Making The Case To Integrate Your Chatbots & Marketing Automation Platform
By Elias Crum
Imagine if one third of your budget was spent on all kinds of technology, tools, and software.
For the average CMO, it’s not hard to imagine. Because according to research from Gartner, that’s the breakdown of what they’re spending the marketing budget on:
These days, the average number of technologies in the marketing technology stack exceeds 100 apps. A lot of these apps are part of bigger ecosystems and can be integrated in all kinds of ways. Integration is something that is high on CMO’s wish lists, because (you guessed it) the combined data leads to a more personalized approach and higher conversions.
I know, I know – the fact that all kinds of technology can be combined is not new. It is, however, a fast changing field. Most software use open APIs which, in theory, enable users to tie all kinds of software together. In practice, however, this seems like a long road. Different data sets lead to all kinds of errors in the API connections and have you ever tried changing an API connection? And what happens when one of the two connected solutions decide to do an upgrade? This is where you’ll want a native or standardized connection.
Have you ever really tried to establish a tailor made API connection? You’ll probably find out that it’s not as easy as the companies that sold you the software made it sound. Especially when you’re trying to sync data-fields that are not matching or that are not part of the standard solutions, like Zapier. Don’t get me wrong; I love Zapier but for the standard solutions and pre-built mappings only.
One example of an integration that leads to huge up- and cross-sell opportunities is the integration of marketing automation and conversational chatbots. This combination enables marketers to extend the ‘right message, to the right people at the right moment’ to chatbots.
Why integrate marketing automation with chatbots?
When you’re using a marketing automation platform like Marketo or Salesforce, you’ve got some great segmentation options. Using lead scoring, you’ll be able to combine behavioral and profile data and find out which leads are Marketing Qualified (MQLs) and Sales Qualified (SQLs).
This way, when people show certain online behavior – like visiting web pages, engaging with emails, using keywords when clicking Google Ads or on social media can be combined with profile data that either came from a CRM or was filled out in online forms. Within your marketing automation platform this combined data can be used to send personalized emails, show personalized/dynamic content on the website, and organize lead nurturing campaigns.
One of the other technologies that’s been adopted by loads of marketers is, of course, the conversational chatbot. Conversational qualified leads (CQLs) are being created and ready to be followed up with by sales reps when they are Sales Ready.
These CQLs should be followed up (and nurtured) the same way MQLs are. Are you doing that with your CQLs at the moment? But shouldn’t you be relying on the same tactics you’re using to nurture MQLs to SQLs when CQLs are more top or middle of funnel staged? And why would you give top of funnel leads the same treatment as your top tier customers? Shouldn’t your best customers get a red carpet treatment? But why would you even consider integrating the two? We’ll give you 3 reasons why:
Unified view on your leads and customers
When a suspect starts a conversation through the chatbot, you’ll probably like that info being stored in the same location as the other customer data. Usually, this is your marketing automation platform which on its turn is connected to your CRM (like Salesforce or Microsoft CRM). The info from the conversations can then be used to segment and build personalized communication flows.
Follow up on CQLs after chatbot conversations
Leads will start coming in when you’re using chatbots. In some cases, meetings with sales will be booked online, but more often the conversation is taking place during a more top-of-funnel or discovery phase. This means they’ll need to be followed up later on by email. That’s where you need marketing automation! Within systems like Marketo, Hubspot, Salesforce Pardot or Act-On, you’ll build lead nurturing flows, especially in B2B.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Strategy for up and cross-selling
Within the B2B space, you’ll probably work with named accounts. These accounts are segmented within your marketing automation platform on dedicated lists. In these lists data like purchasing history, customer status/level, named account executive and other details might be stored. This data can now be used in personal chat flows. The chatbot software will recognize the customer based on its behavior that was stored in the marketing automation platform. Next, you’ll be able to give this customer a red carpet treatment. Give them the fastlane to specific departments, suggest relevant content and products, and tap into cross selling opportunities.
A lot of organizations are currently still pretty early in the adoption cycle for chatbots and conversational marketing, but my guess is that it will be something on every marketer’s 2020 to-do list.
But be aware: not all integrations are equal.
How to integrate marketing automation software and your chatbot
So, you’ve decided that you want to integrate your chatbot and marketing automation platform. Good choice! Now, you’ll need to decide what kind of integration is needed. In short, there are two ways you can set up the integration between the two systems:
- One-way-integrations: This is the easiest integration possible. Most marketing automation platforms have an open API that is accessible directly by external parties. Zapier or Blendr.io offer all kinds of help on these integrations. A one-way connection, in this case, means that data from your chatbot is automatically synced with your automation software. So, CQLs that fill in data in chatbot conversations can be sent to your automation where it’s used to do personalized and segmented campaigns. Pretty cool, but there’s no sync that sends data back into the chatbot software here. You’ll need a two-way integration for that.
- Two-way-integrations: Okay, this is as cools as it gets. In addition to the sync mentioned above, there’s a sync back from your automation (including CRM when connected) to your chatbot. This integration is offered by Drift for platforms like Marketo and Salesforce Pardot. It integrates fully and will enable you to use data from your marketing automation in personalized chats. So, let’s say you have customers on a range of products and these are segmented in your automation solution. Using two-way integration makes it possible to recognize these customers when they come on your website and offer them a personalized playbook. Great for up- and cross selling.
You can also use the data from the chat in things like lead scoring. We’ve seen it being used for companies that want to give their top customers a fast track to sales and service. When you’re a Marketo or Salesforce Pardot user, this is something you definitely want to try!
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