Chat Bots: What are they and why is everybody talking about them?

If you think email is an important marketing tool, wait until you see this!

Something HUGE is going down in the world of marketing. Savvy marketers the world over are embracing a clever new automated technology to rapidly generate new leads and grow their businesses.

They're called chat bots… and if by some strange turn of events you haven't starting hearing about them yet, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will be VERY soon!

This industry hype comes with very good reason. Many businesses are consistently reporting some simply astonishing numbers. With open rates as high as 80%+, clickthrough rates of 60% or more and ridiculously high conversions across the board, you know it's something worth paying attention to.

In fact, smart forward thinking business owners everywhere are already falling over themselves to be the first in their industry to implement a well-designed chat bot because they understand the huge benefits to be gained.

Needless to say, chat bots are a hot topic.. Here's what you need to know:

What is a chat bot?

Well, aside from being the most exciting marketing tool for decades? Let me explain…

A chatbot is a computer program that communicates with your fans, customers and leads right where they already spend most of their screen time: within messenger apps.

Chat bots are:

  • Simple: They're built on platforms that your customers use every single day; so they'll have no problems understanding or interacting with them.
  • Data Driven: By asking small snippets of information you can gradually build a better picture of your customer and their likes, dislikes, pain points, demographics etc.
  • Personalised: The more data you collect, the more you are able to personalise the experience. Conversations are dynamic based on user interaction. Tell them what they need to know, skip the rest.
  • Engaging: Chat bots are about conversations, not broadcasts. Great chat bots are designed to humanise the interaction. The result is that people generally enjoy clicking around and exploring your bot.
  • Interactive: The conversational and engaging nature of chat bots makes them naturally very interactive. Interaction is a FAR more valuable form of engagement than passive consumption such as reading or watching.
  • Anyaltical: Data nerds will LOVE the immensively deep data you can pull out of chat bot interactions. You can literally measure the clickthrough rates of every single question or interaction… among other things.

In many ways, they're very similar to email marketing; but a lot more interactive, personalised and engaging. The main difference is that instead of using emails to communicate, you're sending messages through a messaging app such as Facebook Messenger.

Email marketing is without a doubt a key part of any business's marketing funnel, of course. We wouldn't dare discount its importance. BUT given it's massively widespread usage and its immediate familiarity, it actually serves as a very useful tool for comparison.

This is where it starts getting exciting, because if you understand the power of email DESPITE all the familiar problems it faces, you'll have no problem understanding the implications of additional power of messaging chat bots.

To begin with, opting into even the simplest email campaign requires a number of steps:

  1. Click on the button to bring up the signup form
  2. Type in your information (the more data you ask for, the lower your conversions)
  3. Click the submit button
  4. Log into your email account
  5. Find the email you just received
  6. Find the link and click it to activate your subscription and/or receive your free thing.

However, opting into a Facebook Messenger chat bot is a far simpler affair:

  1. Click on the button to connect with Facebook Messenger
  2. You immediately receive a push notification to your phone with the bot's welcome message.
  3. The bot asks if you'd like to confirm your subscription and/or get your free thing, and you click yes.

That's it! This reduced friction makes it far easier for people to connect and results in MORE leads.

Chat bots are much faster than email too. When a user clicks your email, you can't just send another one straight away. It's good etiquette to wait at least a day or so. This means the pace of interaction between business and user can be very drawn out.

Chat bots, however, give the feel of a genuine conversation. Users actually EXPECT an instant reply.

The comparisons don't end there, either. When users connect with you on facebook, you don't just get their name and permission to contact them. But you also get a wealth of additional data. As long as their profile isn't private (which only a small percentage are), you can also see information such as:

  • What they look like
  • Where they live
  • Where they grew up
  • Where they went to school
  • Where they work (or the name of their company)
  • Who your mutual friends are
  • and much much more!

Like we say, email isn't going away any time soon. It's as relevant as it ever was. But a well designed chat bot can seriously light a fire under your email marketing strategy (among other things!)

BUT I'm getting ahead of myself. First let's talk about how they work…

How chat bots work

It's actually far easier to EXPERIENCE a bot than it is to explain how it works.

There are a number of ways to initiate subscribers to your bot (more on that in a blog to come) but one of the most common is a button embedded into your landing page or website… like this:

Click the button below to chat with the bot ninja chat bot and see for yourself how it works!

