As more and more brands begin to embrace conversational marketing through short message service (SMS), it can sometimes be difficult to respond to every single message. And as businesses grow they’ll need a way to scale and automate their responses. This is where text bots (aka SMS chatbots) come into play. Just like Facebook Messenger has chatbots for automated responses, SMS (or texting) has text bots to respond to these types of messages.
In this SMS text bot guide, we’ll discuss what text bots are, how they work, and a few best practices for implementing your bot.
What is a text bot?
A text bot is a software tool that performs automated, conversational tasks. Text bots help brands engage with customers by sending automated texts and replies based on specific keywords and triggers in the response.
How do text bots work?
Text bots work for you 24/7, and, depending on how they’re set up, can answer questions even when you’re not around to do it yourself.This type of bot uses a mix of intelligent automation, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning applications to formulate a text message in a normal way, replying as if it were a real human response.
If a concept is introduced into the conversation that the chatbot has no prior knowledge of, it will redirect the question to a human operator or deflect with a different response. This all depends, however, on its programming. The complexity of the bot’s responses is dictated by its underlying software and the data it has access to. Regardless of how the bot is set up, though, it will store information from a conversation for future reference.
Benefits of text bots
Text bots provide plenty of benefits, including improving the efficiency of your brand’s customer service. Here are some other benefits of using text bots:
One great thing about text bots is that they free up your workforce to perform more complex tasks, leaving them to focus on strategic projects. And if the text bot is programmed correctly, it can handle everyday consumer requests and send messages to your clients without involving your customer service representatives. Messages are completely automated, so you won’t have to worry about delayed responses either. In this instance, text bots can be far more reliable than human operators, as bots don’t forget to send the messages and are unaffected by operational delays.
Unlike human workers, text bots are available to work 24/7. If you run a small business and find yourself getting texts at 3 a.m., text bots can help cover your unavailable hours to keep your business up and running.
Provide a human touch when needed
You can program your text bot to form responses in a natural speaking language so your clients feel as if they are interacting with a real human. If you want to add a personal touch to messages from time to time, such as signing your name to make customers feel more invested in the conversation, you can program your bot to do exactly that.
Send personalized campaigns
Interacting with new customers can be tricky, especially since your goal is to earn their trust and build a relationship. Luckily, text bots can help you accomplish this goal by gathering data specific to your audience, which bots will use to include personalized touches — like providing details about special offers or products based on region and purchase history — in messages, improving customer engagement.
High open and click-through rates
Open and click-through rates are key indicators of how successful your company is at encouraging consumers through their buyer’s journey. Text bot messages have been known to achieve 98% open and 45% click-through rates — ideal for brands trying to drive sales through improved customer engagement and experience.
Text bot best practices
If you’re considering using a text bot to increase customer engagement, improve user experience, and drive sales, here are a few best practices as well as what to avoid.
Send segmented campaigns
Segmented campaigns are when you divide your customer lists into smaller groups based on similarities like age, geographic location, interests, purchase history, etc. After segmenting audiences, you can program your text bot to send specific, targeted messages to individual groups that are intended to capture their attention and pique their interest, resulting in improved customer engagement and consumers who are more motivated to respond. But just like with email, you don’t want to blast all your subscribers with the same message.
Use emojis sparingly
When programming your text bot, it’s best to make sure replies don’t use too many emojis. While emojis help get your point across in a friendly and interactive way, if you overuse emojis messages can lose a bit of their impact and clarity — not to mention, too many emojis come across as unprofessional at times. This is why it’s best to program the bot to use a few strategically placed emojis ever so often, minimizing the risk of overdoing it.
Use SMS for re-engagement campaigns
Re-engagement campaigns are a great way to get customers interested in a brand’s products again and involve sending relevant messages and reminders. You can program your text bot to send periodic reminders to customers to keep them engaged with your brand. Make these texts fun and interactive, avoiding repetition if you can, so your customers don’t get bored.
Use MMS and rich media to send more engaging texts
With text bots, you aren’t limited to just SMS, but can also send multimedia messages to include videos, GIFs, and audio. Multimedia messaging service (MMS) can improve customers’ texting experience and is often easier than sending texts because MMS requires a single media file. Program your bot to send MMS messages whenever you think is best, but be aware that they require a higher bandwidth to send, receive, and open than simple text.
Text bot FAQs
Not everyone is familiar with text bots, so here are a few of the most frequently asked questions, and corresponding answers, to help clarify.
Are text bots the same as chatbots?
Text bots and chatbots both have the same functions in that they offer automated responses and facilitate targeted campaigns. However, text bots specifically communicate through written messages, whereas chatbots communicate through written and verbal (e.g., Siri, Alexa) conversations.
Can humans take over a conversation from a text bot?
Yes, they can. Most text bot services have a «take over» option that allows users to keep an eye on conversations and step in if needed. You can also program your text bot to redirect any conversation it doesn’t have information on to a human representative.
Text bots are a great tool when set up correctly. They can improve your communication with customers and build strong relationships with them. Automating part of your customer engagement process not only makes for instant communication but also frees up your own human resources to perform more valuable tasks.
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This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please always consult your own attorney before engaging in text marketing.