Let’s be real—for a while now, the word “bot” has made a lot of marketers recoil. Marketing is based in human connection and striving to understand what your customer is looking for in their product or service. There’s a misconception that interacting with bots can be impersonal and awkward.
However, as technology continues to evolve, chatbots can free up time for marketers to focus on strategy and expanding opportunity for their clients. Let’s take a look at a few chatbots that can help you to build leads—without losing that personal touch.
As consumers become more adept with technology, the sales process will continue to change. One change already affecting businesses is the switch to digital communication. A recent study by OpenView Labs found it takes 18 touches by phone to connect with a customer. If it takes an average of 4 minutes per touch (CRM data log + actual call), so that’s 1.2 hours spent for a single connection! However, when a customer chats with your website, it’s an inbound lead—and often more likely to convert.
Currently, there are two very basic types of marketing chatbots out there. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call them the “personal assistant” and the “customer service or support rep”. While “speech” technology—natural language processing—is still evolving to make these bots sound more natural, so they can connect warm leads with your sales or marketing department. Keep in mind, they’re not designed to replace human interaction, but help to:
- Diagnose the visitor’s issue so it can be escalated to the right department
- Gather more lead data for your CRM
- Provide basic customer service tasks, such as answering routine questions
Identifying how your business plans to chat with potential customers can be a great start in determining which chatbot you need.
Social Media Chatbots
Most social media sites operate on a fine-tuned algorithm to ensure you see the “right” kind of stories in your newsfeed—ones you’re interested in. Some businesses are posting multiple messages per day, which can often require a dedicated social media manager. What if a significant chunk of those messages could be automated?
The New York Times recently did just that, and created a chatbot to automate some of the 300 messages it posts to its social profiles daily. The tool uses data to inform the editor which stories will have the most impact. Analysts found the posts generated by the chatbot had almost 380% more clicks. For brands seeking increased engagement, this could be a quick win.
True, social media still requires a careful eye to create copy and monitor responses, but there is no denying that chatbots have data analysis skills that can free up time and improve your business’s presence and influence.
Can Chatbots Replace Apps?
Has your phone ever ran out of space because you have too many apps? Mark Zuckerberg recently lamented that digital users want to condense the number of apps they’re interacting with. His team is working on the Facebook Messenger product to incorporate business chatbots so users can make purchasing decisions without ever having to leave Facebook.
For marketers, this could be an important step to capturing leads who may never visit your website.
When Dutch airline KLM released its Messenger chatbot, it received more than 100,000 interactions in the first month. From within the app, users were able to confirm flights, check on flight status and message the company. The platform is now open to other businesses that are looking to bring their customer service directly into an app that is already being used by many of their customers.
Chatbots will never be able to replace the human emotions that marketing thrives on. However, automated processes can open up time, cut overhead costs, improve customer service response times and create customized content based in data. By interacting with your customers via chatbots, you can collect important information for your CRM database and create a positive customer experience that (hopefully!) yield referral leads.
Chatbots don’t have to be scary—with a bit of a human touch, they can be lead generating powerhouses.
If you’re curious to see what a chatbot would look like for your brand, book a custom demo with us.