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Chatbot choices, get results at the best price

What is a chatbot?

Simply put a chatbot is an AI software that can simulate a conversation, a chat with a user. They are mainly divided into groups:

  • Menu/multiple-choice chatbots – The most basic type of chatbot available. Think of it like those automated phone numbers where you hear the choices and then press a number to continue. These chatbots immediately present you with choices and a premade script to help you get answers.
  • simple/keyword recognition chatbot – They rely on a playbook written by the developer and follow those commands to give the user a reply. Because of this, if not done right it can result in a generic “sorry, I did not understand” message if the question doesn’t use a prewritten keyword.
  • Smart/contextual chatbots – These are the most advanced type of chatbot’s and they use machine learning and artificial intelligence to remember, learn and grow their reply database. Unlike simple chatbots, these can improve their responses over time based on the questions being made.

Chatbot benefits

The reason chatbots are so popular these days is that they allow companies to save time, money, improve UX and increase sales, but let’s break this down into the main benefits.

  1. 24hour availability is one of the biggest reasons to consider a chatbot.
  2. Instant responses to FAQs and common support queries.
  3. Improved customer satisfaction.
  4. Understanding customers and reviewing issues and queries.
  5. Complaints resolved quickly.
  6. Cost savings by answering the most common queries.
  7. Increased interaction and sales.

Chatbot use cases

Chatbots are not created equal, the differences in both features and price are in fact so large that it’s hard to explain to clients why some are basically free while others can cost upwards of €1000 per month.

The truth is although they share the same designation they are made to solve different problems.

A menu/multiple-choice type chatbot is ideal for a company that is getting too many FAQs type queries, but it will fall short in any other scenario.

A simple/keyword recognition chatbot will be able to respond and recognize advanced queries much better, but need more development time to create a set of answer’s, and probably slip if the user makes too many related questions or questions with keywords that match different playbooks.

Lastly the smart/contextual chatbot, the most evolved and sophisticated but at the same time the most expensive of these options. They can help give the chatbot a more helpful and human feel even if at a steep cost. Ideal but depending on the company’s size the investment might not give the expected return.

Chatbot vs virtual assistant

This a long-existing discussion, is a chatbot something like those Alexa’s and Siri’s I hear about?

Chatbots were considered less intelligent than virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa, the key points were that they were incapable of natural language processing, of remembering the context and or performing a wider range of functions.

This gap between the two is now so narrow that there is almost nothing to separate the two.

What is chatbot marketing?

It’s basically conversational commerce, a response to the growing number of consumers that want personalized interaction with brands. Today’s customers don’t want to waste time on an automated phone or email and wait for a reply. To face this growing need of fast communication chatbot’s were developed to engage and interact with the customers.

They are a great marketing tool if they are used well. They can be set to engage a user with an offer depending on certain conditions, pages being viewed or provide assistance if the user is idle on checkout.

Why chatbots fail

  • Bad setup – The most common type of chatbot is the simple/keyword recognition, and that means they are rule or playbook based and that determines how well the chatbot can answer the different questions. It’s common for these chatbots to be installed with almost no setup or list of rules and then instead of helping the user they became irritating and repetitive. Smart/contextual chatbot’s also required an initial setup but they “evolve” from the initial ruleset. Of course, they rarely suffer from bad setup because a company that is paying more than €500 a month for a smart/contextual chatbot will most likely hire someone to properly set it up and manage.
  • Bad choice of chatbot type – Depending on the communication and conversational needs the choice of chatbot might influence how successful it is. A company facing a lot of common simple questions might find a menu based chatbot to be a better fit than a simple/keyword-based one.
  • Too ambitious – Much more common than what we expected. Often companies see chatbots as a solve everything, sales increasing miracle that requires no work. This is, of course, a result of how chatbot companies market their services making it seem like a buy it and forget it type of deal. These companies will often try to make chatbots engage in very complex customer problems, complaints or questions that are better suited for a live chat. This results in sales dropping and in blaming the chatbot for it. So don’t try to use a chatbot to solve all the problems for every client you have.
  • Lack of chatbot personality and transparency – Users don’t like to feel deceived so try to be clear about the use of chatbots by creating a chatbot personality that will maximize engagement and retention. It will be a different persona depending on your company brand guidelines but working on creating a chatbot experience that is consistent and expectable with some personality is vital.

