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Following its success with Slack, Harvard Business Review expands bot strategy

Harvard Business Review last week launched their new bot on Facebook Messenger, building on their success with a similar bot on Slack. The aim is to increase the number people having regular, frequent interactions with HBR to ultimately have them subscribe and/or up loyalty.

“Our focus has been on how we increase the number of people having very regular, frequent interactions with HBR content,” according to Walt Frick, senior editor. “We know that that’s one of the biggest predictors of getting people to subscribe, and so, we thought a lot about what are the daily, or at least, weekly interactions people could have with HBR content that might introduce them to the brand, and potentially get them to subscribe.”

In the last year and a half, Harvard Business Review has been focusing on chat as a platform to reach their audience and new audiences. “We think these are really great opportunities for people to have regular interaction with our content,” Frick said.

As a platform, Facebook Messenger appealed because of its scale and potential HBR audience. “And, it’s an intimate interaction in the sense that you get a mobile notification when we send you a message and you’re interacting with us in a channel that you would otherwise be messaging with friends,” he said. “The overall hope is you sign up and every morning you’ll get the latest articles from HBR sent to you in that chat channel, with a notification on your phone.”

The new bot is aimed at a couple of different audiences, Frick explained: at the existing Harvard Business Review subscriber audience who are loyal and highly-engaged, and also at a broader audience who are not yet paying subscribers but working professionals who are interested in what HBR has to say.

These bots (Slack and FB Messenger) are the first step in bot-evolution for the Harvard Business Review, according to Frick.

“Our first step has been, let’s go to these chat platforms we know people are already using, where we know there are significant audiences, including people who interact with us in other ways, and let’s do what we already know how to do very well, which is take high-quality content and share it with those audiences in ways they find interesting and compelling.”

Currently, they’re taking baby steps rather than giant leaps with their bots, Frick explained. “Content delivery is something we know we can do very well from the get-go, so that’s where we started,” he said. “So far, our focus has been on the fact we can tie frequency to subscription.”

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