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What is a Chatbot, Why it is Important, How to Create One & Examples

Chatbots (also called “clever bots” or “talk bots”) have become enormously popular over the last few years. They can make marketing your business easier by automating some of your communications.

Think about the amount of time you contribute to your Knowledge Commerce business every day. You might be creating online courses, adding content to your membership site, writing blog post series, and sending out email newsletters.

So any opportunity to cut back on the time you spend on your business is a good thing.

Enter: Chatbots.

But what is chatbot technology? And how can you harness it to free up some of your limited time? Those are the most important questions we’re going to answer today.

We'll also cover specific ways in which you might use chatbots for your Knowledge Commerce business. We’ll provide you with clear-cut examples of chatbots you might want to use and show you how chatbots work.

Don’t worry. It sounds like a ton of information, but we'll break it down and make it easy for you.

What Is a Chatbot? 

A chatbot is a piece of technology that allows a computer program to communicate with people just like a human would. In other words, the chatbot “pretends” to be a human being in conversation with a prospect or customer.

That’s right: artificial intelligence is here. It’s no longer relegated to the realm of science fiction, but we don’t think you need to worry about chatbots taking over the world.

In fact, chatbots are largely benign. Aside from a few caveats, which we’ll discuss later, you can use these programs to keep in touch with prospects and customers when you’re occupied with other tasks.

To help clarify how chatbots work, let’s look at one of their close cousins.

When you call a toll-free number to talk to your cable company or the warranty department for a product that just fell apart, you don’t usually reach a human first. Instead, you’re greeted by a mechanical voice that presents you with a list of options.

Until a few years ago, you had to punch (or tap) numbers on your phone to make your selection. Recently, however, telephone technology has advanced to the point where these bots can understand human language.

For instance, if you’re asked to verify your birthdate, the program can understand the words “February 26, 1973” just as well as it could if you tapped out the number “02261973” on your telephone keypad.

These bots are often trained to listen for phrases related to customer questions or concerns. They’re highly accurate in many cases.

Chatbots on the Internet work in much the same way. They understand text and voice, which means they can respond appropriately.

What Can Chatbots Do? 

A chatbot can’t make your morning coffee or pick up your kids from school, but it’s still pretty handy.

At its core, a chatbot is an example of artificial intelligence, or AI. In 2016, companies all over the world collectively spent as much as $39 billion on AI. That’s a pretty big number.

Of course, many of those companies were Fortune 100 businesses that created their own chatbot technology. You don’t need unlimited disposable income to jump on the bandwagon, though.

Here are a few things chatbots can do:

Answer Simple Customer Queries

If a customer has a question about your customer service number, the types of products you sell, or the prices for your services, a chatbot can help. It’s far more efficient than manning the phones.

“Chatbots interpret queries in a variety of ways. They can be programmed to “listen” for certain keywords and semantic phrases that relate to common questions about your business. #Kajabi” — Tweet this!

Many chatbots use “clarifying questions” to better understand what a customer needs. For instance, the customer will type a question, then the chatbot will provide a list of “guesses” related to the words used in the question. The customer can then select the topic most related to the query.

Most importantly, the process is interactive. The customer feels as though he or she remains in control. Unlike a telephone call, the customer can also terminate the “conversation” at any time without the usual pleasantries.

While using a chatbot to field customer inquiries might sound cold, it’s highly efficient — for both the customer and the business. Customers don’t have to wait on hold or search for a phone number. They can just click on the box and start typing.

Help Customers Find Products They Need 

If you have lots of informational products to sell, you don’t want to put anything in the way of making a sale. Long lists of product descriptions can do exactly that.

Chatbots help by narrowing down the options based on what the customer wants to learn. For instance, the chatbot might ask a series of questions:

  • What are you interested in learning?
  • What is your experience level?
  • How long of a course are you willing to take?

Based on the answers, the chatbot will recommend one or more products that fit the bill. Instantly, your prospect is led to the right product for him or her.

