As you consider all the ways to provide support through a WordPress website, do chatbots ever enter the equation?
According to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report from Drift, only 15% of consumers used chatbots to communicate with businesses last year.
What’s interesting is that the key elements of a chatbot are already popular with consumers; namely, websites and online chat. It’s just a matter of time before chatbots catch on, which means you should get your clients’ websites ready for them now. But what are the best WordPress chatbot plugins?
As with everything else you do when building WordPress websites, you have to decide what’s the best way to go about adding this new element. In the following guide, you’re going to get all of your questions answered about creating chatbots for websites, including:
- What are chatbots?
- What kinds of chatbots are there?
- Do they sound human?
- Do you need to tell visitors it’s a chatbot?
- What are some ways to use a chatbot?
- Why would you want to use a chatbot instead of live chat?
- Why might you not want to use a chatbot?
- How do you create a chatbot for your WordPress site?
What is a chatbot? 🤖
If you’ve already looked into live chat options for WordPress, then you have an idea of what a chatbot is, at least in terms of where it appears on a website and how it functions superficially. In other words, a small chat button sits in the bottom corner of the screen. When clicked, it opens a chat widget where visitors can engage with someone… or something.
But there’s a big difference between a chatbot and a live chat representative:
This is a side-by-side look at the MarketoBot chatbot and WP Buffs’ live chat. They’re structured similarly enough. However, take a closer look at the options provided and you’ll see how the two on-site support options differ:
- Has a robot avatar.
- Has a “bot-like" name.
- Responds immediately.
- Provides multiple answers to the question it poses and asks you to choose just one.
- Upon choosing an answer, you’d receive similarly-structured multiple-choice questions until the chatbot routes you to the right page or person to complete your request.
The live chat:
- Has real human faces.
- Has their actual names paired alongside the photos.
- Responds typically in a few minutes. This live chat tells you how long to expect to wait.
- Provides a welcome message, but doesn’t try to steer the conversation one way or the other. This is your chance to ask whatever you want.
- Once the conversation begins, the chat representative remains engaged with you until resolution.
Bottom line: a chatbot is a piece of software that’s programmed to respond the way a brand wants it to. Live chat is powered by real human beings, though they can also use chatbots to stand in during off-peak hours if they so choose. There is also a mixture of both available now as chatbots can answer some fielding questions to get a live chat going in the right direction.
Again, we ask the question, what are the best chatbots for WordPress?
What kinds of chatbots are there?
There are a few different ways to classify chatbots for websites:
- Basic chatbots are written using simple scripts and rules. These are the ones you’ll most commonly find on websites — just like the example from Marketo above.
- AI chatbots are programmed with deep learning so they can better adapt to conversation and sound more human based on certain trigger keywords and responses. Because they require advanced programming, you’re not as likely to see these around the web — at least not if you happen upon them casually.
- Social media chatbots are ones built from social media platforms, but can also have a place on your WordPress website. As of right now, Facebook Messenger is the only social media chatbot that can be used on a website.
As for which one of these will be the best chatbot plugin for your WordPress website? Well, it depends on a number of factors. Cost. Time. Purpose. And maybe even how closely it resembles a human being…Regardless of what it is, we are going to tackle the best chatbots for WordPress period.
Can chatbots sound human?
With basic chatbots, you can write questions that sound the way a human would pose them. However, the back-and-forth between your website chatbot and the human visitor will feel stilted no matter what as the bot can’t read tone or emotion. Plus, it typically won’t allow the human to provide custom responses, which means only the most common of conversational pathways can be covered through this route.🤖 Do chatbots even sound human? Our answer is: there is nothing that could replace the sentiment of human emotion. Except for maybe dogs. #WordPress Click To Tweet
However, with an AI-powered chatbot that uses deep learning and language processing, it can adapt to conversations more effectively. That said, this takes time and chatbots don’t always get it right, especially because their learning is based on parameters set by humans.
