Segment your audience or burn it out: The art of Messenger Chatbot

In an interview, Victorm, founder of the most widely used marketing-free chat and messaging automation app in Russia, talked about:

  • how to distinguish info-gypsy messaging marketing from healthy messaging;
  • why today no one answers a call from an unknown number and what to do about it;
  • what success stories has it had (mail opening rate – 94%!);
  • why it is impossible to compare the price of SMS and messages in the messenger;
  • as a Clubhouse it will replace the Sberbank accelerator.

– Today you are a well-known messenger-marketer, founder of the platform with artificial intelligence IntellectDialog , speaker of dozens of major conferences on SMM. How did you start?

– A long time ago I was a computer engineer, then I switched to digital marketing. I worked a lot with my hands (set up contextual and targeted advertising), then I trained as an online marketing director and joined a fitness club network. Subsequently, he headed the team at the Moscow government’s Department of Information Technology and eventually opened a small digital agency.

At the agency, we have been deeply involved in performance and retention marketing, we have started using instant messaging as key channels of customer interaction – with their help, we have increased the efficiency of lead processing.

At the time, there were few platforms that provided messaging marketing tools. It is difficult to even call them platforms, indeed they were aggregators. We tried to implement our ideas through them, but as there weren’t enough features, we had to build API add-ons on the core functionality of these services. This has happened so often that one day we ourselves developed the IntellectDialog messaging marketing platform with all the necessary tools. And they began to develop.

– The principle of your company is “marketing messenger in an adult way”. Decipher what you mean.

– Before, everyone loved info-gypsy messenger marketing: “create a WhatsApp landing page and become a billionaire” or “connect a widget to the site, add more emojis and shovel money”. We have always been against this approach.

Messenger marketing is primarily a tool that strengthens performance and retention marketing channels. This is not a marketer’s magic pill, but an applied thing. If you have a target audience and data about it, segment it, use your best practices, and engage directly with customers for future sales and unlocking customer potential. Everything.

– Do you find that a good messenger salesperson is a good CRM salesperson?

– And nothing else. The most important thing in messenger marketing is customer data. Thanks to the accumulated database and the correct work with it, we can automate the interaction with the public in personal communication channels: messenger in combination with chat bots and automatic funnels. And the higher open and response rate will help take customer engagement to the next level.

Even if you’ve never written to your audience in messenger before, it’s not hard to do it the first time – for example, WhatsApp uses the customer’s phone number as an identifier by default. So companies that don’t store customer data in CRM only complicate their lives.

– Do you have any examples of how they make life difficult?

– Now I’m going to tell you about an anti-case from three years ago in the agency – there we only dealt with targeted advertising. The customer asked for leads – we did it. Creatives and offers were targeted, but only two managers worked for the client in one shift – they physically didn’t have time to process 100 leads per day. Plus, the company didn’t transfer leads to CRM – it took a long time to manually sort orders. More than 30% of leads are therefore left unprocessed. On Instagram there have been complaints: “Why are you asking for my number, if you don’t even call back?”

So we got a case: we took chat bots in WhatsApp, wrote texts, set the relationship between the elements. A person could fill out a form at any time of the day or night – a bot would reply immediately. He presented a certificate and informed the person that the manager would contact him in N minutes. While waiting, the customer was offered to watch the video reviews to “warm up” him further. Many companies now use this mechanic.

“Negativity is always good”: on communication channels, cases and money

– How does messenger marketing win over other communication channels: text messages, e-mails, calls?

– These channels are still effective, but let’s compare them to instant messaging services. Email and SMS: low open rate, no response to our messages is provided. Calls: Who, in principle, will answer a call from an unknown number today?

And in the messenger, you can write a pre-thought message. If we segment your audience correctly and create a useful offer, customers will calmly join the conversation and won’t be bothered. Just think: on average, for our projects, a message on WhatsApp reaches 98% of people!

In the conversation we learn about customer preferences in order to use this data in the future to offer more personalized content. We automatically put all the preferences received in the bots in the required fields of the transaction in CRM, which then simplifies the life of the managers and increases the flexibility in the segmentation of the customer base.

– You say the calls don’t work, but so many companies keep managers or install voice robots …

– Many classic companies were born before instant messaging services existed. Calling isn’t as productive now, but it’s hard for companies to regroup. We take any fitness club. Ten managers work there on two shifts and the customer base is 5 thousand people. Furthermore, the potential customer base is 30-80 thousand people, and there are also customers who have gone into crisis. It turns out that an employee has to make 50-100 calls a day for various reasons. The first ten are effective, the next ones are not. The brain gets tired of the monotonous work and even some clients start swearing and get the “operator” out of the rut. As a result, the supplied KPI is not met.