Which chatbot is best?

We have our own shortlist of chatbots that we have tested and that we usually go through with our clients. It’s a mix of different options with different values and goals and if you know something that is better but not on our list let us know.

Collect chat

  • Free plan – 50 responses limit
  • Paid plan from $24

+ an interesting proposition for a chat

+ zero human involvement

A great example of a menu/multiple choice chatbot, it can help your company deal with repetitive requests or direct user’s to the correct page or webform.

We like the simplicity of setup and the clear and fair pricing options, so if this simple to set up and good looking chatbot widget has all the features you need you are good to go.

Drift

  • Free plan – 100 contacts
  • Paid plan from $50/month (for individuals), $400/month (teams)

+ Personal assistant type of experience, book meetings, qualify leads

Drift is one of the big names in the chatbot field and they certainly seem to spend some money on their marketing efforts. They have a cool young vibe and they are extremely responsive. The chatbot experience is highly customizable and if done right it can certainly help your business if you can afford the price tag.

It’s also, like other tools in this list much more than just a bot and it easily integrates with your CRM, analytics or messaging platforms.

Intercom

  • No free plan
  • Paid plan from $99 (custom bot option)

+ scalability to include a wider range of services than probably any other offering

Intercom’s pricing and plan offering are really overwhelming if you are a beginner. The different plans range from custom bots to product tour interactions and help center articles, it will take some time to find the right choice and it may leave you thinking whether you are choosing correctly. Let me recommend using their chatbot to find your way around that very complicated product list.

Zendesk

  • Free plan avaiable
  • Paid plan from $89 (zendesk suite)

+ scalability and experience in the support and customer engaging business

Zendesk is a great option specially if you need to handle support request as it integrates nicely with other offers in their suite like live chat, call centers and knowledge base interactions.

Their suite can be a life saviour if you need to handle customer support by having your customers figure out their answers first before going up another level to a live chat or a call cente, it is truly integrated customer support just like their website claims.

Botsify

  • No free plan
  • Paid plan from $50/month

+ Integrates with Facebook and others

+ lead generation forms builder

+ design customized templates in a few clicks using a drag-and-drop interface

Botsify is a simple to use and install chatbot with human takeover functions, the chatbot will sometimes suggest that takeover if it finds the user is having trouble getting answers.

If you need a chatbot that integrates with wordpress with ease or even your own facebook chat this is the one to go for.

ChatBot

  • No free plan
  • Paid plan from $50/month

+ Simple to setup, dragging and dropping responses and actions to compose various bot’s answers and decide its behaviour.

+ Integrates with Facebook and others

This is one of my favorites, it offers integrations with pretty much anything you can throw at it including of course facebook messenger, slack or even skype and it does that in style with a great looking dashboard and website.

The setup uses what they call stories to organize the bots response in different scenarios witch is pretty intuitive and we find it’s easy to understand even for a beginner.

Landbot.io

  • Free plan avaiable
  • Payed plan from €30/month

+ Conversational type of experience

+ Engaging and fun

This one could actually be the one we talk more about, both with clients and internally. It’s a menu/multiple-choice type of chatbot, with a super simple way to both manage it and interact with it.

This is one of the simplest (in a good way) stress-free chatbots for a website because it takes a form type of approach to chatbots. It’s like you are turning your usual contact or lead generating form into a conversation.

This actually started to change our approach to forms in both our and our client’s projects.

Not really chatbot’s but worth a look

HelpCrunch

  • No free plan
  • from €15/month

+ Live chat option

+ good pricing options

We used HelpCrunch for many months and found it to work well for our needs. Using triggers you can have the bot start a pre-scripted interaction with a user that is at a specific page or from a specific country, etc, you get the idea.

