If you’re looking for a way to provide automated – and amazing – service, engage with people, stand out from the crowd, build a list, you’ll want to listen to this episode and learn how chatbots are transforming the way business will get done.
Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Where Marketing Meets Technology. We have a really exciting topic today that is going to add some new technology to your marketing mix. Hi, I’m Small Business Stacey.
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Stacey: We work with a lot of clients who use email in marketing, and they are telling us that they are seeing very poor results with their open and click-through rates. But there is a new technology that’s come onto the platform that can really help you stand out and engage and develop great relationships with your customers, clients, and patients, and that technology is a chatbot. Today, I have with me Digital Dave, who has been learning all about this new and exciting technology, and so I’m going to ask him some questions to help you become more familiar with the technology. Ready to get started?
Dave: I’m ready. That’s a great question, “What is a chatbot?” A chatbot is really the combination of maybe artificial intelligence and automation put together. And it’s really fun, it’s actually … I find it extraordinarily fun and interesting to create chatbots. What a chatbot is is … right now, the primary platform for chatbots is Facebook Messenger. So we’re implementing this through Facebook Messenger for many of our clients, using different tools, but ManyChat seems to be one of the more popular ones.
And what a chatbot is a … it’s like an automation, it’s like an email automation, almost like a sequence; however, it’s a little bit more sophisticated because it has to respond to user input at the time that the user puts the input. So, for instance, you might send something to somebody that says … it says it’s a quiz, and then they click on one of the answers, well, you’re going to give them a response based on the answer they’ve chosen, whereas in an email, you can’t really do that, it’s not as engaging. So it’s really the combination of artificial intelligence, a little bit, and automation, kind of put underneath the hood of a chatbot.
Stacey: It’s interesting, because when you think about it, what does everybody have in their hands today?
Dave: Everybody has a mobile phone.
Stacey: A phone, right? And this has become our handheld computer, and everybody’s on it, and this is how we do business. We search on it, we chat with people, we’re on Facebook. And so these chatbots on Messenger, it’s a great way to service people, because people want answers now, right? They may not necessarily want to call or be able to visit you on purpose. So, talk about how a chatbot might be able to help a small business owner.
Dave: Again, that’s an awesome question, and really, that’s the great feature of a chatbot, is that you can engage people in the pre-sales process and give them answers to a lot of the questions that they have, based on a storyboard and kind of walking them through your funnel. So, for instance, one of the very first things you might want to put … they engage you, and they say, “Tell me more,” whatever they type in there. You might want to start off by putting out there your frequently asked questions, you know, “You might be thinking,” “You might be wanting,” and giving them some instant response to some of the stuff that you know that people are always asking about when they call you, or text you directly, or email you back. So you’re kind of putting them through the pre-sales process a little bit, in a very friendly and engaging way, with a chatbot, so that’s really one of the great uses of it.
Stacey: Yeah, I can see how it would be a great way to sort of engage. One of the big things that we do is marketing automation, and what we realize is you need to meet people where they are in the customer journey.
Dave: That’s correct.
Stacey: People may not know, like, and trust you yet, so you don’t want to say, “Hey Dave, will you marry me?” on the first conversation. Of course, I would marry Digital Dave on the first time, but other people may not want to just jump in and ask their customers, clients, and patients to marry them on the first conversation. So, a chatbot is a great way to engage with people where they are, and then move them … it really is automation, right? For, on …
Stacey: On Messenger, okay.
Dave: That’s what it is, and so I’m going to walk through an example of a chatbot online here, and I’m also going to show this on my phone. So let’s go ahead and take a look at what a chatbot looks like on both a computer and on a phone, and this will give you some ideas of how it engages people based on their responses as part of a process.
