Chatbots have boomed as a way of generating leads.
They've been called the future of sales. They've been deemed the best way to interact with website visitors, leads, and customers.
How can a fully automated chatbot generate 30,000 warm leads (and close over 500 sales) all by itself?
What makes enterprise-grade chatbots so special? Do you need one?
We will cover all these questions in this post. Strap yourself on as I take you on a journey through your next favourite lead generation channel
What this article is not about
Before I dive in, I want to make it clear this post is not about 'setting up a lead generation chatbot in 17 nanoseconds' using some kind of platform.
Our experience is in scoping, designing, and creating enterprise-grade chatbot solutions. We do not, therefore, use out of the box chatbot platforms.
There is plenty of content around that sort of approach out there. What's missing is an in-depth, enterprise-grade approach to generating leads with a chatbot.
Now that is what this article is all about.
Why chatbots as a lead generation tool
I could sit here and write down lots of stats, quote a bunch of research, and dazzle you with numbers that prove chatbots are the way forward.
But I won't.
The fact is, most of the entries on our Chatbot Statistics resources would qualify. I've picked three of those to reiterate here.
- 57% of consumers are interested in chatbots because they are instant.
- 40% of consumers do not care whether they are talking to a human or a chatbot, as long as they are getting what they want.
- Consumers are willing to spend close to £500 through a chatbot.
If you are interested in lead generation, these three data points should excite you. They prove your customers are interested in the technology, not precious about talking to a human (scale!), and ready to pay (revenue!).
Enough about stats. Let's look at some of the key characteristics that make chatbots a fantastic lead gen tool.
On average, only about 2% of your landing page visitors will convert. (I know, I said I'd stop with the stats -- sorry).
Why is that? I suspect it is because landing pages leave users fending for themselves. I recently echoed the same sentiment to a question about increasing conversion rates on Quora:
On the other side of the spectrum, you have chatbots.
Chatbots actively try to help and clear things out. Not sure what to do next? Ask the chatbot. Not sure what you'll find on the other side of that scary long form? Ask the chatbot.
Engaging with visitors -- every visitor -- bears fruit. It increases trust, makes converting easier or even seamless.
Engagement is great... if it doesn't go AFK after 5 o'clock.
This is one of the key pain points of using live chat. In terms of lead generation, not being able to help potential leads for two-thirds of the working day is a huge loss.
Thankfully, chatbots have the capacity to always be online.
Creating juicy, juicy leads is not just about ramping up the conversion rate.
I love conversion rate optimisation as much as the next guy but the truth is, reaching out to your potential audience is just as important as converting them once you have them on site.
Getting potential leads to notice you (or your new offer) a humongous hill to climb. How can chatbots help? By increasing the accessibility and discoverability of your business and your offers.
By always being online, ready to help, and across multiple platforms (more on that below), you increase the chances potential customers find out about and interact with you.
Good with simple & complex flows (including sales)
In this case study, we showcase how a chatbot helps a van leasing company generate over 30,000 warm leads and close over 500 sales autonomously.
First of all, wow.
Second of all, this is a very key point to make: chatbots are not just for quick lead capturing, top-of-the-funnel type of approach. They can handle very complex lead generation flows.
This particular one is capturing leads for complex financial services, literally going through close to 30 steps from hello to final lead capture.
In my introduction, I mentioned other guides that help you set up a quick lead gen bot on your site. I want to make this point clear: a chatbot can do so much more.
Can work cross-platform
Chatbots, when developed properly, can live on a plethora of platforms. For example, your lead generation chatbot could live on Twitter, Facebook Messenger, website widget, full page, SMS, and more.
This is, once more, to do with access.
A chatbot allows you to be where your customers are, at scale.
At ubisend, we work really hard to make sure our clients' chatbot can ubiquitously live across many platforms. It compounds presence and discoverability, without having to compromise or scale the organisation.
Can work cross-department
Admittedly, this is a cheeky one. But bear with me.
Chatbots can connect to online service. It's one of their key strengths. You could, conceptually, have a Mighty Chatbot that oversees and connects all your departments.
Though we don't advise you do this just yet, it is worth noting that a lead generation chatbot doesn't have to stop there.
Your chatbot can, on top of generating leads, answer questions, take care of customer support, give general information about your products, and more.
A carefully planned chatbot will consider integrations and future scope.
Chatbots generating leads (in the real world)
All this theory is great, but I sense you want numbers, case studies, hard facts.
Who could blame you :)
I've picked two key, real-life case studies where a chatbot generated (valuable) leads for the business.
Generating B2B leads with a chatbot
Our first case study is a lead generation chatbot for a van leasing company.
