Think about how much you rely on your smartphone. You use it to stay in touch with friends, family, customers, like-minded individuals and acquaintances. You use it for online searches to and from various destinations. It’s the reason why mobile searches have already surpassed desktop searches. So, with upwards of 90% of Americans using the internet, and an astonishing 70% having a smartphone, is now the time to ask if messaging apps and chatbots should be part of your digital marketing strategy?
Messaging apps and chatbots are just another step in a customer-centric digital marketing evolution where every action customers take is captured, disseminated, extrapolated and leveraged. Whether messaging apps and chatbots will work for your company depends on your audience, your market, and the products and services you provide. However, assuming you’ve decided to make these tools part of your overall inbound marketing strategy, what are some of the issues you should pay close attention to?
These Tools are Brand Builders
A messaging app and chatbot are not meant to inundate your customers with constant messaging. These are brand builders. They must add value for your customers. Therefore, deciding what your chatbot is about is the most important step of all. Several social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to divide your audience into multiple segments according to demographics, likes, dislikes, preferences and purchasing patterns. From there you can design a tool to address each of these segments.
A Soft-Sell is Key
What will these tools accomplish? Who are they targeting? What problems will they help solve? Answering these questions comes down to understanding your buyer personas, what they want, need and what they value. The sales portion comes after. Some of the best messaging apps and chatbots don’t proactively sell anything. The sale is an afterthought. The customer is guided towards a purchase and not forced into one.
The best apps build a brand, provide a service, gather customer data and offer customers time-critical solutions. Users gravitate to them because of their ease-of-use, which makes the sale that follows a much simpler process. Focus on the most frequent problems faced by each of your buyer personas and build a solution to solving those problems.
Get Ready for a Massive Influx of Data
You must be ready for the massive amounts of data coming your way. This means understanding how best to segregate data according to its relevance. Your chatbots and messaging apps can help you define purchase patterns, help you better understand fluctuations in demand, and provide invaluable insight into customer behavior. However, that can’t happen if your digital marketing team isn’t able to manage, extrapolate and identify the type of data that leads to increased customer engagement and how that increased engagement leads to more sales.
It’s important that your digital marketing team is able to outline how an initial request leads to a closed sale and all the touch-points and data that make that happen. That means deep diving into the metrics and analytics that make these tools work.
Use Insights to Improve Your Tools
Identifying and leveraging insights that help you better connect with your audience is a must with messaging apps and chatbots. Simple indicators such as an increase in user conversations, the number of messages within a conversation, and the average time spent on the app, could mean your solution is capturing your audience’s attention and keeping them invested.
Analytics and metrics will be key to leveraging all that data and putting it to use so be sure to identify the most important data for your enterprise. However, your messaging app is not a one-time design. It will need to be improved and upgraded over time. All that data must be leveraged to win business and improve the tool itself.
Have a Unique Value Proposition
Your customers must want to communicate with your chatbot. It must be user-friendly and give your customers a reason to engage your company online. The catch is your value proposition. Your value proposition must be built around your buyer personas. Focus on their pain points and how your tool alleviates your buyer persona’s fears and concerns. Incentivizing customers to use your tool is essential. The more they do, the more data you can use and leverage to win business.
Have a Backup Plan
Artificial Intelligence has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years but it’s not at that point where it can emulate the insights that only a person can provide. Your chatbot is going to be faced with questions it can’t answer, scenarios it can’t define and customers who aren’t interested in waiting. Make sure your customers have the option of speaking to a representative. Having a backup plan and the option to speak with someone ensures that your chatbot doesn’t become a hindrance and ruin the customer’s experience.
Segregate Your Conversations, Test Different Questions and Review Performance
If the goal of your chatbot and messaging app is to drive revenue, then you must be willing to define which conversations, inquiries and answers lead to winning business. There are several chatbots and messaging apps that allow for direct payment. In fact, payment options provided through messaging apps could have the same impact on chatbots the way payments drove the App Store.
Testing is key. Understanding which conversations and inquiries lead to new orders is a critical part of improving your tool. Use A/B split testing by forcing your app to provide a separate series of answers to different groups of customers. Compare the results and then identify the types of conversations that worked best. Focus on answering the following...
- Was the chatbot able to answer all the customer’s questions and did those answers help the customer?
- Did your team have to intervene in a conversation, and if so, why?
- Can you incorporate those answers into your next chatbot upgrade?
- Were there any conversations where the customer’s questions needed to be repeated or further clarified?
- Is there a correlation with the length of conversation and time on the app and sales?
Messaging apps and chatbots help you stay in touch with your constantly-moving customer base. They build a brand, provide a solution and increase customer engagement. However, it's never a "set it and forget it" proposition. These tools need to be upgraded every so often in order to improve the customer's experience.