Chatbots have seamlessly fit into our daily lives. There is Google Assistant and Siri for your phones, Alexa for your home and smart-concierges to book your tickets for the holidays.
When it comes to marketing, businesses still rely on traditional channels. Emails, social media, and advertisements to name a few. A lot of them lack a little bit of innovation and hence, seems to be on the verge saturation.
Taking nothing back from traditional marketing techniques, they give astonishing ROI. For example, email marketing gives a $44 ROI for every $1 spent. It is one of the most effective marketing strategies you can have at your disposal. Due to its effectiveness and the sheer number of email users around the world, email marketing is a necessary tool for today’s digital marketers.
This begs the question: Is it possible to get even more out of your marketing strategy?
Well, yes. It is absolutely possible. At the current state, traditional marketing seems to have saturated. There is still a way for you to make it a whole lot better. One prominent factor that can help you bring innovation in email marketing is chatbots.
What is a chatbot and what can it do?
A chatbot is any computer program or artificial intelligence (AI) that is designed specifically to simulate conversations with humans. The level of understanding of human interactions depends on how sophisticated its programming is.
Businesses today use chatbots that range from relatively simple chatbots to more complex chatbots. To better understand how chatbots work, you need to know the difference between the two.
A simple chatbot’s understanding is based on keywords or commands that have been pre-programmed by the developer, which each command programmed separately. For example, if a human user types the words “hi” or “hello”, the chatbot can be programmed to respond with something like “Hello. How can I help you?”.
A complex chatbot, on the other hand, is capable of understanding a wide variety of human inputs. It is also called a smart chatbot due to the fact that it uses machine learning to understand how to better respond to inputs and adapt to human behavior. Think of Siri and Google Assistant.
If you want to know more about chatbots, read our detailed beginner’s guide to chatbots.
How to use chatbots in marketing strategy?
So, you already know what a chatbot is, what it does, and how a simple chatbot differs from a complex chatbot. The next thing on your mind might be: “What exactly are the benefits of integrating a chatbot into my marketing strategy?”
Well, here a few examples.
More “human” approach
Most of the marketing strategies have one drawback that they mostly facilitate a one-way conversation. Think about it. You receive tons of emails and ads from businesses every single day, but do you really engage with all of them? Most likely not.
One way to offer better engagement—and a more human approach—to your subscribers is by taking advantage of chatbots. It may seem contradictory to consider an AI-powered tool the more human approach, but it’s true.
The reason a chatbot is more “human” is that it is a two-way conversation that happens in real time. Isn’t it how conversations with actual people work? When you ask a chatbot a question, it responds in real time—again, much like how actual human conversations work.
You can humanize your chatbots for more effective conversations. Just follow these steps.
This is also why, even though chatbots are powered by AI, they are still a whole lot more personal than call-to-action (CTA) buttons. To further increase personalization, you can program your chatbot into providing natural responses similar to how an actual person would respond in a conversation.
Additional lead generation channel
There is no question that CTA buttons that ask people to provide their email address are effective at growing your list. But CTA buttons are also very impersonal.
Data has proven that customers want personalization when dealing with businesses. Why not use this as an opportunity to communicate in a more personal manner?
You don’t have to entirely do away with your CTAs. What you should do is use chatbots as another method to actively capture leads and grow your email list.
For example, if a user visits your website, you can program your chatbot into sending a message that’s something like this: “Thank you for visiting our website. Would you be interested in subscribing to our email list so you can stay updated on special promotions?”
If the user responds positively, you can then program the chatbot to ask follow up questions regarding the user’s email address or what type of promotions and content they’d like to receive.
Your chatbot can then automatically transfer all the information it gathers to your database. Post that, you can start segmenting your lists and sending relevant emails.
Improved after-sales processes
Another benefit of chatbots is that they can help you streamline certain sales processes that you complete by email.
To illustrate, say a subscriber logs on to their account on your website and makes a purchase. You can program a chatbot to remind the subscriber that they’ve just made a purchase and you have emailed the purchase confirmation to them.
You can then provide further assistance to your subscriber through the chatbot. Program your chatbot to inform the subscriber that they can review the email and ask questions if they need clarification.
If the subscriber has questions regarding the purchase, the chatbot is the ideal tool for providing a real-time resolution. This is much better than having the customer send an email to your support team and then waiting a few days for a response.
