Chatbot to order pizza, chatbot to create a killer playlist, chatbot to read the most interesting articles on the Web this morning…

Well, maybe bots are not so widespread yet but it looks like they are here to stay & thrive, and businesses are trying to take advantage of that smart interlocutors as much as they can.

Chatbots are popular

What chatbots are

Putting it simple: Chatbots are programs that talk to people via messengers and are able to answer their questions in a conversational tone (they sound like humans).

Not all bots are the same, let’s stick to this split into two types to better understand how they differ:

  1. Automated Help based bots – function only according to the rules set up. If you want the bot to behave differently, you need to change those pre-defined instructions manually. These chatbots don’t learn from the conversations they have. Example: automated phone system.
  2. AI-based bots – use natural language processing to detect patterns, analyze intent and sentiment, and understand what the user wants. Building such chatbots require significant computing power and skills “beyond the average content marketer even if you have CS degree”. Example: “Alexa, play my playlist from the place it stopped last time”.

Currently, businesses mainly use bots for customer service, gathering customer feedback, and delivering various transactional communications like payment confirmations, order details, etc.

And what about content? How can businesses use chatbots for content marketing? Should they? Let’s take a closer look.

How chatbots fit in content marketing (and improve it)

As an additional source for content distribution

Not a surprise – Messaging apps are gaining their momentum. If we look at the most popular social networks in September 2017, we will see that 3 sites out of top 5 are messaging platforms (numbers are active users in millions):

Top social networks September 2017

With such a significant reach, chats can be a worthy channel to have their place in your content marketing strategy.

You can be proactive and message about the interesting content you have: Share links to the articles & case studies, text quotes, offer to subscribe to your regular newsletter. And this is not restricted to B2C:

[bctt tweet=”B2B companies test chatbot waters to improve their customer support, content marketing & lead generation.” via=”no”]

For example, I received this message in my inbox two days ago (I’m subscribed to the Reply emails):

messenger chatbot for support and content

Reply, a platform for email outreach with more than 1,000 businesses as clients, makes its move to diversify the ways they bring their weekly content to the readers.

They deliver on-demand content to the customers

Chat conversations are all about instant value and interaction. That’s why businesses start to test chatbots for delivering on-demand content.

For example, WholeFoods aims to improve the shopping experience of their customers by sending the content they may need when purchasing food ingredients – recipes. And they use a culinary chatbot to deliver that in Facebook Messenger.

You can send food emojis, or text good old words, or combine both words and icons. The bot will return you the most suitable suggestions and voila! You have an interesting recipe to try out and see what ingredients you may lack.

Whole Foods chatbot

They deliver highly-personalized and relevant content

Niche-specific content with a high level of personalization performs well as in the content ocean people look for the bites of relevant information that address their pain point NOW. Now is an important word – People got used to instant communication and instant reward.

Readers let a chatbot know what exactly they want to find out right now, and then receive an instant relevant answer (often in a form of link to one of your content pieces):

Relevant chatbot content

And what’s super cool about bots for content marketers: They can gather the real-time feedback from your audience so that you get an understanding of the keywords they use and topics they’re asking about. [bctt tweet=”Chatbots can be a valuable source of content ideas.” via=”no”]

That’s why chatbots have chances to become your golden key to unlocking customer engagement. According to Dmitriy Kachin from Chatfuel, the response rates range from 35-40% to 80-90% for bot experiences depending on the audience engagement level.

Along with the instant and intimate nature of texting (people tend to read and respond to texts almost immediately), such high response rates can have something to do with the newness of chatting with bots because the channel isn’t saturated yet. And usually, those who catch the wave early reap the biggest rewards.

Developing content for chatbots

Content marketing goals, content strategy, chatbot character – The first two content marketing ingredients remain the same as for any other type of content (see our SAAS content marketing guide), and the third one is important particularly for chatbots as they participate in a conversation which is a two-way street.

When setting up your goals, define your audience, what they expect and would like to feel when turning to your chatbot. You will need to work with your existing content to adapt it to the chat format and then create the new content with that chatbot adaptation in mind.

Organizing all the content for chatbot use can be an overwhelming task, and what helps is mapping out customer journey steps to define the possible questions and develop the helpful, short-and-sweet answers.

[bctt tweet=”And the not-so-secret sauce: Emotions. Decide on your chatbot character and its tone and voice.” via=”no”] It should correspond with your brand perfectly because it’s actually your brand’s talking head (or typing hand).

Be attentive to how your bot character communicates:

  • What smiles to use and what to avoid
  • Slang –Yes or no?
  • How to react to particular sentiments (even if your chatbot character is super-friendly and positive, wasting space on sad smiles can irritate a customer who got back to you with a complaint for the second time during the day)

People like chatbots because they are effective at solving customer service issues, they are fast and accurate. Why not be proactive and try out chat conversations for your content promotion? Chatbots are the territory for tests and experiments, and now can be the time to run yours.

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