News earlier this year of the demise of chatbots was premature. And despite all the attention that Facebook and its Messenger platform get (or got in the case of the company’s M virtual assistant which it ‘terminated’ at the start of the year), the spiritual birthplace of chatbots is thriving. There are now some really innovative solutions available to brands looking to maximize the user experience of their WeChat platform in China and beyond.

When Facebook launched the M virtual assistant in 2016, many commentators heralded the dawn of AI-driven chatbots. What most of those commentators didn’t realize was that on this occasion, Facebook wasn’t first to the party. In China, the ubiquitous WeChat platform had been featuring similar technology since 2013.

Fast forward to today and chatbots are on the march again. A recent survey by Oracle highlighted that by 2020 80% of companies intended to incorporate chatbots into their business. Oracle CEO, Mark Hurd, went a little further, suggesting that by 2025, 85% of all customer interactions will be automated. Tech research house, Gartner, is a little more conservative in their predictions, claiming earlier this year that by 2020, 50% of medium to large enterprises will utilize chatbots, but the conclusion is still the same. Chatbots are rapidly re-establishing themselves as effective technological solutions to a whole range of business problems including marketing, after-sales care, even staff training, retention and recruitment.

This rise of the machines is being driven by two things. Firstly the technology, particularly the AI technology that drives chatbots, is improving all the time. Secondly, the customer or service users they are engaging with are becoming increasingly more comfortable interacting with a chatbot as opposed to a human service operative or salesperson. In some cases, the chatbot is preferred to human interaction when it saves time and effort, improving the user journey as a result.

So what of WeChat? It is regularly described as so much more than an app, and that is true, but there is still scope for improvement. Let’s start with what WeChat can’t do. The first thing WeChat can’t do is segment your audience. So while you might be creating some great content, blindly pumping it out means you aren’t getting the most from all the hard work you are putting in. Everyone you are trying to reach is getting the same message, relevant or not, all your users have the same experience, and there is no automation in your WeChat marketing, which means it takes up more of your resources to do it right. This is where new chatbot technology, like the Brandigo WeChat chatbot, can really give a brand’s WeChat marketing strategy a boost.

The Brandigo chatbots fall into two categories. The first is a ‘welcome’ chatbot that is attached to an official WeChat account and works with the user during the first 48 hours of the user journey, capturing valuable marketing data and entertaining the new user so that they are more inclined towards a return visit. The impact this bot has is powerful. It not only shows the user that there is something special about the account, setting it apart from the competition, but it also allows the user to decide how they want to interact with the account, and ultimately, provides the segmentation data marketers need to produce more focused, compelling content.

The second Brandigo chatbot operates within a WeChat mini programme, a platform that is becoming increasingly popular, and acts as an FAQ/Support chatbot. This bot helps organizations with their customer/client support which frees up resources that would have typically been tied up in call centre operations and provides a streamlined user journey for customers helping them solve their issue or answer their query quickly.

‘WeChat is a fantastic tool,” says Brandigo China President, Mike Golden, “but we should always be looking for ways to innovate and make the user journey better for companies and customers alike. WeChat chatbots can do that, combining a streamlined, pleasurable user experience for the customer, with an efficient marketing channel that provides targeted, relevant content which also captures data to allow companies to continually improve their marketing output. Chatbots are the solution to bringing WeChat experiences to the next level - which is vital with so much content out there!”

The best way to get a feel for new technology, particularly technology that has been the focus of some debate in recent years, is to get hands-on with it yourself. You can use the QR code below to access the Brandigo WeChat chatbot demo and get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss our ideas as to how it can give your WeChat marketing a boost.

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