Remember when deals were made face to face? People actually communicated with each other, got to know each other, and knew one another. My father dealt with people he knew and trusted. They had a relationship. Those days are gone forever – or are they?
Over the years, marketing devolved into a series of ads thrust before audiences’ unwilling faces. Even today, users cannot watch a video without being interrupted by another video ad! (Am I the only one who hates that?)
Fortunately, the internet has made relationships possible again. We cannot shake hands over the ether; but we can have a conversation with an interested party. As a new and welcome consequence of inbound marketing, a new take on the old has emerged: Conversational Marketing.
What is Conversational Marketing?
With conversational marketing, the obvious element is conversation. That suggests approachability, availability, independence, and relationships. It is an environment that invites engagement and dialogue. Through this connection with a user, you develop a relationship; and within that relational bond, you provide information and opportunity.
Using Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Now let’s be real. Most companies, and especially a solopreneur business, cannot have someone available 24/7 to respond to visitors. And with today’s technology, it isn’t necessary. Artificial Intelligence (AI) bots can easily fill the gap to provide a “human” response to visitors, until a real human is needed.
In fact, AI allows them to process data, track patterns, and respond much quicker than your average office assistance. It’s no wonder businesses spent over $12 billion dollars on artificial intelligence just in 2017. But don’t let that number scare you; AI bots are affordable for most solopreneur businesses.
Here are some suggested chatbot providers. Most have a free starter plan for smaller businesses, but also offer larger, paid options.
Facilitating a Conversation
The primary thing to remember is that AI is not meant to replace conversation; it facilitates it. The automatic responses programmed into your chatbot are merely initial touch points. For simple questions and requests, the bot can serve up a quick answer. If a chatter asks how late you’re open, you can program your bot to serve up your hours of operation. The searcher goes on their merry way.
Bots can perform a variety of simple-yet-time-consuming tasks, such as answering common questions, directing chatters to a specific page for more information, or even setting meetings by pulling availability from your calendar. These “micro-messages” provide the user instant gratification and simulate a real interaction, because a real person structured the answers in your brand voice.
The Human Element
Though your chatbot has the ability to lead different searchers on quick paths to their answers, there will be a few users who need more guidance. When the conversation gets a little heavier— say a chatter asks for an opinion or a more detailed explanation— the chatbot switches gears and alerts a team member. This is where an actual person steps in.
Regardless of whether someone is available instantly or not, your chatbot should be able to lead your visitor to a place where they can take the next step toward arranging an interaction with a human being based on their timeline, not yours.
How Does a Chatbot Help with Conversational Marketing?
Depending on where you acquire your chatbot, and its particular settings, you will need to set it up properly to represent your company when users need help. Chatbots can help you with the following chores.
Start the Conversation
List all the ways a prospect could engage with your company: forms, social messengers, phone numbers, emails, any channel through which a customer can communicate with your brand. Be especially mindful to assess you’re welcoming interaction on high-intent website pages, such as your pricing, service, and landing pages. You want to use conversational marketing to offer one-to-one, personal conversations across all these channels.
Personalize the Experience
The copy on your website needs to speak to the individual, and not simply address a wide audience. And so does your chatbot. Conversations are personal. In order to create a genuine conversation, you need to address the person you are talking to personally; not cultivate responses for a generalized buyer persona. When considering the bot’s trigger responses, make sure it’s a real conversation with a real person.
You’re 100 times more likely to reach your prospect if you call within five minutes of their inquiry, according to a study by Lead Response Management. If you aren’t there to serve someone’s needs when they need it, they’ll likely try to find another resource. Conversational marketing uses bots that are available 24/7 to instantly reply. That means connections are made instantly, and engagement is immediately captured.
Using chatbots to connect with website visitors is a proven way to increase engagement and ROI, and not lose the lead who is interested at that particular moment. As a solopreneur, you need all the help you can get to engage prospects in the now. AI chatbots help you do that, and make your company stand out for its personal interactions.
Do you currently use chatbots in your solopreneur company? What benefits have you realized? What tips for using them would you share with our readers? Where are the best places for solopreneurs to get good, affordable chatbots? Share your responses in the comments below.
If you need help setting up and managing your Chatbot reach out to us we can help.