Chatbots for B2B Marketing: How to Master Chatbot Marketing in 2021
In this post, we're talking about strategies for b2b chatbot marketing, and how to get your anonymous web visitors to start a conversation with you, and how to bring them into your sales funnel as leads.
At Scout, we have used these strategies to gain a 500% improvement with chatbots over their default state. Some of our best bots have achieved a 9% starting conversation from that segment of traffic to reply.
Scout has done marketing and strategy consulting for companies like Bouncer, Commsor, and Povio Labs. We have also helped Lucidworks drastically improve their conversion rates and taken Zinc from 1 to 100 million GMV in two years.
In this post, we’ll show you how we use chatbots as a marketing strategy. We use a chatbot to get interactions with prospects to move them from browsing our website into the sales funnel using personalization and intent signals.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Who This Post Isn’t For & The Goal of B2B Chatbot Marketing
- What Not To Do
- How Do I Find the Right Hook for My Chatbot?
- What Are Intent Signals and How Do They Help With B2B Chatbots?
- How To Target Qualified Prospects
- Danger! Beware of Vanity Signaling
- B2B Chatbot Messaging Strategies
- Summary of B2B Chatbot Marketing Strategies
Let's dive in.
Who This Post Isn’t For & The Goal of B2B Chatbot Marketing
Admittedly, a weird way to start a post, but it is easier to say who this post isn't for than who it is for.
This strategy isn't for people searching for an instant fix solution or customer service or customer support bot.
To be successful with this B2B chatbot marketing strategy, you need to be able to dive deep into chat, and the user experiences beyond the basics.
This post is primarily for folks that are targeting B2B audiences where the end result is a sales meeting or a salesperson live on the phone or on the chat.
What Not To Do
The worst thing you can start a chatbot message with is “Do you have any questions for me?”
Imagine if you started a conversation with, “Hi I’m Jordan. Do you have any questions for me?”
That is a terrible way to start a conversation both for a person and a B2B Chatbot.
Yet, it is one of the common questions asked by low-level messenger bots.
However, this prompt does not convert site users to leads.
For that you need a “hook”.
How Do I Find the Right Hook for My Chatbot?
First, let’s explain what a hook is. A hook is your opener. What can you say to get a site visitor’s attention, and to get them to say hi, or even ask a question.
Make them curious! Here’s our current chatbot hook, on the Scout website:
You need to take intent data about who your leads are and match that with a “hook”.
Something that will get that particular visitor with whatever you may know about them to engage with you.
This means stop asking the question “Do you have any questions?” and instead use personalized content rather than generic content.
Here our B2B chatbot marketing strategy is to prioritize with data and the visitor’s intent. What's the visitor's intent? Who are they? What do you know about them?
You can do this with Clearbit Reveal & Google Analytics. Clearbit Reveal will allow you to understand who your visitors are, what companies do they work for, what locations they come from, what types of technology, and how many employees.
Google Analytics will show you what URLS people are visiting, how many visitors do you have to those sites, which paid ads are they coming from, your UTM parameters.
These data sources will allow you to prioritize your bot plays based on the biggest opportunity there. There are great ways to use personalization and automation to reach your users.
What Are Intent Signals and How Do They Help With B2B Chatbots?
Intent is key. I’m going to say this over and over and over again.
Clayton Christensen talked about his framework for hiring a milkshake where he interviewed a bunch of people that bought milkshakes at Mcdonald's and found out they were buying for different reasons.
Some people were buying it as a source of protein, other people were buying it because they were bored, and others were even giving it to their kids to shut their kids up. So each of those people were solving a different problem with the milkshake and you can imagine that even though it's the same product you might talk about the milkshake differently to each of those different audiences.
It's the same thing with chatbots, you really need to understand who your visitor is and where they come from to be able to get engagement.
We looked up a few B2B companies that came to mind and found Apollo to use this technique first. The first thing their bot says is “Do you have any questions?”
The one thing we will say is at least they don't allow the user to type. You definitely shouldn't allow your visitors to be able to type whatever they want. We will talk more about this later.
If you figure out that Daniel Day-Lewis has a bunch of oil on his face then you're gonna say, “Hey we sell towels, need one?” That's a much better pitch because you know who this person is, you've got context on them, and you understand where they're coming from.
While this isn't always going to be always right you can take a guess here and more often than not you're going to be right and people will engage.
How To Target Qualified Prospects
Now let's talk about targeting. Targeting is really key for having effective chatbots.
We mentioned Clearbit Reveal earlier because it allows you to target the technology used. For example, you could target all people that come to the site that use Segment.
So maybe Segment is a customer of yours and you can say, “Hey Jordan, I noticed that you come from Company X and you use Segment, did you know they're a customer of ours?”
Now that's going to be a much much better hook than “Have any questions?”
You can also see how many different people come from different companies which would allow you to make a company bot that says “Hey Oracle.com, did you know that SAP uses us?”
Targeting employee range is also helpful because you will probably say something different to a company of one to ten people versus a company of a thousand. You could also exclude those one to ten folks and never show them a chat bot if you know that they're not going to be a good fit for your service.