The level of human-like conversation may always be lacking, but AI chatbots are improving every day and may eventually get us to an answer of “yes, they do”.
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Do you need to tell visitors it’s a chatbot?
The question about whether or not chatbots sound human might not matter as much as this one does. Based on the responses people have provided about chatbots, it’s clear that there’s a fine line they want companies to walk with them.
They can’t be too dumb, for instance.
According to a Pegasystems survey, consumers weren’t all too keen on their chatbot engagements:
- 58% said the conversation was adequate.
- 18% said chatbots were downright annoying.
With such a small percentage of people feeling satisfied with chatbot interactions, Pegasystems had this to say about the future of the technology:
“To truly depend on digital channels as the first line of defense in customer service, smart businesses need to unite their chatbots with the enterprise systems that can do real work – not just fetch bits of random information. At the same time, they must apply advanced artificial intelligence to deliver true personalized interactions in real time. The results of our global survey show that businesses still have a long way to go before consumers feel they can trust chatbots to give them an exceptional experience that can set a company apart.”
Ashok Kumar, Vice President of Digital at Verizon, spoke on this subject last year, advising that:
“You don’t just train the chatbot, but your customer as well: ‘There is an understanding there’s a machine. It has limitations.’ A bot will never get 100 percent of a conversation, so aligning expectations keeps people from being disappointed. And they engage with chatbots more in daily life, people — like technology — are always learning.”
That said, if chatbots veer too far in the other direction, you’re apt to see a reaction like the one this Google AI bot demonstration got. Granted, this bot was making phone calls that sounded too realistic, but the issue remains the same:
Humans do not want to feel deceived.
This is why Google will be taking precautions to let anyone engaging with its voice bot know as such. It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft has to do the same with its own AI bot.
Needless to say, if your website chatbot doesn’t make it perfectly clear that there is a program sitting on the other side of the conversation, then put a brief disclaimer out there.
What are some ways to use chatbots in different industries?
It doesn’t appear that chatbots are only valuable to certain kinds of websites. There is a wide range of industry use cases that you can pull from if you’re trying to convince your clients to add one to their WordPress site. What are the best chatbots for WordPress specific to the individual industry?
Although a report by Avaya suggests that UK consumers lag behind those in other countries in terms of embracing technology, a good percentage of them are willing to engage with chatbots.
Over 50% of surveyed consumers said they’d prefer to have AI chatbots answer their questions while they’re shopping online. 32% said they were okay with starting with a chatbot that would then direct them to the right customer service agent.
That’s a good percentage of shoppers who agree to use chatbots amid the shopping process!
The finance industry has made a huge case for bringing chatbots into the fold. Phil Westcott, the Managing Director of Filament, says:
“Chatbots suit people, after all you can now do your banking while sitting on the train so why not SMS or Whatsapp a bot your query? Right now we’re dealing with everything from mortgage questions and how to get the best rate, to internal HR holiday queries and nightclub goers who prefer to chat in emoji’s. With 34 AI specialists drawn in from IBM, Capgemini & top academia we’re successfully managing to go ‘in-house’ with our clients to build their expertise in artificial intelligence.”
Because the finance industry is mostly numbers, it’s easy for AI chatbots to pull data, make changes, or issues resolutions for customers on the fly. In this way, the chatbot becomes the virtual assistant that keeps the customer from having to call or visit the bank to handle their matters.
Healthcare is another field that shows a lot of promise for the adoption of chatbots. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense, what with many patients going online to find new physicians, research their symptoms, or look up the drugs their taking. Healthcare providers, technologists, and other medical companies can use chatbots to help put a lot more customers’ minds at ease, rather than let them fall down the rabbit hole of the Internet.
There are a number of companies working on chatbot solutions right now for healthcare, though none seem to be ready yet for the web.
Infermedica has created a diagnostic chatbot that integrates with voice assistants.
