Chatbots have come a long way in the last few years. Gone are the clunky bots that couldn’t understand you and had very little practical use.
Today’s bots are sleek, smart, and useful– in fact, 47% of consumers would buy a product from a chatbot.
So what do chatbots do?
They help brands level up their customer service, automate basic functions, improve user experience and — of course– improve engagement and conversion rates despite ever-changing social media algorithms and increased competition.
People like bots– they are easy to use and don’t need any setup. In fact, your customers would rather use a chatbot than an app.
Seeing that chatbot marketing is hot stuff (and only getting hotter,) it’s a good idea to examine its benefits and limitations. But first, it’s time to answer the big question.
What are chatbots?
Chatbots are software you can talk to. Some are pre-programmed to answer specific questions, like Slack’s Slackbot.
Other more advanced bots, like Capital One’s Eno— a smart personal banker-style bot that helps you manage your account through chat– are powered by machine learning. This type of bot learns from every interaction and measurably improves overtime.
Bots are used around the web, on websites, social media, and in messaging apps. Facebook messenger has a whole host of bots, developed specifically for the platform.
These bots are designed to increase platform functionality and help users do specific things without ever exiting their favorite app.
The benefits of using chatbots in your marketing strategy
Making chatbots an active part of your marketing strategy has certain notable benefits.
1. Create a better customer experience
Using a chatbot lets you provide a personalized customer experience that feels natural.
Use chatbots to guide people to products in messenger apps, help them navigate your site, and create a hyper-personalized user experience with your brand.
Chatbots on your site can help you start a conversation with visitors and offer help. Or, you can run specific bots on certain pages, like an order page or contact us page, to guide the user through the process and improve your conversion rates.
Marketing doesn’t stop with customer acquisition– you’ve got to keep people engaged. Bots are great for keeping customers happy by making time-consuming tasks easier.
For example, Capital One’s chatbot Eno helps customers manage their finances by texting the bot. The process feels faster and more convenient than logging into your account or opening up the app– it’s like having your own personal banker on call at all times.
You can also use chatbots to track and analyze customer purchase data. With this insider’s look at behavior, you can tweak and re-target current campaigns based on specific behavior patterns and increase conversions.
2. Provide 24/7 customer support
Most customer inquiries can be solved quickly. You can use chatbots to answer FAQs and guide users through common processes and provide quick and efficient 24/7 customer service.
No more waiting on the phone or sending endless emails to the support team– just get your queries sorted in real-time by a bot.
KLM’s Blue Bot answers customer inquiries, helps them book flights, and guides them through the whole process from reservation to boarding, supporting the customer service team while giving customers a quick, easy way to solve problems.
By using chatbots to take over simple inquiries, you free up your sales and customer service teams to deal with complex situations that need the human touch.
3. Increase interest in your products
Disney used a chatbot back in 2016 to market their new film Zootopia. They created a bot version of one of the main characters. With the bot’s help, you solved a mystery and watched a teaser trailer based on your answers. The experience was fun and personal.
The team believes the film’s success was partially due to the incredibly clever marketing and the bot’s well-developed personality that led to the campaign going viral.
You can use this type of personality-driven bot to match customers up with specific products or content.
4. Create a seamless cross-platform experience
Because social media marketing is so prevalent, and customers engage with your brand on social media, bots that talk on social media can keep the experience in-app. Jumping from app to app to do what you want to isn’t exactly fun. However, using a bot that works within the app to get all kinds of stuff done makes for a seamless experience.
Part of WeChat’s incredible success is due to the superb in-app bots and integrations. Find out which messenger app your ideal customer uses and create a bot that helps them browse and order without ever leaving their favorite platform. This will set you apart from your competitors and give you an edge.
5. Streamline your marketing process
Chatbots can help you streamline your marketing funnel. You can use bots at various stages, from marketing research all the way to acquisition.
Use bots to help with marketing surveys and research by walking customers through a questionnaire in a personalized way that feels more human than not. Or, deploy an in-app bot like Domino’s Facebook bot to make ordering super easy.
While they are pretty awesome, chatbots don’t replace humans. They help automate basic tasks and allow your team to focus on creative work.
A good chatbot isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it deal. Bots need regular testing and updating, based on up-to-date user data. A bot’s success relies on various members of your team– from developers to sales, customer service and marketing team members– working together to create something that solves key customer problems.
And you’ll still need human customer service. Chatbots are designed to help customers solve small issues quickly by guiding them to the right answer. A well-designed bot will know when to give the option of escalating the matter to a human.
Bots are definitely not a one-stop solution. A chatbot, much like a landing page, should have a clear singular purpose. You need to define the exact problem it solves for the customer then figure out different ways customers interact with it. A chatbot needs to be flexible– doubtless upon release users will find different ways to talk to it. That’s why you need to be ready to tweak it as your user base grows.
Chatbot marketing and you
Chatbot marketing creates the chance for real, personalized marketing without hiring a huge team. It’s an opportunity to provide the kind of VIP level service that was previously only available to super high priced brands.
But this new technology is not immune to abuse. The bots you use to market your brand need to solve real problems– they’ve gotta make the user experience better in a real, measurable way or users will ditch them.