As digital marketers, we have a way of falling in love with shiny new toys that promise to help make our lives easier and more efficient.
Chatbots are an excellent example. In the last couple of years, it's become all the rage to plaster them across our websites and treat them like the lead generation channel we never knew we wanted.
The trouble is, it's always been easy to fall out of love with chatbots, too. Without years of best practice to study and build on, marketers can end up stuck for new ideas to improve their chatbot marketing efforts and struggling to prove ROI.
Fear not, though - we're here with our top five tips to design a chatbot for life, not just for Christmas.
It's tempting to design chatbots with just one outcome in mind, which is delivering gift-wrapped leads to your sales team. However, if you take this route, be prepared for disappointing open rates and no real new knowledge on your website visitors and their pain points.
Instead, if you design your chatbot (or chatbots) with the full funnel and customer journey in mind, you'll see a lot more value over time.
Think of all the possible reasons someone would visit your website. Do most of them come to you to make a sales enquiry, or is it:
Bear this in mind when writing your chatbot scripts - rather than treat every visitor like a hot sales lead - and you'll soon find that low engagement rates are a thing of the past. Instead, you'll constantly learn more about the breakdown of your website traffic, your visitors' needs and points of friction, and where you need to create more and better content to keep them moving through the funnel.
Once you start using chatbots to better understand your website traffic, it also becomes very easy to identify where there's an opportunity to write new, more personalised and targeted chatbot scripts based on the intelligence you already have in your marketing automation system.
For example, once you've identified (via cookie) someone as a customer and not a lead, it makes sense not to offer them a CTA to book a meeting with sales - if you do, you'll only confuse them and, in the worst-case scenario, waste your sales team's time.
Meanwhile, if you know a website visitor is in the market for a specific product, that's an excellent opportunity to use a chatbot to learn more about their needs and budget, and fast-track them to the right content (or sales person).
Not sure what I'm talking about or where to begin? For more information on how to break away from generic chatbot design and adopt more sophisticated, customer-centric chatbot targeting, check out the awesome Conversational Marketing Blueprint from Drift or our own handy infographic here.
An obvious one: set meaningful goals for each of your chatbots to measure and optimise against. Again, booking more meetings is great, but it's not the only possible outcome you should consider. What about:
Once you have an outcome in mind, you should find it much easier to plan and script a successful chatbot - and much easier to spot areas where your conversational marketing efforts will fall short in the long term.
Another obvious one: close the loop with sales. We've always found that sales teams love chatbots and conversational marketing tools, because they make it possible to strike up a real human connection with leads instantly. Closed-loop reporting will help you optimise your chatbot scripts for topline revenue, ensuring conversational leads have a truly frictionless journey.
Finally, be prepared to play around with your chatbots, test out different tactics and messaging, and refine your understanding of what makes conversational marketing work.
This is something we do constantly at Six & Flow, and not just for the love of chatbot scripting. Our sales and marketing goals change, our website traffic changes, and - perhaps most importantly of all - the nature of conversational marketing changes. If you keep up to date on these factors for your business - as well as new and better tools available to you - you'll see endless opportunities to develop your chatbot strategy over time, too.
To find out more about scripting great chatbots, check out our guide to chatbot marketing.