What Is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is an automated extension of your team that can help drive qualified and quality conversations with the visitors to your website.

With the rise of the internet and online chat, the way people prefer to communicate with businesses has changed. They want instant gratification. Chatbots allow you to meet–and exceed–people’s expectations by giving them a fast and frictionless way to connect with your company.

77% of consumers expect to get instant responses from chat compared to any other channel.

Embracing conversational marketing by using intelligent chatbots means being there for your potential buyers and current customers on their terms.

Chatbots are there on customer terms

Chatbots vs. Live Chat

People often assume chatbot software and live chat software are the same thing. They’re different, let’s explore how.

Live chat is exactly what it sounds like: chatting to a real person online rather than a bot. Talking to a human is all well and good, but the problem with live chat is that it doesn’t scale. How can your sales or support reps respond immediately to every conversation?

If you can’t respond to your customers in 10 seconds or less, you’re not giving them the best possible experience. We’re here to help people buy your products. Making people wait to get the information they need isn’t helping.

Consumers are 4x more likely to prefer using chat over speaking to a human (PSFK)

Intelligent chatbots, on the other hand, are a win-win. They allow you to offer better customer service and scale your sales funnel. Chatbots can answer your visitors’ questions in real time, book meetings with sales reps and route questions to the right person.

Chatbots respond instantly, 24/7, giving people the on-demand and flexible service they have learned to expect. And unlike live chat, chatbots will save you money. They’ll connect buyers to your sales reps faster, leading to more revenue.

64% of consumers see the biggest potential benefit of chatbots as the ability to get 24-hour service

Chatbots respond instantly 24/7

Chatbot conversations are expected to deliver $8 billion in cost savings by 2022 (Juniper Research)

What Do Chatbots Do?

Existential question time: What is a chatbot’s purpose?

Today’s chatbots fall along a spectrum depending on their goals. At the far right end of the spectrum are the chatbots designed to supplement human-to-human interaction. And all the way on the left are the chatbots designed to enhance every single interaction.

Along the spectrum, you’ll find chatbots that engage with you in different ways. No side is inherently better or worse–it just depends on the chatbot’s purpose.

Chatbots spectrum

For example, our goal with Driftbot is to prevent conversations from coming to an end and to connect the visitor with sales as fast as possible. So our chatbots cover the whole spectrum and act as an intelligent switchboard for live chat.

Driftbot asks you questions and responds immediately to figure out the best human for you to talk to–or to provide you with the information you need without ever directing you to a human if you don’t want to speak with one.

Why Do You Need Chatbots?

1. They run 24/7/365 on your website

Your buyers can get answers to their questions in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2. They qualify leads on your website–and can replace lead forms

Acting as intelligent virtual assistants, chatbots ask your qualification questions and create leads in your CRM–no forms or humans required.

3. They automatically book meetings for your sales team

Get meetings booked for your sales team while they sleep. Chatbots can grab your reps’ availability from their calendars and allow leads to book open slots once the lead is qualified.

4. They route conversations to the right people

Your sales reps have different territories and ownership depending on location or company size. Use the routing rules from your CRM for your chatbots and make sure your visitors reach the right people as fast as possible.

5. They answer your visitors’ questions by pulling information from your database

Different website visitors have different needs. Let your chatbot immediately answer your customers’ support questions by syncing your bot with your company’s knowledge base. Bots will pull out the best nuggets for your customers’ specific questions.

6. They help you collect and analyze the questions your visitors have

Context is king. Automatically saved chatbot conversations arm your sales reps with all the information they need to score and nurture leads.

Chatbot recent activity

How Do AI Chatbots Work?

Many chatbots rely on AI (Artificial Intelligence) to simulate how humans communicate. AI can be a tough topic to get a handle on. So to keep things simple, let’s consider the three main components of AI chatbots:

1. Machine learning

When chatbots can automatically improve with experience.

2. Natural language processing

When chatbots use machine learning to simulate human-produced text and language.

3. Annotation of human data

When chatbots can look at the entire context of what people are saying to better respond.

