Is Chatbot Marketing The New Email Marketing?
At some point, almost all marketing channels suffer from fatigue. This could be due to any number of reasons like an increase in competition, the rising cost of competing, or maybe the channel simply hit its volume ceiling.
Most businesses have to face this type of challenge when the channels that were once a high-performing start to become less and less effective.
But while the returns from most digital marketing channels are diminishing, there is a new medium that marketers can use to reach their audiences: Chatbots.
Some of the channels that are close to reaching their peak include video ads on Facebook.
The costs are still relatively low, and the engagement is quite high, but as with most ad platforms, the increased competition is likely to drive up those prices, making it harder for the smaller online business entrepreneurs to invest in that type of marketing.
In fact, sooner or later it will become less viable even for the big businesses.
But, instead of crying over what once was, smart marketers look to adopt new channels with higher potential at early stages so they can reap the rewards.
Marketing Beyond Email
Email has always been a huge part of most business's digital marketing strategies.
It has consistently grown in popularity over the years because it gives business owners the ability to market their products directly through an effective channel which scales up to an extremely high ceiling.
While very attractive, the one issue with email is that these days it's costing more and more to get those email addresses from prospective customers, while engagement from email is dwindling.
So, what does this mean for you?
Well, the decline in the email click rates means that email (while still super effective), may not be as effective as it used to be. Some marketers dispute this fact because they see that their open rates are increasing, but this is only due to the fact that more and more people are going mobile.
This means that while they're opening the emails, the engagement rate is still taking a nosedive.
So, yes, email is still an effective channel, but it's only going to get harder and harder to make it into people's inboxes, let alone engage them.
Your audience reach with email, like all other 'organic' marketing channels, has a tendency to decline over time. This is due to various factors which include over-exposure to similar marketing emails or moves from the email providers to filter out all promotional content (like Gmail does).
And email isn't the only channel that is affected.
Sometimes it's the platform itself. Take Facebook, for example, just in the last couple of years the organic reach of the pages fell in an unprecedented way.
Well, enough of the doom and gloom – what is the way forward?
You don't have to give up on whatever marketing channels you're currently using, but it would be prudent to start integrating other, newer, and more effective channels into your digital marketing plan.
The Era of Chatbots
If you're not already looking into the possibility of implementing chatbots into your business marketing plan, then now is the time to give it some serious thought.
There are a lot of amazing apps popping up from various brands that really provide value to the end user.
Consumers are responding very well to them so far, with over 90% reporting positive experiences when interacting with chatbots. But, for those who aren't too familiar with chatbots, here's a quick rundown of what they are and what they do:
What Are Chatbots and What Do They Do?
Chatbots are computer programs that are designed to simulate conversations with humans, particularly on the Internet.
This is a service that is powered by either rules or artificial intelligence. You interact with it through a chat interface. This type of service could serve any purpose from fun to functional, and it could reside within any major chat product (eg. Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Slack, or Text Messages).
As awareness is starting to grow around chatbots, more and more online business owners are starting to think of ways of implementing this channel into their business marketing techniques.
Facebook was one of the first with their new Messenger platform which supports chatbots, and lots of businesses in the adult industry weren't far behind leading the demand around chatbots.
But now it's time for the Internet marketing crowd to jump on to this trend before it takes off fully. And luckily, there are some awesome chatbots that were designed to add lots of value while also benefiting your business commercially.
There are also a lot of e-commerce stores that have started to leverage chatbots as well.
Some sites allow you to ask for specific products which they then display to you within Messenger. And when you consider that Facebook allows you to make your payments through Messenger bots, the possibilities for e-commerce stores are endless.
How You Can Start Using Chatbots in Your Business
Bots get up to 90% response rates, which means that audiences are more engaged with bots than they are with email and most other marketing channels.
If you're convinced about the importance of this new trend to your marketing success, but you still aren't sure what you're supposed to do with chatbots in your business, then just read on to get some inspiration and maybe a few interesting ideas. Chatbots aren't only available to the big brands with massive audiences.
Here are 5 reasons why you should use them in your own business:
Chatbots allow you to send push messages to someone within Facebook Messenger as soon as they engage with your chatbot.
Chatbots allow you dynamic use of the input from users to segment visitors into groups so that you can deliver more targeted content to them.
The click-through rate and general engagement of chatbots are extremely high.
