Visit any website today and you’ll most likely be greeted with a polite message in the bottom-right corner of your screen. More often than not, these messages are delivered from a chatbot.
It’s no secret that chatbots have been gaining popularity across all kinds of businesses with astonishing speed. New types of bots seem to enter the market every few days, from those that simply serve you self-help FAQ guides to the ones that are able to lead semantically complex conversations by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (often called ‘Conversational Intelligence’ or ‘Conversational AI’).
So what does this global shift mean for your company? How does chatbot marketing affect your team of SDRs in the near future? And why is coming up with your own chatbot strategy today more important than ever?
The Current Landscape of Chatbot Marketing
In a nutshell, chatbot marketing means using automated bots to fulfill your customers’ and, by extension, your marketing goals.
There are two general approaches that chatbots can be based on: information and utility. Both have their own use cases. Bots that are informational in nature can provide updates, news, deals, and other notifications. Utility-based bots try to solve a customer’s problem, whether it’s buying something, connecting you to the right person, or scheduling an appointment.
When you install a chatbot on your website, it’ll generally greet every visitor with a predefined message, something like “How can I help you?” (often called a ‘Chat Invite’). Your website visitor then has the agency to steer the conversation where they need it to go and expect the chatbot to use the conversational UI to adapt and give the visitor exactly what they are looking for.
The radical change that we’ll continue to see in 2021 and beyond will then have to do with the shift in website visitors’ behavior. Instead of clicking through every page, reading all the available information, and then contacting the company via email or a website form, visitors will be more inclined to simply ask the bot and expect a precise answer right away. 41%* of customers prefer live chat over any other experiences including phone, email, and social media.
The chatbot trend, a shift to interactive engagement, will have a significant effect on all your sales and marketing efforts. If you don’t adjust, it’ll change your sales pipeline and break your marketing funnel. People will be less willing to wait for your SDR to call back or leave their email to download a white paper — they’ll pretty much demand instant access to the information they are interested in.
The limitations of chatbot marketing
On the other hand, even though the chatbot technology is rapidly improving, chatbots themselves still vary wildly in the quality of their conversations. We’re still in the early stages of figuring out how comfortable people are in having meaningful conversations with, effectively, robots. Quite often, bots can’t help potential customers in the right way and leave no option to escalate the conversation to a live representative, thus creating unnecessary frustration and losing sales. In fact, 29%* of customers find scripted, impersonal responses the most frustrating element of chat.
Even the latest and greatest in conversational intelligence technology cannot replicate the nuances of a live sales agent, especially when it comes to converting conversations into leads and sales. In fact, conversational intelligence requires hundreds and thousands of interactions to learn even the most basic nuances and even then it’s best suited for carefully construed questions that are more common in a customer service context than a sales context.
So, chatbots play an important role in your marketing and sales funnel, but they can’t do everything.
Implementing ‘Playbooks’ help, which defines a series of scripted interactions depending on where the customer is in their journey (e.g. first time interaction, on the pricing page, on the support page). However, making the most of this involves mapping out hundreds of user journeys and having to monitor, tweak, and evolve each one - a time consuming task that is still based on a “best guess” on what the customer wants.
The best thing you can do right now is develop a comprehensive strategy that would take into consideration a new reality but, at the same time, incorporate what’s been working well so far, such as hiring SDRs for live chat for sales, and implementing chatbots for nurturing and support.
How to make AI and SDRs work together
As marketers, we tend to get excited about all of the new developments that promise to help us hit our short-term goals and get a little bit more out of this quarter. The same developments, however, often make it difficult for us to reach our long-term objectives.
Even though chatbots are popular today and will play a role in the future of marketing, they are not yet an effective replacement for human-led conversations. But that’s not to say that they don’t excel at providing value in simple, transactional exchanges. So why not merge the best of both worlds?
You know that your SDRs would have a significantly higher closing rate than any chatbot available right now. The problem is that your team gets easily overwhelmed if they start to reply to every web chat request, most of which don’t even represent your target audience and don’t end up progressing through the sales funnel. So if there was a way to separate high-quality leads and direct them to your live chat for sales while letting a chatbots handle everyone else, that would maximize the value of every live interaction without the fear of missing anyone who wants to engage with you.
The best thing you can do for chatbots in 2021
Enter Lift AI, a unique buyer intent solution that’s able to identify the buying intent of your web visitors in real time, as soon as they hit your landing page. Unlike other marketing automation tools, Lift AI can identify the intent of every single visitor, even if they haven’t been previously recorded in your CRM and are completely anonymous, which can be up to 98% of your total visitors at any given time. It does so by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to score the exact conversion probability based on 15 years of machine-learning data, 14 million customer interactions, and more than one billion visitor profiles.
Once Lift AI assigns a high score to any visitor, it automatically connects them with your available SDR through live chat for sales, using any chat tool of your choice, whether it’s Drift, Intercom, etc. Lower-scoring leads then get directed to your chatbots. As a result, your team gets to proactively interact with every valuable visitor without turning anyone else away or making them wait. Now that’s a truly comprehensive chatbot marketing strategy!