AI chatbots are constantly learning and improving from conversations. They talk exactly like your human reps talk because that’s what they’re learning from. And that makes the customer experience a lot smoother.

Good chatbots use AI not to trick people into thinking they’re human, but to understand exactly what your visitors are asking and to better answer their questions.

It’s all about making the experience more conversational and giving people the info they need as fast as possible.

Chatbot Statistics

Chatbots have gone global. All 195 countries are already using online chat to start conversations on business websites, according to our State of Conversational Marketing report. Buyers prefer talking to businesses through chatbots over email, phone, apps, and even speaking to a human.

89% of consumers say they want the option to talk to businesses through conversational tools like chatbots (Twilio)

Employees from companies of all sizes, sectors, and industries—including key decision makers—are frustrated with traditional online experiences and want real-time conversations.

If you haven’t yet embraced chatbots, what are you waiting for?

Common Chatbot Use Cases

Acting as your website’s personal assistant, chatbots help with everything from qualifying leads and booking meetings to answering buyers’ questions and onboarding new customers.

Marketing Chatbots

Replace your lead forms with chatbots

Lead forms have become a terrible customer experience–we make visitors fill out forms before even talking to us, then we take hours or days to respond. More than half of B2B SaaS companies didn’t respond to leads over the course of five business days, according to our lead response survey. By removing all the hoops and hurdles from your website, you treat your potential customers like people instead of like leads and email addresses. You can get all the info your sales and marketing teams need without asking your potential customers to fill out 11 fields in a lead form while their hair turns grey.

By providing a better customer experience, chatbots will get you better results and set you apart from the competition.

Use chatbots as a “second net”

Scrapping all your lead forms might not be a feasible option for you at the moment. But adding chatbots to your website in addition to forms gives you a second channel for generating and qualifying leads.

Cloud platform Perfecto Mobile, for example, increased their website conversion rate by four times using Drift’s chatbots in addition to their lead forms.

Chatbots a second net

Sales Chatbots

Book more meetings for your sales team

You can automate the entire meeting scheduling process with chatbots. Bots allow your sales reps to provide one-to-one conversations at scale, which would be impossible with live chat, phone or email.

But here’s the real kicker: chatbots don’t only make your sales reps’ lives easier. They also help you adapt to the shifting sales landscape and take a customer-driven approach.

Bots give your visitors a real-time line to your sales team without flooding your reps with unrelated questions. With intelligent routing rules, you can ensure your visitors always reach the right people.

More and more B2B companies are realizing that chatbots are a sales team’s secret weapon. Sales enablement platform SalesRabbit, for example, grew its number of sales meetings by 40%, increased productivity by as much as 84% and generated 50% more qualified leads using chatbots.

80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020 (Oracle)

Chatbot books sales meeting

Customer Service Chatbots

Automatically answer customer questions

It’s not just potential customers that want immediate answers to their questions. Your customers also want on-demand support. Keep conversations going after you convert a visitor into a customer by using a chatbot to automatically answer their questions. You can integrate your chatbot to your knowledge base and send customers articles from your help center–no support staff or ticket system required.

Answering your customers’ urgent questions in real time will help you build a trusting relationship with them. Conversational support is the future of customer service for B2B companies since it gets you closer to your customers and helps build relationships at scale.

Customer Service chatbot

Send customer questions to a dedicated customer support agent

Sometimes your customers’ questions will require a human to get involved. If their question isn’t answered in your knowledge base, you can use a chatbot to automatically create support tickets inside the conversation. The ticket will be routed straight to your support team’s ticketing system. Your customers will get instant help and your sales team won’t be stuck trying to answer support requests.

Onboarding Chatbots

Set up your customer’s first meeting with a customer success manager

Use chat to make your onboarding process more efficient. Bots can share useful content and ask relevant questions get your customers engaged with your product and prepped for their onboarding call. Identify your users’ greatest needs during the onboarding process, then implement chatbots also called playbooks within Drift that align with those needs.

