When chatbots first came onto the scene, they were nothing more than glorified virtual talking dumpsters.
Today, there are chatbots for practically everything… seriously.
If you’re tired of going umbrella-less on rainy days, Poncho will send fun weather updates right to your phone.
If you have trouble going to bed, Insomno will stay up all night long to text with you and keep you company.
If you can’t seem to remember your daily vitamins, Florence will ensure that you never forget again.
But, besides just making our personal lives easier to live, recent advancements in chatbots can also help us at work — especially from a marketing and sales basis — literally having the power to transform any small tactical growth team into a robo-powered lead generating juggernaut.
But, before we dive into just how dramatic of an impact chatbots can have on our businesses, let’s first get a better idea of what a chatbot really is — because it’s a bit ambiguous, don’t you think?
Let’s chat about chatbots.
The term “chatbot” gets thrown around quite a bit, but what does it really mean? Well, first and foremost, a chatbot is an artificially intelligent bot that is used to converse with human-beings.
Depending on a chatbots programming, it can do all sorts of wonderful things for marketers and salespeople.
They can interact with a brand’s website visitors. They can knock out mundane tasks that have to get done but aren’t necessarily the most fun to do. They can conduct SEO research on your competitors.
And, they can find out open rates on the last MailChimp campaign you sent out — something you can obviously do — but who doesn’t get tired of logging into MailChimp?
Anyways, while their uses vary considerably, most chatbots can be separated into two main categories — informational and utility.
Informational bots give users new and easier ways to access information.
An example of an informational bot is Poncho. Instead of you looking up the weather online or in one of your weather apps, Poncho simply delivers you the weather in a fun easy way. While you already have access to the information Poncho provides… he can make it to where you don’t have to spend time looking for the information yourself.
And then, of course, there is Utility chatbots, which help people complete some type of action or solve a problem.
A very basic example of a utility bot would be Florence, who reminds you to take the vitamins you have so much trouble remembering. While she doesn’t provide you with information, she does help you solve a very specific action — remembering to take your vitamins.
Now, you might also be wondering how chatbots work? Yeah, it’s neat they can help simplify our lives, but what exactly goes on inside these absurdly awesome perhaps intimidating bits of technology?
Well, while chatbots vary depending on what they were designed to do, most of the chatbots you’ve probably interacted with are those that send you a note on websites or via messenger(s).
In this regard, chatbots work in much the same way as say a receptionist or some uber-personal individual at a helpdesk. When that little message box pops up with Buster the Chatbot asking if he can help you with anything, he is acting in much the same way as a customer service representative.
Now, like so many customer service representatives, some of them are super-helpful and some of them are about as useful as a pair of steel-toed boots in the middle of the ocean.
When chatbots are designed well, they are a pleasure to interact with and ultimately make our lives as customers and salespeople much much easier. But, when they’re designed poorly, we find ourselves wanting to punch our fists through our screens.
Unfortunately, the bad taste in your mouth you might have because of chatbots could be attributed to the fact that you’ve only interacted with really really bad ones.
This is a shame because high-quality chatbots can make your life as a marketer so much easier. To, hopefully, reinstill your trust in chatbots… I’ve compiled a few examples of brands using them extremely well.
Real life examples of brands using chatbots.
Okay, so we’ve touched on what chatbots are, how they function and how they make our lives easier… but what can they do for us marketing and sales people?
Below, I have included several examples of brands harnessing the power of chatbots.
Pizza Hut is making ordering easier for its customers.
Let’s face it, ordering a pizza can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth — or at least that was a common complaint Pizza Hut was noticing from its customers. Today, the cheesy giant uses chatbots to streamline the ordering process. Instead of fussing with a website or hunting down a phone number, customers can now order pizzas directly on Facebook or Twitter for no additional charge.
Duolingo is removing the embarrassment that comes along with learning to speak a new language.
