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With 85 percent of customer interaction predicted as managed by AI systems, you need to invest in chatbots. You might not know what a chatbot is. Or, you might be wondering why you need to include it for your organization.

Incorporating a bot can streamline your marketing and data gathering processes. It can save time and money, too.

Chatbots benefit many different types of businesses, from small to large to schools for trade and higher education.

Please read this guide to chatbots to learn all you need to know for including them on your website today.

What Is a Chatbot?

A chatbot uses artificial intelligence and necessary programming to simulate interactions with customers. There are different kinds of chatbots based on the amount of programming and design of the AI system used.

Some chatbots use more difficult programming because of their advanced intelligence systems. For example, Apple uses Siri, and Amazon uses Alexa. Both of these technically function as chatbots.

They come equipped with top-tier features like voice response and voice search. You may not ever need these features, but they do exist. It is essential to understand where the industry is headed, mainly to ensure the best user experience possible.

How Do Chatbots Work?

Chatbots use simulated conversation trees to generate responses to users.

For example, when you ask Siri for some types of jokes, the system responds. It cannot create its jokes because it was not designed to do so. Your chatbot might not tell jokes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help answer frequently asked questions.

Some bots account for natural language understanding from messages sent. It might ‘intuit’ a user’s intent with generic phrases like ‘hungry’ or ‘place to eat’ and respond with restaurants.

Some bots have ‘personality’ which you can use in marketing to give your brand a voice. You can also use it to enhance user experiences. Some bots even adapt to repeat users and personalize interactions over time.

Types of Chatbots

Now that you can know what a chatbot is and how it works, you need to know the different types of chatbot available. Knowing about different kinds of bots can give you the best avenues for data gathering and generating organic leads. Learn about the different types of bot below.

Chatbot Website

Easily the most popular chatbot, website bots are a popular tool for any business. They can easily plug into different web platforms. Some even come with pre-built scripts or conversation paths for instant use.

Website chatbots can greet customers. They can automate pipelines for frequently asked questions. They can also schedule appointments for customers, too.

A chatbot website can guide customers to the next steps of action, too. Paying for a 24/7 customer service agent is far more expensive than automated responses. Even if the bot can not solve the problem, it can log the issue for in-person resolution later on. 

The ultimate goal for a chatbot website is to funnel to human interaction. This type of directed engagement simulates a live chat experience while saving you time. When you optimize customer service to a specific time period, your human agent can solve problems better.

Microbot

A microbot is a targeted type of chatbot. Its ultimate purpose is redirecting users to various calls to action. For example, it may only appear on specific landing pages.

Microbots have much smaller action paths. You can build this separately to help with backend SEO strategies for new project launches. You can also use this to boost web traffic on specific landing pages.

Social Media Bot

Certain social media platforms use a chatbot. These platform bots come with unique features that you can use separately from a chatbot website. Each offers unique advantages for customer service and data gathering.

Facebook Messenger

Messenger helps your brand respond to customer queries with lightning speed. If your brand is not on Facebook, you are missing out on several marketing opportunities. You can create a business profile that redirects to your site and more.

The Messenger bot allows for automated greeting when users open the window. You can include custom text and images.

The Messenger bot comes with an adaptive template. This template gives users action buttons and other interactive visuals. 

The customizability other the Messenger chatbot allows you to create personalized greetings and calls to action. If you do not want a chatbot website, this is a great alternative. You should only use this bot if you have a targeted purpose.

You want to save time and other resources invested in the Messenger bot. You need to make sure it can adequately support customers in the ways you need. You should also ensure you can hit your desired engagement with users this way.

Twitter

Another social media platform with a bot, Twitter can help with marketing, too. It offers different features than the Messenger got. Its intent is mainly transactional, aimed at generation organic leads.

If you want to increase customer engagement or sales, this is the bot for you. It can take your brand to the next level with real-time insights on customer behavior and site traffic. The private messaging aspect personalizes problem-solving, too.

Twitter bots can automatically tweet, retweet, and like posts, if you aim to generate more followers, this a great time-saver. These bots can also follow or unfollow accounts as desired.

Automation saves lots of valuable time. If you use bots to target prospective students, you can generate real leads. If these leads do not pan out, use the bots to unfollow the related accounts.

Why Should You Use a Chatbot?

Maybe you remain unconvinced about what a chatbot does for business. If so, you need to know what benefits a chatbot offers generally. You also need to know industry-specific benefits, too.