Let customers know about a new product or promotion

With a few configurations, you can trigger chatbots or playbooks based on user journeys and actions. For example, tell your brand new users about a specific feature 14 days after they set up their account.You can also announce product updates or let users know that your site will be undergoing maintenance without requiring a response.

Chatbot Examples

Looking for new chatbot ideas? Find inspiration from other chatbot builders as you create your own.

10 Chatbot Examples You Can Use on Your Website

1. The second net bot 🥅

If you’re not ready to ditch all your lead forms right away, no sweat. Get started with conversational marketing without overhauling your marketing strategy by using chatbots as a second net to capture and qualify leads. This allows visitors to choose how to interact with you–whether that’s filling out a static form or chatting with a bot.

2. Pricing page concierge bot 💸

As the highest intent page on your site–and the page with the most friction and cognitive load–your pricing page is the perfect place for a bot. Give your high-intent visitors a direct line to your sales team so they can easily and quickly make a purchase. Skip the small talk here and make your copywriting pricing-specific.

3. The demo bot 🤖

If someone wants a demo of your product, make it ridiculously easy for them to get it. Only ask critical questions necessary to qualify the lead or to customize the demo for the user. If a visitor doesn’t actually want a demo, suggest some additional content or ask when they would be ready for one before letting them go.

4. The email list supercharger bot ⚡

Use bots to grow your email list or newsletter. Give visitors a sneak preview to show how your content could help them and give them a better reason to subscribe. Make it contextual by asking, “Like this post? You might also like this receiving others like it in your inbox every week…”

5. The paid traffic converter bot 📣

Make the most of the money you’re spending on Facebook, Google or other advertising channels. Complementing your paid advertising with chatbots will help you turn that paid traffic into qualified leads. For a seamless experience, customize your welcome message based on the content of the ad your visitors clicked on.

6. The lead magnet bot 🧲

Use chatbots to level up your most beloved lead magnets. You can deliver lead magnets without having to build additional landing pages by having your chatbot ask qualifying questions.

7. The “you come here often” bot 👋

Repeat visitors clearly see the value of your products or services. You don’t want to let them slip through your fingers. Start a conversation by sending a genuine and personal message offering to help them with something.

8. The fast lane bot 🏎️💨

Not all visitors are your dream customers. But when your best potential customers land on your site, you want to act fast. Speed up the buying process and shorten the sales cycle by bringing these good-fit customers to the front of the line. Create customized playbooks that connect your best leads to your sales team.

41% of people starting online chat conversations with businesses are executives

9. The dream client finder AKA the ABM bot 🙏

Chatbots and account-based marketing are a match made in heaven. ABM should be a zero-waste approach–don’t make your VIP leads fill out forms that answer questions you probably already know the answers to. Instead, use a chatbot to book meetings with your target accounts 24/7/365 by sending them personalized messages from a dedicated account rep.

10. The conversation starter bot 🙋

There’s nothing worse than dealing with the lifeless “hey” message. Don’t put your visitors through that. Start more conversations on your site by asking the right questions. Write conversationally and be sure to talk with your visitors, not at them.

The Best Chatbots of 2019

Great artists steal. Creating conversational copy that flows is truly an art form–so get to stealing! Analyze these good chatbot examples to make your chatbots useful for B2B buying.

Pandadoc – Educational & content

Social talent – Blog subscription

Wistia – Pricing

Privy – Conversational landing pages

Impact – Booking a meeting

How to Make a Chatbot

The good news: Creating a chatbot is way easier than you think. You can set up a personalized chatbot for your business in less than 20 minutes. How can you ensure your chatbot will help reach your business goals? Conceptualize the buying experience from the point of view of your future customers. First things first: Create your chatbot strategy. If you’re looking for help in how to do that feel free to steal a copy of our Conversational Marketing Blueprint. Your strategy should be specific to your business and most importantly your future and current customers. To map the conversations your customers want to have with your business, your blueprint should answer these five key questions:

1. What?

What web page or piece of content are your visitors on?

