CANNES — Would you let a bot do your marketing for you? Ben Parr thinks you should – and so do the investors who just gave $1.6mn to the startup he founded to convince you.

Parr, a former Mashable writer, co-founded Octane AI last year, to help brands deploy AI-powered chatbots that can interact with customers and prospects for marketing.

Why chatbots? “Businesses spent millions of dollars communicating with customers … yet those people are spending less and less time on email and social and more time on messaging,” Parr tells Beet.TV, in this video interview.

“Three billion people use messaging apps. Businesses will have to figure out a messenger marketing strategy.”

So, what would a marketing strategy run through a bot look like? More real-time and a lot more engaging, Parr says.

“Run campaigns like you would with MailChimp (through email), but, instead of being a one-way conversation, ti would go back and forth,” he says.”

About 7,000 businesses already use Octane AI bots to interact with audiences, including acts of music labels Universal and Warner.

But Octane AI doesn’t want to just power bot chat as an adjunct to marketing activity that remains run out of email strategy. Parr wants to demonstrate that chatbots should become the default way businesses engage with audiences, and is adding features that echo some of the bigger email marketing automation suites, like targeting, segmentation and customized messages based on an understanding of recipient preferences.

“You’re going to see, in the next few months, more ecommerce integrations – you’ll be able to directly sell items through the bot,” Parr adds. “Drip campaigns, follow-up messages and receipts could all be done through messaging.”