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Digital strategy

All the pros and cons of adding chatbots to your digital strategy

Chatbots digital strategy

First of all a super big thank for your amazing reply to my last article about social media, I’ve been impressed!
Among all the topics I covered, chatbots are getting a lot of hype and are the ones registering a controversial opinion. There are still a lot of people who think they’re not useful like Andy Watt was telling me in this conversation.
Why should I spend time talking with a chatting robot, who struggles to understand my points?” is a more general statement.
To me, it seems to be back to a few years ago, when brands started using social media to try to sell stuff rather than understand it was just a tool to start a conversation. Users didn’t get why they should use social media to follow companies updates. Now Facebook is driving, even more, traffic than Google.
But just a few years ago, both companies and people struggled to find the useful part of social media. Now we can’t live without them.

The early tech is usually not good enough to reach the mass market and people struggle to understand where’s the value until they actually become addicted to it.
Is it what’s happening again with chatbots?

Brands and chatbots: a love and hate relationship

Taco Bell’s TacoBot let you order from your Slack messenger, Domino’s DOM helps users order from Facebook. At Whole Foods, you can chat with the Messenger Bot to get a recipe, while HP’s print bot printed things for you, via Facebook Messenger. Do we really need bots to perform those action? No, really.

Chatbots digital strategy

Chatbots are opt-in experiences. Users actually need to change their behaviour to interact with bots. That’s why users are looking to get value out of the time they spend engaging with them. Users expect personalization and immediate replies. But the truth is that chatbots still need a lot of time to learn and improve themselves.
Facebook this week said it was “refocusing” its use of AI after its bots hit a failure rate of 70%. It means bots could only get to 30% of requests without some sort of human intervention.
And if humans need to fix mistakes made by bots where’s the added value for brands and companies?

Why do chatbots fail?

The key element of designing conversational interfaces is played by design.
Users expectations depend on how the experience is designed.
But don’t forget that the technology is still in its beginning and the majority of chatbots aren’t actually intelligent. We should wait for the wave of bots with linguistic and natural language learning capabilities, which are still quite rare.

chatbot fails chatbots digital strategy

There’s also a problem related to the lack of transparency, goals and communication strategy from the companies side. Why should you deploy a chatbot? What do you want it to do? How can you make it valuable for users? You can’t think that a chatbot can actually be the perfect substitute for your website or magazine.

At this stage Bots should be very specific and give just a few options to the final user, especially ’cause they’re still learning and they don’t have the power to provide all the info and details of a website. Bots that do one thing well are more helpful that bots that do many things poorly. 
If bots are impressively conversational to start with, humans get too colloquial — and then the bot fails, creating frustration.
“You have to think about it as creating a human. If you sort of just go out there, it won’t work.” said Legowiecki, who lead the team developing the TacoBot “It’s hard to build an expertise.”

Companies need also to be transparent about chatbots: they’re robots in their early stage technology. New technologies need to fail and the industry needs to learn from that error to improve. You can’t pretend users think they’re just humans, especially when the experience they get is awful. You need to have users onboard, on your side, becoming an active part of this new tech path.

The industry around chatbots: just hype?

Back in August, the attention around chatbots exploded.
According to data provided by Botfunded, there’s been over $170M+ in funding for artificial intelligence and chatbot startups.
People started building bots because it sounded cool doing it.
Chatbots were treated like the earliest version of Apps which would eventually die, but we all know how that turned out.

chatbots startups investing funds 2016

The truth is that even if Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed that “bots are the new apps. Bots are maybe the future but it’s difficult getting their value today as we’re far from providing a valuable experience for the final users.
So, the hype is not helping, but it’s in fact, creating, even more, expectations towards a technology that can take some time to develop effectively.

Remember, less is more.

So, what should you do? Including chatbots in your digital strategy or just wait for the future development of this tech?

My advice: 

chatbots stupidStart experimenting. All social media users, even your users, like having fun. If you can’t develop a chat adding value to your user’s experience, start developing one able to entertain your users, so they can have fun and you can learn, a lot.

Users need to be accompanied towards a new era, you can’t just leave them playing with it. Your users and their engagement are too important. Change with them and develop something they want, following their needs. Chabots should be about them and now about you. 

There are a lot of stupid chatbots you can build and learn from, check them out and remember, less is more!

