The way we communicate with each other and with brands is changing rapidly. People expect quick, convenient communication. Research by Deloitte shows that people check their phones an average of 52 times per day, and the number of people across the globe using smartphones or other mobile devices to communicate, with each other and with businesses, is quickly increasing.
Knowing this information raises several questions, though. What are chatbots? How can they be used? What are the benefits of using them?
And, this time of year: How can using chatbots increase your ecommerce holiday sales?
What Are Chatbots?
A chatbot is a software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to engage with consumers and provide assistance by answering questions, by offering information and guiding consumers along their purchasing journey, with the goal of turning leads or shoppers into customers.
There are many types of chatbots that ecommerce businesses can rely on, but two commonly used types are chatbots that use Facebook Messenger to engage with consumers, and chatbots that operate on an ecommerce website.
Messenger marketing refers to the practice of using a messaging software to market your brand to consumers and engage with customers or shoppers. The goal of messenger marketing is similar to any other type of marketing: to raise awareness, gain leads and make sales. This is often done through Facebook Messenger.
One of the biggest difficulties of messenger marketing is the fact that consumers expect instantaneous communication, and most ecommerce businesses don’t have the capacity to have someone monitoring their social networks every hour of the day, every day of the year. This is where chatbots that are designed to work with Facebook Messenger become helpful. With a reported 1.3 billion active users each month, Facebook provides a huge opportunity for business owners to use this technology to grow their customer base and increase sales.
Ecommerce Websites and Chatbots
In addition to Facebook Messenger, chatbots are often implemented on ecommerce websites; in fact, chances are high you’ve visited a site before and had a chat window open up, usually in the bottom right corner, prompting you to ask a question if you need help. While some of these bots are scripted, many use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to interact with customers, answer questions and provide the information they need to make a purchase.
How Can Chatbots Increase Ecommerce Holiday Sales?
Before we can look at how chatbots can increase ecommerce holiday sales, we must first examine what chatbots can do.
With today’s technology, chatbots can do just about anything. But, it’s important to make sure your chatbot does what your customers actually need it to do. A 2018 study surveyed consumers on what they would use a chatbot to do, and the top answers were:
- Getting a quick answer in an emergency – 37%
- Resolving a complaint or problem – 35%
- Getting detailed answers or explanations – 35%
- Finding a human customer service assistant – 34%
- Making a reservation (e.g. restaurant or hotel) – 33%
- Paying a bill – 29%
- Buying a basic item – 27%
- Getting ideas and inspiration for purchases – 22%
- Adding yourself to a mailing list or news service – 22%
- Communicating with multiple brands using one program – 18%
- (none of these things) – 14%
- Buying an expensive item – 13%
While a few of these use cases, such as making a reservation or paying a bill, don’t apply to ecommerce businesses, the majority of them do; chatbots can do a lot for ecommerce sites, especially as the holidays draw near.
To begin implementing your own chatbot strategy for the holidays, you’ll first need to choose a chatbot service. For messenger marketing and Facebook chatbots, we prefer ManyChat, and for websites, we like Intercom. However, keep in mind there are many others to choose from, so it’s worth doing your own research to find one that best suits your needs.
Then, consider how you’ll use the chatbots. Here are some ideas that can help increase conversions and ecommerce holiday sales:
- Have the chatbot offer a personalized greeting for new customers. Acknowledge that it is their first time visiting the site, and make sure the language is customized according to the person’s country.
- Set up a different greeting for returning customers. For example, consider offering a discount or coupon code to help encourage them to purchase from your site right away.
- Fight cart abandonment by reminding returning visitors that they’ve left something in their cart, and consider offering a coupon code to incentivize them to check out right away.
- Replace a long FAQ section on your website with scripted answers to the questions you get asked most often.
- Use your chatbot to collect leads. If the bot can’t answer a given question, have it ask the visitor to provide their contact info so you can get back to them. You can also have your bot ask visitors if they would like to be added to your email list to be notified of sales and specials.
- Ask for feedback by using your chatbot to run a short survey. Even asking the question “How are we doing?” gives site visitors and customers a chance to provide valuable information that you can use to improve your conversion rate.
- Make returns easy by using your chatbot to walk customers through the process.
- Have your chatbot suggest other items at checkout based on what your customer has in their cart.
With today’s technology and the potential that AI and NLP offer, chatbot use cases in ecommerce marketing are nearly limitless. If you want to try something new to make this year’s holiday season your best yet, consider implementing a chatbot strategy; if done correctly, we’re sure you’ll see an increase in your ecommerce site’s holiday sales.
For more assistance with getting the most out of your ecommerce site this holiday season and increasing your sales compared to last year, get in touch today.
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