We’ve all made some space in our life for a new friend or two who’s always then when you need them, who can help you with everyday tasks and generally just make your life better. We’re talking of course about chatbots and virtual assistants!
Whether it’s setting a reminder to buy cat food when you get to the supermarket or scheduling that meeting with your digital marketing agency, Siri, Alexa and Cortana have made themselves into cornerstones of our daily work and personal lives thanks to their increasing sophistication.
But with technological advancements, it’s not just huge, multinational conglomerates that can use this new technology to their advantage: now, even the smallest of businesses can easily set up a chatbot to advertise their business and streamline their sales pipeline by answering common queries and acting as the first point of contact for many prospective customers. This, in turn, frees up time for you to focus on what really matters: growing your small business.
In today’s blog post, we’ll go over some of the benefits of using chatbots as part of your social media marketing strategy and how small businesses can utilise these bots. To top this all off, we’ll also share some practical tips for getting started with your first one.
Three benefits of using chatbots
While chatbots are now something most people have become familiar with, businesses of all sizes are still playing catch-up, meaning now is the perfect time to differentiate yourself from the competition by setting up your own chatbot before this trend is universally adopted by all of your competition. In 2016, Business Insider predicted that 80% of companies would be using one by 2020, so if you haven’t set up one just yet, now’s the time to do so.
1. Better open rates for marketing messages
Largely because chatbots are still gaining popularity, you could get better opening and engagement rates for your marketing messages by using a chatbot to send them. Marketing email open rates haven’t shifted in several years, with only about 30% of marketing emails being opened, ever.
Meanwhile, messages from bots don’t automatically register as marketing messaging in the minds of all internet users just yet. Because messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger aren’t saturated with messages from bots yet, it’s no wonder that chatbot messages have an open rate of 98%, while a 15-25% open rate is considered good for marketing emails. From this, it’s clear that sending automated messages on these platforms could prove a very useful addition to your marketing communications strategy.
That being said, you shouldn’t hang up your email marketing boots just yet. First of all, you own your email list, but you don’t own the social media platforms you're using chatbots on. Secondly, you can actually use your chatbot to grow your email list by adding a marketing email opt-in to your bot. This allows you to keep marketing to even more potential and lapsed customers via email.
2. Build your brand with a helpful bot
When it comes to chatbots answering common customer queries on your website and social media sites, you can program it to answer questions in a way that reflects your brand. You can make answers humorous or sincere, add emojis or GIFs - whatever you believe will appeal to your ideal customer and build your brand in a unique and authentic way. An expert copywriter can help you nail the tone of your messaging.
Additionally, giving your bot a name and a unique avatar will make your brand feel more personable. All of this will add personality to your brand, which in turn will make your business more approachable and memorable.
3. Make your staff’s life easier
While your sales and customer service staff might feel like a chatbot will threaten their livelihood, in reality, it’ll just make it easier for them to provide leads with stellar customer service.
Before it hands conversations over to human staff members, your chatbot can find out essential information about your lead or customer so that your staff can offer them the answers they need, fast. This way, a chatbot basically becomes an interactive FAQ page, offering people the information they need faster with fewer clicks, leading to a better customer experience.
Utilising a chatbot simply does away with a lot of the monotonous tasks related to customer service, allowing your team to focus on delivering stellar experiences to leads and customers.
Are social media chatbots useful for small businesses?
These days, there are countless inexpensive, even free, ways for small companies to start automating their sales and marketing using chatbots. Bets of all, many of these tools require no coding skills.
Considering the low barrier for entry, the benefits of chatbot marketing for small businesses are undeniable. First of all, utilising social media chatbots allows you to offer customer support to more people, around the clock.
As a small business, your people wear many hats and the people who usually respond to social media queries usually have about ten dozen other things on their to-do lists as well, so this will free up much of their time to tackle other things on their to-do list, taking over from the chatbot only if there’s a genuine need for the lead to speak to a staff member.
With a chatbot, the people interested in your business will be able to get answers to basic questions that can tide them over until they’re ready to convert or a human member of staff is ready to take the chat over. This is especially valuable since most people expect a reply from a company they message within four hours, whereas it takes companies 10 hours on average to answer questions they get via social media. Using a chatbot means your potential customer gets a reply straight away.
Our tips for setting up your first social media chatbot
There are two main types of social media chatbots: command-based and intelligent. An intelligent chatbot utilises AI to offer flexible answers to queries, getting more knowledgeable as time goes on as it gets to understand the type of questions it’s expected to answer. It uses artificial intelligence to get smarter and offer better answers as time goes on. As you might expect, bots like this are highly sophisticated and largely used by larger companies due to their cost.
Meanwhile, command-based or scripted chatbots can only offer prewritten answers to questions you’ve outlined ahead of time. This makes command-based chatbots more limited in the scope of their knowledge, though you can always add additional questions and answers to your bot’s repertoire if needed as you go along and learn more about what people tend to ask for.
This also means that with a scripted bot, you’ll need to offer manual intervention from sales staff in case your bot is asked a question it doesn’t understand. However, this limited scope also makes command-based chatbots more accessible, even for people with no coding skills. This makes them more suitable for most small businesses. The two chatbots we’d recommend for small businesses are Manychat and Chatfuel.
The future of chatbots in social media marketing
We predict that the use of social media chatbots will only keep growing and the impact of this trend will reach far beyond just social media marketing. Using chatbots is likely going to change the way people interact with brands in a big way. They’ll expect a response to their query within moments and will expect to be able to make bookings and purchases within their messaging app, without having to navigate to another website.
As we mentioned, social media messages that are basically unprompted advertisements still have an excellent open rate because users don’t expect to receive marketing messaging on these platforms.
However, as time goes on, people will learn to expect these just like they can easily distinguish between a personal and a marketing email. This will mean open rates for social media messages like this will have lower opening rates as people develop the kind of “banner blindness” they already have when it comes to many other forms of digital marketing.
That’s why we’d recommend putting more of your energy to building a smart, command-based chatbot to answer customer and lead queries. This way, you can build engagement and increase customer loyalty before chatbots become universally adopted.
Looking for some help with your social media marketing strategy? Bundle Digital has got you covered. We’re a small but mighty digital marketing agency in Edinburgh with a knack for social media posts that delight, PPC campaigns that convert and copywriting that builds your brand the authentic way. Take the first step towards smarter digital marketing that doesn’t cost the earth by getting in touch with us today.