Have you hear the latest buzz in tech circles? It’s Chat Bots, poised to become the biggest marketing game changer since the smart phone. But what are they? Technically, a Chat Bot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users on Messenger, complete with photos, gifs, videos, PDF and document downloads. Think of them as email mashed up with texting and you’ve got a Chat Bot.
Currently, 1.3 billion people use Messenger and the number is growing daily. Messenger is outpacing social apps and with open rates of 90 – 100% and conversion rates hovering over 10%, Chat Bots are an incredibly effective marketing tool with the largest audience on Earth at their disposal.
And the best thing? Your competitors are likely not using one yet. Now is the time to become an early adopter and harness the power to increase your customer engagement (and your bottomline).
Studies show a customer has to see your message 7 – 10 times before they’re ready to buy. With Chat Bots, you are bypassing ever-changing algorithms (looking at you Instagram) and social media fatigue. Once someone has subscribed to your Bot, there is nothing between you and their Messenger box. Send a message and they’ll receive it immediately, usually with a lovely little Ping! to catch their attention. Zero friction between your message and your customer. No third party filtering out the info, no algorithm to figure out, no noise from other emails or ads vying for eyeballs. Simply your message, sitting there, waiting for your customer to open and read. And humans, being the curious creatures we are, find it next to impossible to resist reading that new message sitting in Messenger.
Wedding professionals can utilize Bots in a number of ways to entertain and educate. Here are a few ideas…
Link to blog post – Have a helpful tip to share? Send it out along with the link to the blog post discussing it in further detail. Not only will it cement yourself as an expert to your clients but those hits to the blog will increase your traffic numbers (a bonus for those sponsored posts).
Feature a new product – Spread the news with a short description, photo and link to where they can purchase. Integrate your Bot with e-commerce tools and they’ll never have to leave the Messenger platform to purchase your goods. Interestingly, a recent survey by the UK company, Kenashoo, saw 47% of respondents said they’d purchase items via a Bot.
Reminder of webinar – Presenting a webinar or Facebook live? Broadcast out a quick reminder a few minutes before you start, complete with the link, and watch your attendance numbers soar.
FAQs – Chat Bots have a menu where you can upload the answers to your most frequently asked questions, such as store hours, office hours, emergency contact numbers, price ranges, policies. Not only will having this information available 24/7 free up company resources for other tasks, research shows that 48% of customers would prefer to work with a Bot over a human customer service rep.
Coupon – Want to up your sales for the month? Offer a discount code or coupon to your Bot subscribers.
VIPs – Set up your Bot subscription as a VIP experience so clients have a higher value perception of the Bot and your brand. Offer exclusive invitations to an Open House or Trunk Sale you’re hosting.
Schedule an Appointment – Do your clients need to schedule appointments with you? Connect your Acuity or Calendly account to the Bot and customers can set themselves up. No need for back and forth trying to find a mutual workable time. One click and your clients are all set!
Flash sale – Maybe you have extra stock you need to move or need to bump up sales quickly. Send out a flash sale promotion as a broadcast to your Bot subscribers.
FaceBook Ad – The latest feature for Facebook Ads is an option to send customers directly to Messenger, thus growing your Chat Bot subscription list. Create an ad offering a free incentive such as a planning timeline, wedding photo shot list, PDF of flowers by seasonal availability, a glossary of wedding dress styles, etc. Customers click on the Messenger link and are immediately in your Bot where they can download their free gift. No need to validate their email or open another link – everything is done right there in Messenger.
In-Person Contests – Maybe you have a booth at a bridal fair or are a bricks and mortar store and want to capture in-person clients to your Bot. Thanks to the code generator growth tool, you can post your Bot’s code on a sign customers can scan via their Messenger app. Soon as the code is scanned, they’re in your Bot and will have whatever message you’ve created welcome them. This is a fabulous feature if you’re running a contest or giveaway and need to capture entry information in person. No need for anyone to write out entry forms or for your staff to then input them into a spreadsheet. With one scan, you’ve capture the information you need and the client is now in your Bot.
No matter if you’re a photographer or planner, a venue or rental shop, I highly recommend that once you have a potential customer subscribed to your Bot, engage them in a simple five day sequence offering a wedding planning tip per day. Keep the tip short, easy to implement and valuable. With this one simple sequence, your ability to close the sale has just skyrocketed.
Because you’ve had multiple touch points with the client over a short period of time, you’ve demonstrated your expertise and knowledge and you’ve become a known factor. Familiarity creates likability and people want to do business with people they like. By the time your short sequence is over, you’ve created trust with the client and they’re more likely to say “yes” when you ask for the sale. This is what we refer to as “pull marketing”, as you’re pulling them along a path towards a mutual goal, as opposed to “push marketing” where you’re pushing them through a series of posts or hoops. Which one do you think is most effective?
The landscape of weddings is changing and to be successful as entrepreneurs , we need to meet our clients where they’re at – and they’re overwhelmingly on Messenger. Chat Bots open the door to engage with your customers directly with short, easy to read messages. But even more importantly, we can have fun with them! Throw in a gif, a photo, even a short video. People want to be entertained while learning something new and Bots are the perfect vehicle to get your message across with edutainment.
Engagement season is just around the corner. Are you going to incorporate Chat Bots into your marketing arsenal?
Larissa Banting is a Chat Bot marketing and Facebook ad specialist through her agency, BizzyBots. She also owns the destination wedding firm Weddings Costa Rica and is the creator of The Lazy Bride blog and brand. Named one of the Top 30 Destination Wedding Planners by Destination Weddings and Honeymoons Magazine, she’s planned over 500 weddings and still gets teary eyed when the bride dances with her father.