Chatbots for Marketing: How to Engage, Qualify, and Convert Leads


openAI on screen


16 min read

More and more businesses are using chatbots for marketing, but why?

Nowadays, consumers expect to be able to contact businesses outside of normal working hours, and expect immediate solutions to their problems.

They don’t want to wait until 9am comes the next day when your sales team are sitting comfortably back at their desks.

So, what’s the solution?

Are you supposed to hire even more staff to cover night shifts and weekends?

Not only does this require more money, but it’s also resource intensive. You will need to train these people to answer all sorts of queries and they’ll have to be prepared to work unsociable hours.

This is where using chatbots for marketing comes into play.

By being able to respond to customers in a timely and professional manner, without the need for recruiting more staff, it means you can better engage and nurture leads.

There’s nothing more frustrating than needing to contact a company to get answers to a problem you’re having, and finding out they’re closed.

However, by using chatbots, customers can get answers as and when they need them which keeps them invested in your products and services.

In this blog we’re going to explore everything there is to know about using chatbots for marketing, including how you can use chatbots for lead generation.

So, let’s dive in!

What Are Chatbots?

If you’ve ever heard anyone say ‘robots are taking over the world’, then they’re not far off.

OK, so maybe robots aren’t taking over the world, but they are making a huge impact on the way businesses communicate with their customers.

Essentially, chatbot marketing is a way to communicate with customers 24/7 by using an automated bot. These are usually built on Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) and are designed to simulate conversations with human users.

Think of a chatbot as a virtual assistant who can provide customers with information by using a series of automated responses.

I’m sure at some point, we’ve all come across chatbot marketing.

Take Amazon for example. If your parcel goes missing and you need to contact Amazon to speak to someone for an update, you’ll find yourself speaking to a chabot.

You need to provide key information (such as your name and order number), then the bot will ask a series of questions to try and answer your query as quickly as possible.

Whilst there are limitations to what a chatbot can do (and I’m sure we’ve all been screaming at the computer screen in the past), they are getting much smarter.

Eventually you won’t be able to tell the difference between speaking to a human operator and speaking to a chatbot.

This is fantastic news for businesses as it means they can provide a great customer service experience without relying on their staff.

headphones on desk

How Do Chatbots Work?

Chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) and advanced machine learning (ML) algorithms to learn from data insights.

NLP is a computer’s ability to understand and process human speech, and respond in a way that human beings understand.

By doing this, it makes the conversation feel natural and ‘human’, rather than a customer knowing they are speaking to a robot.

This can feel really impersonal for any customer, and can actually do more harm than good. Customers want to feel as though you value their thoughts and feedback, rather than thinking you’ve just passed them straight over to a robot to deal with.

However, by using a conversational approach, chat bots are able to gather customer information and guide them through the buying process.

When used properly, chat bots are a fantastic lead generation tool and can dramatically affect the way customers engage with your business.

hands on keyboard

Why Use Chatbots for Marketing?

Chatbots automate the communication process between your business and your customers, to provide timely and instant responses to different enquiries.

They enable you to provide a line of communication to your customers at any time of the day, so that they’re not waiting around for an answer (which will probably lead them to looking elsewhere i.e. your competitors).

Therefore, by integrating chatbots into your marketing initiatives, you can provide a better user experience and transition prospects down your sales funnel and drive conversions.

There are lots of reasons why you should be using chatbots in your marketing, some of which we’ve covered below…

Generate more leads

When a new or returning visitor comes back onto your website, you can use chatbots to pop up with a welcome message.

This could be something as simple as ‘Hey, you’re new here! How can we help you?’

This is a nice way to welcome people to your site, and makes them feel as though their presence has been recognised.

To engage a site visitor even further, a chatbot can be used to offer them a discount code or to encourage them to subscribe to an email newsletter.

Qualify more leads

Chatbots not only help generate more leads, but can also help to qualify leads.

Essentially, qualified leads are the types of leads your sales team want, as these people have met certain criteria that means they are more likely to convert into a customer.

Whether that’s having the correct job title or budget range, chatbots can be used to find out this type of information so that your team is able to conduct a follow-up.

There might be a single ‘gatekeeping’ question that immediately qualifies a prospect for you, whilst others might have to go through more extensive questions.

For example, a chatbot could start a conversation with prospect by asking them to give a budget range and schedule, and based on the answer, they could:

  1. Send them directly to the sales team
  2. Continue the conversation by asking further qualifying questions

In turn, this saves the sales team time, as only leads who have been prequalified by the chatbot will be passed through.