Simply click on the button above and you'll get a notification like this on your phone (if you have Messenger installed)

And the blue button changes to say “Click Here to Continue ->”

Over in facebook messenger here's what you'll see.
(see how personal it feels?)

See how you don't need to type any information?

And look how little text there is, you're not immediately overwhelmed by 15 paragraphs of text.

You just get a little teaser.
If you want more, you've got to click and engage!

You don't even need to type a reply, you just click on the buttons to navigate through the bot, easy peasy.

What chat bots actually DO

There are lots of clever things you can do with chat bots but here's just a quick snapshot:

  1. Generate Leads: Install on your website or send traffic to your bot to start collecting new leads.
  2. Qualify Leads: Once a conversation is initiated, your bot can gradually start qualifying your leads into warm prospects.
  3. Collect Data: Learn all about your customers and discover the things you could never hope to ask via email or survey.
  4. Segment Leads: Sort your leads, prospects and customers into different buckets based on their responses and behaviour
  5. Nurture Through Content: Automatically and dynamically drip feed relevant content to turn cold leads into a warm prospects.
  6. Initiate Sales Conversations: Monitor how prospects engage. If they show signs of intent, jump in and initiate a sales conversation!
  7. Send Broadcast Messages: Just like email, you can send broadcasts to your subscribers, but with FAR higher open/click rates!
  8. and much more!

But above all else:

  • They reach MORE people
  • They capture MORE attention
  • They generate MORE engagement
  • They get HIGHER CONVERSIONS
  • And to top if off, customers actually PREFER it!

The truth is, there's no limit to the benefits of a well-designed chat bot. You're only limited by your imagination!

Some practical applications

As I said, the practical applications of chat bots are almost limitless. Your only limit is your imagination. But just to get you started, here are a few ideas to get the juices flowing:

  • A copywriter can teach why great copy is so important and at the end of the sequence, offer their copywriting services to them.
  • An athletics company can send daily tips and advice, gradually segmenting their audience along the way, and then customize their product recommendations to sell the perfect running shoes.
  • A paleo expert can drip messages and teach people how to eat healthier, then offer their course or coaching program.
  • A property investor looking to source apartments on a long term commercial lease can use a chat bot to teach landlords about HMOs/Serviced Accommodation and qualify them through a survey style interaction.
  • A cosmetics retailer can display facebook ads to visitors who abandon the cart pointing them to a chat bot for a discount code. The customer is now a bot subscriber and can receive promotional broadcasts even if they’ve never registered or purchased from the store before.
  • A band or artist can allow their fans to subscribe to an early bird tickets notification list on their chat bot. Then when the tickets go on sale they can broadcast to the list so that they get push notifications on their phone the moment they go live. They could then also drip feed new music and content to their subscriber list every time a new song is released.
  • A business consultant can send out tips and advice to help people achieve mini wins in their business on a regular basis. This will establish credibility and show the bot subscribers that the consultant is worth hiring.
  • An blogger or celebrity can distribute new blog content or videos to their subscriber list, for FREE helping to bring in lots of additional traffic.
  • A product manufacturer can use a chat bot to teach potential customers about how the product works, what the benefits are, find out their location and suggest the nearest retailers to go and buy it
  • A personal company can use a chat bot to send daily workouts and meal plans and track the users who show most engagement in order to follow up and book in a 1-to-1 consultation.
  • I could go all day!

It doesn't matter how exciting or boring your product is, whether you rent portaloos or you sell golden unicorns it's highly likely that you stand to gain a lot from using a chat bot in your marketing efforts.

It's NOT complicated

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the complexity in setting up a chat bot is out of your territory, but it's actually very simple.

There's a lot of talk about AI (artificial intelligence) and NLP (Natural Language Processing) in the market at the moment. Don't let it scare you. Skynet isn't here yet, and you don't need it to sell your insurance products or your gym memberships.

While these things can be useful in some circumstances, the truth is that the technology just isn't that good yet, machine learning has a LONG way to go!

Unless you're turning over millions in profit each year, you don't need to worry about AI and NLP. You can leave that to the Microsofts and the Ubers.

What YOU need is a sequence. A sequence is the easiest and most user friendly way of achieving the three simple goals of a chat bot. These are:

  1. Start a Dialogue:
    To open a dialogue with your prospects or customers
  2. Segment:
    …in a way that allows you to know who you’re talking to
  3. Deliver:
    …so that you can deliver a relevant experience.

