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    Chatbot Technology: Chatbot Creation Platforms vs. Custom Development Solutions

    Did you know that according to recent research by Business Insider, chat apps are officially dominating the mobile journey? In fact, a whopping 46% of smartphone sessions were found to have either a social media or messaging app as one of the first apps launched. Consumers are so active on chat apps that a 2016 study by the same company also found that messenger app use actually surpassed social media platform use in recent years.

    Now more than ever consumers are active on chat apps, but their actual activity may surprise you. While many individuals look to messenger apps to connect with friends, research has shown that they are increasingly using these same apps to also connect with brands and browse merchandise.

    So, what does this mean for your company?

    It means that if you still don’t have  a presence on these apps, then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to grow your business and stay competitive.

    So, how do you do it? Chatbot technology.

    Chatbot technology is primarily used to enhance the consumer experience and scale customer service capabilities. However, in today’s world, they’re essential for establishing your presence as a brand on messenger platforms. There are literally hundreds of millions of consumers that are using messenger apps every day and as a result, your business can’t afford to not maintain a presence.

    If you’re interested in learning more about chatbot technology and how it can impact your business, then look no further than these next few lines. This article will detail several benefits of chatbot technology, as well as help guide you in the right direction when it comes to finding the best solution for your company.

     

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    Benefits of Chatbots

    If you’re like most people, then you were probably a bit skeptical about the rollout of the chatbot and its adoption into mainstream businesses. However, a little bit of research will show you that not only are chatbots being adopted by virtually every business of every size, but that they are indeed an excellent solution to a number of issues.

    Enhancing the consumer experience

    First and foremost, chatbot use enhances the consumer experience. A 2018 research project by SurveyMonkey Audience found that 64% of individuals felt that “24-hour service” was the single most important benefit of chatbots. With a chatbot, your company is available 24/7 regardless of whether or not your staff is. Furthermore, chatbots can provide your company with a significantly increased handling capacity. Humans are only capable of handling so many interactions at once, however a chatbot is able to  manage thousands of interactions at a time, thus not only improving your customer service abilities, but also enabling your business to scale.


    Increased customer retention rates

    The quality of your customer service directly impacts your customer retention rates. When your business makes things easy for your customer by being consistently available and providing service at all hours of the day, every day of the week, on numerous platforms (i.e. messenger apps), your customer is more likely to view your business in a positive manner than if this weren’t the case. Happy customers stay with companies they like and this directly impacts your ROI and bottom line.


    Increased conversions

    Chatbots increase the convenience of your business offerings by giving customers immediate access to information when they need it most. Without a chatbot service, your company can easily miss out on potential conversions due to the fact that customers will not be able to get timely access to information they need in order to make a purchasing decision. These decisions are often made quickly and as a result, time is always of the essence.

     

    Reductions in the workload of frontline staff

    Let’s face it, your frontline staff probably already have their hands full. By implementing chatbot technology you are able to effectively reduce the workload of your frontline staff by automating an essential part of their workload. This enables them to focus on other pressing matters and gives them the ability to handle the duties of their position more effectively.

    Additional sales channel opportunity

    One major benefit of chatbot technology is that it provides your business with an additional sales channel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is because chatbots are often integrated on websites, social media platforms and messenger apps and configured to recommend products and business offerings to consumers through conversation based on their particular needs. As a result, your company can essentially sell in its sleep.

     

    Increased business intelligence

    Another huge benefit of chatbot technology has to do with the analytics that come along with the interactions that your chatbot has with your consumers. These interactions are a treasure trove of information on consumer behaviors and experiences and as a result, provide a wealth of insight to help inform and drive essential business decisions and open you up to more revenue opportunities.

     

    Finding the perfect chatbot solution for your business

    So, you’re thinking about implementing chatbots for your business. If this is the case, then you’re  essentially going to find yourself at a crossroads of sorts: Should you develop a custom chatbot from the ground up or should you move forward with a chatbot creation platform?

    The truth of the matter is that this all depends on exactly what you’re looking for in your chatbot solution.

     

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    Using a chatbot creation platform

    A chatbot creation platform, much as its name implies is a platform that is designed for the purpose of creating chatbots for individuals who aren’t exactly well-versed in the technical aspects of the process such as coding. These platforms tend to offer a drag and drop interface that allows you to easily add features, pre-built templates, analytics and a handful of integrations.