It’s a live chat and we recommended it to our clients as a starting point to interact with customers. If you have no need for an actual chatbot but only for a way to communicate and find facebook’s solution unprofessional, this might be for you.

Another upside is of course the pricing, it’s among the cheapest options out there for live chat.

If you have an in-house web developer or you are one

Space10 conversational form

  • It’s free to use, if you know how of course
Space10 conversational form

This is a way turn your regular web forms into a messenger type of experience. You can use multiple select options and input fields to have your user’s fill out your form without that form UX people run away from.

It just feels like an actual conversation rather than a boring old contact/lead generation form. We think it’s a super idea from Space10 and we hope they continue to develop it.

What are the different types of Chatbots?

There are 3 main types of chatbots. Menu/multiple-choice chatbots, simple/keyword recognition chatbots and smart/contextual chatbots.

What is the best chatbot?

We have our own shortlist of chatbots that we have tested and that we usually go through with our clients. You can see some of our favorites in the article but generally specaking the smart/contextual chatbots tend to work the best if your budget can strech that far.

What is the purpose of Chatbots?

The reason chatbots are so popular these days is that they allow companies to save time, money, improve UX and increase sales, but let’s break this down into the main benefits.
24hour availability is one of the biggest reasons to consider a chatbot. Instant responses to FAQs and common support queries.
Improved customer satisfaction. Understanding customers and reviewing issues and queries. Complaints resolved quickly. Cost savings by answering the most common queries. Increased interaction and sales.

How many chatbots are there?


According to facebook statistics in 2018 there were 300,000 chatbots on facebook alone. These are mainly menu/multiple choice chatbots so this number is in 2020 much higher with the growth of compnies like drift or intercom.

Agricultural website theme design in 2019

We have recently launched a website in the agriculture field and while researching the market we really struggled to find a good website to draw inspiration from. The truth is that most companies seriously neglected their website and we found that while many still have websites made over a decade ago, other’s most likely did not take their website as a serious investment and just quickly and cheaply got one made by either using a website builder or a theme without any help creating good content or assets.

But does an agricultural company really need a website?

We believe only the owner can answer that. But the answer would be yes for almost every single case out there. If you already have a long list of clients and a backlog of orders, you are struggling to answer the demand and your products are priced as high as the market allows and you only sell localy then a website might not be high on the investment priorities. But for everyone else, yes, a website is something your company simply cannot live without.

Nowadays everyone checks everything online and you cannot afford to make a bad impression.

You might think that because you are not selling online a website will not generate that much return on your investment, but the truth is it will, it’s as much about the contracts and business you loose as the ones you make, and a bad or inexisting website will make you loose contracts.

Downloading an agricultural website theme/template for free

One option you might be considering is to search and download a free theme for a wordpress website and try to get a website up and running with litle to no costs.  We do sugest this route to some small companies that have no money to invest and would like to invest their own time on learning and managing a website by themselfs. The obvious pro’s of this DIY approuch are the low investment and the speed at witch you can have your website up and running. But the con’s are the reason we don’t recommend this to many, you will be on your own with no support, you will need to learn and manage your website and that takes time and although at first you might think you are making progress, you will not understand the reason you don’t have any traffic or are not making any online sales, we’ll save you the time and just tell you how

There are too many factors involved in generating traffic and sales/leads

Getting a website out in the internet is the easiest part of your digital presence, knowing how to generate organic traffic, how to increase or even create online sales is the hardest. You could learn it eventually of course but it would take a lot of time and for the most part it would be a trial and error  process on your own company.

What about a premium theme?

Choosing a premium theme will increase the chances of success as they are generally better built and offer some sort of support, it varies depending on the company you buy it from. The are optimized and offer a huge number of customization options, I have seen quite a few and I can assure that they are generally very well coded and designed.

It’s miles from using a free theme so does that mean they are a good option?

Again only you can answer that. They offer you a great starting point and if you are a DIY type of person, enjoy creating copy and researching keywords,  this is a good option. It will increase your chances of success but we would still advise you to at least reach out to a specialist in digital marketing to get a consultation on what steps to take, copy to focus on, ads, using a wordpress editor, SEO plugins and many other things that will make or break your efforts. Why not reach out to us?

