If you’re looking to capitalize on the biggest digital marketing trends of 2018, you can’t afford to ignore the buzz about chatbots.

Part #1 in the series: 2018 Digital Marketing Trends: What to Watch for in the New Year

You may have heard a lot of buzz about chatbots recently and been left confused, anxious, or unsure about what they are, how they work, or if they are even a good fit for your business. If so, then this post will give you the answers you’ve been looking for. We’ll dispel some myths about them and look at two ways chatbots can help your business in 2018.

For starters, know that most businesses can implement chat bots without dropping tens of thousands of dollars on developers and artificial intelligence. In fact, most bots don’t even rely on AI. They can be set up with drag-and-drop software to respond in a specific way when users include the right kind of information in their queries.

Also, don’t worry too much about your bot not interacting like a real human. Your customers should actually know that they are talking to a bot ahead of time. Trying to pass off a computer as human is almost impossible and could be interpreted as dishonest. Giving your bot human-like qualities, such as cultural references or a humorous lines, on the other hand, can be a good way to make the experience more enjoyable for users.

So, with those basics out of the way, let’s look at how bots are good for business.

Chatbots Can Serve as the Receptionist for Your Website

When a potential client calls your business, they are probably met with someone to direct them on the other side of the line: either a live receptionist or an automated directory. But when they visit your website, do customers get the same experience? Maybe your menus and sidebars are arranged to guide visitors as easily as possible, but wouldn’t they feel more welcome if there was a face (even a robotic one) there to greet them. Even if the chatbot is just taking a visitor’s information to direct them to the proper support staff, they provide a better user experience then filling out a contact form or sending an email. Likewise, many visitors would much rather just ask a bot a question then sift through a lengthy FAQ page.

Chatbots are a New Sales Funnel

1-800-Flowers lets customers send flowers to loved ones through Facebook Messenger. H&M uses a bot to chat with visitors about their tastes in clothing styles in order to initiate the sales process. And Casper’s Insomnobot-3000 builds brand loyalty by entertaining guests between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. Savvy businesses meet customers where they are at, and if the 300 million increase in monthly users of Facebook Messenger from 2016 to 2017 tells us anything, it’s that customers are using chat.

While there is plenty more that a well-designed bot can do, these two strategies can fit into just about any business model. There’s no need for costly artificial intelligence programming either, since drag-and-drop software like Botsify and Talkbot let users build their own bot with no knowledge of code whatsoever.

If you’re looking to capitalize on the biggest digital marketing trends of 2018, you can’t afford to ignore the buzz about chatbots.

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