The chatbots are coming, the chatbots are coming. We just want to give you a quick tour of … In this case, we’re going to use our chatbot, and we’re trying to illustrate what a chatbot is. This is, again, our example of our chatbot, which is designed to be very interactive and conversational. I’m not going to go through this in step-by-step detail, but I just kind of want to go through the thread, some of the thread up to this point, so you can see how you can use a chatbot to really engage your customers and walk them down different paths based on their interest, more or less to find out … for them to find out information about your company, and maybe even get answers to some of the questions that they have about you. That’s the key, or, in the case of, say, something like a sports team, obviously, to be very interactive and get them involved, almost on a regular basis, in your games, events, and so on and so forth.
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Our chat bot starts off very simply, where they click the Get Started button, and it says, “Thank you for checking out Small Biz Marketing Specialist. Are you interested in finding out more?” They have to respond, they have to give an answer. They can click “What is this about?” or “No, just want to hang.” So, again, kind of fun, have some fun with them, use the language. What we suggest is if you’re building out a chatbot, that you have an avatar kind of already in your mind of the conversation that your chatbot is going to have with people. Is it going to be very relaxed and easygoing, is it going to be very formal? You kind of want to just think about what you’re trying to portray, and build your chatbot with an avatar in mind.
And so the response was, I clicked “What is this about?” “We’re so glad you asked, Stacey. This is Awesome Messenger Bot from Small Biz Marketing Specialist. We got some blank stuff coming your way to make you a small biz marketing blank.” Again. “Stacey, if you want to hang out with us, fill in the blanks above.” Of course, that’s in their head, you can’t fill them out here. “Are you ready to get started?” Again, conversational. Yes, no, they have their choice, they can go forward.
So in this case, I clicked yes. “Welcome, Stacey. Woohoo, you’re a smart cookie. Here’s our first piece of advice: He who ate cracker in bed get crumby sleep. Confucius, hahahaha.” So you can see, we’re just trying to have some fun. We’re trying to make it engaging to the person to want to find out more about us and be involved with us, be part of our story, be part of our story brand. And so we give them some options where they click what they want to do next, and in this case, they can click “Just get some marketing tips,” they “want it all,” or again, “Just hang out,” meaning that they really don’t want anything immediate from us at this point in time.
I’m going to move forward here, and I’m going to show you some of the things that you can do with your chatbot that aren’t really premeditated as much. In a chatbot, what we’ve done is where they say they want it all, we are giving them several things. We’re giving them a video training lesson on marketing every couple days, where they actually have to watch a short video and respond to a one-question quiz for each video, to obviously try to educate them on marketing. We are sending them if they say they want it all, we are giving them inspirational tips on a regular basis. Randomly — we don’t have this scheduled, but randomly — as we see a great inspirational quote, we would drip this out to everybody that has subscribed to our chatbot. And we are also giving them a marketing tip, not of the day, because again, we don’t want to send out too much to them, so every couple days, we send them just a specific marketing tip for that particular period of time.
So this is where the automation comes in, very similar to the sequences you might find in an email autoresponder, just in a chatbot. We’re going to go through the rest of the storyline, and I’m just going to type something in here below, and this is where the chatbots can be kind of fun. Here I am down here, and I might type the word “neat.” Okay, I’m just throwing that out there, so I type the word “neat,” and let’s see what happens. Hmm, it’s thinking. This is where I said it’s very engaging, it’s trying to figure out what to do next.
So we’ll wait here just a minute. “The word ‘neat’ has two meanings.” Ooh, interesting. Is there more? “The first meaning is ‘of a place or thing, arranged in an orderly, tidy way.’ The second is ‘done with or demonstrating skill or efficiency.’ Were you referring to number one or number two?” Again, engaging the person on the other end, saying, “Okay, you said ‘neat.’ Which version of ‘neat’ did you mean?” Okay, so I probably meant “neat” number two. Let’s see what happens if I click on “number two” here.
Still waiting for a response. Ooh. “Stacey, glad you like. Would you like us to send you some neat inspirational quotes once in a while?” This is where maybe they haven’t engaged us yet, or they really don’t want any ongoing stuff, they just wanted to hang out in their previous responses, but maybe at this point, they’re like, “Oh, this is kind of interesting, so yeah, I’ll … you bet, I want an inspirational quote now and then.”
