How Businesses and Freelancers Can Make Money With Chatbots
How Businesses and Freelancers Can Make Money With Chatbots
Many businesses expect to save on capital expenditure using chatbots and AI services, but few are actively looking to make money with bots. As a new technology, there are plenty of opportunities to explore for both large and small businesses. Check out these pointers to see where chatbots could start earning their keep in your company.
Chatbot adoption continues to boom, and businesses of all sizes are starting to see growth in usage and in their return on investment as the benefits of chatbots become clearer. Customers are more satisfied with bot performance and creators note more successful customer journeys in their metrics, but are starting to wonder where they can take their bots next.
The typical pitch when it comes to investing in a chatbot is a return on investment through savings in customer support, time saved for workers to perform other tasks, benefits through customer retention and so on. That may be plenty of return for the CIO or finance team, yet some are looking at the direct revenue generation opportunity, making chatbots work harder. But how do you use a chatbot to make money?
Chatbots in the Money
Many of these chatbot monetization strategies and methods leverage existing web technologies in an evolution of well-worn practices. For example, even the simplest bots can be used to serve adverts based on known user preferences. While a smart bot, through information gained during a chat, can show more targeted products, increasing the advert’s relevance and the chance of a sale.
Chatbots can also link into a company’s web stores or show third-party store adverts or affiliate marketing from which you can gain a commission on sales. Affiliate sales are hugely profitable for individuals, freelance or sole traders, and automating the process further but getting more detailed information via a chatbot can improve their viability several notches.
Based on the conversation, it is possible to show more relevant affiliate products, and bots can be used to put up reminders about accessories or consumables to support a major purchase during suitable periodic chats with the customer.
If you work in an information-based business, then you can use the bot to help sell reports, research, white papers and other information relevant to the market, with the bot providing teasers and microtransactions if someone needs to know a specific statistic or fact - because who has time to read any 80-page report about anything.
These chatbots don’t have to use the smartest AI technologies, but ones supporting natural language processing will be able to gain a better understanding of the customer’s needs. And running on Facebook Messenger (already home to over 300,000 Messenger chatbots from various brands and businesses), your website or other platforms puts them within reach of consumers 24/7, with no need for customer support.
Lead Generation is Better with Bots
Another area where bots can make money is through lead generation for businesses. Bots are perfect for identifying customers based on their responses and categorising them. Using a chatbot to replacing boring form-filling helps with engagement, and the bot can ask follow up questions, a key advantage.
Bots can also show the specific information that prospects want to know, rather than leaving them to wade through FAQs and PDFs. All of which makes for a more natural conversation, a way to engage and a logical route to the conversion process, rather than waiting days or weeks for an agent to see the details in a CRM.
More successful lead generation leads to better quality customers and higher sales, and the bot can act as a key tool. It can change its tone based on the customer’s age, sex or address. It can adopt a chatty tone to those who have the time to spend or get down to business, all of which beats someone sticking rigidly to a script.
And using the data gathered, it can be used to predict (with enough data and training) which customers are likely to buy, which could be repeat customers and, via a dive into social media or other histories, find exactly what people could be interested in.
This type of bot can also easily be used in the recruitment industry where finding the right fit for a key role is highly valuable with strong financial rewards. Bots in HR are increasingly common, but if you can build a bot that is good at hiring and interviewing the right people for the role, there are good returns to be had.
Upselling is a Key Chatbot Skill
As chatbots become the norm for all types of service provider, from cable to power and other utilities, the chance of a bot being able to make a sale increases with knowledge of the customer. For example, a mobile chatbot might notice increased MMS sending in recent billing cycles, it can offer to upgrade to the next tier that provides free or cheaper messages, and provide a live example of the savings.
That can be done in seconds and snapped up as a casual purchase, rather than the minutes it takes to go through the details with a real agent, who’s faux enthusiasm or pushy style might put off the customer.
Okay, so designing a chatbot that’s really good at lead generation or upselling will take some effort, but these and marketing chatbots will rapidly become indispensable tools for a growing number of businesses, especially those without dedicated sales or marketing resources. Any business that does really well with its chatbot product can resell it as a white-label service to recoup their investment and turn it into a profitable sideline.
And, if you have experience as a bot developer, you are already perfectly placed to help other businesses build their bots, providing bots that act as landing pages, perform recruitment tasks or work as educators by providing scripted courses.
Other Routes to Bot Success
There are plenty of areas where chatbots haven’t seen much action yet. Consider the immersive world of the text adventure. Perfect for the chatbot, but with engagement through emojis, and microtransactions or virtual goods (popular in mobile games) to make the game more personal and with added value. Many people are used to paying for digital games and entertainment, and the market for fun adventures, or virtual goods that make games more engaging is wide open at this point.
Chatbots are also excellent at gathering information from surveys and questions, and there is great value in that data when packaged correctly for the right market. Look at the market research firms, trying to find out customer buying intentions, people’s voting patterns, what they will pay to support a sports team and so on. Any business that can gather this information efficiently through bots could sell it on at a great profit, without the baggage of the established panel brands.
Another area where there’s a great chance of breaking new ground is the personal chat bot. Historically, people who are alone for many reasons have often taken to pen-pals, lonely hearts chatlines and many other forms of communication. While the premium-rate numbers might be a thing of the past, chatbots can provide endless engagement for a millennial or older audience looking for a modern digital conversation without the risk of a dating app or other service.
While this is unproven territory for all but a few bots, it could soon be a boom market for those that can build a bot with enough depth to hold a heartfelt conversation as part of a subscription service. As the population becomes more isolated, used to talking to their technology, having bots that can keep old people company, that can engage with isolated teenagers and provide mental health wellbeing or similar services will be in high demand.
Finally, cloning successful businesses is a well-trodden route to success (note the huge number of check-a-trade and get-a-better-deal rivals aiming for your attention). As money-making bots prove their worth, you can find the shining examples and create your own version that appeals to a similar or specific niche, or a different market to make an impact there.
Scripted or AI bots are easy to replicate, and many use the same sets of training data, so building your own, distinctive-enough version. Whatever type of bot you want to build, there are a growing number of ways for it to make money, and for you to resell the bot or versions of it across different markets.
And as businesses start to understand the possibilities of these bots, beyond helping them save money - those that are proven to make money will be much sought after. As with any tech product, being there first has a certain value, likewise offering a unique feature. And with chatbots, innovating and tweaking the core product for different markets or purposes will result in profits for those that can have a clear offering at the confluence on what businesses need, and what makes a dramatic impact on their customers.
Whether you are building bots for your own business, or for other companies, bots that bring profit will be more valuable in the very near future.