Too often when people think of web based bots, they tend to imagine a widget sitting in the bottom right corner of their website that opens up into a bot upon clicking. While this is certainly a reasonable proposition, this line of thinking pigeon holes the possibilities of bots you can make and users you can engage with those bots.

The biggest advantage of a web based bot is that it can live anywhere on the web.

This might seem like a ridiculous statement to make but it has profound implications for the way you think about distributing your bot. In particular, I challenge you to not think of your bot as a widget for your website, but rather a link that can be shared through a whole host of channels across the web. For example, at Tars we are particularly familiar with using bots in our email campaigns to great success. This article is about our experience with the same.

E-mail is a crucial channel for most businesses to interact with their customers. The promos tab in your gmail inbox is testament to this. The advent of services like Mailchimp, Revue and SendX have also made it easy for even small businesses and startups to create professional looking email campaigns which garner legitimacy in the eyes of recipients.

But what happens when someone clicks on a link in one of these emails? More often than not, you are greeted by a web page that often (especially on mobile) is not as responsive or slick as Mailchimp’s templates.

Using a chatbot instead…

Working in the bot space perhaps makes us bias in our inclination towards bots, but it has also pushed us to experiment using bots in a whole host of places so that you do not have to. Sometimes, the channels that we test do not work out. But sometimes, the experiment works and we find a new place to use bots that people have perhaps not thought of before. One such place has been in our weekly company newsletter.

Last summer, we began sending out a weekly newsletter informing our users about the bots we were making, the bots we like and updates with the company. Over the course of the year, we have experimented using bots as content within the mail to varying degrees. After speaking to many of our subscribers we have found that bots offer two particular advantages in email campaigns that might be useful for you.

Engagement

A good way of thinking about this advantage is to think about a situation in which a user clicks on a link in your email and does not land on a bot. Imagine a situation in which you send a user an email with an offer that your business is offering. The user interested in the offer clicks on the link.

They are greeted by a static webpage? Perhaps a form, if you are trying to generate a lead directly? What is expected of the user at this point? They must read the page, figure out what they must do to avail of your offer or in the case of a form, they must go through the arduous process of filling out a form (which I am sure no one likes).

A bot enhances this experience by providing users with a chat UI, which is familiar to them and a clear call to action that is almost immediate. In other words, when a user lands on a bot with a chat interface, they do not need to figure out where to click and what to fill, they know exactly what they need to do.

Human touch

The second advantage that bots offer is that they provide a more human landing point for your users. Sending someone an email is a personal form of communication. While you might blast the same email out to thousands of people, each email represents a one on one interaction between you and a subscriber.

As such, it would only be natural for links within the email to take a user to an equally personal page. Web forms and websites struggle to do this. The user knows that they are just one of the many people who have been redirected to the page. Ideally, you could personally carry on the conversation with each subscriber but since this is physically unfeasible, a bot makes sense. The conversational nature of a chatbot makes the interaction after clicking a link feel human. Rather than ending the personal interaction with a subscriber in the email, a bot allows you to continue the experience all the way to conversion.