Jim Rowe Chatbot Apps Are Essential for Improving Customer Experience
Customer experience, Ecommerce Growth, Growth Interviews

Jim Rowe: Chatbot Apps Are Essential for Improving Customer Experience

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Welcome to Growth Interviews!

Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth.

Our mission is to provide insights and ideas from world-class professionals on the topic of growth and to cut through the noise of so-called marketing tips and tricks, revealing the money-making strategies behind e-commerce.

Each episode is an intriguing challenge involving an insightful expert who reveals some of their best-kept secrets, which you can use right away to boost your business. 

In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our conversation with Jim Rowe, Manychat Messenger Marketing Expert, and THE Chatbot Guy.

Helping businesses of all sizes with their Chatbot and Conversational Commerce development, Jim works with commercial clients across many sectors, including retail, financial services, celebrities, media, and more. He has designed and developed chatbot experiences that act as “virtual assistants”, drive sales, and ultimately provide customers with access to information quickly and efficiently.

Chatbot apps are becoming more commonplace in business practices because they provide a platform that evolves with artificial intelligence (AI). They have drastically changed certain business processes and are becoming a very viable customer support solution. However, the most valuable and useful chatbot apps are those that make it seem as if you are communicating with a real human being.

We’re sure we’ve piqued your interest, and who else better to teach you everything you need about chatbot apps than Jim Rowe? So without further ado, here’s the interview with Jim:


Now let’s get to know chatbot apps a little more closely. 

Beginning in the chatbot industry

Who are you and what do you do?

Jim: My name’s Jim Rowe. I’m a chatbot creator/developer and I’ve got a couple of guys that help me.

How did you get into this chatbot industry?

Jim: I’ve worked in digital marketing for the last eight years, mainly around content, social media strategy and social video. Then, I worked with a startup in 2016 which we launched using a messenger-driven chatbot. That convinced me that this was going to be a platform really useful for businesses or marketing. 

The business benefits of a chatbot

How can an e-commerce benefit from a chatbot?

Jim: At the moment, I’ve seen lots of companies testing. My first experience of e-commerce chatbot integration was actually when I purchased a Mevo camera, which was a small live streaming camera. At the end of the checkout process, there was a little tick box to get updates in Messenger, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I clicked it, completed the checkout process, and then received my invoice and tracking information by Messenger, and eventually got the order completed via Messenger. Everything happened in Messenger.

That set my mind ticking about how you could take that to the next level. You could sell a product or service in Messenger and then you keep adding value. So, I buy a camera, then I get PDFs on guidance on setting up the camera, the best location, how to deal with issues, and FAQs, all delivered via Messenger. With Messenger, your open rates at the moment are 90% plus, with Click-Through Rates of 40%. So, you know that people are engaging with your content.

Chatbot apps are the future of the tech industry, after the website and app boom. Although they’re not new, after Facebook and other social media platforms began using them, the bot boom has accelerated. Today, more and more businesses are including chatbot apps in their strategy.

Chatbots are going to play a massive role in improving the customer experience. When you think about it, there’s a huge amount of frustration with most brands when you try to contact them (long waiting times, being put on hold, and so on). For a service brand, investment in a chatbot app is absolutely critical

Customer engagement: email vs chatbot

Jim: Interestingly enough, we’ve seen engagement on email drop considerably. When I ask people, ‘When was the last time you emailed a friend?’, they often say, ‘Years ago!’ I think businesses first need to realize that we don’t communicate that way between friends anymore, and people are expecting businesses to communicate in a new way.

The incentive I’ve used with previous clients is to reach out to their email – where we know the open rates are going to be poor and we know the click-through rates are going to be poor, unfortunately – and offer them early access, almost like a VIP club. They then become the first people to get any kind of content that you want to share. That makes them feel special, of course, because you’re delivering it in a new and fresh way, with a mixture of audio, video and text. You just find it’s a lot more engaging, and then you’ll naturally just see more and more people start to arrive in Messenger if it’s adding value.

So, you can also do sales, engage with your community, and offer support, all without them calling you?

Jim: I think customer onboarding via a messenger-driven chatbot is massively underrated. If you’re selling a service or a product that is slightly more complicated, the ability to get them up to speed really quickly with that product or service – just by feeding them bits of information – is invaluable. Then, using the chatbot, the conversational design for getting feedback really quickly can be automated. 

So yeah, I think it works beautifully. You know that’s been done on email for years but people just don’t engage with it anymore. You need people to engage. 

One of the most significant benefits of chatbot apps is that messages sent via bots have much higher open and click-through rates than email

Chatbots can have CTRs ranging from 15% to 60%
, and even the lower end of that spectrum well surpasses the average email marketing CTR (which is only about 4%).

The reason CTRs are so much higher for chatbot apps is because they conform to users’ preferences so as to deliver a personalized experience. Again, this is a significant gain for marketers who, given access to all the data users provide while interacting with chatbots, are better able to target them with future offers better aligned to their preferences.

Chatbot tips and tricks for e-commerce marketers

Tell us some success stories that the public can relate to. 