So what could be wrong with a premium theme?

Mostly because these themes are quite generic. They are made to look good and convince you to buy it, but they don’t take into account your brand, copy or business type. Your website will look exactly the same as many others out there and it will perform exactly the same too. Another reason is that you will find they are generic themes made to look good and get you to buy them, as they are products themselves. They have a lot of quality graphics, placeholder images, copy, social media channel widgets, news section, blogs, galleries, etc. But once those are removed and replaced by your content the problems start and the end result is not great.

What about using a custom builder like squarespace or wix?

For the most part it will be similar to using a premium theme, in our opinion the biggest diference lies in how easy it is to manage. Custom builders like squarespace are much easier to work with and we find people enjoy using them a lot better then a normal install of wordpress. You are trading off some things of course, read more about this here, but they are a joy to use.

Custom wordpress theme

If you want the best wordpress theme for your agricultural related business well then there is probably only one way to go about it – a custom build. Diferent agencies will go about this diferently but you can be sure that regardless of the agency process this will be unique. A custom wordpress build will showcase your companies strenghs and will reassure clients or leads that it’s safe to do business with you.

Designing the best agricultural website

So what exactly goes into crafting a great agricultural website? Most of what make a great website great is discovering everything there is to know about your target, your competition and yourself, so you can create a strategy around your copy, design, marketing and assets that enable you to succeed.

Let’s look at some examples of agriculture related websites

coperaguas brazil

Highlighting the process reassures potential leads, and also helps establish exactly what the company can do for a client. Using iconography also helps highlight this rather then just using a bullet list.

coperaguas brazil

Showcasing the products with good original images will help clients find what they are looking for and give a sense of quality to the company and the products. We recomend hiring a product photographer, these photos are assets you can use and reuse in ad’s, posts, articles or catalogue’s so they are a great investment.

Certifications are a way to show  client’s you can be trusted and that your product is of the highest quality. Highlight them and be proud to display them.

Glencore agriculture designed a custom image to show what value they can bring to their clients. It’s a simple and clear way to visually assure clients you will answer to any need be it storage, processing or logistics and can easily fit into their current processes.

Glencore agriculture also highlights their approuch to sustainability, something that clients are increasingly more focused on. It’s a good ideia to proudly display how your company sources products and operates in the industry.

Bunge visually displays their trade flows creating a sense of size that is otherwise hard to convey. A map showcasing the global trade helps make future leads trust in your company, as you have the size and connections to became the right partner.

Glencore agriculture uses oversized elements to show size and you should too. Number’s are a great way to show size and create assurance and trust.

ldc global

Louis Dreyfus Company page is a great example of what a custom design can do to your brand. The page title is from farm to fork and both the copy and the visuals all flow in the same direction. The page helps transmit quite a lot of information in a light way with the use of iconography and colors.

Again, a great use of iconography in brf global makes it easy for the user to find their way around the different pages and content.

Crafting an agricultural website custom build

Our client Shah Nanji Nagsi Exports is one of India’s oldest and largest Non-Basmati rice exporters. Processing and trading
over 30 agricommodities, they have 5 locations in 2 countries and trade with over 60 countries. The goal of this project was to transform the web presence of Shah Nanji Nagsi and improve their SEO strategy so that the brand could grow consistently over the next few years. In the administration side we will create a simple and easy editing workflow that can be used without creating issues. From a user standpoint we want to improve the UX, asset delivery and optimization, while bringing the aesthetics to the high level and standard that Shah Nanji Nagsi are known for.

A top agriculture website will:

  • Cause a good impression
  • Prevent you from losing your clients trust.
  • Answer the most common questions about your business
  • eassure leads about your practices and certifications

What an agriculture website should have:

  • Good original photos (no stock photos please).
  • Simple, easy to understand navigation.
  • Updated certifications.
  • Frequently asked questions section addressing the most common pain points clients face.
  • Easy and diverse ways of reaching out.
  • Modern UX and UI.
  • Clear and professional copy.

