Chatbots are not new innovations, and neither is email marketing. These two have been pitted against each other for a long time, and the former was hyped up to replace the latter.
Guess what? It’s 2023, and neither of them is going away.
40% of online users prefer to chat with an AI-powered bot than agents, and 83% of marketers use email engagement rate to track their content performance. These are two cogs in the same marketing wheel, and you can make them play nice with automation.
Here are 7 ways you can use the strengths of chatbots and emails to create fully automated marketing campaigns that bring results in 2023:
1. Chatbots help you generate more leads
Chatbots are far easier to prompt user interaction than email marketing (unless you break GDPR and other user consent laws).
Be it on websites or social media, a chatbot can serve up relevant options and content to break the ice. Once the user gets comfortable, the bot can share an email capture window to take the conversation forward. For instance, if a prospective buyer wants to buy custom-made shoes from an eCommerce store and asks the chatbot for availability, the bot can say something like this:
“I’m sorry, it seems we don’t have the [shoe name] in size 12 in stock right now. Would you mind sharing your email address so I can notify you once it’s available?”
This humanizes and contextualizes interactions, allowing a smoother lead gen flow for businesses. The trick is to help users see the benefit of sharing their contact details instead of just asking for them.
For B2B brands, lead magnets are generally used to capture leads, but they’re expensive to produce and difficult to distribute. With a conversational chatbot, you can encourage prospects to take the first step and get contact details without breaking the bank. Once the bot gets the email address, it can trigger the marketing automation platform to send relevant and timely interactive emails to new leads.
Here’s a great example of chatbots being used for lead generation. Tenable is a security and exposure management company. Iin order to help a prospect, the bot asks for an email address. The offer is clear, and the ask is contextualized.
2. Qualify and segment leads using chatbots
Good chatbots don’t start with greetings and ask for email addresses in the very first step. You can customize the flow of interactions to collect more details about the user — kind of like “if this, then that” logic.
For instance, if you sell VoIP products and a new prospect starts chatting with your landing page bot, it can ask them about the company size and markets they operate in, in order to suggest the ideal plan.
Based on what the prospect shares, you get more visibility into their preferences and needs, which ultimately helps email marketing and sales teams to be more effective. Chatbots can also ask for name, age, company role, location, challenges, and interests if needed.
All of these steps not only help chatbots serve the right content but help you to qualify leads and segment addresses based on demographics. Once you have a large pool of data from your chatbot, you can sort them into different groups and trigger lead nurturing campaigns.
According to HubSpot Blog Research, segmented data is the most important email marketing strategy as it ensures you address the recipients’ needs and desires. Here’s how a chatbot’s segmentation routes can be customized, courtesy of Intercom:
3. Chatbots support hyper-personalization
Chatbots don’t just capture qualitative data for segmentation — you can also use that data to create hyper-personalized emails. We all love to be heard and paid attention to, and it’s no different when we’re shopping around for a new sweatshirt or a custom-made CRM.
Yet, the reality is often disappointing.
Most emails are generic, uninspired, talk to everyone (which, in turn, don’t talk to anyone), and make prospects feel like a number, a KPI to hit. In a world where nearly 350 billion emails are sent and received daily, you can stand out only by personalizing the content you share. But it takes time to understand what a prospect needs. If you rely on a survey, you’re less likely to get accurate results, but chatbots help prospects start a conversation and share what they need to be served better.
As discussed above, chatbots can ask for demographic data besides names and designations. These are potent weapons to personalize email campaigns and stay ahead of competitors. Both B2B and B2C prospects love to see brands that put in extra effort, and you can get the required data from chatbots to pull off hyper-personalization.
For example, some chat bots like Drift chatbot can be customized to ask qualitative questions that not only help it to serve relevant content but also help you personalize emails:
But make sure you don’t use all personal touchpoints in the first email, as you’re unlikely to close a deal immediately. We’ll discuss this later in the follow-up section.
4. Use chatbots as a reminder for unopened email
Chatbots capture leads, gather necessary data for segmentation and enable hyper-personalized email campaigns. But all this amounts to nothing if the leads don’t open the emails. To solve this problem, we again come back to chatbots.
Personalized emails should have short, relevant, curiosity-inducing subject lines and a preview text. Despite your best efforts, your open rate can hover around single digits. One is that the recipient is not ready to do business with you, and the other is they don’t have time.
The first one requires a more careful evaluation of customer needs and better qualitative research. But if it’s the second reason, you can use the chatbot to send a reminder. If the interaction starts in the social media inbox or website landing page, the chatbot can use a popup the next time the lead visits the same channel. If the chatbot is installed as an app, it can send a notification to let the target know they have unopened emails and tease the offer to push them to their email inbox.
For this, you need to have a catchy title that promotes the offer upfront and a compelling CTA. These reminders work best when you’re running time-sensitive email campaigns—such as Black Friday offers and limited-time deals.
If you can use the chatbot to notify users of unopened emails, you might just be able to create a highly effective omnichannel marketing loop.
5. Follow-up automation
The customer journey starts with the chatbot, and emails come after. This means emails are a great follow-up communication tool you can automate according to the chatbot interaction.
The chatbot can offer immediate support if a prospect requests some information or a troubleshooting guide. However, the chat window may not always show all the details, such as videos or interactive steps. In many cases, people prefer the asynchronous communication of emails when it comes to consuming heavy content, and you can use the emails to follow up on the chatbot conversation.
So the next time a user asks for help from a chatbot, you can take the opportunity to follow up with additional information, an update on the ticket, or even a feedback email. The follow-up emails can be automated, making customer support and marketing a breezy job.
Even if you don’t integrate chatbots with follow-ups, you should still use them as email marketing best practices.
Successful follow-up emails build on the previous email by summing up the information and adding new perspectives to it. This way, follow-up emails stand out as fresh and unique snippets of content which can be customized by taking cues from personalized data.
Here’s an example of how you can fit in more important information by following up later:
6. Automate your email campaigns with chatbots
Chatbot can help you overcome marketing bottlenecks. Cart abandonment is one such bottleneck for eCommerce stores. C Chatbots can serve up product recommendations in real-time to push buyers to add more to their cart and it can trigger a confirmation email, with order and transactional details.
Here’s a good example of this in practice:
By processing the data from chatbot conversations, you can create email sequences and new content ideas for your marketing strategy. You can integrate chatbots with your CRM, lead capture, email marketing, messaging, meeting, billing, and so many other tools to find different bottlenecks, fine-tune funnels and improve customer journeys.
7. Nurture warm leads
Chatbots are great at lead gen and segmentation, while emails take care of long-term strategies such as enrichment and follow-ups. This is the general consensus, but you can flip it over.
Chatbots are useful lead-nurturing tools as well, especially for warm leads. Warm leads show interest in your business (newsletter subscription, new followers, etc.) but have yet to spend money on your product or service.
Once the leads are deep into the marketing funnel, it becomes a two-way conversation where they share needs and challenges, and the company tries to address them. Chatbots can speed up the process by humanizing conversations.
A chatbot can ask returning customers about their experiences, extra questions, and feedback to gather new perspectives and trigger emails based on those interactions. It’s a fresh, more intuitive way to nurture existing users. According to a Gartner report, customers are 82% more likely to renew a service if they receive valuable customer support, something chatbots are known to provide.
HThe emoji-fied post-purchase feedback form makes the recipient feel special and helps them commit to the brand:
Chatbots and emails are not opposing forces and they’re not vastly different from one another. Each brings specific benefits to the table so it’s important to combine these two with marketing automation. If you can leverage the power of chatbots and email marketing, you’re bound to run marketing on autopilot without losing the human touch.