Microsoft built the Clinical Trials Bot to help patients and their doctors find the right trials for them. It has not yet been released for public use.
A Korn Ferry survey asked human resources professionals about how AI has affected their jobs. 63% of the respondents said that AI has revolutionized recruitment while 69% said that it helps them identify higher quality candidates.
Now, this only speaks to the power of what AI and the data it generates can do for HR. However, pair that level of intelligence with a recruitment portal and chatbot, and there’s a lot that chatbots may be able to do for recruitment professionals in the future. Like weed out bad-fitting candidates before they ever fill out an application.
It should come as no surprise that marketers and advertisers are going to find a lot of good uses for chatbots.
For instance, AdLingo is a company that’s involved in what they’re describing as “conversational marketing”. Basically, they’re merging your chosen chatbot software with advertising and disseminating it online.
Here’s a quick video that shows you how they plan to make this happen:
There are other ways to bring a chatbot into marketing — and this example from Casper is quite unique. This is there Insomnobot-3000:
Essentially, this mattress company has developed a chatbot to keep insomniac potential customers entertained as they whittle away the hours, unable to sleep… because their mattress sucks. It’s a brilliant idea, especially since it requires website visitors to hand over their phone number in order to get in touch with Insomnobot.
Although this is another chatbot that takes visitors away from your site, it might not be a bad idea if your site or business has low visitor retention rates or it takes a number of touches before customers convert.
Real estate is a good example of an industry that would greatly reduce their workload by employing basic chatbots on their websites. Take the Roof AI assistant technology that powers the chatbot on the Zephyr Real Estate website:
These are the kinds of simple questions that keep real estate agents from getting down to business with prospective buyers. By empowering their websites with chatbots to handle those mundane questions (and keep track of their answers), real estate companies can more swiftly qualify leads and sell property.
Restaurant / Hospitality
Domino’s was one of the first pizza chains to fully embrace the latest and greatest technology in order to pull ahead of its customers. Although the Twitter chatbot triggered by a pizza emoji wasn’t a flawless system at the start, it certainly got customers’ attention.
These days, it seems like you can order Domino’s anywhere online — including through the “Dom” chatbot on its website.
While this might not be a viable option for every restaurant, it’s certainly a technology that would work well for chains trying to reach a younger crowd.
The last thing restaurant managers want their staff doing is sitting on the phone all day and night answering online orders for delivery or pickup. The same goes for processing website orders. So, why not give it to the chatbot to take care of?
Software-as-a-service businesses would do well to have either a live chat or chatbot solution implemented on their website. Here’s an example of the one that Yotpo uses:
It’s nothing too complicated. It simply asks the visitor if they have a similar solution right now. And, if not, do they want to set up a time to learn more. It’s a great way to qualify leads and move them through the sales pipeline more quickly than if they had to self-qualify.
Really, though, the ideal situation is to put the chatbot to use so it can field the common questions visitors have about a business and its products. Then, use a live chat solution for customers that need real-time, hands-on assistance while they’re using your product.
Companies in the business of streamlining sales for organizations are also getting in on the chatbot action as well. As you can see from a lot of these use cases, chatbots are extremely helpful when it comes to lead qualification. Which is why CRM companies like Zoho and Salesforce have developed their own chatbot technology for customers to use on their websites.
Salesforce’s chatbot builder is called Einstein Bots while Zoho’s is called Zobot. While both serve the same relative purpose, Zoho’s is more of a ready-made solution whereas Salesforce encourages developers to do more to program and customize theirs.
Here’s a quick glimpse at what you can do to improve sales with a chatbot connected to your CRM:
T-Mobile Netherlands is a telecom company that’s soon to get a multi-channel AI chatbot designed specifically to improve customer care.
This looks like it was a huge undertaking between Atos and Google Cloud to make happen. Considering they received contract approval last year, it’s only a matter of time before this hits the T-Mobile website and we get a look at how well a chatbot really does upgrade customer support for service-based industries.
