Let’s face it: between running a business, managing marketing campaigns, hustling for funding, and/or any of the other myriad of tasks required of you, picking up a degree in AI programming may not be high on the list of priorities. But chatbots are taking off and you want to hop aboard the gravy train.
Lucky for you, there are dozens of services out there that will let you build chatbots without any knowledge of programming. All you have to do is know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of adding chatbots to your marketing funnel.
And that’s where this ultimate coding-free guide to adding chatbots to your marketing funnel comes in.
For those just entering into the arena, chatbots are, simply put, automated messenger robots, the majority of them operating through Facebook’s Messenger app. They function similar to automated phone dial-an-option menus but have the benefit of far more customizability, interaction potential, revenue and lead generation, and client retention. Chatbots can even be integrated into websites with similar effect.
No, chatbots aren’t a miracle cure for your business—but they’re still helpful.
Still, what’s the big deal with chatbots anyways? If the majority of marketing guides are saying that it’s important to give that humanizing, personal touch to your marketing campaigns, why are we talking about turning a pleasant human interaction into this generation’s version of automated phone dial menus?
The short answer is that marketing isn’t actually about humanizing and personalization: marketing is about interaction. Sure, treating your audience like actual human beings is an important aspect of marketing, but it’s still a method of fostering interaction.
Chatbots are another method of fostering that interaction.
There’s also the slight issue of the email inbox no longer being the small pond it used to be. Over the years, read and open rates for email campaigns have plummeted, while chatbot interaction is seeing numbers even better than cold emails in their heyday.
Social media inboxes really are the email inboxes of the future.
Make Information Readily Available
Due to the fact that we have everything at our fingertips, and the power to look things up, order products, and get things delivered in record time, we’ve become very impatient. Restaurant web pages, unfortunately, never got this memo and continue to neglect to put their hours of operation on their front page.
Chatbots aren’t meant to replace human interaction but instead facilitate interaction in general and provide accurate, instant information. Chatbots function 24/7/365. They allow a potential client/customer/audience member access to your business at times they might not otherwise have been able to have access. Instead of losing sleep (literally) over missed opportunities to interact, you can instead create a chatbot to answer basic questions.
A chatbot is always on, even when no one at your company is.
Get Them to Handle FAQ’s
Chatbots take to providing and gathering information like a starship trooper takes to squashing the alien bug menace. From answering frequently asked questions like hours of operation or pricing to the chatbot asking its own questions to gather information about the potential client, chatbots are a fantastic way to automate this process while also providing interaction and potential for leading people through your marketing funnel.
Someone asked your chatbot for your hours of operation? Have your chatbot give them the info then provide a coupon valid for the next couple of days. Someone asked a question about a product or service? Have your chatbot ask a few follow-up questions to determine the most relevant product or service to inform them of.
You can even have a chatbot troubleshoot common problems and then, if the problem persists, forward all the relevant info to an actual human, saving time and money in the information gathering process.
Chatbots, Not Salesbots
Despite how helpful chatbots are, they are still an automatic form of interaction that has the potential for abuse. This is why companies like Facebook have implemented chatbot policies.
In addition, if you’re operating in the EU, you’ve got GDPR compliance to pay attention to. You should always follow policies and laws like this to the letter, but in addition to that . . .
. . . the one rule you should always keep in mind is this: Don’t waste someone’s time.
Chatbots flourish when your audience is engaged, interested, and gaining something of value from the interaction. The automatic nature of chatbots may tempt you to try to use them as salesbots but you should avoid this at all costs. Nobody likes a hard sell, and that’s an order of magnitude more true coming from an automated chatbot.
While you can add options for purchases to your chatbot further down in the funnel if you so wish, you should not use chatbots as a primary form of sales. Remember: your chatbots should be serving your customers/clients, not you.
It’s also important to use the right chatbot for the right situation. The chatbot you created for a giveaway promotion works great in that context, but for users visiting your social media page, you’ll want to take a different approach. The more off target you are and the more frequently you utilize a chatbot, the more likely that your audience is going to view it as spam.
Chatbots are just another marketing tool, so you need to be sure that you match your chatbots to their target audience. The more laser-focused you can be, the better.
Types of Chatbots
There are many chatbot services that will help you put together a chatbot for your business without having to know a lick of programming. This is the future, after all, and drag and drop is king.
That being said, we’ll cover some popular chatbot service providers later.
For now, we’ll focus on the mindset and methods you’ll want to apply when creating a chatbot for a specific purpose. This information will be valuable no matter what service you choose.