2. Who?

Who are you engaging on your website? What do we know about them, if anything?

3. Where?

Where did they come from? Was it a particular ad, nurture campaign, or a specific source that drove them to you?

4. Why?

Why are they here with you now? Do they have a question? Do they need guidance? Are they ready to speak with sales or do they need support?

5. When?

This is a trick question. The right time to engage with a buyer is always now–when the prospective buyer is showing intent or interest.

Quick tip: Build your first chatbot or playbook for your most highly trafficked pages, like your homepage, pricing page and contact us page.

Integrating a Chatbot to Your Website

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How do you build a chatbot and add it to your website?

The implementation process varies depending on the type of chatbot you use, but here’s an example of how it works with the Drift Leadbot

  1. Copy and paste the Drift JavaScript snippet into the header of your website. Alternatively, install Drift using an integration with WordPress, HubSpot, or Shopify.
  2. Connect your calendar, set up routing rules and add your team.
  3. Copy and paste the questions from your standard form into the leadbot visual builder as questions for your bot.

Psst! For more secrets behind how to create a great chatbot, watch our video interview with our resident chatbot expert.

Writing for Chatbots

Follow this three-step framework to write a winning chatbot script:

1. Engage

Here’s where you greet the guest with a welcome message. There are a couple common ways you can start a conversation: Ask: This first question can make or break your engagement rate. To grab your visitor’s attention, the opening line should be original. Ask a targeted question about the pain point your company helps solve. Think of questions you would love to know the answer to, and that your visitors would see value in answering. No need to overcomplicate things here–just ditch the business jargon and write how you would to your friends over WhatsApp or Messenger. Yes, your chatbot is a bot, but it doesn’t need to sound like one. Once again, it’s not about tricking visitors into thinking your bot is a human, but you want to enable a natural conversation. Don’t be afraid to show some personality and be cheeky and funny if it aligns with your brand tone. Quick tip: Be consistent with your brand personality and tone of voice. Would you say it out loud? When it doubt, cut it out. Acknowledge: Open up the conversation by acknowledging returning traffic and traffic coming from ads or campaigns. To make them feel like VIPs, acknowledge your targeted accounts by company name and use personalization tokens for returning visitors.

Call out what page they’re on, and how they got to your site. Make it clear you brought them here for a reason, then deliver that reason through your value proposition and social proof. Quick tip: Vary your confirmation messages to sound more human. Avoid only writing “OK” and switch things up with responses like “Got it, thanks!”

2. Understand

At this point, you want to get a better sense of who you’re engaging with. Understanding who they are and what they need will help you recommend what they should do next. Let’s say it louder for the people in the back: No one wants to hear about how great your product is. Make the conversation about your visitors, not your company. After all, your buyer has all the power. Qualify: What questions does your sales team always ask? Let your bot do the heavy lifting and ask the questions. Stay away from form type questions like first name and last name, and stick to qualifying questions that your sales team needs to know. But remember to give before you get–ensure you always answer visitors’ questions before asking your own. Whenever possible, follow up their answers with a question to keep the conversation going. That way, you’re always adding value for your buyers. Quick tip: If you get your visitor’s business email, you probably won’t need to ask for their first of last name because of data enrichment services. Route: When it’s time to connect your visitor with your sales team, ensure the right rep is routed into the conversation at the right time. You can leverage geography, URL/website behavior, firmographic info, or other routing rules into your chatbot platform.

Disqualify: Disqualifying is just as important as qualifying. Ask questions that will tell you whether a visitor is the wrong fit for your company so you can guide them to other parts of your website for self-learning–rather than routing them to your team. Quick tip: Make sure every single sentence drives the conversation forward and brings your visitor closer to their goal.

3. Recommend

You’ve discovered your visitor is a great fit for your products or services–congrats! But wait, now what? Invite your visitor to take one of the next steps: Chat now: Route in your sales, business or conversational development rep to have a live conversation with your visitor or buyer. Meet now: Send out a meeting invite for the right team member. Schedule: Drop a connected calendar of the right team member into the conversation. But what if someone’s not ready to book a meeting?