Leasing vehicles in the UK (and, I assume, elsewhere as well) is a fairly complex process. Beyond just picking the right van for the job, leads must go through security checks, identity verifications, finance approval, and more.
Could an automated, AI-driven chatbot help with all that?
Here are some numbers:
- Unique chatbot users per month: 4,000
- Warm leads generated: 30,000+
- Autonomous sales generated: 500+
- 5-star user rating: steady 75%
Generating B2C leads with a chatbot
We've been talking about Sephora for years. They've been chatbot technology early adopters, and it clearly paid off.
In this particular case study, the French company released an appointment booking chatbot. It would generate leads for the brand by figuring out the users' geographical location (using NLP) and booking in-person appointments with cosmetic experts.
- Number of chatbot interactions: 600,000+
- Booking rates increase: 11%
- Average in-store spend from customers who booked through the chatbot: $50
Convinced a lead gen chatbot is a good idea? Fantastic. In the next section, I will share four key components of an enterprise-grade lead generation chatbot.
Planning an enterprise-grade lead generation chatbot
There are four lead generation chatbot specific components you must explore when you plan your solution.
Let's go through them one by one.
We bang on and on about finding your chatbot's one true goal.
In this instance, the goal is fairly simple: generate leads.
But you must go deeper.
What can I say, I'm a sucker for 2010 memes.
Describe the type of leads you want from your chatbot, including all the details you need to capture to qualify them as a lead.
For instance, your lead gen chatbot's goal could be to generate leads with:
- Email address
- Product of interest
Understanding the information your chatbot must capture to qualify a lead is paramount to its success. It will dictate the way it interacts with users at every level, which means your chatbot developers must know this.
Can't have a chat about lead generation (and sales) without talking funnels.
I'm sure you know all there is to know about funnels, so I won't bore you with the basics. It's important to realise, though, that we are talking about a conversational funnel here.
While commonly a funnel would represent the hoops a user jumps through by taking actions on your site or with your salespeople, this particular funnel happens entirely through an automated, AI-driven machine.
This is a lead generation chatbot funnel:
This is the most basic version of what we would typically build for a lead gen chatbot. It has the key sections you must plan for:
- Engagement: where and how users can interact with the chatbot, what can the chatbot do at this stage (FAQs, general information, etc.).
- Qualification: the qualification stage is triggered by the user showing interest in products or services (e.g. asking a product-specific question). Throughout this stage, the chatbot interacts with the user with the specific goal to qualify the lead as a right fit for the business.
- Lead capture: once the lead has been qualified, the chatbot captures the relevant information from the user. It can then pass the lead on to a salesperson or close sales itself.
- Nurturing: chatbots can keep leads warm. At this stage of the process, it can reach out to leads to ask more questions, send valuable information or content, etc.
This layout forms the foundation of a lead gen chatbot's funnel. This information will allow you to understand your users' journey and the key metrics you must measure along the way.
Speaking of which...
Metrics are incredibly important to plan. What are you going to track? What matters to you, your business, and your chatbot?
All our chatbot solutions come with a purpose-built custom dashboard. In this dashboard, we represent the numbers that will help our clients move the needle.
As you know your goal and the steps your users are going to go through, figuring out an initial set of metrics should be a piece of cake
Typical lead gen metrics include:
- Overall conversion rate.
- Funnel stages conversion rates.
- Share of interest by product (i.e. 77% of your chatbot users are interested in the blue widgets but not the red widgets).
- Deflections (i.e. storing the number of times the chatbot could not answer a query).
Your set of metrics will never be final. There's always more you can measure. An easy way to flesh out the best metrics to track is to ask yourself:
What data will I need to show my boss/board/manager that this chatbot is a success?
Finally, it's important to look at integrations.
Chatbots can integrate with... well, pretty much anything you want. If it has an API, we can connect it. If it doesn't have an API, we can build something around it.
So, to generate the most amazing leads in the world, what would your chatbot need to integrate with?
The most common integrations for a lead gen chatbot are CRMs and CMSs. By integrating with your CMS (i.e. Wordpress), your chatbot has access to your latest content. By integrating with your CRM (i.e. Salesforce), your chatbot can log lead details, update pipelines, etc.
We always recommend taking our chatbot implementation path. We perfected it over the years and, it turns out, the best approach is to start small.
This means you may not need your chatbot to integrate with a third-party app from the get-go. That's entirely fine. It is still worth planning for it, though.
Make a list of the software, apps, and third-party providers your business uses. Flesh out the ones that matter for lead generation, and let this list inform your roadmap.
Lead generation chatbots are strategic game changers
There is a consumer appetite for chatbots and a clear upside for businesses to capture more leads at a lower cost (particularly at scale).
When planned, built, and integrated properly, a chatbot becomes a game-changer for your lead generation strategy.