Ultimate Guide on How to Make Money with Chatbots
How Can I Make Money With Chatbots?
In the last few years, chatbots have taken the world by storm, nearly every Facebook page seems to have one, and there’s no question as to why.
Chatbots make it a dead simple for businesses to interact with their customers, automating what would otherwise be a very menial task whilst freeing up time and personnel in the process.
However, chatbots are typically used at the bare minimum of their capacities, only supporting a page’s existing business, rather than being monetized on their own. Some of them aren’t even making all that much money, and are just thrown in because they’re a trendy thing to have.
There are many different strategies that can be used to leverage the power of chatbots and make money directly through them. In this post, we provide the ultimate guide to making money with chatbots, as we explore the different strategies and approaches you can adopt to turn them into business-driving machines.
What Are Chatbots?
Chatbots are automated programs that are designed to respond to customer messages in an almost human manner. The complexity of modern chatbots can vary greatly, ranging from simple software that could be comparable to an answering machine, to full-blown machine learning-capable chatbots that learn from conversations and get smarter as they converse.
Chatbots aren’t a new concept, even if the technology behind them has changed drastically over time. The very first chatbot was actually created all the way back in 1966, with the simple ELIZA chatbot.
ELIZA wasn’t very complex, and merely simulated understanding by responding to keywords found in messages, but the software demonstrated that it’s relatively easy to get people to believe in the illusion of intelligence through conversation, paving the way for natural language processing research that would lead to more advanced chatbots.
In more contemporary times, chatbots started becoming popular on the Internet with examples like ALICE, a multi-award-winning chatbot developed in 1996, and the wildly popular Cleverbot.
One of the earliest examples of chatbots being used for marketing is SmarterChild, which rode off instant messenger platforms like AOL and MSN. The chatbot allowed users to quickly get access to various products and services straight from IM platforms, without having to go to another webpage.
Given the state of the Internet in the early 2000s, when SmarterChild was active, having the chatbot message you with information was much more convenient than having to navigate away from your IM window. It was a harbinger for things to come.
Today’s chatbots are found everywhere. Lots of websites have them embedded directly, thanks to third-party chatbot services that business owners can hire. Platforms such as Facebook Messenger also have chatbots, which can have plenty of functionality that goes far beyond merely sending and receiving messages.
There are also digital voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, which greatly resemble chatbots in many ways and can be considered as an offshoot of the original text-based chatbot concept.
Modern acceptance of chatbots and AI interactions grows with every year. Research shows that 70% of Millennials, the fastest-growing consumer population, have had a good experience with chatbots. In addition, some two in five Millennials actually think that chatbots provide better customer service than humans!
Chatbot e-commerce in particular is experiencing some great growth. A 2017 Ubisend report showed that that one in five of all consumers overall would be willing to buy products through a chatbot interaction. These customers were shown to be ready to spend over $400 when purchasing goods in this manner.
Making money out of your chatbots is all about expanding the way you see them.
Chatbots aren’t just there to supplement customers’ interactions with your business—they’re there to add new capabilities, make interactions faster and smoother, and reduce your workload. What’s important is knowing how and where to apply their strengths.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to make money out of your chatbots.
Employ Chatbots As Landing Pages
As an essential part of the sales funnel, landing pages are some of the most deeply purpose-built components of any webpage. Every aspect of their construction, from authoritative and convincing language to the design of their call to action buttons, is designed to be as effective as possible at converting leads.
What’s interesting about this is that the functionality of chatbots can very much resemble a landing page!
When chatbots open a conversation with a user, they often start with the option to learn more about a company’s products and services. They can also promote new offers, invite users to take surveys, and even lead to the direct purchase of some featured products.
In fact, chatbots can actually be better than a bog-standard landing page for a variety of reasons.
For one, a landing page can only advertise a few products or promote only a few ideas at a time.
Putting a huge amount of text and adding too many CTA buttons will overwhelm users as they’re saturated with information. They won’t be able to navigate your page easily and may end up leaving. Alternatively, they could get hit by analysis paralysis and find themselves unable to make a decision.
With a chatbot, however, information about your business is released naturally over the course of a conversation with the user.
In the form of an effective narrative flow, the chatbot starts small, with a quick introduction that doesn’t distract or overwhelm the user. Then, they can go in whatever direction they please, with well-written prompts and dialogue choices for them to make that will allow them to explore their options.
Through this storytelling that starts small and snowballs into a wide decision tree, chatbots can help guide users to whatever they’re looking for, keeping their attention focused on what they want, and creating more opportunities for engagement.