Your customers and prospects will be more likely to engage within Messenger as opposed to Facebook pages simply because you'll be communicating 1:1, and there won't be any news-feed to compete with.
These are just 5 of the things you can do on Messenger ALONE. There are many other platforms outside of Messenger that you can use including Telegram, Slack, and SMS.
How to Create Your Own Chatbot
Most new marketing channels cost money to implement or require highly specialized skills, but that is not so with chatbots. You could have a fully functioning chatbot in just a few minutes, and best of all? It won't cost you anything.
I know what you must be wondering - that can't be possible - but it is, thanks to Chatfuel and other platforms which let you create your own chatbot for Messenger for free.
You only pay if you exceed more than 100,000 monthly conversations, and for most small Internet businesses, that will not be a big issue.
You don't even have to know anything about code because the platform has a drag and drop interface that is super easy to use.
When mapping out the chatbot for your business, you first need to determine the unique value that your bot is going to add to your audience.
For instance, you could have a bot that gives out daily dieting tips and lives within Messenger. Or one that gives out recipes, where you only have to say what list of ingredients you want to cook, and it will give you the relevant recipe.
You get the point, right?
While these ideas seem simple, they add tons of value to the users.
This is an ongoing value, and it gives your customers a reason to engage with your bot on a regular basis, which in turn creates a wealth of opportunities to take those users down various conversion paths.
For example, you could get them to purchase the ingredients, show them product recommendations, or use the bot for ongoing content subscriptions.
So, ask yourself this question and have a clear answer as to why someone would continue to find value in the chatbot that you're designing.
Some Chatfuel Basics: Blocks and AI Rules
Chatfuel basically works by linking certain 'Blocks' to 'AI Rules'. Think of this in terms of email automation. The 'Blocks' are the individual emails, and the 'AI Rules' are your automation rules such as 'if the subscriber does x, then send them y'.
Whenever you plan to make an interaction with any user, build it out on an individual block, and based on each of their input, they will start to get different blocks afterward.
You can set up the rules so that if your users respond in certain ways, they are served specific blocks. Your rules can also be based on keywords such as 'Manage Subscription' which would send them to a block asking them if they want to reduce the number of messages that they get.
Or something like that, this is just one of many examples.
Using the same 'Dieting Tips' example above, if a user were to type 'Paleo Diet' they would get a selection of articles on Paleo which can be taken dynamically using the RSS plugin inside Chatfuel.
This plugin links up to all kinds of different services which adds richer content to conversations being held.
It links up to YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram and it can also ask the user to share their location as well as share video and audio content. You can also build out unique attributes that you can use to segment your users based on the inputted data.
Create a free account with Chatfuel and then just test out the platform for yourself.
You can try any of the other platforms mentioned here as well.
Most have a feature which allows you to test your Chatbot by pinging you a message in Messenger and then engaging with your bot while it's in development mode so that you can make all the necessary improvements before you take it live.
How to Use Chatbots for Growing Your Funnel
After implementing your chatbot in your business, you can then begin to experiment and discover various ways of using it in your funnels. Your chatbot will make a very effective acquisition channel when properly executed.
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and spark a few genius ones of your own.
Some may apply to your business but others will probably be less relevant, but either way, you won't fail to get inspired:
You can enable users to opt-in to receive your newsletter directly inside Messenger. Your users can decide the frequency with which they want to receive content, and they can even specify what type of content they would like to receive.
This is a great way of getting people to opt-into the messages that they are going to receive since engagement rates are way better for those users who opt-in than those who don't.
You can get people to go through your chatbot if they want to get discounts on certain products. From there you can show them additional product recommendations before they check out directly from within Messenger.
Then, you can follow up with them and ask for product reviews.
Add follow-up messages to those who convert via your code, and then automate post-sale follow-up. This seems like a lot of work, but you only have to do it once. You also have the option to integrate this into a Facebook ad which sends visitors directly into Messenger.
If you've been using content upgrades at all, it's probably been for growing your email list.
But now it's time to shift that focus a little and direct it toward getting your visitors to begin conversations with you on Messenger. This allows you to engage with them directly, create stronger relationships, and ultimately get more out of them in the long run.
As you have seen, there are countless ways that you can use chatbots in your own business. You don't have to implement everything, just start with one of the tactics outlined in this post and then go from there.
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Updated: Originally published September 9th 2018