Britain’s first agency to give independent chatbot advice
Chatbots help your business save time and money by answering questions that you get asked repeatedly. Modern life means people haven’t got the time or motivation to read through your website for answers. They want to message you and get an instant answer.
Even better for your small business, they can help with your marketing! Chatbots can be used to send marketing mailouts using Messenger, getting them seen by more of your customers than any other channel, and with excellent engagement and conversion rates.
There are many bots out there, and more being developed all the time.
Your business may need an off-the-shelf package or a custom solution.
Whatever your needs, The Bot Guru can advise you.
Many chatbots are free at low usage levels – great news for startups and small businesses!
Of course, you do need to put some time and effort into the initial set-up, and having a good grasp of search intent, text vocabulary and phrase permutations is essential.
What can you do with a Chatbot?
You can programme a chatbot to understand questions which customers frequently ask, either on your website, or on your Messenger platform, or both.
In terms of their ability to interpret different phrasing or spelling or typing errors, this is down to the bot’s Natural Language Processing (NLP). Some of the bots available are better at this than others – see below.
Chatbots can integrate with other systems to take orders, make bookings and so on.
They can alert ‘live agents’ to the fact that human assistance is needed and provide seamless handover.
You can also use some chatbots to automatically send specific messages, or sequences of messages, to people who contact you on Messenger by setting up rules, targeting, or conditions in your Chatbot.
For example, for new people messaging you for the first time, you can automatically send them a promotional message within 24 hours of that first contact, then a follow-up promotional message after that, all in accordance with Facebook’s rules (more on this in Part 2).
You can also schedule subscription messages to connect with people who’ve opted into your updates. These must be informational only, to avoid getting banned by Facebook, but you can use them to open the door to your promotional messages.
Unfortunately, you tend to sacrifice NLP capability for marketing functionality if you want an off-the-shelf bot that can do both.
Below are my thoughts on the best free chatbots.
Bot Guru’s recommended free chatbots
ManyChat is easy to use. You get a decent enough basic package for free that doesn’t seem to be limited by users.
From within the bot dashboard you can see all conversations with users so you can audit the quality of your bot.
To keep you on the straight and narrow you can easily ask your users to subscribe, and then target them. The downside with the free version is that you don’t get the ‘rules’ feature which should allow you to fully automate your promotional broadcasts. You can get round this by setting up a scheduled broadcast for each day. It’s a bit laborious, having to copy an existing one and set the new date, so it’s a bit cumbersome, but better than MobileMonkey’s totally manual offering and Chatfuel’s sketchiness.
You can fully automate 24+1 promotional posts.
You can add multiple keywords at a time if you want to allow for free-text input. Its other bonus is it allows you to look at your chat history from within the bot.
Upgrade pricing is reasonable at $10 a month for 500 users up to $145 for 25k users, though that is per bot, so if you need more than one bot, you get more bang for your buck with ItsAlive. Custom pricing is available for over 25k users.
MobileMonkey‘s free version easily allows you to reach your pro-actively subscribed users to send them subscription broadcasts, but you can’t schedule them for later. The free version doesn’t allow you to target interactions for a 24+1 promotional capability.
MM is the only bot here that allowed me to successfully clone my bot to other pages I manage at the free level.
ItsAlive is free for one bot up with up to 1000 users.
You can totally automate scheduled broadcasts, but I can’t see a way to target opted in subscribers. There doesn’t seem to be a way to use a 24+1 broadcast.
It didn’t seem as easy to use as ManyChat, but I got what I wanted in the end. One nice feature is that you can create ‘new’ recipes as you add a click-response button, whereas for every other platform you have to create the message before creating the button. The downside to this is you may end up down a rabbit hole though!
The dashboard is really simple, with only 3 options – messages, activity (slightly mis-named, as this is where your unanswered questions go), and Analytics which are basic, but a boon at free level.
For 5000 users it’s only $19 a month, then $49 for 2 bots and 20k users, and $99 for 5 bots and 100k users. At each subscription level you get additional functionality as well. For instance, you need a pro subscription to enable the handover to human capability to direct messages to your inbox for a human to answer if the bot can’t help. You can also examine all questions you’re being asked, save user data (eg all users answering your competition correctly).
If you just want a chatbots to answer questions effectively, Botique is the best bot compared to LiveChat and Chatbot (and all of these are better than Chatbot apps with marketing functionality).
Botique AI displays an exact match answer as a normal message. But if the user doesn’t type an exact match question, Botique will present “Answers found”, ranked by the most likely fit, and ask you if that’s what you were looking for. This isn’t pretty, but it means it can cope adequately with spelling errors and instances of ‘answer not found’ if there is a near fit, and that its also less likely to supply a wrong answer.
Botique is free for up to 25 preset answers and 100 users a month. If you want to have it on Messenger as well as your website, you’ll need to shell out $250 a month though.