See the search bar at the top of the Amtrak website that says: “Need help? Ask Julie.”? That seems odd, right?
A search bar has always just led visitors to a list of pages that answer their query. However, in this case, Amtrak has put a chatbot named “Julie” to work for it.
Julie is pretty smart, too. When you ask her something with an ambiguous keyword (especially pertaining to location), she’ll help you clarify.
If you look up more information about Julie, you’ll find out that she originally began her life as a virtual assistant a decade ago, answering Amtrak customers’ questions over the phone. These days, though, she’s learned everything she needs to know about the content on the site so she can help a new wave of customers travel along Amtrak’s lines.
Although Julie might be a bit hidden away on the site, expect to see chatbots like her pop up more prevalently around other travel websites as they grow smarter and customers, in turn, grow to trust them more.
Why would you want to use a chatbot instead of live chat? 💬
Just to be clear: a chatbot in WordPress doesn’t always lead to a dead-end resolution. In fact, many times a chatbot is in place to help funnel visitor queries to the right live chat teams. So, you can use a chat tool that combines the two.
That said, as for why you might want to use a chatbot to initiate the conversation with a visitor instead of live chat? Well, there are many reasons for that:
Bots are cheaper than humans
So long as you’re not building your own chatbot from-scratch and equipping it with AI technologies that require extensive training, chatbots can be more cost-effective than staffing a live chat with humans. Bots don’t require you to pay them a wage. You simply buy the tools, set up the scripts, and spend time adjusting them based on how visitors respond over time.
Bots are faster
You know how critical of an element speed is for a WordPress site. The same applies to how quickly someone is able to pick up on the other end of that chat widget. Or else… why advertise a quicker and more convenient contact solution in the first place?
The only thing is, human representatives can’t always get to each and every visitor at the moment they engage with your website’s chat. That’s why some websites will employ a chatbot intermediary to step in and greet the visitor and keep them occupied until a chat representative can step into the conversation.
They make live chat more efficient
After a chatbot greets your visitors, it will spend time asking a series of questions to narrow down the visitors’ options. Do they need help with a product? Do they need to talk to sales? Should they go to tech support? This saves your team from having to handle mundane questions and route chats to the right departments. And chatbots can handle multiple requests simultaneously — which your team cannot do.
Gartner’s vice president of research, Van Baker, believes that over 50% of medium-sized businesses and enterprises will have chatbots by 2020. He says:
“Chatbots are time-saving and easy to interact with, as they use natural language processing, reduce error rates associated with humans, and improve customer engagement.”
This assumes, however, that businesses employ AI chatbots to handle their engagement with website visitors.
Nevertheless, even if all a chatbot does for your website is keep visitors occupied until they connect to a human representative, or provide them with quick details they were looking for, consider it a win for efficiency until the business needs more than that. The best chatbots for WordPress don't just mean the highest used, it's a lot more than that.
It’s an upgrade from self-support
While it’s always important to include some type of self-service knowledgebase or FAQs on a WordPress website, there will always be some visitors that want to be guided to their destination. By putting a chatbot in place, you can facilitate that journey more effectively than leaving all of your visitors to do it on their own.
Your website will have 24/7 coverage
While a chatbot wouldn’t be able to guide, say, your WordPress clients through troubleshooting downtime or a security breach, a chatbot on other kinds of websites can provide basic support when humans aren’t around. This allows each visitor — regardless of the time of day — an opportunity to connect and communicate with the brand. This is especially helpful if visitors come from all around the world.
Chatbots can ease website friction
Although a website should be designed for ease of use and navigation, that’s not always the case for every visitor that lands there. As Drift’s State of Chatbots report says, website visitors still have a hard time with the following:
If your chatbot stands out well enough, they will be encouraged to reach out and get a quick response to their easy question before bouncing off the page. How do I get to this location? How much do the plans cost? Where do I find more information on service guarantees?
