Whenever most of us think about chatbots, we usually view them as a helpful tool for managing customer support.
However, in the past year, we’ve been witnessing the evolution of the humble chatbot from merely being a customer support tool to being touted as the next big thing in business.
The reason for this is quite simple: chatbots, and the artificial intelligence that powers them, are getting smarter and smarter. Huge innovations in the industry have given businesses the ability to use chatbots in more exciting and strategic ways, chief among them as a tool for sales and marketing.
Alex Attinger, CEO and Founder of Squarespace, says:
“Companies will begin to see the actual potential of automated conversations at scale, not only for customer support and retention but also acquisition…bots are not meant to replace humans, but they will bridge the gap between brands and consumers in ways that no other marketing platform has been able to do before.”
When used correctly, businesses are finding that chatbots can actually help reduce bounce rates, increase sales conversions, and even improve the overall customer experience.
But in order to ride the wave that is the chatbot revolution, you need to know what messages your chatbots need to be saying.
Back in the practically prehistoric year of 1997, Microsoft introduced the world to Clippy, a bouncing, sentient paperclip who seemed to be built with the dual purpose of interrupting you at every moment with the most unhelpful advice possible, and burrowing deep into your psyche only to appear in your most frightening nightmares.
Thankfully, Clippy no longer exists as of 2002, but if our current relationship with chatbots is any indication, it looks like Microsoft might have had the right idea all along.
As a society, we are demonstrating a greater reliance and trust of automated artificial intelligence to help us solve problems, and nowhere can that be seen more clearly than with chatbots.
This is achieved by a complex process involving algorithms, machine learning, keywords and what I assume to be black magic.
As evidenced by Clippy, the concept of brands using automated AI to communicate with their customers is not new. But it has only been in the past few years that we’ve seen huge leaps and bounds of innovation in the industry.
Perhaps the most significant evolution we’ve seen with chatbots is their use in helping brands nurture leads and drive conversions. According to Instabot, companies that utilize chatbots generate 33% more leads in comparison to those that use traditional contact forms:
For many forward-thinking businesses, chatbots represent an inexpensive opportunity to automate and drastically scale their customer communications.
To understand how chatbots can help you increase conversions and land more sales, you have to first understand what the basic sales funnel looks like.
As with creating content or lead magnets, you want to be highly strategic when it comes to your chatbots. While you can theoretically add a chatbot to your website and call it a day, you’ll be missing out on loads of potential leads and prospects.
To really take advantage of chatbots, you need them to engage at whatever stage of the sales funnel each your prospects is at.
One of the biggest benefits of chatbots is that they’re smart enough to know where in the customer journey a prospect is based on the actions they’ve taken in the past, like visiting your website or downloading a lead magnet. Click To Tweet
Here are 13 of the best messages that your chatbots should be saying to streamline and reduce friction in your sales process.
As we all know, the first stage of the sales funnel is generating awareness and interest in your brand. At this stage, your lead might not even know who you are, what your brand is all about, or even be aware that they’re experiencing a problem.
At this point, the goal of your chatbot is to introduce these leads to top of funnel (TOFU) content such as an article called “What is digital marketing?” or “What is a marketing funnel?”, answer simple questions, and present a friendly brand personality.
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, you have less than one minute to capture a visitor’s attention before they bounce. On the chatbot platform Bottr, they found that businesses who added a chatbot to their site saw a 40% increase in the time spent by visitors.
While there are a variety of tactics you can use to reduce your website’s bounce rate, such as using pop-up ads, optimizing your site’s readability or creating calls-to-action, all of these require that the lead make the first move. On the other hand, with a chatbot you can immediately engage a lead with a friendly greeting and a question.
You can see how Evernote’s chatbot does this by welcoming a new visitor, quickly making them feel valued, and then presenting a number of options for the lead to choose from. This saves the new visitor the time and effort of navigating your site to find the answer they’re looking for.
This is perhaps the most standard welcome phrase for any chatbot, and just like a retail worker, it’s main goal is to engage with a lead as quickly as possible by extending an offer to help.
To have your chatbot stand out a bit more though, consider including lead magnets and content to your chatbot’s welcoming phrase. As you can see in our very own chatbot, we include links to our most popular content, so that we can take a lead directly to the kind of content that they’re interested in.
Instead of directing people to your most popular content, capture their details immediately. Do this by ensuring that the first thing your visitors see is a lead magnet. Everyone loves free stuff and, especially compared to pop-up ads, chatbots are far less intrusive.
Offering a lead magnet early on is a great way to establish that sense of authority and trust in your brand’s relationship with a prospect.
Keeping in mind that a lead who’s still in the awareness/interest stage of the sales funnel might not know what your brand is all about, it can be very helpful to make the welcoming phrase of your chatbot give a very quick explanation of what your business is all about.
Take Visabot, for example. Their chatbot succinctly explains what they do and the solution they provide in just one sentence. Then, to top it all off, they also include a strong CTA so that it’s immediately clear which steps the lead can take next.
Also, take note of how Visabot includes a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor in their phrase as well, giving the brand some more personality.
Here’s another variation of this type of message by marketing consultant Miranda Nahmias.
