More and more, brands are harnessing the power of artificially intelligent (AI) chatbots to take on a lion’s share of the sales and marketing tasks that formerly occupied an inordinate amount of time for marketing teams.
Essentially, chatbots are programs that stand in for live people. Not only do they free time for marketers so that they have the resources to work more creatively and the energy to foster relationships with existing clients, but they are able lead prospects meaningfully through the marketing funnel—almost like an attentive human being—and they can do it in a timely fashion, asking relevant questions at just the right moments.
The elements of speed and timeliness are exceptionally important in our era of increasingly instant gratification, when responding to a lead in ten minutes instead of five minutes reduces your chances of qualifying that lead by a staggering 400%. These days, what feels like ‘a long time’ to the user is telescoping exponentially.
Not to mention the fact that bots are available 24/7, which gives you and your team the ability to engage customers during your down time—and even while you sleep.
Research firm Gartner predicts that more than 85% of customer service interactions will be handled by automated systems like chatbots by the year 2020.
To encourage you to take advantage of this excellent resource in your own business, we’ve gathered five inspiring examples of chatbot strategies that will give you an idea of some of the exciting ways that your team can implement AI chatbots as your brand’s new marketing secret weapon.
The Mastercard Facebook Bot
The strategy: Mastercard has partnered with banks to create MasterPass-enabled bots that allow customers to make purchases via Facebook Messenger from restaurants and retailers like Subway and Fresh Direct. Purchases are convenient, secure and offer personalized service. In fact, the Subway chatbot is so friendly and personable that it is actually “pumped” to assist customers and concerned about their levels of “hangriness.”
This chatbot personality assessment serves to show you just how natural, conversational and engaging your bot-customer interactions can be.
What you can ‘steal’: In developing your own custom bot strategy, be sure to focus on how your bot could be of the best possible service to your customer base. Imagine that you could have one customer service rep for each customer, focused solely on that one customer and her needs. What kinds of questions would that rep ask and what kinds of services would she be able to provide?
If bots can find out if you want mustard on that, they can also gather pertinent, specialized information on just about any topic for just about any business. For example, if you are a realtor, bots could begin the process of guiding potential buyers on their house hunts, narrowing down neighborhoods and wish lists, as well as taking note of any important deal-breakers. Do they want an open-plan kitchen with a large-format subway tile backsplash, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn? With a solid, customized bot strategy in place you will have all the nitty-gritty details at your disposal before you even speak to the client.
The Mondly Bot
The strategy: Mondly is a language-learning app that employs a first-of-its-kind, interactive, conversational chatbot that lets users practice speaking—as well as writing—in the language that they are learning.
Using speech recognition, the Mondly chatbot offers lessons that help users practice their pronunciation while learning to navigate everyday situations like ordering in a restaurant, chatting about the pens of their uncles (kidding!) or letting a new acquaintance know what they do for a living.
What you can ‘steal’: Ease of use is always a hit with consumers, and simply saying what you want is slightly less labor-intensive than typing what you want. Giving customers the option to use speech-recognition technology when asking for mustard on their Iberico, Manchego and fig sandwich, or when asking for a dining alcove in their open-plan kitchen just adds to the appeal and makes it even more likely that people will engage with your chatbot all the way to the end of the funnel.
The HealthTap Chatbot
The strategy: HealthTap is the first medical platform on Facebook Messenger. It allows users to type in symptoms and conditions, thereby accessing a database of medical information. If you don’t find an immediate answer to your question, you will be connected to one of HealthTap’s 100,000 plus doctors, who will provide you with answers to your questions with 24 hours.
What you can ‘steal’: Consider making your FAQ into a Facebook Messenger platform like this where interested potential customers can ask pertinent questions about all things pertaining to your field—and your specific business. A platform like this could be a great boon for an accounting business where consumers will have—just as one example—a multitude of anxious questions right around tax time.
Most businesses have commonly asked questions that they spend time repeatedly answering, and often consumers hesitate to take the time to fully peruse the FAQ section of your website. Giving them the option to simply ask saves time and aggravation on your part and on theirs.
Instead of answering them yourself, save some of that psychic energy and let your bot do the heavy lifting—and then hopefully pass the potential customer further along your marketing funnel for more assistance.
GEICO’s “Kate” Bot
The strategy: Available 24/7, the “Kate” virtual assistant communicates with policy holders through voice recognition and text via GEICO’s smartphone app about all things relating to their policies, answering questions on topics like coverage and billing.
What you can ‘steal’: Giving your bot a relatable human name like “Kate” is a smart move that is likely to drive engagement and could be particularly helpful in growing the appeal of your business, especially if it is something on the sober end of the spectrum, like insurance, which perhaps could use an infusion of human warmth to broaden its appeal.
The Hayley Hobson Chatbot
The strategy: Created for Hayley Hobson by Fanatics Media, this Facebook bot, sales-funnel strategy automatically answers questions and qualifies leads, nurturing prospects into clients—all without human intervention.
A well-conceived bot strategy accomplished for this client what pay-per-click (PPC) ads, content marketing, email marketing and social-media marketing could not, providing an impressive 38% increase in sales, 116% increase in sales leads and a 24% reduction in sales cycles within a 60-day period.
We began by gathering information about Hayley Hobson’s sales goals, target audience, marketing tactics and current content assets, next identifying ways to appeal to this target audience of mainly young, professional women.
After that, we created premium content; blog posts, monthly newsletters and social media posts—custom-tailored for Hayley and Hayley’s audience—and mapped these content offerings to the buyer’s journey. Once the prospects were qualified and specific needs determined, the custom bot delivered content like ebooks and webinars, or scheduled a call with a member of the sales team for a free consultation.
The bot then went on to automatically follow up with prospects. If sales were made, the bot would offer additional services to upsell the client. If no sales were made, the prospects were nurtured back into the sales cycle.
What you can ‘steal’: There is no business immune to the benefit of a shrewdly implemented bot strategy. The organization does not exist that will not profit from a 38% increase in sales.
When considering how to implement a similar strategy customized to your own business needs, it is crucial to identify common customer pain points and make sure that your sales bot identifies and addresses those pain points. Naturally, pain points will vary depending upon the nature of your business.
A pain point could be “Why can’t I choose to order my Iberico, Manchego and fig sandwich without mustard?” or “Why the heck can’t I find out what kind of tiles are in the kitchen backsplash and how many people the breakfast nook seats before I visit the property?”
Many of us have been frustrated by far less than this. Major brownie points awarded to any business that can preemptively avert these crises by providing potential customers with the valuable information that they crave, when they crave it; days, nights, weekends…or whenever.
Another important consideration when designing your bot strategy is to make sure that your sales bots play nicely with the native virtual assistants—the master bots, kind of like the ‘traffic cops’—of the platform, e.g. Facebook Messenger, that you are using to deploy your bot sales strategy.
Be absolutely certain to avail yourself of the guidance that you need to ensure that your bots—think of them like ambassadors—are able to communicate seamlessly with the bots which govern your platform of choice.
The Future of the Chatbot
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Chatbot market growth shows no signs of slowing down. According to Grand View Research, growth in this market is expected to reach 1.25 billion by 2025. This projected expansion of the chatbot market reflects the substantial impact that a judiciously-implemented bot strategy can have on the success of virtually any business.Do you have thoughts or questions about how your brand could use chatbots to increase your sales leads and turbocharge your revenue lift? Contact us to find out more or engage with our chatbot on Facebook to explore how we use chatbots at Fanatics Media.