The chatbot can weed out these kinds of basic inquiries that your website should handle. If or when it’s unable to do so, it keeps your team from having to handle fewer of these kinds of inquiries, so they can focus on more pertinent issues that arise.
Chatbots can improve profit margins
This isn’t an argument for using chatbots instead of live chat — both can accomplish this. It’s just that this is worth mentioning if you’re worried that chatbots don’t have the capacity to improve a business’s bottom line.
There are a couple of ways in which it can do this.
For starters, there are the efficiency benefits as Parmy Olson's research into the subject shows:
“Research suggests chatbot technology is already improving bottom lines. Healthcare companies and banks who use chatbots to deal with customer queries can save around four minutes, or more than 50 cents per inquiry, according to a report last year by Juniper Research, a British market intelligence company.”
There’s also the additional channels through which you can market to visitors and turn them into leads.
Angelina Harper makes the argument that chatbots work much the same way that text messaging does in this respect:
“As is the case for other communication channels, instant messaging can be used to notify consumers about deals and offers, to share links to targeted landing pages, to provide customer support, etc.”
When setting up the scripts for your chatbot, keep in mind that there’s an opportunity here to not only answer commonly asked questions but to direct them to points of interest that will get them more interested in the website and brand.
Or, if you’d rather take a more subtle approach, you can simply ask for their email address prior to handling their query or directing them to a team member — in case they get disconnected or need additional information after the chat.
Why might you NOT want to use a chatbot? 🙅♀️
For all the good that a chatbot can do for your website, there are glaring objections you can’t afford to ignore. The following list of objections doesn’t mean that it’s a bad decision to use chatbots. It simply means you have to be mindful of how your visitors feel about the particular chatbot you put in front of them.
Consider the following:
It’s risky to leave all inquiries in the care of a chatbot
When Drift asked survey-takers which use cases they predicted they’d use a chatbot for, this was what they had to say:
Most of these are innocuous. Finding a customer service assistant, getting inspiration, even buying basic items should be fine. But the top two responses should have you a little worried.
Think about it from the perspective of your own business again. How would you even go about programming a chatbot to handle a WordPress emergency? And should you?
What if you build websites for the finance sector and the bank’s customer finds that someone has hijacked their identity and spent thousands of dollars in their name? A chatbot could put a suspension on their accounts, but it wouldn’t be able to confirm the veracity of the complaint well enough to help them through the other resolution steps.
There’s really only so much that a chatbot can do in sensitive situations until a human rep needs to step in.
Chatbots are not personable
Unless you have Google programmers handling your own AI chatbot, it’s unlikely that your own will be able to fool visitors into thinking that they are human. And while the transparency of its bot status is important to some, there are others who feel that the unfriendliness of a chatbot is enough to keep them from engaging with it in the first place:
Again, this goes back to the subject matter of the conversation. If you’re deploying chatbots to say “Howdy” and help visitors get details on your SaaS, that’s one thing. If you’re deploying chatbots to say “We’re sorry to hear about your accident” and retrieve pricing on hiring a lawyer to sue the person who hit them, that’s probably not going to go over so well.
Don’t forget about the pure frustration factor as well.
What if their answer isn’t listed in the multiple choice options of your basic chatbot? What if their question is a more urgent matter? At least by phone, most call centers will allow you to bypass the automated menu and get to an operator to route you to the right department. But chatbots don’t always allow for that.
You may want to think twice about using a chatbot if your communication needs to be handled with care or in a time-sensitive manner.
Setup can be complicated
Down below, you’ll see there are a number of ways in which you can create a chatbot for your WordPress website. While a chatbot builder or WordPress plugin will greatly simplify things, that also means you’re stuck using a more basic chat solution on your site.
