When you have invested a lot of time and resources into the planning and implementation of your conversational AI agent or Virtual Assistant (VA), you will want to get more people to use it. It is time to launch it and have users interact with it for you to gather responses and realize the business value. Just because you have built something great, doesn’t mean that people will suddenly flock over to use it and it will be a viral sensation.
You need to put it out there and market it, like what companies do to advertise their flagship mobile apps. Here are some examples and ideas to market your new conversational AI.
The exact purpose of the virtual assistant could be anything. An enterprise conversational AI for marketing and customer service teams to automate conversations, a healthcare virtual assistant for hospitals to triage patients more effectively, or a virtual assistant for clinicians to manage medical knowledge better. They all need a significant number of users to engage with in order to justify their value to the organization.
This is why it is important to promote your chatbot as it is being deployed to as many users as possible. We covered some of the common ways to promote chatbots, especially those deployed on the Facebook Messenger platform. Here are more ways to augment your strategies for promotion.
1) Make use of offline channels frequented by users
It is not just the online channels where your conversational AI can be promoted. Offline channels like counters, kiosks, and printed posters on walls with QR codes or explainer posters can make for great places to promote more users to engage with the virtual assistants.
Take the use case of a few chatbots we deployed for a hospital in Singapore. They were already using an online service for parents and caregivers to seek advice for common paediatric conditions in children. When we developed the live chat and chatbot solutions for this service, we also encouraged user adoption by promoting the bot on offline channels like posters. Patients and parents waiting in the emergency room could simply scan the poster for the QR code to start using the chatbot. The poster also included information on what the chatbot could help them with. For another use case, patients could also easy load WhatsApp to start communicating with the contact centre agent.
2) Add a link to the bot in email signatures, website banners and mobile apps
Aside from the common online channels like websites, social media pages, and messaging apps, email can also be a powerful tool to promote the usage of your virtual assistants. Email signatures, especially those of the customer-facing and contact centre staff are often overlooked as a source of redirecting recipients to the bot.
Add a link to the bot in the email signatures of your customer service staff so when they respond to queries or resolve tickets, customers and enquirers can easily discover the bot for future communications.
You can also embed the virtual assistant across the different digital assets so that customers can share the same experience no matter how they reach out.
3) Use the conversational AI to share key documents
Businesses tend to send a lot of content to customers across different channels. Email newsletters, company announcements, festive greetings, promo offers and more. Most of these may be ignored by customers. But certain key documents like invoices, critical communications and other relevant documentation like post-purchase guides (and warranty) are important for customers to read through.
You can utilize your chatbot to send out these invoices and key documents electronically via channels such as Facebook Messenger, Line, Telegram or WhatsApp. The open rate for these case has been found to be close to 100 percent. If that is not possible, you may also be sending invoices via email or other methods. Regardless, such documents are great places to include a link (or a QR code if it is a physical invoice) to the virtual assistant with a call to action.
This helps you ensure that customers are made aware of your virtual assistant as a channel. An example is PayPal, where customers are sent transaction confirmation messages via Facebook Messenger seconds after each transaction. It also gives customers the convenience of making quick enquiries about the invoice or other matters, thereby providing a superior customer experience.
4) Provide coupons and other incentives to talk to the bot
Another simple strategy to get more people to use the conversational AI is to incentivize them with rewards. This could be in the form of coupons, discounts, or special offers. Set up a campaign to promote these incentives on your website and social media channels. Encourage the users to talk to the bot and register for coupons and let them know that they can use these when they purchase other products or services from your business.
The skincare brand Shiseido is one example of a company that does this. They gave out coupons via the Facebook Messenger channel and managed to achieve high online to offline conversions to their physical counters.
5) Mention the virtual assistant in your call centre agents’ call script wrapper
You might have come across a final concluding message when speaking to call centre agents. They use the final seconds of the call to thank you for calling, ask you if there is anything else they can help you with and sometimes request you for a user satisfaction score. This part of the call script is called a “wrapper”.
This wrapper is another good place to include a mention of the chatbot. Let the customer know where they can find the chatbot and how they can use it for their convenience. If a user satisfaction survey is sent to them via a message or a web page form, add a link to the chatbot so they can test it out or bookmark immediately. They can also complete the user satisfaction survey via the chatbot.
6) Reserve some special services through the conversational AI
Exclusivity can be another strategy to adopt to promote your virtual assistant. This works by reserving important services in the chatbot channel. In a healthcare context, for example, you could continue to provide medical tips, FAQ responses, and hospital info and directions via the normal channels. But if a potential patient is interested in booking an appointment with a doctor online, direct them to do so via the virtual assistant, or reserve some slots available only through the virtual assistant.
7) Promote internally within your organization
In trying to promote external users to adopt your chatbot, you shouldn’t forget your own people. Getting more users within your organization to use the chatbot more can go a long way in amplifying the utility of the chatbot, not to mention collecting feedback for ongoing improvements.
Talk to your management to find out avenues where you can plug your new chatbot across the company. This could be through internal road shows, explainer videos, company town halls and demonstrations.
8) Invite vendors to do “show and tell” workshops
Vendors of chatbots and conversational AI platforms are often willing to conduct “use case discovery” workshops. This can be a good opportunity to bring in key stakeholders within your organization to educate them on how chatbots can help in their day-to-day tasks.
This could be part of an initial engagement with a vendor who can go on to develop and implement the virtual assistant in your organization. Or it could be following an initial test pilot deployment when you arrange a mini-workshop with the vendor and other members of your team in an annual learning session.
Other low-cost and scalable ways to promote
There are also other ways that promoting the VA service can be embedded into the marketing and communications SOPs. Make a list of all the outbound communication methods now. They can be printed collaterals like flyers, explainer brochures, price lists, folders given out to patients/customers, and bulletin boards.
Ensuring that there are regular monthly posts or mentions in social media posts like Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, or other channels with call-to-action links, explanations or case studies will be useful. Creating a stream of timeless and recyclable content can also be very handy.
Getting existing users to sign up for memberships or to get updates on new content will also open up communication channels with them to re-engage and bring them back.
Leverage influencers or interest groups in your domain, such as parenting groups or companies who target or service the same customer profile. If your VA is relevant to them, they may be willing to direct traffic or do an introduction to their fans or members to increase awareness.
Lastly, putting aside a small budget to boost the posts or run small campaigns can really go a long way to increasing discoverability, especially in a world of competing attention.