She includes a picture of herself in the chatbot and uses informal language so it feels like you’re talking to a real person and, once again in just one sentence, she also lays out for the visitor the solutions she provides.
Nothing generates leads quite like a fun contest. Any time you’re running a competition or giveaway, take advantage of your chatbot by having it promote it for you.
With your chatbot’s functionality you can make it so that your prospect can input all their contact details within the chatbot itself instead of directing them to a dedicated landing page. By being able to engage with prospects in real-time, this makes your contest far more engaging than promoting it over social media.
Once your lead has reached this stage of the sales funnel, they’re in the process of trying to figure out whether or not to do business with you. While they’re aware of the problems they have and the solutions you present, at this point you need your chatbot to be able to provide a prospect with all the relevant information they’re looking for.
You can program your chatbot so that it recognizes when a prospect has returned and is in the middle of the funnel, allowing you to create those customized messages.
A large part of how a chatbot can help you nurture leads is its ability to gauge the intent of the prospect itself. In order to be able to show you the information and content a prospect is looking for, it must first understand what the prospect’s needs are.
Part of how this works is by creating a conversation tree where the chatbot will give options for answers and have prepared responses to those options.
In the Salsify example above, you can see how the chatbot directly asks the prospect why they’re here and, depending on what the prospect says, will respond accordingly. Notice how the follow-up questions are all designed so that the chatbot can acquire the relevant information to adjust its marketing approach, as well as further qualify the lead.
Any time anyone visits your pricing page, chances are they either have a high intent to purchase or are very much considering it. No matter how in-depth your pricing page may be, there are just some questions that can only be answered by a human.
These days, 51% of customers expect to be able to interact with a business at any time of the day, but unless you have the resources to have a round-the-clock support team, chances are you won’t be able to.
This is where chatbots come in.
You can create a chatbot designed specifically for capturing the leads who visit your pricing page. In the above example you can see how the chatbot gives the prospect a variety of options, from scheduling a call with a salesperson to providing answers to their most frequently asked questions.
Another page that would benefit greatly from a chatbot are dedicated landing pages.
As with placing a chatbot on a pricing page, most leads who visit a dedicated landing page of yours already have a high intent to take action. In the above example by ConvoPanda, you can see how they take advantage of this by having their chatbot immediately appear to capture the details of every lead.
This little bit of engagement by your chatbot can be the nudge a lead needs in order to follow through with your desired action. The modern customer want a seamless experience, so by allowing them to input their details into the chatbot directly, as opposed to switching over to a new page, it provides a much more streamlined user experience.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all go to a bar where everybody knew our name?
Cheers references aside, there is something to be said about personalization in marketing. According to Accenture, 75% of consumers stated that they’re more likely to purchase if the business can remember their name, recommend options based on past preferences, or know their purchase history.
With a chatbot you can achieve that kind of personalization whenever someone revisits your site or re-engages with your brand. The simple act of remembering a lead’s name goes far in continuing to build that relationship of trust between a brand and its customer. This is far easier for a chatbot to do, who can then direct a prospect to relevant content or sell to them.
Besides using chatbots on your site, you can also take a page out of the book from Aerie, a lingerie and apparel retailer, who uses chatbots through the messaging platform Kik:
In order to nail the personalization aspect of their marketing, Aerie uses chatbots to gather relevant information from their leads. They do this by presenting leads with a number of product images and asking the prospect to choose the one that most suits their body type and style.
By spending a few rounds asking “this or that” from their prospects, Aerie is able to gather the information it needs to make personalized product recommendations based on the prospects’ earlier answers.
Now we get to the end of the funnel, the sell.
By the time a prospect has reached this stage of the sales funnel, they should have a good relationship with the brand and be ready to take action, namely in the form of purchasing something. At this point you can directly sell products or make personalized recommendations to the prospect through a chatbot.
According to Loyalty360, over 78% of customers will only engage with offers that have been personalized to their previous interactions with the brand.
Whether through using a chatbot or gathering customer information another way, you should have enough data to start making personalized product recommendations to your prospect.
By using the phrase “This was made specifically for ____” and making reference to the prospect’s interest, you immediately elicit their interest and attention. From there you can create a process where the buyer can purchase the product within the chatbot or send them a link to a dedicated landing page.
As many sales experts know, being too aggressive on a sale can easily turn prospects off. However, by phrasing your pitch as a gesture of help, it’s more likely that the prospect will be interested in what you have to offer.
In the above example by SnapTravel, you can see how they use their Facebook messenger chatbot to gently offer their services to the prospect. From there the chatbot helps find the best hotel deals for the prospect, and even allows the customer to make a booking through messenger.
While retailers have long known about the advantages of tying products to certain seasons and holidays, you can also take advantage of this tactic by programming your chatbot to make mention of upcoming events. This is a very simple phrase that encourages them to make a purchase by giving them a reason to buy in the first place.
If chatbots and artificial intelligence represent the future, then the future is right here, right now.
The world of chatbot marketing is still in its infancy, but already it promises to provide exciting new avenues of engaging with and selling to customers. By using chatbots, businesses now have a way to improve not just their customer support, but to efficiently support and scale all customer communications with customers.
So what are you waiting for? Get selling with chatbots today!