Here’s How To Transform Your Chatbot Into A Powerful Sales Generation Tool
There’s no question chatbots have become one of the hottest must-have tools for businesses.
What is in question, however, is how most businesses opt to use their bots. Far too many leverage them as glorified greeters, there to extend a polite hello and an offer of assistance, without any thought of how a strategic deployment could help develop and deliver sales opportunities.
Once something of a novelty found only on the sites of progressive tech-forward businesses, chatbots like those offered by Drift and HubSpot have become increasingly popular for their ability to engage with visitors when no people are available to chat live. In fact, usage of chatbots as a communication channel increased by 92% from 2019 to 2020.
However, as more sites have deployed them, chatbots have become fairly standard, both in adoption and execution. Many B2B sites now feature chatbots. And most are identical, relying on uniform, off-the-shelf playbooks that may help drive engagement but not necessarily revenue.
But with just a little bit of thought and effort, you can transform your chatbot from a cool tool to a sales opportunity generator.
From personalizing your bots to leveraging buyer intent, these five approaches can help you get ripe sales opportunities from your conversational marketing efforts.
1. A Little Personality Goes A Long Way
Rule number one of conversational marketing should be: Make thy chatbot unique and engaging. Give your bot a little pep and personality so that visitors WANT to interact with it.
This isn’t an innovative idea – actually, it’s pretty pedestrian. But it’s widely ignored and more important than ever. As more sites have implemented conversational marketing, chatbots have begun to fade into the background. You expect that little bot to pop up on the bottom of your screen and say “hi.” It’s so expected, and the experience has become so stale, that it no longer commands attention.
If you’re going to use a chatbot to create sales opportunities, it first needs to engage visitors. Think of the first time you went to a store and were met by a person whose sole purpose was to greet you with a smile. It was surprising, cool and nice, and you enthusiastically said “hi” back and wished them a good day.
Fast forward a few years. Most stores have someone near the entrance to welcome you. And unless that person delivers an unexpected dose of charm, you likely give a nod and continue on your way.
Think of your chatbot in the same way. Give it a personality, one that reflects your brand and its voice. It can fun and playful or witty and smart. Our website has a playful tongue-in-cheek relationship theme. Rather than a plain-Jane “hello,” visitors could be met with a cheesy pickup line to grab attention and invite interaction.
The goal should be to make the bot experience warm, organic and human, so that visitors feel like they’re engaging with your team rather than a tool. By crafting creative and engaging scripts, you increases the likelihood visitors will engage with your chatbot and, by extension, your ability to move opportunities to your sales team.
2. Whenever Possible, Make It Personal
So, that analogy from above, the one about the store greeter? Imagine if the next time you go to Trader Joe’s the person stocking the Joe-Joe’s welcomes you back by name.
Not only that, but she remembers that the last time you visited you bought Sumatra coffee. She asks how you liked it and recommends their new biscotti to go along with it.
That’s a pretty personalized experience, one that increases the likelihood you’ll engage with that greeter and go home with some biscotti.
Chatbots give you the ability to personalize the experience so that returning visitors, those who are perhaps further along in the buyer journey, are treated differently than first-time visitors. That message can be as simple as “Welcome back! It’s great to see you again.” But chatbots can also:
- Address visitors by name: If they’ve previously provided information (perhaps they engaged in a chat or filled out a form for a guide), your bot can address visitors by name in the same friendly and personable way a customer service representative would.
- Use historical data to recommend next steps: If a visitor recently downloaded content, your bot can ask them about it and recommend the next step, something that takes them deeper into the buyer journey. If they downloaded an e-book, the bot can suggest a webinar on the same topic. If they viewed a case study, it can ask if they’d like to schedule a demo or a time to talk. In essence, your bot performs the role of a drip nurture campaign.
- Engage with target accounts: Chatbots can recognize when someone from a target account is on your site and interact with them in an incredibly personalized way. You have the ability to craft chat flows that speak to the target account in a one-to-one manner, mentioning their company’s name and perhaps a tidbit about them that shows familiarity.
Drift will even alert your sales team when someone from a target account is on your site, and provide a history of previous chats and the content they’ve visited, allowing the rep to join the chat with the full context of where the prospect is in the buyer journey.
These are more than cool features, they’re successful personalization tactics that have long been used in face-to-face selling to engage with prospects and move them toward conversion. The fact that you can employ them via an automated chatbot is a novel and underused way to use conversational marketing to deliver more sales opportunities.
3. Leverage High-Intent, Late Buyer Journey Pages
Most sites that employ a chatbot make one of the following two mistakes:
- They use the chatbot on the homepage and only the homepage
- If it’s on more than one page, they have the same chat flow everywhere
Both instances fail to leverage chatbots to capitalize on high-intent pages where visitors are signaling that they’re further along in the buyer journey and perhaps close to making a purchase.
Let’s start with the premise that not all of the pages on your website serve the same purpose or occupy the same place in the buyer journey. Some are intended to introduce visitors to your products and services and educate them on their value. Others answer key questions prospects have when they are further along in the buying process.
That last group is what’s often referred to as high-intent pages. Prospects that visit these pages have generally moved beyond educating themselves about the need for and benefits of your solution and are beginning to evaluate whether it’s a fit. For us, high-intent pages include:
- Our Work: This is our portfolio, and prospects use it to review the work we’ve done for other clients and compare it to the work of other agencies they’re considering.
- Pricing: One of the last things prospects investigate before reaching out is cost – they evaluate how it fits into their budget and compare it to other options.
- Our Team: These are the people potential clients would be working closely with and so they tend to vet them.
