In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, forever changing the way we used the Internet.
The web gave us a new, visual channel for easier, more natural communication.
Businesses quickly embraced this new communication medium and developed simple websites.
Over time, web development improved, eventually offering secure payments and even real-time video streaming.
However, this rich user experience remained desk-bound.
Until Apple launched the iPhone in 2007.
While other smartphones pre-date the iPhone, they did not offer the ability to access the web in a user-friendly fashion.
Now the user could browse the web from anywhere, and mobile marketing was born.
After realizing the potential to reach their target market on the couch, in the coffee shop or even on vacation, businesses began building mobile websites too.
Those first attempts were often poorly recreated editions of their desktop counterparts with clunky, limited functionality.
Slowly, things improved, but still, the primary visual communication channel was the website.
Until social media.
Faster than at any other time in web history, the adoption of this technology was staggering, and billions of people embraced their new-found freedom of expression.
But let’s step back for a moment.
Around the same time the world wide web launched, a new short message service began, and in 1992, the first SMS text message was sent.
All through the rise of the web and then mobile, SMS kept up, albeit never really changing much beyond adding pictures and short multi-media clips.
But when social media hit the scene, the convergence could not have been timelier.
The brevity of SMS, combined with the casual nature of social media, was a perfect fit, and a new communication channel emerged called “chat.”
Today, arguably, the most significant player in the chat platform space is Facebook with its Messenger app.
With Billions of chat messages sent daily, businesses explored ways to commercialize those conversations.
In the end, the solution was not new; it was older than the Internet.
Chatterbots were created in the early 60s to test the conversational skills of those first computers.
Now called Chatbots, these evolved smart programs are capable of conversations rivalling that of a human.
Such conversational skills lend themselves to many “human” business applications, including customer service, support and even direct sales, for example.
Chatbots can now support a business’s entire customer journey from any smartphone.
And while a website should be part of a complete marketing plan …
A website is no longer a requirement!