What is a Chatbot? AI Chatbots Explained

What is a chatbot?

You’ve probably heard of chatbots; perhaps you’ve even engaged with one online. Maybe you’re here today wondering if you should use a chatbot on your website. If that’s the case, well, you’re on the right track—conversational bots are becoming exponentially more popular in marketing, with good reason. 

Chatbots make highly personalized and relevant interactions possible by pairing artificial intelligence and real-time information about the actions shoppers take (or don’t take) online. For example, a chatbot can follow different lines of conversation depending on how shoppers engage with your omnichannel marketing campaigns or what questions they ask while on your website.  

By creating a chatbot to initiate personalized conversations for your business, you can better connect with target customers and create a more human experience. As a result, you’ll gain improved engagement and a better return on your investment. 

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a software application designed to simulate human conversation. Many chatbots run on messaging apps or short message service (SMS). Chatbot technology uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to understand what a human needs and adapt its response to help end-users reach a desired outcome. They are like a virtual assistant who creates a better customer experience during each consumer touchpoint. 

Supporting your customers throughout the shopping journey will have a positive impact on sales. It’s also good for shoppers because they can easily get the information they need to make an informed purchase decision. 

How does a chatbot work?

Chatbots are not a “one size fits all” technology, meaning you can’t just add one to your site and expect it to work miracles. How your AI chatbot functions depends on the business tasks you need it to carry out. There are three different types of chatbots available today:

1. Rule-based chatbots. A rule-based chatbot is the most common kind of chatbot in business. It’s built using a Chat Marketing platform that displays a graphic interface guided by preset rules. A user will select responses, and the chatbot will steer them in the right direction.

How chatbots work

2. AI chatbots. These conversation bot applications learn as they go. They are built by a developer and the conversational AI becomes “smarter” the more a human interacts with it.

How AI chatbots work

3. Live chat. Live chat allows customer support and sales teams to respond to customer questions in real time. Instead of being powered by a preset script, chatbots act as a digital assistant, and used for live chat purposes have a real human being crafting responses. Teams can respond through a messaging app and help businesses create a better customer experience on their website, Facebook page, or mobile app during a chatbot conversation. 

How Live Chat works

What is a chatbot used for? 

A chatbot is designed to engage with consumers through messaging or mobile apps. Chatbot apps (excluding ones used for live chat) use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to respond to user input and help shoppers reach a desired outcome. Some chatbot apps claim to use machine learning as well.

Chatbots act as virtual agents for different company departments, including: 

  • Social media
  • Customer support
  • Marketing
  • Customer experience
  • Sales 

Imagine you have an online store like hideAWAY Handmade that sells handmade body care products. With a chatbot, a shopper can ask questions about what ingredients are in a specific soap and receive an instant answer, or they can sign up for your contact list and receive a discount code in Facebook Messenger. This efficient, streamlined approach helps you deliver a better customer experience for website visitors and chatbot experience, guide shoppers through the consideration process without placing extra demands on your team’s time, and increase sales for your business. 

What are the best chatbots? 

The world’s best chatbot is Mitsuku, a record-breaking conversational AI and five-time winner of the Loebner Prize Turing Test. She’s an AI chatbot virtual friend who’s available 24 hours a day and learns by experience. The more you talk to her, during a chatbot conversation, the more on point her answers become. Mitsuku has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, Guardian, Wired, and more.

While Mitsuku may be one of the best chatbots around, many other brands use human-like chatbots as a digital assistant to connect with their shoppers and site visitors. 

Some of the best chatbots we’ve seen are:

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Health Alert: This sophisticated chatbot for WhatsApp helps share reliable information about the disease’s spread. It also provides ways to protect yourself from the virus and shares travel alerts with users. Facebook recently teamed up with the WHO to make the bot available on Messenger, too. 
  2. National Geographic Einstein bot: To help promote National Geographic’s new show, Genius, the brand created a conversational chatbot representing Albert Einstein. People genuinely felt that they were talking to the late Einstein himself, resulting in an average conversation that lasted between six and eight minutes. The best chatbots solve problems for customers quickly and create a fun and entertaining experience.
  3. Domino’s: The Domino’s ordering bot was one of the first customer service chatbots to make a splash. And for a good reason—it removed any complexities from the ordering process for customers. Right inside of Messenger, a potential customer could look at the menu, ask questions, place an order, and even track its status from kitchen to door. Easy as “pie”! 

Learn more: The 15 Best Chatbot Examples in 2021

How to create a chatbot

Ready to make an impact with conversation flow with your own chatbot app? If so, you can get started by learning how to add a free Messenger bot to your website in just a few steps.

1. Go to ManyChat and click “Get Started Free.”

ManyChat homepage

2. Sign in with your Facebook credentials, allow ManyChat to manage your Page messages, and follow the prompts.

Connect Facebook page to ManyChat

3. Set up your greeting text.

4. Create your welcome message.

5. Set up keywords for automation.

6. Start generating leads for your business using an intelligent chatbot! 

Want a step-by-step interactive guide to create your chatbot? Read How to Make a Facebook Messenger Bot in 24 Minutes Without Code. 

Using chatbots in your online store

ManyChat’s all-in-one chatbot platform makes it easy for small businesses to connect with prospects, keep current customers engaged, and create conversational bots that help you sell. With the ManyChat chatbot platform, you can manage campaigns across Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, your website, and email—so you can see what’s working and do more of it. 

Start free with ManyChat’s bot platform and build your chatbot today.

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