Tuesday, July 16, 2024

SMS Chatbot: What Is It & How to Create It?

SMS is a powerful marketing tool for businesses to reach their potential clients. With a 98% open rate, almost all mobile phone users receive and read text messages. However, engagement with traditional SMS campaigns is low. This is where an SMS chatbot comes into action and offers a chance to use an interactive approach to increase user interaction and response rates.

SMS bots enable automatic conversations through text messages, offering personalized experiences for customers. Using chatbots, businesses can engage actively with consumers. However, creating chatbots can be alien for some users. Therefore, in this guide, we cover the basics of SMS chatbots and the complete process of creating SMS chatbots.

  1. What is an SMS Chatbot?
  2. Why Do You Need an SMS Chatbot?
  3. How Does an SMS Chatbot Work?
  4. How to Create an SMS Chatbot?
  5. How Much Does an SMS Chatbot Cost?
  6. Best Practices for SMS Chatbot
  7. Conclusion

What is an SMS Chatbot?

An SMS chatbot is a programmed software that can send and reply to messages automatically. These text bots use predefined conversational flows to understand the concerns of users and simulate human-like responses.

An SMS chatbot can operate 24/7 to deliver notifications, offer subscriptions, send links, answer queries, and run campaigns. Moreover, it can communicate with different individuals at the same time.

For instance, BestBuy, a popular electronic retailer, has deployed an SMS chatbot to enhance customer experience. Users don’t need to submit support requests and wait long for approval and response. Rather, they can engage with the support team through text messaging service. This saves the customers’ time and effort by simplifying the process.

In terms of feedback, BestBuy’s customers appreciate the convenient and user-friendly SMS chatbot communication channel.

Why Do You Need an SMS Chatbot?

Almost 6.92 billion individuals own a smartphone, which covers almost 85.74% of the total population globally. Nearly everybody from Gen Z spends most of their free time on the phone, making it a medium for direct communication.

According to statistics, more than 5 billion individuals write and receive text messages worldwide. Out of these messages, 90% are opened within the first 15 minutes of delivery.

Also, 85% of consumers prefer text messages over emails or phone calls, which is evident with the overall open rate for emails being as low as 21%. This shows how easy it is to reach just everyone through SMS, including the target customers.

Therefore, SMS is of central importance in marketing and communicating with customers. That’s why an SMS chatbot can be very helpful in the whole SMS-based marketing or customer service.

In terms of application, an SMS chatbot can be used to:

  1. Confirm bookings
  2. Send billing alerts
  3. Offer sales and promotions
  4. Deliver time-sensitive updates
  5. Send appointment reminders
  6. Deliver workshop or event invites
  7. Share internal business updates
  8. Improve and automate customer support

SMS chatbot is not only effective and convenient in engaging the target customers but also super accessible for the consumers to contact the support team.

In short, an SMS chatbot can transform the entire marketing dynamics for businesses that leverage it smartly.

How Does an SMS Chatbot Work?

An SMS chatbot works like a normal text message. A customer can simply send an SMS to a chatbot the way they message each other.

When an SMS chatbot receives a text message, it tries to understand the context like any ordinary human to answer the question or reply in the most appropriate manner using predefined conversational flows.

Here are the steps that an SMS chatbot follows to work:

  1. An SMS chatbot of a company, let’s consider Toyota, receives a message from the user asking, “Which models of Toyota Yaris are available at the showroom?”
  2. The chatbot will interpret the text to understand its meaning. It will divide the text and identify the keywords “Toyota” and “Yaris”.
  3. Next, the SMS chatbot will search for “Toyota Yaris” in the local database based on these keywords.
  4. Lastly, the SMS chatbot will reply back with the most appropriate answer.

That’s all! It is super simple to work with an SMS chatbot for research, general queries, or just any purpose.

How to Create an SMS Chatbot?

Fortunately, creating an SMS chatbot needs zero coding skills. Simply sign up for a chatbot builder tool and follow a series of steps to build the chatbot. For this guide, we will use the Customers.ai chatbot builder, as it offers an intuitive way to create a functional SMS chatbot.

Here are the five simple steps of creating an SMS chatbot:

Step 1. Create an Account with Customers.ai and Activate SMS Tools

Navigate to the Customers.ai website and sign up for an account. Or log in if you already have an account.

