Chatbots have already revolutionised the consumer space – helping streamline and improve all kinds of processes, from booking a holiday to paying bills or organising transport.
Business Insider experts predict that by 2020, 80% of enterprises will use chatbots. In China, the utility bots within WeChat have become very much a part of life – to the point where businesses are considered obsolete if they don’t have them. And according to Lauren Foye, by 2022, banks will be automating up to 90% of their customer interaction using chatbots.
A survey conducted by Spiceworks predicted that 40% of large companies employing more than 500 people plan to implement one or more intelligent assistants, or AI-based chat robots, over corporate mobile devices in 2019.
However, the potential for chatbots to facilitate more effective B2B marketing hasn’t been as extensively embraced. According to Relay, only 58% of companies using chatbots technology are focused on doing so in a B2B context.
Yet as users’ willingness to jump on a messaging platform has skyrocketed, and people are becoming more and more accustomed to interacting with bots in a retail context, this is set to change.
If tech marketers aren’t currently looking at how chatbots can feature in their B2B strategy, they should be.
As this article on Hubspot says, “Bots are the future. In fact, if you're wondering today whether or not your business should create a bot, you're asking the wrong question. Bot-powered commerce is our modern-day manifest destiny.”
Here are three areas in which we think chatbots can help in a B2B tech marketing context:
1. SUPPORTING CUSTOMERS' DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
When it comes to influencing buying committees as part of a tech sale, it’s clear that the earlier you are involved in the process, the far greater chance you have of influencing the outcome. You can read more about this in our blog here.
So what would happen if we used bots to enhance this process? Say, for instance, a potential customer receives an email with a link to a landing page where they can access a complimentary whitepaper. By inserting a bot on this page, we can help the user digest this whitepaper more rapidly and effectively:
- “Is there anything about this whitepaper I can help you with?”
- “If you like this whitepaper, you may also be interested in this blog article.”
- “Is there anything in particular you would like to find out more about?”
- “I know you’re busy. I can email you a summary of the key points if you like?”
By using a bot to engage with a potential customer in such a way, their needs can be understood in far greater detail – and future marketing activity can also be more finely honed to meet their needs.
2. Follow up marketing activity - making it easier to buy
According to a study by Forrester people are typically more inclined to engage with a bot than they are with a sales person. As we discussed in this blog, suggests that when it comes to tech sales, most buying committees are 57% of the way through a decision-making process before they consider contacting a sales person.
In this context, bots can add huge value when it comes to following up on leads, or helping customers to take the next step in the sales cycle (or even gathering feedback about why they may not be interested).
So, for instance, if your business is sending an eBook out to a to your target audience, you could then send a follow-up email with a link to a bot – prompting the customer to ask questions regarding the content in the book, or take the next step in making a purchase:
- “We hope you enjoyed this eBook. Would you like to see more content like this?”
- “In the eBook, you will have noticed that company ABC improved efficiency by 10% by investing in a DEF solution. Is this something that you would like to know more about?”
Alternatively, if a customer engages with any online marketing assets by clicking through from an ad or email, bots can be used to respond in a personal way:
- “Hey Kevin. Thanks for clicking through to this case study. If you want to know more, you can chat to us online right now.”
3. Saving sales team time and effort
Another core benefit of using bots as part of your B2B marketing activity is the insight it can provide your sales people- making the process more informed and efficient. Every interaction with a bot generates data which can be used to more closely qualify potential leads or determine any potential obstacles to sales.
By looking at the chat history captured and stored by bots, sales people can also identify potential opportunities they may not have previously thought about or planned for. So, for instance, if a particular customer suggests – during the chat – that they’re not interested in solution WXY so much as solution XYZ, then the sales person can very swiftly switch tact, and be far more responsive to a customer’s unique requirements.
Remember not all bots are created equal
One of the most important things to remember about using bots is that they need to provide value. Bots that annoy or distract consumers can do more harm than good. A good chatbot will be simple and easy to use; embrace artificial intelligence to drive personalisation and enable increasingly relevant and effective responses, and be able to function natively, within a single app – without the user having to leave what they are doing.
Want to find out more?
To find out more about how you can optimise your B2B marketing with chatbots, get in touch.