Are you a HubSpot user looking to make the most of HubSpot’s tools to get started with conversational marketing? Or maybe you’ve heard about HubSpot, but want to learn more about its chatbot capabilities. Maybe you’re ready to build out a chatbot but don’t quite know how to get started. If any of these sound like you, keep reading for useful information about how to build a chatbot.
HubSpot chatbots come in many shapes and sizes and have a wide range of features. The best part about them is that information collected by the chatbot naturally flows into other HubSpot tools like lists, workflows and contact records.
From helping prospective students find your content to answering their financial aid questions, HubSpot chatbots have numerous applications to help enrollment marketers achieve their goals.
The bottom line — chatbots can help enrollment marketers better manage inquiries, increase conversions, boost enrollment, and reduce friction in the prospective student journey.
While that may all sound fine and dandy, actually creating a chatbot may still feel daunting and overwhelming. Here are my five best practices for building a HubSpot chatbot:
1. Set chatbot objectives
You want your chatbot to help increase conversions, inquiries, and yield but let's dig a little bit deeper. How will it actually do that? HubSpot offers several different types of chatbots including a live chat bot, a book-a-meetings bot, and a lead-qualify bot, among others.
Perhaps your goal is to help prospective students more easily access your eBooks, guides, or program information. Perhaps you want to make it as easy as possible for prospective students to communicate with admissions coordinators. Or, maybe you want to provide prospective students with quick information on financial aid and application requirements. Looking for a little bit of everything? Create a chatbot from scratch and customize it to your liking.
When we created a custom chatbot for Neumann University, we wanted to do the following:
- Allow prospective students to book meetings with admissions coordinators
- Help prospective students quickly find content (educational eBooks and program resources)
- Make it as easy as possible for prospective students to find the application page
Here’s what the beginning of the chatbot looks like, both inside the chatbot builder tool and live on a page.
Our team used the term “lead-in” questions to describe the initial set of questions posed by the chatbot. These lead-in questions set the stage to help the chatbot achieve our many objectives.
A live example of the chatbot helping the user quickly and easily find content.
Whatever the case may be, set your objectives first and don’t forget to loop in teammates who will be responsible for monitoring live chats, meetings, and requests for information that are all produced via the chatbot.
2. Create an outline (you’ll thank yourself later)
Your chatbot will likely have multiple chatflows or paths that prospective students can choose from while interacting with the chatbot. Start by creating an outline of the chatbot using a flowchart tool (like Lucidchart) to write out each chatflow path. Include all of the messages, questions, response options, and other steps that each chatflow path will include.
It might be helpful to color-coordinate parts of the outline to keep track of the different chatflow steps (known as building blocks in HubSpot). The better the outline, the easier it is to build the chatbot.
Here’s an example of a chatflow outline:
3. Practice ‘No dead ends’
Dead ends occur when prospective students reach a point in which there is no opportunity for them to further engage with your content. It may look like a page with no links, an email with no calls-to-action, or an event registration confirmation page with no options to further engage with a relevant eBook or guide.
The same can happen in chatbots. It’s great when a prospective student books a meeting with an admissions counselor through the chatbot, but what happens after the meeting is booked? Does the chatbot end and close, or does it provide the prospective student with options to further engage?
Providing options for prospective students to take a next step within the chatbot, even after a desired action is taken, can result in additional conversions and perhaps answer additional questions that the prospective student may have. Allow the user to end conversation with the chatbot on their own. Adding a step like the following (asking the question, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” can help you avoid dead ends and keep the interaction going:
When a contact nears the end of a chatflow, adding a step similar to the one above can help eliminate dead ends.
4. Take advantage of automatically synced data
One of the major perks of HubSpot chatbots is that they automatically sync with your HubSpot CRM. If you collect a contact’s name, email, and program of interest via a chatbot, HubSpot will automatically sync that information to the CRM. Likewise, if a contact in your CRM starts a chat with the chatbot, you can tell it to skip certain actions when matching properties already exist.
For example, if a known contact begins interacting with your chatbot and proceeds down a chatflow that contains a question which asks the user for their email address, you can tell HubSpot to allow the contact to skip over that question because their email is already known in the CRM.
In this example, we chose to skip the step “Email - O1” if the contact interacting with the chatbot has a known email in the HubSpot CRM.
5. Test, Test, Test
Before taking your HubSpot chatbot live, test it several times over. Send it to colleagues and teammates to review. Ensure that links work, transitions are smooth, and that there are no dead ends present. Recall your original objective. Does the chatbot succeed in achieving that objective?
If your chatbot includes the option for live chat, ensure that your team knows how to handle live conversations in HubSpot. If you enable prospective students to book meetings with your team via the chatbot, ensure that your team members are prepared to handle these types of meetings and know how to update their HubSpot meetings link tool.
Go behind the scenes & explore the HubSpot chatbot builder
Ready to take a look inside HubSpot’s chatbot tool? Head on over to DD Academy to watch our latest video, “Create Your Own Chatbot Using HubSpot” or book a meeting with us to see a higher education-tailored HubSpot chatbot in action.