For the past decades, artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies have been rapidly and constantly developing. They are no longer a new unknown phenomenon even for simple folks, as they have found their applications in the most common areas of our daily life.
Chatbots have become a go-to tool for marketers to support their digital marketing approach. That comes as no surprise, as in fact, more than half of customers prefer live assistance through live chats.
In this article, we will tackle the most important aspects of using chatbots in your strategy, so you can discover new horizons to make your campaign even more successful.
What are chatbots?
Chatbots are computer programs that imitate a real human conversation based on preset algorithms and artificial intelligence. From the customer’s point of view, a chatbot is hard to tell from an ordinary consultant.
From the perspective of your company, however, chatbots are a full-fledged marketing tool that supports customers while leading them through a sales funnel. From communicating with clients to tracking their experience – chatbots can perform almost as well as a few full-time staff.
Let us discover how exactly they can help you and your customers.
What chatbots can do for digital marketing
1. Automate your marketing process
Automation is what any AI-powered creation is primarily supposed to do. Many routine conversational activities require too much time and effort, and the marketing process is no different. Suppose you are pushing a special offer online in the usual social media channels: you’ve paid adverts running on the big platforms. You also have to have a system in place to respond to the incoming traffic, traffic which can be much more complex than simply purchases.
Chatbots can handle the initial conversation with your potential clients 24-hours-a-day, resolve their issues or even provide simple tech support. That is a huge piece of work, isn’t it? For example, a small photo processing company photoretouchingservices.net, which offers service all over the world, experienced difficulties in maintaining communication with responses to their digital marketing campaign during out of office hours. They integrated a chatbot and completely cut third-party support costs at night. At the same time, the chatbot also lead to a customer acquisition increase of 3.7% compared to their website without the chatbot.
Setting up a chatbot to carry the routine workload of your digital marketing campaign leaves you space and time to take care of other parts of your digital marketing campaign. Among other matters, you can consider additional ways to promote your product or service or interact with partners. Why don’t you take your time and read more about how to send sponsored blog posts?
2. Improve Your Service
Typically, the chatbot appears as a tiny window in the corner of your page and it can make a great contribution to the quality of your service and your clients’ satisfaction. Those arriving at your website or Facebook page, etc. do not even need to click through to other pages to find the products or solutions that have brought them to you as a result of your digital marketing campaign.
You will most likely lose customers if you do not provide them with comprehensive and quick answers. Lightning-fast and accurate response around the clock is what chatbots can offer. And having a chatbot option does not mean your leads must be dealt with automatically. Many digital marketing campaigns bring the customer to a chatbot in the first instance, but also, in the event the chatbot cannot satisfy the customer, they can redirect a client to a human operator.
3. Chatbots engage customers before & after sales
Customer engagement is something marketers constantly puzzle over. Reaching out to a potential client is the first step on their way to that person becoming your lead. Traditionally, digital marketing campaigns have relied heavily on sending out email to large numbers of people. With chatbots there are now a new option. Several chatbot companies offer a feature whereby the chatbot can ‘broadcast’ to all those who (with privacy and GDPR in mind) have allowed for communication with you after visiting your website or Facebook page. And even better than email, the engagement is two-way. The customer doesn’t just learn of your offer, but is invited to chat to the bot to find out more.
Even if the recipient has no intention to buy something, receiving a friendly greeting and an invitation to chat is something quite different to receiving email. It warms your heart, even if you realize it is a bot. Especially if the chatbot asks the right question, you will most likely engage in conversation. Metrics show, in fact, that not only are the majority of people willing to talk to a chatbot, they are more inclined to do so than to a human sales agent. Perhaps because they know they can control the time spent in the conversation, or perhaps from a preference for anonymity.
Post-sale customer engagement can also be helpful. Based on the previous purchase, your chatbot can offer a similar product or service. Another way to keep users engaged is to promote an upcoming event or release via the chatbot broadcast feature.
4. New, rich data: the hidden value of your chatbot digital marketing campaign
To get more leads and improve your brand in general, you need to collect data about your clients’ behaviour. Having a chatbot, you do not need additional analytical tools and extra time to do this work. There’s no need to design surveys or provide special offers to incentivise customers to give feedback.