In a perfect world, you’d customize chats for every core website page. But your high-intent pages are the low-hanging fruit you should immediately address. Rather than deploying the same chat that’s used on your homepage, where awareness and education may be needed, drive the types of conversations that you’d typically have in the later stages of the sales process.
- If it’s the pricing page, try and drive them to a custom quote.
- If it’s the results page, try to guide them to reviews or a call in which you can walk them through specific work you’ve done for clients like them.
4. Qualify And Route
One of the most appealing features of chatbots is their 24/7 availability.
Any time of day, chatbots can answer questions, offer recommendations and provide a great user experience. But they can also be used to qualify prospects, eliminating the friction of forms and serving as a bridge to your sales team.
The typical B2B marketing model is fairly transactional. In exchange for some information – such as a name and a valid email address – site visitors can get access to content. This not only allows businesses to nurture visitors with more messaging and content, it allows them to begin to qualify prospects.
While the approach works to varying degrees, far more prospects skip the form than fill it out. Conversational marketing can provide a near-frictionless experience by capturing that information in the chat. With just a few questions, a chatbot can determine if the visitor is:
- Interested in learning more and requires more education and nurturing
- Showing buying intent and could benefit from a demo or conversation about pricing
- Ready to buy and should immediately be routed to sales
By creating chat flows that account for different phases in the buyer journey, you can quickly and efficiently pass off sales opportunities to your team while guiding those that need more time or additional resources. When thinking of the last two scenarios from above, be direct and efficient, and remove as much friction as possible.
For a visitor interested in a demo or conversation, rather than directing them to a contact form or an email, you should:
- Hand off the chat from the bot to an SDR or sales rep. Response time is key – even a minute of waiting for that handoff can feel like an eternity for the person on the other end and could result in an abandoned chat.
- Drop a calendar invite for the sales rep into the chat, allowing the person to easily book a time to talk. This is an especially effective strategy after-hours or if you can’t quickly hand off chats to a live person.
When employing these strategies, consider where on your site they’re taking place. While a chat on your homepage or a product page may have to work through the visitor’s intent to determine if they are a sales-ready opportunity, that’s not the case on other pages. With your high-intent pages, dispense with the small talk and get right to it. For instance:
- On a demo page, ask right away if they’re interested in booking a demo rather than engaging in banter.
- On a pricing page, it makes sense to quickly offer to let them speak with someone about a custom quote rather than recommending content.
- On a case study page, offer up a meeting to discuss specific work and results related to their industry or use case.
5. Combine With Intent Data, Google Search Ads And Retargeting
It’s obvious, but one of the easiest ways to have meaningful conversations with real sales opportunities is to connect with prospects who are showing buying intent. As previously mentioned, you can sometimes do that within a chat flow or by targeting visitors on your site’s high-intent pages.
You can also do it by driving those people actively looking for the solutions you offer to a page, then engaging them with a targeted chat flow. Two ways to execute this strategy are to:
- Leverage paid search: By targeting high-intent search terms (e.g., “HubSpot partner agency”) with paid ads, you can drive meaningful traffic to high-value, high-relevance pages (e.g., our HubSpot partner page).
- Make use of intent data: Intent data can provide insight into the digital activity of users at specific IP addresses. It typically ties actions taken on the web to a topic. For instance, sharing or liking a blog post about HubSpot agencies might correlate with “best HubSpot partner agency.”
Not only can intent data offer insight into the type of information your ideal prospects are consuming, it offers visibility into the company they work for and their position. With that data you have the ability to serve up incredibly targeted paid ads to drive prospects to the content you want them to see.
With both paid search and intent data, you would then employ conversational marketing on the landing page. Since you know the terms prospects are searching and the content they’re consuming, you can craft chats designed to quickly determine which are opportunities that can be passed to sales and which require more information in the form of curated content.
Because intent data provides information such as company name and title, you can up the ante by layering in the personalization strategies discussed earlier.
Bonus: Make Use Of New Generation Tools
Any time you can extend or advance a conversation, you’re moving closer a sales opportunity.
As conversational marketing has matured, so have the tools within the platform. Drift, in particular, has introduced a couple of sales enablement tools that allow you to more easily and effectively engage with prospects after they leave the chat and your site.
- Abandoned chat emails: Sometimes visitors bail on chats because they’re not interested. Other times chats are interrupted because life happens. Similar to e-commerce abandoned cart emails, this tool allows you to send a follow-up email when chats abruptly end. You can direct the person back to their previous chat, recommend relevant content or simply make yourself available to answer more questions.
- Video messaging: Drift is all about personalization these days, and this feature allows you to follow up chats with video messages that enable you to speak directly to prospects in a way that’s even more personal than chat. It’s the next best thing to meeting you in person.
Both of these tools give you the ability to extend conversations beyond chat while providing visitors with added value and an easy path back to their chat. No need to start over or repeat previously shared information.
Get More Out Of Conversational Marketing
Chatbots are most often used as a one-dimensional marketing tactic that offers strong value in the early stages of the buyer journey. But by reimagining how a chatbot can be deployed and implementing some of the strategies discussed here, you can start using conversational marketing to uncover and deliver ripe sales opportunities.
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Posted By Author Bob McCarthy, Content Director
Bob came to Square 2 with over a decade of writing experience. His writing career began on a whim with aspirations of following in the footsteps of the Lost Generation authors who struggled mightily while penning the great American novel. Succeeding at the former but failing at the latter, Bob traded his dreams for a degree and enrolled in graduate school, earning an M.A. in professional writing. He has a wealth of inbound writing experience, having previously produced content for higher education and e-commerce. Still a storyteller at heart, he seeks out a narrative in everything he writes.