So what should you do?

We always suggest investing a percentage of your company’s revenue in both your website and marketing efforts and stay with that number. One common mistake we see in clients is that as they grow their investment in marketing stays the same and the company then struggles to maintain and take advantage of the exiting growth momentum. Don’t over-invest if it’s not the right time or maintain the same investment budget as you grow.

It’s time! I want to invest.

The first thing you should do is contact an experienced agency or freelancer so they can help you plan out your investment and your priorities. Don’t just make decisions like where to invest without having an expert look at both your company and your competition, it will save you a lot of money.

And of course contact us, we already have the proper experience and understand the pain points of the industry.

It’s more than I can invest, at least for now.

We would still suggest getting an expert to have a look at your companies assets and website to help you get on the right track. The choices you make early on can have a bigger impact than you think and starting with a website might not be the best solution for you. We’ll gladly stear you in the right direction.

What are the best Website Templates for Agriculture 2020

You can find a large selection of ready made templates in companies like templatemonster or themeforest, just be careful not to choose a templates that is widely used and will not allow your company to stand out.

Does an agricultural company really need a website?

If you already have a long list of clients and a backlog of orders, you are struggling to answer the demand and your products are priced as high as the market allows and you only sell localy then a website might not be high on the investment priorities. But for everyone else, yes, a website is something your company simply cannot live without.

Examples of agriculture related websites

Some of our favorite website’s include Glencore agriculture, Bunge, Louis Dreyfus or Brf global. You can check our article to know exactly what we highlighted in each while researching.

Why website builders like Squarespace, Wix or Shopify might not work for your business

The Internet is crawling with claims like there’s never been an easier time to get your website up fast and cheap. Why hire a design agency when you can save so much money and just do it yourself. While these sort of claims might seem appealing, you should be certain that it’s the right solution for your business.

Website builders such as Squarespace, Wix, Shopify or Weebly certainly have their place and they are great when you want to set up a website fast and on a tight budget. To be honest, I have recommended these types of platforms myself to some of the potential clients. Maybe you have a business idea that you would like to test or a personal project and you have a very limited budget. By no means, go ahead and Do It Yourself. But before you decide whether to use a website builder, you might want to read why it might be a bad choice for your business.

1. Time-consuming

time comsuming
Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash

Website builders invest a lot of money in marketing their product as a fast and easy solution to make a website yourself. But is it really that easy?

No, it’s not.

Website builders offer you a framework that you have to fill yourself and to do that you need to learn how to use it and have the time to actually build your website. Unless I’m completely mistaken, you probably don’t have the skills nor the time required to do it on your own. In fact, most probably you would start this process only to realize how much work it is, even with a “simple” website builder.

Your time is valuable and you should be spending it doing what you do best.

It takes a lot of time to build a solid website for a business. A solid website is much more than just a beautiful looking website. It needs to have a well-planned information architecture, good content, fast performance, be responsive, search engine optimized and more. Most importantly it needs to bring you results and convert those visitors into customers.

A professional design team will be able to help you do just that by following a certain process. They will help you identify your customer, help you define your goals and strategy, analyze your competition, structure your website and create a custom (unique) website based on good user experience principles.

2. Content

With all these amazing templates available on different website builders, you start jumping out of excitement on what your website will look like. You get lost in countless templates trying to find the best one for your website. Finally! this is the one! You eagerly start replacing the example copy and images with your own content and it doesn’t look that good anymore. After spending so much of your time you end up completely disappointed. And the many customization options available just made decision-making process even more overwhelming and tough.

Creating Good Content is Easier Said than Done.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some really cool themes out there, the problem is that you probably don’t have the cool content to match. A website is not worth anything without a well-structured quality content. I’ve seen how difficult it is for many of our clients to visualize what could or would not work in terms of imagery and copy, and it’s perfectly normal. Only a trained eye will be able to quickly identify the right image and structure the content.

A professional designer or a team will learn about your business and know how to appeal to that particular audience and reach your business goals. How to make the desirable first impression on your potential customer, how to keep him on your website and ultimately convert him to a customer.

