The evolution of chatbots for audience engagement

Chatbots have been around for quite some time, but in the last year or so they have exploded into popularity as we look to engage with audiences more effectively on omni channel platforms.  
No longer do they simply have homes on websites in the bottom corner, but they are now implemented skilfully on messenger apps and in other social media platforms.  
Online businesses can exploit the opportunities that having an artificial chatbot can provide, including those in the affiliate world.  

What are chatbots?

Chatbots are a more direct way for you to communicate with your client base.  If it’s well-optimised, it can have a positive effect on your conversion rate and help you to create a rapport with the customer the minute they hit your site or page.  
Facebook can take a large portion of the credit for chatbots after they integrated it into their messenger platform.  They have around 1.3 billion messenger users on their platform, with over 100,000 active chatbots – giving you an idea of the size of the opportunity that could await you if you get on boar.

Advantages of using chatbots

Chatbots have great early engagement potential.  
They are still relatively new in terms of their technology – but things are progressing fast, and they are becoming more sophisticated. They are also reasonably easy to build – mainly if you are creating on Facebook messenger.  You don’t need to have any coding or programming experience to set them up, and they are a great way to emphasise your brand and image.  
If you have a domain or brand specific chatbot – you can go into much deeper detail.  Not only can you automate responses to fairly straightforward questions – you can let users know about specific promotional codes or offers you may be pushing out, or even offer them suggestions based on their behaviour and answers gleaned during the initial conversation.  

How to build your chatbot

One thing you do need to do when building your chatbot is do your research.  One of the most important things about your bot is that it needs to have a persona.  Your tone of voice is key here. Think about what customers expect from your site and create a personality that is in sync with that and engages the user in a manner that doesn’t appear too bot like.
In order to make it feel like a human interaction – add in a little waiting time.  When you have a conversation with someone – you don’t respond instantly, there is a little bit of a time delay.  You need to make sure that the user has had time to process the information you have given them.  You also need to make sure you don’t overwhelm them with a lot of information at the same time. 

Setting one up is relatively easy

Pick the software that you are going to use to create your bot.  
ManyChat is a great one to start out with – as it uses a drag and drop function that’s perfect for beginners and is free to use. If you want something more in-depth – you may want to try out Chatfuel. 
Think about how the onboarding experience will look. There will be a greeting message that will show up as soon as the chat opens up, and then there is a welcome message that will be displayed when the user starts a conversation.  
Ask questions to determine what conversation flow to offer. For example – simple questions like how can we help? Or, ask what they are most interested in (casino) or (sports) to funnel the chat conversation forward quickly and efficiently.

Always keep the end user in mind.  

Think about the keywords you want to use to trigger an automated response. You need to identify specific keywords that would then prompt the chatbot to react.  For example, if someone said “Odds on Football” – you could then provide them with odds or previews from your affiliate site. Not everything with chatbots is perfect, especially as the technology is still progressing – so to avoid any awkward silences. You may want to create a default reply in case it gets confused. 
The main thing is to remember that the end user will at some point realise this is a bot and expect it not to be perfect. 
You should now be able to get started with creating your own basic chatbot strategy –  so give it a go and see how you can engage audiences before they come on site to convert. You may be surprised at the results you get. 
If you would like to learn more about how to growth hack your affiliate business and get better connected, simply register for our Affiverse Bootcamp in March. This year it hosts a first of its kind – entrepreneur affiliate coaching workshop alongside, with the highly experienced entrepreneurial business coach George Swift from Bigger Brighter Bolder. 

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