Chatbots for business
5 ways Facebook Messenger chatbots can become the killer marketing tool for your business success
Social media marketers worldwide are all agreeing on one thing: chatbots are the marketing tool of the future. Messaging platforms are used more and more by people from all around the globe and businesses are starting to realize that this has already become an excellent channel for reaching new markets, engaging better with prospects and building even stronger bonds with customers.
This “chatbots revolution” means that such a powerful marketing tactic can finally be available for small and medium businesses too: when everybody can easily create a bot that knows how to autonomously and smartly interact with prospects and customers, a whole new range of opportunities opens up and makes doing business online easier, more effective, more profitable.
What are chatbots?
But what is, exactly, a “chatbot”? While we will focus mainly on Facebook Messenger - the most used messaging app with over 1.5 billion (with a “b”!) monthly users - the principles we are about to describe apply to bots for all systems, from Slack to Telegram, Skype and even Cortana and Amazon Echo.
In very simple terms, a chatbot is a software that integrates with a platform - for example Messenger bots are linked to Facebook Pages while on Slack they are users on their own - and intercept all the messages that people send while chatting with that specific page or account. Once the messages are received the bot can reply with the most appropriate content by using its internal algorithm and rules, linking for example “keywords” typed by the user to specific replies or putting in motion more advanced mechanisms using features such as Natural Language Processing to “understand” what the user wants and reply accordingly.
How they can be used for business?
While all this already seems pretty cool by itself (who didn’t envision J.A.R.V.I.S. from the Iron Man movies? ;), the truly valuable part comes when you start imagining all the things that such a powerful tool can help businesses of all sizes do. We are going to give you here our list of possibilities - but as it often happens, “the sky’s the limit” and your job is to build on top of what we already did and thought of...
Natural access to info and content
The most immediate use for a chatbot is to allow users to “query” at any moment a business for basic information that would otherwise require a visit to the website. From opening hours to store locations, list of products or lunch and dinner menus, a bot can be easily programmed to reply to specific words or sentences with the most appropriate content, allowing prospects and customers to receive a complete, actionable and effective answer to their question without ever leaving their beloved chat app. And, if you think about it, for us human beings it’s definitely more natural to have “conversations” with agents rather than clicking on links and reading walls of text...
First level customer care
In line with this “first level” approach, a chatbot can be an excellent tool for providing existing clients with an initial customer care tool. While we strongly advise against using only an automated system for processing requests and complaints from angry or frustrated users, a bot can usually do pretty well at least one of these 3 things:
- Give customers an initial reply and naturally direct them toward some appropriate content in the knowledge base
- Provide them with an immediate and always available channel for sharing their problems, acknowledging the issue and possibly offering some relevant information immediately actionable
- Filter requests, collecting as much information as possible before passing it to the second level which will therefore be able to do its job much more effectively and smoothly
Again, while a bot is in no way a complete substitute for human agents, a smartly programmed autonomous system can reduce the load that gets passed to live operators and improve customers satisfaction while dramatically reducing customer support costs.
Automatic lead generation and scoring
We have already created bots that can collect leads - right within the Facebook Messenger interface - and you can do it too, in 5 minutes. By using the right tools such as a “form builder”, reservation requests systems and integrations with Mailchimp and other marketing platforms, a chatbot can easily interact with a prospect in such a way that he doesn’t even notice he’s being transformed into a lead while he answers questions that at the same time automatically “score” him. We see this as truly one of the most revolutionary opportunities offered by chatbots, transforming them into an automated system that really works effectively for reaching concrete, actionable and measurable results.
E-commerce - within Facebook Messenger
Taking all this one step further brings us to e-commerce in the Messenger platform: while this idea is still in its early stages, Facebook is already experimenting with a native “Buy now” button that will take the payment details a user has entered in his account and use that for seamlessly completing the transaction. In the meantime, bot owners can already leverage ways to sell products without asking the customer to ever leave the chat app - just imagine how smooth and effective this can be, especially for impulse purchases or items that are usually bought socially...
Finally, let’s not forget that no matter what a person does when he interacts with a bot, as soon as he engages with it he is immediately “captured” and added to the list of users. This means that any business can then use marketing automation features - without spamming! - and contact that prospect with appropriate messages at a later stage, for example asking to complete a form he started filling or presenting him with a custom offer if he didn’t proceed with a purchase or after an info request. All this is natively available to every bot owner, without any additional tool required or permission request - just a couple of clicks away.
Time to start now!
At this point we really don’t know what’s still stopping you from creating chatbots for all the businesses you own and for all the clients you have. As the market grows and matures, more and more competitors will pop up offering bots and Messenger marketing automation services - waiting now could really be a terrible mistake!