The situation is similar with voice robots. When our car calls, it’s so obvious we’re not even ashamed to hang up. By the way, one day a robot called me. I wanted to know which script he was going to and I asked him questions. Only eventually did it become clear that he was a living person – so impersonally he followed the script of the conversation.

With messengers, everything is different. At the first contact with the customer, we send an offer or a question on behalf of the employee: “Hi, Victor, I’m Tatiana. You have already used our N service, your opinion is very important to us. Evaluate on a scale of 0 to 10 how satisfied you are. ” A person just needs to press a button or send a number. And that’s it – that’s how we collect real feedback. No calls, no problems for the customer. After the first touch, we can ask clarifying questions and redirect it to the right department or the right employee.

– And if the customer is dissatisfied with something, how do you understand it?

–  If the customer rates the service negatively, the bot will ask what exactly they did not like, then we will transfer it into a dialogue with a live employee from a particular department.

Negativity is always good. We’ve somehow automated a federal chain of fitness centers. People have shared the truth with impersonal chatbots: where is the mold in the locker room, where the simulators are broken. And they have more than 100 points in Russia  it is impossible to constantly monitor the situation in the field live. With chatbots the negativity has become concrete and evident for the regional leaders who have become aware of the problems existing in the clubs.

If the negative is not processed in the personal communication channel, someone will come to the social network and write “Yes, they have mold in the locker room!”, Then the rest of the silent ones will unite and massively destroy the brand. And on the contrary, another customer will protect us: “Yes, they had such a problem, but I left a review and the problem was solved”.

– Surely there are also successful cases?

– I’ll tell you two. In the pandemic, Olympic Fitness was included in the list of strategic enterprises of the Russian economy. They connected to this event and launched a mailing list: first they announced the news and then they informed the customers of the special offers.

The text was sent to 3,418 people: the message reached 98% of customers and 94% of them read it, or 3,202 people. It all happened in six minutes! And the 15% (600 people) replied, even though we did not ask to enter into dialogue. As a result, managers engaged in conversations with motivated customers and sold services. In total, the company earned 642 thousand rubles from a mailing list.

– These are the numbers! And the second case?

– This is the same Olympic fitness. The pandemic was over, we had to open up and not sink into the number of visitors. Many fitness centers have sent SMS or email messages simply with the opening date and a link to the training rules. But who will hit an awkward link that sends you to the browser ?!

We did it differently: we launched an opening newsletter in WhatsApp with buttons.

The first button led to the club rules, which opened within WhatsApp. The second is to go to the mobile application within the messenger to enter your personal account. The third button offered a specific service, such as a session with a trainer.

We sent such a message to 4 358 customers, it reached 96%. Only 14 people immediately wrote “STOP”, asking to stop the dialogue, and 64 customers, on the contrary, immediately signed up for the training. The company earned 121,000 rubles from the mailing list, but the goal was precisely the “safe” opening of the venue, and 927 people became familiar with the rules for visits during a pandemic. The fitness center was full on the right day. And other fitness rooms, which sent SMS, did not attract customers.

– Many companies choose SMS because they cost less …

– And this is a misrepresentation. Yes, a little over a year ago, the cost of connecting WhatsApp for businesses started with 100 thousand rubles, but now it is free. True, there is a monthly subscription fee.

But you can not take and compare: SMS costs 2.5 rubles, and a message to the mailing list costs 3.7, which means that SMS is cheaper, we use it. No! You always have to analyze the KPIs: the percentage of people who entered a dialogue or took another action on their part. Also: WhatsApp opens a 24-hour window for free communication. It turns out that we pay 3.7 rubles not for one message, but for any number of them during the day.

– And what is the danger of such communication between a company and a customer?

– The main danger is burning the target audience. Maybe, after the first spam, your sales will increase, but then they will definitely decrease and the customers will remain negative. Therefore, we promote activated emails and always segment the audience. We train different “phases” of our target audience and phases of interaction with it, we prescribe the circumstances. even though the base is only 1,000 people. Only then can you start communicating with customers who fall into a certain group.

“But before opening each email”: on the metrics and on the choice of a messenger

– We’ve talked a lot about WhatsApp, but what about Telegram, Viber, VKontakte and Facebook Messenger? Who should focus on other messengers and in which case?

– WhatsApp deserves a lot of attention because it has the largest audience and easily connects business with a customer via a phone number. And Facebook, Viber and Telegram don’t allow sending by numbers. Viber, by the way, is very popular in Ukraine and Belarus. But he himself, it seems to me, is in a bit of stagnation.

