Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: Well guys, thanks for joining us today. We are talking with one of my favorite people, Tracey. Tracey and I met through a coaching group that we’re both a part of. And so Tracey, why don’t you tell us who you are, where you live and a little bit about you.

Tracey: I’m Tracey. I am the CEO of Victory Points. We are a chatbot marketing agency, which means we help people create more conversations that convert inside their business.

So I live in Southern California, but I can’t ever answer this question without saying that I’m from Texas. Cause you know, Texas people, they just, you can’t take the girl like completely out of Texas. 

Julia: Texas people always take credit for Texas!

Tracey: So I’m from Texas, moved to California 11 years ago with my husband. So I’m a wife. I have a son who’s five, we homeschool. And it’s been a really fun season. So we support coaches and e-commerce brands with their social advertising, specifically bringing them into conversations in messenger.

Julia: I love that focus. So before we get into things, let’s talk about what chat bots are like. That’s what we’re going to talk about today is chat bots. We’re gonna talk about how to keep them personal, but for those of us who don’t even know what a chatbot is, tell us what is a chatbot. 

Tracey: So a lot of people think of bots as like when you go to a website, and you think you’re talking to a person and then you’re like, oh, it’s automated. And it’s just a poor experience. So that is a chat bot. That’s an example of one, like on a website, if you’re like, okay, I’m trying to reach somebody. Like I was on the IRS website yesterday. Oh, that was like the worst bot experience ever. 

So what a social chat bot is, it’s actually like selling for you, however it’s doing it in a one-on-one conversational way. So it’s a pre-written conversation. That’s designed to build relationship with them and help them to get whatever they’re looking for. So simply put, if you’re a restaurant and someone messages your page and they say, what are your hours? If the bot can just respond and say, “Our hours are this day to this day, this time to this time.” And then it’s like, “Well, did you also want to see a menu?” Then you’re prompting to keep the conversation going. Or you say like, “Do you wanna get directions?” And then they click the directions button, it opens up Google maps. It’s like, cool. Now I know you’re open. Now I know how to get there. It’s like highly likely that they’re going to start navigating there. If that’s what they were looking for. 

Julia: So in a way you’re using them to anticipate people’s needs, too. Like it’s not just here’s your problem, here’s the solution. It’s like also you might want to know this. 

Tracey: Yes. 

Julia: Okay, cool. That’s awesome. So let’s talk about how to get personal with chat bots. You already mentioned it a little bit, but before I do that, how did you get into this? Like where did you, how did you see a need for chat bots?

Tracey: Well, it was 2018 is when I started freelancing. I was a social media manager and I was, you know, posting for people on their Facebook and Instagram. And I would see a lot of questions come in. I actually, my background was actually in the restaurant industry and that’s why a lot of our clients are restaurants, we have food and beverage and it’s just a passion of mine. I’m kind of a foodie. And so I was like seeing these people, sending pages of like questions, like basic, this is a super basic example of a bot, it’s just autoresponder, you know? “Can I see a menu? What are your hours? What are your directions?” And the restaurant owners are running around like a chicken with their head cut off. They’re working 60, 80 hours a week, especially right now during COVID, when they’re short staffed, they don’t have time to be on Facebook.

And most of the business owners really actually hate Facebook. I’ve had many of them tell me, sorry Facebook if you’re listening, but they’re like, “I literally hate Facebook, but the only I have to have it because that’s where my customers are. I know my customers are there and I want to reach them.” And so, I created this system where people could send the page a message to get some sort of offer.

And that offer, after getting questions answered that they wanted, the offer would collect their emails address and their phone number. And so that way we could we could follow up with them and make sure that they come in. So it would be like a really good offer, like a buy one, get one free entree. 

Julia: So you are using it like to answer questions and then also even like lead generation to grab their emails, add them to an email list, et cetera. 

Tracey: Yes. Which is actually the primary thing that we do now is help. Build those email lists, texting lists, and like I said, convert them into customers. So like the auto responder is like level one chat bot. If you have a basic bot, it just answers questions. Like if you’re a coach or an e-comm business and someone’s like, “What products do you offer?” Or “Do you have this course? Can I learn more about this?” Like that’s just autoresponder. The next level is, “Hey, you want to get this freebie, The Five Steps to Grow Your Confidence!” “Yes. I want to get that.” “Cool. What’s your email?” 

