Chatbots for Marketers

June 11, 2018

AdobeStock_128549366 (1)-minWhen it comes to responding to inbound leads, timing is everything. According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, after five minutes, there is a 10x drop in your odds of actually connecting with a lead. Responding in 10 minutes vs. 5 minutes, results in a 400% decrease in your odds of qualifying a lead. Now, consider those of us promising to respond within a 2 business days. Enter, the lead generation and customer support hero, the chatbot. 

Not only do chatbots provide your business the swift ability to respond and interact with your site visitors within seconds, but they also provide a quality filter for your sales, marketing, or support teams. With a chatbot, those teams can choose to interact with only the best leads based on the rules and targeting conditions that matter most to their specific business.

Chatbots for Marketers

Chatbots may be a small slice of your total interaction points with a customer, but the quality of that small touchpoint and your customer’s experience with your bot can be pivotal in their overall experience with your site and brand. The chatbot subject is quite broad, so for the sake of simplicity, let’s break them into three groups:

Chatbot Options

  • DIY solutions with a Graphical User Interface (GUI): These are the quickest, bot-to-market options with drag and drop customization within pre-existing conversation frameworks. Some of these have pre-built templates or structured workflows that you can build on top of to create the best interaction for your site visitors. These type of bot builders are better suited for low traffic, simple requests, and concierge-like website support. If you’re looking for sophisticated interactions, read on.
  • DIY solutions via Software Development Kit (SDK) or API: These providers offer slightly more sophisticated bot building with the framework to apply Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP). With these solutions, you can build a bot capable of processing user queries and routing a natural conversation.
  • End-to-end solutions: This is the best option when you have the budget to support a vendor building a customized bot. The cost of this solution can vary broadly, so it’s important that you have a clear set vision and expectations before you engage an end-to-end vendor to build your bot for you.

Chatbots are a hot trend in marketing for both B2B and B2C brands, so you can expect a flooded market and a lot of noise to clear when you start researching options. Regardless of the chatbot solution you chose to pursue, you should determine a few key factors first to streamline your process:

  • Determine your bot budget… and adjust your expectations accordingly. My advice is to start simple, build a strong data-backed case for a more sophisticated bot after you trial something lower on the spectrum.
  • Identify your use cases. Know what problems or holes in your customer interactions that you hope to have the bot solve. Work backward in your bot selection from there and make sure that the bot’s conversation objective aligns with your business goal.
  • Establish usability. Are you technical? Is someone in your company capable of building a bot for you or do you need to have a solution with a support team and or a simple bot building GUI framework. Most bots also have a live takeover feature where someone from sales or support can hop into the conversation to better support the customer. It’s important to consider the necessary training of such teams and their bandwidth to handle an increase in message flow.

The Key to ChatBot Success

With the above factors in mind, you should be able to determine where along the spectrum of bot vendors you can begin. You can check out this list of chatbot vendors to get a better sense of your options.

Despite the possibility of sophisticated artificial intelligence like Google’s somewhat terrifying display of Google Assistant, I think it’s important to keep the “bot” element obvious in your ChatBot. Start dumb, let your users know they’re interacting with a bot and not a human. No one wants to feel duped. The worst thing you can do to your user experience is to frustrate or offend your customers. The goal of a chatbot should be ease of access for your user.

The best feature of a chatbot in the long run is scalability. You can start small, with a significant impact, and continue to build from there. As a marketer, you can A/B test in specific interactions and adjust your conversation flow accordingly to maximize personalization. You’ll begin ingesting qualified data directly from your customers in real time with the ability to deliver a curated interaction from yet another touch point.

How Does AgilOne Handle Chatbot Interactions?

If you’re using AgilOne as your customer data platform, you’re familiar with how chatbot interactions are unified into the single customer profile. When AgilOne cleanses, dedupes, stitches, and appends customer data from all online and offline sources, chatbots are one of these sources. The resulting master customer record appears in AgilOne's 360 Profile UI and API, and it includes data from events (including chatbot conversations), journeys, campaigns, and transactions; this is combined with predictive intelligence and insights for each individual customer. For each customer, the 360 Profile displays customer summary attributes, transaction history details, the customer journey, customer record details, and a household summary. An example of how customer journeys appear in the AgilOne 360 Profile UI is shown below.

But chatbots don't have to only be an inbound data source. You can also use what you learn about customers in AgilOne to personalize the chatbot experience for different customers. in other words, the chatbot is an important outbound interaction source as well. The logical flow, the messaging, and the personalized touches can all be programmed within the chatbot to be tailored based on what you know about the individual visiting the website. In this way, the automation of the chatbot can be more relevant, more helpful, and ultimately can provide more value for both the customer and the marketer. 

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“I believe people need to have the right expectations. Chatbots don’t have a human level intelligence yet. But they are very good at automating simple tasks and personalizing the experience for the user.” - Eva Dimitrova, The Good, the Bad and the Chatbot: A Dialogue with Eva Dimitrova