Chatbots are currently being used by forward-thinking eCommerce businesses to engage with their customers and provide a better, more personal experience for consumers.
For businesses selling their products or marketing through social media, chatbots are a fantastic way for customers to get answers to their questions and find out more information – this, in turn, improves conversion rates when advertising on social media.
In this article, we’ll explore what chatbots are, how they work on common social media platforms and how this exciting AI-powered technology can help increase sales for eCommerce stores across the world.
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots are pieces of software that replicate a text conversation with your customers. It is the automated equivalent to live chat systems wherein live chat involves human operators. With chatbots, machine learning AI mimics a conversation with your customer and provides answers instantly.
The advantages of a chatbot over live chat systems and other forms of customer relations management are:
- Instant responses 24/7 – AI never sleeps! Using a chatbot to handle customer queries means you’ll never miss a query. This is perfect for businesses wanting to sell to a global audience as your customers are limited by the working hours in your time zone.
- No staff overhead – By using AI to handle chat systems, you won’t need to hire human sales operators to talk to your customers.
- Infinitely scalable – Chatbots can adapt to the growth of your business in a way that’s impossible for support teams to do so. Has one of your advertising campaigns brought in an influx of interested customers? No worries, the chatbot will help them on their way.
- Social media chatbots facilitate conversations where customers are familiar. By using chatbots on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, you’re breaking down a barrier with your customers by talking to them on their preferred platform. It makes your marketing copy seem more like a conversation with a friend – this helps create a more personalized customer journey.
You’ve likely spoken to dozens of chatbots before. The number of businesses using chatbots has exploded in the last few years.
Using chatbots to automate customer relations shows customers that you care about quick responses and helping them out. Many consumers are unwilling to wait in a call queue for hours to get help with their query or find out more about a business. A chatbot gets people the answers they need straight away – keeping their view of your brand positive.
How Chatbots are being used on social media
One of AI chatbots’ most loyal advocates is Facebook, who has been helping businesses across the world connect with their customers through their communications platform Messenger.
According to research by Facebook – now Meta – there are over 2 billion messages sent between people and businesses monthly. Over 56% would rather connect with a business through chat than over phone lines – and over 69% of people in the US would say that “being able to message a business helps them feel more confident about the brand.”
With Messenger, customers can easily click Message on a store’s page to start a chatbot conversation. Instead of being directed to a company’s website or a third-party chat facilitator, this conversation is handled directly through Facebook Messenger.
Businesses like LEGO and WestJet are using chatbots to engage with their customers – and it’s working. LEGO saw a 6x return on its ad spend after using a Messenger chatbot to offer users gift suggestions.
Using chatbots for social media marketing has three advantages over external chatbots:
- The conversation begins quickly. There’s no waiting for a page to load or forms to fill out collecting basic details that could be provided by the social media platform automatically, like name and method of contact. This dramatically reduces bounce rates.
- This conversation is on a platform they trust. Customers are comfortable and familiar with their chosen social media platform. This increases the likelihood of users staying to speak with your chatbot.
- The chat history is easily accessible. Instead of a convoluted chat transcript system, on social media any direct message is saved for future viewing. If a customer needs to pull up a chat transcript at any time, they are familiar with where to find it.
This feature isn’t by any means exclusive to Facebook. Businesses are using chatbot programs to connect with customers on competing platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
How to set up a Chatbot on Social Media
Before we start setting up your business’s next AI support assistant, it’s important to pick what type of chatbot you’d like to deploy.
The main two types are:
Conversational chatbots use machine learning to provide generated answers to your customer’s queries. This method is most similar to a real text conversation with another human.
The chatbot AI will parse your customer’s message and try to identify what they’re looking for and presents them with what the AI thinks they need.
This chatbot is predictive and learns from each encounter and any patterns of behavior. The advantages are clear: it gives your customers more freedom in their queries, and offers more complex, accurate and personalized responses.
These types of chatbots previously got lots of questions wrong by virtue of not being able to understand queries. However, recent breakthroughs in machine learning have led to improvements in recognition and composition. Now, conversational chatbots are far more useful than ever before.
Rule-based chatbots anticipate users’ questions by mapping out conversations based on defined rules. These are basically interactive FAQs (frequently asked questions). These are generally seen as less helpful than conversational chatbots, but are far less expensive.
Both versions of chatbots can be configured to hand-off to human agents whenever available for a seamless experience for complex queries.
Whilst social media companies are increasingly developing APIs to make the development and deployment of chatbots easier, your business will have to create the chatbot themselves.
This can be achieved by:
- Developing in-house – usually great for large businesses with specialist development teams.
- Using a third-party service like Salesforce to handle the development and deployment of chatbots.
The possibilities are endless!
Overall, AI-driven chatbots offer an exciting way to engage with tens of thousands of customers – or even millions – with ease.
Using chatbots for your business can help increase your conversion rates, drive awareness for your brand and show customers you care about helping them out. Chatbots for social media marketing is truly a no-brainer.
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