These numbers show that chatbots are going to be a game changer:
- By 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without human interaction (Gartner).
- In 2018, 45% of the fastest-growing companies will “employ” more virtual assistants and smart machines than people (Gartner).
- Before 2025, the AI market will surpass $100 billion (Constellation Research).
Put Simply, chatbots will inevitably replace tasks previously reserved for humans.
CAN CHATBOTS PUSH CUSTOMERS DOWN THE SALES FUNNEL?
For starters, what is a sales funnel?
“The representation of a buyer’s journey. The steps that a prospect will take on a landing page or website during their journey which could result in them completing the desired action. The result of a funnel is a customer buying a product, downloading an app, subscribing to a newsletter, or referring their friends to the business.”
While easy to understand, getting people to reach the end of the funnel and increasing your conversion is the true challenge.
The truth is that customers are hard to attract.
You need to create an effective onboarding campaign, get people interested in your products and sustain that interest over time. This is a massive undertaking, especially if you have a lot of potential clients that need an extra push.
Fortunately, chatbots have made the process a lot easier.
How did chatbots change the rules of the game? In this article, we’ll look at how chatbots can help your sales funnels:
1. CHATBOTS CAN NURTURE LEADS
While lead generation is often quite time-consuming, it is a crucial part of the sales process. In fact, Propeller.com found that 80% of sales require at least five follow-ups after the initial contact.
Now, here is the trick:
To be successful at nurturing leads, you need to answer these important questions:
- Do you have attainable and measurable objectives in place?
- Do you have data on your consumer’s behaviour and product preferences?
- Do you have content already developed, which are targeted to specific buyer personas?
With chatbots that offer virtual assistance, nurturing leads is fast and easy. Chatbots can generate data on product preferences, consumer behaviour and email behaviour. As a result, data from chatbots can help you create effective emails and lead-nurturing campaigns. In addition, a chatbot can send regular follow-ups based on a consumer’s behaviour, such as the time they open their emails.
Since chatbots possess automation features, businesses can run lead nurturing campaigns smoothly without constant monitoring. Best of all, no leads will be left behind.
2. CHATBOTS PROVIDE IMMEDIATE CUSTOMER SERVICE
Chatbots are the salespeople of the future.
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of a customer’s relationship with a company will happen without interacting with a single human.
This is no surprise since chatbots can provide instant customer service and offer answers to a customer’s queries.
Starbucks also embraced chatbots when it launched the mobile app—My Starbucks Barista. The app enabled customers to interact with virtual assistants who can take their orders via messaging or voice recognition. Additionally, the assistant confirmed the location of the Starbucks branch they want to order from, and help process payments.
The company also announced the “Starbucks Reorder Skill” for Amazon Alexa. This gives customers the ability to re-order by saying, “Alexa, order my Starbucks.”
The launch comes at a time when reliance on voice assistants is on the rise.
“The Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between our barista and customer, so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility,” said Gerri Martin-Flickinger, chief technology officer for Starbucks, in a statement. “Our team is focused on making sure that Starbucks voice ordering within our app is truly personal and equally important was finding the right partner in Amazon to test and learn from this new capability.”
Another customer service advantage of chatbots is that no customer is ever ignored.
Often, sales teams and customer service teams are forced to prioritize in their communication with customers due to their inability to answer all inquiries. In the world of chatbots, delayed response is no longer sufficient and is an example of bad customer service.
This would never happen with a chatbot since it can entertain multiple customers simultaneously.
Chatbots also have a faster response time than human salespeople. So, they never miss a crucial moment when it comes to selling a product or service. This translates to faster conversion rates with minimal effort, because the whole sales process is automated.
3. CHATBOTS OFFER IMPROVED USER EXPERIENCE
Chatbots have characteristics that make them excel over human salespeople. For one, chatbots have access to customer information, which make them more likely to recommend items that are in line with the consumer’s interest.
For instance—the clothing and lingerie retailer Aerie by American Eagle Outfitters—developed chatbots for the Kik messaging app. The chatbot asks customers what they’re looking for, followed by a series of questions to narrow down a product search.
What makes it unique, however, is its ability to communicate with customers using the brand’s voice. Since Aerie’s target market is a younger generation of consumers, the app emulates how younger people converse when it interacts with consumers. It also has a “this” or “that” option to help consumers pick their ultimate choice.
These examples illustrate how bots in messaging apps have improved a customer’s experience. People like communicating with virtual assistants because they get accurate recommendations and instant answers to their questions. While some may prefer human interaction, lessening the burden on human customer service by implementing virtual assistants, improves the experience for all.
4. CHATBOTS GENERATE PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS AND DRIVE CONVERSIONS
As mentioned previously, chatbots are great analytic tools.
“Chatbots can be programmed to track purchasing patterns and monitor data from consumers,” AJ Agrawal of Forbes explains. “This tells a company which products to market differently, which to market more and which to redevelop for relaunch.”
Most businesses have a lot of data. What sets a chatbot apart is that it doesn’t require customers to complete surveys. Instead, it asks questions on Messenger apps and generates information from conversations. Additionally, it can gather data based on a user’s clicks, shares or scrolls in order to predict the circumstances where they would buy.
Chatbots can also be optimized for sales funnel minded scripts. From the data they collect, they can determine behavioural patterns of customers and accurately segment them. This allows marketers to create effective campaigns, which will motivate customers to reach the end of a funnel.
5. CHATBOTS CAN ENHANCE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
“What else can you do with chatbots?”
You can also align them with your social media marketing efforts.
For example, a chatbot from a content marketing agency may say, “Are you interested in learning how content marketing can help improve your sales? I’ve got a free report.”
After someone clicks the link, Facebook Messenger automatically opens. The chatbot might then say, “Hey! I’ve got your free report. Can I give it to you? Can I also use this chat window to get in touch with you?”
When the customer answers, “Yes!” the report is sent in Messenger.
After that, the chatbot sends follow-ups or promotional messages to customers every few days or weeks. You can get bots to send them informative articles on content marketing trends, or send testimonials to build social proof.
Over time, you convert customers.
It may not happen immediately, but that’s normal.
Bottom line is: Chatbots are the future of social media marketing.
Chatbots are inevitably the future.
They automate lead generation, offer immediate customer service and quality user experience, generate predictive analytics and drive conversions. A tall order for a technology in relative infancy, but chatbots manage to perform these tasks almost seamlessly.
So, in 2018…try chatbots out yourself.
Instead of sending emails yourself and relying on old data—build your own chatbot or get into a platform. That being said, don’t expect chatbots to take over your entire sales funnel just yet.
While it’s true that chatbots are still an emerging technology, it’s nice to know that in the near future they’ll make it far easier to push customers down the sales funnel.