Jim: One of my key verticals at the moment is shopping centers. What I find with shopping centers is that the chatbot has to have a lot of information but there are not a lot of conversations. People are going to ask probably one out of 10 questions, which will cover probably 70 to 80% of the queries: what time you open, when you close, where you are, where the car park is, how people can get there and whether it’s by train or taxi, or whatever. And, there’s going to be,  ‘What stores have you got?’, ‘What are your opening hours?’ and ‘How do I get in touch with that store?’

There’s not a vast amount of questions. As a result, it’s really easy just to program those in as keyword-driven responses. Where it really adds value is, every time somebody asks one of those questions and opts-in, and it’s a double opt-in system, they become a subscriber. So, you’re able to market to them directly in Messenger, and with two shopping centers at the moment, we consistently see open rates of 90% plus, sometimes a hundred percent. And, we see click-through rates that are always in excess of 30 to 40%.

What we’ve also found is what happens when we segment those people. If, for instance, somebody’s obviously shown an interest in women’s products, we will segment that audience, and if we’ve got some news around that – and it might only be 300-400 people – we send that message too but you’ll get 100 percent open rates. 

What are the steps e-commerce marketers must take to benefit and leverage their existing database via chatbots?

Jim: The way I always approach a chatbot is that we start by looking at everything we can achieve and just every idea goes on the table. Then, we slim that down to what we call the minimum viable bot. Very much the same approach is a minimum viable product. Next, we will find out what is going to be a nice match between the business and the customer, and give value to both. almost as like a test bet that we then go into that. 

For instance, it might just simply be that little tick box at the end. I’ve seen tracking information, product news or whatever it is. It might be at the very beginning of the conversation. We saw that a lot in e-commerce, where we’d have a modal window pop-up and people would sign up for their email straight away. 

Those don’t really work anymore and, I think, Google doesn’t like that kind of approach. Therefore, you need to just somehow decide whether you want to get the customer before purchase or you want to add value post-purchase. That goes for every business type.

Three strategies for growing your e-commerce business using chatbots

1. Facebook ads to bots
Traditional opt-in forms require name and email (at a minimum). Chatbot apps remove the need for your prospect to type anything to become a subscriber. At the click of a button, the prospect engages in Messenger and is signed up.

2. Landing page to bots
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Bots can seamlessly capture prospective customers’ information by directing them from landing pages to chatbots and asking relevant questions.

3. Coupons via chatbots
On clicking “Send to Messenger,” the bot can either open with a question to encourage engagement, or deliver the coupon code immediately.

Find out more chatbot app e-commerce use cases here

How to increase sales via chatbots

How can a business increase its sales via chatbots?

Jim: It’s a really clear strategy when it comes to fashion, I believe. If your niche is in a certain area of fashion, you’ve got to link everything together: your Google Ads and your Facebook remarketing. People don’t realize that if you have a conversation with – or a business has a conversation with – a potential customer in Messenger, you can then output them into a custom audience so you can remarket them. You can remarket down to a specific product. They’ve come through the chatbot, and they’re looking at a particular product. You know they dwelled on that product and they like it, so you can start remarketing that product straight to them. 

Then, you’ve got the ability to automate offers, sales, flash sales, or whatever you like, directly in Messenger, which you know are going to be viewed, and you get the analytical data you see. You viewed it, you clicked it. You can then segment the audience if they really clicked on it but didn’t quite make the purchase. Then, 24 or 48 hours later, you can come back with another offer. It works! A lot of strategies that worked early on with e-mail had a high conversion and now work in Messenger. 

How can companies benefit from your experience? 

Jim: At the moment, it’s a bit of a Wild West out there. There are lots of people trying chatbots and I see that very much at the enterprise end with really clever AI-driven machine-learning chatbots. There are products such as Cleo, which is almost like a banking advisor, and then you’ve got the lower-end people like Seth Godin, who would just announce on his Messenger to his audience that he was going live or that he was launching a blog post. Then, you’ve got something in between.

Most of the time, I spend a lot of time educating my clients about what the possibilities are, and managing their expectations because they think they want this super-duper AI-driven chatbot, when actually in order to drive sales, they need something that’s very functional, and even long-term partnerships because it adapts over time.

I would say no chatbot survives the first contact. As soon as you put it live, a potential customer would do something you don’t expect and you’ve got to be ready for that. The minimum viable bot then needs to stop being layered, so you do some split testing, which you can do with any chatbots, until you find what works. Then, you layer extra capabilities on top of your chatbot. You listen to your customers, and you find out what they need.

You can increase your sales by turning your chatbot from an ordinary Facebook Page greeter to a polished digital salesperson. This tactic helped Nike’s chatbot to improve CTR x 12.5 times, and sales conversions fourfold. To this day, it’s still one of the top-performing campaigns in the brand’s history. 

How can you do that?

1. Upsell and cross-sell
Product recommendations can be highly personalized in Facebook chatbots by combining everything you’ve learned about your customer – from conversations and other interactions – with actions like purchase history and engagement.

2. Prevent shopping-cart abandonment
Abandoned cart reminders sent by Messenger recover 13-20% and generate 4-10 times more revenue than email.

3. Assist customers with product guides
Customers don’t always know where to go to find the information they need. This gives you a chance to strike up a conversation with them when they need help. It’s an easy way to drive sales you might otherwise miss out on.

Conclusion

Chatbot apps can directly impact online sales. Soon, bots will be an essential part of both the online and offline shopping experience.

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