What Is A Chatbot & How Can Chatbots Help Boost Your Business

Christopher White Chatbots Leave a Comment

What Is A Chatbot?

A chatbot is a piece of software which interacts with messaging software to simulate a conversation between two humans. Chatbots can be integrated with websites or messaging apps.

Chatbots enable your business to communicate with its online visitors through a series of automated responses. Chatbots usually use a social media messaging service, such as Facebook Messenger for the interaction. In its simplest form a chatbot is a question and answer system where the chatbot creator builds a series of question and answer scenarios which lead to a defined end point. A more complex chatbot will include Artificial Intelligence (AI) to take on more complex scenarios.

Communicating with a chatbot is as similar as it gets to having a one-to-one online chat with a real person. Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish whether you are communicating with a real person or a chatbot.

To see a chatbot in action, click on the blue and white Messenger icon at the bottom right of your screen. This will activate our chatbot!

Cotswold Websites Chatbot

What Are Chatbots Used For?

Chatbots are very versatile and can be put to a wide range of uses. Any business which communicates with its customers can make good use of a chatbot and help drive sales.

Chatbots can be used for many different tasks. These tasks include:

  • Helping visitors easily find the service they are looking for.
  • Guiding visitors to products you want them to buy.
  • Enabling visitors to book appointments through an online booking system in easy steps.
  • Allowing visitors to communicate with you without having to speak with anyone.
  • Enabling your business to respond to visitor's questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Allowing the online shopping experience to be a fun and interactive process.

The screenshot below shows the flow of the email marketing section of our chatbot. You can see how you create a set of scenarios and how the visitors is sent down the route dictated by their response to the chatbot's question. This is just one very small and simple flow in our chatbot. We keep each flow tightly aligned to the sub-topic being handled. Multiple flows are linked together to create the seamless passage through the chatbot. In theory you could create one massive flow, but it would soon become totally unmanageable, which is why subject-ordered sub-flows are used.

Chatbot Flow Diagram

What Are The Benefits of Using A Chatbot?

There are many benefits of using a chatbot in your business. Let's explore some of the chatbot benefits.

Convenience

With a chatbot in operation on your website or Facebook Page you can reply to your customers in real time, whether it is the middle of the night or the customer is in another timezone. there is no waiting for a human to respond to the customer's questions or demands; the chatbot deals with them there and then.

The customer also benefits from not wasting time having to wait for someone to find the information they have asked for. For example, through research, it has been estimated by Superoffice that the average customer service response times are 17 hours for email questions; 10 hours for social media questions and 2 minutes for live chat questions. Chatbots are even quicker that live chat, as most responses will have been built into the chatbot, which can provide the accurate reply when a keyword is triggered.

Customer Service Response Times

Email
17 Hours

Social Media

10 Hours
Live Chat
2 Minutes
Chatbots
5 Seconds

* Chart not to scale

The Purpose of a Chatbot

The purpose of a chatbot can be manifold and varied. They are flexible enough to undertake a whole range of tasks, depending upon the nature of your business. Some purposes of chatbots include:

  • Building a list.
  • Looking after your audience.
  • Sending automated follow-ups or reminders.
  • Qualifying leads
  • Improving audience engagement.
  • Selling and taking payments.
  • Tracking your audience's interaction with your website.
  • Providing a unique experience for your audience.

Interactive

Chatbots are interactive, meaning that the customer is able to engage with your business or brand in a way that browsing a website does not allow. Chatbots enable your business to promote and highlight your products, services and even the business's values. The chatbot achieves the interactivity without it looking like a sales tactic to force the customer into buying something.

Chatbots Feel Personal

Chatbots can feel more personal than other methods of communication online, as time and effort will be spent making the chatbot responses as well suited to the business's audience as possible. Below are three examples of the Pandorabots chatbot engaging in chat on a variety of topics. As you can see, the responses are well-designed and pertinent to the question. Each response is returned within 2-5 seconds of the question being sent.

In surveys, people often report that they feel more comfortable dealing with a chatbot rather than live chat or a telephone conversation, as there is less pressure to do something that person may not want to do.

The below images show three different scenarios from a fun chatbot, which is purely designed to entertain and promote the creator's chatbot services. However, it gives you a good idea of how chatbots can really interact with your audience.

What Are Chatbots
Chatbot Telling Jokes
Chatbot Talking Politics

Chatbots Save Time & Cost

To use live chat on a website can be an expensive task for a business. Small businesses are usually unable to offer such a service in the first place, as employing someone to manage the chat is unaffordable.

However, a chatbot works every hour of the night and day and does not take a wage! Once you have set up your business's chatbot your costs are minimal. There will be a relatively small monthly fee to the chatbot provider (ManyChat, Chatfuel, etc.), but these are insignificant compared to a human-operated chat system. Even the smallest business should be able to afford to commission a chatbot.

Chatbot creation usually starts from about £2,000, depending upon the requirements and complexity needed by the business. This is a one-off capital cost. For a member of staff you will probably be looking at a salary of £18,000 per annum upwards to do the same thing, but just 8 hours a day, compared to the chatbot's 24 hour operation! A well-designed chatbox is therefore relatively inexpensive, but is the equivalent of having a team of staff working full-time, even when the business itself may be closed. The potential for increased turnover and audience satisfaction is therefore high.

Chatbots Increase Conversions By Helping Customers Checkout

Chatbots are even capable of enabling checkout for chatbots which sell products or services.

Chatbot messages are capable of containing different types of content - text, images, videos, galleries. Using a good combination of these it is therefore possible to build high-converting sales funnels.

eCommerce websites can particularly benefit from chatbots. You can have your online shop's products built into the chatbot flows. When it comes to checkout you can either send the customer to your website to checkout, or it can be set-up so that the customer never has to leave Messenger and the transaction takes place wthin the chatbot and Messenger. The convenience and speed of this cannot be underestimated.