Now, generally, this seems to happen a little faster than it is today, but it’s working, so, “Yeah, who doesn’t need a great inspirational quote now and then? Hang tight and one will be on the way shortly.” Well, we obviously have a typo there, so we will need to go back and fix that, make a note. But you can see, the idea of this was to illustrate that you can make this a very conversational style with a chatbot, where you can’t do this as much with an email autoresponder because … not necessarily so much the time involved in each email that goes out, but they can’t respond to your emails in their responses, there’s no way for them to actually give feedback. So this illustrates what a chatbot looks like on a computer. Now I’m going to switch over to the phone and show you what it might look like on the phone.
Here, you’ll see a very cool Messenger bot that was put out by an organization called Poncho, and what Poncho does is they actually give you a weather forecast twice a day, and actually some other fun stuff they send you, which … you know, funny video clips and stuff like this right here. They’re showing this guy rolling down the court. And so every day, they send me alerts twice a day on what the weather is, and also give me some options to check out other things as well, such as the hourly forecast. So I just click on a button here, and you’ll see it knows where I’m located, and eventually, it will give me my hourly forecast for my area.
Now, wasn’t that pretty cool? So I can get the weather details, and what it will do is, if I’m out on the road or something like that, it will tell me literally in an alert that it’s going to start raining in 15 minutes. So this is something that I think is a very great use of a Messenger bot to really engage and stay in touch with your customers and your clients, so we highly encourage that you check out Messenger bots from Facebook for your marketing.
Stacey: Thanks, Digital Dave. That is so cool. I can see the Jetsons coming to reality here. So, a lot of great ways that small business owners can use this technology. Now, I realize that you showed how we, as the Small Biz Marketing Specialist, could use this. Are there other types of businesses this could work for?
Dave: Yeah, absolutely, and one of the great ones out … there are several of them out there. One that I particularly like, and I subscribe to myself, is one called Poncho. You can find these by just going into Facebook and clicking in the name, you know, their business name, page name, and when you find their business page, you’ll find a button that says “Get Started.” That’s usually how you engage one of these chatbots, and they can be really used well. This is a weather service, and it’s interesting that what it does is, every day, is it sends me two updates a day, one in the morning and one in the evening, of what the weather is, and going to be. And what’s really cool about this is that it mixes in some fun stuff in there, like they show me goofy videos. But I think, from the practicality standpoint, one thing that it does which is really cool is, based on where I am, it will literally alert me if it’s going to rain in the next 15 minutes.
Stacey: Oh my God.
Dave: Pretty wild, right? I mean, talk about nice-to-know information delivered to you right on time. So that’s Poncho. Another one, and other ones I’ve seen that I think are really, really great are sports teams. Sports teams use these really effectively by sending out updates to people that are their fans. Like, you don’t even have to be at the game, and you can be on your phone, and they’ll send you an update of the score, and maybe the greatest highlight that just happened in the last 15 minutes as a short little video to keep you engaged. So if you’re a fan of a sports team, there are many sports teams out there that have these already, so … there’s too many to list, but go look and see if your sports team has this or not. That’s another great use of a chatbot, is to engage your fans, right? You want to get them involved in the game, even though they may not be there, right? And then at the end of it, what are you going to do? You’re going to try to sell them tickets to the next game, right?
Stacey: Right, right, right.
Dave: Right, so you want to engage them; at the same time, you also want to try to engage them in your business propositions as part of the process.
Stacey: Wow. So this is really insightful. I mean, this is a new technology, it’s going to evolve and change, but you want to get on this boat early, because if you can build those relationships, you’re going to have those people sort of hooked in with you. So, Digital Dave, where would you suggest that a small-business owner start if they want to learn more about chatbots?
