Types of Website Chatbots

We can differentiate three types of chatbot for website:

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Live Chat

It´s one of the most frequent types of bot website due to the similarities between live chat and messaging app. The idea here is to use chat windows you typically see when visiting a website as the communication channel. So instead of a human agent, the conversation with the visitor could be automated using a chatbot. Many live chat software companies are already experimenting with chatbot; Some great examples could be Intercom with Operator or Drift with Driftbot.

Driftbot by Drift & Operator by Intercom

Chat bot Whatsapp

This is another variant of the previous one. Instead of showing the chat window at the bottom of a website, you could put it as a banner in any part of your interface. You can use it as a pop-up window to offer a special discount or use it as an interactive guide to do product onboarding. A very visual example is the conversational article of Typeform, where they combined the post with small fragments of chatbot to offer user extra info.

Conversational article of Typeform
Full Website
Imagine when entering a new website instead of throwing all information at you, the site starts having a conversation with you. Literally! This is by far the most ambitious type of website chatbots with many UX challenges. There not many people working with this approach yet, but you can see some interesting cases like the Upcoming Pages from Product Hunt or Landbot.io turning landing pages into a chatbot.

Customization of User Experience.
One fundamental difference between the website and messaging channel is the control companies can have over the complete customer journey. They can customize every element of the UI which can benefit hugely in the user experience. Instead of NLP, you can use interface-based interaction to solve many UX issue. For example: in a registration process if a user wants to edit some info, instead of asking the bot to change it, you can design an interface to modify the data directly.

Less dependency and risk.
When it comes to working with 3rd party platforms, there are always risks of generating too much dependency of the platform and jeopardize future sustainability. What will happen if Facebook decides in the future to limit the reach rate of each bot, just like what they did with news feed? Or Twitter shutting down their API for bot developers (again)? That´s why Media companies didn’t want to work with Instant News.

User Privacy Issue.
For companies in highly regulated industries like healthcare, insurance, banking, etc. the privacy issue is critical. You can have more engagement or more open rate on messaging channels, but at the end, the users belong to the platform owner. So companies will lose control of data exchanged in a messaging channel. That’s one of the main reasons many Banks are moving away from Messenger and building their own Chatbot platform like Erica from Bank of America.

Benefit existing channels.
The Website for many companies is one of their main customer interaction channel. It makes a lot of sense to build better experiences on that native environment to benefit their existing users and to avoid adding unnecessary friction. Think, for example, a new user is going to your mobile website and wants to know about your product, and instead of giving him the information right away you invite him to chat in Messenger. In the mobile browser, users have to log into their Facebook account and give permission to start talking to the brand.

Some cons of Chatbots for Website
Nothing is perfect, so web bots also come their limitations:

Lower user retention.
Unlike the messaging channel where users are active on a daily basis, on a website the retention rate is lower. Naturally, it will depend on the type of website: a saas product will have better engagement than an e-commerce site.

Discoverability and distribution.
Messaging channels can offer a unique context for delivering product/service: i.E., the Uber chatbot for ride-hailing in Messenger. Furthermore, as a “virgin” channel, messaging bots enjoy of 40% average CTR with push notifications. The good news is, with website chatbot we can use tools like retargeting and browser notifications to regain user attention.

Offline 2 Online interactions (O2O).
The main advantage Wechat has in China is that it has standardized the use of QR for people to interact with the offline world: movie center, restaurant, supermarket, retail store, etc. Facebook is using the same strategy in Messenger, and this kind of O2O interactions is more accessible with a commonly used messaging app than a website.

Ideal use cases for a Website Bot.
Lead generation:
We can use chatbot as a landing page to capture leads of potential customers. I have argued here that this might be the killer use case for a chatbot. In short, Conversation interfaces by nature focus better the user attention, have better personalization capabilities and can be used to do real-time qualification.

Landing pages are the natural destination for most marketing campaigns. Unlike messaging channel, it´s platform-agnostic, you can use the same landing page for AdWords, LinkedIn ads, or Twitter ads.

With proper SEO configurations landing pages can position well to get organic traffic in search engines. Companies

could also leverage existing traffic and use web chatbot to improve conversion rate.