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How Chatbots Work as Digital Marketing Funnel Automation Tools

Updated: Dec 5, 2023


No longer a novelty, chatbots are becoming an increasingly popular digital marketing funnel automation tool, providing businesses a way to engage with customers, pre-qualify leads, and increase sales with little or no human interaction. With the advancement of chatbot intelligence, businesses can now create complex user journeys for website and Facebook visitors.

While these journeys can be as simple as asking questions and receiving answers, they can also be more complex automated digital marketing funnels with specific goals, like signing up for a newsletter, filling out a lead form, or even making a purchase.

Chatbots are capable of handling many of the tasks that were once the duty of overworked business owners and customer support teams. They offer 24-hour support and can take care of all those pesky questions you’re sick of answering, making them the perfect addition to any digital marketing strategy.

In the current marketing landscape where consumers can expect around 141 emails a day, it’s getting tougher to get your messages opened and engaged with. Email click-through rates now average a dismal 14.10%, and it’s for this reason that chatbots are gaining in popularity.

The average click-through rates on messenger chatbots range between 15% and 60%. Have we got your attention?

Let’s take a look at how chatbots work so well in today’s Internet landscape as a powerful digital marketing funnel automation tool with the potential to generate leads, make sales, and grow your business.

How to use chatbots to grow your business

how do chatbots work

Chatbots can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be. Depending on your digital marketing strategy and industry, you could simply program them to deal with frequently asked questions, request a live support person to respond, or take users on a complete journey through your online store. With a more complex strategy, you can even customize chatbots to use visitor interactions and responses to segment each user and place them into highly targeted automated digital marketing funnels focused on driving conversions.

If you’re focused on customer service, acquisition, and retention — chatbots can speed up the time it takes to convert your leads into customers. In some cases, they can actually convert those leads to customers on their own without any human interaction whatsoever. They also give you the perfect channel to easily keep in touch with past customers to let them know about promotions and updates.

Chatbots act as an ideal first point of contact, giving your busy team their time back to concentrate on other things while initial enquiries are handled by your automated assistant.

It’s important to remember that chatbots aren’t there to make the sales for you. Even if they have the potential to do so, that isn’t their primary function. Their main purpose is to keep customers engaged longer, answer their questions on the spot, provide them with instant notifications, and finally hand them off to the correct channel or resource capable of satisfying their needs. Buyers always want the fastest solution to their problem, and a chatbot is often the way to give it to them.

With that said, a chatbot is such a powerful tool, ignoring the possibility of allowing one to make an automated sale to a pre-screened lead would be just as foolish as using it for that primary function. The point is that chatbots have a primary purpose, which should not be ignored or strayed from, but when used correctly and given the proper conditions, they also have the power to create fully automated digital marketing funnels capable of building lists and making sales.

People find messenger chatbots engaging, but there’s no substitute for human interaction. It’s important that your chatbot is programmed to respond to the levels of awareness of your customers and hand them over to your sales or support team at the right time. Allowing your chatbot to attempt to make a sale without the appropriate pre-screening criteria could end up resulting in lost revenue when a sales agent could have closed the deal quickly and easily. Programming your chatbot to funnel potential customers to the correct channel at the right time is a crucial element that will require testing, tracking, and analyzing success over time.

Chatbots can be built without too much technical know-how on a variety of platforms such as Conversable, MobileMonkey, Drift, Chatfuel, and ManyChat. They provide easy, low-cost options for all types of businesses to try out as part of their marketing funnels.

Facebook Messenger, in particular, has strict chatbot policies, ensuring that customers have to actively opt-in to interact with your chatbot. This means that the people clicking through to your messenger chatbot are interested in what your business has to offer and can easily opt out again if they want to.

Many businesses find the idea of using chatbots a little “spammy,” but the results are in: 71% of customers are happy to use messenger chatbots to get their problems solved — fast.

How chatbots work as digital marketing funnel automation tools

How chatbots work as digital marketing funnel automation tools

Chatbots can be used at various points of your inbound marketing funnels from the first point of contact to conversion.

The most important thing to remember about using chatbots in a digital marketing funnel is to map out a clear sequence before you begin. This needs to take into account buyer awareness, the solution they’re seeking, your customer lifecycle, and the final outcome you want your chatbot to deliver.

Lead generation and awareness

Using chatbots has increased leads for some businesses by as much as 33%. They can track where users have come in from and can continue the conversation on a website if a customer has come in from a marketing campaign, email, or targeted ad — giving a more personalized user experience.

HubSpot uses a Facebook Messenger chatbot to engage leads while they’re in the Facebook app. Prospects are given three different options after they opt-in. They can choose to subscribe to the blog, see the free CRM tools, or contact a team member.

From there, the chatbot begins to segment them with a series of targeted questions based on the initial question they answered. This helps define where a person is at in the buyer journey, collect contact information, and strengthen the relationship from the first point of contact.

If you’re using your chatbot in this way, it’s important to focus your questions on a user’s problems and goals, and the possible solutions your business can offer them. You can then direct them to your website and nurture the relationship further through your other channels, such as emails or sales calls.

Call to action

If you’ve qualified a lead in your chatbot to the point where you’re sure they’re ready to take things to the next stage, you can try adding a call to action. This could be to sign up for a trial, schedule a demo, speak to your sales team, or buy a “gateway” priced item.

If you’re trying to sell an enterprise-level subscription, a chatbot probably won’t help you much. If you have lower-ticket items, a chatbot is the perfect place to pitch these, then you can lead your customer towards an upsell at a later date.

Things to think about when you design a chatbot

how to design chatbot conversations

Don’t pretend it’s a live support person

When you’re starting a relationship with your customers, it’s always important to make sure you’re open and transparent. This also applies to your chatbot.

Chatbots are now capable of providing a detailed conversational experience to your customers, so make it clear from the outset that your visitors are interacting with your conversational marketing assistant and not a live person.

Map out the flow

The questions in your chatbot flow should be designed to help you understand who your visitors are and what they’re looking for. This means you can follow up with pre-qualified leads in a more personalized manner when you contact them.

Give it some personality!

Just because your chatbot is an automated piece of code, it doesn’t need to feel that way. Chatbots with names and unique personalities are more successful at engaging customers and creating a positive experience with your brand.

Give it a name, crack some lame jokes, and have some fun (but make sure it’s always on-brand). Creating a warm and engaging chatbot experience for your visitors is top a priority.

Chatbot inspiration from around the Web


If you’re looking for inspiration to create your own chatbot, check out Topbot to see how big brand names are using them in their marketing funnels.

ReallyGoodChatbots is another great site, displaying a wide variety of business chatbots from SaaS startups to large enterprises. If you’ve already built your own chatbot and want to show it off, this is the place to do it.

The marketing world wouldn’t be complete without some epic chatbot fails. One of the most famous was Microsoft’s notorious and socially awkward attempt to connect with its Millennial audience — proving that artificial intelligent (AI) isn’t quite ready to take over yet.

In summary, chatbots aren’t disappearing anytime soon. Whether you love them or hate them, they can be a valuable digital marketing funnel automation tool when used properly. They allow companies of all sizes from enterprise down to tiny, bootstrapped startups to improve their customer service and retention strategies — working around the clock to provide streamlined service and first touch contact when humans can’t be there.


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