Have you considered the potential of using chatbots as a part of your business' social media strategy? Not really sure what they are or the benefits?
In this post, we'll go over why should consider using chatbots, how the process of creating an effective chatbot is likely not as complex as you think, and how this new option could change the face of corporate social media strategies.
But first, let's start with the basics.
What is a chatbot?
Chatbots are automated systems, generally built into messaging apps, which are able to respond to user queries without human assistance.
Chatbots utilize artificial intelligence to mimic conversation, and are built with language assistance capacity, giving them advanced ability to understand and interpret what a user is saying. Chatbots are also constantly evolving - they're now able to reply to users not just in text, but also through the use of audio, videos and even GIFs.
There are already more than 30,000 active chatbots built into Facebook Messenger, while they're also available on other messaging platforms, including Apple iMessage, Wechat and Slack, to name a few.
Examples of chatbots
More and more people are spending more time in messaging apps, and as such chatbots are becoming a more popular option for businesses. Chatbots can respond immediately to customer's query, anytime, day or night, which can dramatically improve the user experience.
For example, you can use the Facebook Messenger chatbot to purchase shoes, as Facebook Messenger chief David Marcus demonstrates in this video:
Chatbots aren't just used for shopping, though.
Other examples of chatbots include:
- Poncho - This bot will provide you with the local weather forecast whenever needed
- NewsBot - Delivers news notifications at the click of a button
- Xiaoice - Developed by Microsoft, this is a Chinese chatbot that acts as your friend - and currently has over 20 million registered users
- X.ai - A virtual personal assistant that can help schedule your meetings
What are the benefits of chatbots?
So why should businesses consider using chatbots as part of their strategy? There are a few key reasons why chatbots could be beneficial to your business:
First, and as noted, there's the rising popularity of messaging apps
Social messenger apps have become an increasingly popular option for staying in touch with friends and family, offering an alternative to the public broadcasting of social platforms, while also providing all the same types of features that made social popular.
Source: Business Insider
In fact, in a recent study by Retale, 60% of millennials said they have used chatbots already, and f further 71% said they would try chatbots from major brands.
If you're looking to grow your business, you want to go to where the people are, and right now that's in messenger apps.
Secondly, direct messaging - even when using chatbots - enables more intimate interaction with customers
As noted, chatbots enable your business to answer a customer's query any time of the day, not just during business hours - chatbots give your customers more chance to engage with the brand.
Chatbots, essentially, provide a simple, non-intrusive, responsive option to help customers through the purchasing cycle by providing relevant answers to their shopping queries. Users can even complete financial transactions through chatbots by using payments systems including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe or Braintree.
And best of all, chatbots are designed to feel like you're talking to a human, so customers won't feel like it's purely marketing.
And one final key element to highlight - chatbots can provide quick answers simple questions
Domino's Pizza is a great example of a chatbot that helps to improve the company's customer service. When you start to use the tool, you'll be greeted with three options which make your ordering process easier.
Including buttons, rather than asking open-ended questions, is a great way to guide people through the purchasing process.
Chatbots are fast to build
Chatbots may sound fairly complex, but they actually don't take that much time to create. This is great news for any business that's ready to hit the ground running with their new chatbot.
To create a chatbot, it's best to hire your own developer who understands all the technicalities involved. However, if this isn't an option for you, don't panic - there are plenty of tools available for you to use to create your own chatbot:
- OnSequel - This tool enables you to build chatbots for apps such as Messenger, Kik, Viber and Telegram - and it doesn't require any coding knowledge. Simply answer a few questions and a bot will automatically be generated. You can even get started for free.
- Chatfuel - Focusing mainly on Facebook Messenger, Chatfuel enables you to launch a chatbot in minutes. While the service is free, it may incur a cost if you're getting over 500,000 monthly active users.
- Bostify - Using an easy 'drag and drop' template designer, you won't need to worry about having any developer skills. Bostify has several payment plans - free, $10 per month, $30 per month and $50 per month, depending on your businesses needs.
It's easy to see that not only are chatbots able to be built quickly, they can often be created for free, so won't put a dent in the business' budget.
Before you start
While there are many advantages for businesses who choose to use chatbots as part of their social media strategy, there are a few key pointers you should keep in mind:
- Security - Make sure you do your research and choose a secure platform. For e-commerce businesses, the only way to gain conversions through chatbots is to ensure customers feel secure to hand over their credit card information within the app
- Human interaction - Chatbots are a great way to enhance your business' customer service - however, chatbots shouldn't be used to replace actual human interaction. Make sure people are still able to interact with humans in your business
- Strategy - Always keep your chatbot strategy in mind. Set some clear goals outlining what you hope to achieve with the chatbot, and always strive to meet those.
- Promotion - Once you're setup, make sure to promote your chatbot. If you don't, people may not realize your business has one, and you'll be losing out. You can use plugins within your website to direct people to the messenger app.
There you have it - the basic 'why' and 'how' of chatbots. Hopefully these ideas will give you more to consider for your own social marketing strategy.