The Website Chatbot: The Evolution of Conversational Marketing

 

This blog is the first in a series of three articles on conversational marketing written in collaboration with Rebrandly and SocialBee. In the series, you’ll learn the basics of conversational marketing, the importance of it, and how it can work with your social media strategy. 

 

What is the website chatbot? Is it the next big marketing trend in conversational marketing? 

Today, consumers are more aware of technology than ever. While some marketers may be worried about overusing automation and chat tools because their tech-savvy audience might notice. Others are embracing the bots and using them to improve the user journey by providing a more personalized experience. Ironically, sometimes bots are the key to adding a human touch to your marketing communications.

As it is, many workplaces use chat tools to boost productivity and improve collaboration efforts. And now, as AI becomes more refined, marketing teams can use it in a whole range of ways.

But before we launch into the details, let’s cover the basics.

What is conversational marketing?

Conversational marketing takes a one-to-one approach to promote a business and creates a more human buying experience for consumers. By human buying experience, we mean you’re having an actual conversation with your customers.

Conversational marketing drives engagement and allows companies to learn about their customers. This works by collecting feedback and providing a personalized experience based on customer needs.

Conversational marketing vs. traditional marketing

It’s all about listening to your customer. Listening to customers allow you to develop brand loyalty and which can lead to increased conversions. Think of conversational marketing as a combination of the digital experience and traditional in-store customer service.

Remember when social media marketing first gained popularity? It was seen as revolutionary because it took marketing from a one-way system of communicating with customers to a more interactive experience.

Now, with the rise of website chatbots, this trend of two-way conversations can be taken to a whole new level. Conversational marketing can be done across many channels, such as over the phone or via SMS. However, an increasing number of companies are leveraging social media to drive their conversational marketing strategy to distinguish their brand and solidify their brand’s voice and values. When most people refer to conversational marketing, they’re talking about interactions started using chatbots and live chat – that move to personal conversations.

This evolution makes sense too. Because starting a conversation with customers can now be done how, when, and where customers want to communicate.

Now, customers don’t have to turn down your cold call or listen to call waiting for music until an agent is free. They can start the conversation whenever they are available and await a response.

The importance of conversational marketing today

In an increasingly globalized world, being available is becoming more and more important for online businesses. But for SMBs and start-ups, in particular, this is only made possible by using website chatbots, which is a cost-effective way of being there to support customers all the time.

Technology has shifted consumer preferences towards a “now” culture. And while marketers may be worried about not having an actual human at the other end of a conversation, consumers won’t mind as long as the interaction is productive and their queries are addressed.

What is a website chatbot?

A chatbot is basically a computer software program that can use artificial intelligence and learn how to communicate with human visitors on your website. It has the ability to answer questions, get into conversations using natural language understanding (NLU).

The way chatbots work is by using the power of AI to study human communication in a way that they would know how to respond in a certain situation. So, they simply learn to understand a user’s intent and analyze the context of the conversation in order to give a proper response to the user they are in conversation with.

Simply put: When using a chatbot, a user can ask the bot a question or give it a specific instruction and the bot can actually respond in a relevant way or perform a proper action.

the website chatbot

Types of chatbots

Another thing worth mentioning here is that a chatbot can be intent or flow based, with the purpose of directing a user on a specific path. It can also be a combination of the two – both intent and flow based.

Well, have a look at some basic differences between the two types of chatbots:

Intent-based chatbots

The goal of intent-based bots is to solve user queries on a one to one basis. With each question answered it can adapt to the user behavior. The more data the bots receive, the more intelligent they become. Great examples of intent-based bots are Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa. The bot has the ability to extract contextual information such as location, and state information like chat history, to suggest appropriate solutions in a specific situation.

Flow-based chatbots

A flow-based bot’s main goal is to focus on solving user queries and progressively take users to a solution. The flow is very well defined by simply remembering the possible user interests.

A flow-based bot follows a series of messages, so manually entered texts have little to no importance to this type of bot. The way it works is it guides users through a predefined flow –  therefore things can become dull if the flow pattern is very limited.

So, basically, this is a systematic approach to bot development because it requires minimal development efforts. Most eCommerce chatbots are flow-based and here’s how they work if it’s a clothing retailer like H&M for instance:

  • The bot asks for gender and occasion (formal, casual or partywear)
  • The bot asks the visitor about what she/he is looking for – dress, skirt, blouse, shirt, t-shirt, trousers
  • The bot will showcase certain clothing samples. In case the visitor chooses an item it will move to checkout, otherwise, it’ll continue with more clothing samples.
  • In case after repeated cycles, the user still doesn’t choose any items, the bot will give the user the option to continue to the mobile app.

Now, it’s about deciding what type of chatbot is best for your business.

Website chatbot functions

There are three main functions of a chatbot. Using them as a conversational agent, a virtual assistant, and an AI-powered chatbot

  1. Conversational agent
    Conversation agents are systems that imitate human conversation using text or spoken language. Known examples of conversational agents include voice-activated systems such as Google Now, Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa.

  2. Virtual assistant
    A virtual assistant is an app that comprehends natural, ordinary language voice commands and carries out tasks for the users. Well-known virtual assistants include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana. Also, virtual assistants are generally cloud-based programs so they need internet-connected devices and/or applications in order to work. Virtual assistants can perform tasks like adding calendar appointments, controlling and checking the status of a smart home, sending text messages, and getting directions.

  3. AI
    An AI-powered chatbot is a smarter version of a chatbot (a machine that has the ability to communicate with humans via text or audio). It uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to get a better understanding of the intent of humans it interacts with. Also, its purpose is to provide a natural, as near human-level communication as possible.

Wrapping up

The bottom line is that chatbots have completely transformed the way companies interact with their consumers. And guess what? This is just the very beginning. And the truth is that even though to some company leaders it may seem challenging to incorporate the omnichannel customer experience, it opens up a fantastic opportunity that allows businesses to engage with customers in a fresh, modern way. The outcome of this may prove to be an excellent opportunity to build more meaningful and long-lasting relationships with the customers.

Tune in next Tuesday, February 26th, to check out the next installment in our series on the Evolution of Conversational Marketing with SocialBee, Chatbots for Business. 

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • Online chatbot
  • Chatbot meaning
  • Chatbot tutorial
  • Conversational marketing examples
  • Chatbot examples
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