The Bot World: A Marketer’s Guide to Chatbots
“Hello! What may I do for you?”
The jury is out: chatbots are here to stay. From customer service to sales, AI-led software has become mainstream in business communication. With almost a quarter of the world’s population using chatbots for support as of the end of 2019 (as per Chatbots Magazine) and an estimated $5 billion investment in this technology expected by 2021, it is obvious that this powerful tool is only going to grow. With most companies offering remote service, there is an increased demand for conversational automation which chatbots fulfill.
While chatbots have been fairly pervasive in customer service, they have proven to be a great tool for marketers too. Tech firms, ranging from e-commerce to ride-hailing and foodservice giants, have been using bot automation to up their marketing game.
If they can do it, there is no reason why you cannot rock a bot marketing strategy for your business.
But Hey, What is Bot Marketing?
Simply put, bot marketing is automating steps in the marketing process with the help of a chatbot. From initiating conversation with a customer to solving issues, marketing bots are a lot like customer service bots. Only, they take it up a notch: instead of playing wingman to an agent, a marketing bot can often be the main dude who plugs in suitable products while messaging or dropping hints about big news. Chatbots can do all of this without any human support and here’s the best part – they can do so without coming on too strong.
Marketing bots are often programmed to pick up on certain triggers and act only when the customer is ready to engage. This makes them very human-like, and in some ways, better. In 2017, Statista research found that 34% of customers favored an artificial intelligence bot to a human in online retail situations because of the quick and near-accurate responses they provided.
AI-based chatbots are a powerful arsenal for digital marketers. They are direct, available round the clock, and often provide clear and measurable performance. One way to look at chatbots in marketing is as a nurturing device. For instance, say a customer reaches out to your business on Facebook Messenger with a purchase-related query. In the absence of chatbot integration with Facebook Messenger, the customer may have to wait for an agent to pick up that chat. Who knows how long that may take? A bot would respond to the customer right away and provide at least a basic answer, thereby keeping the conversation going. This improves customer satisfaction and engagement.
Whereabouts to Use These Bots?
Any digital space where a customer is likely to come across your business is a great real estate for a chatbot. Usually, websites and social media are the main channels of communication.
Your website is your virtual store. Yet, websites usually generate less than 10% conversions. As in the real world, people are often window shoppers even in the virtual space. Brick-and-mortar stores rely on window displays and chatty executives to engage such customers. A chatbot on your website can assume this role. AI bots can detect passersby and nudge them towards a product or service they may need. Bots can provide specific information, guidance, and discounts that keep customers coming back for more.
Musafir, a UAE-based premium travel services company, increased website engagement by 40% after incorporating Freshchat’s conversational solution on their website. Switching from a reactive conversation strategy to a proactive, trigger-based chatbot solution helped them keep visitors on their website longer.
On Messaging Apps
On average, a person spends two hours and 24 minutes on social media. Facebook still has 1.4 billion active users every day. Given the frequent use of social media channels, integrating bots into apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or even Apple Business Chat can be a smart way to market to customers. Marketing via messaging apps is a better and cheaper way to replace drip campaigns, which can often be a drain on resources. The immediacy and conversational tone on social media and messaging apps make for more lasting connections rather than incessant calls or emails. Open rates also tend to be significantly higher on messaging apps compared to emails.
Musafir, once alien to WhatsApp engagement, now handles 560 WhatsApp conversations on average with customers after partnering with Freshchat, benefiting from the speed, efficiency, and support of bot-integrated workflows.
How Exactly Can Chatbots Help with Marketing?
Let’s get one thing clear – chatbots will not replace humans. They can, however, fill in the gaps. For one, bots are always available. They’re quick to respond, consistent, and make the lives of both customers and businesses considerably easier.
Here’s how you can use chatbots as part of your marketing strategy:
Generate Leads Using In-Chat Cues
Often, customers need a little encouragement to go through with a purchase. A proactive bot can engage in conversation with a visitor to nudge them to complete an order sitting in their cart or simply to create interest. Contextually-smart bots can gather whether a person is a passerby, a cold, or a warm lead. Chatbots are a little like automated concierge assistants: they organically steer the conversation to make the user experience easy and provide numerous additional services like booking appointments or setting up reminders. Integrating proactive messaging, call-to-action features, and triggered responses as chatbot features can go a long way in successful lead conversion.
