If you haven’t been living under a rock recently, then you must be familiar with the marketing buzzword – chatbots. While chatbots for marketing were once seen as uncharted territory, more and more brands are getting on board with bots.
Why? The answer is simple – conversational commerce is growing rapidly!
With over half of consumers seeking customer service through social media, today’s social bots can address their concerns around-the-clock. Chatbots are projected to save businesses billions by 2022 by streamlining customer service and bot-based commerce. And if you think that bots are too “cold” or impersonal for your customer-base, think again. In fact, 69% of consumers prefer communicating with chatbots because they offer speedy answers and solutions.
What is chatbot marketing?
Chatbot marketing is the practice of using bots to engage your prospects and customers, either on your website or in your app, for the purpose of generating sales. Just like how you can use chatbot marketing to answer support questions, you can use chatbots to start conversations with website visitors, qualify leads, and even upsell customers.
While messenger chatbots aren’t powered by a human, they are built by one. They send your leads and potential customers the exact messages you want them to see based on rules you define. So, for example, if you want your bot to only appear to website visitors who aren’t signed in, you can do that. Or if you want it to appear to visitors who aren’t signed in and have been viewing your pricing page for longer than 30 seconds, you can do that, too.
Get started on your chatbot marketing strategy
Use these 10 tips to get started on your chatbot marketing strategy.
1) Research your most frequently asked questions
One of the first things to consider with your bot is the content that it’ll contain. Let’s take one of our favourite chatbot use cases as an example: a customer service bot. If the aim of the bot is to help customers and deliver speedy responses, then we suggest looking at the most frequently asked questions of your brand to see what content makes sense to start with.
To find these FAQs, there are a couple of great places to look:
- Your customer service team. They likely will have a heap of questions off the top of their head that they hear from customers all day.
- Your social media support team, your community team, or your social media manager. Whoever does the engagement on your social profiles should have a good handle of common questions that come in through mentions and DMs.
- Your sales and marketing teams will have a pulse on what types of questions they see as customers progress through the funnel. This could look like common sales questions that reps face, or it could be questions that your content marketers are seeking to answer.
2) Build your bot its very own conversation tree
Chatbots work best when given a concrete set of questions to answer. Without a certain level of specificity and pre-planning, then it becomes infinitely harder for a chatbot to deliver a believable experience — much less the right answer.
This is why a conversation tree works so well. Picture a gigantic flowchart or a mindmap. Beginning with the initial hello from the bot and its very first “ask” of the user, you branch off from there, building the conversation flows for every different direction the conversation may turn.
3) Avoid fully open-ended conversations
Open-ended conversations can lead to confusion for your bot and a poor experience for the user. If you don’t have the luxury of highly-advanced language processing, then an open-ended question like “how can we help you today” could go any number of directions.
If you take a look at some of the messaging bots on Facebook, most of the bot’s first messages to the user is an offering of a menu of choices: “Here are some common questions I can answer”.
Options include things like:
- How does it work?
- What does it cost?
- Are you gluten-free?
- Are you vegan?
- Give me a discount!
The user can choose any of these statements by tapping on them in the Messenger interface. Then the bot will respond with an automated reply. This takes the guesswork out of the bot’s replies since it knows exactly what to say to exactly which message it receives.
4) Let people know that a human is just a step away
One of the most interesting stats we’ve seen about chatbots is that people aren’t nearly as turned off by them as you’d think. 69% of consumers prefer communicating with chatbots versus in-app support. People love speedy answers to their problems.
That being said, that leaves 31% of consumers who might prefer the old-fashioned way — email or social support. This can be baked into your bot experience, too. Simply let people know as part of the bot’s welcome messages that the user is invited to get in touch with a human at any time.
5) Give your bot a voice and a warm welcome message
Just like you do with the way you write as your brand on social media, you’ll want to think about the voice and tone of your chatbot as well. Perhaps this is simply a natural extension of your brand’s voice and tone.
Other companies choose to lean into the “bot-ness” by making the voice a bit more obviously robotic. Whatever you choose is entirely up to you. Just stay consistent with it throughout your conversation tree. One of the most important places to nail this voice and tone is in the opening message from your bot.
Also, look to include things like:
- A catchy hello
- Expectation-setting (let people know they’re talking with a bot)
- A solid first question with plenty of options to capture as many possible user journeys as you can
6) Track the effectiveness of your bot
One of the biggest questions you probably will have with your chatbot is … is this thing working?
“Working” can mean a lot of different things. If you’re using chatbots to minimise your customer support volume, then that’s an easy metric to check. If you’re wanting to measure the effectiveness of education, marketing, or sales, then it can be invaluable to track the bot’s success with measurable links and codes. You can do this by creating a coupon code specifically for the bot (for example, BOT50). Give it a UTM source of chatbot and you can measure the clicks and traffic that come from the bot, as well as track the UTM all the way through your customer journey.
You may even end up measuring ROI from the bot, which would be incredible!
7) Replace your email newsletters with chatbot newsletters
We’ve talked a lot about how great a chatbot can be for incoming requests. But how about outbound? There is a lot of room to experiment here. And one of the prime places is using your bot as a content delivery system.
For instance, on Facebook Messenger, any time someone talks to you through the messenger, they are added to your contact list. You can set up a chatbot to ask these folks to opt in to hear regular updates and announcements from you, then — voila! — you’ve just built a subscriber list on your messenger bot.
Some estimates say that chatbot newsletters generate a 70 – 80% engagement rate.
8) Send simple surveys to your contacts
With the high engagement rate with bots, you also have a good chance of getting your message noticed for surveys. It can be notoriously hard when surveying folks via email or on a website or app to get a high volume of responses. It’s a bit easier with bots.
Similar to the email newsletter tip above, with surveys, you first ask people to opt in to hear from you, then you can message them occasionally with a short and simple survey.
9) Enrich your bot with data and personalisation
Check out this list of powerful chatbot superpowers:
- Universal Studios tells you the wait time for rides
- Marriott can tell you room availability
- CheapFlights tells you the best options for your dates and your price range
- Domino’s lets you order pizza!
These are all possible because of the big data that these brands pipe into their bots. If you’re not quite at this scale yet, no worries. You can dip your toe in the water by anticipating the most common questions of your customers and doing your best to fill in your bot with details. Simple things like hours of operations, daily deals, etc. can make for a delightful experience.
There’s also the matter of personalisation. Many tools allow you to personalise the chat experience with variables like first names or locations.
10) Make sure to promote your chatbot so people know you have one
This one might seem obvious, but it’s perhaps one of the most important tips we’ve covered so far. Your bot will only be successful if people find it and use it. So get the word out!
This can happen organically as people visit your Facebook page and are routed to you on Messenger.
A couple of our favourite ways of promotion are:
- Mentioning your bot in a list of all your customer support channels
- Adding a call-to-action on your blog or website to get in touch with you
- Advertising on social for people to opt-in to your bot experience
Although chatbots might have been seen as little more than a novelty in the past, times are quickly changing.
More specifically, our customers are changing.
The speedy service offered by bots is exactly what people crave in the era of instant gratification. Rather than let customer concerns or potential sales fall by the wayside, social chatbots can pick up the slack and keep your business “open” around the clock.
If you want to learn more about what bots can do for your business, we definitely recommend you check out our one-day introductory course on chatbot marketing to help you get started on integrating chatbots into your marketing strategy.