If you didn’t know by now - chatbots are taking the marketing world by storm. It’s super clever in the sense that you can use this AI-powered technology to create automatic conversations with your leads and prospects. Best of all, it’s done in a conversational tone. To achieve this, though, you need a killer chatbot strategy.
It doesn’t need to be a difficult task when you know where to start. Here are some useful secrets on developing your very own chatbot strategy.
- Start off by defining your goals
- Make sure you understand your users
- Learn from your competition
- Pick the perfect platform for your chatbot
- Decide on your priorities
- Focus on brand consistency and tone of voice…
- ...And also the user experience
- Design an effective conversation flow
- Don’t forget to test your chatbot
- Make sure somebody in your team is there to support the bot
1. Start off by defining your goals
Hold your horses. I know it’s always tempting to dive right in and begin creating your chatbot, but the first step should be to outline your goals. Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve with your chatbot and how is it going to help your business? It can be anything from driving sales, improving your online brand presence or even automating customer support tasks.
However, you also need to align your chatbot strategy with your customers’ needs. Whatever the purpose of your chatbot is, it needs to be in place to help your users or solve their problems. These work hand in hand as it helps to create business opportunities by collecting user information and then providing helpful support.
2. Make sure you understand your users
The key to your chatbot’s success? Understanding the needs, behaviour and expectations of users. Classifying your audience is an important task as this insight keeps your chatbot strategy focused on delivering an effective customer experience.
So, if there are different user types within your brand target auditory, you should identify them early on. When this is done, you can figure out who your bot interacts with and how it enriches relations between them and your brand.
If you want to learn more about your user base, your existing database and a platform like Google Analytics are both good sources to learn more. Then, using these insights, you can either target one audience cluster or build a conversational interface which covers several user groups. The choice is yours.
3. Learn a bit more from your competition
We’re not saying you need to scale the windows of your rival’s headquarters and snatch their chatbot blueprint, but it’s still important to analyse what your competitors are doing. While it might seem tricky to use them as a source for inspiration, you might have a lightbulb moment and add something beneficial to your chatbot strategy.
The popularity is increasing which means its likely that the competition is also going to be working with chatbots. If you can, see what they’re doing and decide on what you can do similarly so that your chatbot enjoys the same (or more) levels of success.
Although, don’t just steal the entire idea. Identify your unique proposition and make it drive your bot so that it’s instantly recognisable to your business. Also, focus on what you’re currently doing better than your competition, so you can use your chatbot to broadcast your unique services.
4. Pick the perfect platform for your chatbot
Thankfully, there are loads of chatbot platforms out there that you can choose from, such as Facebook Messenger, HubSpot and Skype. The best way to decide on your platform is to do a bit of research, see feedback from other marketers like you and test out different ones.
You should also check what your customers are already using if you have that data. This should give you a better idea of the platform you should be using and which you should avoid.
5. Decide on your priorities
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to get overly creative to the extent where your chatbot just can’t keep up. Or, you’re just trying to do too much, too soon. When you’ve nailed down your chatbot requirements, break them down further into requirements that are either must-have or nice-to-have.
First, focus on all of the must-haves. These are the requirements that absolutely need to be included in your chatbot strategy for it to be a success so that it brings the biggest value to your leads, prospects and customers.
An example of a must-have could be your conversation flow (I’ll get to that in a sec). This helps make the conversation flow naturally and not robotic. It also helps users know the limitations of your chatbot.
Then a nice-to-have can be something like emojis. Sure, they’re great and everyone loves them. But if you’re just getting started with chatbots, emojis can take a backseat for now until you’re a chatbot whizz. Just make sure you don’t accidentally include the ‘middle finger’ emoji as a chatbot response.
If you have a bunch of nice-to-have requirements, then keep them in the bank. They’re not going to be massively important right away and if they’re going to be time-consuming to implement, then it makes no sense to focus on them right now. It’s the important priorities which will help speed things up so you can get data much quicker.
6. Focus on brand consistency and tone of voice…
Your chatbot needs to have a personality. This is what helps them stand out and makes them a lot more memorable than ordinary, boring bots. At the same time, you need to make sure it’s within your brand guidelines so that you achieve consistency and a unified tone of voice throughout.
You can’t undermine its importance. Your bot will be part of a conversation, so the tone of voice should resonate with your brand’s communication style and the expectations of your audience.
If you want to add a bit more personality, then create a character with a backstory for your bot. The best part is that AI chatbots have plenty of room to add more personality as you go along. By doing this, you open the door for more humour, quirks and replies suited to each situation.
So, write a script, keep the tone of voice in mind along with the personality and brand guidelines. As a result, you have chatbot messages that will better convey emotions and behaviour.
7. ...And also the user experience
I know, you want your chatbot to look the dog’s bollocks, but it’s just as important to think about the overall user experience - not just the visual aspect. It needs to be easy-to-navigate and use, plus it should also be super helpful.
If there are two tips you leave with from this point, it’s these. Firstly, when focusing on the user experience, your bot shouldn’t ever imitate a human. Speak like a person, but don’t try and trick your users into thinking they’re speaking with a human. It’s more about the personal touch you provide.
Secondly, try to mix it up a little and don’t have the exact same chatbot on every web page. That means you might need to create multiple scripts and conversation flows so that your users always get more value each time.
8. Design an effective conversation flow
Remember how I said personality, tone of voice and brand consistency is important? Here’s where it could be a make or break situation. Design a conversation flow as part of your strategy because it’s not all about the visuals, it’s all about the conversation.
At the start of each session, you should have a proper onboarding. Introduce the functionality of the bot so the user knows its limitations. At the same time, try your best to minimise user effort. Every sentence your chatbot sends should be thought through very carefully.
For example, avoid any open-ended questions or gender-specific pronouns to be on the safe side. For the most natural conversation flow possible, diversify the replies as much as you can. If you think you might miss something, make sure you give the option to contact someone from your team to avoid dead ends.
9. Don’t forget to test your chatbot
Well, this one’s a bit self-explanatory. Test your chatbot to make sure it actually works before you hit the go-live button. If it works, happy days - your strategy worked perfectly. If not, it’s back to the drawing board and making more tweaks until you’re satisfied.
10. Make sure somebody in your team is there to support the bot
Chatbots might feature clever, powerful and innovative AI technology, but they still need some human support. When planning your chatbot strategy, make sure you have plans for the chatbot to be manned by someone. So, if there are ever any errors or the bounce rate is high, you have someone who can take over and find out what’s going on.
Now that I’ve given you some handy tips you can use for your own chatbot strategy, why not find out even more about getting started with conversational marketing using HubSpot?
Your essential guide to getting started with conversational marketing on HubSpot
To help you on this journey, we’ve created a free guide on all things conversational marketing. It’s packed full of useful tips on how to get started, the differences between chatbots and live chat, best practices and a lot more.