After logging in successfully, click “SMS in the left panel and tap the “Activate SMS” button.

Step 2. Upload the Contact List

Now, you have to upload the contact list. Click “Leads from the left panel first and tap on the “Import Phone numbers” button on the top.

Set up a CSV file of your contact according to the below format:

Tap the link to import your contacts’ CSV file.

While uploading the file, access the drop-down selector to match the data to contact attributes.

Step 3. Set an SMS Blast

Once the contact list is uploaded successfully, it’s time to start creating your SMS chatbot content.

Click “Marketing Tools” and select “Chat Blaster“. Afterward, click “New Chat Blast and name it.

Name the chat blast and then blast this SMS. Afterward, you can check the performance metrics, like open and response rates. Set SMS as the platform and select All Contacts as your audience.

Step 4. Use Content Widgets to Add SMS and MMS Content

Add content to the SMS chatbot with the StartBot visual bot builder.

To know what media widgets you can add to the SMS, click the “+ icon.

For now, we will use the quick question widget for quick replies. Simply type the question in the text box and add a quick reply like “Yes”. Also, select “New Path” if the person responds with “Yes”.

Press the “+ icon to add the answer.

This way, you can add more quick responses by clicking the “Add Answer“. Once you are done adding responses, you can either send the blast instantly or schedule it for a specific date and time. Afterward, click the “Send” button from the top-right corner.

Step 5. Insert Q&A Triggers to Set Up a Conversational SMS Bot

If you want to let the SMS chatbot have smart conversations for open-ended inquiries, you can use Q&A triggers. What you can do is train the bot to reply specifically when customers use specific words, like “sales”, “customer service”, etc.

To train the SMS bot, go to “Chatbots and select “Q&A” from the left panel. Press the “New Q&A” button to add a new response to the bot. Afterward, add the Q&A keyword trigger and the response in their respective fields.

That’s it! This way, you have successfully built your own SMS bot.

How Much Does an SMS Chatbot Cost?

The answer to this question isn’t as simple as one might believe. The cost of a chatbot depends mainly on the platform you choose. However, many other factors determine the price, such as the functionality you want to achieve or how you will build the bot.

The overall cost may vary based on whether you are:

  1. Selecting a ready-made tool
  2. Creating an in-house SMS chatbot
  3. Choosing a subscription-based solution

Additionally, in the case of SMS chatbots, you may have to pay for each automated message that is sent as a text message. These costs are set by the communication API providers, which may differ for each country.

For instance, Twilio makes you pay for the phone number and the number of messages you send and receive monthly. The table below shows its price range for different countries:

Best Practices for SMS Chatbot

Almost 88% of customers have interacted with chatbots at some point. This indicates the wide application of chatbots.

A well-built SMS chatbot provides value and support to customers. Now that we know how to create a chatbot, it is important to consider some key points to elevate usability.

Here are some of the best practices for an SMS chatbot:

  1. Understand the Intent: An SMS chatbot must improve customer experiences. If the bot fails to understand the customer’s intent, the conversation will go wrong.
  2. Make the Conversation Friendly: Keep the tone of the conversation friendly. Try to engage the customers with informative discussions to boost conversions.                   
  3. Avoid Vague Answers: An SMS chatbot cannot think beyond its programmed software. However, it is important for the bot to never give vague or unclear answers. Avoid open-ended answers as much as possible.

Overall, an SMS chatbot can help businesses in many ways. However, ill-structured chatbots can seriously affect the repute of the business.

Conclusion

SMS chatbots are changing the dynamics of traditional industries. With the SMS chatbot, reaching the target consumer is easier than ever through compelling SMS marketing. It can help businesses unlock the undiscovered potential and boost conversions. Therefore, follow the steps discussed in this guide and create your first SMS chatbot today.

However, your use of chatbots should not just remain confined to SMS. The current competitive business era demands you to deploy chatbots in websites (live chats), WhatsApp, and other platforms of your choice. For that, VOC AI Chatbot is an excellent AI-powered visual chatbot builder that allows you to create a unified chatbot for multiple platforms. So, if you want to implement chatbots beyond SMS, then VOC AI Chatbot is one of the best platforms for you.