They give you their email and the chatbot, and this is all in messenger and Facebook messenger or in Instagram DMs. So Instagram just came out recently. So it’s very now. I have a lot of things on my Instagram. So if you want to go play with the chat bot, you can go check it out.

Julia: Ooh, that is good to know. Okay, so then let’s talk about how to keep them personal because we talked about your bad experience with the IRS. I was on like a chatbot with Target the other day. And I was like, this is the worst. I can’t get like my information that I want. So I felt like they were not even doing that basic level correctly. So how, what are some techniques that you use to keep chat bots? 

Tracey: Well, one of the things is I always tell them in the very first message who they’re talking to. So we actually create these cute little avatars. So one of the clients that I have right now, it’s really fun. He is a prophet and he has this whole business where he’s teaching Christians how to learn to hear more from God. So we were trying to come up with a cool little avatar for his chat bot and it’s like a five day challenge on, you know, hearing God. And so we were like, well, Barnabas was a prophet in the Bible and Barnabas literally means son of prophecies.

So we’re like, this is the perfect. So we created this little Barnabas, the bot, and there’s this little graphic of him. He’s like a modern looking dude with a v-neck with a beard, you know, he looks kind of like a cool looking Barnabas. And so we create this graphic. So when people sign up for his five day challenge, and he goes live in the Facebook group and he says, “Hey, if you want to show up live every day, so you can get the daily homework, if you want to like enter to win our giveaway, you need to go meet Barnabas. He’s our virtual assistant.” And you have to explain it in a way that makes it exciting to people. They want to go talk to Barnabas. He was like, “Go talk to Barnabas. All you have to do is send our Facebook page a message and Barnabas will get you all hooked up.”

So the first message is Barnabas going, “Hey, I’m Barnabas. I’m going to be your virtual assistant throughout this challenge. And I’m going to help you get your homework, enter you to the giveaway” and so on. And that way you can make sure you don’t miss a day. And then so it’s like, cool. So just to make sure you want to opt in for notifications and so Barnabas did all of this and throughout the whole conversation, throughout the whole challenge, he would check back in with like a different facial expression, with different like emojis and stuff. So it’s like, they knew they were not talking to a real person. 

Then, at a few points in there, there was always like on-brand like verbiage. So it’s not like just a standard, like, “Did you want to enter the giveaway?” “Yes.” You know, it’s like on brand, like the voice, like the message is, it sounds like our clients. 

Julia: Cool. That’s awesome. I could see that as being super important because then it’s not turning people off. Like have you like, do your clients see that as important as well?

Tracey: Totally. And I love to go to my client’s challenges. I love to comb through the inbox and see what are people saying. And I have so many screenshots of people being like, “This is so cool!” Because this client has done this challenge at least five times. So he added to it and some people had gone back through the challenge again, and they were like, “We love Barnabas. This is so cool. You made it so easy for me.” And they just loved having that extra help because I mean, if the client had, he had consistently 170 people watching love. Which I do want to talk about those numbers in a second, but how was he going to answer all those people’s questions? 

Julia: Right. Plus he could hire like a staff person to do it, but if a bot could do it, then it ends up being way more cost-effective for him, too.

Tracey: Right. And he has a staff person, but luckily all she had to do was answer some of the more unique questions, because it was related to hearing from God. People would be like, “I had a dream about this” and you know, “Pray for my husband and me.” Like obviously a bot should not respond, “Yes. We’re praying for you.” Like that would be so disingenuine.

Julia: Right. And it’s almost like Barnabas then becomes like a mascot in a way, like where they could then use Barnabas in other situations for other things. 

Tracey: Right. And some of our clients like going back to the restaurant thing, one is like a bakery and the founder, like a hundred years ago, his name is Pascal. So we created this cute little French baker guy. You know, little things. So Pascal’s already kind of like the name of the founder, so it already made sense. So we do this for every single bot. 

Julia: Okay, cool. So let’s talk about some of those success stories. Like I’d love to hear, like, we’ve heard a little bit about this person, the prophet that Barnabas and the prophet that you’re working with. Tell us more about the success that he’s seen or that other people have seen with using chat bots. 

Tracey: So he told us that consistently he would usually see about a 50% drop-off from day one of the challenge. Usually when people do, especially a free challenge, five day challenge, let’s say you got a hundred people. He had 170 people live on day one. He said, “Usually I’ll see about a 50% drop-off from day one to day two, because people get busy and they’re distracted and they forget. And the only way they’re usual reminded is by email and, you know, email open rates are 20 to 30%.