In this instance, think of a chatbot as the next best thing to a personal shopper. Instead of hiring people to guide customers toward sales, you let technology work its magic.

Entertain Your Customers 

Okay, so this is a bit silly — but maybe not. Many chatbots have humor built in, which means that customers get entertained as well as educated.

For instance, you could give your chatbot a funny or friendly name. Branding it will help reinforce your business culture.

You could also add jokes, funny or sarcastic comments, or other enjoyable responses to the chatbot dialogue. Just make sure that it’s not offensive and that it’s in keeping with the brand image.

Just don’t lose sight of the goal: To perpetuate your brand and to provide your prospects and customers with useful information.

Point Prospects Toward Marketing Assets

Another great way to use chatbots is to help steer prospects toward other marketing assets, such as landing pages or explainer videos. Your goal is to keep your visitors on your site.

Some of your programmed responses to customer queries could help them find products suited to their needs. Alternatively, you could point them to resources that provide both value as well as a marketing-related CTA.

Think of the chatbot as the prospect’s first introduction to your company. You don’t want to go for the hard sell — at least, not yet. Instead, you want to slowly immerse that person in your company culture.

Chatbots are great for those purpose. Not only do they save you a ton of time, but you can also program to send your prospects wherever you want those people to go.

Of course, you need a strategic plan. Don’t send everyone to the same landing page or sales page. Instead, you want the recommendations or links to follow a natural progression in the sales pipeline.

The important thing is to keep prospects engaged. The longer they interact with any element on your website — whether it’s a chatbot or a riveting blog post — the more likely you are to make a sale. Using this type of technology gives you another tool in your toolbox.

Replace Your F.A.Q.

Some forms of web pages have become, if not extinct, a little deprecated. The list of frequently asked questions, or the F.A.Q. page, is just one example.

F.A.Q.s can become extremely long and complex. Many consumers don’t have the time to read through dozens of questions and answers to figure out what they want to know.

Plus, a F.A.Q. doesn’t always help with SEO or other marketing purposes. It’s just exists, as though you’re expected to have one, so you must.

Chatbots can replace the F.A.Q. page on your website by allowing prospects to key in their questions for an immediate response. Anything you would normally include on a F.A.Q. page can be programmed into a chatbot.

After all, those questions are frequent for a reason. Lots of people want to know. Chatbots allow you to streamline the process and help your customers save time.

If you’re unwilling to give up your F.A.Q. page, don’t worry. You can use both. There’s no reason why you can’t provide multiple means with which to convey information to prospects and consumers.

Upsell and Downsell to Your Customers

Upselling and downselling are both intrinsic to good business. They allow you to capitalize on higher transaction values for highly motivated customers and steal back business from prospects who feel intimidated by your pricier products.

To refresh your memory, upselling is the process of convincing your customers to either buy more products or to buy the most expensive product in your lineup. By contrast, downselling is offering your customers a less-pricey alternative to something they’re considering.

You can program your chatbot to take care of this for you. The bot can ask your prospects and existing customers questions, then point those people to offers based on their responses.

For instance, a prospect who balks at a high price point might be a great candidate for downselling. Alternatively, customers who don’t mind spending money as long as they get a great deal might want to take advantage of a bundle deal.

Why Are Chatbots Such a Big Deal for Knowledge Commerce Professionals?

As mentioned above, Knowledge Commerce professionals are often solopreneurs. Even if you have a partner or two, you can’t always take care of everything like you’d want.

Everybody has to sleep. Entrepreneurs might burn the midnight oil every once in a while, but if you’re too caught up in your to-do list, your health can suffer. So can your business.

In fact, sleep is essential for productive, effective work. But that doesn’t mean your business has to sleep, too.

Chatbots are always awake. They’re artificial, so they don’t need ZZZ or food or water or time with friends and family. They’ll continue working no matter when you have to leave your desk for a while.

