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Chatbot marketing: the marketer that’s always on

Main illustration: Vinnie Neuberg

You might think chatbots are only for customer support, but using them to answer your customers’ questions is just one way to leverage chatbots. With the right setup, a chatbot can power your marketing as well so you never miss a lead.

53% of buyers are more likely to buy from a business they can message, so if you’re looking for ways to make your marketing strategy more effective in 2019, live chat is the way to go. But how do you staff live chat for your marketing without ballooning your headcount?

By using chatbots. Here’s an in-depth look at how chatbots can be used to engage visitors browsing on your website and turn them into leads for your sales team.

What is chatbot marketing?

Chatbot marketing is a marketing technique that employs computer programs to automate interactions with prospects and customers, either on your website or in your app, for the purpose of generating sales. Chatbot marketing allows companies to qualify and engage with leads at all hours and at any capacity regardless of whether or not your marketing & sales team are online. Just like how you can use chatbot marketing to answer support questions, you can use chatbots to start conversations with website visitors, qualify leads, and even upsell customers.

chatbot marketing on our websiteThe chatbot on our website

While messenger chatbots aren’t powered by a human, they are built by one. They send your leads and potential customers the exact messages you want them to see based on rules you define. So, for example, if you want your bot to only appear to website visitors who aren’t signed in, you can do that. Or if you want it to appear to visitors who aren’t signed in and have been viewing your pricing page for longer than 30 seconds, you can do that, too.

Benefits of chatbot marketing: Never miss a lead

The beauty of chatbots is that they’re constantly running. They’ll keep your marketing engine going when your team members are unavailable and save them time when they’re hard at work. Here are the key aspects of digital marketing channels that chatbots can automate:

  • Engage and qualify leads. Use your chatbots to show website visitors a simple prompt – like “Let us know if you have any questions” – or even a welcome video to open up the door for conversation. Bots can can then ask further questions to collect basic qualification details like email and company size.Chatbots can quickly gather qualification details for your sales team.Chatbots can quickly gather qualification details for your sales team.Embed a video message in your chatbot.Embed a video message in your chatbot.Use these details plus those gathered from data enrichment tools to segment your users and personalize their next steps. For instance, encourage a first-time visitor to sign up for your newsletter but nudge return visitors to book a demo.
  • Send high-intent leads directly to sales. Visitors who spend minutes on your pricing page or click the “Get more info” button likely have a serious interest in your product. Use your chatbot to instantly qualify and book a call with your sales team.Intercom chatbots can invite leads to book meetings directly.Our chatbots can invite leads to book meetings directly.
  • Nurture and upsell users. If you offer free trials, bots can offer help to users who haven’t completed their setup and check in with people whose trials are about to end. For customers, let them know about new features and connect them to the Sales reps if they’re interested in upgrading.Trigger nurture and upsell messages via chatbotsTrigger nurture and upsell messages via chatbots.

Chatbot marketing examples in the wild

Chatbot technology has advanced to a stage where they can easily replace traditional web forms on your site and offer users a simpler way to get in touch with you. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

How a Volvo dealership uses bots to provide custom quotes

One of the coolest examples of chatbot marketing that we’ve seen comes from Volvo Cars Amberg, a German car dealership. More and more potential car buyers visit dealership websites these days to research prices, so the company placed a chatbot with an integrated Typeform survey on their marketing site that provides an instant, totally customized price quote based on visitors’ input.

The Volvo chatbot provides instant price quotes to website visitorsThe Volvo dealership’s chatbot provides instant price quotes to website visitors.

Here’s the impact the chatbot had on the dealership’s bottom line, according to their marketing manager Tobias Wamser:

“We were able to increase lead generation on our website by about 300%. We are also able to prioritize high-quality leads and offer them an even more personalized experience”

Not only that, but leads coming through the Volvo dealership’s chatbot are 200% more likely to purchase a vehicle than those acquired via their contact form, since they’re able to get immediate answers to their questions or book a test drive online.

How we use chatbots at Intercom

Chatbots are a key component in our marketing at Intercom, too. We use chatbots on all the key pages of our site, including our pricing page, demo page, and even the blog you’re currently reading this article on!

If you visit our pricing page, our bot will pop up almost immediately, asking how we can help. Answer the questions, and you’ll be offered a suggestion for the plan that fits you best, plus the opportunity to chat with someone from our team to learn more.

Intercom's pricing chatbotThe chatbot on our pricing page

Using artificial intelligence-driven marketing chatbots allows our team to qualify leads 24/7 and instantly move them to the next step with minimal manual input. You can also setup chatbots to talk with customers over social media apps like Facebook Messenger. And because our bots ask multiple qualifying questions and respond to the answers, we know what that next step is — whether it’s a piece of content or a conversation with sales.

