Jump in on the conversational commerce trend, drive sales on autopilot and skyrocket your marketing with chatbots
Conversational commerce refers to customers communicating with businesses and purchasing products via messaging apps. Customers can communicate with a human, a chatbot or a mix of both.
Chatbots are computer programs that utilize already existing chat interfaces and simulate conversations with end users in real time. Chatbots can be rule-based or powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML).
Chatbots are past their preliminary stages of adoption but are still facing challenges. Still, they are expected to become an essential part of the customer experience (CX).
In this post we are going to discuss Facebook Messenger Chatbots and how they can be used in e-commerce to provide customer service and marketing automation.
Rule-based chatbots cannot communicate freely. They can only answer very specific questions – they recognize a specific keyword, link it to a specific question and instantly deliver a predefined answer. Usually, they can only answer frequently asked questions, such as “What is your return policy?” or “How long do deliveries take?”. When such chatbots are faced with a more complex query – a complaint or an unexpected request, for example, – a customer support employee would have to jump into the conversation. Most chatbots are configured to redirect the conversation to a live agent when faced with a query they don’t understand.
However, more advanced chatbots (i.e. powered by NLP) can understand context, special characters (emoticons, acronyms, etc.) and even determine if a sentence is positive or negative.
If they are powered by ML, chatbots learn from each conversation and, therefore, become more efficient over time and capable of answering a wider range of questions.
More advanced chatbots are also capable of:
★ Sending targeted broadcast messages/newsletters to promote a product or share relevant information.
★ Asking questions related to age, gender, product preferences, etc. to make personalized product recommendations.
★ Showing reviews, product descriptions and additional photos upon request.
★ Sending CTA buttons to navigate the conversation and ensure a seamless customer experience.
★ Processing payments. Thus, they enable retailers to sell their products directly in Messenger. This feature is currently in beta and only available to pages with US-based admins. Only US-based transactions can be processed. See more.
★ Sending post-purchase follow-up messages – order updates (such as “Order sent” notifications or delivery information), invoices, requests for feedback and reviews, and more.
SHOPIFY AND FACEBOOK MESSENGER CHATBOTS
In April 2016, Shopify became the first e-commerce platform to integrate with Messenger (see the press release). Shopify is also one of the early adopters of Messenger chatbots.
Here are a few examples of Shopify apps for Messenger chatbots that automate customer service and mundane marketing tasks:
This app automatically replies to customers’ queries for you. It supports a multi-layer FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) menu with various response types. All you have to do is choose the questions you want your chatbot to answer and set up the answers in advance.
By handling all questions related to order status, shipping, returns, payments, etc., Ako chatbot will significantly reduce your workload and save you hours of customer service each day.
With Ako chatbot, your customers will be able to browse through your products using Facebook Messenger, easily find information about the products they are interested in and place their orders hassle-free. If your customers need assistance the chatbot cannot provide, they can request to talk to a live agent anytime.
Ultimately, Ako chatbot eases your customers’ buying decisions and helps you deliver better customer experiences.
This app enables you to act on cart abandonment via Messenger. You can send up to 3 customized follow-up messages per recipient – 2 hours, 24 hours and 48 hours after the customer has abandoned the cart. The app promises up to 3 times higher open and click-through rates than email.
The app provides detailed analytics – you can see which recipients opened your messages and came back to your store to finalize their orders.
Click here to test the app.
With this app you can send fully automated retargeting campaigns – abandoned cart reminders, failed or canceled payment reminders, order confirmation campaigns, etc. All languages are supported. The app promises up to 90% open rates and up to 30% click-through rates.
You can also send highly converting newsletters using Facebook Messenger – you can choose one of the app’s predefined Facebook Messenger templates or create a newsletter from scratch. You can use these chat newsletters to share engaging content from your blog or send relevant promotions to your subscribers.
With this app you can automatically follow-up with recent buyers X days after they have purchased something. The number of days is entirely up to you.
You can send fully customizable messages with fully customizable CTAs. You can ask for feedback, offer a new product, send a discount code or ask for a review.
This app will help you increase sales and drive continued engagement on autopilot. It is fairly new, but a member of the CartBack team told us that the company is seeing great results with their early customers:
“Stores are seeing a 10-20% conversion ratio on upsells to existing customers”
“Open rates are 80-90% – very high because these messages are coming from someone they just bought from”
CHATBOTS AS VIRTUAL MARKETING ASSISTANTS
Chatbots can serve as powerful marketing assistants – in fact, this is where they are most effective.
They can handle day-to-day marketing tasks, such as:
★ Posting on social media on your behalf.
★ Creating social media ads.
★ Promoting sales campaigns.
★ Sending emails.
★ Generating reports, and more.
Before completing any task, the chatbot will ask for your approval.
In our opinion, the best virtual assistants a Shopify store owner can “hire” are Kit and Scout.
Kit CRM was founded in 2014 in San Francisco by Michael Perry. The company was acquired by Shopify in April 2016. This is how Kit became the first Shopify chatbot.
Kit is a proactive and easy-to-work-with virtual assistant which is free if you are at least on the $29/month Shopify plan.
Kit can update your Facebook page, set up targeted ads for Facebook and Instagram, send emails, generate performance reports, and more.