Without technology like chatbots, you’d either have to leave your customers hanging until you return or hire someone to field customer service and sales calls. A chatbot is far less expensive and less draining. Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty about taking the afternoon off to watch your kid in the school play.

Additionally, chatbots can help sell to your prospects when you don’t have anything new to share. Many consumers enjoy interacting with the technology — so much so that they seek it out.

As chatbots become more and more popular, those engagements might be reduced, but the technology will also improve (we’ll get into that more later).

You can also use chatbots to help share knowledge and value. There’s no rule that says a chatbot has to be 100 percent about the sale. Since you deal in knowledge, you can use this technology to establish your authority and show you know what you’re talking about.

And finally, using a chatbot shows that you’re ahead of the times. You don’t rely on ancient technology to run your business. Instead, you embrace new ideas and strategies.

That’s powerful in today’s culture. Consumers are extremely savvy when it comes to technology, so they want to buy from businesses that don’t cower when faced with something fresh and innovative.

How Do Chatbots Work?

Currently, there are two versions of chatbots available. The first is the more basic form. It follows a set of rules — sort of like If X, Then Y. For example, if a customer types one phrase, the chatbot responds with a specific reply.

The second type of chatbot is a little smarter. It uses machine learning to get to know the people with whom it communicates. These types of chatbots are more expensive to build and implement, but they’re also more successful when it comes to interactions with customers.

For the simpler chatbot, your customers have to interact in very specific ways. Consequently, it’s helpful to ask the customer a question, then provide a list of possibilities.

For instance, the bot might say, “What are you interested in learning about today?”

If you sell digital products related to fitness, you might have three possible answers:

  1. Losing Weight
  2. Improving Strength
  3. Gaining More Flexibility

You can keep going with more questions and lists of answers, sort of like a survey. You’re working toward a specific end goal, though, such as to make a purchase.

What Types of Chatbots Exist? 

Chatbots can be used for many purposes. For example, there are bots that let you check the weather, find out about the latest news, or choose an outfit for an upcoming date.

E-commerce chatbots are designed to help consumers find the idea product, while customer service chatbots help field inquiries about the user experience and other problems or concerns.

In Knowledge Commerce, you’ll probably want to use a chatbot that can both help customers find products for sale and provide explanatory information. For instance, your bot might help people understand what you do, what types of products you create, and why you’re qualified to teach.

Many chatbots are built on an existing platform, such as Facebook or Slack, while others are entirely separate. We’ll get into that more below.

The important thing to know is that you can’t just pick the first chatbot you come across. It needs to serve not only your purposes, but also those of your customers.

What Are the Best Examples of Chatbots 

One of the most common ways to implement a chatbot is to use a product like ManyChat, which integrates with Facebook. Essentially, you turn Facebook Messenger into a 24/7 selling machine.

The great thing about ManyChat is that you don’t have to know any code. It offers an intuitive interface, so you can build your bot and push it live on your Facebook page.

It also allows you to personalize your bot. You can use your prospects’ first names, for instance, to make the conversation feel more intimate. You can also give prospects multiple options for what they’d like to learn about.

You know how we feel about drip campaigns here at Kajabi. They’re wonderful. With ManyChat, you can create a drip campaign with the Facebook chatbot. It’s relatively easy to set up and will continue to work when you’re not at your desk.

Many other options exist, such as Chatfuel and Botsify. Both of these chatbot APIs can be useful for automating your Facebook messenger.

Alternatively, you can use Tapright Chatbot to integrate with your Kajabi website. It’s an easy, effective way to engage with prospects and customers when they visit your site.

How Do You Build a Chatbot?

The easiest way to build a chatbot is to use an existing program that allows you to customize the bot for your purposes. We described several options above.

You can decide how you want the chatbot to respond, when you want it to personalize messages, and how you want it to respond when it doesn’t understand something a consumer says. Those are all incredibly important.