Think of a sequence as a pre-defined series of options, put into a conversational format. It gives the FEELING of a genuine human interaction, yes, but what's actually happening is you're using this friendly and interactive approach to guide them down one of any number of paths to an end goal. It could be a phone call, a contact inquiry, a registration, an online purchase, a visit to your physical location or anything else that you wish.

A sequence is simply where YOU decide the direction of the conversation. The end user responds by clicking one of a number of buttons to continue. It's easy and doesn't put the user off by making them think too hard about how to respond.

We'll cover how to actually set up your chat bot in a little more detail later on. For now, let's look into why everybody seems so excited about chat bots.

Why Everybody is so Excited


“Messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking.” “We think you should be able to message a business like you would message a friend.” – Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook)

“We firmly believe that in the near future, every business is going to be connecting with their customers through messaging apps.” – Andrew Warner (Mixergy)

“Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services” – Peter Rojas (Gizmodo/Engadget)

“Some people refer to messaging as the future of the Web.” – Forbes Magazine

“Forget apps, now the bots take over.” – Tech Crunch


Clearly, there's much excitement surrounding chat bots in the tech and business community at the moment. They're very new on the scene and some of the results that people are sharing are just staggering! In most cases people are seeing open rates and clickthrough rates as much as 4x higher than email.

Also, when facebook touts a new marketing tool with FULL support and encouragement, you KNOW to pay attention.

As for us here at Bot Ninja, we have a simple mantra when it comes to marketing: “If you can get in front of the right people, and communicate the right message… you win”.

Effective communication is a crucial core element of marketing. Right now we don't believe there is anything that even comes close in its ability to communicate effectively with your fans, leads and customers.

Ultimately, conversations sell. And there is no better way right now to speed up and scale up your marketing funnel than by implementing a well designed chat bot.

Why Facebook Messenger?

Right now, most chat bot marketers are doubling down on Facebook Messenger as their chat bot platform of choice. But “why is that?” you might ask…

Well let's begin with the headline stats.

1.2 Billion Active Users

There are currently well over 1.2 BILLION *active* (Read: ACTIVE) users on Facebook Messenger. Let's put that in perspective. There are only 2.3 billion people on the entire planet that even own a smartphone.

That means that more than 50% of people on planet Earth who own a smartphone use Facebook Messenger.

Source: Tech Crunch

So it would be fair to say that…

If your customer is a human, with a phone… They're probably on Facebook Messenger!

5 HOURS per day are spent on mobile phones

As a business owner, you probably spend much of your time in a desktop / laptop world. But it's important to realise that isn't necessarily where your customers are spending their time.

Source: Flurry Mobile

According to Flurry Mobile, US Consumers now spend over 5 HOURS per day on smartphones (this means push notifications are VERY powerful!)

The added benefits

Sheer numbers aren't the only reason either. Engagement is through the ROOF right now on Facebook Messenger.

Attention is at an all time high.

If you've used phone, website, mail, email, radio or television to communicate with your audience then you're probably all too familiar with these problems:

Problems with Traditional Communication Channels:

  • Noise – Everybody is vying for a limited amount of attention
  • Cost – It's typically very expensive!
  • ROI – It's very difficult to know what kind of return you're getting
  • Competition – You're fighting a constant battle to outdo them
  • Attention – You're having to work harder and harder to get it

It makes it so hard to stand out!

And that right there is why we chose Facebook Messenger.

Noise isn't an issue, customers subscribe to and request your content, and it's delivered right to their inbox

It costs far less because there are no physical overheads, only the negligible digital server/platform costs.

It's FAR easier to track your ROI because the analytics you get are so detailed

Almost nobody has cottoned onto the power of this yet, so your competitors probably aren't doing it either.

It's easy to get people's attention due push notifications and their existing preference for mobile messaging.

Now is the time to start!

We firmly believe that chat bots are rapidly going to become one of (if not THE) most important tool in the entrepreneur's marketing toolbox in the next 12 months

Many people now look back fondly on the early days of email marketing, Google Adwords, Instagram, Snapchat etc…

The smart early adopters now will look back with the same fond admiration on the “good old days”…

…Back when it was easy.

The Tech Adoption Curve

We're currently in the early stages of what's known as the technology adoption curve.

Those who get in early get to reap the rewards later.

It's been shown time after time that the early adopters are the ones who benefit most.

Being an early adopter gives you a HUGE first mover advantage (or FMA for short).

FMA is simple: If you're the first one using a particular tactic, you win!

