Oh, and by the way... what is a chatbot?
The last few years have seen enormous changes within the marketing world, especially in the digital space. If you haven’t been doing any marketing for your business lately, then at the moment it’s kind of ‘blink’ and the next new thing has arrived.
Of course, some of these new things come on fast and leave just as quickly. However, those of you who still think Facebook is a ‘fad’ and will pass...we probably need to chat.
Chatbots are one of those newer things to hit digital marketing. They’re a few years old, but still a relatively under-utilised tool in the business world.
So what is a chatbot?
It’s essentially a digital tool that is capable of holding conversations with humans (or other bots) through text style messages. Generally, they’re connected to Facebook Messenger, but we are seeing them expand to other platforms. Businesses often use them to sell products and services, or to engage with an existing client base.
Think of them as your ‘on-duty manager’ when you can’t respond to messages. However, they’re actually capable of far more than that.
Chatbots are a monumental transformation in the way people can communicate with your business, as well as how they can purchase your products and services. They're conversation-driven, can help you direct traffic to drive a call to action and can be a mean customer support tool.
So what can a chatbot really do for your business?
Make purchases: Visitors to your website or social channels can make purchases directly through a chatbot. If someone is looking to buy a product or service, or maybe make an appointment at 2 am in the morning, but they have a burning question first...this is where you can remove the block. You can take them on a ‘pick your own story’ option to get their question answered and hopefully take the next step to engage with you on a call to action.
Customer support: When looking for live chat assistance, customers almost always ask the same set of questions. Having a team member responding to the same questions, again and again, is unnecessary and wasteful - especially when chatbots can handle that job better. You can improve the answers over time, especially as you gather more information.
Keep in mind that only about 20% of queries are beyond chatbots - and the percentage keeps decreasing. Even if the query can’t be handled by the chatbot, you have their contact information and a human can respond when the team is back online.
Suggest products and services: Chatbots are an excellent way to promote products and services to subscribers, based on previous purchases. You can deliver reminders to purchase when products run out or even remind them to book an appointment.
Upselling: Ever been asked to upsize your McDonald's order? Same principle here. Chatbots can suggest products related to what a customer purchased or is purchasing, and encourage them to increase the size of their order with another similar or complementary product or service.
Share valuable information or resources: Chatbots can also be a way to share your content or other valuable resources. Nurturing your audience with educational content can remind them about what you do, as well as deliver timely reminders that you exist - hopefully just at the right time when they need your product or service.
But what about marketing with chatbots? How can that benefit my business?
Chatbots have much lower costs than employees. They require an initial investment to set up, plus an ongoing maintenance cost...but still cheaper than a human.
They can also take a much higher workload than a human while working every hour of the week. They can be online when you’re sleeping and they only pull you in when you need to get involved. They are the resource that makes sure you don’t lose out on an opportunity, just because you’re not online.
Using a chatbot for specific tasks or driving leads can free up team members to do more meaningful work in your business.
What about sales funnels?
Saving resources is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what a chatbot can accomplish. Their capacity to turn traffic into leads, then leads into customers, is their secret power.
By personalising their interaction with each person, they can push traffic down the sales funnel very effectively. Whether someone is solution aware and just wants to take action, or solution unaware and needs to gather more information - there is a traffic path for everyone.
For example, a well-created chatbot will not offer products or services to new visitors because they haven’t reached the final parts of the sales-funnel yet, and therefore aren’t ready to make a purchase. Instead, it will target new visitors with a response that is more appropriate and customised to their position in the funnel, such as providing useful information or news.
This personalised way of interacting makes chatbots very effective and potentially high-converting.
What about my existing clients or customers?
I’m so glad you asked! It’s always far easier to convert an existing client or customer to purchase again than convert a cold lead into a warm one. That even extends to asking for referrals - they know and like you, so they will send people to you if you ask. Keeping your existing audience happy is an important one.
Chatbots are an unbelievable upgrade to the customer service experience. They give visitors an accessible, effective, and - most notably - an incredibly quick way to connect with your business and get problems solved.
More than ever, people want quick and immediate solutions. Having a fast service is not a luxury anymore, it’s an expectation.
So how could they actually work in your business?
When thinking about where a chatbot could go, the most salient place is on your website. Your website is your digital ‘home base,’ it’s where customers usually go first to reach your brand, and that often makes it the perfect spot for a chatbot.
Some examples of how they might work:
- A potential client wants to book an appointment and the bot asks some questions to work out what sort of appointment they might need
- Your client has a query about accessing some information (it’s 2 am and they’re online because they can’t sleep) - the bot engages with them and you now know to call the client tomorrow with the details
- A client has referred someone to your business and the bot takes them down an engagement path, so you can gather information and see if they might be the right fit for your business
Social media platforms are also increasingly becoming a source of sales and leads. So a potential client or customer might come to your business via social platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It might be as a result of engaging with organic social media content, or possibly an online ad. Here’s a typical scenario of how a chatbot on your Facebook profile might work:
You’ve decided it’s time to start making enquiries about getting some financial advice in place. Its 9 pm and you’ve finally sat down on the lounge. After following up on some referrals you got, you have two potential advice practices that offer financial advice, but only one has a Facebook chatbot. You have two options:
- Make a phone call tomorrow or send an email now (and hope they get it)
- Engage with the chatbot to see if you’re a fit and book an appointment tonight - then it’s off your ‘to do’ list
If you prefer phoning or emailing, then both businesses have a chance to hear from you.
But if you’re the kind of person that prefers to get a job done and off your place, the second option will be more attractive. Because you’re time-poor and want an answer now - or at least a meeting booked - the advice business that lacked a chatbot just missed out.
Chatbots aren’t AI, nor are they humans.
Installing a chatbot in your business will not be a substitute for the valuable humans in your team. However, they can fill a gap in your business that is designed to move potential clients from A to B or to nurture existing clients more efficiently. They can also provide you with a valuable process to filter potential leads and evolve your business from the data you can collect.
They aren’t a fad that will disappear. Their capabilities will only continue to improve, as will their availability on more social platforms.
The only question now is...are you ready to embrace the future?
Contact us if you are.