    Some of these platforms offer free plans. For example, on Chatfuel you can create a custom bot for free until it reaches a certain number of conversions, at which point you will need to upgrade to a premium subscriber account. Other platforms price based on factors such as the number of conversations that will be had or the number of bots you need.

    There are several creation platforms on the market and the one you choose will vary depending on your technical savviness, specific needs or preferences.

    The benefits to these are that they tend to be a more cost-effective solution initially than outsourcing for custom chatbot development services. However, this is due to the fact that you’re not receiving the level of customization, features and integrations that you can get with a custom chatbot development solution.

    Also, many of these platforms vary in complexity and as a result, manually creating your chatbot can quickly become an arduous process (i.e. you still may have to set up code) depending on which platform you use and your technical prowess.

    It’s important to keep in mind that everything is done manually on these platforms. You will have to set up the chatbot yourself and make sure that you have  a team in place in order to  mange all future updates in a timely manner. This also includes potential technical issues which could result in your chatbot incorrectly answering a question or not functioning in some proper manner. These especially need to be addressed immediately, regardless of the time or day.

    Furthermore, when choosing a chatbot creation platform, it’s important to understand that you are always going to be subject to a certain degree of platform limitations. For example, you may find that you need one feature or integration that the platform doesn’t offer (i.e. integration with Shopify). If this is the case, your only option is to switch to another platform entirely or to simply settle with the fact that you’re not going to be able to get a valuable feature that you desire.

    As a result, doing your research and making sure you have all of your ducks in a row, as well as a dedicated team to manage the technology prior to getting started is going to be essential to your success when choosing a chatbot creation platform.

     

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    Outsourcing for custom chatbot development services

    If your company is looking for a customized solution that fits the specific needs of your business, then a custom approach may be your best bet.

    There are several benefits to choosing a chatbot company such as VisioneerIT as your custom chatbot development solution.  Most importantly perhaps is the fact that  you are not subject to the same constraints that you are with a standard chatbot creation platform.

    As we discussed earlier, if the platform doesn’t have a feature or integration you need, you will either need to move to a different platform entirely or settle for not having the feature. However, when choosing a custom chatbot development solution with a company such as Visioneer IT, the sky is pretty much the limit as the saying goes. You can get just about any feature or integration with enough time and money.

    Furthermore, when choosing a company to handle chatbot development, you can rest assured that  no coding skills or technical knowledge will be necessary in any capacity. Deciding on features and integrations can be handled via a phone call and as a result, require no technical expertise or manual setup on your end. This is a particularly great option for companies who aren’t especially familiar with the chatbot industry or are first-time users and perhaps need a little bit more hand holding than others.

    Another benefit to choosing a company to manage chatbot development is the fact that you are not only outsourcing the setup, but future updates and any potential technical issues as well. As a result, you save valuable resources such as time, manpower and energy that otherwise would be spent managing your chatbot solution.

    Overall, the decision really boils down to what exactly you need your chatbot to do and your company’s resources. If you’re looking for a relatively straightforward and simple solution and you have the resources to develop and manage your updates and any technical issues on an ongoing basis, then moving forward with a chatbot creation platform may be your best bet.

    However, if you’re looking for a customized solution perfectly tailored to your business needs and you have the budget to outsource to a company in order to handle the setup, management and technical aspects, then moving forward in that direction will be the best option for you.

     

    Conclusion

    Businesses of all sizes and industries are using chatbots now more than ever – especially in the United States. In fact, according to recent research, the U.S. ranks number one on the list of countries who are engaging customers through chatbot interfaces.

    If you haven’t made the decision to implement chatbot technology then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to enhance your consumer experiences at scale, increase conversions and drive down the operating costs of your business. So, what are you waiting for? Get started on implementing chatbot technology today and get on the road to a new and improved, competitive business model in 2019.

    References:

    https://chrismakara.com/digital-marketing/how-to-build-a-chatbot/

    Have you thought about using chatbot technology to improve your business operations? Did you follow through with it? Tell us about your experience! We’d love to hear from you!

     

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    10 Hacks for Storytelling on Social Media

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    Competition on social media is fierce. Brands are now more than ever fighting to stand out in the crowd, generate engagement and cultivate lasting relationships with their audiences. When it comes to creating an impactful  message that truly resonates with your audience, research shows that storytelling is one of the most effective ways to do this.

    Storytelling appeals to the emotions of your audience. It helps them connect with your brand on a personal level and connotes a sense of authenticity and transparency. However, when it comes to storytelling on social media, the approach and tactics you use to deliver your message are often times just as important as the message itself.