This means time and resources are being spent on prospects who are most likely to become a customer.

six women in meeting room

Nurture Qualified Leads

Once you’ve captured leads, it’s time to start nurturing them.

This is another area where chatbots can help as they enable you to get to know your customer better. For example, you can delve into your customers’ needs, behaviors, and interests, so that you can find a solution that is right for them.

Without understanding your customer and what they need from your business, you are unable to point them in the right direction.

For example, if your chatbot finds out a prospective budget range is at the lower end of the scale, then there’s no point directing them towards one of your premium products/ services.

This is time wasted, and your customer is not going to be interested as what you’re offering doesn’t align with their needs.

Therefore, chatbots can be used to find out this core information first so that you can start directing them to the right places.

For example, if your chatbot discovers a high intent lead, then can transfer them straight to the sales team in real-time for instant closure.

Scheduling Meetings

If your business is anything like Canny, then you’ll find a great deal of your time is taken up with meetings!

And don’t get me wrong, meetings are very important as they allow you to speak to customers to find out what they need from your business.

But imagine if there was an easier way of managing them?

Manually scheduling meetings can be a very time consuming task, and it’s easy to lose track of your calendar.

As such, this can lead to meetings being double-booked or worse still, missed, which does not send the right message to your customers.

However, by using chatbots, you can automate this process and save your team a whole load of time.

And it’s super easy to use too.

Chatbots allow your customers to book, modify, or cancel a meeting without involving any human input from your side. This means your team can get back to doing other things, without trying to juggle a busy calendar of meetings.

laptop screen with automated message

How to Get Started With Chatbots

So that you know what chatbots are and the benefits they can bring to your business, you might have decided to use them in your own marketing initiatives.

But how do you get started?

Well, that’s what this section is all about!

We’re going to walk you through the process of setting up chatbots so that you can create a personalised and seamless experience for your customers.

And, just think about all the time you’re going to save by automating your communications! This is precious time that could be spent in other areas, whilst still ensuring your customers are getting access to the resources they need.

Let’s get started.

1. Define your goal

You need to work out what you want your chatbot to help you achieve.

This involves speaking to other teams and departments to work out which areas need improving.

For example, maybe your social media team is struggling to keep up with the number of enquiries they’re getting?

If so, you could leverage chatbots on those channels to make sure no messages are being missed because your team is overwhelmed.

Or perhaps your website is struggling with the number of conversions?

In that case, leverage chabots on your site to encourage people to stay on there for longer by getting access to the information they need.

2. Choose which platforms you’re going to use

Your chatbot conversations will differ depending on what platform you’re going to use.

For example, you need to consider your website, Facebook messenger, and Twitter messenger, as each of these will require a different approach.

For starters, a Facebook audience is different to a Twitter audience, and will most likely be seeking different types of information.

Therefore, you should drill into the demographics of each social media network to find out more about your audience and what they could be needing from you. This allows you to provide a better user experience and ensures all customers get access to the right information.

social media apps on iphone

3. Build your content strategy

Now you need to decide what type of content you want prospects to engage with through your chat bot.

A good place to start is devising a list of FAQs as these questions allow users to quickly access the answers they need.

If you’re unsure about which FAQs come up most in your business, it’s time to reach out to other team members, including

  • Your sales team – These people will deal with a lot of queries and will be in touch with customers on a regular basis. As such, they’ll know what type of enquiries usually come up so that you can feed these into your FAQ section.
  • Marketing team – Your marketing team, or more specifically your social media team, will come across lots of questions on social media, as customers tend to use these platforms to get the answers they need.
  • Customer service – Above all of the other teams, your customer service team will probably speak to customers the most. Ask what the paint points usually are and if they see any trends in the types of questions being asked.

4. Give your chatbot a personality

Now if this section sounds a bit odd, stick with us!

Only because a chatbot is a robot, you don’t want the experience to feel impersonal and cold for your customers.

Whilst they are talking to a computer program, there still needs to be a sense of humanisation and personality, otherwise they will cut the conversation short and look elsewhere.

One way to add a sense of personality to your chatbot, can be to give them a name. The name you choose is totally up to you, the whole idea is to make the robot seem less, well, robotic!

Lots of brands have started to do this, and it can be a really effective way of adding a more friendly tone to the conversation.

And it’s important to note that you’re not trying to deceive your customer by giving your bot a name. It’s important to be transparent about the fact they are still chatting to a computer, but having a name attached to it can help humanise the experience.

5. Be engaging with your opening message

You need to hook customers in from the moment they open the chatbot message.

You’re trying to get them to engage with your content so that you can convert them into a lead.

As such, your opening message should be engaging, friendly, and compelling so that prospects want to click on the chatbot and respond.