3. Poor SEO

You might have the most beautiful website but if your website can’t be found, what’s the point?

poor seo
Photo by Patrick Zachmann. Vendor on the Pan American highway

A beautiful website only serves a purpose if it has beautiful amounts of traffic to go with it. That is the point that so many business owners take years to understand. Usually they are not willing to learn how to do it themselves or invest in paying an expert to help them. So they suffer.

– Erica Johnson

This is where SEO comes into play. What is SEO? (SEO – search engine optimization) Basically, it’s a process to help your website rank higher in search engines such as Google. More visibility in search results, more people will visit your website.

If you are not planning to optimize your website to be search engine friendly than either website builder or a website developed with WordPress stand pretty much on the same level. However, if you want to optimize your website to rank higher in search engines like Google you can do a much better job with a WordPress website.

yoast seo
SEO plugin for WordPress. You can control how the snippet will appear on google search for each page

yoast seo content analysis
SEO plugin for WordPress. You also get content analysis

Website builders such as Squarespace have only basic SEO tools. You can define a few general parameters, such as description, homepage and page title format, etc. You seem to be able to add a description on an individual page to be indexed by a search engine but it warns you that the description might be visible on some templates, and that’s something you might not want.

squarespace general settings
Squarespace screenshot. General settings for all the website

squarespace content description
Squarespace screenshot. You can only add page description that might be visible on the template.

WordPress allows you to install an SEO plugin that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible. You can control how each page of your website will appear on a search engine, or even on social shares.

4. You don’t own your website

It might seem a good idea to use a website builder when starting a new business. Just to test if the idea is good enough. Later on, invest in hiring a design agency to take your business to the next level. No problem, you can take your website with all of its content and move it somewhere else with no design & functionality limitations, right?

Wrong.

own your website
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

If you intend to move your website to another platform anytime in the future, don’t use a website builder.

You won’t be able to do this. Most website builders limit the amount of content that can be exported or imported from your website.

So, in reality, you will have to rebuild your website from scratch when moving to a new platform. You will have to manually copy and paste every text and image placed on your website. If you have an extensive content on your website that alone might be close to an impossible task. Also, all the links or traffic you have built for your existing website along the line might be lost.

Basically, there is no easy way to move your content to another platform and you might find yourself stuck with the same website builder for the rest of your website’s life. You cannot ever take it with you if you decide to leave. You will always pay a monthly fee and won’t ever own your own website. That’s a bad investment.

5. You share the same template

Templates are designed to be easy to use by a broad audience. They are not designed having your business goals in mind. You can change the colours and move a few elements around, but you won’t have a user experience or the flow of the website designed to engage your customer. Generic templates work for the generic audience. With thousands of other people using the same template, the results will still be alike. Even more so if you chose a template that is recommended for a specific type of business, let’s say, a barber. Your website will now look like a large number of other barber websites who are also using this template.

you share the same template
Photo by 浮萍 闪电 on Unsplash

A custom built website will help you stand out from the competition.

How much you invest in your business shows the value it has to you. Does knowing that you spent a little over 20$ on your brand’s website build trust or credibility for your customers? Do you think your customer would choose you with a Wix website over a business with a custom designed website?

You get what you pay for.

Wrapping Up

It certainly is true that website builders have created more options for more people to promote their business online. It is also true that in most cases having a low budget is responsible for choosing a website builder instead of hiring an expert to do it for you. DIY website builders are not meant to be a long-term investment and you will likely see a more significant return on investment with a design agency.

Before you make a decision, you should ask yourself:

  • Do you have the time needed to learn how to use the platform?
  • Do you have the skills to create quality content for your website?
  • Do you want your website to rank higher in search engines?
  • Is it possible you will want to switch platforms anytime in the future?
  • Can creating your website with a builder have a negative effect on how your business is perceived by your customers?

In the end, it all comes down to you. You can DIY but if you value your time and want a return on investment, hire a professional to do it for you. Web designers and developers have spent thousands of hours learning how to make effective websites.