Your main chatbot will more than likely be the chatbot you use on your social media or website homepage to function as an interactive way to answer some frequently asked questions. This chatbot can be as robust or barebones as you like, depending on how in-depth you want to interact with the visitor.
You’ve probably already seen these chatbots online already in the form of automated assistants who can answer particular questions. If you’re a real estate firm, you may have a chatbot focused around recommending house price ranges or loan rates based on information provided by the visitor. If you’re a restaurant, you could have a chatbot provide information such as hours of operation, food and drink specials, and event details.
The greeter functions primarily as an interactive information kiosk so save your visitor time poking around your site or social media page for the info.
One thing you’ll also want to include in this kind of chatbot is a way for your visitor to send a question to a human without having to go to a different Contact Us page. By integrating a feature like this into your chatbot, you save your visitor time and make them feel taken care of. In addition, the chatbot can also forward the whole conversation it had with the visitor or any relevant information that the visitor gave to help the human on the other end reach a solution faster.
Chatbots also excel within existing marketing campaigns, especially in the case of giveaways and promotions. Instead of just having people fill out a form on a static page in order to enter a promotion you’re running, you can have your social media ads connect users directly with your chatbots.
This opportunity for interaction can greatly increase participation rates of your promotional marketing campaigns, and all you had to do was have a chatbot ask for information rather than an online form!
Chatbots in this role also have the benefit of being able to follow up during and after your promotional campaign to create opportunities for conversion, though this should be strictly opt-in, as the more you pester the users, the more likely they are to think of you as spam.
Use the promoter to create a one-two marketing punch. Using the hyper-targeting nature Facebook Ads in coordination with a laser-focused chatbot can deliver incredible conversion and interaction with any marketing campaign. This combo is especially effective with giveaways and promotions.
Something’s broken or your client needs a refresher course on how to operate a product, but the catch here is that it’s 3AM and business hours are over. For whatever reason, the client needs an answer pronto.
Enter in the fixer.
Instead of forcing your clients and customers to troll search engines for solutions or answers to commonly asked questions, you can load these things into your chatbot. The nice thing here is that this particular aspect of a chatbot can be integrated into the greeter once the bot has identified that the user needs help with an issue.
From that point, if the bot’s interactive FAQ and troubleshooting hasn’t solved the problem, you can have the bot offer to forward the information to a representative who will handle things during business hours. The important thing to note here is that even though the problem might not be immediately resolved, you’ve essentially taken the worry off the person’s mind.
If your business involves shipping products, you can utilize a chatbot to keep your customers up to date on the location of their packages. This can be particularly helpful for high ticket purchases where the customer may want to be present for the delivery or at the very least minimize the time their expensive item is sitting unguarded on their porch.
This is a pretty straightforward role for a chatbot, but the important thing to ensure is that you don’t spam the user too much with messages. You could even have the chatbot ask the user how often they’d like tracking updates in order to ensure that the user gets the information as frequently or infrequently as they want.
You can even utilize chatbots as something of a personal secretary. In order to maintain the flow of your marketing funnel, you can hook up your chatbot to your availability calendar and give users the option to schedule an appointment with you or someone from your company.
This is a fantastic option to use in conjunction with troubleshooting or product info chatbots. After someone’s interacted with your chatbot for a bit, you can safely assume that they’re warming up to your business. Whether you’re selling real estate, mattresses, or rainbow socks, offering an easy way to schedule time to speak directly with a human could be just what you need to seal the deal.
For businesses that utilize some kind of subscription function, having your clients’ accounts tied with their social media accounts can be a good way to remind them that it may be time to resubscribe.
Chatbots in this role have a fantastic chance of greatly increasing retention rates. Whether it’s through a simple reminder to unsubscribe to special offers for long-standing customers or people planning on unsubscribing, a chatbot can walk a customer through the resubscription process and, worst case, collect data on why the customer has decided to end their subscription.
Top Chatbots to Check Out
Shake an automated stick on the internet and you’re likely to hit half a dozen chatbot services. Chatbots are a constantly growing industry and there’s an observable race to make them as easily accessible as possible. To keep with that trend, we’re highlighting four chatbot platforms that require zero coding knowledge and also have free plans so you can test them out at your leisure.
ManyChat utilizes a user-friendly drag and drop interface that makes things very easy. In addition, they have a blog full of useful articles, a strong support community, a free video tutorial, and a very generous free plan that gives you unlimited broadcasts.
One of the other nice features to ManyChat is the ability to notify you when a human touch may be needed with an interaction and seamlessly integrate you into that conversation.
