How Chatbots Can Improve Your Lead Gen Strategy
Lead generation is an essential part of running an online business today. When the internet was nascent, it was possible to bring in sufficient leads through nothing more than being present in the results for the right searches — but that approach simply isn’t viable now. Even the biggest brands in the world must remain proactive, and it’s all because there’s so much competition out there that mediocrity will see you drop out of contention in no time.
And when you’re trying to qualify as many leads as possible, you need every advantage you can get, which is where chatbots become invaluable. You only have so many hours you can spend on promotion, while a chatbot never tires or needs to take a break. But how specifically can chatbots contribute to a lead generation strategy? Let’s take a look.
They can reach people across platforms
The average smartphone user likely spends time using various distinct chat applications and social networks on a daily basis. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram… the list goes on and on. And since it would highly challenging for a person to provide individual user support on just one such platform, it’s just not viable for human intervention to handle direct promotion across several.
But chatbots can scale rapidly and easily, and many of these platforms (not all yet, but give it time) already support chatbot services. You can create a chatbot for Skype, for instance, allowing Skype users to ask questions and even take action through it. Your entire team can be out of the office on vacation, and one of your support chatbots can remain active, recommending products and producing qualified leads.
In a time when mobile retail is strongly on the rise (it’s often more convenient to buy from a smartphone when you remember you need something), a move towards omnichannel retail is extremely sensible (particularly using the hyper-popular Facebook Messenger). Otherwise, you’re leaving opportunities on the table.
They can provide rich personalization
One of the keys to an excellent user experience for previous customers (particularly when it comes to ecommerce) is providing rich personalization. For instance, if you’ve purchased a certain item from a store on numerous occasions, it should be highlighted when you next visit that store in anticipation of you wanting to order it again. If you have to delve into the categories to find it again, it will prove frustrating.
And since chatbots can easily draw from your customer database, it’s trivial for them to support this kind of personalization. A question such as “What color is the shirt I ordered?” should be easy to answer near-instantaneously. If a customer can say “Recommend some new shoes” and get a personalized selection (of the kind that Amazon commonly provides on its homepage), then they’ll become more invested in the company.
They can rapidly answer common questions
Let’s say that you have a landing page for a service you provide or product/s you offer, and it tends to attract a core set of questions over and over again — questions that commonly turn up even if they’re actually answered in the content. Questions such as “How much does this cost?” or “What do I need to get started?”. How do you handle them?
Well, you can create and provide an FAQ section to cover all of these questions, and grant it a prominent position on your landing page… but that will take up space that may be better served used for something else, and you’ll likely find that there are still people who somehow contrive to miss it and seek support anyway. You can provide a guide as a downloadable asset (people use ebook creators like this to convert their existing FAQs), but not everyone will be willing to download a file to get some answers.
By providing a chatbot that hovers in the corner of the screen at all times and clearly states its willingness to answer questions, you can save the person (or people) responsible for replying to your support emails a lot of time. You can program the FAQ questions (and answers) into the script easily enough — and to cover exceptional cases in which the bot can’t parse the question, it can be hooked into your main support line to call in human reinforcement when needed.
They can gather detailed feedback
What makes the difference between a successful lead conversion and a missed opportunity? The difficult truth of the matter is that you don’t always know — in fact, you might not often know. When someone decides that they’re not going to convert after all, they don’t send you a detailed message explaining their reasoning. They don’t owe you anything.
Since chatbot exchanges leave detailed records, though, they steadily gather in-depth data (beyond basic metrics) about your lead generation process that can prove remarkably influential in your efforts to optimize your promotion. Imagine that people keep leaving immediately after asking how much your service costs — the logical inference there is that your price is too high. Or maybe they ask if a particular product you don’t stock is available, meaning that you either need to start stocking that item or change your marketing to make it clear that you don’t have it.
The moment someone reaches your website, they start acting (and reacting) in ways that are hugely meaningful to your conversion rate but can’t easily be tracked. The sooner you get them into conversation, the sooner you can place their actions into context. Over time, you can turn that information into a vastly-improved business model that attracts far more leads.
Lead generation is a creative challenge, but it’s the practical challenge it presents that is by far the most daunting. Today, it feels as though you need to be everywhere at once, answering questions and gathering data across countless platforms — and that’s a job for chatbots. If you can maintain a strong support team and use it as the backing for a network of optimized chatbots, you can make the most of your lead generation budget.