While communicating with visitors, chatbots receive all information needed to track users’ experience, buying patterns, and consumer behaviour. These monitoring results are essential to finding out what people like more about your product and improve your strategy. For many companies, this data is extremely valuable. Large companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon see data as their biggest asset.
5. Chatbots save your money
With so many digital marketing activities that chatbots can do, there is no need for a large staff to cover reaching out, lead acquisition, form completions, FAQs, order tracking, etc. Programmed and automated, chatbots can often perform even better than a real person with his or her nature, good and bad days, or simply tiredness. A chatbot is always on script!
Nor, with a chatbot, do you need to retain a third-party call answering service or dedicated staff with all that implies for monthly expenses. Having once invested in a chatbot, you will save a considerable sum. Luckily, there are a lot of platforms which provide a chatbot builder service at very competitive rates or even for free if your IT team have the capacity to build their own.
6. Digital marketing chatbots can learn
AI-powered chatbots work by the principle of machine learning. That means they can learn and improve their conversations on the grounds of their experience. Feedback from previous conversations is looped around to strengthen the results of the algorithm through which the chatbot is analysing sentences. In this way, chatbots can very quickly achieve near human accuracy in their conversations with customers.
Even a manual update on a daily or weekly basis, retraining the key Natural Language Processing models will make a significant difference to the user experience. And it is easy to A/B test different digital marketing messages via chatbot. The powerful analytics mentioned above mean that you can identify which approach is generating the most interest and which interactions (moments in the conversation) are bringing about conversations. This feature alone makes chatbots a great addition to your marketing process.
Mistakes to avoid in chatbots for digital marketing
If you decide to implement a chatbot on your website, you need to do it correctly. Here are the five most commons mistakes you will want to avoid to get the most out of your chatbots.
- You have no strategy in your mind. There is a tsunami of buzz around the advent of AI in digital marketing. Everyone without it feels left out. Yet just rushing to implement a conversational AI experience for the user can be a great waste of energy and time. The best chatbot digital marketing campaigns are those with a narrow, clearly defined scope and whose goals match the kinds of deliverables that chatbots are good at (e.g. lead generation outside of office hours; acquisition of user data; A/B testing; etc).
- Unclear user experience. Why should the user engage with your chatbot? You know the answer, but do they? With a thought-out response to this question, you can avoid this mistake. Your visitors need to know what they will get after contacting your chatbot. Define the main functions of your bot and put them down in the description, so people will not get confused.
- Your chatbots are too spammy. Unfortunately, this is quite a common mistake. Your bot should support your visitors, not discourage them. Too many messages or inappropriate placement at every moment in the conversation can lead to losing your potential customers.
- Lack of bot management. It is crucial to test your bot before launching it on your website or social media channel. Additionally, in the first few days, it is important to have a manager monitoring the conversations who can make edits to support the chatbot when something goes wrong. AI is a powerful tool, but if you have misaligned a conversational connection the most powerful AI in the world won’t be able to rescue the conversation. Once it is clear that everything is running as it should be then the human management can drop away.
- You do not analyze chatbot performance. Once you have your chatbot tested and set up, do not forget to look through its results from time to time. You will find out what you should improve and what works best. The goal is to make users’ experiences as excellent as possible. The key analytical tool here is to check the interaction on which the conversation ends. Is it the proper exit interactions you anticipated? Or are there two or three other points in the conversation where large numbers of people simply give up? If the latter, you will want to investigate further and make edits.
Before 2010, marketing professionals could only dream of such things as an automated assistant. Chatbots can fulfil a large number of tasks in your digital marketing strategy, and for many scenarios, do so even more efficiently than human staff.
If you are planning a digital marketing campaign, it is definitely worth giving a chatbot a try. To make it a productive addition to your campaign, you need to make an effort, too. Try to avoid common mistakes, and your chatbots will step up your digital marketing game.
Oisin is a software engineer based in Galway, Ireland with a special interest in chatbots. He is the author of Chatbots: An Introduction And Easy Guide To Making Your Own.