The World of Bots, Part 1: The Basics

In this two-part series, we’re going to look at the ever-changing and advancing world of artificial intelligence, and specifically at how bots can help you with better customer service and stronger digital marketing.

What are bots, and why would you use them?
Simply put, a bot is any sort of software tool that can automate a task.  In recent years, we’ve been seeing this more and more in the context of customer service and targeted advertising, but a bot can be used for anything from research and analytics to personalization and visitor engagement.  Used correctly, bots are tremendous time-savers, and since they’re more accurate and can do a greater volume of work in a much shorter time, they’re a very powerful tool for any digital marketer.
Chatbots in particular have become a big deal over the past couple of years.  Some of the more popular ways that peoplechatbots-how-chatbots-work are using chatbots right now include customer support (suggesting products, offering discounts, or explaining how a product or service works), targeted news delivery, surveys, and reminder notifications for customers (billing reminders, update notifications, and so forth).
If you want to see some truly innovative chatbots in action, check out this link from NBC, which helps you find the news stories that are relevant to you, or  this bot , created by the Casper mattress company to chat with its insomniac customers.  Theoretically, you could create a bot to interact with customers in any way you wanted.
But aren’t bots what spammers use?
The word “bot” does have something of a reputation because of its historical association with spam, but don’t get the wrong idea – today’s bots are used as helpful and often conversational assistants that can be programmed to automate a range of tasks and interactions.  Whether conducting analysis, providing customer service, or assisting your website visitors, bots can both give and receive valuable information, while using the data they collect to help provide a more personalized experience.  Bots are everywhere now – on websites, apps, social media, and messaging services – so it’s definitely worth exploring how you can use bots to help augment your digital marketing strategy.
Will bots make humans obsolete?
In short, no, but they will dramatically revolutionize the type of work that humans do.  If all the day-to-day busywork tasks can be handled automatically by bots, this frees up people to do more of the “big picture” thinking that requires human thought and decision-making.  Imagine how much more you could get done, and how the quality of your work would change, if bots were not only taking repetitive tasks off your plate, but were also giving you better data and analysis than you could obtain on your own.  It’s a real game-changer for marketing!
Rather than being concerned about bots replacing humans, think of them instead as powerful assistants that can improve the work that people do by making it easier, more efficient, and more accurate.  And, best of all, there’s no limit to how many bots you can use to accomplish the various tasks that you need done simultaneously.
Next week, we’ll talk about AI and bots in a real-world context, as well as looking at some practical tools and tips to get you started using bots in your marketing strategy.
Cogo Interactive is an award-winning digital marketing agency specializing in online marketing strategy, web design, SEO and social media marketing. We partner with clients in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC and nationally.