Most people are surprised when I tell then that they are more downloads of the Facebook Messenger Mobile App (in the U.S.) than there are downloads of any other app for their phone.
Facebook Messenger, the world's largest mobile messaging app (which, at the time of this writing, has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users) presents a massive business opportunity to businesses and marketers. By leveraging chatbots, businesses now have the power to instantly engage with their prospects and customers in a way that email never allowed.
All of this suggests that Facebook's messaging app is the perfect channel to connect, support, convert, and up-sell customers.
Of course, nobody expects you (or your employees or coworkers) to be standing by in case they message you. And hiring an outsourced team isn't practical due to the cost, not to mention training the agents.
That's why you should be thanking your lucky stars for chatbots.
What's a chatbot, you're asking?
Put simply, it's a pre-programed series of guided-conversations and instant response designed to interact with your prospects and customers to help them learn about and purchase your products/services.
How can your business benefit from using a chatbot?
Every business has different approaches and goals when it comes to marketing, but here are a few chatbot benefits that apply to nearly all small businesses:
• Business Growth – Chatbots help businesses find new leads, convert those leads into customers, and provide better customer service… all at a comparatively low cost.
• Save Time and Money – Chatbots are an affordable way to provide a fun and engaging customer experience. Plus, they're always on the job, working around the clock whenever a prospect or customer needs them.
• Cheap and Easy to Deploy – Hiring a developer to build a basic bot is remarkably easy and affordable. And when you take a step up to a strategically designed marketing bot, your investment is a no-brainer.
• Simple and Intuitive Interface – Chatbots are intended for ease of use by your audience. When you have a well designed bot campaign, your prospects and customers can enjoy a fun, interactive experience with your business.
Messenger Chatbots have been embraced by major corporations from 1-800-FLOWERS to Sephora. They're also being adopted by small and local businesses from home service contractors to restaurants to professionals like Insurance agents and attorneys. There’s no denying that they are going to be an online business standard in the next few years. Incorporating them into your small business plan now ensures you’ll be at the forefront of this technology.
How to use chatbots in your business
Now that you know what chatbots are and how they benefit small businesses, how do you actually use them to your advantage?
Here are a few of the most effective uses to grow your small business with chatbots:
• Answer Frequently Asked Questions – Perhaps the easiest and most common way businesses are using chatbots is to answer common customer questions. A chatbot pre-loaded with the answers to FAQs can be highly effective at providing answers to customers, and move them closer to a transaction with you. You can also use a chatbot to help segment your prospects and direct them to an appropriate offer based on their area(s) of interest.
• Increased Engagement – Since 2017, Facebook has devoted a lot of energy around the Messenger platform. By opening up access to developers, Messenger has given business of all sizes the ability to use chatbots within this service. Not only does this help in boosting sales and providing a new channel for customer service, it also has a directl correlation to higher quality customer engagement on the platform. Use a strategically-designed chatbot to drive new users to your business.
• Get Payed Faster – Chatbots have the ability to act as a streamlined payment system, by either including a built-in payment option in the bot itself, or collecting data from consumers which can be sent to an integrated 3rd party shopping cart. Customers can actually pay for their products without ever leaving the chat interface. Bots that store payment details of regular customers make ordering new products or services as easy as a click of the button.
• Customer Resource – Chatbots are capable of a lot more than most people assume. For example, they're able to capture and retain information that users share with them. For example, if they collect contact info or identify preferences for certain products or services, a Chatbot can use that information in future conversations, broadcasts, and even offer specific solutions.
• Streamline Sales – Chatbots aren't limited to providing information. They can also influence and even solicit sales. Well designed chatbots build upon human psychology to engage prospects and entice them to proceed with a sale. And remember, all of this can be done on autopilot, any time of the day or night.
• Influence Decisions – The likelihood is, you and your team probably don't have the time or resources to give every new customer one-on-one attention. Chatbots, on the other hand, work around the clock, never needing to sleep, stop for a meal, or take a vacation. And that means they're available to make recommendations for users based on a variety of data gathered from simple questions and previous interactions. Chatbots free up your time while providing a dynamic form of 24/7 sales and customer support.
How will you leverage chatbots for your business?
Chatbots are still early in being a widely adopted technology. But consumers are seeing them more and more frequently, and statistics show they prefer interactive experiences (like bots) to static experiences (like standard website landing pages). When you incorporate a chatbot into your small business marketing plan, you can get a leg up on the competition.
To get started, I recommend a basic lead capture chatbot that replicates the offer of your most effective current lead-magnet. (Don't have a lead magnet strategy in place yet? I'm happy to help with a strategy, there too.) Next, I'd create a customer service chatbot using a standard “question, response” sequence that can help answer questions and segment your prospects and customers.
It also frees up valuable employee time and let's your prospects and customers engage with your business when and where they want (instead of when your business is open and your staff is available).
Interested in learning how my team and I can help design and implement a Messenger Chatbot strategy in your business? You can find all the details of our Messenger Marketing program here, as well as test drive a few sample bots for yourself.