In a world that’s increasingly reliant on automation, it’s no surprise that many businesses are turning to chatbots for help with running their companies.
Among consumers, however, chatbots have historically had a poor reputation. They’re remembered for their infancy, when they weren’t very good at conversing in a natural and organic way.
However, things have changed since MSN’s SmarterChild, and now, many of the best marketing ideas include the use of chatbots.
Customers are far less wary of interacting with a chatbot in 2021. A 2018 survey by Drift found 37% of consumers expected to use a chatbot to get quick answers to emergency queries, while 35% expected to use one to resolve a complaint or provide a detailed explanation about something.
From this, we can infer that customers may even be disappointed if chatbots aren’t used in these situations. Without them it’s likely their queries will take longer to be resolved.
With only 14% of those surveyed not expecting to be met with a chatbot in any of the scenarios presented in the chart, it’s clear that bots have become both an accepted and expected part of the online sales process.
Whatever field a business is in, it can markedly benefit from introducing chatbots to its customer engagement strategy. Here’s why.
How do chatbots work?
In essence, chatbots are automated to respond to messages. Their responses can always be the same or the bots can be tailored to send different answers depending on which keywords are picked up in their received messages.
In the development stage, the bot will have been programmed with conversational trees. This gives it every plausible message it could receive and the ideal response to use. Some chatbots use machine learning to develop their responses over time and adapt to the situation they’re in. This can make interacting with a bot an entertaining experience.
Chatbots are a form of marketing artificial intelligence (AI) which makes them both intriguing and daunting to many. But they really aren’t that scary!
Below are a few examples of how chatbots can be used in a business setting. We also discuss the benefits that introducing them to your marketing strategy will reap.
Chatbot marketing examples
Chatbots to answer FAQs
Your FAQ landing page is an easy place to implement a chatbot. Generally, if a customer ends up on an FAQ page, they’re looking for a quick answer to a simple query.
Moreover, if a potential customer is only curious about your company and a service agent suddenly starts speaking to them, they might get scared away. Chatbots are a lot less daunting and visitors won’t feel like they’re being forced into doing business with you.
Chatbots can be programmed with question options and their respective answers. This way, when a customer selects what question they want to ask, their answer arrives immediately.
Using a bot in such a situation reduces the risk of grammar mistakes in content marketing. Grammatical errors give off an unprofessional aura which may turn potential customers away.
For many people, interacting with your FAQs page will be their first point of contact with your business. Their experience here could make or break your relationship.
Chatbots for sales
This is a rather broad topic and covers everything from showing consumers current deals to letting them book an appointment.
For many customers, calling up a business can be too time-consuming. Most likely, they don’t wish to wait in a queue. With chatbots for these kinds of sales, customers feel more relaxed and can book an appointment at their convenience. Moreover, they won’t be put on hold by a bot.
The above chatbot marketing example of using a bot to book an appointment shows how simple the interaction is made for the client – they aren’t even required to type. The customer can communicate with your company even when you’re expected to be unavailable. This increases the times when you’re “open” to them.
Chatbots for customer service
Similar to the above examples, using a chatbot for customer service can simplify the process for your business and customer. Beginning the interaction with a chatbot makes the inquiry flow more smoothly because you can pass them to a suitable team member who can deal with their issue.
In the above example, Roof the real estate bot will have picked up on keywords such as “Montreal”, “$500k”, “February”, and perhaps “parking”. By gathering this information, the system then knows what customer service agent to pass the inquiry over to.
Using chatbots for customer service ensures the customer will not be passed around multiple agents. It eliminates customers repeating themselves until they find the relevant help.
Starting the conversation in a messenger chat also gives the customer the security of having their discussion permanently on record.
Chatbots for improving lead generation
Lead generation chatbots usually pop up in the bottom right corner of the webpage. Using bots for lead generation, you can collect the email address and/or phone number of visitors to the website.
If a visitor is interested enough in your services, they’ll release this information. You can then add their email address to a marketing mailing list. Now you have captured a warm lead, boosting your chances of this visitor becoming a future customer.
Once the bot has received this information, they can take it one step further and ask the visitor “how can I help you today?” Engaging with a potential customer is the first step to transforming them into a buyer.
Whether they take the bot up on the offer of help is up to them. But it’s always worth having the option. Lead generation chatbots are simple to implement, so this is a great way of introducing bots to your marketing strategy.
Chatbots for surveys
Surveys are hugely beneficial for helping businesses with their marketing strategies. However, it’s not always easy to get customers to participate. Allowing them to complete surveys through an automated messaging bot simplifies the activity, meaning it takes up less of their time and requires less effort.
