Opening the Conversation: What You Need to Know about Chatbots

Opening the Conversation: What You Need to Know About Chatbots

When we start working with our clients, one of the first things we do is fill out their “Contact Us” form. It’s amazing how often we don’t get a reply. It’s easy to wonder if the company will ever reach out to us, or if our submission has gone into a black hole.

At Knak, we’ve been using conversational marketing, also known as chatbots, for more than 3 years. It’s a fantastic way to engage with prospects and customers alike. While it naturally lends itself to SaaS organizations, it can easily be used in any business setting.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is similar to the traditional web chat that we’ve all used, but the new generation of these bots has predetermined flows that are set by the Marketer. For example:

What you need to know about chatbots - Intercom example

What you need to know about chatbots - Drift example

This allows you to provide visitors with a self-serve way of finding answers and moving forward as a qualified lead.

Ideally, once a visitor has been qualified, a live agent would be available, ready to have a conversation as soon as the automated portion is complete. Using a chatbot is a great way to efficiently capture a visitor’s interest immediately, while they’re still engaged with your website, rather than directing them to a form that may not deliver a response for several days.

I’m a big fan of chat on the website, and I’m warming up to bots also. While I don’t like the concept of an AI bot that pretends to be human, I do appreciate the transparency of the new version of bots that are pre-programmed to be helpful.

And though an eventual live-chat with a responsive and knowledgeable agent is ideal, plenty of the prep work can be done by the bots.

Getting started with chatbots

If you’re considering utilizing chatbots, our recommendation is to start with live chat so you can learn what type of questions are coming through your website. Until you have this information, creating bots will simply craft marketing-driven paths that are not helpful (and indeed can be frustrating) to your customers.

Once you know what your visitors are asking, you can begin to craft story paths for your bots, keeping in mind that you need to be transparent about whether visitors are chatting with a bot or a live agent.

The current leaders in this space are Drift and Intercom. Drift gets the credit for the automated bot path, but I would say that Intercom is actually the one who re-invented chat for web and has made the most innovation in the space in the past 3-4 years. Intercom is much more than custom bots; it also powers your support and help center which makes it a more robust solution.

As a SaaS founder, I love to be able to add triggered messaging on specific pages of my website and my app to initiate a relevant conversation at a specific point in time. I also make sure that the platform hosting my Help Center will look through help center topics and recommend relevant articles to the user if a live agent is not available.

If you want more information about chatbots, please reach out to us! We’d love to discuss how a bot can fit into your overall MarTech stack.