With sites like Facebook and Kik opening their platforms to automated messaging for companies, chatbots have really exploded in popularity.
Facebook went from zero chatbots in February 2016 to 18,000 by July of the same year. Kik had approximately 300,000,000 registered users, and those users exchanged 350,000,000 automated messages with the platform in the first seven months of its chatbot.
You’ve probably seen chatbots in action. They are on all sorts of websites, from major retail chains to mobile phone service providers and many other types of sites and apps.
At first, you might think you’re talking to a real person. Usually, a popup appears with a picture of an agent, along with a name. The “agent” asks something like, “May I help you with anything?” Or, “Do you have any questions?”
Chatbots are quite advanced, and many of them can almost manage to fool users into thinking they are speaking to a real person. This is beneficial, because it allows companies to lower their overhead by using chatbots to replace customer service agents in many circumstances, and only when the chatbot is unsuccessful in helping the customer must a real agent step in.
What are the benefits to a business of using a chatbot?
Well, they do have a few drawbacks, but they also have many benefits. So, let’s look at what the pros and cons are and whether chatbots are right for your business.
Chatbots are very useful for a lot of different applications—from simple user contact, to answering questions, and even helping the sales process along.
One of the biggest benefits of using chatbots is that you can have fewer actual employees, because chatbots can take care of a lot of issues that might take up time from paid employees. This frees up paid employees for more important tasks and allows them to have more time to help customers with major issues.
This benefits customers, too, because they can get answers to questions and help with problems much faster than they might if they ended up contacting customer service through traditional means.
Bots can also provide you extremely valuable information about your customers if you log those conversations and analyze them, because you can see the types of questions they are asking. Never overlook those logs as a way to find out more about them.
Of course, chatbots have a few drawbacks, too. No technology is perfect, and bots are no exception.
The biggest drawback is that artificial intelligence, no matter how advanced it may be, is not yet at the level that can replace actual humans. This inevitably leads to failure to help customers sometimes, which may end up frustrating the user enough that they leave your site. This is rare, but it can happen, so you must make sure your chatbot can direct customers to live help when needed.
The cheapest solution isn’t always the best, so it’s vital that you test your chatbot thoroughly to make sure there are no problems with it that could end up frustrating your customers.
Chatbots aren’t right for every business. If you find that you don’t have a lot of contact with customers normally, you may not need a chatbot. But, on the other hand, if you do have a lot of contact with customers, or if you find you have a lot of shopping cart abandonment or your customers tend to ask a lot of questions or need additional help, a chatbot just might be perfect for your needs.
Here are some situations where a chatbot might work for your business:
- Your customer service agents are overwhelmed. If you find that your agents are overwhelmed by the volume of help requests you get daily, especially if the are simple requests that could easily be taken care of by a bot, it makes perfect sense for you to use one.
- You have a high rate of shopping cart abandonment. If you find that a lot of people are abandoning their shopping carts or leaving your site without converting into email subscribers or buyers, a chatbot might help by asking the customer what went wrong when they try to leave your site, and then guide them through the process so they can complete the conversion.
- Customers keep asking the same questions over and over. Let’s face it, customers rarely read F.A.Q. pages. Sometimes you may wonder, “Why even bother having a F.A.Q. page? It seems like nobody reads them!” And that’s true. But chatbots are a great way to get more people to find out the answers to simple questions without wasting your or your agents’ time. You can program common questions into your bot and let it answer those questions.
- Your business is oriented toward service. If you’re in an industry that is notoriously service-centric, such as the travel industry, for example, chatbots can go a long way toward helping customers get assistance while alleviating some of the initial work that agents might otherwise have to deal with.
These are just a few examples, but hopefully you’re beginning to get an idea of whether or not a bot might be a good fit for your business.
FB Messenger Marketing
The use of Facebook Messenger as a marketing tool has exploded in the last 12 months and it doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.
Many marketers report much higher engagement rates with Messenger bots than email marketing. This isn’t to say that email marketing isn’t effective, but rather that engagement is higher using Messenger chatbots.
This is probably due to the immediacy of the Messenger service which means that prospects can interact with the Messenger bot as soon as they request help/information etc. and time is all important.
If you want to investigate this marketing strategy further, then I highly recommend a course by JayKay Dowdall. It is called Destiny and is probably the most comprehensive course on FB Messenger marketing currently available and is very reasonably priced so do take a look.
There are already a number of chatbot products on the market. Some are quite effective, while others have been obviously rushed to market and are full of bugs that will frustrate you and your customers.
Let’s take a look at some of the products that are currently on the market and are considered to be good quality.
The Mobile Monkey platform is one of the most popular chatbots available for the Facebook Messenger system, and also works with Facebook comments. They are remarkably affordable, with a 30-day free trial and a permanent free plan for under 100 customers.
The Mobile Monkey platform will even allow you to sell products directly to customers through Facebook with Stripe, Paypal, and other payment platforms.
Botsify is another very popular platform that works for Facebook Messenger, but also has a version that works directly on your website. They have a free plan (only for Facebook Messenger) that has a lot of features, but their paid plans (which can be used on a website) start at a very reasonable $10 per month.
Botsify also allows human takeover at any time, so you can have a customer service agent take over whenever the chatbot isn’t helping the customer properly.
ManyChat is another very popular platform that has been specifically designed to work with Facebook Messenger. They have a free plan that has a lot of features, but their paid start at a very reasonable $10 per month for up to 500 subscribers. This is the preferred service for the Destiny FB Messenger course mentioned earlier.
ChitChatChimp is poised to be one of the frontrunners in the chatbot realm. It allows absolutely anyone, even with zero programming knowledge, to create their own chatbot.
It can create all types of bots, including:
- Customer support bots
- Sales bots
- Research-gathering bots
- Educational bots
- Entertaining bots
If you need something flexible and customizable that doesn’t cost a fortune, ChitChatChimp is probably your best option.
OK, there you have chatbot marketing in a nutshell. Adopt this strategy into your marketing and give yourself the best possible solution to collect leads, make sales and grow your business.
And don’t forget to check out the Destiny FB Messenger Course for some stellar training to make the most of this new marketing opportunity.