The best way to invite customers to complete a survey is to send an automated message a little while after an interaction was completed (or not completed). Provide the customer with multiple choice answers (e.g. extremely satisfied to extremely dissatisfied) so they don’t have to type and the data can be easily categorized.
Sending the survey to customers who ended up doing business with you and those who eventually chose not to, allows you to find out where you’re going wrong and where you may be making marketing mistakes.
Benefits of using chatbots
There are many benefits to your business when you implement a chatbot. Here are a few of the more prominent ones.
Helps businesses to assess themselves
Using bots in this way can help your business with its SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is the process by which a company assesses its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
SWOT analysis for small businesses can be a particularly challenging endeavor, and one the information you receive from chatbots can help with.
If you discover your chatbots don’t provide customers with all the options they’re looking for, you have highlighted a weakness. On the other hand, if your bots always provide customers with the option they require, you have pinpointed a strength of your company’s eCommerce content strategy.
Saves on time and money
By getting bots to do a fair share of the work, your business can focus on using its resources elsewhere. Employees will have more time to spend on other aspects of the business. This could include attending hybrid meetings to share thoughts on how the business is going.
The money being saved on using reasonably priced chatbots leaves you with more money to allocate to other aspects of business management, such as implementing new SaaS marketing strategies.
Giving employees more chance to have their say on how a business is run will improve engagement. Mundane and repetitive tasks, such as answering the same FAQs all day, can demotivate a human colleague (but not a bot).
Modernizes the business
Cloud computing – i.e. services provided over the internet – has been a crucial development in how businesses run. It has enabled companies to collect huge amounts of data to help them improve their services.
Chatbots are an example of providing a cloud computing service. Alongside using DevOps practices, chatbots can significantly speed up processes. Chatbots can collect data at a much quicker rate than by a customer service agent.
Speedy processes and a large bank of data are two resources all modern businesses should have.
Opens up Facebook Messenger clients
Why is Messenger so important? Take a look at these stats.
- As of 2020, there were 1.3 billion active Facebook Messenger users – a number that’s expected to reach three billion by 2022.
- 49% of the U.S population uses Facebook Messenger.
- 80% of messages sent over Messenger are opened (whereas only 20% of emails are).
Given the popularity of Facebook Messenger, any customers you find through this platform are likely already familiar with Messenger chatbots and will be comfortable communicating with yours.
As Facebook Messenger users have their names publicly available, bots can personalize their messages to customers to better imitate a human-to-human conversation. For many consumers, this feeling of intimacy is a must for them to commit to a purchase.
Furthermore, Messenger allows chatbots to send products to customers. This way, transactions can be completed through the messaging platform. Allowing purchases (or appointments) to be made in the same location the customer asked for help reduces the chance of them losing interest as it requires minimal effort on their part.
Messenger provides such a large pool of potential customers that it would be ridiculous for business owners not to consider branching out into it.
Provides around the clock support
Business response times are one of the biggest frustrations customers face.
The above findings from Sprout Social show how poorly brands live up to customer expectations when it comes to response times.
By having bots available to immediately answer any question sent to your business, your brand response time will massively decrease, making it better align with customer expectations. It goes without saying that improving your average response time will improve your online reputation.
That isn’t all that around-the-clock support adds to your company. The secret to marketing success is to never stop. With chatbots, you don’t have to. Somebody could visit your website in the middle of the night and still be greeted by a customer service bot.
This out-of-hours service could be what makes a potential customer choose your business over a competitor. Perhaps they’re always busy from 9-5 so can never speak to a human agent. Provide them with a chatbot that can give them all the details they need at whatever time they require them. Servicing potential clients on their terms can draw them to your business.
It’s apparent that chatbots not only make marketing easier for businesses but make the customer service experience simpler and more convenient for consumers.
Trained to respond effectively and quickly to queries, chatbots can enhance the business-client relationship. Relationship marketing should be a crucial part of every business’s marketing strategy as it’s one of the most effective ways of increasing customer retention.
The speedy response times, automated help, and absence of phone calls that chatbots bring to customers are sure ways to improve customer relationships. In fact, 74% of U.S. adults feel more comfortable communicating with customer service via live chat than any other method.
Before chatbots become a part of every business, make sure your company invests in them. Using artificial intelligence to provide support to your customers will make you stand out against your competitors as both an innovative and professional option.
About the author
Marjorie Hajim is the SEO Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a leading cloud communications company that provides VoIP, video conferencing, and screen sharing services. She develops and executes strategies for short-term and long-term SEO growth. In her spare time, she loves reading books at coffee shops and playing with her dogs.