This post was written by TCCS member, Clare Hastings
If you’re thinking of adding “chatbot copywriter” to your list of services, or plan to put a chatbot on your own website, there are a few things you need to know about these small but powerful programs.
It seems everyone has a chatbot on their website these days.
From the high-tech SaaS giants to your local pet store, more and more brands are using chatbots to improve customer experience, increase conversions, and free up staff to handle more “human” tasks.
And it’s a growing market.
Industry reports predict the chatbot market will grow to US$1.25 billion in 2025.
So now could be the perfect time to think about adding “chatbot copywriter” to your list of services.
But how exactly do you write for a chatbot?
Head CopyBeast Kate Toon gave an exclusive Toon Training for The Clever Copywriting School members. (Jump on the waitlist here if you’re not a member.)
She enlightened us on all things chatbots: what they’re used for, how to sell writing for one as a service, and how to write copy for chatbots without sounding like a machine.
Watch the full Toon Training here (Clever Copywriting School members only) or read the summary below.
What is a chatbot?
If you used a computer in the ‘90s you might remember Clippy, the Microsoft Word bot that would chime in with “helpful” suggestions for your most pressing word processing problems.
Well, Clippy was one of the earliest forms of chatbots.
A chatbot is a piece of software that simulates a conversation with human users.
The aim is to convincingly emulate human behaviour, although we’re a long way from passing the Turing Test – a method of determining whether or not a computer is capable of thinking like a human.
Thankfully, chatbots have come a long way since Clippy was mercifully retired.
Today, there are two types of chatbots:
- Simple: Uses keywords to trigger simple pre-written responses. (e.g. your keywords might be “opening hours”, and the chatbot will answer any question variation with this keyword in it).
- Smart: Uses Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing to intelligently respond to customers. Similar to Google’s BERT algorithm, smartbots can figure out user intent and respond to more complex questions.
Smartbots still have a long way to go, and most websites today will be using simple chatbots (which is what Kate’s session focused on).
Kate’s 7 simple chatbot tips
When it comes to writing for chatbots, there are seven important things to remember. (Actually, there’s a lot more which Kate explains in-depth in the Chat Bot Copy Essentials Checklist, a brilliant resource for anyone thinking about offering this as a service.)
Here’s a brief summary of Kate’s key tips:
1. Remember your goal: What do you want the user to do? Having a clear idea of your endgame from the beginning will help make your chatbot copy more effective. It’s a good idea to have one ultimate goal (a “dream” scenario such as buying your product), and a few secondary goals to aim for such as following you on social media or signing up to a newsletter.
2. Remember your audience: While there will be some generic phrases you can use for many clients, try to think about your audience’s specific pain points. Consider how you want them to feel throughout the process, what will irritate them, and what will drive them toward your goal?
3. Keep a consistent tone of voice: Do you want to sound professional? Knowledgeable? Quirky? Cool? How playful are you going to be? How chatty do you want to get? Remember, this isn’t written copy, and it’s not about writing perfect, beautiful prose. This is a conversation, so write the way you speak.
4. Keep it short and sweet: Each message should be no more than three lines of copy on a mobile device. That’s around 60-90 characters per reply. If your answer is complex, it’s a good idea to wait for your audience to ask another question and then give another response.
5. Be real, but not too real: Being human is super important when writing chatbot copy. But you don’t want to fool people into thinking they’re really talking to you. You might want to give your chatbot a name (e.g. Kate’s is “Toon Bot”) to make it crystal clear it’s a bot they’re talking to.
6. Consider readability: This isn’t the place to use complex sentences. Even if you’re writing for academics or lawyers, you want to keep it conversational. Use a tool such as Hemmingway to check for readability.
7. Consider pace: Think about how fast users receive your messages, especially if you’re sending multiple responses one after another. Make sure you have at least a three-second pause to give users a chance to digest the information. This natural pause will also make the experience feel more human.
Get your bot down to business
Kate finishes up with some practical advice.
“The idea is not to have a three-hour-long conversation between customer and chatbot.
Ask three to five questions which either help solve a simple problem, pass the customer to a real person, or direct them to the right source of information.
“And remember, these scripts are not going to be long. So make sure you price based on ROI rather than time or length.”
Want to create chatbots that convert?
For a thorough rundown on chatbot copywriting, check out the Chat Bot Copy Essentials Checklist, a comprehensive 5-page PDF that helps you understand the fundamentals of writing for chatbots and giving your customers what they need when they need it.
Clare Hastings leaps out of bed in the morning to rescue eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, and thought leadership articles from the depths of marketer’s to-do lists.
Fuelled by coffee and a crippling need to be seen as helpful, she also creates resources such as The Marketer’s Guide to Subject Matter Experts, which shows marketing managers how to tap into their teams’ expertise to create standout content.