Chatbots:
Beginner's Guide

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01. What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is a conversational software that enables businesses to communicate with their audiences instantaneously and in a personalized way without having to compromise on automation. Most people associate bots with artificial intelligence. However, AI is not necessarily essential to creating a functional chatbot.
There are three main types of conversational assistants:

Rule-Based Chatbot

A rule-based chatbot is a conversational software that works on a principle of a structured flow often portrayed as a decision tree. Rule-based bots have a less flexible conversation flow than AI bots which may seem restrictive but comes as a benefit in a number of use cases. In other words, the restriction of users’ freedom poses an advantage since you are able to guarantee the experience they will deliver every time.
Hence, rule-based bots are highly secure and accountable - characteristics that are key to flawlessly functioning workflows. This type of chatbot doesn’t use artificial intelligence. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not capable of sophisticated actions using a variety of integrations and backend powerups.

NLP Chatbot

NLP Chatbot is an AI chatbot that uses natural language processing - a small subset of artificial intelligence that deals with linguistics and the capacity of software to understand natural human language. 
NLP-based bots may but don’t necessarily have to also use the machine learning capability. If machine learning is involved, it means the bot is capable of learning from its own mistakes. On the other hand, if an AI bot isn’t driven by a machine learning algorithm, it requires the bot creator to check the bot’s responses and “teach” it by making corrections when a mistake was made. This type of bot is usually structurally loose and, for the most part, allows the user to drive and control the conversation.
Its most cited benefit is offering the most natural conversational experience. However, this benefit can often manifest as its greatest downside. The lack of structure may leave users confused about what the bot actually can do which results in unpredictable experiences. To avoid these shortcomings, the emphasis during NLP bot development needs to be on the quality of conversation design above all else.

Conversational App

Conversational apps are the next step in the evolution of the traditional NLP or rule-based chatbots as they free the traditional assistants from the restrictions of text-based interactions.
They take the NLP or rule-based flows and enrich it with visual UI elements (e.g., buttons; calendars; maps; carousels; gifs; transactional UI elements, and more). In short, they help out with visual interactive UI in instances when the conversation isn’t the most effective choice. They do so without making you give up that one-on-one experience.
Integrating the interactive conversational app with the business management and CRM tools you already use make it the perfect addition to your automated workflow. Hence, turning a chatbot into a conversational app can improve user experience as well as significantly impact the customer journey including conversion rates.

02. Website Chatbot Formats

On the web, chatbots can appear in four primary formats:

Widget

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Chatbot widget is probably the most popular and widely spread of chatbot formats. Most commonly, the widget takes on the shape of a chat bubble and resides in the lower right corner of the website. It can be:
  • Static (chatbot only starts interacting with the user after he or she clicks on the widget);
  • Dynamic (chatbot initiates the conversation with a first pop-up message from the widget).

Pop-Up

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A popup chatbot format is less common but quite powerful when applied in the right use cases such as promo campaigns, sign-ups, or gated content unlocking. Like a classic banner/form popup, it can be initiated by clicking on a button, time on page, or scroll to a certain section. Unlike a button or an online form, a popup chatbot launches directly into conversation creating an interactive setup from the get-go.

Website Embed

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Chatbot website embed allows you to seamlessly embed your assistant into any section of your website where it will be of most assistance to your user base. Embeds have proven to be effective for calculating quotes, submitting data as well as sign ups. They make for an elegant solution if you want to combine classic UI with conversational experience.

Landing Page

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Chatbots can also work as a stand-alone landing page meaning the chatbot makes up the entirety of the page. This type of chatbot format is particularly useful in marketing. Removing all other distractions and making the users focus their attention on the conversation can as much as quadruple conversion rates.

03. What Are the Benefits of Chatbots?

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Virtual assistants are not just trendy proofs of technological advancement but powerful business tools capable of yielding impressive results on several fronts:

Benefits for Business Growth

Clever application of chatbot technology can have a significant impact on the bottom line. For instance, one of the most effective ways to use bots is helping convert leads who would not be ready to click a signup button without a chat. At times, a short proactive chat can make the difference between average and exception conversion rates. Similarly automating lead qualification, customer service processes, and internal communication through conversation results in a smoother customer journey, and, consequently, better conversion and operational cost savings.