Check out more examples of companies using our chatbots to improve their marketing in this article or in our case studies.

How to set up marketing chatbots with Intercom

Ready to give chatbots a try? If you’re not using Intercom yet, first sign up for a free trial.

We offer simple task bots that you can set live in minutes to automatically collect visitors’ contact details whenever they start a conversation with your team. Our “Qualify leads” task bot can also follow up in the same conversation to ask simple qualification questions.

To proactively engage visitors on your site and offer a more personalized customer experience, try our Custom Bots. They don’t require any programming knowledge to create, and we offer plug-and-play bot templates for multiple scenarios and goals. Follow these three steps to get your first Custom Bot up and running.

1. Decide when and where your bot should appear

Ask these questions:

  • What kinds of leads do we want to reach?
    Do you want to send messages to everyone or a specific segment, such as people with the intent to purchase? The answer will determine the segmentation to add in the steps below.
  • When are your leads most receptive to marketing messages?
    Do leads respond well to your current marketing messages on their first visit when they find you on Google, or do they typically need to visit a few times before they’re ready? The answer will tell you when your chatbot should appear.
  • Which pages or activities signal high interest?
    High lead interest is often signaled by the amount of time spent on your website’s pricing page, feature page, or a contact form. Knowing the behaviors that signal high interest in your product will help you further narrow down when and where to show a chatbot.

2. Craft persuasive bot messages

Here’s how:

  • What format resonates best with leads?
    Some leads respond well to straightforward text or something more visual like videos. Others may prefer links to content like case studies or third-party research.
  • What do you want to promote?
    Adjust your marketing chatbot’s messaging at any time to showcase new features, popular content, or upcoming events.
  • What do you want leads to do next?
    The leads you’re targeting may not be ready to jump on a call or book a demo, but they would consider signing up for an email list or subscribing to your blog. If you know what step comes next in your sales process, tailor your message to match and embed an app to encourage immediate action.No matter what, we recommend adding a “just browsing” option for visitors who aren’t interested in chatting yet. They can always message later.

3. Create your first bot

With the above info mapped out, you’re ready to design your first bot! Just follow these instructions here or check out these bot templates for more inspiration.

Best practices for a non-spammy chatbot experience

With the right audience segmentation and messaging, marketing chatbots can successfully bridge the gap between “first-time visitor” and “qualified lead.” As you’re putting together your first few chatbots, keep these tips in mind to ensure an on-brand, positive experience.

Don’t pretend your bots are human

No matter how useful chatbots are, they’re not human. Giving your chatbot a real name and a stock profile photo of a person will only serve to confuse prospects: if they expect a human response but get something else entirely, no matter how useful that reply is, they’ll probably feel like you’re pulling a prank on them.

At the same time, your chatbot should still sound conversational. The messages a marketing chatbot sends should read like the voice of someone on your team.

Trigger chatbots at the right times

Chatbots can be distracting and downright intrusive if they appear too quickly or in the wrong places. Use your chatbot to offer help to visitors on key conversion pages but trigger it only after a few minutes. And for users who say they’re ready to purchase, embed a billing app directly within the Messenger or route them to a human as quickly as possible to help them complete the purchase.

Test and refine

Some leads don’t respond to chatbots, and that’s okay. As you test your bot marketing, you might discover that only leads who meet specific criteria respond to your messages — like SaaS company employees with more than three visits to your site, or product managers who have read more than five blog posts. Monitor your engagement reports to understand what is and isn’t working. Instead of trying to get a reaction out of every visitor, adjust your chatbot’s behavior to target the leads who will engage.

Expand your marketing with chatbots

Chatbots won’t replace your marketing or sales team, but with the proper setup, they’ll help you feel like you’ve grown your team by 10x. If you’re ready to advance your marketing with chatbots, give our bots a spin!


Frequently Asked Questions about chatbot marketing

Chatbot marketing is used to increase customer engagement while minimizing input from your marketing team. You can program chatbots to respond to certain customer queries, show visitors a prompt, or direct customers to the right salesperson.
With chatbot marketing, you can respond to customers and engage with prospects at all hours of the day and with no cap on your capacity. Chatbot marketing allows you to nurture prospects and upsell users with customized, personalized messages delivered right when a customer needs to see them.
Yes, as long as you don’t pretend that the chatbot is a real person. Putting a fake name and stock photo on a chatbot can be confusing, but if you build your chatbots to provide useful information at critical times in the customer journey, then customers will appreciate it.