There’s no questioning it, we’re living in the future. While our cars don’t fly, some of them do drive themselves, and while we don’t have robot maids like they did on The Jetsons, we do have roombas and voice assistants like Siri and Alexa. More and more, we find robots and artificial intelligence to be less science fiction and more rooted in our everyday reality. With that said, you may not be surprised to hear that AI can be just as helpful in your marketing as they are around the home. Let’s see how chatbots can play a part in your business.
“Bot” is Not a Bad Word
When you hear the word “bot” you might think of the stranger who commented, “Good style” with a heart emoji on a cat picture you posted on Instagram. The thought of someone masquerading as a person can leave some users a little unsettled. Is that what chatbots are? Not exactly. At their core, chatbots respond to user questions and offer help based on a previously programed set of situations. The best chatbots can assess trends and can anticipate user needs based on past experiences. Ideally, they are not just for sales, but another way for your customer to feel heard and connected to your brand. What has spurred this rise in bot popularity (or as they say in the tech community, bopularity)? The answer doesn’t lie in the bots themselves, but in us.
Chatbots and The Change In How We Communicate
If you received an email and a text message at the same time, which would you open first?
Text messages seem to generate a little more urgency than their more static counterparts. Messenger applications have outpaced social media app usage by a wide margin. If you want to reach your customers, you want to go where they are, and apparently they’re in a messaging app. One statistic shows that email marketing has about a 5-10% open rate compared to a Facebook Messenger blast sent by a chatbot which comes in at around 70-80%. Those numbers are definitely something to consider. In addition, in 2018 Facebook had at least 1.3 billion users on its platform. There’s a good chance you could be reaching more of your customer base directly by using a Facebook Messenger chatbot. While there are other bot options, Facebook Messenger is a good place to start your exploration of this new customer service device.
Barriers to Building
I know what you’re thinking, “Surely it must be difficult to build a chatbot! What kind of science degree would I need to make this possible?” Well, I’m happy to inform you that you will need no such degree. The only thing you will need is a visual chatbot builder, a program that will help you to create your chatbot without needing an extensive knowledge of code. There are several options, and some are actually free, so you may need to do a little research to see what fits your business and your budget. Here are a few popular builders to look into: ChatFuel, ManyChat, FlowXO, and MobileMonkey.
Some website builders, like wix.com, have onsite chatbot builders. While some separate chatbot builders allow a bot to be added to your webpage, the builder your site provides may allow for better integration for your needs. Having a chatbot on your page allows for your customers’ needs to be accommodated 24/7. That way, you can rest easy knowing their questions are being answered and your chatbot is making suggestions that generate leads when you can’t be there.
Transparency and Trust
While we have less problems with artificial intelligence helping us out these days, no one likes their own intelligence being insulted. When choosing introduction messages for your bot, it’s good to be upfront about what it is. Most people know they’re interacting with a program, but with the goal to be as conversational as possible, a good chatbot can be unintentionally deceiving. It’s actually illegal in California not to let people know they’re interacting with a chatbot.
Sometimes, there’s nothing like a human touch. Be sure there is an easy hand off to an actual person if your bot gets confused by what it’s being asked. Once your bot is up and running, anyone asking it a question on Facebook can be interacted with thereafter. If for some reason, someone decides they would prefer to stop getting messages from your bot and they send a message to opt out, you have to honor that. Your bot may be able to do this automatically.
Aside from answering frequently asked questions, a Facebook Messenger chatbot can alert people who have already interacted with it about blog posts, events or, in certain situations, promotions your business is running. The dynamic nature of the interaction results in a 75% open rate of these types of messages. You can also attach content, like videos or ebooks, directly so it is more easily accessible in the chat, rather than directing them to a different webpage like you might have to in an email. With so many possibilities linking you directly to your customers, it’s not hard to see why chatbots are being touted again and again as a major component in the future of business.
The world of chatbots is still growing, and will only get more intuitive as time goes on. Like any tool, they might not be the right fit for your business, however, it can never hurt to give them a closer look. You may find the future is looking bright!