Remember, one of the key takeaways with using chatbots for marketing, is that only because it’s a computer program, you don’t want it to seem impersonal.

You can still have fun with your messaging, and find new and creative ways to get users to engage.

Take the below as an example:

‘Hey XXX

I’m so glad you’ve stopped by.

I’m Stella, your virtual assistant, and I’m here to help with any of your marketing needs!

Chances are, you’re looking for something in particular and don’t want to trawl through our mammoth list of services. So, which of the options below can we help you with?

Service 1

Service 2

Service 3’

This is an example of an engaging welcome message as you’ve a) personalised it by naming your bot, and b) provide a list of options so that users can quickly navigate to the page they want.

post it notes on planning wall

6. Start mapping the customer journey

To ensure customers find the information they’re looking for, you need to map out the conversation journey.

Essentially, this is the path of conversation between them coming onto your website, and then using the chatbot to find what they’re looking for.

This journey should be as simple and as straightforward as possible to avoid customers having to jump about or search for the information elsewhere.

You want to keep them engaged and interested in the conversation so that you can signpost them to the right place and ultimately make a sale.

Take the example of a restaurant which needs to communicate core aspects of the business as opening times, locations, specials, different menus, and loyalty programmes.

You need to think about all of the different questions a customer might ask, and then prepare responses for each.

7. Find the best responses to questions

Based on the questions you expect customers to ask, think of how you can respond in the best possible way.

You don’t want customers to feel frustrated as it should be easy for them to obtain the information they need.

The best way to ensure you’ve provided the best possible response and satisfied any type of inquiry is to create multiple responses for every question being asked.

Again, using the example of a restaurant, this means drilling down into each question to ensure you’re fulfilling the user’s needs.

8. Build out the conversation

For every question you ask, and for each response available for the user, you must build out the conversation so that you can see if there are any gaps.

Some conversations may stop after one question, as the user might have found exactly what they’re looking for, whereas other conversations may have multiple layers.

The most important thing is to make sure you’ve fully satisfied the customers’ needs as this will make them more likely to invest in your business.

If the conversation via chatbots is getting several layers deep, it might be best to bring in a real sales representative. This person will be able to resolve the query much quicker instead of the user becoming frustrated by going back and forth on chat.

man on laptop and phone

9. Guide customers using a call-to-action

Once a user has responded to all of your questions and is ready to progress, you need to include a relevant call to action.

This is a button you can add to your chatbot conversation to encourage users to fulfill a certain goal, for example, booking a meeting, subscribing to a newsletter, purchasing a product, or signing up to a service.

A call-to-action is a very important part of your chatbot conversation as it leads consumers to a particular place.

By pushing users to their final destination, it means they won’t have to jump about on your site.

However, you need to carefully consider where you want your customers to land as you don’t want to direct them to the wrong place. The whole point is to drive high-value conversions so you want to ensure the CTA is relevant to the user.

10. Test Your Conversation

Chatbots journey can get quite lengthy, especially if you have multiple questions and responses on your chatbot map.

It’s important to be as comprehensive as possible to ensure all bases are covered, but equally, you don’t want your customer to get bored.

That’s why it’s important to test every single possible interaction so you can be confident your customers are getting the very best experience.

And it may take some time to get it right.

Perhaps you notice customers are getting stuck in one particular place which is why they’re bouncing back and not interacting further with your brand.

In this case, you would have to tweak your conversation journey to make sure customers are finding valuable information.

Once you’ve tested your interactions, you’re ready to push your chatbot LIVE!

laptop on desk closed

Chatbots for Marketing: How to Engage, Qualify, and Convert Leads

Using chatbots for marketing can be highly effective.

Nowadays, customers expect responses to their most burning questions almost immediately.

They don’t have the time to be waiting around for a member of your team to be sitting comfortably at their desk for them to get a response.

Chances are, if they have to wait, they’re gonna look elsewhere.

Also, whilst chatbots aren’t real people, when designed right, they can still engage potential customers and guide them through their buying journey.

By providing timely and professional responses to enquiries, and signposting customers to the relevant products and services/ services, chatbots help consumers find the information they need without having to wait.

Remember, a customer’s attention span is short, and you only have a few precious moments to capture their interest. That’s why if you’re considering using chatbots for marketing purposes, make sure to follow the points outlined in this post!

Helping businesses get more customers is what we do at Canny. Whether that’s through your branding, website, or content, our team of experts are on hand and ready to help grow your business. We’ve worked with clients from Australia to the USA to help them fulfill their goals, and we can do the same for you! Simply get in touch and let’s get started.