As technology progresses at the speed of light, so does the way we interact with customers. While getting in touch with a company only a couple of decades ago was more or less limited to sending an email or picking up a phone, nowadays there is a myriad of different options. Chatbots are one of them.
Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) now mean that conversing with a chatbot is as natural as interacting with a human agent, and well-programmed conversational bots are a great asset to your marketing efforts, notably by keeping your customers entertained and engaged while pointing them towards products and services they might be interested in.
However, chatbots aren’t just great at the conversational side of things. Transactional bots, which are trained using structured data to carry out a certain number of specific actions such as processing payments, are a cost-effective and efficient way to speed up your sales funnel.
Let’s find out what transactional bots can do for your business:
Much like brick-and-mortar shopping, customers rarely set out on an online shopping spree knowing exactly what they’re looking for. And even when they do, they rarely hit the “Purchase” button with just that one item in their shopping cart. Marketing chatbots cross-sell and upsell using automation - notably by proposing timely and relevant product suggestions based on prior purchases and cross-sourced data.
Much like a human salesperson, you’re probably thinking - and you’re not wrong. But while flesh-and-blood retail assistants can only serve one customer at once and require a certain amount of downtime (being, well… human), chatbots can concentrate on several buyers at once and are available round-the-clock. What’s more, chatbots can provide the immediate responses that 21st century consumers, especially younger ones, have come to expect.
Chatbots furthermore leverage data collected by chat systems to provide leads with relevant content and product suggestions, offering a personalised shopping experience, asking buyers targeted questions and cross-referencing data from previous web searches, social media and external factors such as the weather and time of day.
The US coffee chain Starbucks are a great example of using chatbots for sales and marketing. Their My Starbucks Barista mobile app chatbot suggests products based on previous consumer behaviour as well as factors such as the season or the weather and helps customers place and process their orders.
There’s a very good reason why companies like Starbucks are moving towards automatic messaging to monetise their marketing efforts and streamline customer transactions: chatbots are far less intrusive than more traditional communications channels. They’re accessible either via the company app or website, or the customer’s preferred messaging platform. They take up less time than a phone call, and don’t require the user to move to another platform, such as email.
Nor do they bring the whole sales process to a juddering halt by requiring customers to log in, or worse - create a user account. We all know how it goes: you’re casually browsing a site and come across an interesting product available at a discount for that day only. You click “add to cart” but when the “Create an account” window comes up, you put your credit card away and tell yourself you’ll think about it.
Marketing guru Neil Patel reckons that 23% of users will abandon their cart upon being asked to create a user account. Another reason behind customers not going through with a purchase is shipping charges not being revealed early on in the sales process. Chatbots can be used to guide consumers smoothly through the sales funnel, keeping them informed and reducing the number of checkout steps to a minimum.
Chatbots can further boost sales by reminding shoppers of subscriptions that need to be renewed or any products that have been in their cart for a certain amount of time. And even when customers are not in an active buying phase, bots can maintain engagement by providing them with useful materials. Chef Nas, the Unilever Food Solutions chatbot, sends users customised content on a biweekly basis while offering them the chance to make direct purchases.
Nowadays, the myriad of ways for a potential client to interact with a business means there’s a lot for marketing leads to keep tabs on. This includes phone calls, social media-based interactions, email and direct messages, to cite but a few. The sheer volume of data can make it extremely difficult to distinguish lower-quality leads from those with bigger potential.
As their job title suggests, salespeople are good at making sales, not sorting through hundreds of gigabytes of data in search of that one clue that will enable them to land a major new client. This is where marketing bots come in - they can help your human agents decide which leads have the highest conversion potential.
The CRM software of yesteryear was mainly useful when it came to keeping prospect contact information together and maintaining a history of interactions. When you integrate a chatbot with your CRM, it’s a whole different story. Chatbots can gather data from a variety of different sources and pull it together to offer an overview of trends and make relevant suggestions. Data sources such as job history, browsing habits, social media profiles and previous interactions with your brand enable chatbots to build a detailed profile of your prospect that will ultimately help you close that sale.
Chatbots and customer relationship management are a very powerful combination, and one that enables staff to focus on prospects with the highest conversion potential.
Marketing strategy in this day and age is a big - but exciting - undertaking, and one that demands considerable resources in terms of both time and money. In order to ensure that your marketing and sales efforts pay off, it’s essential to find a way to monetise them effectively.
Interested in how KeyReply can help you deliver the best chatbots for your customers? Get in touch now.