Are chatbots the next big thing in lead generation? What you need to know

Chatbots are designed to build connections with your potential customers in the most efficient way possible. Now that chatbots have proven their value, businesses have endless opportunities to explore and improve their customers’ experiences.

Here’s an explanation of the different types of chatbots and their functions:

Chat as Chatbots

These programs are usually less focused on business functions and more on entertainment. They generate responses based on the relevance of a user’s text input. An excellent example is Microsoft’s Tay, designed to communicate with a target audience of 18- to 24-year-olds. Although Tay received a high level of engagement at its launch, it was quickly discontinued after offensive comments were made.

Triggered task chatbots

These are essentially keyword response systems. They are commonly found in apps like WeChat, where users can interact directly with the chatbot interface to, for example, order food, buy movie tickets, or hail a cab. These chatbots are simply another way to hit the “order” button.

Chatbots for interactive information access

This bot aims to provide a relevant answer to a customer’s potential questions in the most “human” way possible. Like Facebook Messenger bots, interactive information access chatbots serve as a tool to spread your brand’s content. They are more conversational in their communication with users.

Chatbots with complex task interaction

Slackbot and Apple’s Siri are examples of chatbots with complex task interactions that combine search, triggered task models, and chat as one chatbot type. The difference between these chatbots and triggered task chatbots is that they have knowledge of the tasks and the information required to perform them and can track the information you have already provided to them to have a more dynamic conversation.

Search chatbots

While Apple’s Siri can be considered a chatbot with triggered tasks, it also follows the design of a search chatbot in that it uses search engine information to support conversations. Search chatbots base their tasks and responses on an assigned set of keywords. Your bot marks these keywords as the specific task it needs to perform. Search chatbots only support limited interaction, as they tend to “forget” what they just told you once the answer is given.

Now that you know the different types of chatbots, one crucial question remains: “Will these chatbots bring me more leads?” The answer depends on how well you can maximize their capabilities and support their limitations.

Advantages of chatbots

Chatbots have many benefits; from receptionists to salespeople to online assistants, they can do almost anything to help you satisfy your customers while generating more sales.

1. Chatbots can increase sales

It has been shown that the customer experience is even better when they have an assistant by their side. Your chatbot can help customers shop and resolve their questions on the go.

Also, the likelihood of purchase is higher when the customer receives better service throughout the shopping process.

2. Chatbots can manage accounts

Managing accounts requires intimate knowledge of data and information. You can utilize a chatbot to manage accounts and retrieve details as needed.

These artificially intelligent bots are more accurate than humans, and the error rate is low if you use the right chatbots.

3. Chatbots are customer service agents

Most websites offer online chat options because they are easy and convenient. Chatbots are perfect for use as customer service agents because they are available 24/7 and solve customer problems seamlessly.

Chatbots are more efficient in dealing with customers compared to human agents.

The benefits of chatbots are almost endless. They replace humans in many areas and prove to be the better alternative.

Now you can order groceries, complain about the quality of food and request a refund without human intervention as a chatbot solves all the issues with its intelligent mind.

How chatbots can help with lead generation

Two-way communication

Think for a moment about your primary digital channels for lead generation (i.e., website, blog, content offers, subscriptions, etc.). These are all one-way communication channels that don’t allow user interaction. Wouldn’t it be better to have conversations instead of just sending messages?

That’s the beauty of chatbots. They allow two-way communication without needing an actual human to be present (or at least until something goes wrong). That means your brand’s conversations can scale more effectively without losing the personal touch.

Act quickly

Since leads are easier to convert when followed up quickly, quick chatbot responses are a massive advantage for lead generation. It reduces the time spent on individual prospects, maximizing your time savings.

Chatbots can also rank prospects based on how likely they are to become leads, giving you a good idea of who to focus on.

Data collection

There’s no doubt that customer data helps businesses make informed decisions. It improves your knowledge of your customers and helps you understand how to approach potential customers in the future. Thanks to chatbots’ ability to classify customer information based on their responses, you can collect more accurate data to make your future communication with the customer more contextual.

Share content 24/7

Your bots don’t just work between 9 am and 5 pm on weekdays. And they work around the clock. That means that customers and prospects don’t have to wait until work hours start to get responses from your brand, which is especially valuable if they’re in a different time zone.

It is directly related to the point of acting quickly. If your brand can handle every inquiry promptly, no matter when it comes in, you can reduce the wait time and increase the chances of conversion.

Automate everything

A database for everything helps your business maximize time savings by documenting all sessions, making tracking a breeze. That supports your lead generation efforts by simplifying the process of qualifying leads and handing them off to the sales team. Not only is the procedure more efficient, but it’s also potentially more effective for closing sales.

One of the main goals of chatbots is to improve efficiency in your business, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be issues from time to time. Your company should be aware of these obstacles to take the necessary precautions.

Limitations of chatbots

Language barrier

Occasionally, your chatbot may not understand your customer’s language. Occasionally, people use terms and keywords that imply things your chatbot knows, but in a way, your chatbot is not used to.

For example, you sell SEO services. An unfamiliar customer might think of this as better Google rankings. Your chatbot should know that SEO and better Google rankings are the same in this context. To counteract the potential language barrier, look for common words used by your target audience and familiarize your bot with as many as possible or use natural language processing.

Spam messages

Many people are not yet used to chatbots. Your customers might even consider them spam. Therefore, you should learn how to maximize the potential of chatbots without abusing them. Your chatbot should primarily help users perform a specific task (make a request, find content, get answers to questions, etc.). They should not be seen as an advertising tool for your brand or product.

Loading. Please be patient

Chatbots have only been around for a short time. They are still relatively new, and glitches are likely to occur from time to time that may inconvenience your customers. However, these glitches can be seen as opportunities to improve your chatbot and the overall customer experience.

Final considerations

As companies explore various B2-B marketing solutions, chatbots will undoubtedly become the norm for effective online communication. They are cheaper, faster, and more scalable than their human counterparts (customer support agents). However, don’t think of them as replacements but as tools to complement your current (human) processes.

Modern customers expect more from brands today than ever before. Chatbots can bridge the gap between customer expectations and actual service delivered, making them a precious tool for businesses in virtually any industry.

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