Chatbots are on the rise in the world of sales and marketing, providing easy, "always-on" options to assist customers with their queries, process commonly requested tasks, and even make product recommendations.
With all these features and more, chatbots can boost productivity and efficiency - but there are some key, often overlooked, elements that you need to consider when constructing your chatbot process.
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots are essentially preprogrammed sequences which provide automated and adaptive responses to frequently asked questions.
The most basic, and common type of bot, is the scripted bot, which is designed to give pre-defined answers to questions it receives. In recent years, however, chatbots have improved by leaps and bounds, with some now using AI and machine learning to understand the context of the questions they’re receiving, instead of simply relying on pre-defined queries.
This, in turn, has enabled chatbots to change the connection process between brands and their customers, leading, in many cases, to faster, and more preferable outcomes. In fact, a 2017 report showed that 34% of consumers now prefer to communicate with a chatbot or virtual assistant in the eCommerce space.
Given this, it's no surprise that startup companies, small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), and even transnational organizations are investing in chatbots. Popular audio streaming platform Spotify even has a chatbot which helps users discover songs, artists, and genres, while beauty retailer Sephora has bots which can help users booking appointments with beauty specialists and/or with product selections.
Because of all the benefits that come with chatbots, more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon, and integrating them into their websites and applications. The problem, however, is that it’s easy to make mistakes with chatbot marketing.
Here are a few that you can easily avoid in your own process.
1. Lack of strategy
Many businesses make the mistake of investing in chatbots without a solid marketing strategy behind them.
Remember, bots are just a tool. If you want to use them to turn dismissive strangers into loyal customers, you need a plan.
But what does a chatbot marketing plan look like?
First and foremost, a great marketing strategy must have clearly envisioned business targets.
Is the goal to:
- Drive traffic, transactions, or revenue?
- Cut costs by introducing automation?
- Personalize communications and improve user retention?
A plan must have clearly defined methods of satisfying these targets. Determine your why, how, and what, know your metrics, pinpoint your target audience, and strategize accordingly.
2. No dedicated website
A designated landing page for your bot can aid users in understanding its added value and functionality.
A dedicated page or website has a multitude of benefits such as unified access to your chatbot, strengthened SEO, highlighted legitimacy for both bot and your business, simplified linking, and easy contact.
3. Spammy, pushy bots
While it's important for chatbots to increase customer engagement, some bots can try too hard to get users to interact with the brand. This can manifest in a flood or stream of empty, unsolicited messages.
Overdone promotions may very well be counterproductive, and may even propel users to uninstall an app or exit a website. Moderation is key.
To correct this error, design a chatbot which gauges customer response and communicates only when applicable or necessary. In the case that a user suddenly stops interacting mid-conversation, a basic tactic is to forward occasional reminders.
On the other hand, if a user has purchased a product already, the chatbot may announce upcoming sales and discounts to engross the user further into the brand.
4. Insufficient or unimportant details
Users generally seek the aid of chatbots to get a better grasp of certain products or services before purchasing. As such, it's essential to present quality, relevant details, from product descriptions to previous ratings, depending on what the user is looking for.
Providing vague, unimportant, or unrelated information will only deter users from engaging with your brand.
5. Generic or missing name
Similar to how names distinguish people from one another, a chatbot's name separates it from the rest of the thousands and thousands of chatbots online. Giving your bot a unique name can also make it easier to recognize and find.
Give your chatbot a name that's simple to spell, pronounce, and recall.
6. Empty bot personality
In programming chatbots, there are businesses that go the easy route by designing a monotone, almost robotic bot personality.
Even though users are aware they are talking to a bot, it's worth going the extra mile to humanize and set apart your bot's personality - especially considering the competition attached to chatbot marketing.
This is an opportune time for mixing and matching various characteristics to see which fits the brand, and which attracts users.
7. Lack of testing
Due to the fact that chatbots tend to employ the newest tech on the block, it is an easy mistake to implement a bot without first testing it. Bots, after all, leverage natural language processing (NLP) and are powered by AI. It's easy to believe they can handle any situation that comes their way.
There is a big "but" to this, however.
Communication with real users, in real-time, introduces a number of variables, both good and bad. On the bad side of things, bots may encounter bugs or glitches rendering them unresponsive. It’s for this reason that testing needs to be conducted, which will ensure the bot operates as expected.
Tests find and fix unforeseen user experience (UX) lapses with your bot, thereby giving you an avenue to enhance its features and services. Be certain your bot is at its optimal condition before it goes live for customers to engage with.
8. Not employing experts for chatbot programming
When it comes to something as important as your chatbots, it’s important that everything be as close to perfect as possible.
The best course of action is to hire a professional to take on the job - beginning from its conceptualization all the way to its launching.
9. Gauge the bot's understanding
A chatbot is still a chatbot, no matter how intelligent it is. Unlike human beings, bots can still find it challenging to grasp the full context of a conversation, which largely relies on social cues, tone of conversation, and use of language.
There are bots that respond by using keywords, which could be a problem since one keyword could be part of many questions and answers. An extraction tool that differentiates between cases would help significantly in this case.
Another way to check your bot’s understanding is through analysis of previous logs, and scanning for repeating loops. These are telltale signs that your bot cannot gauge context, and may be frustrating your users.
Over to you
So, there you have it, these are some of the most common missteps in chatbot marketing. And although there is a lot of room for mistakes, the important thing now is to continuously check on your chatbot, readjust if needed, and upgrade with the times.
If you commit to doing this, then you should be well on your way to a great chatbot marketing strategy.