The global chatbot market is booming. Eighty percent of businesses plan on having chatbots by 2020 – a number that continues to grow as more and more organizations learn about the potential of chatbots for content distribution, marketing, lead generation, and even direct monetization.
While the intent to get on board with chatbots is a great start, companies need another piece of the puzzle: the practical, actionable how. What are the options for creating chatbots? And how can companies get their own chatbots now?
This blog post is dedicated to helping publishers and other businesses choose an approach to chatbot creation. Consider these options to learn which approach to chatbot building best fits your organization’s unique needs.
Step 1: Decide what you need from your chatbot
The use cases for chatbots are nearly endless. So are the places that chatbots can be hosted. Before you begin the process of creating your best possible chatbot, it’s important to know exactly what you want and expect from your chatbot.
Start by looking at the bigger picture: the what and the where. Are you looking for a chatbot that distributes content via popular messaging apps (this is what we recommend for publishers)? One that can perform services on your native app? Or perhaps a customer service chatbot for your website? If you decide you want your chatbot on a third-party messaging app, which app will help your chatbot best fulfill its purpose?
Next, consider your chatbot priorities. Is it important that your chatbot be fully customizable? Quick to deploy? Omnichannel? Affordable? Built especially for your industry? Rank your priorities in order of importance to have a good idea of what you are looking before you set off in search of a chatbot maker.
Step 2: Pick a chatbot-building experience
There are several paths to chatbot success, each with its own pros and cons. We have laid out three different options below:
1. Start from scratch
The most expensive, complicated, yet powerful way to build a bot is by hiring a development team to build the software from the ground up (or by tasking your in-house development team with this process). While this option may be out of reach for many publishers and marketers, it truly unlocks the potential of bots and gives you full control of what your bot can do.
Creating a bot from scratch is the most time-consuming chatbot-building process there is: the time to create a simple but reliable bot can take upwards of 3-4 months.
Unlike the other options, companies that decide to build a chatbot from the ground up are responsible for the scalability and infrastructure setup of the bot. Companies who are interested in building a bot from scratch should be prepared for high upfront costs and monthly maintenance fees.
Hiring a development team can be a good option when the chatbot strategy requires extensive customization, and when existing applications do not allow for such customization. However, it is not recommended as a starting point.
If you are interested in building your bot from scratch, consider hiring freelance chatbot developers. Websites like CodementorX offer chatbot developers, software engineers, consultants, architects, and programmers that are equipped for this undertaking.
2. Invest in generic bot builders
A faster and less expensive approach to chatbot building is to use some of the generic bot-building applications already available. These applications take care of the scalability and infrastructure of your chatbot, while providing tools to create conversational flows based on triggers and actions, such as messages from users or events in other platforms.
There are quite a few generic chatbot makers out there. Here are a few of the top examples of generic solutions:
- ManyChat. Manychat is a Facebook Messenger chatbot builder that has good broadcasting capabilities, according to Quartz writers who tested it out. It requires zero coding experience – however, it lacks the robust reporting that other bot-builders provide.
- Chatfuel. This chatbot solution lets you build a simple bot without any knowledge of coding and deploy it easily to Facebook Messenger. The downside, though, is that the number of clicks needed to accomplish a task can slow down production.
- Reply.ai. Reply.ai helps users create chatbots on a number of messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, Line, and Telegram. This bot is good for customer service situations, as human agents can take over when needed.
- BotPreview. This bot creation software is good for prototyping your Facebook Messenger chatbot and previewing interactions. However, it doesn’t allow for interactivity and supports limited platforms.
- Botsify. Botsify is a generic chatbot builder for websites. It offers bots for Facebook Messenger, but not for any other messaging platform.
While generic bot-builders can be a good compromise between cost, quality, and flexibility, the problem with these software solutions is that they were not built to meet the specific needs of any one industry. Depending on the expected outcome, businesses might still need some development or integration with an existing content database, or they may want a more enhanced infrastructure to store metrics.
For media companies, the main challenge when building generic bots is that each publisher must create new flows or conversational structures before using the bot. Generic app interfaces are not tailored to fit the publisher’s vocabulary, external tools, or metric requirements.
3. Explore vertical products
For most bot needs, vertical products are the easiest and fastest way to make your best chatbot and begin engaging users.
Vertical products include KPI metrics, infrastructure and scalability options, and provide ready-to-use chatbots that are tailored to fit each industry’s unique requirements.
One example of a vertical product for media and publishers is Bulletin.chat. Bulletin.chat enables publishers to create news content and stories just as they would in any other editor, making it easier to fetch content from existing sites. Publishers can segment users and collect KPI metrics from the very first content sent.
If you’re not a publisher, remember that other industries have other options for vertical products. The banking industry, for example, has Kasisto, a banking-specific chatbot provider whose bots come pre-loaded with thousands of banking scripts, enabling easy deployment for financial organizations.
The price of vertical applications can be higher than other tools used to create generic bots, but they are cheaper in terms of cost of ownership, as no upfront cost for development or training is needed. Also, time-to-market is faster with vertical products than it is with generic bot tools, as it is not necessary to create new workflows from scratch since they are already defined.
There is no one best way to add chatbots to your business strategy. The right way to build your own chatbot will depend on your organization’s goals, necessities, and available resources.
For publishers and businesses of other industries, the best chatbot builder will be one that offers you the greatest value for the least amount of effort, and that can grow with your organization. It will be the chatbot maker that allows you to connect with your intended audience, and guide them smoothly through any journey you so choose.
For more information on how you can have a chatbot of your own, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog post can be found in our eBook, Streamlining Content Delivery with Messaging Bots. For a free download of this eBook, click here.