For those dipping their toes into the world of chatbots for the first time, MobileMonkey can be a good platform to use. Their free plan is one of the most robust and complete ones out there and they have a plethora of material to help you learn your way around chatbots. They even run live webinars for that extra special touch.
If you don’t have much time on your hand to fuss around, Chatfuel’s chatbot templates are the way the way to go. And if you’ve got money to throw at your lack of chatbot problem, Chatfuel even offers professional bot building services. Some impressive companies use Chatfuel, from Netflix and LEGO to UBER and Visa, so you know your company will be in good hands.
One of the biggest advantages to using Flow XO is that their chatbot services are integrated with their workflow automation platform. Essentially, Flow XO will let you track and record as much data in as much detail as you like across multiple aspects of your business. In addition, their pricing plans are modular so you can tailor your monthly payments to best suits the needs of your business.
Special Mention: Zapier
If the workflow automation portion of Flow XO sounds pretty neat to you, many entrepreneurs use Zapier, a workflow automation service that ties into a bunch of different apps. This way, you can take your favorite chatbot service and plug it into some workflow automation without being tied to a specific chatbot service.
Creating A Personality
You know your chatbot isn’t a real person. Your customer/visitor knows your chatbot isn’t a real person. But that doesn’t mean your chatbot has to speak like a boring automated answering machine. Put some personality into the text you write for your chatbot. Here are some tips.
Clarity Is Key
Don’t try to swap out human interaction with a chatbot and think you can get away with it. It’s important to let your customer know that they’re talking to a chatbot. It creates the proper context for your bot (read: some random corporate employee isn’t just messaging someone randomly) and sets the right kinds of expectations for the conversation.
This is the very first thing your bot should do.
Just a quick, “Hey this is Companyname Auto Chat Bot! If you’ve got a question I’ve got an answer!” can make a world of difference in regards to how people choose to interact with your chatbot.
Make Things Fun
Do you remember when “chatterbots” first started appearing? These were the precursors to chatbot and were simple bots that were programmed to mimic conversation as well as possible. People had a blast trying to get chatterbots such as Cleverbot to give weird responses, and even to this day, people ask Siri, Alexa, Cortana, et al to tell jokes.
Implementing some brevity.exe into your chatbot is a great way to get people to interact with your chatbot. It may not be directly advancing the customer down your funnel, but what you’re doing is creating value in the interaction. Plus, it’s fun to figure out the kind of funny personality your chatbot can have that still fits within your branding.
Don’t go out of your way to make your chatbot the next viral cringe meme, but it’s important to make your language match what your audience uses. Instead of trying to shoehorn the right lingo in, though, just use the right tone and words when they come up. It’s okay for your bot to be mostly professional with a hint of colloquial language. It really all depends on your brand and how informal you’re comfortable being with your chatbot.
Even though the chatbot is saving you time, don’t waste your customers’.
Break up large paragraphs, or better yet, condense the writing.
Be minimalist: the less room for misunderstanding, the better.
Highlight important info by placing an emoji by it. Sure, it’s cutesy, but it works.
Feel free to use shorthand. But don’t go overboard. You should be clear and concise above using shorthand phrases. YMMV.
In order to keep the chatbot interaction interesting, spice things up with a GIF or two. As a general rule, you should strive for your chatbot to be one of the major creative outlets for your brand due to the nature of your bot interacting directly with your audience.
Change The Language
Feel free to make up obviously fake cute phrases to describe some of the stuff your bot’s doing, but you should avoid the official jargon of your industry or needlessly complex words or phrases. You’re interacting directly with your audience in an informal setting, so speak normally, like you would to a friend.
When All Else Fails . . .
When all else fails, send your user to a human. Always have the option for them to get in touch with a human somehow on the possibility that they’re done interacting with your bot.
The last thing you want is a robot uprising, so test your chatbots before bringing them live. Have your friends test your chatbots. Have your relatives test your chatbots. Let your cat walk over your keyboard and test your chatbots.
You get the idea.
Your chatbot should be polished, especially considering that it’s an interactive medium. Treat your chatbot as you would any form of external marketing material and strive for perfection.
And the only way you’re going to get there is through running through your chatbot as much as possible.
The best way to learn chatbots is to pick a chatbot service and dive right in. But remember that you’re not alone. Many chatbot services have robust support communities, and the internet is full of tips, tricks, and walkthroughs to help you develop the exact kind of chatbot that you want.
What are your chatbot tips and tricks? How about your favorite walkthroughs/tutorials?
Let me know in the comments!