Missed an episode of Chatfuel School—our weekly podcast where we cover hot topics in the world of bot-building and marketing? Don't worry; we took notes for you. 🤓 The topic for June 19, 2020 was how your chatbot agency can pivot to get through COVID-19. Here's the full episode. 👇 Keep scrolling for a recap of what you missed. (Sign up to get a reminder when our next episode premieres!)

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched businesses in every industry. For better or for worse, it left many business owners scrambling. Marketing agencies are no exception; even those who didn't lose clients still had to quickly adjust their messaging, campaigns, and tactics across the board. But fortunately, adapting and innovating are what marketers do best. They're key skills involved in running a successful chatbot agency in any age, and that hasn't changed.

To help you pivot your chatbot marketing agency to survive and thrive during these times, we gathered advice from some of the best chatbot marketers and agency owners we know. Read on for their insights and tips.

Why now is the time for agencies to shine

As School of Bots Co-Founder Natasha Takahashi puts it, "right now is the best time that there has ever been in history to provide chatbot marketing services to the right types of clients." Here are a few reasons this is true:

  • More consumers online in general 👀 Since the pandemic erupted in March, "digital attention is at an all-time high" with people now spending so much time at home. 72% of respondents in a survey say they've increased their social media consumption since quarantines and lockdowns began. For advertisers, that means more eyes on your content and more available prospects to be converted.
  • More people using messaging 💬 Use of Facebook Messenger went up 50% after the pandemic started. Voice and video calls on Facebook and WhatsApp more than doubled. The shift from talking to family and friends to talking to businesses on Messenger is now more natural than ever for users.
  • Lower ad costs 📉 The pandemic has caused a dip in digital ad costs, too, which is important for chatbot marketers who use click-to-Messenger ads. Cost per 1,000 impressions and cost per click are down. And Facebook's own ad revenue is projected to drop 19% in total by the end of the year, because so many companies have had to decrease or stop ad investment altogether. Fewer advertisers on the platform means less competition for your ad content, too.

So for your clients who do have the cash to invest in marketing right now, it's time to go big. Natasha shares how this has worked out for one of her chatbot marketing agency's clients so far this year: “They had their biggest month in revenue in company history this May. [Pre-pandemic], 40% of their business was in-person events, but they pivoted all those resources toward their online marketing systems, funnels, and products,” she explains. “They got a huge bump in revenue and overall brand growth.”

To find clients like these and help them achieve amazing success during this time, here are a few tips.

"Right now is the best time that there has ever been in history to provide chatbot marketing services to the right types of clients." –Natasha Takahashi, School of Bots Co-Founder

#1. Expand and diversify your client base.

As the saying goes, it's generally not wise to put all your eggs in one basket. If most of your clients were in the hotel industry when the pandemic began, for example, keeping up a steady revenue stream would've been difficult. That's why it's important to build a client base that spans multiple niches. If this wasn't a focus of your chatbot marketing agency before, now's a great time to adjust.

Mackensie Liberman, Founder of Orca Marketology, expands on this essential strategy. “I have a lot of different industries for clients. That has helped reduce how much COVID-19 has impacted my business,” she says. “I've had to drop or pause a few clients just because their doors aren't open. But my new clients have mainly been ecommerce businesses because their doors are open all the time. They're just like, "Sweet! Give me a chatbot.""

As we all know by now, there are always storms to weather in any economy or industry. Diversification is the key to keeping your Facebook chatbot agency stable, even during a crisis.

#2. Prospect for new clients more aggressively.

The pandemic hit some industries harder than others. Most bars, event venues, and travel brands saw a major drop in business, for example. But companies selling things like outdoor equipment, cooking supplies, and loungewear have enjoyed a boost. They need your agency's help to handle their new spike in traffic (a great reason to offer Messenger chatbots as a service), and to increase their marketing efforts to attract even more new prospects.

”Many of our clients are having their biggest months ever during this time,” says Natasha. So while it may feel like COVID-19 brought every business to a halt, the reality is that plenty are looking to ramp up their marketing efforts right now.

The brands who are advertising during the pandemic are looking to get the job done quick, too. “We have observed that sales cycles are smaller, which is why we're prospecting more aggressively during this time,” Natasha shares. “Sales cycles that used to take a few months can now take as little as a few days, because decision makers want to expand quickly—especially during a time where paid traffic costs are decreasing.” So polish your pitch and get ready to move fast! There are clients out there who want to get started with your chatbot agency's services right away.

#3. Find creative ways to adapt to the new normal.

The pandemic has been dragging on for over half a year now. While we all hope it passes soon, savvy marketers need to adapt to the "new normal" to continue producing results for their clients. Mackensie shares the story of how she did this for a local restaurant client. 🍴

First, she launched a campaign to focus on promoting the restaurant's takeout services. Her goal was to help them still generate revenue, even while they had to be closed for dining. "Actually, he's done very well with takeout—almost too well!" jokes Mackensie, referring to her client's positive "problem" of being overwhelmed with orders since the campaign launched.

Once restaurants in her state were allowed to reopen, the government put restrictions in place. One of these was that they have to offer single-use menus for health and safety reasons. Mackensie came up with an innovative, cheap way to handle this new restriction. "So instead of the added cost [of printing so many menus] for a restaurant that's already struggling, we put together a QR code that will take diners into Messenger so they can view the menu there." This contactless solution is sanitary, sustainable, and super inexpensive. Plus, it brings new users to her client's Messenger chatbot.

It's the hallmark of a great marketer: Seeing the opportunities in adversity. Approach client projects during this time with that creative lens. How can you adapt to the restrictions and the massive changes of the COVID-19 era to serve and delight your client's customers, and bring them (and your Messenger chatbot agency) success?

#4. Communicate with empathy.

One surefire way to mishandle a crisis situation: Being tone-deaf in your communication. COVID-19 has impacted everyone in every part of the world. So failing to acknowledge it or speaking insensitively about the situation will turn off your clients and their customers that you're marketing to. Empathy is key, now more than ever.

Natasha notes how her chatbot marketing agency has shifted their copywriting and communication to adapt to the times. "The messaging in our copy is now much more empathetic," she explains. "Also, we're spending a little bit more time with our clients to craft the copy and messaging. We're adjusting any copy in our existing funnels just to make sure that it's all contextual and empathetic."

In another past episode of Chatfuel School, we talked with two experts from the Biddyco digital marketing agency about sensitive selling during the pandemic. Get their advice for adding a dose of empathy to your marketing and chatbot copy. ⤵️

Adapt and thrive

The truth about running a chatbot agency is this: Your job is to adapt to industry changes, test new ideas, and optimize for success, in any conditions. The COVID-19 era is the ultimate test of these skills. Practice empathy and creativity, and take Natasha and Mackensie's advice to heart. You can also get more resources to help businesses like yours through the pandemic. Then, sign up to get a reminder when we premiere our next episode of Chatfuel School, full of tips and advice from industry experts for your marketing agency.

Ready to take your chatbot development agency to the next level? Book a demo to learn more about the functions of Chatfuel's Premium Agency plan, which can help you build better bots, faster for clients in any niche.