I’m kicking off a new blog series following my extensive and undying love for chatbots with personality — The Basics. Before we get ahead of ourselves and start writing chatbot scripts and building prototypes, there are a few more basics to cover. For example, how can a chatbot grow your business? Who are chatbots for? Who are they not for? Let’s explore.

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First, what is a chatbot? I like to think of them as micro, conversation-based experiences that live inside of messaging applications, like Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, Slack, SMS and Voice.

For a business, we’ll focus on customer acquisition bots. These are the same micro, conversation-based experiences, but instead, they are specifically designed to convert users to customers through targeted advertising. These bots have a specific and measurable goal that’s achieved through automated conversation. In most cases the goals are things like: scheduling a call or appointment, subscribing to a service, purchasing something, or capturing lead information for your business. They grow your business.

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Sign me up, right? Here’s a few things to ask yourself before you jump to creating a chatbot for your business:

  • Do you acquire users socially?
  • Do you have a paid social budget to acquire these users?
  • Do you have a value for the user to share, aside from selling?

What I mean by that is, a user doesn’t want to click on your ad on Facebook or Twitter and have you dive right in to telling them to sign up or download. They want value. They want a carrot. It may be you translating your website’s automatic quote delivery tool into a conversation, offering exclusive insight that can help the customer improve their lives, or give something away for free. Think about what values you can offer to your customer first, and then build an interactive conversation around it.

Now let’s look at the benefits of acquiring customers with a chatbot, vs a traditional Facebook ad.

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The first thing that comes to mind is the convenience. 9 out of 10 users want to use messaging to communicate with brands. Let’s give the customers what they want! On SMS, we see 1000s of messages coming in to our bots in the first week. On Facebook, 61% of customers for a 65+ demographic completed the goal of one of our chatbots. The experience a user has on Facebook when they engage with an advertisement is typically a static microsite selling them something. When the ad destination is a chatbot, users can engage in a two way conversation as they learn about your service. They even have fun. Delivering a personalized, consistent brand experience to every single customer that engages with you is invaluable to your business.

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47% of users say they would buy an item through a chatbot this year. Our customers have all seen lower acquisition cost when the ad destination is a chatbot (instead of a microsite, website or the app store). And, their customers actually like to use it. 33% of users said they would make a reservation using a chatbot, and 37% would rather buy something through a brand’s Facebook page than their website. Let’s make customers happier.

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The secret sauce of growing your business with a chatbot is owning your users. Once a user engages with your chatbot, you do not need to pay to contact them. For 24 hours, you can send that user unlimited messages (which should be an engaging, two-way conversation), and remind them to pick up where they left off. After that day, you get 1 more message at any time (for free) to re-engage the user. Use it wisely! Think of creative ways to encourage the user to return to your bot and reply to you to refresh the 24+1 — Save the message for their birthday, a huge promotion, or update on their order, and be sure to ask a question that has at minimum, a yes or no answer.

Ready to grow your business with a chatbot? Check out the handy infographic below that explains all of the basics we covered in this post. Share it with your friends and coworkers, and stay tuned for my next post in The Basics where I’ll reveal my tips for a customer acquisition bot that people actually want to use.