Toymaker LEGO introduced a revolutionary new chatbot back in 2017. The chatbot is called Ralph and exploits the huge success of the LEGO Movies. This chatbot is fun to interact with and pleases adults and children alike. Its success has been proven with some amazing statistics:

  • 25% of all LEGO's online sales are through the chatbot.
  • A conversion rate 8.4 times higher than LEGO's Facebook Ads.
  • 1.2 million post engagements.
  • Engagement rate of over 45%.

These figures are staggering when compared to more traditional methods of marketing. For example, an email marketing campaign will often struggle to get a 1% to 5% engagement rate. Chatbots work!

Lego Chabot Ralph
Lego Chatbot Budget
Lego Chatbot Ideas

Which Type of Businesses Can Effectively Make Use of A Chatbot?

Almost any business can make use of chatbots. If your business uses email or social media, then a chatbot is an invaluable asset for your business. Whilst eCommerce businesses are probably the largest users, any company can profitably use a chatbot. Just a few examples of buisnesses which could use chatbots include:

  • Solicitors
  • GP surgeries
  • Insurance brokers
  • Children's nurseries
  • Travel agents
  • Financial advisers
  • Consultants
  • Car dealerships
  • Therapists
  • Cleaning businesses
  • Hairdressers
  • Estate agents
  • Pubs and bars
  • Beauty salons
  • Builders
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Gyms
  • Restaurants
  • Construction firms
  • Music events companies
  • Onlien shops
  • Authors
  • Professional service businesses
  • Mortgage brokers

Why Are Chatbots Useful?

Chatbots are useful for many reasons. We have already looked at the importance chatbots have of engaging with your audience and interacting with them.

Subscribers

The main underlying usefulness of a chatbot is that as soon as somebody interacts with it or by sending a message through Messenger, they automatically become a subscriber.

You have almost certainly heard of email marketing or email sign-up forms? Those are often the forms on a website which encourage you to download a free product, or subscribe to a newsletter. In each case you will leave your email address. Chatbots are very similar, but in a less obvious way. By interacting with a chatbot, the owner of the chatbot can "broadcast" messages to everyone who has subscribed. This is a Messenger equivalent of an email marketing campaign. Just like email marketing, people can opt out of the chatbot at any time. However, Messenger messages do not feel as spammy as email campaigns and can be a good way to encourage your subscribers to interact with your offering.

Irrespective of where you use your chatbot - on your website, on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, YouTube (anywhere!) - the beauty of it is that all conversations are carried out in Facebook Messenger. This allows you to keep tight control over all conversations and subscribers.

Manage Conversations In One Place

Irrespective of where you use your chatbot - on your website, on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, YouTube (anywhere!) - the beauty of it is that all conversations are carried out in Facebook Messenger. This allows you to keep tight control over all conversations and subscribers.

Engage Your Audience

Using growth tools, you can engage with your audience and encourage them to take up your services or products. Growth tools coud include:

  • Fun tools, such as a wheel of fortune where you could win a free ticket, free download or free product.
  • Call to action buttons, encouraging your visitors to do something which could benefit them.
  • Pop-ups offering an interesting download where the visitor is sent it via Messenger.
  • Live chat where the visitor is encouraged to interact with you in real time.

In all of these growth tools, the visitor is asked to engage with you through Messenger. As soon as this is done they will be subscribers to your chatbot.

Using growth tools, you can engage with your audience and encourage them to take up your services or products. Growth tools coud include:

  • Fun tools, such as a wheel of fortune where you could win a free ticket, free download or free product.
  • Call to action buttons, encouraging your visitors to do something which could benefit them.
  • Pop-ups offering an interesting download where the visitor is sent it via Messenger.
  • Live chat where the visitor is encouraged to interact with you in real time.

In all of these growth tools, the visitor is asked to engage with you through Messenger. As soon as this is done they will be subscribers to your chatbot.

Tagging Interactions

Chatbot Tagging

In the example above, tags are set to collect the information when the visitor chooses one of the three options presented to them. If the visitor taps the WordPress - Beginner button, the event will be tagged that that visitor has shown an interest in our WordPress for Beginners course.

Chatbot Data Collection

Conversely, in the second example, we can keep track of the visitor's intended budget for a web design project, therefore helping us to qualify leads effectively. This gives us a good idea of visitors who are likely to genuinely want to commission a new website.

Split Testing

To help make your chatbot as successful as possible, you have the option to add split testing into the flows. Split testing allows you to create variants of elements of your chatbot to see which encourages greater interaction from your audience. This is invaluable if you want to maximise your conversions.

SUMMARY

As we have seen in this post, chatbots are an invaluable way of encouraging your audience to interact with you in a natural and friendly way. Good chatbots will help convert visitors to customers and give them a slick and easy process to get what they want from you and your website.

You can track how your visitors interact with your chatbot and in the process qualify them as good prospective leads, or otherwise.

Chatbots are still in their infancy, relatively speaking. It is estimated that by 2025 the chatbot industry will be worth $1.25 billion. In 2021 Facebook Messenger will have some 2.48 billion users. It is therefore no great secret that businesses which invet in chatbots now can reap great rewards whilst their competitors continue to use older and less profitable methods of communication, such as email capture of live chat apps.

Messenger chatbots are clearly the future!

Get Your Own Chatbot

If you want to capitalise on the power of chatbots, get in contact with us to discuss your plans. We will work out a plan with you and build a Messenger chatbot you can use effectively on your website.

You can always use the Messenger button at the bottom-right corner of your screen to get in contact immediately!

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