I discovered the beauty of chatbots as a consumer. They’re helpful, easy-to-use and convenient—providing online visitors to a website with a fast and efficient way to get their questions answered, even at 5 a.m. 


I know firsthand how nice it is to get answers from a business without having to wait for a call back or an email response.


So, in 2018, when our marketing automation platform added chatbots to its product offering, I was all in. As a digital marketing agency, we need to demonstrate we stay up-to-date on the latest digital technologies businesses can use to engage customers—so having a chatbot ourselves is a natural way to do that. But more importantly, our chatbot helps us engage prospective clients 24/7 and in a mutually beneficial way. 


The chatbot has made us far more responsive to prospects, and responsiveness is critical in today’s competitive business environment.


Building the bot


How the chatbot works: When a prospect comes to our website, our chatbot first collects their name and email address and then asks them a couple of questions to help get to the heart of why they’re interested in Hivehouse. Once we determine they are a good fit for our services, the prospect’s information is forwarded to our sales director. It saves our sales team time, and our prospects like being able to prequalify themselves.


Building the bot was simple. HubSpot, our marketing platform, has a chatbot training option but, honestly, the process to set one up is so intuitive that I didn’t even use it. 


I wrote the script myself in a way that feels human and casual. The idea isn’t to mislead people but to sound informed, empathetic and helpful. I’ve seen chatbots done poorly before. They’re stilted or slow or don’t make sense based on the information delivered. Done well, a chatbot keeps the experience as human as possible, enhancing connection and communication.


Our first chatbot has been so successful that we are currently building and internally testing two new chatbots. One will serve clients on retainer who use us for strategic marketing. The other bot—also targeted to prospects—involves a thorough drill-down on their website needs and how we might serve them.


Providing valuable lessons


We have found that we are able to better qualify prospects before they even speak to our sales team, thus saving them valuable time. Not to mention, our chatbot has increased our lead quality by over 50%, and we’ve learned that the quicker sales can connect with the qualified lead, we are twice as likely to close the deal.


We’ve also learned that people people are more apt to use a chatbot if you don’t make them type a lot. As a result, I tweaked the chatbot by developing drop-down menus with options to click on. For example, the he chatbot asks: “I’d like to know more about your business, do you specialize in any of the following?” The menu choices then include construction, engineering and manufacturing—our target markets—and “other.”


Another question asks: What would you say are your biggest marketing challenges? The drop-down menu then displays various pain points: “My website needs updating.” “We need a strategy to stand out from our competition.” “We need a way to measure the results of our marketing effort.”


Making faster connections


The bottom line? The chatbot has freed up our sales director to work on more pressing matters than qualifying prospects, an often tedious and cumbersome process. Our bot is also integrated with our messaging platform, Slack. If someone starts a conversation with our chatbot, it sends the message via our Slack channel and anyone on our 10-person team can jump in.


Not every prospect who is qualified through our chatbot becomes a Hivehouse client, of course. But it allows us to greatly speed up how fast we respond to prospects. We have a policy to reach out to contacts who fill out a contact us form within 24 hours, but with a chatbot, we may connect with them in just a few minutes. Research from Lead Connect shows that 78% of customers will buy from the company that responds to their queries fastest, so cutting down that time to connect is a game-changer.


We know that the quicker we can connect, the more likely a prospect is going to work with us. It’s all about being there when someone’s ready to talk. A chatbot is a great way to do that.

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