Benefits for Customers

Employing chatbots can be equally beneficial for customers. Among the key advantages of having a chatbot is access to support and guidance anytime and anywhere. Similarly, chatbots are able to provide personalized experiences regardless of how fast your business grows or how busy your human employees get in peak times.

Benefits for Employees

Last but not least, chatbots can benefit your employees as well. Studies have shown that when chatbots take over the routine and repetitive tasks and employees can focus on more complex tasks gives them a greater sense of accomplishment and value. Alternatively, use cases such as leveraging chatbots as knowledge base assistants help increase productivity and lower stress levels. 

What are the top benefits
of Chatbots in Businesses?

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04. Why Are Chatbots Important?

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What makes chatbots important and relevant in a modern business landscape? Sure, chatbots are one of the new technological wonders attracting curious eyes and minds. However, just being a new technology doesn’t cut it, at least not in the long term.
To have a stable spot in the digital marketing toolbox chatbots actually need to be important, crucial to some processes. 
You might be wondering “We survived without chatbots just fine before, why would we need them now?” The answer is quite simple, the circumstances have changed and so must we, in order to keep up.
In the past, the most decisive factors when making a purchase were price and quality. However consumers today have different needs, needs that evolved way beyond the price point. A modern consumer craves a positive experience. So much so that many are, in fact, willing to pay more for a better experience.
They want respect, communication, and relationships that make them feel valued and relevant in the eyes of your brand, not as another number on your revenue but as a person. In the end, consumers demand both speed and personal attention. Two things that sit on the opposite ends of the business spectrum. That is only until chatbots get involved.
Chatbots are able to deliver both, instant attention and real-time personalization on the customer end as well as the necessary automation on the business end. An ability that makes chatbots one of the most important business tools of the decade. 

Why Are Chatbots
Important?

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05. What Are Top Chatbot Use Cases?

Chatbots are best known for their work in the customer support department. However, they are versatile in nature and can be applied in a variety of situations across the entire organization.

Marketing & Sales

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Automated conversation can do a lot in the early stages of customer acquisition thanks to real-time personalization and data processing. For instance, they can optimize key processes such as lead generation, qualification, and nurture. They can be equally useful in recommending products, processing bookings, and even transactions.

Customer Support

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The customer support use case needs no introduction but still, very few people realize the value of chatbots in customer service beyond FAQ. They can work as “sorting hats” using simple questions to point customers to the right agents, collect feedback, resolve refunds, or offer concierge services.

Internal Communication

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Conversational assistants are not only useful in dealing with customer needs. Their skills can be smartly applied to internal processes such as recruitment, onboarding, HR support or even technical helpdesk.

Check out our Encyclopedia
of Chatbot Use Cases!

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06. How Does a Chatbot Work?

More and more businesses show interest in chatbots and with that comes the question of how do they actually work? The question is very relevant, especially face to face of ever-recurring advances and improvements in the field.
To answer the question, however, it’s important to once again differentiate between the rule-based and NLP chatbots as the workings behind them differ significantly.

How Does Rules-Based Chatbot Work?

Rules-based chatbot leads the user down a predetermined path based on the flow you design in the backend of the conversational user interface, the chatbot builder. These types of chatbots can advance the conversation by presenting clickable options or by recognizing a specific keyword or group of keywords. 
For instance, you could design a rules-based chatbot to direct the user to a particular response by letting them select “Option A” or “Option B” from the button options. Or, you can let them respond with “tell me more about option A” where the keyword that triggers the bot is “option A”. See an example of a rule-based chatbot decision tree which allows you to predetermine user action and bot responses ahead of time:
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How Do NLP Chatbots Work?

NLP chatbots use the small subdivision of artificial intelligence known as NLP (natural language processing technology) to understand the data shared by the user and the intent behind the data by analyzing sentence structure. 
In this case, instead of relying on a predesigned flow structure, NLP chatbots try to match user input to a correct intent in their internal library of intents (e.g. “opening hours”, “booking”, “weather”, and so forth).  Once they have successfully understood the intent, they provide the user with what they believe to be a relevant answer based on existing data.
Their performance can be improved by manual review and correction of failed instances. Or, with the use of machine learning (ML) thanks to which the bot can learn from its own mistakes without human intervention. Hence, they are not always the best choice as they require a significant training period, and consequently, their development requires more effort. However, once properly trained for a given use case, they can be incredibly powerful.
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Learn more about the working
of NLP AI Chatbots!