Digital strategy Startups

Acquisition strategies for startups: 5 tips you should follow


Acquisition strategies: the whole picture

Well, I have to say that every time I see someone on LinkedIn positioning himself as a Growth Hacker, I have a smile on my face. Talking lately with a lot of entrepreneurs, in fact, it seems that hiring a Growth Hacker is the key element if you’re working to establish a successful and sustainable startup.
I imagine what people may think: “Amazing, this person will solve all of my problems, driving tons of users, with the cheapest CPC ever, my project will be very successful and I’ll become famous“.
Ok, maybe the last bit is too far, especially if you’re an early stage entrepreneur.
But, I bet there are a lot of people with the same feeling.
engine-of-growth-startups-growth-hackerWe’re used to reading startups stories with incredible growth strategies, creative ideas, getting fantastic results in a relatively short amount of time. But, are those stories the whole picture?
I’ve been involved in a few amazing projects, where, even if the acquisition campaigns and the engine of growth start working and you’re getting results, sometimes you need to be careful. It can stop very quickly and your growth can be unsustainable.

Pre-acquisition strategies homework

So, before even planning your user acquisition strategy, here a few steps to consider, plan and implement:

1)Include a referral or in-product growth strategies
Even if we’re living the digital revolution, the majority of products are still been sold thanks to the word of mouth. Of course, there are different ways to encourage people to share information with their friends or family but, first of all, they have to love your product and they have to think it will improve other people’s life. Secondly, if you really want to drive growth, you need to set a quantifiable reward: people will struggle to understand how much is a 20% discount on your product if you haven’t released it yet. Meaning: you won’t get very good results in terms of acquisition.
If your product SUCKS, please, please, please improve it before spending a shit amount on paid, PR or earned media. 

extrinsic-intrinsic-motivation-startup-growth-strategies@alessiacameraAnother point I think it’s very important is planning an in-product growth strategy. Is there a way you can add a feature to your product to push your users using it as much as possible? Try to understand the intrinsic motivation users will have while using your product and try to design it in order to create the habit, without them realizing it. At the end, it’s what Zuckerberg has done and still doing with his product.
[If you want to learn more, you should read Hooked by Nir Eyal, I think it’s brilliant!]

2)Is there a way your product can advertise itself?
Do you remember why Steve Jobs decided to put the Apple logo visible to other people on laptops and mobile phones? It’s a way products can advertise themselves, leveraging visibility and curiosity. Simply by using a product, a customer advertises your product to people around them.
Pretty straight forward isn’t it? Start working on it, you’ll realise it’s more complicated than what you think.

3)Use the ACCORD framework to analyze your product and your potential market.  But, be honest.

accord-model-competitive-advantage-startup-growth-strategy@alessiacameraSo, the first thing you should do as the entrepreneur is list as many things as you possibly can that are the relevant advantages of this product or service that you’re bringing to market over the status quo. The greater your relative advantage is, the greater the potential to realise demand.
I don’t think  I’ll have to explain the Compatibility and Complexity. I also already explained Observability in the previous paragraph. The Risk point: can I adopt your product or service without functional risk, without being socially embarrassed and without a financial risk? And the last one: can the product be consumed or used in a relatively low-cost or small unit?

If in the analysis you thick all the 7 boxes, you have an idea on how quick your demand will spread. But be honest, we all know your product is amazing, but you have to sell it, not just convince people around.

4) Have a budget
With tons of new products and services being released every day you simply can’t bootstrap.
Product Hunt, Techcrunch are still tools very important to raise awareness, but they’re not enough anymore. You need to build a proper plan, experimenting until you find the right channel for your audience.

Customer acquisition is too much important for a lot of people in the company to give it a try, you need to build a plan, try all the channels, find the right one and repeat it. And, if part of this plan can be executed without a proper budget when you maximize all your efforts towards your best channel, you’ll need a bit of money to get results and scale it.

5) Focus on the niche and then expand it
Talking with entrepreneurs, too many times I hear: “I want to expand across Europe” even before having launched the product or service in the UK. What’s the difference between dreams and plans?
I also want to become rich, but unless I have a proper plan and feedback from my customers telling me I’m on the right way, well, this is not a SMART goal.
This is a great story for a PR consultant, but when you’re creating a customer acquisition strategy, the goals you should define or have in mind should be numbers, and, especially at the beginning you should focus on one market, understand your customers’ needs, deliver the product and THEN expand it.


That’s it, for the moment.
I’ll be talking about Growth Strategies at the Web Marketing Festival in Italy, on the 8th of July.
If you want to share a “piadina” & some web marketing thoughts, let me know!

Digital strategy Startups

The UK is now a “smartphone society”


I know it’s Saturday, but today I’d like to share with you a really interesting fact.  I had the chance of looking at the the Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report and it was really surprising having the confirmation that in the UK smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online. 

