The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: How Business Raise Money on Smart Chatbots

Each modern commercial organization should be an IT-company at the same time. The experience of Amazon, Google, Walmart or Alibaba shows that there won’t be a quantum leap in the retailing sector without changes. The amount of available data become too big and its analysis is the key to be commercially viable.

Why tech giants successfully push out traditional merchants scared of innovations? Small and medium business requires renovations in management processes in a long term. One of the renovation trends is a focus on intelligent assistants and chatbots. While AI helps business to manage price changes, to look after stock availability at the warehouse and even to make a decision on procurements, chatbots undertake client interaction.

Sooner or later, the question of raising money on chatbots, which concerns both investors and enterprises, arises. Chatbot business models aren’t innovation in themselves, but they have sufficient differences, depending on a type of the assistance. Let’s examine the most widespread examples.

Nowadays, the subscription is the most widespread way of raising money on chatbots. It’s easy: the chatbot offers a useful service which customer subscribe to and pay for.

Growbot in Slack is an example of such a bot. It helps teams to celebrate professional achievements encouraging team spirit. The bot searches for keywords, such as “prestige”, then collect and analyze congratulations.

At first sight, Growbot’s services shouldn’t be very popular. But for staff departments of big corporations, the chatbot, which collects information automatically, promotes involvement into workflow and virality, it becomes a valuable asset.

Statsbot is another example of subscription bots. This is the analytic chatbot, which shows Google Analytics and Mixpanel statistics. At the very beginning, a user has the full version chatbot for a trial period. An interesting strategy practiced by Statsbot: it makes a request with an offer to install a full version to the user.

However, both of these chatbots have the same disadvantage — users have to visit specific websites to pass subscription registration and then they have to confirm the payment in chat.

First and foremost, it’s related to the fact that the chat doesn’t support internal subscription payments. This problem could be solved by linking up a chatbot broker, which supports safe direct payments, like usage of cryptocurrencies or other payment systems.

Besides the subscription, chatbots can promote services by providing them on other platforms. An offer of commercial product or service by the bot is very popular among companies which already have their own application. For example, Trello — a well-known service, which helps to manage your tasks and projects.

On realizing that a lot of their customers are using Slack, Trello decided to provide some of its functionality by incorporated function in the chat interface. The Trello’s availability on different platforms becomes an advantage for users. It’s very important for them to have an opportunity to use the service in a convenient way.

According to the experience of the chatbot integrator company, the choice of functionality available in a chat is the key to success. If a chatbot will provide too many functions, the user experience will be negative; and if it will provide too little, a bot will be invaluable.

The main advantage is an additional contact point, which makes your product more valuable. Also, it makes your product more secure and reduces risks. If your product is available on all platforms, you’re safe from a competitive product, which could go into action on a popular platform before you and lure your clients.

During communication, chatbots collect a lot of personal information, which helps to improve advertisement targeting and, in the end, increase the number of clickthroughs.

Nevertheless, the advertising is the main source of incomes for many web and mobile development companies. When it comes to advertising, bots have unique capabilities, because they can build personal relationships with the user.

Chatbots can not only follow the conversation and offer a suitable advertisement but also they can carry on a dialogue. In Canada-based messenger Kik, you can ask chatbot Kalanibot for a discount or promo code in an informal way. This teenage-oriented bot estimates user’s profile and offers suitable advertisement. Users asking you to show them an advertisement virtually are a dream, but chatbots turn it into reality.

The usage of highly targeted bots can make your brand more authentic, intelligible and personal than traditional advertising. It increases conversion and gives opportunities to promote new products. Developers of Kalanibot show stats: the poll among users showed higher satisfaction with service — 88% of positive ratings and only 6% of negative.

Monetization is not available for all chatbots. A lot of platforms don’t allow free demonstration of advertisement, but on those platforms, which allow it, bots can reach more than classic banners. Serious prospects have either bots which work with content. Offering useful materials with advertorial instead of classical advertisements and promo codes, bots can earn a part of incomes from the platform, where they placed.

Chatbots are literally a storehouse of useful data about users. In business conversation or in the game form bots can collect information about user’s preference and interests much more that recruiter does about employee during hiring.

Unobtrusive polls let bots easily collect information. The Swelly bot, which works on platforms of Facebook Messenger, Kik, Telegram, Line, and Viber let users choose either one option or the other, showing results.

And now imagine how many doors it opens to for new pizza brand, which wants to find out the most popular pizza among students.

Such bot lets you get a fast and accurate report on your coverage preferences. Using chatbots for coverage analysis brands can make cheaper different marketing research.

It is one of the most obvious and the most complicated way of monetization. Chatbots can be an additional channel to sell goods or services. It could be either material goods, which bot sells directly in chat, or paid services provided by chat.

A lot of successful and big services (with their own apps either) use chatbots as an additional sales channel. For example, taxi services Uber and Lyft allow ordering a taxi by a chatbot in Slack and Facebook Messenger.

The dialogue interface is an alternative to installing an app on user’s smartphone, and definitely, it is a new trend. Along with chatbots market growing, more and more paid services will move to messengers.

The best example of chatbot-salesman is voice assistance Alexa, which allows you to order any item at Amazon.

A chatbot, which is familiar with your preferences, can propose you a service but doesn’t do transaction by itself. A good example of referral business model could be the Kip bot. This chatbot is available on platforms Slack, Messenger, Kik and Telegram and designed to help with goods choosing. At first, the bot sends you offers and then sends you referral link to the shop, where you can buy it.

The advantage of such a bot is that it doesn’t attach with a single supplier, so potentially could give you results received from different sellers.

When the customer finishes a purchase on seller’s’ website, Kip earns a referral pay for directing the customer to the supplier’s website.

Another way for indirect business management by bots is a brand recognition increase. Chatbot as an external representative of your product or service, which is really useful, could create a serious brand loyalty.

The key moment is a research of correct value-based offer, which the bot could propose. It will affect on brand perception by customers during interaction with the bot.

An example of a branded bot on Kik platform is H&M bot. By using of informal way of chatting and emoji, the bot pays a special attention to the value, which it offers to the client: to the search of an appropriate cloth.

The providing of value is the key factor. A useless bot could create a negative brand association. It could be even worse than an annoying salesman wasting your time.

In fact, this market is in its initial development stage. A game bot, which provides you bonuses or game goods, product placement in virtual reality and bot-salesman of digital goods — it is examples from the nearest future, which, probably, will become a part of mobile apps industry.

The modern leap in the sphere of VR (particularly, platforms Apple AIRkit and Google Tango) opens a new niche in front of developers well matched by fantastic — virtual, holographic and voice assistants in additional and virtual reality could implement all aforementioned way of monetization, by transferring it from text to noncontact future interface.

Don’t make using your bot paid too early. Users should use your bot often and consider it as valuable before they will be ready to pay for it. Make sure that your users like your product before taking money.

Nowadays, the purchase in mobile apps became one of the most spread ways for users to waste their money. Amir Shewat from Slack development team claims: “When Google incorporated it 8 years ago, it was considered only as an additional payment option. This sphere is very young and correct strategies of monetization weren’t established completely. Learn about different strategies for your specific case and don’t be afraid to experiment”.

A chatbot is one more type of user’s experience and a way to promote products, services or a brand. End customers don’t pay for bots, they pay for services that you provide them — for products, which the bots boost. Chatbots will be not only a way to earn incomes; sooner or later, it will take upon itself functions of traditional web and mobile business.

Start your own Chatbot Company with a White Label Version of BRAIN

Alex Galert CEO BRAIN (

Originally published at on October 26, 2017.