We are living in the era of customer experience. With more options than ever before, buyers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on the customer experience over other key factors like price. To be competitive, B2B businesses must be able to engage with potential customers when they want and how they want. And adding a robust chatbot marketing strategy to your website can help you do just that.
Chatbots are compact software applications that you can deploy on your website to enable real-time online chats between site visitors and either a prewritten automated playbook or a human customer support agent or salesperson. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), this technology supports your marketing, sales, and customer support teams while offering site visitors an online customer experience similar to a white-glove in-person experience.
In this guide to chatbot marketing, we’ll look at how B2B businesses that take advantage of chatbots can save internal resources, provide a more personalized experience, and generate more high-quality leads for marketing and sales teams to benefit from.
Benefits of Chatbot Marketing
According to Outgrow, 58% of B2B companies are using chatbots on their sites in 2021. Some of the benefits that those businesses are seeing include 30% reduced business costs, up to 67% increased sales, and a 55% chance of generating better leads. Let’s look at these benefits, and others, in greater detail.
Chatbots Enable 24/7 Customer Support
A well-executed chatbot marketing strategy saves your organization both time and money. Since chatbots can automate common support inquiries (chatbots can answer up to 80% of all questions!), this frees up your support staff’s time to focus on other business needs, such as providing deeper support to customer issues that require escalation and human interaction. This means you can resolve customer issues faster, and much to their delight, while creating a more efficient workflow to benefit your team.
While chatbots can answer any FAQs that come along, you can program them to send a visitor a follow-up email or put them into a support queue if (a) the bot determines that it cannot answer the user’s question by itself and (b) you don’t have staff available. If you do have staff available, you can program the chatbot to route the user to the appropriate support team during working hours and forward any data that the team needs in order to provide better support.
Chatbots Support Lead Generation
Marketing and sales teams need website visitor data in order to gain insights that will help them interact with visitors in a more personal, meaningful way. This data includes the following:
- Where a site visitor is from and what industry they work in
- What pain points they’re looking to solve
- What solutions they’re looking for to solve those pain points
- How much time they spend on your website
- What pages they spend the most time looking at
Chatbots are an excellent tool to capture this data, and they do so by asking visitors questions, conducting surveys, and so on—all of these activities are powered by their playbooks (meaning, the logic behind a chatbot, telling it what to say back based on the visitor’s inputs and responses).This frees up marketers to spend more time understanding their audience and running better campaigns and programs that resonate with their website visitors, including personalized chat messages and content offers. Personalizing your chatbot messaging not only encourages visitors to engage with your website but also improves their chances of completing your conversion goal (e.g. requesting a demo).
How to Get Started with a Chatbot Marketing Strategy
Now that you know the benefits of chatbot marketing, let’s discuss how you can get started with your own chatbot marketing strategy. Implementing a chatbot marketing strategy isn’t as simple as finding the right software application and adding their snippet to your website code. An effective and robust strategy requires cross functional collaboration, careful thought about where and how you deploy your chatbots and the messages they serve to users, and a willingness to constantly iterate and improve your playbooks. Here are some things to consider as you get started with a chatbot marketing program.
Map Out the Customer Journey
You don’t want to throw chatbots onto every page and hope that’s sufficient for generating meaningful engagement with potential customers. Placing your chatbots requires careful and informed thought. To figure out what the best pages are to add a chatbot to, you need to map out the customer journey on your website.
Start by looking at your analytics to answer these questions: Where are visitors landing on your site? Which pages are drawing their interest and generating the most interaction? Which pages are they getting stuck on, and from which pages do they leave your website altogether?
Consider adding a chatbot to each of these points on your website. You want your potential customers to have a frictionless journey while they move from one page to the next, and implementing a chatbot where they’re most likely to run into a snag certainly helps to create one.
Establish Ownership Between Teams
Implementing a successful chatbot marketing initiative requires cross functional collaboration between teams, in particular sales and marketing, revenue operations, web development, and customer support.
The sales and marketing teams should own the messaging, playbooks, strategic vision, and overall user experience. The web development team should own the chatbot’s technical implementation, but they’ll need input from sales and marketing to determine which pages to add chatbots to and where on those pages to put them. In addition, sales and marketing will need to work with web development to implement conversion tracking software to enable monitoring of chatbot performance.