Through Kit Skills (a collection of apps that work with Kit) Kit can perform more complex tasks, such as:
★ Turning positive customer reviews into ads (through Yotpo).
★ Completing accounting tasks (such as sending invoices and receipts) on autopilot (through Sufio).
★ Creating product discounts (through Bold Product Discount).
★ Recovering lost sales by acting on cart abandonment via SMS (through Kit Karts).
★ Bringing customers back to your site through a series of ad experiences across social platforms (through Retargeting by Shoelace).
★ Managing SEO and improving your ranking on Google, Yahoo and Bing (through SEO Manager).
★ Setting up promotional campaigns (through JustUno Marketing Platform), and much more.
Usually, these actions require a lot of mechanical work, switching between tabs to set up everything or using different applications. Kit does them on autopilot – all it needs is your approval.
💬 To improve the way merchants communicate and work with Kit, Shopify created Ping – a solution that works on top of Kit and enhances Kit’s features.
Ultimately, Ping helps store owners manage their digital campaigns in a much easier and more efficient way.
Ping is still in beta and is currently only available on iPhone but you can request an early access.
Scout is a virtual relationship manager, focused on helping store owners develop meaningful one-on-one relationships with their customers.
Scout helps you personalize your communication with your customers by sending them timely SMSs, emails or handwritten notes. And if you need to contact a customer on the phone, Scout can prepare you with a call script and dial the customer for you.
Scout constantly monitors your customers and offers you segments to reach out to – say, loyal brand advocates, cart abandoners or potential buyers. Scout also gives you advice on how to approach each segment in order to build long-lasting relationships with your customers.
Ultimately, Scout helps you build a trusted brand.
Just like Kit, Scout awaits your approval before taking an action.
If none of the solutions listed above meet your needs, you can hire an AI developer to build a custom chatbot for your store.
The available options include building the bot entirely from scratch, building it on a platform or using a bot-building framework.
BUILDING A CHATBOT ENTIRELY FROM SCRATCH
In April 2016 Facebook made it possible for developers to build chatbots for Messenger. They introduced all the necessary tools and a detailed documentation.
Since then, Facebook has been focused on facilitating developers as much as possible. For example, on the Facebook for Developers website developers can find more information on what is currently possible, find all the available tools, ask for help, and much more. Recently, Facebook announced the Messenger Developer Blog as well – a blog where they share code, tutorials and valuable content.
Note: Even if your developer is new to the Messenger Platform, building a chatbot will be fairly simple and quick – here is a detailed step-by-step guide.
BOT-BUILDING PLATFORMS AND FRAMEWORKS
THE BOT PLATFORM is an extremely viable option – the company is a Facebook Media Solutions Partner and is recommended by Facebook as go-to bot developer. Its chatbots are currently supporting over 120 million conversations a day.
You can see an overview of the platform here and click here to test one of their chatbots.
Note: If you do not have a developer at hand, The Bot Platform team can build a custom bot for your store themselves.
BOTPRESS is an open-source framework for building advanced chatbots. On Botpress developers can manage their content in a professional, transparent and source-controlled way.
The best thing about this framework is that it offers a wide range of off the shelf features available to all developers, i.e. when building a chatbot, developers don’t have to do all the work themselves. Instead, they can use all the features other developers have already added to the framework.
THE MEYA PLATFORM offers maximum development flexibility. The components of the platform include: a cognitive framework, a web-based bot-building studio, powerful visualization tools, live test chat and live debugger, digestible analytics, and more.
Note: The bot-building studio has built-in components for common operations. If developers want to write their own custom components, they can code them in Phyton and Node.js.
ENGATI is an end-to-end bot-building platform that offers an out of the box integration with Shopify. The platform is driven by machine-learning and enables developers to build advanced and personalized chatbots.
Click here to see an overview of the platform.
CHATFUEL is another great option. It offers two alternatives:
★ You can get started for free and build a rule-based chatbot yourself – the process requires 0 coding and will take you less than 15 minutes. All you have to do is define the questions you want your chatbot to answer and preset the answers and the keywords. Note that the chatbot you build will be able to answer only these questions
★ If you need a chatbot with more advanced features, you can choose one of Chatfuel’s PRO plans. Then, you can add custom features to your chatbot. For example, you can “brand it with your logo, see every user it has talked to, filter users, create and save customer segments, create “lookalike audiences” in Facebook Ads Manager,” and more. Note that all custom features require coding, i.e. you will need to hire a developer.
Note: If you cannot build a chatbot for your store in-house, you can outsource it to Chatfuel. They offer custom solutions as well.
Chatbots enable you to proactively engage your customers in a personalized manner. They help you build strong one-on-one relationships both with your prospect buyers and loyal customers.
Ultimately, chatbots help you deliver interactive, frictionless and conversational customer experiences. As AI matures and becomes more sophisticated, these experiences are going to become even more seamless and standard for customer service (via Business Insider).
🚀 MARKETING AND OPERATIONS
By handling mundane and repetitive day-to-day marketing tasks, chatbots can reduce your workload, boost your creativity and give you enough time to focus on the more strategic sides of your business.
Ultimately, chatbots are not designed to take your job, but to make it easier and more enjoyable!
Do you plan to add a chatbot to your Shopify store? Are you going to use it to automate customer support or to skyrocket your marketing? Let us know in the comments!