Chatbot Best Practices
Don't have an Instabot account yet?
This section includes some tips and tricks that we've learned from building, tweaking, and testing hundreds of chatbots -- so you can build your first bot like a pro!
Before You Start
Before you start building out your real bot, take a moment to map out how you want the conversation to flow. Ask yourself:
- What is the goal of this bot? What data to I want to gather from users, or what problem do I want to help users solve?
Once you have a solid understanding of this, read on to learn about crafting the perfect conversation!
The First Message
The very first message is critical in ensuring high engagement and conversion rates. Once users have engaged with the first prompt, there is a very high likelihood that they'll finish the rest of the conversation (sometimes as high as 60%). So think carefully about this first impression.
1. Tell users that this is a bot
Don't pretend to be a human -- you can even let users know that this is a bot. This way users know what to expect from the experience, avoiding confusion or frustration. Avoid using an icon of a real person's face, as well -- instead try for a more cartoony avatar, or even a robot image!
2. Set expectations, add value
Clearly define the purpose of the bot and what it does for them. When a user knows at the beginning of the conversation exactly what value they can gain by talking to your bot, they're much more likely to participate (and to stick with it to the end).
3. Start with meaningful multiple choice options
Start the conversation out with 3-4 descriptive multiple choice options that help users understand what they can do or ask about.
- Avoid free text: Multiple choice imposes less friction on the user for higher bot engagement. Use free text sparingly to gather critical info (like an email address), but don't use it on the first prompt unless absolutely necessary.
- Avoid yes-or-no: Questions such as "Do you need help?" are polite in a real-life setting, but in a bot they're unnecessary filler. Get right to the point by providing a set of options to choose from. If a user doesn't need help, they can simply close the conversation.
4. Be concise
Every extra word increases the chance of users losing interest. The stakes are highest in the first message, because initial engagement with the first prompt has the highest overall impact on completion and conversion. A few rules of thumb:
- Aim for a sweet spot of under 100 characters in a prompt, total.
- Or: Write exactly what you want to say, and then delete half of it without losing the meaning.
More Bot-Writing Tips
1. Give the user multiple options
We've already mentioned it above -- but whenever possible, give the user multiple descriptive, meaningful options to choose from. Avoid yes-or-no questions whenever possible, and only ask for free text input for critical information such as an email address or phone number, or if the user needs to ask their own customized question.
2. Include one custom free-text option
The options you initially provide will not always meet every user's needs. Include a fourth option for "something else" or "I have another question" for the user to type in their question and provide an email address for follow-up.
This allows you to address all your users' needs, and gain information to update the bot based on what questions users are asking.
3. Never lose a lead opportunity
If you're using your bot for lead generation, always try asking for users' contact information if they don't want to continue. This allows you to follow up in case they are interested, but don't have time right now.
Additionally, try asking for email addresses earlier in the conversation, instead of at the very end. This way you have the user's contact information even if they don't complete the conversation.
4. Think strategically about launch options
You want your bot to launch right when the user needs it; and not to interrupt their experience when they don't. Think about what you want each bot to achieve, which users would need it, and when/where. Bots can be launched:
- Via a persistent button in the corner of the page
- On a time delay
- Based on user behavior, such as lingering or on page scroll
- When the user clicks or hovers over something on the page
Avoid launching the bot the moment the user lands on a page, as that can be more disruptive than helpful!
Updated over 3 years ago
Ready to get started? Check out our quick start guide to learn how to use the conversation builder!