To have anything more complicated in place, you’ll have to do a bit more work to program and set up a chatbot for your website. If you’re not comfortable doing this, you’ll either have to outsource to someone (which will be costly) or skip the AI chatbot altogether (which could also be costly if you have to solely rely on human-based support).
People are fiercely protective of their data
There’s a reason why security and privacy are critical issues for websites that accept any form of visitor or customer data. GDPR, PCI compliance, SSL certificates — these are the tools you use to keep your visitors safe while always outwardly showing them that they can trust the websites you’ve built for them.
For instance, this is a GDPR notice at the top of the Grey agency website:
If you haven’t accounted for what happens to the information exchanged — even between your users and a bot — and they realize there are no privacy or security measures in place to keep their data safe, how do you suppose they’ll react?
You can look at what happened with Google Allo. This was Google’s attempt to place an AI chatbot right inside of its messaging services.
While Google had the right intentions — “Let’s make your online messaging more effective by keeping all your research and planning in the same place!” — it didn’t catch on with users. Google didn’t come out and say why that was; only that it was taking the best elements from Allo and placing them inside of Messages.
But author Mark Wilson surmises it was for three reasons:
- The chatbot was unnecessary for the context it was placed it.
- It was intrusive. See the example he gave:
“I’d say ‘let’s go out to dinner,’ and suddenly Allo would prompt me with a pop-up button: ‘DID SOMEONE SAY ITALIAN FOOD!?!?!?’”
- It was always listening in, even if you didn’t prompt it for help. And there were reported glitches where it would share details from one’s search history with others.
Although you wouldn’t program your website’s chatbot to be any of these things outright, what if it’s mere presence was a cause for concern with visitors who don’t understand the technology all that well? A person on the other end of a live chat is fine but put a bot over there that’s always listening and tracking and ready to step in… and you could have problems.
Before you pull the trigger, consider the possible response your visitors may have upon seeing a chatbot.
Best chatbots for WordPress and choosing the basics 📝
Finally, it’s time to look at how to create a chatbot for WordPress.
Choosing a basic chatbot, social chatbot, or AI chatbot
Before you do anything else, ask yourself which of these chatbots would serve your website best.
- Basic chatbots will pose a series of question-and-answers to lead your visitors to a number of predictable destinations.
- Social chatbots are similar to basic chatbots, but may require a little more programming based on which platform infrastructure you build them on.
- AI chatbots are more advanced and can adapt over time as they learn more about what your visitor will ask about. You’ll need to leverage deep learning and natural language processing in order to program this bot to do what you need it to.
Choosing to program your chatbot
If the answer to this is “no” and your website doesn’t need more than the most basic of chat coverage, then a basic or social chatbot will suffice.
If the answer to this is “yes” then an AI chatbot might be a good choice.
Just to give you an idea of the kind of work you have in store for you, take a look at the IBM Developer banking chatbot tutorial. To create an AI chatbot for your website, you’ll need to have a good understanding of Node.js as well as a familiarity with IBM Watson Assistant, IBM’s chatbot builder platform.
Microsoft has its own Bot Framework, if you prefer its platform over IBM’s.
Regardless, it’s not as simple as programming the bot to ask a question based on a keyword in a response. You’ll need to know how to detect different emotions (like anger or frustration), so that the chatbot doesn’t erroneously skip over or misinterpret cues. Conversational AI tools abound, but they usually aren’t free to use. For example:
While these programming frameworks and natural language processing tools will certainly set a good baseline, an AI chatbot takes a lot of work to build and maintain. And there’s also the cost factor to consider, too. So, keep that in mind before your clients get carried away with the possibilities.
Choosing to use a chatbot builder
With the option of a chatbot builder, it’s a lot like using a page builder tool. You can still control some of the design, the content, and so on. However, it can be a completely code-free experience if you like.
Just keep in mind that these are not going to be free to use. If you want to leverage their technology to do more than just put a basic drone on your site, you’ll need to pay. And that means this might be a more feasible option if you intend on putting chatbots on multiple client websites.
