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How AI and Chatbots Will Simplify Your Startup Marketing But Destroy Your Customers’ Privacy

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AI and Chatbots for business

How AI and Chatbots Will Simplify Your Startup Marketing But Destroy Your Customers’ Privacy - A guest post by Cathy Wassell. We will let Cathy explain all...

"Like all startups, you’d like to get more leads for your business. And fast. But how can you get leads without spending a fortune? Well, chatbots might be the answer.

Are chatbots being used now?

Artificial Intelligence(AI) research is moving so fast that we are all being affected by it right now, maybe even without realising. If you have conversations with Siri or Alexa, you’re speaking to a series of bots. 10% of the emails sent by the Google Inbox app are using Smart Replies (a bot).

If a retail site you are browsing opens a pop up chat box, that may well be powered by a bot. For example, North Face uses a bot to help you narrow down the choice of jackets by asking you where you’ll be using them. Le Tote uses algorithms powered by bots to personalise your online shopping experience. In just a few years our online shopping experiences are going to be quite different and it will all be thanks to AI in the form of bots.

So what are chatbots?

A chatbot is basically a machine that can have a conversation with you. This might be by voice on a smart device, such as Alexa, or by text in a messenger app. The internet isChatbots and business fantastic, but it provides us with more information than we can possibly devour, and sifting through it has become increasingly time-consuming. Bots can do this far faster than we ever could, and essentially a bot’s job is to find out your problem/interest and source the information to solve it or the product you’d love to buy.

How can I use a bot in my business?

You might think that bots are only for companies like Apple or Google who can put the money into developing this kind of technology, but actually, anyone can create a bot. You don’t even need to be able to code if you use one of the apps which are now available. You can use a bot for customer service and to answer FAQs, but you can also use them to offer personalised service on a scale that would not be possible if it were done by paid (human) employees.

How can chatbots assist startups with customer service?

Let’s say you’re an accounting firm looking for new clients. You might decide to use the predictive analytics in Facebook Ad Manager to attract your target clients, and in the ad, ask them to comment if they’d like to be sent a giveaway you’ve created to help them, such as a small business tax check list. Once they have commented, the bot is set up so that they automatically get sent a communication from you in Messenger. You can then set up a sequence of messages to find out more about them and the kind of help they are looking for (plus that all important email address to add them to your mailing list – email marketing is not yet dead). They may or may not end up as a client but they will remember that you were efficient and gave them helpful information. And this help didn’t take up the time of an employee.

How can chatbots offer a more personalised and scaleable service?

A Gartner statistic tells us 85% of customer relationships will be with AI by 2020. This might astonish you, but that’s all the more reason to investigate chatbots AI and Chatbots for businessnow. Bots are now the preferred method customer service communication for younger people, who don’t wish to phone a call centre. 60% of bot use is by those aged 16-19.

Some brands with a younger audience have been quick to exploit the opportunities chatbots present. Maroon 5 created a bot to talk to their fans which proved really popular despite the fans being aware it was a bot and not a band member they were talking to. It made the fans feel closer to the band, having conversations with a bot connected with Maroon 5 in their Messenger box. And naturally other bands, personalities and young brands have started to make the same moves. 80% of smartphone owners are expected to be using a messenger app by 2018 – that’s over 2 billion people. It’s a large potential audience for your personalised service or product.

What about privacy when using AI-powered smart devices and chatbots?

Lots of brands are getting access to people’s messenger app accounts, a place previously reserved for friends and invited contacts. For many, this is an invasion of privacy, the introduction of advertising and in some cases spamming to a previously safe, private place. For marketeers this is a new frontier, as enticing as email marketing was before everyone got spammed and stopped opening the emails.

Google and Apple already routinely scan our phones via GPS to see where we’ve been and where we’re going (for Google Maps), and this is only going to become more AI Chatbotsprevalent as more and more smart devices are introduced into the Internet of Things. It won’t just be your phone which tracks your every move (even down to calculating what speed you are travelling), every smart device will gather information on your habits, likes and purchases. Wearable tech and biometric payment will speed this data rush along to a point where there won’t be any need to send your CV to apply for a job any more. Your potential employer will already be able to access everything about you.

Information that was previously private, such as how fast you drive on average, will be collated somewhere (presuming that your smartphone is in the car with you). The battle over that information is yet to be fought, but if insurance companies can access it then not only will they know when your car insurance is due, they will know how fast you drive your car. Of course, if they can access that information then so can the police so we might all be slowing down our average driving speeds.

The Director of Research at Facebook, Yann LeCun has said, “Despite these astonishing advances, we are a long way from machines that are as intelligent as humans -  or even rats. So far we’ve seen only 5% of what AI can do.”  We need to find a way of embracing this new technology without destroying the privacy and freedom we enjoy as humans. 

About the Author: Cathy Wassell runs Socially Contented, a social media strategy and management consultancy.

Cathy would welcome all your views and you can reach out to her via

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Published on: 4th August 2017

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