Why chatbots will replace email

Chatbots – king of the customer experience channels? Hmmm, I think we would all agree that email has held that “killer-app” crown for the last 30 years and marketers have come to rely on it as the most cost-efficient way to have personal interactions with their customers.

However, since the late 1990’s a dark-horse contender for the crown has been slowly gaining momentum. Instant Messaging has come a long way since those early MSN days, you just have to look at how the Chinese messenger app WeChat is so intrinsically linked into the daily lives of its home nation.

Essentially, WeChat can be used for just about anything you want to do on the internet. It acts as a facilitator to seamlessly integrate China’s most popular apps. WeChat is the starting point. From there you can find equivalents of Skype, Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook, Tinder, Slack and Flipboard. It has video calls, maps, shopping, transport, reservations, games, subscriptions and payment services. With over 79% of Chinese smartphone owners regularly using the app, it has become a digital ID – for both home and business purposes.

In western culture we would swap email addresses, in China, they connect via WeChat.


So, when all this happens in the one Messenger App what role does email play?

Think of all the types of emails in your business right now – lead nurture, reminders, invites, receipts, order tracking, confirmations, statements, newsletters, product updates, announcements, project management, marketing messages.

Now imagine the ultimate customer experience – everything accessible in one place, with instant interaction and servicing, one-click payments, personalised content and complete control.

If Facebook has anything to do with it,  there will soon come a day when western countries can do all of this in the one Messenger App.  Don’t think of it as a fast email platform. Think of it differently – more like a digital wallet, a dynamic customer service channel, a personal assistant from that business with an archivable, interactive inbox with your best mobile apps integrated inside it.

And combine this with the power of real-time data available in a Messenger App – your location, the weather, time of day, previous clicks, usage behaviours, purchase history etc. All of which will drive higher levels of relevance and engagement.

Yes, there are some email services that now offer a level of dynamic content based on when a user opens it. However, if you couple this increased relevance with the increased levels of control, a speedier response and AI advancements in chatbots, there is little doubt that messenger is soon to make a play for the email crown.

How long before western cultures catch-up to China and email becomes the least desired form of communication? My bet is by 2025.

If you would like to learn more about chatbots, see Baby Steps with Bots and try one for yourself.