    If you’re interested in learning more about how to create, optimize and amplify messages on social media that resonate with your audience, then this post will provide you with 10 tips in order to do just that.

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    1. Use video.

    They say content is king, but when it comes to marketing, video reigns supreme. If you want your marketing efforts to be successful, then you are absolutely going to need to have a video strategy for social media. Why? Because video content consistently garners higher engagement rates than other forms of traditional content. In fact,

    found that businesses who use video content in their marketing efforts grow their revenue a whopping 49% faster than businesses who don’t.

    Furthermore, according to Animoto, video was

    that consumers reported finding out about brands they were previously unaware of. It even beat out recommendations from friends and family members. If you’re looking to make a sizeable impact and truly connect with your audience, then video is the way to go. Hands down.

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    1. Focus on quality, shareable moments.

    Many businesses make the mistake of focusing on the quantity of content they generate as opposed to the quality of their content. With countless reports and statistics citing that a heavy, consistent output of social media content is crucial to success, it’s not hard to understand why. After all, how are you supposed to keep up with your heavyweight competitors who are consistently pumping out dozens of posts per day in order to saturate and thus, gain control of the social media space?

    The answer is, you can’t.

    At least not if you don’t have the means to support a full-time social media staff. However, there are other ways you can get around this. Companies that focus on generating tons of content are naturally going to have to compromise on quality. So, leverage your competitors’ weaknesses. Make high-quality, engaging and thoughtful content that stands out. Focus on being personable and identifying shareable moments that would appeal to a wide audience enough to move them to click the “Share” button. This is how you can truly shine.

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    1. Create a uniform aesthetic.

    When it comes to really knocking it out of the ballpark with storytelling on social media, the truth of the matter is that you just can’t neglect aesthetics. When it boils down to it, storytelling is a tactic that should be fitting in seamlessly with your overall marketing strategy and brand as a whole. As a result, it’s important that you create a sense of uniformity or cohesion with the content you generate.

    This is also essential to effective branding.  There’s numerous approaches you can take to do this. Many businesses choose to add logos to their content in order to tie it to the overall brand. If you’re sharing a lot of content on channels such as instagram, then using a consistent filter or text overlay can help tie everything in from an aesthetic perspective. You want people to see your content and know that it’s yours right off the bat. Uniformity not only helps with branding and identity, it’s visually pleasing and also connotes a sense of professionalism.

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    4. Engage with your audience.
    In the end, everything boils down to the bottom line. While our marketing efforts are inherently self-serving, that doesn’t mean that we should approach communications via social media with an egocentric mindset. Engaging with your audience is key to success and one of the best ways to do this when it comes to visual storytelling is to encourage your audience to participate in some way, shape or form.

    Make the experience interactive. People love engaging and research has shown that they’re more likely to do so when they’re encouraged to. If you’re sharing a story about your company, encourage other individuals in the audience to share stories about their experiences with entrepreneurship. If you’re telling a story about a product or service, then encourage feedback from your audience so that you’re able to glean insight from their responses. It’s not enough to create awesome content, sit back and just wait for the engagement to flood in. You have to be proactive. Encourage engagement and cultivate a relationship with your audience in order to truly make an impact.

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    5. Use the platform specific features.
    There are countless resources available to businesses looking towards visual storytelling as a way to generate engagement and cultivate relationships with their audiences. However, no one is saying you have to go out and spend X amount of dollars on countless services, software and tools in order for your efforts to be effective.

    The truth of the matter is that many platforms already offer the features you need in order to optimize your visual storytelling efforts. For example, when Snapchat came on the scene and generated wild success with their ephemeral content, other platforms swiftly began to follow suit. Fast forward a few years later and we have a Stories feature on not just Instagram, but Facebook as well. Since 2015, Facebook Stories have been growing

    than news feed sharing and Instagram Stories has amassed an audience of

    . Furthermore, both of these features are listed by default at the top of the news feed. That’s right, the

    of the newsfeed. It’s pretty much free advertising.

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    6. Leverage the power of influencers.
    Influencer marketing is pretty  much the hottest thing since sliced bread. It’s no wonder why. It’s less costly than traditional advertising and the ROI is greater. In fact, a recent Tomson study found that businesses earn

    they spend on influencer marketing. Even more interesting is the fact that the top 13% of these businesses earned as much as $20.00 or more on every dollar spent.