Smartphones are now in the pockets of two thirds (66%) of UK adults, up from 39% in 2012 and a great jump since 2014, when just 22% turned to their phone first, and 40% still preferred their laptop.
Who’s using the mobile device? Youngsters (16-24) for the 90% but also 55-64 year olds are joining the revolutions passing in three years from 19% to 50%.

Mobile-Economy-smartphone-society-UKFor the first time in years, the smartphone has overtaken the laptop as the device internet users say it is the most important for connecting to the internet.
Isn’t it a big revolution we are facing right now? Isn’t it just the confirmation of a “mobile” economy we’re already experiencing?

You can check out all the stats here and the full report here

What does it mean? I think it’s a clear signal that from a business point of view you should improve your mobile experience and this is the most important thing you can do to drive conversions and sales. Only after your experience is great, you can think of online marketing, strategies and social media. 😉

Digital strategy Growth Hacking

Startup tips: how to build a successful marketing strategy in 5 steps

bE Careful: this is a technical post. Well, not really technical, but a bit.

Online marketing strategies are really important and you can’t really do much without setting a basic, simple, straight forward strategy.
“Why do I need a strategy?” you would ask me, I guess. At least it’s something people are asking me sometimes. Or they tell me: “Na, you don’t need to work on a strategy, just post on social media”. What are you going to post if you don’t know what you want to reach out?
It seems strategies changing everytime, but the truth is that you need goals & strategies, even if you’re a startup and you just know you should open a twitter account and increase your follower base.
For example, this is a goal=> increase your follower base. Is it a good one? Well, not really sure. That’s why you need to think about your goals before building a strategy

online-marketing-strategy-startup-1) So, the first thing is to have a clear goal in mind. To reach a good one, just think what does success mean to your project/company. Do you want to create am engaging community? Or improve conversions? Or drive sales? Just pick one and be focused. I know that success means a lot of different things, but priorities are really important, especially if you’ve just launched your app/website/project/whatver

2) Then: learn about your audience. What do they like? How could you motivate them? It’s really difficult communicate with them without knowing them.
People click if they’re interested, if they like the way/what you’re talking about and they’re feeling comfortable.
You need to create content and you don’t want to waste time & efforts for things you’re not sure could be appreciated, aren’t you?
Just the last tip: work with different segments, your audience don’t need to be the same across all channels.

3) Customer journey: it’s important also if you’re not selling.  Why?
‘Cause you can enlarge the range of information you have about your audience: how do they find you? Do they research first on a mobile device?

4) Link your goals to KPIs: which are the KPIs you’d need to measure your customer interactions? KPIs are really key and they’re different for every channel. Mapping them all could help you understand your business goals.

5) Define the activities you should implement to reach KPIs and don’t forget to create reports to understand if you’re going in the right direction! 😉


Digital strategy

Create a top Email strategy: Digital Marketing [challenge] Meetup


I don’t know if you use Meetup, but I love it! Here in London if you don’t know what to do, you’d like to do something but you don’t really know how..well there’s Meetup, where you can probably find wherever you want.

From language practice courses, to gigs, show cases and learning workshops! Well, it’s also a great way to meet other people with common interests.
So, I was saying, if you’d like to learn something, meetups are great (most of them)!
Of course it’s not like attending a course, you won’t find proper lectures, but if you want to  hear more about particular topics, go for it!

So, this week I went to a Digital Marketing Challenge Meetup about E-mail marketing. Even if I already know how to set up an E-mail campaign strategy, I think it’s always great teaming up with people sharing different points of view and create something from scratch: you always learn something new.Digital-Challenge-Meetup

So that’s what I did. The evening was great, organised by the brilliant guys from Outreach Digital and sponsored by Mailjet.
There were two business studies: a music content platform and a chat support platform. I teamed up with some guys and we start working on the music one. We had several ideas, the most successful one was to create a challenge/game email campaign to outline our audience and then: analytics & further segmentation depending on the CTR and content people were interested in.

Of course I learnt a lot, especially in terms of team building.  For example in London team work is slightly different: compared to Italy, people are really polite when working in a team and they never tell someone when an ideas is not really good. Also, everyone is participating to the discussion, even if they have no experience at all. And I think it’s great, even if talking about Facebook targeting is not really related to Email campaigns! 😀
I think team working is amazing, especially when there’s a mix of culture and multiple experiences.

So, how could you create a top E-mail strategy?

  • Think Responsive
  • Keep it simple
  • Call to action: one is enough
  • Keep it simple, especially if you’re a designer/developer
  • Test, Test, Test
  • Content is King
  • Big Data is real: A/B Testing, Tinyclues, Kickdynamic
  • Presume no rules, learn from your customers

Ah..and we didn’t win, but we had a lot of fun! 😀