For instance, PoundIt, an e-commerce startup, increased chat to conversion rate by 50% after incorporating Freshchat’s integrated chatbot solutions.
Personalize the Experience for Each Visitor
Imagine a marketer addressing a customer with the wrong name or pronoun. Disastrous first impression! Chatbots have the advantage of stored memory. After the initial greetings and getting acquainted, AI-bots store all chat information from visitors like their age, geography, past preferences, and behaviors. This can be leveraged to offer personalized services in the future. For instance, a restaurant chatbot that stores customer eating preferences will be able to differentiate between vegetarian and meat-eating customers and provide appropriate recommendations.
Collect Ammunition to Improve Service
Data can be a powerful ally for marketers. When you know your customer, you can design offerings poised for success. Chatbots have an ear to the ground. Integrating chatbots with your CRM and lead management systems can help you use key information to create targeted campaigns. From product or service preferences to their favored channel of communication, data collected from chatbot conversations can improve marketing, sales as well as business prospects. At a broader level, chatbots can also provide valuable market, demographic and geographic insights.
Nurture Leads Through Relationship-Building
Chatbots can be efficient trust-building tools. Programming chatbots to make small talk with visitors, conversing in multiple languages, and using emojis, GIFs or images at the right time can help build a fluid relationship. When a customer is comfortable with your brand, they are more likely to turn to you first. Freshchat helps cultivate client relationships via a number of options like conversing in over 35 languages on live chat, sharing images, GIFs, or videos, and collecting constant feedback.
Offer Additional Support
The longer a visitor spends on your website, the more likely they are to find something that catches their eye. A chatbot can keep your customers engaged and provide relevant information that could encourage them to explore. Suggesting topics of interest, blogs, or via other creative methods, like a quiz perhaps, chatbots can gently nudge them towards other products too. Brand engagement is important in marketing. Chatbots can do that with ease.
Utilize Cross-Platform and Omni-Channel Communication
Everyone knows the saying “out of sight, out of mind”. A key responsibility of a marketer is to ensure that customers do not forget your brand. Social media ads do the trick to an extent, but with the deluge of brands that exist on digital platforms, customers need to keep engaging with a brand to remember. Automated chatbots make it easy to reach out to leads via WhatsApp, iMessage, or other chat apps. Send out periodic reminders of offers or product launches to refresh customers’ memories.
Upsell and Cross-Sell Using Triggers
Every interaction opens up avenues for upselling and cross-selling. Even customer service interactions can be converted into sales opportunities. Yet, as with everything, timing is key. A trigger-based chatbot can identify when a customer may be ready for an upsell or cross-sell. A customer making a complaint about a SaaS payroll software may not be a good target for the new SaaS compliance product you are rolling out. However, a customer asking a question on it could be a likely lead.
Pass on The Baton
Good communication should be seamless. If your chatbot is unable to answer a customer’s question, beating around the bush is not going to help. You may succeed in keeping the customer on your site longer but may lose them in the long run because of inefficient support. AI bots can be programmed to quickly identify when they are unable to solve an issue and pass the baton on to a live agent. Customers will appreciate the promptness.
Make Customers Your Advocates
Word-of-mouth has been the most effective marketing tool for centuries. Esteban Kolsky, the CEO of Thinkjar, a customer research firm, has said that 72% of consumers share a positive business experience with six or more people. Use your chatbots to find out what your customers think of you. A simple rating feature on chatbots makes it easy for customers to rate your service. Incorporating a survey or testimonial request, providing discounts and offers in exchange for referrals, and other incentives can encourage your customers to become your cheerleaders.
Freshchat at Your Command
Now that you know the wondrous ways chatbots can support your marketing endeavors, let us help you get started!
Freshchat has powered millions of conversations for businesses of all shapes and sizes, delighting and engaging customers along the way. Freddy, our super-smart and friendly bot, understands intent and answers questions with precision, leaving customers satisfied and happy. From proactive, triggered-based messaging to non-intrusive push notifications, Freshchat can keep the conversation going with your customers.
We know how that works – we’ve been using chatbots for our marketing efforts ourselves! Tried and tested in-house, we recommend only the best solutions for you! Give it a go to see what our chatbots can do for your marketing!
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