Some business owners prefer to build their own chatbots. They either learn to code themselves or hire a professional. If you have the extra cash, a customized option might appeal to you.

Can You Avoid Irritating Customers With Chatbots?

The most important thing when using a chatbot is to avoid being intrusive or overbearing. For instance, don’t continually ask your visitors if they want to chat. You can leave a little icon open at the bottom of the screen so they can open the chat if they later desire.

Additionally, make sure you proofread your pre-programmed messages. You don’t want to send the message that you’re lazy or don’t know how to spell.

Finally, don’t forget to test your bot. This is an essential step. Put it through as many paces as possible to make sure you don’t need to make any corrections.

What Can Text Messages Teach Us About Chatbots?

Text messaging has existed for a long time — since before smartphones, even. So what can we learn from communicating via text that might help use create better chatbots?

For one thing, people use shorthand when they’re communicating virtually. Instead of “thanks,” people write “thx.” In place of “That’s really funny,” people write “LOL.”

Other abbreviations — such as BRB for “be right back” and IRL for “in real life” — have become part of the natural lexicon. People of all ages use them to communicate faster and more efficiently.

However, it means your chatbot needs to recognize those phrases, too.

You must also consider issues like poor punctuation and misspellings. When people type in the chat box, they won’t always use proper grammar. They might leave out spaces, for instance, or fail to know how to spell a particular word.

This happens in text messages all the time. In fact, thousands of memes exist for this single purpose — and the hilarious misunderstandings that can ensue.

Finally, remember that some people will bounce. One of the advantages of texting is that you can leave a conversation, then return to it later. Some people might engage with your chatbot, then get distracted and move on. Just know they might come back.

What Lies in the Future for Chatbots? 

It’s fun to speculate on how chatbots will evolve over the coming years. We suspect that voice will come to play a big role. Just as voice search has become more prevalent, so will conversing with chatbots.

We also expect to see the technology get smarter. That’s the trend these days, right? Smarter homes, smarter security, smarter phones, and smarter thermostats.

Chatbots should evolve similarly.

Learning how to use the technology now, though, is a great idea. Even though it might improve in coming years, you won’t want to fall behind the times. If you’re already used to using chatbots for customer communication, you’ll find yourself better equipped to evolve with the tech.

Use Kajabi to Turn Your Knowledge and Content Into Products You Can Sell

At Kajabi, we’re committed to not only providing our customers with more choices and tools than any of our competitors, but also to making sure every tool is of the highest quality. We love helping Knowledge Commerce entrepreneurs build their businesses from the ground up — or expand from an existing point.

In fact, we’re so confident in our platform that we offer a 14-day free trial. Feel free to wander around the platform, start setting up your first online course, and get to know our community. We’re sure you’ll find it as welcoming and positive as we do.

Whether or not you decide to utilize chatbots to your advantage, we offer tons of other tools to make running your business as simple and seamless as possible. From built-in analytics to email marketing tools, you’ll find everything you need to create products, market to your target audience, and retain existing customers.

We can’t wait to see what you do with Kajabi.

Conclusion

Chatbots aren’t the stuff of science fiction novels anymore. They exist, in many forms, and many businesses use them to great results.

You could be one of them.

A chatbot is a piece of technology that converses online with people as though it were a human being. It’s programmed to respond in specific ways when asked questions or given responses.

You can use chatbots to answer simple customer queries, entertain your visitors, help customers find relevant products, point people toward your marketing materials, replace your F.A.Q. page, upsell and downsell to prospects, and interact with customers while you sleep. As you can see, the applications are very nearly endless.

When you find that your business is growing and you need an extra hand, it's a good idea to explore options such as Chatbot automation.

You can use some of the chatbot examples we recommend and build your own chatbot for your website. Learn lessons from text messaging, make sure you don’t irritate customers with some of the bigger mistakes, and make sure to keep your finger on the pulse of chatbots’ future. You never know what might be right around the corner.

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