Guide: Ask them what kinds of resources they’d be interested in reading. Then share content like ebooks or whitepapers that guide them further down your funnel. Nurture: If your visitor’s not ready to get on board yet, ask for their email to enroll them in a nurture sequence. Based on actions they’ve taken within a specific playbook, show visitors a more specific sequence the next time they come to your site to provide a more targeted experience.

Tips to Boost Your Chatbot Conversion Rate

Good conversations drive conversions. Learn how to optimize chatbots to help your customers convert.

Test things out

Always be testing. Create a few different types of questions and follow-ups and see how your visitors respond. Look back at your conversations and check for questions many people asked and whether there was a response you forgot. Analyzing 50 or more transcripts could seriously help you improve your bot’s performance.

Keep questions simple at first

Simple is always best. Ask clear and simple questions to avoid overwhelming your visitors and to keep them engaged. Also keep your goals top of mind when drafting your questions to ensure you gather all the information you need. When it comes to messages, less is more. Limit each block of text to fewer than 150 characters–each message shouldn’t exceed three lines of text on mobile devices–to keep visitors engaged.

Give your questions some options

Display a few response options to prompt your visitors into different flows you already have responses for. For example, ask “How are you looking to use [your company name], or “How did you find out about us?” and offer a list of possible answers in buttons.

Start small

Overwhelmed by adding chatbots to your website? Just start small and take it one step at a time. You can test out your bot with a small group of people at first, like anyone who has visited your product page three times. See how things go, iterate, then test with a new group.

How to Choose the Best Chatbot Platform

Chatbot Features to Look For

Not all chatbot platforms are created equal. When deciding what chatbot to use on your website, ask yourself the following questions:

Is it easy to build and design a conversation?

Conversation design is about more than just writing copy–you need to consider the whole flow and construction. But that doesn’t mean constructing conversations should be complicated. It should be as intuitive as messaging on Slack, Messenger, or anywhere else. No 50-page manual required. Having a visual builder will make the process more accessible and easier to understand.

Does it come with pre-packaged playbooks?

While you’ve got some great tricks up your sleeve thanks to this guide, creating a chatbot can still feel like a huge feat.

Having access to pre-packaged playbooks makes it a lot easier to get started. You won’t be left staring at a blank page, but can (literally) take a page from an expert’s book.

Does it offer intelligent targeting?

Sending targeted and personalized messages to your visitors is the best way to get their attention. Intelligent targeting means you can better engage the people you really want to talk to. With enriched data, you can see information about your visitor’s company (firmographics) and the tools they’re using (technographics) and tailor your messages accordingly.

Does it automatically save conversations?

You want to arm your sales team with the juicy context from conversations. With automatically saved conversations, your reps won’t have to go hunting for that information. And you can transfer all scripts to other systems if need be.

Give Your Website a Personal Assistant with Drift

If you’re not using chatbots to engage your current and future customers in real time, you’re missing out. We help over 150,000 businesses create a more human buying experience. With LeadBot–the world’s most popular marketing chatbot–you can create a chatbot in mere minutes. Start qualifying leads, booking meetings and answering your customers’ questions while your sleep.

Some More Useful Chatbot Resources (for the Overachiever in You)

The 2018 State of Chatbots Report | Drift The State of Conversational Marketing | Drift 9 Most Innovative Chatbot Examples in 2019 from Top Brands [+ How to Build Your Own] | IMPACT How to Get Mind-Blowing Results From Conversational Marketing (Without All of the Work) | Drift How A.I. Can Help Your Salespeople Get More Meetings | Drift Why ‘Bots vs. Humans’ Is the Wrong Way to Think About It | Drift 3 Ways You Can Use LeadBot to Capture & Qualify Leads (Even When You’re Asleep) | Drift 11 Amazing Facts You Might Not Know About Chatbots | Chatbots Magazine How AI-based chat is transforming lead generation | Smart Insights