Do you remember how embarrassing and intimidating it was trying to speak a new language for the first time in Spanish class? Duolingo, one of the world’s most popular language learning platforms, has created a chatbot to take the nerves out of learning and speaking a foreign language. Instead of students battling feelings of anxiousness speaking to real human beings, they can now communicate with Duolingo’s chatbot in the language they are learning.
Starbucks allows you to order on the go and cut out the line.
Waiting in a long line for a cup of coffee while battling a caffeine headache is anything but pleasant. Starbucks wanted to give their most loyal customers a way to skip the line and get their crack (I mean coffee) sooner. So, they integrated a chatbot into Facebook messenger and now customers can order their coffee from anywhere.
Sephora created the perfect content marketing channel to reach their customers.
Content is useless if it’s not getting in front of your customers. Sephora probably realized this when they created a chatbot on Kik, a popular messaging app. Now, anytime a customer messages Sephora, they are asked to take a quiz that gives the chatbot specific insights it can use to provide customized beauty tips to customers — like what makeup to wear and how to authentically style their look.
Now that we discussed a few real life examples of brands using chatbots, you might be interested in further exploring how chatbots can help amp up your marketing and sales teams and ultimately streamline your processes. Below, I have shared a few chatbots that you might find helpful.
3 Chatbots that could transform your sales and marketing teams.
Working in marketing can feel all-encompassing. And, if you aren’t careful, you can quickly find yourself spending half of your time doing mundane tasks that need to get done but aren’t necessarily the best use of your time.
Marketers and sales teams need to be focusing on getting the most bang for their buck and this means spending time doing things that robots can’t — like building close relationships with customers, crafting creative marketing campaigns and developing long-term strategies that will bring in more business.
Everything else? Hand it over to your chatbot.
1. Test your ideas and products before you spend marketing dollars on them with SurveyBot.
The most common nightmare marketers and sales people run into is investing in creating a product that people don’t actually want… or selling to a need or problem that customers don’t actually have.
A tried and true way to mitigate this costly error is to do a few surveys before ever spending a dime of your companies money. But, traditionally, there has been a major problem with surveys — they take a ridiculous amount of time and money to conduct.
Fortunately, chatbots like SurveyBot, let you conduct surveys right in Facebook messenger. You create the survey and SurveyBot does the footwork. This is a great tool if you are wanting to gain a better understanding of your target market.
2. Sell directly in Facebook messenger with Assist.st.
One common complaint of chatbots is something called fixed-decision trees — which basically means forcing customers to decide between A, B or C options. Assist.st takes pride in the fact that they offer random access navigation, where customers can move and interact freely with the chatbot.
In addition, Assist.st can make sales directly in Facebook messenger without customers ever having to click-through to your website. It’s like having a sales rep working 24/7 for your brand — right in your customer’s inbox.
3. Increase customer conversion directly on your site with HubSpot’s Live Chat Software.
How many times have you bounced off of a website just moments after arriving? An excellent bounce rate for a website is between 26% — 40%… but this still means 1 in 4 or nearly 1 in 2 of your site visitors bounce as soon as they arrive.
HubSpot’s Live Chat software can convert more of your site visitors to paying customers by answering their questions just moments after they show up. With our Live Chat Software, you can both enhance the customer journey and influence their decision-making process with direct conversations earlier than ever before — your customers shouldn’t have to look everywhere if they have a question.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Build it.
Chatbots will change marketing and sales as we know it — making it easier for teams to get more done in less time — which will allow teams to focus on big picture items that actually move the needle.
And, in addition, there is interesting trend that we will see in the future as chatbots gain trust and popularity among marketing sales teams — chatbot build outs.
It’s a rational decision when you think about it. If they don’t make the chatbot you’re looking for… just make it yourself. While this option has previously been difficult, chatbot builders are making it possible for anyone to build a chatbot to their liking. In fact, my team at HubSpot will soon release our very own chat bot builder. If you would like to get notified when we do, simply follow this link.