If You Aren’t Using Bots You Might Fall Behind Your CompetitionPosted by Andrea Meyer on Aug 27, 2018
History of bots
Today’s buyers do not want to speak to sales representatives right away. In fact, according to HubSpot 70% of buyers have done their research before they talk to sales, and 59% prefer not to talk to sales at all.
Buyers conduct their own research online but when it comes to any initial confusion or concerns, they want answers immediately. Since we aren’t always looking to engage in phone calls, chatbots allow people to get the answers they are looking for quickly. Bots are efficient for three main reasons:
- They give consumers the content they are looking for the moment they want it.
- Businesses are able to provide information and answers to frequently asked questions without using human interaction or physical resources.
- Sales and marketing are able to qualify leads even sooner and are able to better customize their approach before reaching out to leads.
What exactly is a bot?
It’s actually quite simple. As HubSpot explains, “a bot is nothing more than a computer program that automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface.” In other words, if someone on your website or on social media is reaching out to your company, you can pre-program a conversation with them.
For example, let’s say you have a support team that is available via chat to customers. During a new product release, you might have an increased amount of customers reaching out with questions about the new functionality. And your support team might be overwhelmed by the incoming messages they are being flooded with.
Chatbots, in this case, can help provide answers to frequently asked questions. They are also able to point customers and prospects in the right direction or to the right department depending on the question. Chatbots can send links to any article, maybe a “How To” article that explains an answer to the potential buyer without any human interaction.
Why do they matter?
Consumer behavior is constantly shifting. HubSpot reports that “today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users, and for the first time, people are using them more than social networks.” From Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to Viber, bots are now integrated with various apps and ready for you to incorporate into your sales and marketing mix.
The key is to provide real value where your prospects are now spending a lot of their time. Buyers look to find the easiest way to solve their problem, and that solution is being delivered through bots.
This trend is moving into B2B and marketing automation platforms like HubSpot which already has bots built into its platform. It’s no surprise that bots are becoming a very important part of inbound marketing.
How do you get started?
No bot is meant to do it all. The first thing is to have your team establish a framework for creating a bot that your customer will want to engage with. HubSpot Pro tip: Stick to a single function and do this incredibly well.
We can break bots down into two different categories: informational bots vs. utility bots.
- Informational bots surface relevant information to users using a new type of format. For instance, Techcrunch has a personalized news recommendation bot that pushes content to consumers via Facebook Messenger or Telegram. User behavior on a site is observed and allows for the web page bot to provide content that is personalized to individuals.
- Utility bots solve a user's problem via a user-prompted transaction. Shopping bots, for example, might help you order office supplies or buy a new pair of shoes. In addition to making purchases, a utility bot can also help you manage your schedule and to-do’s. Some key features include automatically notifying you of subscription payments or helping you book meetings by scanning your email.
No matter the function, a bot’s user-prompted note is vital. Use behavior triggers or knowledge you’ve acquired from previous conversations as a way to engage in your messages. While email tends to cover a larger, more general base, bots are unique because the main objective is always centered around providing help and solutions to the specific user.
Your buyer should feel like they are having a conversation with an all-knowing human.
A conversation with a bot should look like the buyer is talking to a human that just knows everything. If you're using a bot to change a hotel reservation, the bot should know if you’re a preferred member, have frequent travel points, or if you've stayed at the hotel. With this knowledge, your bot can better customize the conversation to fit the prospect’s needs and make the transaction more efficient. If the prospect is a person that has already stayed at the hotel, the bot could say, “We see that you requested the room with two queen size beds and a waterfront view at your last stay. Would you like to book this room again?”
The most advanced bots are powered by artificial intelligence. Tech-forward companies are in the early stages of using AI to learn more about consumer behavior. AI helps build user experience with bots that can understand more complex requests, individualize responses, and improve company to consumer interactions over time. This technology is still in its review stages and will continue to radically transform industries. In all cases, a bot should connect with your current systems so a shared contact record can drive personalization.
Bots are the new black. So what are you waiting for?
This is an opportunity you can’t miss. Bots are built to help your buyer get the answers they need, while at the same time offering a progressive new reality. For the first time, we are equipped with a feature that not only stimulates but encourages one-on-one conversations between consumers and brands.
In the making of a world where brands can develop genuine relationships with their buyers, and buyers can develop trust towards the brands, bots can help make marketers dreams come true.
If you’re a HubSpot user we have great news for you - the bot functionality is already built in. If you’d like to explore building out a bot for your company, contact us when you’re ready to get started.