The chatbot generation: Marketing your brand to a younger audience

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Teenagers coming of age in 2018 have grown up in a digital era and are known to be early adopters of emerging technology trends, such as messaging. Used to not having to wait for a response and more inclined to communicate non-verbally, Gen Z will lead the way in contemporary conversational marketing. So, how should marketing campaigns involve chatbots to win the hearts of the lucrative younger audiences?

Engaging generation Z

Before we address that question, let’s just have a look at what chatbots are. Simply put, they are a mechanism to provide automated, onscreen assistance, hold conversations with prospective customers or offer helpful advice to drive engagement, generate leads and build brand loyalty.

So, why are younger generations happy to engage with chatbots? A large part of it comes from the fact that they offer the instant gratification that Gen Z demands. They expect real-time communication, not only from their friends and family, but the brands they engage with too. Younger audiences seek convenience and connection and conversational engagement is a big pull.

The simple act of being able to have a conversation is incredibly important to younger web users, although perhaps not in the traditional sense. Now a preference, communicating non-verbally has become easier than ever thanks to social platforms, the natural connectivity the internet offers and the growth of messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack and others, all of which now allow you to host chatbots.

So, how does this translate when it comes to younger audiences looking to make a considered purchase, such as a holiday? And how can marketers use this information to effectively appeal to them?

Let’s start from the fact that research tells us that millennials spend three hours shopping online for holidays and that 23 per cent admit they would find a chatbot useful to help them reach their solution more quickly. Time is of the essence for this digital age generation.

Personalisation is also key to holiday booking for Gens Y and Z so finding ways to help narrow their search and deliver solutions to them speeds up their path to purchase. Chatbots are the most direct way of engaging with a customer and ensure that the known criteria is met. In other words, responding within the first five minutes of a lead landing on your site, or clicking on your advert, is crucial to engaging with them successfully. Any later than five minutes and your chances of getting in touch decrease tenfold. After 10 minutes, the odds of qualifying that lead reduce by a staggering 400 per cent.

Ultimately, offering chatbots means that customers are granted the instant gratification Gen Zs require as they operate 24 hours a day, long after staff have gone home for the day.

So, what types of media appeal to younger audiences? We know that they demand a higher standard of advertising compared to other generations. For example, almost half of Gen Z (45 per cent) find travel video ads that automatically play sound frustrating, as do a quarter (23 per cent) of millennials.

Video ads have significant impact in driving consumer action, with two thirds of consumers (65 per cent) taking some kind of action after seeing one. This is where chatbots can be vital as the benefits of operating chat marketing properly can be astounding. Even if a member of the team is unavailable to talk with a prospect when, say, they visit the site late at night, choosing the right software will help to create scripts that converse with them, encourage them to leave their contact details and even book meetings with you at a later date.

Many brands are already using chatbots to successfully engage customers online. The global cruise line, MSC Cruises, integrated chatbots into its European outstream video ads this year to drive more leads to its website. The conversational bots were praised for enabling the brand to build authentic relationships with potential customers by behaving like personal online consultants that could reply to questions about a range of specific topics.

With the technology and conversational marketing movement still relatively fresh in people’s minds, the tech can only become better and the results more impressive than we’ve already shown. Take Microsoft, for example; it made a chatbot breakthrough in April 2018 that it believes will allow us to have more natural conversations with chatbots than ever. Good news for those looking to engage with Gen Zs then.

Rich Wood, managing director, Six+Flow

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