Another advantage of chatbot landing pages is that they can be highly personalized, with dialogue changing depending on user data. For example, a chatbot might change its greetings or the options it provides to a user, depending on what website they came from, or which campaign brought them to the chatbot.
In contrast, landing pages aren’t very customized for the most part. You might have an A/B testing program in place to determine the most effective design options, but having too much variation in your landing page to account for user customization might lead to clutter or disorganization.
Ultimately, having an effectively designed chatbot that acts as a landing page will certainly pay off as you watch your conversions shoot up!
Chatbots aren’t just for converting leads—that’s the easy part. You really start to explore the possibilities of chatbots when you use them for lead generation.
With chatbots, you’re able to create value for users who are looking for information about specific topics or services, and answer their questions quickly.
As soon as a user comes across your chatbot, whether it’s through social media or on one of your content pages, it will be able to quickly engage any user, help them discover your brand, and promote what you have to offer.
Chatbots remove the need for unwieldy and time-consuming forms and clunky landing pages, transforming the start of the customer journey into something as smooth and natural as a conversation. And if they want to know more than the chatbot can provide, it’s a cinch for the chatbot to recognize this and send them in the direction of a human agent!
All the while, chatbots are gathering information about customer responses, providing very reliable data about which of your services are being asked about the most, and how effectively your leads are being converted.
Offer Greater Value To Your Prospects By Taking Advantage Of Psychology
Through the conversational, natural language format, chatbots are in a unique position to make use of psychology to better serve users. The way you construct your chatbot’s introduction and initial responses must be geared towards showing users that you’re worth their time and effort.
This can be done by giving them actionable information and options as soon as they ask for anything.
For example, if you’re an online electronics store, and a user asks your chatbot about the latest products, your chatbot should deliver the information they want—and then right off the bat, provide direct links to purchasing these products! In this manner, you’re already showing them concrete ways to move forward, without them having to ask for it.
Users will appreciate this, as to them, it looks like your chatbot is taking the initiative to offer them what they’re looking for, right off the bat. They’ll already have a meaningful decision to make immediately after receiving the information they need, rather than having to think about what to do next. This leaves them with a positive impression and further entices them to convert into paying customers.
By taking advantage of psychology, you’ll be able to increase your revenues and get a more positive outlook in the eyes of your customers. They’ll associate your business with reliability and brilliant customer service, and they will be encouraged to return.
Automate Your Business Interactions
Monetizing chatbots isn’t just about directly increasing revenue from them. With chatbots, you can reduce your existing expenses by using them to automate customer management.
Having a team to interact with followers costs time, money, and effort. You’ll have to train your agents, or dedicate some of your own time or your employees’ time, to engaging with customer queries.
Every query and every conversation, whether they’re complicated requests or simple inquiries about products, will cost some man-hours that could possibly be used on else. In fact, during times of particularly heavy customer service traffic, your staff may get tied up, resulting in reduced response time.
On top of this, you’re going to miss out on customer interactions that start past your business hours, unless you hire the services of 24/7 agents.
With chatbots, you have none of these problems. They’ll respond immediately and provide customers with valuable information as they need it. Simple requests for information will be handled with grace, while customer service such as refund tickets can be filed quickly without the intervention of your staff.
The best part is that they won’t take up any of your time at all, and run completely autonomously until they run into a concern that merits a chat with a human agent. They’ll also run 24 hours a day with virtually no downtime, just as if you hired a 24/7 service team.
Thanks to advances in machine learning, chatbot platforms are learning faster than ever. They now interact so naturally that they could very well replace a majority of first-line customer service engagements. You can be assured that by replacing some of your business interactions with chatbots, you’re not losing out on natural-feeling conversations.
Manage E-Commerce Transactions
Chatbots aren’t just for marketing. With the right tools, you can harness the power of chatbots to add yet another avenue for users to directly purchase your products. Facebook Messenger chatbots are particularly well-suited for this job.
With the right chatbot platform such as Shopify, customers can go through an inquiry with a bot, get some information, and learn about your products. And then once they have what they’re looking for, your bot can present them with a button that lets them purchase the product directly!
If the customer has already previously put their payment information in Messenger, their contact information, billing details, and shipping information will immediately be available to the chatbot, which will create an order that can be paid for right on the spot.
Customers can also opt to get notifications about their order directly via Messenger, so they can get real-time updates about shipping, delivery, and other important notices.