Revenue operations should have the responsibility of making sure that leads coming in are properly captured and routed. And finally, customer support should own the strategy for responding to support requests from current customers. The strategy should account for who will be available to field those requests, when they will be available to do so, how long the average response time will be, and how the response will occur—by chat, email, phone, text, or another method.
Design Playbooks That Serve Appropriate Messaging
At a high level, writing your chatbot playbooks is all about ensuring that your chatbots engage with potential and current customers in a way that resonates with them. You want your chatbots to ask the right questions to the right visitors and point them to the right resources, too. This is a process that you should be prepared to adjust and improve over time.
Much of the data that you will need to inform this process will start to pour in once your chatbots are live. However, you can get a head start by looking at the most common questions your potential and current customers ask your sales, marketing, and support teams.
Once you have these FAQs, organize that data by the different customer segments your support teams serve and write playbooks for each segment. In addition, you can leverage your existing reverse IP or firmographic data to customize playbooks for specific industries and companies by size, revenue, or employee metrics.
Here are some other considerations when you’re writing chatbot playbooks:
- You’ll want playbooks for working hours and non-working hours. You don’t want your chatbots to route a potential customer to a support agent when that agent is offline for the day. Instead, write a playbook that moves the user into a support queue for the next business day, and make sure the playbook includes instructions for the bot to tell the user that.
- You’ll want playbooks for specific pages on your website. For example, a chatbot ready to answer pricing questions on your product pages can help to drive late-stage conversion metrics and increase sales. And it’s especially important to make sure that your playbooks match with the right pages.
- You’ll want correctly sequenced playbooks. Conversational marketing delivers the most value to your business and potential customers when the conversation moves them in the right direction: forward. You don’t want a chatbot asking users to sign up for a demo after they’ve indicated that they’ve run into problems installing it or creating an account to use it.
- You’ll need to put in time to test and iterate your playbooks. Once the data from your chatbots starts to pour in, you’ll be able to see how your playbooks are performing. It will be key to regularly evaluate that data to make sure that your playbooks are properly updated.
An Important Consideration—Be Transparent
Many people enjoy using chatbots because they converse like people. So the more personality you give to your bots, the higher chance that they’ll effectively grab the attention and engage a visitor. One way to make your chatbots more engaging is by personifying them (e.g. giving them a name or a cartoon-like or human face). However, it’s important to remain authentic and honest with potential customers about whether or not they're speaking with a real person—a lack of transparency can cause you to lose visitors’ trust and negatively impact your brand.
Choosing the Right Chatbot Marketing Software
Once you’ve determined your chatbot marketing strategy, it’s time to find the right chatbot solution for your website. Don’t worry–you don’t have to wrangle your web development team to write proprietary chatbot application software; there are tons of third-party options to choose from. To ensure you select the right chatbot solution for your organization, consider asking prospective vendors the following questions:
- Does the software support the needs of the various teams who will be using it (e.g. marketing, sales, and customer support)? Does it support all of the use cases each team has identified?
- Does the solution integrate with your CRM, and is it a two-way flow of data? This means the integration not only allows you to add new contacts to your CRM in real-time but also helps you improve your audience targeting and personalization within the chatbot.
- How does the software balance automation and human interaction (both in terms of AI/language complexity and routing chats to humans at the right moment)?
- How robust are the chatbot analytics so you can clearly understand your ROI?
- What sources can the chatbot use to personalize the conversation (e.g. firmographic/demographic data, location, UTM parameters, referral sources)?
Of course, you’ll want to ask prospective vendors about pricing and any other questions unique to your business needs. One solution to consider as you start your search is Drift. Drift helps marketing and sales teams engage in real-time, personalized conversations with their target audience so they can drive leads and accelerate revenue.
Taking Your Chatbot Experience to the Next Level
Chatbots have become a fundamental marketing tool in the B2B industry. Not only do they improve your customer support and lead generation efforts but they also help you save resources while driving more conversions and revenue.
In addition, chatbots are going to continue getting smarter as AI technology continues to evolve. And early adopters of more advanced chatbot technology will position themselves to be more competitive. B2B businesses that don’t at least consider implementing AI-powered conversational marketing will risk falling behind.
If you’re adding chatbots into your marketing mix, Intellimize’s machine learning-based website personalization solution can take your efforts to the next level. With Intellimize, you can personalize which chatbot is shown to an individual visitor based on demographic/firmographic data and their previous on-site behaviors. As a result, you’ll optimize your chatbot marketing strategy and effectively personalize the customer experience. Request your demo today!