Benefits

Using a chatbot offers many unique benefits. You can optimize marketing strategies and more. The benefits vary based on the kind of bot you use and your budget for system upgrades.

Conversational Marketing

You want a personal approach to addressing customer needs. A chatbot opens the door to conversational marketing. This type of marketing emphasizes relationships that lead to sales.

A chatbot’s conversation path can direct users to solutions. It can also direct users to sign up for more information about your brand. If discounts or other financial incentives appear, the bot can use a script to communicate as such.

If users follow this conversation path to call to action, your marketing works. For example, if you use a chatbot to schedule appointments, you can entice users to sign up for financial aid. You can also encourage queries that require an in-person response, where the human agent can then upsell users.

Organic Lead Generation

Organic lead generation results from tactics like conversational marketing. You can also use a chatbot to generate leads in other ways.

If your bot directs users to FAQ pages, this can prompt interaction. You can also follow-up chatbot interactions with calls to action. For example, it is encouraging users to visit a page about scholarship information or to contact an agent to learn more.

Generating organic leads on social media platforms is critical, too. With more and more prospective students on social media, a bot can target multiple prospects at once. This aids in data gathering and also funnels users to direct interaction with your institution.

Data Gathering

A chatbot can help with data gathering, too. When a bot prompts users with a call to action, you have a chance at unique insights. You can also determine how often users need support.

These insights can help you create new marketing materials. For example, if a bot continuously answers queries about a specific process like registering for classes, you can take action. You can respond with video content that teaches users how to register.

Direct responses to data like this can help in other ways, too. For example, when you gather data on social media users who do or don’t follow your posts, bots can help.

A social media bot can tell you which posts reached your target followers and which did not based on the number of responses. If your bot call to action asked for signups and the click-through rate was low, you can pivot your marketing accordingly.

Flexibility and Automation

Ultimately, a chatbot offers streamlined processes for any industry. It offers automate and flexibility that humans can not provide. If you want to have a 24/7 customer service response, it might not be humanly possible for your organization.

A chatbot can fix this, up to a certain point. Eventually, a human must step in to close the lead or offer a finite solution.

Downsides

Chatbots are not perfect. Their disadvantages may even outweigh their benefits for your business if you can not invest in the right type of chatbot.

Limited Function

Where some chatbots offer personal experience, most do not. The coding and skill required to direct a natural interaction with bots are time-consuming and expensive. It requires a professional to do so.

You may not have the budget for this professional. Even if you do, even the best bots can not anticipate all types of natural language. Even multibillion-dollar companies like Amazon and Apple use imperfect chatbots.

Regular Maintenance

If you can afford a professional to manage your chatbot, you also have to pay for regular maintenance. With coding changing all of the time, any bot needs constant updates. These updates do not even include changes to your website or brand content.

For example, if your chatbot call to action changes, you have to update everything. If you add new features or landing pages on your site, all related content has to change. This sort of maintenance can override the time-saving aspects of automation.

Cost

Even with a budget for marketing, you might not be able to afford every chatbot feature you want. Between the cost of the bot software system and the specialist required to maintain it, it’s expensive.

The last thing you want to do is spend resources on a cheap chatbot, either—the less expensive the bot, the less-detailed the coding. Unless your bot serves a minimal purpose, you will have to pay for some upgrades.

How Chatbots Help Higher Education

A chatbot helps with sales and marketing. It makes sense that the e-commerce industry benefits from chatbots. Higher education and trade schools can, too.

Whether you direct prospective students to financial aid or use bots to connect with them on social media, a chatbot can help. Bots can help you manage your reputation by paying attention to negative commentary on social media. 

You can streamline admission processes. You can also save human agents tons of time with a chatbot that sets appointments.

Any online platform classes can benefit from a chatbot, too. Whether it be digital orientation or basic site navigation, a bot can help orient new users.

Where to Find a Chatbot Consultant for Your Business

Now that you know the ins and hows of using a chatbot, you are ready to integrate a system into your website. But where do you turn to maintain consistent branding and voice for your chatbot AI?

It would be best if you had a professional marketing agency that understands reputation consistency for your institution. At Local Finder, we can help.

We are an SEO and online marketing agency located in Pasadena, CA. We will help you become an authority in the higher education industry and generate new students. We specialize in higher education SEO, local SEO for schools, video Production, inbound marketing, Adwords management, Facebook ads, reputation management, and more.

To learn more about our wide array of services, or to get started integrating a chatbot system into your site, contact us today. We can’t wait to work with you and grow your enrollment.

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