Still with us? Here we go...best chatbot plugins for WordPress.
Consider the following chatbot builder options:
Botsify is an incredibly easy-to-use chatbot builder tool. There’s no artificial intelligence used, though you can integrate it with tools like your Google Docs, Slack, or email to streamline the transmission of captured data to your preferred form of intake.
Here are some other things to know about Botsify:
- Although it says “free” to start, you can’t actually use this builder for free. You can build your bot, hand over a credit card, and then try it out on your site for up to 14 days without paying. However, at that point, you’ll be charged a monthly fee if you want to keep the chatbot in place.
- The builder itself is intuitively designed with multiple steps covering things like “what’s the purpose of the chatbot?”, “where will it appear?” (e.g. Facebook, Slack, website), and more.
- You can do some light customization in terms of which questions your chatbot will ask visitors as well as the colors and icon to skin the chat module with.
- Be careful with customizing the questions. The bot seems to be highly sensitive to how answers are written, so anything deviating from a name or email address could throw an “invalid” error and cause unwanted frustration on the part of your users.
Here’s how your chatbot could look with Botsify:
If you need a simple enough chatbot solution to collect lead information for your clients’ websites, this could be a good choice.
Chatfuel is a chatbot builder for Facebook Messenger. And while the website doesn’t outwardly say you can do this, Chatfuel helps you get your custom-built chatbot into WordPress with a couple of clicks and some embedded code. It’s as simple as that.
And you can use it for free up to 1,000 subscribers. The only thing is that you only get the most basic of functionality, Chatfuel branding, and low-priority support. There’s always a tradeoff with these things.
Here are some other things to know about Chatfuel:
- Like some of the chatbot builders you’re about to see, Chatfuel enables you to program your bot’s conversational flow using a series of blocks. It’s up to you to define what kinds of information you want to provide or questions to ask.
- You can use one of Chatfuel’s templates to take some of the load off of your shoulders.
- You’re not just relegated to building your chatbot with text though. You can include things like images, “Typing” (...) animations, and so on.
Here’s how your chatbot could look with Chatfuel:
Just one thing to be aware of while you create your first chatbot:
When you click the “Test Your Bot” button in the bottom-right corner of the builder, it will initially send you tests for Facebook Messenger. This can be unnerving if you’re not expecting it. It also might not be what you need if you’re trying to build the bot for your site. So, if you want to see it in action on the page, open and close the test twice.
Want to see the Chatfuel chatbot builder in action? Watch this tutorial from TalkBitz.
Flow XO is a little more complex than some builder options, but it’s worth the tradeoff if you take the time to build it right. For example, after all the setup you do within the builder, you have to manually add the code into your WordPress site. You can do this by page, for the whole site, or create a widget and then place the code there.
If you choose to use Flow XO, be prepared to spend a good amount of time building and managing your chatbot.
Here are some other things to know about Flow XO:
- You can program it to perform a wide variety of chatbot functions: accept payments, serve as an entertaining welcome mat, gather basic information, provide simple support, or even qualify leads.
- The builder itself is pretty robust, so it’s nice that Flow XO provides not only a comprehensive tour of it but lots of documentation to support it.
- On premium plans, you get access to and can download chat transcripts, search for commonly used keywords, etc.
- As you customize your chatbot, you can do all the usual stuff. Create a bot name, write a welcome message, choose your own colors. But you can also program the bot to remember previous conversations with the visitor, which is a nice touch.
Here’s how your chatbot could look with Flow XO:
What’s especially nice about Flow XO is that it’s 100% free to use to start. No strings attached.
With the free plan, you can build a working chatbot and corresponding “flow” (trigger and conversational action/response) for up to five chatbots and 500 messages. The only restriction is your access to chat data. So, that’s something to think about if you know you’d like to use this builder tool straight out the gate and expect high volumes of inquiries as well as numbers of clients that want it.