If you want to see such a chatbot in action, click the chat widget on the bottom right corner of your screen.
In this scenario, all the chatbot needs is more information from the subscriber in order to resolve the issue. Once the subscriber gives the required information, the chatbot can respond adequately.
There is a huge debate going on among marketers that chatbots will soon take over a lot of marketing channels. This is doesn’t have to be the case. All the marketing channels are unique and powerful that have a place in your digital marketing strategy.
You should use chatbots in conjunction with other marketing channels to achieve your business goals, whether it be boosting your engagement with your subscribers, generating more leads, or improving your after-sales processes.
Lane Harbin is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Campaign Monitor, an easy-to-use email marketing platform. Campaign Monitor empowers marketers to send targeted campaigns that grow their business. When she’s not geeking out over email marketing, she enjoys binge-listening to podcasts, catching up on the latest tech news, and constantly rearranging her living room.
Normally, we come across situations where we need to decide between build or buy. Ultimately, we need to focus on our core technologies and business. We use different SaaS products to maintain our fast growth. Knowing about the security protocols of these services is an essential part.
One of such services is the chat service. In this article, we will cover basic security checks developers need to consider while integrating chat. Even if you are building your own chat component, you should consider these checks.
5 Basic Security Checks for Chat Service
All APIs call over HTTPS
In most of the cases, you need to call the APIs of your service provider to send or receive information. This information might be very private for your users or your business. You need to secure the transport layer and ensure that you are communicating with trusted resources. For this, your first check should be to ensure that all the APIs calls you are making must be on HTTPS.
Two-factor user authentication
User authentication is the best thing to do to avoid any unintended users to log-in to your chat system. You can authenticate the user from your backend before giving them access to the chat system. Sometimes, it may feel like an extra effort but this will give you complete control over authorizations.
Your chat service provider should have the configuration to provide your own authentication URL where user’s credentials should be verified. This will enable you to take other security measures such as expiring user password after some time. You can check out how you can configure it with Applozic.
Identify the source of any incoming calls to your servers
You might be using proactive callbacks from third-party servers to your backend servers to get some event-based data. For example, if messages are not delivered to a receiver within X minutes (let’s say 5 minutes), post messages to your backend servers. Sometimes we keep these webhook URLs open. Calls from an unidentified source might cause potential damage.
Your chat service provider should have some setting to pass parameter or header in each call. You can control and change this setting anytime to identify the source of the calls to your backend.
We, at Applozic, provide similar configuration to define your own token which we pass in each call as a header.
Real-time updates to authenticated users
You must ensure that data transferred is intended to intended users only while sending real-time updates.
Encryption of your chat data
It is very important to understand if you really need encryption of data and what level of encryption you need? You might not need any encryption if your chat service covers all of the above points and you have configured it correctly.
However, based on the nature of your business and usage of the chat data, you can decide whether to encrypt the data or not. For example, if you are using chat service in some kind of social app where chat data directly belongs to your users, you may enable E2E encryption.
Another usage case might be customer support, where chat data significantly connected with your business and you might need to analyze data for improving services. You can keep it to only encrypting data in motion or even avoid it.
It is really important to implement basic security checks for any service that you use. Especially in the light of recent major data leaks and privacy mishaps. These basic checkpoints will make your system more reliable and robust.
Small businesses have to overcome many obstacles on their path to transform into bigger organizations. However, in this digital age, you can conquer these obstacles by using technology. Technology allows small businesses to look much bigger than they are. Reach more people across horizons, at lesser costs.
One example of companies leaping over hurdles is in the area of communication. Good communication helps small businesses find new customers and listen to their own people. It also helps them develop new strategies for marketing, sales, and operations. The following tips could help small businesses continue on the path of growth.
How to Enhance Business Communication
Develop a Communication Strategy
First, you need to think about what kind of communication strategy you want as a company. Together with your employees, think about your mission, vision, and goals. Thereafter, you can think about a communication strategy can help you achieve these goals.
Additionally, analyze your existing communication strategy to figure out what is working and what is not working. How cost effective is your current strategy? Finally, be sure that your strategy works with your goals and objectives.
Analyze the Received Information
It doesn’t matter how good your communication strategy is if you don’t listen to your employees or your customers. Learning and practicing active listening is essential if you hope to improve your communication skills overall.
