Chatbots have been paving their way into businesses for quite some time. Every since the pandemic, the dirt roads only the brave ones chose to travel turned into highways, and chatbots went from a questionable strategy to a top-notch commodity.
While before, most businesses might have debated whether or not to have a chatbot, today, the question is more about what kind of chatbot you should get. We already talked about the differences between NLP and rule-based bots.
So, the focus of this article is another critical aspect of chatbot usage and success, the channel.
Below we will discuss the various advantages and disadvantages of both channels, not in general but rather in relation to each other. Hopefully, the comparison will help you make the right decision.
Web Chatbots: Pros and Cons
One of the most fun advantages of choosing to create a chatbot for the web is the freedom to go all out on the design. A bot for a website or a campaign’s landing page is your modern-day chameleon. You can go all out adjusting the bot design to reflect your brand colors, shapes, and visuals or even create something new and exciting for every campaign.
For example, besides the brand inspired bots, you can see on our website, we had our creative moments with the chatbot escape room campaign:
Or our International Coffee Day quiz:
All in all, if part of your chatbot agenda is to boost brand awareness, a web chatbot can take you a long way helping you spread your brand visuals in the most natural ways possible. Take an example from the Liverpool City council that went with an official design to make their web bot widget look official and authentic:
Make Heat Simple went for a seamless embed that complimented the overall design of their page:
Full Channel Ownership
Creating a chatbot for your own website or one with its unique URL ensures you are always in full control of your conversational assistant.
Its setup and functionality depend on your conversational design skills and general chatbot configuration rather than the whims of third-party platforms like WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, and others.
A good example of 3rd-party dependency backfiring was when, in 2020, chatbots were hidden from view in the Facebook app, and Messenger removed its “Discover” tab, making the conversational assistant hard to find.
Last but not least key advantage of a rule-based or AI website chatbot over a messaging app one is its amazing versatility of formats.
A web bot can either appear as a chat widget in the corner of your page, be embedded into the layout of your website, work as a pop-up, or just function as a stand-alone landing page. This versatility opens the bot to a great variety of use cases, from lead gen to customer support.
Arora, a Miami-based growth marketing agency, made use of exactly this type of flexibility when they started using a chatbot landing page instead of a traditional one and exploded their PPC results:
On the other hand, RoadSave, an app that keeps you safe on the road, took advantage of a full-page conversation popup following a CTA click. The company managed to streamline its onboarding process so much that it generated over $30K monthly savings.
There’s power in flexibility!
Unless you get the users to signup or sign in, your bot can’t really store collected data and preferences long-term. So using a web bot for a more dedicated or bespoke support and customer handling might not be the best solution. On the other hand, it’s a great first touchpoint for capturing leads or offering FAQ support.
Another hurdle might be novelty or unfamiliarity o the channel.
Some people might be wary to share details with a bespoke chatbot and be worried about data safety. Some of the ways you can fight this are by being transparent about security measures and the way you plan to use the collected data.
Messaging App Bots: Pros and Cons
Messaging apps are famous for their engagement level.
No other communication channel gets as much of our daily attention as instant messaging. For most people, it’s the primary way to interact with their friends, family, colleagues, and clients. No wonder businesses wanted to join in on the action.
All in all, sending your leads or customers notifications via WhatsApp makes engaging them in an interaction significantly easier and more likely than an email or a phone call.
Many believe the most attractive feature of chatbots is instant interaction. When it comes to web bots, that’s likely it. However, bots on messaging apps have one huge advantage over every other channel—asynchronicity.
Asynchronous communication allows the users to respond in their own time. So, while your bot responds instantly, your customers or leads have the freedom to go about their business and respond when it’s the most convenient for them without having to restart the conversation every time.
Plum, an employee benefits platform that provides group medical cover for companies in India, used this aspect to their advantage when they created a WhatsApp bot to process their claims. It enabled their customers to find the information they needed as well as upload all the necessary documents when available. They could submit or process received information without them and the company losing track of their inquiry. Thanks to this strategy, the company reduced its claim resolution time by 60%.
This is an incredible advantage, especially when handling more complex customer queries, purchases, or upgrades.
Another huge win for messaging apps is how familiar users are with them already. In other words, half the work is done for you already.
People trust the messaging app of their choice. They hang out there not to talk to businesses but just to talk to other people. If your brand is there, too, it means you can help them out without forcing them outside of their comfort zone.
Familiarity is what HashAds took into account when Stars of Africa, a football academy, asked them to help them streamline player applications and trials. Since most of the queries the academy received already arrived via WhatsApp, the agency opted to create a WhatsApp chatbot. The solution increased trial attendance by 70% and revenue from trials y 60%.
So, a messaging app is not only familiar but also part of natural daily activities. There’s no better way to engage with your target audience.
Limited Rich UI elements
But messaging apps are not just about unicorns and rainbows either. One of the disadvantages includes the limited UI and design option you get when designing your bot for a 3rd-party app.
Not only can you not use any of your company colors to give your brand more visibility, but the type of UI elements is also limited to whatever is allowed on the app in question.
For instance, while WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app, it has the most limiting UI out there. The button feature was only rolled out recently, and even so, it is still quite limiting compared to button options you would have on the web, for example.
Naturally, we can’t talk about the messaging apps without mentioning the 3rd-party dependency issues you might end up facing, should you choose this option.
As mentioned above, relying on the 3rd-party channels always comes with a risk of them “changing their tune,” as Facebook did with bots in 2020. On a more positive note, Meta is turning its attention to business messaging once again, so chances are bots are going to be in favor for some time, if not forever.
Either or, the advantages are quite impressive and tend to overshadow the dependency risk.
And here you have it!
The key pros and cons of having a web or messaging app chatbot.
As you can see neither is better than the other. It all depends on your needs and the specifics of your use case. You might kill it with a web chatbot generating leads or offering purchase support. Or create messaging app bot that keeps your customers connected and content.