Landbot.io is a tool that enables you to build “conversational experiences” for your website; i.e. a chatbot. It’s free to use and there’s actually quite a lot you can unpack with this without having to pay for a premium plan. For instance, you can integrate with Slack, Zapier, and Google Analytics. This means you get a chance to see what this chatbot can really do before pulling the trigger and paying for it.
Here are some other things to know about Landbot.io:
- Landbot’s builder uses a system of blocks and lines within a wireframe. If you’re used to designing in this manner, you’ll love the builder interface.
- There’s so much you can do in terms of customization. Of course, that depends on what kind of plan you’re on as well as whether you even want that much control. But know that the option is there to customize things like the message for the second visit, the robot avatar, fonts, personal fields, and more. You can also add your own custom CSS.
- There’s also a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can place the embeddable code on your website: as a full page, pop-up, widget, or live chat module.
Here’s how your chatbot could look with Landbot.io:
The home page of the Landbot.io website actually uses a chatbot of its own to take your personal information and help you create your first free chatbot. If you’re unsure of whether this tool is right, just start engaging with it. You’ll see what a cool tool it is.
Choosing the best chatbot plugin for WordPress
If you’re not looking for much todo and simply need to outfit your client’s website with a basic (and free) chatbot, look to one of these WordPress chatbot plugins to get the job done:
Collect.chat bridges the gap between third-party chatbot builder and WordPress chatbot plugin. While you can test this out for free on your WordPress site, you won’t be able to get much out of it as conversations are capped at 30 per month.
If you anticipate more than that — and you should if you’re using this chatbot to gather leads, make appointments, conduct surveys, and so on — you’ll need a premium plan.
If you’re curious to see more of how this works, check out the video for it on YouTube or read Cori Ramos’s review.
You can always just open up her own chatbot and get some inspiration on how to use it as well:
It includes her photo, a welcome message, and then a series of clickable options that will get them to exactly where they need to go on her website.
Collect.chat also has a free plugin if you need to have more than 30 conversations per month.
Just keep in mind that you (or your client) must have a Hubspot account before you can use this plugin to add chat functionality to your site. Once you do, though, you’re golden!
IBM Watson Assistant
IBM Watson Assistant is IBM’s contribution to the AI chatbot fray in WordPress. It won’t take long to get the chatbot itself set up, but you should spend some time thinking about what purpose you want it to serve and how to craft a natural progression of dialogue around that. Should it answer common questions? Provide useful information to ease navigation? Or perhaps deal solely in routing to the right human-manned department?
The only catch is that, if you want to use this plugin to bring your chatbot into WordPress, you have to create an IBM Cloud Lite account first. It’s free to start but will put a cap on how many conversations can take place through the chatbot over the course of the month, so keep an eye on that.
Choosing whether or not to use the Facebook Messenger bot
Then, of course, you have the Facebook chatbot option. If you want to do a little more hands-on work to build your bot, but want an easy way to integrate it with both Facebook for business and a WordPress website, this is your best bet. And there are a number of chatbot plugins for WordPress that can help.
In fact, WP Buffs already suggested them in its live chat plugin roundup:
If you’re wondering why they were included in a live chat post, it’s because they pull double-duty as a live chat and chatbot. For clients that want the option to turn on a WordPress chatbot while they’re away and they’re content with using Facebook’s Messenger to power it, these are fantastic choices to start with.
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Wrapping Up 🎁
There you have it, folks! Best chatbots for WordPress and beyond! If you or your clients are nervous about moving into the arena of bots and AI, or they don’t feel that this is the kind of technology their audience would appreciate just yet, that’s fine. There are ways you can help WordPress websites “beat the bots”.
Namely, create a well-designed website that loads quickly and is secure enough to accept even the most sensitive of details. You may find that their visitors aren’t too concerned with whether or not they have a chatbot, live chat, or regular ol’ contact form if the rest of the website experience is spot-on.
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