If this customer had been somewhat on the fence while going through your sales funnel, then seeing that big, shiny button to “buy now,” and have it presented by a chatbot that they had a great interaction with, will make it even easier and more tempting to just go ahead and complete the sale.
Without this e-commerce integration, a user might still have learned about the product through your chatbot, but they’d have had to take the time to navigate to your site to buy it first.
Every additional step, every extra few seconds or minutes between generating interest and satisfying it through a purchase, reduces the chance that a customer will go through with the customer journey. Chatbots reduce the friction between steps and make the customer journey smoother and more appealing than ever.
Traditional web advertising such as banner ads aren’t as interesting as they used to be, and consumers are growing weary of obvious hard sells that distract from their browsing experience.
In contrast, native advertising is rapidly growing as an alternative to banner ads, and is very well-received by plenty of consumers, as they’re not intrusive and remain on-brand with whatever medium they’re deployed in.
One of the more subtle yet effective examples of native advertising can be found on Q&A social media site, Quora, which displays its self-service advertisements in the form of questions that look very similar to actual questions posed by users.
Chatbots are a great natural avenue of native advertising, as any sponsored content can be woven in over the course of a normal chatbot conversation with a customer. Your chatbots can distribute paid content from media partners or content providers that are related to the inquiries that your customers are making.
One example is topical listicles or infographics from brands that can be served up alongside requests for information. If you’re a tech retailer and your customer asks you about mobile phones, your chatbot can provide them with a sponsored article about the top mobile phones of the year. It all depends on who your content partners are, of course.
Tips For Improving Your Chatbot Experience
Chatbots don’t exist in a vacuum. Just as the AI behind them improves as time passes, you have to improve the way you design them and promote them. Here are some of the best ways by which you can make the most out of your chatbot marketing.
Promote, Promote, Promote!
If a chatbot falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? From a marketing perspective, the answer is a resounding no. If no one is aware of your chatbot, then the only people who will ever use it are those who accidentally stumble across it, or explore it out of curiosity.
You need to push your consumers to check out your chatbot, tell them that it exists and that it belongs to your umbrella of services. Promote it regularly on your Facebook posts, or mention it in your tweets about your products and services. Don’t forget to say exactly how to access it!
You can also promote it outside the usual places. Look for marketing channels that are unique to your industry, and advertise your chatbot as a way for people to get information, or access the latest products. If you’re a niche leader, you can promote it as a customer service channel as well, so that you can better serve people who are already aware of you.
It’s not just about your customers being aware of its existence—they also need to know what it can do. If people have it in their heads that your chatbot is just a talking answering machine that spurts out contact information or business hours, then no one will have any incentive to check it out.
Instead, advertise its unique features, like being able to buy products from directly within, or quickly create support tickets without having to go through an unwieldy site wizard.
Adapt To Feedback
Sure, chatbots can learn by themselves, but the human touch is essential to point them in the right direction. Structure your chatbot’s dialogue tree so that at the end of every interaction customers are invited to provide feedback about the chatbot.
Use the resulting feedback to get an idea for what your customers want to see. Fewer or more options? Any missing features? Is its tone of voice obnoxious? It’s hard to know these intuitively if you’re the creator!
Focus Only On Valuable Interaction
Chatbots are trendy, but you can’t just throw them everywhere and hope they stick. Your chatbots work best when they’re only present where they’ll be most valuable. Deploy your Messenger chatbot only in parts of your site where you feel users will have questions. Avoid creating new chatbots from different platforms just to fill a void somewhere.
Keep It Short And Simple
Having too many options will overwhelm your customers at every turn, and they may be discouraged if they have to select from a dozen different things that a chatbot can do.
Always focus on options that maximize engagement or conversion, and consciously limit yourself to 3-4 options per decision. If you want to add more features, put them behind other options that your customers have to select, for example behind new categories of services.
In addition, make sure that responses are short. Messenger windows, both on phones and desktops, aren’t very large, and no one wants to scroll forever just to read the paragraph your chatbot blurted out.
Chatbots are everywhere, and will be even more everywhere in a few years. By 2020, it’s estimated that 80% of businesses will be using chatbots as a part of their business.
It’s not enough to have a chatbot so that you can ride this trend. You need a good chatbot, one that will make money and improve the way you do business.
Chatbots have so much potential to create value, both for you and your customers. It’s only a matter of using them right!
Leave a comment on how you use Chatbots today or how this post has inspired you to use them in the future.