While chatbots are the current marketing craze, it’s unwise to jump into using this form of marketing AI without a chatbot strategy.
There are many things to think about.
- Your marketing/business goals
- Laws and legality of chatbots
- Scripting and content style of your chatbot
- Building a chatbot & chatbot tools
And the list goes on and on.
If you’re still figuring out how to formulate your chatbot strategy, use our guide for getting you from A to B with ease.
In layman’s terms, a chatbot is artificial intelligence (AI) designed to have conversations with humans … mainly through the internet.
Below are a few simple definitions that will help you understand AI (and therefore with your chatbot strategy).
Artificial intelligence is software that mimics human intelligence.
Machine Learning is where the machine writes its own code based on the data it’s given.
Chatbots are programmed by humans or software, so they’re only as smart as those counterparts. For instance, chatbots are programmed to respond to specific requests. They are limited. (hint: they aren’t magic!)
But because the chatbot uses AI, it learns how to decipher the user’s language and not just commands. Machine learning means the bot gets smarter as it has more conversations with people.
Why Should Businesses Bother With A Chatbot Strategy?
Like any form of sales or marketing, your chatbot also deserves a strategy.
If your business has an online presence, you will want to build where the people are. One of those places is now inside messenger apps.
This is why a chatbot strategy is incredibly important. Chatbots are a huge business opportunity for marketers to give consumers exactly what they want.
They just have to know what that is and then build it. 🙂
Not only are bots a great business opportunity, but for marketers seeking engagement and one-to-one marketing experiences, they are fantastic for conversational marketing.
What Will Your Chatbot DO?
If you know what your customer wants more of, you’re already well on your way to creating a solid chatbot strategy.
Now, answer this question: What’s the business goal tied to your chatbot strategy?
There are many reasons companies use chatbots. They can …
- Enhance customer service
- Automate and/or remove repetitive tasks
- Personalize a user’s experience
- Raise/improve response rates
- Simplify shopping experiences
For instance, at B Squared Media, we have a staffing client who uses Facebook Ads to find candidates for job orders.
This is a massive undertaking as they are filling hundreds of jobs, sometimes with thousands of applicants. To help the company ease the burden of repetitive tasks, we set up a Facebook chatbot that helps answer applicant questions and guide them to the right office for more information.
Another example is our own Twitter chatbot, which helps take human capital and time off our team’s plate by answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) and helping people find information without our human team having to step in and answer these questions over and over again.
As you can see, when someone messages our brand on Twitter, a menu of services pop up that covers all six of our FAQs.
Our little “Dude Bot” works 24/7 in the background so our team can free up time to handle more in-depth requests from potential clients, team members, or cohorts.
In short, figure out if you want your chatbot to help you save time, make money, or both!
How To Build Your Chatbot
The example we used above of our Twitter chatbot built with Sprout Social’s Bot Builder. Their drag-and-drop builder makes it extremely easy for us to set up our bots on Facebook and Twitter.
However, there are many tools that easily allow you to create bots on your favorite platforms or website.
Drift – allows you to create a powerful sales and marketing chatbot for your website.
Chatfuel – is the world’s leading Facebook Messenger chatbot software.
Manychat – is a great way to create an automated or “drip” campaign inside of Facebook Messenger.
Flow XO – their software allows you to build and deploy bots on many different platforms.
You can also build your own chatbot! Of course, this solution requires coding knowledge, and you would need to work directly with Facebook’s developer console to build a chatbot.
For the most part, companies choose software to help them build the perfect bot.
Additionally, there are companies like B Squared Media that give you the ability to completely outsource your entire chatbot strategy, including everything we’re going to mention in this post.
If pushing the easy button sounds like more your style, find out more about our done-for-you chatbot services here.
Scripting & Your Chatbot Strategy
Once you have an idea of how you’re going to build your chatbot, you’ll want to figure out what your chatbot will say.
Scripting is an important part of any chatbot strategy.
Again, we use Sprout Social to help us visualize our storyboard. Think of it like creating a “choose your own adventure” — you have to think about how each scenario or conversation will play out.
With your dialogue, you’ll not only want to think about branding elements like tone and voice, but you’ll also want to think about any visual elements you want to incorporate.
In our B Squared Media Twitter example above, you can see we not only used our own branded vernacular, but we also
- Used our mascot, Dude, changed from a stick-figure into a robot
- Incorporated our brand colors
- Embodied the brand personality
Think of your dialogue like being a well-made salad. You don’t want a boring lettuce-only meal. Which is to say you don’t want to only incorporate text into your bot.
Chatbots can include text, images, videos, gifs, and more.
Our advice, even if you’re not using Sprout Social, is to create a storyboard of the conversation flow like the image pictured above. Be sure to test that conversation flow in the native platform (luckily Sprout allows us to do this with the push of a button).
When you think you’re satisfied, take it a step further and ask a trusted client to take your chatbot for a spin. Then, as your chatbot remains active, you should be able to collect data from the bot that allows you to make iterations along the way.
- Keep it short and sweet
- Ensure the bot is meeting the users’ goals
- Keep testing and making updates
Marketers + Machines = HAPPY CUSTOMERS
Lastly, we truly believe that the best bots are at the intersection of machines AND marketers. This means you need to be transparent and let people know they’re talking to a bot AND give them access to a human (and as quickly as possible).
Again, in our Twitter example above you can see that we immediately announce the fact that the user is talking with a bot. We also have keyword triggers set up through Sprout that alerts our human team when someone isn’t getting what they’re looking for with Dude Bot.
When any of the keywords are triggered, a message is sent to our Smart Inbox (where humans are present around 15+ hours of the day).
You may not be able to have humans available for 15 hours a day. And that’s okay. You do need to be transparent about that.
- Tell people they’re interacting with a bot
- Showcase what your office hours are or when users can expect a human reply
- Ensure your chatbot is as human as possible
Our philosophy is that the machines make the marketer more successful (and that they’re not here to take our jobs!).
Is My Chatbot Strategy Breaking The Law?
We only have to look at the recent privacy breaches to know that marketers need to be very careful with the data we collect (and how we collect it).
Additionally, laws are being passed about chatbots in particular. #TrueStory
This July, California is underscoring our “be human” advice with a law that says companies cannot make it seem like their chatbots are real humans.
GDPR also says that chatbots cannot be the primary source for an approval process. READ: A customer cannot get final approval for a loan through a bank’s chatbot service.
Companies, marketers, and anyone building a bot need to ensure they properly ask for user consent when asking for or collecting information. Double down when asking for personal or sensitive information.
At the end of the day, transparency will take you and your chatbots a long way. It also pays to know GDPR and your local data privacy laws.
Launching Your Chatbot
All that is left is launching your chatbot!
TLDR; The best way to get started with your chatbot is with a branded and transparent greeting (“Hey, I’m a bot!”) and a menu of options or FAQs.
And don’t forget constant testing and iterations. Your chatbot may fail if it doesn’t provide users the information they’re seeking.
Analyze your chatbot data. Solve your audience’s problems. Collect useful information on users, and see where it goes.
That about sums it up. Easy, right?
If you have questions about chatbot marketing, post them below and we’ll get back to you with our best answer (from real, smart humans, of course!). 😉
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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media management & advertising agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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