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How Does a Chatbot-to-Human Handoff Work?

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Both rule-based and NLP bots can be designed to initiate a “human takeover” of the conversation. They can do so when the service the automated assistants are able to provide is insufficient or when they identify a hot lead “deserving” of instant human attention.
In a rule-based chatbot, the takeover can be initiated by:
  • User choice (the user clicking “speak with a human agent” options)
  • Conditional logic (e.g., in lead qualification, when the user meets one or a series of condition, the bot will initiate the takeover automatically)
  • Manual interference (agents have access to all of the ongoing bot-user interactions in the backend and can jump in at any point)
Human takeover is a powerful tool in the arsenal of your conversational assistant. Your human agents make up for the shortcoming of the automated system while the bot works to take all the unnecessary load off their shoulders.

Learn more on How to Master the Chatbot-to-Human Handoff!

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07. How to Create a Chatbot?

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Getting started with chatbot development can be intimidating at first. However, thanks to the massive technological development as well as a boom in no-code tools, the process of creation became accessible both in terms of skills and costs.
Landbot is just the tool to make bot development and a piece of cake. So, whether you're a marketer, sales rep, customer support professional, business owner, or any other non-technical professional, you too can build your own virtual assistant, rule-based as well as NLP!
Lucky for you our team put together two handy step-by-step guides on how to create a bot from scratch:

Learn how to build a conversational assistant with a rule-based structure that guides your users down a carefully designed sales funnel with: "How to Build a Website Chatbot without Coding" tutorial!

Design a natural customer experience with an NLP chatbot using Landbot’s native Dialogflow integration with How to Build an NLP Chatbot without Coding”

08. Basics of Conversational Design

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Bots like any other new branch of digital marketing gave rise to new fields of expertise that didn't exist prior. One of such fields is conversational design.
The need for the creation of the conversational design niche withstood the inability of classic content and copywriting to fill in the shoes. In fact, creating natural conversations has left many chatbot creators at a loss.

Why?

Conversations don’t care much about rules, data. Meaning is often implicit and the use of colloquial language may go against one’s instincts.
Hence, similarly to designing a website design or writing a movie script, conversational design requires a complex set of skills and careful planning. In fact, this tight niche is a combination of multiple disciplines including UX design, interaction design, copywriting, visual design, motion design, and (if applicable) voice and audio design.
When building a chatbot, it’s crucial to keep in mind that conversation design requires the use of natural conversational language as well as creating logically sound conversational flow.
Mastering the rules of conversational design the key to a successful sales and conversational marketing strategy. 

Check out The Ultimate Guide to
Conversational Design!

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09. What Are Chatbot Templates?

Chatbot templates are pre-designed conversational structures that require minimal adjustments and customization. Conversational templates enable you to get from concept to launch in a matter of minutes and are the perfect tools for time-sensitive campaigns and initiatives.
Landbot offers a substantial library of chatbot templates covering a plethora of use cases from marketing to customer support. All you have to do is pick the one that fits your needs and customize the content inside the flow that’s already there.

Take a peek at our
Chatbot Template Library!

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10. Chatbot Examples

To give you an idea of what can be achieved, we have put together a library of real chatbot examples. It showcases bots created for an array of use cases in a variety of styles.
Discover examples of bots for lead generation, customer support, shopping assistance and more.

Check out our Top
Website Chatbot Examples!

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11. Chatbot Success Stories

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If you are still having doubts about whether or not to make bots part of your workflow, hear about their journey from those who made the leap!
Thanks to the Landbot Podcast initiative, you can listen to the stories of clients who embraced chatbots as a way of customer support or marketing lead generation activities and succeeded.

Need a little inspiration?
Listen to Customer Stories
with Landbot Podcasts!

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12. Learn More About Landbot Platform

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Landbot is a full-scale no-code communication automation platform. It allows you to build conversational assistants for the web, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or use API to create a bot for any other third-party app. Completely without coding.
Besides the no-code chatbot builder, the platform offers an all-in-one multi-agent conversation manager and in-depth conversation analytics. Furthermore, a plethora of out-of-the-box integrations enables you to connect your chatbots to the management tools and software you already use making it a perfect fit for your already established workflows.

Try building chatbots with Landbot by clicking here and signing up for free - no credit card required.