The company should choose the messenger based on the main sales channel. If you lead a community on VKontakte, you can start a chat bot right there and promote your services. Are you in the field of study? Create a Telegram channel and post expert content interspersed with marketing content.

– I also noticed that if in other messengers the mailings are tolerable, then in Viber there are so many and they are so poor that they are annoying. Because?

– Shipping and advertising are openly allowed there – this is the main problem. This puts a strain on the public, which is confirmed by the research. Telegram is growing, WhatsApp is growing, Viber is not that fast. The company doesn’t consider trends and audience feedback. Although, in fact, Viber is a multifunctional platform. There you can build communication with your target audience without any advertising message, but with the help of channels.

– You mentioned the open rate (open rate) of mailings in the context of an important metric for instant messaging. Can we really talk about its effectiveness? I, like many, psychologically don’t like unread messages: I open and close them.

– Openness is an effective indicator. And it is normal that with the growth of information around, its percentage decreases. Remember, once we read each email newsletter and were happy: “Hurray, someone emailed us!”

To keep customers “hot”, you need to know the advantage and not slip into spam. If you get your hundredth email on a sales webinar, you won’t respond. But if the company personalizes the communication, you will be involved. For example, if Skillbox writes, asks to rate a course, or makes a profitable offer.

But let’s take a look and analyze other metrics and touchpoints. You can connect Power BI with CRM, ERP systems and see in real time how our communication affects sales. Someone will click the button and place an order, someone will respond with a targeted question.

“Non-linear chatbots are expensive and not always necessary.”

– I have read that AI chatbots are becoming a new trend. What are their advantages?

– Non-linear chatbots are able to recognize customer intent and understand the objects within this intent. For example: intention – I want to sign up for a beauty salon, the object – to do some highlights. The customer has the feeling of texting a person and not pressing buttons on the menu.

AI chatbots are generally suitable for large companies with complex services. The company should accumulate enough customer dialogues, which can be used to teach the chatbot to recognize intentions and objects. Yes, and such a development is not cheap. Today almost all chatbots on the market are linear, for example to book tables or make reservations in beauty salons.

– What if the company is large with complex services, but there is no basis for dialogue (previously you only spoke to customers by phone)?

– Now the Russian company ZiaxFlow – an analogue of the Dialogflow by Google – is bringing a suitable solution to the market: if there is not a long history of communicating with a customer, you can work out the intentions yourself, recognize them and automate the process. By the way, ZiaxFlow are also speakers on the “Messenger Marketing from Intellect Dialog” course, just like us.

– Facebook is rumored to promise to launch Instagram chatbots in 2021. What do you think of this?

– They launched beta tests in 2020. Until then, there was no official API integration with live. But there were comments: working with them can be automated for a long time at the script and chat bot level. This is a good step: we will finally be able to conduct automated communication with our customers on Instagram without worrying about the account being blocked. I think this opportunity will soon reach TikTok.

– You had some idea for a chatbot that you really wanted to implement, but it didn’t work?

– I used to really like the idea of a bot for hotels: a person writes “whiskey” in the chat – and they bring whiskey to his room, writes “remove the number” – they take away the number. No more hanging up signs on the door and talking to the front desk. In the West these cases have been working for some time, but in our country many companies do not yet understand their value.

And the value is that when a person chooses a hotel, he always looks at the rating. How can you increase the number of stars if you have already put ten bars of soap and ten towels in the toilet? Just improve the service, customize it! Do you need a taxi to the airport? Write, we get ready. Suggest bars nearby? Here is our selection. Has an emergency occurred? Write to us.

But we have not implemented this case, as the IntellectDialog’s focus has shifted to other segments.

– In 2019, your IntellectDialog platform was selected for the second Russian-American accelerator of Sberbank and 500 Startups. What did it do for your business?

– We have received excellent feedback from international experts from Silicon Valley. We lived directly in this accelerator: we arrived in the morning and worked hard until night. This gave a result and in a short period of time IntellectDialog doubled.

But if you haven’t gotten there, don’t worry. Really – now it’s just hype. Download Clubhouse and you will immediately find yourself in the international networking pool. There, entrepreneurs, marketers, big startups from the global community conduct conversations and give advice for free.

– What advice would you give to novice messenger sellers?

– Cheer (in a positive sense) with your product, study, understand, always try ten variations of messages – and then you will see the result.Post navigationwhat geomarketing is and how it helps to promote your local business

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