The URL that people are on is another great intent signal. For example, if you have a product that works with SharePoint and you have SharePoint in the URL, then you will want to message folks about SharePoint since you know that the only reason they're there is to find a solution with SharePoint.
So that message might look like “Do you want to see how we helped Reddit with their sharepoint implementation?”
This strategy is beneficial since you've got a reference customer as well as a pain point that this customer is clearly looking for.
The “Contact Us” page is also a great page to put a bot on because you know that people want to get in touch and most B2B forms suck. You put your information in you and wait eight years and you never hear back. It's terrible.
So throw a bot there that says “Do you want to get instantly connected with someone that can help you?”
That's a much better play. Skip the form, start with the bot.
UTM parameters are another great intent signal. You know that people are clicking from your ads and you know what the ad copy was so you know the audience.
You can even actually target very specific people on Facebook, Linkedin and other social media. So now you're able to say “Hey YC company, here's how we've helped other YC companies. Do you want to chat?”
This is much better than “Have any questions?”
You can also bring in all this really rich data that your sales folks have written in Segment, Salesforce, Hubspot, and Marketo and integrate it with a service like Drift or other platforms.
So maybe you've chatted with them previously, you could say something like, “Hey Jordan, I know we chatted six months ago but has something changed for you? Let us know.”
You can also use location as an intent signal. You could do things like reference customers in the area and say something like, “Jordan, did you know 57 other people in San Francisco, California use our service.”
Now ideally you would want to use intent stronger than this, but there might be location or relevance for your business. So that if you're in farming or agriculture for example you, might say something like, “Hey, did you know that the potato season is expected to last 52 fewer days this year?”
An opportunity to combine intent signals is with the referral source.
So if they come from Product Hunt for example, then you know that they're at a large company and maybe you want to offer them a deal or to talk about that they came from Product Hunt and say, “Hello fellow Product Hunter! Here's how we helped a company of your same size in your same industry.”
Another strategy is to look at their time on the page and say, “Hey Jordan, it's been five minutes. Are you having trouble finding something, would you want to chat with a person instead?”
That's a level of intent since they're committing their time to you by browsing your site and your site's probably not going to be as good as having a direct conversation with someone that might be able to help them instantly.
Danger! Beware Of Vanity Signaling
So here I just searched “Brad sales” because a lot of salespeople are named Brad, but it's really important for you to watch out for this vanity intent.
If you're like most bigger B2B companies and your sales reps are writing the messaging, it's probably not as good as a standardized campaign with natural-language. You can actually do targeting by sending an outbound email and match that up with the opt-in inbound chat.
But it turns out that that's not a great intent signal because you fabricated it.
You determined you want to reach out to this person and often it's not going to be as good as inbound intent so it might be a vanity signal and it's just something that you should watch out for.
However, you could also do this in your marketing messaging if people are opening your mail and include UTM parameters to target folks based on their intent.
B2B Chatbot Messaging Strategies
Let's talk about messaging. People expect a bad experience from chat now because they think people aren't going to be around.
So you want to start out with a hook to get people involved and engaged.
The bar has gotten much higher because people will abandon chat like nobody's business if they don't see a quick reply or if you don't engage them.
Starbucks knows this trick really well. They ask, “Would you like the chocolate croissant or the almond croissant?” Rather than saying, “Do you want to add a croissant yes or no?”
These are two positive choices so that it's really a false choice. But this is what you want to do in your chatbots.
An example of a starting phrase is, “Do you want to see how we helped Reddit, the sixth largest site on the internet, improve their search?” Then the option buttons are “Yes absolutely” or “No, I just want to chat with someone now.”
So I give them two options, both of them are yes. Buttons are way greater than chat when it comes to bots and automation.
What I mean by that is you want your user to be able to click, click, click until they can start actually having a conversation with the person.
Do not give them the option to type in their own answers the ai keyword targeting and natural language processing is just not going to work all that well. Giving people buttons they can click and they're much more likely to complete the flow.
So I stole two messages from this drift blog post that talks about engaging chat lines.
The second message more than doubled the first because of the intent data which is so much more engaging.
You also need to qualify and specifically disqualify folks so you can route them accordingly. This only takes one or two questions and don't be afraid to disqualify someone if they're not right for your product.
Something else to keep in mind is to remember not to ask for an email. People do not want to provide their emails because they know they're gonna get spam.
But scheduling a meeting or live chat is the way to go.
So if you have to get someone's email in the course of scheduling a meeting, that's a much higher intent signal that they're willing to both give their email and give their time.
The call to action should always be live chat or if you're offline then you want to schedule something for later.
Conclusion: B2B Chatbot Messaging Strategies
In this post we’ve covered the goals of B2B chatbot marketing, how to use intent signals, and how to target qualified prospects. Most importantly remember to never have your bot ask, “Have any questions?” again!
That's it you're a chat expert now!
Congratulations on spending a bunch of time to learn about how to do B2B chat right and the benefits of chatbot marketing.
Feel free to reach out to our founder, Jordan, via the chatbot in the bottom-right corner!