    Furthermore, according to Digital Marketing Institute,

    directly depend on influencer recommendations when it comes to the decision making process. Reach out to influencers via the various platforms available and get them to join in on your storytelling efforts and help spread the word about your brand. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be leveraging the power of this valuable opportunity.

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    7. Integrate your storytelling with what’s #trending.

    Hashtags aren’t just cool and trendy — they serve a number of purposes that are immensely beneficial to marketing your message on a number of social media channels. For one, hashtags help categorize posts. They also are proven to increase engagement and effectively attract audiences to certain niches. As a result, they can help you not only strengthen our brand’s image but help you get in touch with your target audience, as well as help your target audience get in touch with you. In fact, a recent MarketingLand survey found that  

    used hashtags “primarily for searching or following their favorite brands or topics”.

    So, when and where do you use them?

    found that Twitter posts using hashtags received twice as much engagement on average than those that didn’t. Using exactly two hashtags also makes your content 55% more likely to be shared. With regards to Instagram, posts with

    see the highest engagement. They are also offer the same myriad of benefits for platforms such as Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr. However, contrary to popular opinion, hashtags

    benefit you on Facebook. In fact, they’ve been linked with a  

    on the platform.

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    1. GIFs

    GIFs are an immensely popular form of content that are essentially super short clips of looping video. When

    implemented GIFs in a marketing campaign they enjoyed a 42% increase in click rates, 103% increase in conversion rates and a 109% increase in revenue. When Coca-Cola used Ryan Gosling GIFs in their “

    ” campaign and encouraged their followers to share their favorite GIFs, it ultimately went viral.

    According to Alexa Chung, CEO of Giphy, these little images on average contain sixty frames and “are capable of conveying 60,000 words — the same as the average novel.” GIFs aren’t just insanely popular, they’re an extremely efficient, effective and trendy form of communication that can enhance your storytelling efforts. They’re also proven to help

    of a message due to the fact that they are visual in nature and often also have the added benefit of being funny. Furthermore, GIFs can help you showcase your brand’s personality, making your communications more charismatic and engaging.

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    1. Live streaming

    Don’t just stop with traditional forms of video content. Livestreaming can take your storytelling efforts to an entirely new level. Every platform from Youtube to Instagram and Facebook offers a live video feature and businesses who use live video are noted for generating higher rates of engagement than with other forms of content.

    Part of this is due to the fact that live video is just more appealing to audiences in general. In fact,

    say they would rather watch a live video from a brand than read content from them. Even more interesting is the fact that

    of individuals surveyed said they have a

    for live video from a brand when it comes to types of posts on social media. Furthermore, according to

    , live video has an 8x greater retention rate than other forms of video content. If you’re looking to maximize your efforts at delivering a message, then live content is the way to go.

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    10. 360°  Video

    When it comes to making an impact, there’s something to be said for staying ahead of the curve. 360-degree video is particularly useful when it comes to emotive storytelling because it offers an immersive experience to the viewer and makes them feel like they are a part of your brand’s experience.

    While many businesses are still catching up to the VR trend, the truth of the matter is that those who are already there are seeing great results. In fact, while only 12% of businesses have used 360-degree video in their marketing efforts,

    of them found it to be effective. According to research conducted by Veer,

    surveyed said that their use of 360-degree videos increased engagement for them.

     

    Furthermore, research by

    found that among the 1,300 adults they surveyed, 71% felt that VR made a brand “seem more forward thinking and modern” and 53% said they would be “more likely to purchase from a brand that uses VR than from one that doesn’t.” If you’re looking to truly stand out when it comes to your storytelling efforts on social media, then staying ahead of the curve is the best way to get attention and gain leverage over your competition.

    Conclusion 

    If you’re a brand that’s looking to truly stand out among the crowd, then you most likely already realize the importance of storytelling when it comes to your marketing efforts. Storytelling offers a way for companies to deliver their message and spread awareness about their brand in an organic and authentic manner. Storytelling gives you the ability to connect with your audience on an emotional level and thus is immensely effective for cultivating relationships with your consumers. This is absolutely crucial to your success as individuals today now more than ever are increasingly looking to brands to be more transparent, authentic and personable in nature. These 10 tips will help you effectively deliver and amplify your message across social media and thus, give you that extra boost over your competition that you need in order to succeed.

    What are some hacks that you’ve found effective for helping to deliver and amplify your message over social media? Let us know in the comments below!

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