Many business owners find active listening a difficult skill to master, but with practice, anyone can improve their listening skills. Active listening is more than just listening to what is being said. You should understand what the person is trying to convey, respond and give feedback to the person. It is also important to remember what was communicated to you. Think about turning off or moving any distracting devices. You can also take notes on the conversation to remember it later.
CISCO had set up a social media listening center and listened to more than 5000 social mentions per day on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. It enhanced team productivity and developed new sales opportunities. It has successfully generated an annual profit of 1.5 million USD by using this communication medium.
Use of Cloud Tech
Many businesses find cloud-based technology essential for improving communication, both with employees and customers. A cloud-based phone system or chat platform allows employees to communicate and keep track of communication with other employees, vendors, customers and partners in order to facilitate and retain communication for later.
In addition, cloud-based applications in word processing, payroll and accounting, and even task management allow employees to collaborate and share information in real time. This, in turn, makes it much easier to work, not just from within the same office but also with other offices around the world.
The new way to do business is to have some employees who work remotely or do part-time freelancing. Using cloud technology is essential for business expansion. For Example – DemandBase, a B2B marketing cloud utilized white paper, infographic, webinar, SlideShare to assist the B2B marketers to make the correct choice for technology investments. They generated around 1700 leads and 1 Million USD for their business development.
Integration of Technological Communication tools
To have an effective communication strategy, you need to be sure that your tech tools are up to speed. In an environment where voice networks, the internet, and data are all connected, communication is simplified, and costs are reduced.
In addition, a seamless integration of such tech networks can result in a business gaining a competitive advantage over your closest competitors — and in this competitive business market, you need as much advantage as you can get.
Customers want a quick and easy way to communicate with a business; if they have questions, they want them answered as quickly as possible. If customers run into problems, they want to communicate with business to get them resolved.
Integrated tools allow a company to streamline the process of communication and increase productivity, which leads to more profit. For instance – ADP Solutions devised a content marketing campaign to reach to its targeted customers with the means of white papers and diagnostic assessment tools. It successfully generated close to $1m is sales from such campaigns.
Create an Internal Communication System
You need to come up with a way to have a dedicated internal communication process for your employees. Lots of platforms are available to help with employee communication and file or document sharing.
In addition, there are lots of messaging apps that allow employees to message each other in real time. There are also apps for collaborative messaging and group messaging, even while employees are working on documents and sharing documents. Some applications also allow cloud messaging, where some messages between employees are saved and then used later when needed.
If communication with people outside the business, such as vendors and customers is important than communication in the business is even more important. Without good internal communication, the business can’t continue to move forward. Take the case of Virgin Trains that created an internal app store called “amazing apps” with 20 distinct apps serving to provide information to its employees on the company smartphones to understand their demands and queries in a better way.
Create a Feedback Mechanism
So, now you are feeling pretty good about finding new ways to improve your communication, you need to think about the final step. How do you know that your communication strategies and working? You need a feedback mechanism in place. Companies need both internal and external feedback to determine how effective their business practices are.
In order to ensure you are receiving positive feedback, you need to figure out a method for both collecting feedback and ensuring that your feedback gets out to the people who need to hear it. There are multiple platforms that allow to collect feedback and get the feedback out.
You can use employee surveys to determine how well the employees feel the business is living up to their expectations. Best would be to use a combination of personal-stressors questions as well as business-related questions to gauge the climate within the business.
Businesses can send feedback questions to their customers to ask about how they did on the customer service and communication front. Some of the survey platforms even reward customers who answer the survey by giving them a coupon towards their next order with the company who requested the survey.
Ensuring that you have good communication externally and internally is vital to the success of your business. It helps you reach more customers, ease through troublesome issues between employees and increases productivity at work. With good communication skills, you can take huge forward leaps in your business.
The perfect example of this is Logicall. They provide inbound and outbound customer management solutions. They use communication tools such as e-mails, microsite, and ebooks to enable custom messaging for its sales team and have successfully generated 8 million USD business.
About the Author:
Peter Davidson is a senior business associate. Peter strives to help different brands and startups to make effective business decisions and plan effective business strategies. With years of rich domain expertise, he loves to share his views on the latest technologies and applications through his well-researched content pieces. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.