible. For every business or brand, there’s a bot approach worth testing out. And yet, most companies still don’t know what a bot is, much less how, when, and where a branded bot can drive business. That widespread (and fleeting) lack of awareness gives you a huge competitive advantage.

If you have customers for whom texting has become a way of life (which includes almost everyone these days) now's an opportune moment to explore what a bot can do for your business.

When you're ready to join the bot revolution, keep in mind that great writing is a must. To create an emotional bond with users, you’ll need clear, concise, upbeat language. And if your bot is laugh-out-loud funny, that's even better. In an increasingly bot-infested market, a cookie-cutter bot won't cut it.

Dustin Dye is a Partner and Senmu at Expert DOJO Innovation Factory. Over the past three years he has worked with over 500 startup companies and enjoys riding the waves of innovation. Stay tuned as he shares insights within the world of startup.