Other examples of people winning as a result of FMA are:

  • Google Adwords
  • App Store on iPhone
  • Facebook Groups
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pretty much every MAJOR part of the digital marketing world had an early growth period of a select few clever, forward-thinking early adopters.

Social media kingpin Gary Vaynerchuk often talks about day trading attention and how his goal is to find the cheapest place for it. He often reminisces about when he bought the keyword “wine” on Google Adwords for 10 cents. How much do you think it costs him these days? 😉

Chat Bots are seeing STAGGERING growth

Facebook Messenger Bot usage may be low NOW, but it's growing at a STAGGERING rate.

But even so, we are still in the early stages of the tech adoption curve. As such, they are still MASSIVELY underused in the marketplace meaning the opportunity is ripe.

Based on the most recent published numbers, there are currently about 65 million facebook pages (source) and only 100,000 chat bots (source)

That means that right now, only 0000.15% of all the Facebook Pages in the world are using a Chat Bot. The fruit is ripe for picking! And this isn't even accounting for those pages that actually know how to use chat bots effectively yet.

Beat your competitors to the race

Be first to the race and you'll have no problem winning!

Right now it's highly likely most (or all) of your competitors don't even know what a chat bot IS

…never mind what it does or how powerful it is.

And yet they will, soon…

How do I get a chat bot?

Getting your own Messenger Chat Bot isn't as difficult as you might imagine.

If you are a particularly tech-savvy developer and you have a good knowledge of various computer languages, you might consider spending a few days (or weeks) building your own from the ground up.

For the rest of us, there are a number of platforms that, fortunately, have all the hard work for us.

We like to use Many Chat and Chatfuel to build our customer's bots, but we're constantly experimenting with new platforms.

Actually creating your bot is relatively easy. But the hardest part comes down to the planning. This is where we recommend hiring a Bot Agency to help you or do it for you.

Benefits of Chat Bot Agencies

There are many benefits to hiring a chat bot agency over creating your own.

Clearly there is a cost involved, but as Warren Buffet says, it's important to understand the difference between cost and value.

Perhaps the most important benefit of hiring a chat bot agency is the benefit of their vast knowledge and experience.

What might take you 10 hours to accomplish may only take them 30 minutes, and it would most likely be better too!

Another key benefit to hiring a bot agency is that a great one will be staying closely on top of industry knowledge and best practices, which means that:

A) You end up with a much better chat bot
B) You won't get into hot water with Facebook (ie banned)

You should not scrimp on your bot agency! You get what you pay for.

In many cases, you may be better off creating your own bot than hiring a cheap, inexperienced bot agency to do it for you. There are many reasons for this.

Cheap/inexperienced agencies will:

  1. Take longer to complete a project (which ends up costing more anyway)
  2. Produce lower quality customer experiences, which means lower conversion
  3. Run the risk of getting you banned by Facebook due to high complaint ratios.

Premium/highly skilled agencies will:

  1. Be more likely to complete projects on time
  2. Produce much higher quality customer experiences and higher conversions
  3. Know how to make sure your account is as safe as possible and in good standing with Facebook

If you decide that hiring a bot agency is the right move for your business, we've put together a free resource to help you understand what kind of questions you should be asking before you take them on:

FREE Resource

Don't get caught out. Get our FREE 11 page PDF eBook detailing all the important questions you should be asking your potential new chat bot agency:

Conclusion

We firmly believe that chat bots are the future, and hopefully we've presented a strong case for WHY that is!

They're simple, powerful, personalised, engaging, interactive, low cost, high value, analytical and scalable.

You have the opportunity of a lifetime to use a brand new, incredibly powerful marketing tool and benefit hugely from the first mover advantage. NOW is the time to get on board and beat your competition to the race.

If you're interested in scheduling a free no obligation demo to talk 1-to-1 with an expert on exactly how your business can benefit from using chat bots, please click here.

Don't have a chat bot yet? Do you have any questions? What's stopping you? Leave your comment below, we're here to help!

Got a chat bot already? What has your experience been like? Leave your comment below.

Dave Mason Administrator
Founder , AdFuse Creative
Dave J Mason is a digital marketing expert specialising in Facebook Ads and Messenger Bots. He is the founder of Adfuse Creative and Bot Ninja.
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Dave Mason Administrator
Founder , AdFuse Creative
Dave J Mason is a digital marketing expert specialising in Facebook Ads and Messenger Bots. He is the founder of Adfuse Creative and Bot Ninja.
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