We’re all aware of the impending robot takeover. Machine-learning is changing life as we know it. It seems like just yesterday I was on MSN talking to Smarterchild, back in the day when AI couldn’t do much more than craft a playlist. Fast forward a few years and cashiers are facing competition from self-checkouts. Roomba’s are cleaning the carpets. It’s not exactly the takeover I was imagining.

For a second, it felt like the AI uprising was gonna take awhile. But then Google did this:

So do you think the future will be more like the Matrix or iRobot?

How amazing is that!? Not only could this talk me into getting a haircut, but it could be the next evolutionary step in conversational marketing.

So what is conversational marketing?

At its core, conversational marketing is a one-to-one sales conversation between businesses and leads. It is defined as a feedback-oriented approach used to drive engagement and develop customer loyalty. It’s also the area of marketing most currently poised to be redefined by AI.

Say you head to the Apple Store to grab an iPad. The second you walk in, you’re approached by some sales associate named Mark, who probably can’t help you, but directs you to someone who can. You side-step customers and wonder, “How is it always this busy?” before finding Garrett near the Genius Bar.

“Nice to meet you, Oliver,” he says, somehow knowing your name. “Why are you interested in an iPad over a MacBook?”

Garrett doesn’t try to sell as much as he tries to listen. He asks questions to put himself in your shoes and empathize with your situation. It’s a personal, one-on-one communication built to not only inform, but establish rapport.

Conversational marketing – AI style

With advancements in AI technology, these sorts of Apple Store conversations can be brought to your website. With improvements in chatbot intelligence, platforms like Drift’s LeadBot and Intercom’s Operator Bot are allowing companies to instantly engage with traffic and triage leads. This means you can say goodbye to Mark. When it comes to online communications, we’ll use a chatbot to qualify shoppers before sending them to Garrett in iPads.

As it stands, sales teams have about 5 minutes to effectively engage a new lead. Through Drift’s LeadBot, visitors are immediately addressed and filtered using AI and preconfigured playbooks to determine next steps. Based on the customer’s answers, LeadBot can sign them up for a webinar, direct them to a case study, or connect them with the appropriate human sales rep.

Through instant engagement with traffic and the resulting triage of vetted leads, we see the real benefits of these tools.

Guide your leads

I’ve already explained how a chatbot can act as your first point of contact with web leads, guiding users to resources and pages based on their answer to a few playbook questions. It sounds great, but does it work?

You can check out Drift’s Rapidminer case study and see for yourself. They show nearly two thirds of the Rapidminer’s 1000 monthly inquiries were managed by Drift’s LeadBot. The remaining one third were vetted and transferred to a member of the sales team. Furthermore, Rapidminder saw increased engagement metrics across the board.

We call that a smooth lead flow. Think about it the next time tech support transfers you four times. Think about it the next time you’re on hold for a half hour with your phone provider. Think about it the next time you get disconnected from your phone provider because of bad signal – the very reason you were calling in the first place!

These sorts of customer service pitfalls add up and make for a brutal user experience. Through the use of a chatbot, you’ll help leads get where they need to go.

Quality over quantity

When I was in sales, a huge part of my time was spent eliminating bad leads from the funnel. Even when the marketing team gave me qualified leads, I’d find myself questioning what the “Q” in MQL stood for. Between the tire-kickers and spam clicks, I’d finish the day with a handful of promising leads and a lot of dead ends.

Sure, the marketing team was using the tools they had to qualify leads before handing them off, but they were painting with a broad brush. The alternative – personally vetting each lead – is a time management nightmare. For Rapidminer, LeadBot was the two-birds-with-one-stone solution, using AI to “personally” qualify each lead without taking time away from the sales team. Not only did it take the heavy lifting off sales, but it redefined the “Q” in MQL – no tire kickers allowed.

Shooting fish in a barrel

For those in sales, imagine starting each day with a list of warm leads? It’s like listening to a greatest hits album, just banger after banger with no filler or skipping. By trusting your chatbot to vet users and warm leads, you’re giving sales more time to do what they do best – close.

Not only did MongoDB’s chatbot increase net new leads by 70%, but it helped sales generate 170% more opportunities. The SalesRabbit sales team was 84% more productive thanks to their chatbot. These are real businesses showing real benefits and there are plenty more success stories out there.

Get in on the conversation

If you’re in the business of increasing leads, sales, and saving time and resources, it’s time to embrace the robot takeover. Sure, Skynet is still on the table, but for now, AI is on our side. Check out Drift and the other bots out there and find out which is best for you.