Providing customer service is an obvious route for brands wanting to experiment with Facebook Messenger, and while it’s an important use case, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nathalie Choy, senior marketing innovation, web and digital performance manager at auto brand Kia Motors America, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about how NiroBot, the brand’s Messenger persona, performs a number of key marketing tasks.
eMarketer: How is Facebook Messenger working for you?
Nathalie Choy: Our chatbot, NiroBot, is essentially our newest marketing team member. We see it as a marketing extension that allows us to offer always-on one-to-one interactions at scale. For the time being, our bot is focused on Niro, our new crossover hybrid model. We wanted to get the word out about it and do so in a different way.
eMarketer: Can you share some examples of engagements that NiroBot can carry out?
Choy: We wanted to build something that anyone, regardless of how much knowledge they have about Kia and our models, could use to learn about Niro. The questions could be as basic as “What colors and trims are available?” or as complex as “How does the hybrid engine work?” The bot provides information in an organic way, as though it’s a sales representative.
eMarketer: Are there opportunities to use Messenger as a content distribution tool as well?
Choy: Absolutely. The bot not only answers questions, but also provides rich media video galleries. Users can scroll through a carousel of images related to their questions. It can also point them to a link on our website. The goal is to not only answer a question, but also send shoppers further down the funnel to drive them towards inventory.
“The goal is to not only answer a question, but also send shoppers further down the funnel to drive them towards inventory.”
eMarketer: Is there a lead generation element as well?
Choy: Yes. If consumers ask how much the model costs, we can direct them to a page where we capture their information and provide a quote. They can also sign up for a test drive.
eMarketer: How effective has it been as a marketing tool?
Choy: Facebook Messenger is ahead of the curve compared to other messaging tools. We see opportunity to not just build awareness, but to also have fun with consumers and engage with them for longer than we usually would. We’re seeing some engagements last as long as 10 to 12 minutes, though the average is about 2 minutes. The key to our early success has been differentiating our bot from other bots. We wanted to give it a personality and some playful, youthful energy.
eMarketer: Do you envision Messenger becoming a channel for ads?
Choy: Our Super Bowl ad was the biggest ad we launched this year, and we used Messenger to share it. The capability and the technology are there. We already proved that we were able to use it as a distribution channel for our ads. Given that we’ve done it, we know that we can do it again in the future.
“Building a bot is not a project a brand can just launch, walk away from and forget.”
eMarketer: What new tools or capabilities do you hope Facebook will add to improve your bot?
Choy: To have the bot, we need a separate Facebook Messenger account. It can’t live in our existing branded Kia Motors Facebook page. That’s an obstacle I’m hoping Facebook will overcome because right now we have to manage both accounts and integrate the analytics that come from both ends.
Integrating more rich media would be helpful, too. We’re launching a couple of virtual reality projects, and it would be interesting to see if those could be incorporated into Messenger. Group chats, where a chatbot could chat with several individuals, are something we could benefit from as well.
eMarketer: Do you have any advice for marketers that are planning to launch a bot on Messenger?
Choy: Having a human fallback is key. We wanted to be transparent about the fact that consumers were talking to a bot, but we also wanted them to know that we could seamlessly connect them to a human representative if there was a question the bot couldn’t answer.
And one challenge to be aware of is that building a bot is not a project a brand can just launch, walk away from and forget. We have a whole maintenance process in place, where we’re constantly feeding the bot more intelligence and queries to make it smarter.
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