Chatbots are one of the biggest up-and-coming trends in marketing. It has been reported that around 1.4billion people interacted with a chatbot in 2015 (you may well be one of them!). Why employ someone when you can have a virtual robot do a lot of the leg work? It won’t call in sick, it won’t take holiday and it will cost significantly less in terms of time and money. What’s not to love?

But first…

What is a Chatbot?

Ok, let’s get this out the way up front. Yes, they are that little annoying window that pops up when you visit many websites – which you likely just close (unless you are actually looking to talk to someone there and then).

But a bit more specifically, a chatbot is a program which attempts to simulate conversations with a human – often through text, but also voice (Siri, Alexa etc). They are powered by artificial intelligence with the main aim of helping you find what you need quicker than navigating around a website.

What can they really do?

There are varying levels of chatbots, some are more intelligent than others – some learn as they go and improve interactions and responses – some require more programmed rules by a human.

There are four main things a chatbot can do:

  1. Engage – in a conversation tone, at any time of the day!
  2. Understand – using questions and tagging, understand the person’s needs.
  3. Deliver – some form of answer or solution without the person needing to go elsewhere.
  4. Refine – their engagement based on more and more interactions and data collection.

At the end of the day, we want the chatbot to be useful for the end user, but also for us.

Casper the Chatbot

You up?

One such chat bot to be delivering the above is Casper’s brilliantly named Insomnobot 3000, which provides relief for those suffering from the loneliness of insomnia. As the company describe; the Insomnobot 3000 is a “friendly, easily distracted bot designed to keep you company when you just can’t fall asleep”, replying to your text messages, providing a friend when everyone else is asleep.

What are the opportunities?

Basically, the opportunity is to nail the messaging and communications with a potential customer much quicker and simpler.

Chatbots could answer those small questions that people have on a regular basis which they would normally just Google – we could help answer and give them exactly what they are looking for.

Imagine if a Chatbot had access to every single blog, whitepaper, video and guide you had ever produced?

Yes, we can also sprinkle in some fun – add sarcastic responses to sarcastic questions for example or an upset reaction to the use of banned words.

This will all help engagement, but much like a search function on a website, we can also analyse the questions and discussions people are having with your chatbots. This helps the bot, but also helps us learn about our consumers’ needs and wants.

And the costs/risks?

At the end of the day, the chatbot still heavily relies on us. Chatbots are no longer a technical challenge (some extremely smart people have solved that one) it’s a communications challenge.

A detailed conversation flow will need to be developed – but also ongoing improvement over months and years is what will make a great bot! A chatbot is like a baby, it requires input and teaching for it to learn and develop into an adult.

We need to understand what questions and needs are currently niggling away at the back of a person’s mind when interacting with our brand online. The chatbot can then be set up to answer those questions in a clever and efficient way.

How do I start?

There are many things to consider when developing your chatbot. There are a number of tools out there, and each

one will have their pros and cons. A good digital marketing agency will be able to support you in putting one in place.

Here’s a few tips to get started in understanding your customer’s needs and what questions they may ask a chatbot:

  • Speak to customer facing staff – these are the people that interact with customers on a daily basis, they hear an array of questions throughout their interactions and should be a first point of call to identify FAQs.
  • Utilise the internet – a fantastic tool to find out what questions your chatbot will need to answer is Answer The Public. Answer The Public is a free tool that crawls search engines to analyse what are the most frequently searched queries related to a keyword. This could be used to search for the products and services that your business offers and discover what questions your audience are asking.
  • Questionnaires – there’s no better source for information than directly from your consumers. Ask them what made them purchase your product or service, understand their pain points that led to them to your business, and ensure that your chatbot can help those that could be in a similar position.

Conclusion

Chatbots are likely to be increasingly used across the web. If they can be set up and managed correctly, perhaps even use some machine learning… they could be potent customer service tools and improve the overall user experience of your website/app.

If you are looking to explore the use of chatbots in your marketing, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to support you in finding the best solution for your website. Get in touch with your account manager or contact us at info@generateuk.co.uk or call 01635 88711.