Mobile messaging and chatbots are here, and it looks like they are here to stay. As a web agency, you have most likely heard of the chatbot trend and are pondering whether or not you should be getting involved.
What are chatbots, exactly? Is it worth tweaking your cold pitch to include them? What upside will they (realistically) bring to your business?
These are the exact questions I am going to answer in this article.
I am going to show you why, as a web professional, you need to look into chatbots today. In fact, ideally, yesterday.
A quick overview of the chatbot trend
Before we go further, we need to get you up to speed.
What is a chatbot? A chatbot is a program designed to communicate with human users through a conversational interface.
Chatbot growth has accelerated fast. It all started in 2015 when mobile messaging became a bigger channel than social media.
In 2016, a few businesses realized the potential mobile messaging could have on its bottom line. Facebook created the perfect bot-storm by opening its Messenger API, allowing geeks all over the world to build bots for free.
Facebook Messenger’s user base keeps growing, a fantastic opportunity for chatbots. (source)
Now 2017 has been deemed to be ‘the year of the chatbot’.
Use cases have started popping up everywhere, some simple and silly like the cat chatbot (meow?), some more advanced and AI-driven like Unilever and PG tips’ Monkey bot (tea anyone?).
Now you are caught up let’s move on.
Why should your web agency care about chatbots?
To differentiate yourself
Your industry is tough. There are a plethora of options for potential clients; competition is fierce.
Standing out from the crowd is more important than ever. Chatbots will help you do just that.
It will take the market a year or so to catch up to the chatbot trend. It will take another few years for your competitors to figure out what to do with them, how to pitch them, and how to build them. You will have the upper hand as you have already figured it all out.
Become ‘the’ agency in your neck of the woods who can talk intelligently, and effectively pitch chatbots today, not in three years.
Get ahead of the curve
As a web agency, you often are considered the ‘internet translator’ for the less tech-savvy. Your clients come to you with ideas, things they have seen or heard somewhere else and ask, “can you do that for me?”
If it has not already, this is going to happen to you with chatbots, very soon. The truth is, across the planet, it is going on right now.
When your competitors are asked: “do you know anything about chatbots?”. They reply something along the lines of “I do not, let me look into it”.
Become the agency that says “Yes”.
Chatbots are becoming an extension of websites and a brand
Web design and web development have, for many years, relied on principles of design, visuals, functionality, typography and UI.
The somewhat lesser-important parts of a brand’s identity are now front and centre.
– What is our voice?
– Do we use emojis?
– Are we fun or serious?
– What is our tone?
– How approachable are we?
– What words should we use to communicate?
As a web agency, it will become part of your role to help clients define their conversational identity and help them with everything around their project, from planning the build to benchmarking their chatbot’s user engagement and making sure it is a success.
PG tips’ Monkey chatbot has a fun and approachable personality. (source)
You need to dig into chatbots, conversational commerce, conversational UI, and all the other implications of moving a brand from one-way (‘this is us’) into two-way (‘this is us, let’s chat’).
Chatbots are a powerful tool
Speaking of conversational commerce, we need to touch on what chatbots are good at.
So far, we have looked at why chatbots are beneficial to your company. For your clients, on the other hand, chatbots are an amazingly powerful tool.
It may be through content distribution via the channel consumers prefer (as opposed to good old email marketing). Alternatively, maybe assisting sales by offering a new lead gen channel or perhaps decluttering the helpdesk by automating responses to 80% of incoming enquiries. Whatever their use, your clients will treasure the chatbot you deliver.
By looking into chatbots today, you are not only giving your agency a head start on competitors; you are setting your clients up to do the same thing against theirs.
Great, where do I start?
1. Get learning
First things first, you need to get up to speed on this whole chatbot thing.
Thankfully, content from thought leaders is starting to spring up. Look for content produced by companies that build chatbots, work in AI, and deal with conversational interfaces every day.
2. Partner up
Learned enough to realise chatbots have a place in your business? Fantastic. Time to partner up.
(Good) Chatbot building is a unique and brand new industry; it may take your staff time to learn the technical skills required to develop solutions for your clients. In the meantime, you should find a chatbot building company you can rely on to help bring your clients’ project to life.
3. Start pitching
You have done some reading. You have found a partner you can count on. Now to the fun part: pitching and saying “yes, we know about chatbots”.
Go through your existing client list and think about which would benefit from automating parts of their business processes using a chatbot.
Make use of your new knowledge and help your current (and future) clients stand out from the crowd.
Become the chatbot hero your clients deserve.