Dave: I mean, there’s plenty of information online about chatbots, YouTube videos. ManyChat is one of the most popular chatbot creation services. You can go there, they actually have a full video tutorial for free that you can subscribe to, and it gives you the walkthrough pretty much of the whose chat bot process. And the great thing about it is your imagination is the only stumbling block. I mean, you can do so many wild and cool things with these, as I showed you in some of the examples, that are just fun and engaging, and get people involved in your business, and having fun with you and your business.
That’s what it’s about. It’s not about selling them, it’s about getting them to know, like, and trust you, and then, within those messages, obviously, trying to promote your services. Like I said, the sports teams do this great, because, within their messages, they’re trying to get you to buy tickets to the next game. It’s not threatening; you’re sitting there watching the highlights of the current game, and getting information about the current game, of course, you’re going to be interested in possibly going to a game at some point in time, so what better time to deliver a message to try to hook them to buy tickets to a game, or season tickets, or so on and so forth?
And this can be used across many, many … pretty much any type of business can use this in some capacity to promote their business services, provide education in a fun and engaging way. And again, when you think about it, where do people spend a lot of their time these days? On their mobile phone. It’s 90-plus minutes a day, 60 to 90 minutes a day, people spend just browsing. That’s not including looking at their emails and stuff, but browsing different things on their mobile devices.
Stacey: And is it something where they have to opt-in? You can use it to build a list, right?
Dave: Again, Stacey, that’s a great question. You want to do that. Like I said, what happens is that once they … and this is Facebook. Once they click the Get Started button, you have them as a subscriber to your chatbot service. Now, they can unsubscribe any time they want to; they can just simply send in a message that says “stop,” and now they’re disconnected from the ongoing messages of your chatbot. That doesn’t mean they can’t direct message you, though. They can still contact you; this doesn’t overrule your standard Facebook messaging service.
Stacey: Oh, that’s a good point.
Dave: It’s an addition to it, and you can actually, for instance, with ManyChat, you can jump on a conversation. Say they’ve asked something that your chatbot just isn’t prepared to answer, you know, something out of the blue that you just haven’t put into your conversational style. Well, you can actually jump in and start a real live conversation with them at that point through ManyChat. So it’s an addition, to try to automate some of the regular information and tasks, so that you can give them that information without obviously having to direct email them or direct contact them to help them find out more about your business, your services, your processes, and so on and so forth, pre-educate them before they’re getting ready to do business with you. So I think that chatbots are going to be the way of the future, as far as communicating with clients. They want this information right away. They don’t want to wait, they don’t even want to wait for an email most of the time, right?
Stacey: Right, exactly.
Dave: And they don’t even want to call, they don’t even want to go through an automated message service that most people have, “Press 1 and 3 and 4.” They want you to get on there right away. Well, here’s a way to use some automation, keep them engaged, but jump into the conversation any time you feel like that it’s appropriate to continue that conversation on a one-on-one basis.
Stacey: Right. A lot of benefits to chatbots. You can build a list, you’re providing amazing support, you’re engaging with people, you’re on top of the technology. So we encourage you to learn more about how chatbots and marketing automation can help your business grow. Hope you liked this edition of Where Marketing Meets Technology. If so, we’d appreciate if you’d share the love by leaving us a review, a comment below, and/or tagging a colleague or a friend. Any last words, Digital Dave?
Dave: Absolutely. Go to our chatbot. It’s m.me/smallbizmarketingspecialist. I’ll say that again. It’s m.me/smallbizmarketingspecialist, all together with no spaces in between. And if you go there, you will instantly get the Get Started button, and you can join our ongoing chat.
Stacey: Fantastic. Well, we look forward to seeing you in the chat world. Have a great day, everybody.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE money. Stacey is the founder of Small Biz Marketing Specialist, THE go-to place for marketing tips, techniques and strategies that get results. She's also the author of "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" where she shares the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of the Daily Deals for Massive Profits, an online video training program that teaches small and local business owners how to use daily deal sites like Groupon to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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