Julia: So if you’re busy at that moment, then you might not get it to, right? 

Tracey: Yeah. You’re late. You know, usually the emails go out 10, 15 minutes before. You’re definitely not checking your email every five seconds. And I don’t have email notifications on because that would be insane. But I do have messenger notifications on because usually those are only my friends messaging me or businesses that I actually want to talk to.

And so the next day he had 170 people watching him live. Insane. Yeah. So like consistently, so then I show up on day four, which was the day he pitched his offer and he still had 160 people live. So it’s exciting. And he was like, “This is crazy. Like people are still showing up live.” And so the way that we did that was in messenger, we would ask them, “Hey, do you want to get notified here in messenger?” or “Do you want to get a text message or both?” And we would give them a point for all their interactions. So if you signed up for a messenger live notification, you get one point. If you sign up for texts, you get a point. Or if you do both, you get three points and we had about 65% of people choose both.

Julia: Do the participants know that they’re being assigned points or is that like behind the scenes?

Tracey: So in the beginning message, whenever they first meet Barnabas, we tell them you’re going to get your homework. You’re going to find out how to enter the contest. And we’re going to give you live notification updates. Those are like the three main goals of Barnabas of the chat bot. So if they’re going to enter the giveaway, it’s saying, “Hey, so let us have your phone number. We’ll send you a text message update. You’ll get a point for that. And then by the end of the week, you will get to enter to win the big giveaway.” Right? And then we’re going to do surprise little giveaways all throughout the week, based on how many points you have.

So when they come live everyday, when they show up live, there’s a link in the actual live broadcast. And they click that link to go back to Barnabas to get the homework for that day. So when they click on that link and it’s like, “Hey, you came to day one! That’s awesome, way to show up for yourself. Here’s the homework from today. And by the way, you get a point for that!” So then every time that they would show up live, they would click on the daily homework would be getting points. 

Julia: So it like incentivizes them to get the points for the giveaway, like also, still get the content, but to get the point for the giveaway. So one more thing.

Tracey: Right. And we know that the people who show up consistently that actually do the homework, they’re more likely to buy the offer. 

Julia: Oh, totally. 

Tracey: So that’s why having this chat bot is, is so useful. ’cause they’re, they’re getting more excited and they’re actually getting something out of the challenge. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve signed up for so many challenges or, you know, three-day events and stuff. And I like, I’m busy, you know, and I don’t remember to come or I’m like, oh, I signed up for that. That was, that was next week? Like it just, it happens like that. So it’s good because you want people to actually get an impact, whether or not they buy your offer, you want them to actually get something out of your challenge that you’re investing time into doing. 

Julia: For sure, because especially if you’re using it as lead generation, also, they might not buy it right now, but they might buy later. And if you have them on your list and they had a good experience then they’re more likely to make that purchase later on.

Tracey: Exactly. Yeah. So I’m just like all fired up about chat bots. We’ve been doing it for about a year and we really feel like we’ve really perfected the system now. So yeah. So it’s just, it’s just working and as far as conversion, you know, we’re seeing 14, 15% conversions, which most people who run a free five day challenge, typically close, like 5%, maybe 10%. We’re seeing like, well over 10%. 

Julia: That’s awesome. Well, way to go, Tracey and the Victory Points team. That’s awesome. I’m really excited for you. So we talked about challenges. We’ve also talked about like how you might use them in restaurants. What are some other uses that you might see for chapbots?

Tracey: Well e-commerce businesses, too. So if you have a Shopify store, you can integrate your chatbot with Shopify. So let’s say that I visit your website, I chat with your little chat bot that’s connected to your messenger. It’s the same bot. It’s just connected with messenger on your website. And I add something to my cart, but I don’t check out. You know, the typical abandoned cart rate is high, right? So, let’s say I leave and then I get busy or whatever. The bot can actually remind you, like within 24 hours, you have to message them again. So an hour later I could say, “Hey, I saw you added this item” with the picture of the item, with the price and everything, “I saw you added this item to your cart. Did you have any questions about it or did you want to go ahead and check out? I’ve saved it for you.” Like everyone does that, good e-commerce brands do that already with email, right? So doing this in messenger people, it pops right up and there’s a little button and all you have to do is click it and it goes right back to the cart for them to check out.

Then we add like an FAQ flow about it. So, I have another client who has a product that’s about a hundred dollars and it’s, it’s a UV sterilizer with water and then has the UV lights. So like you put your toothbrush. I put like my Invisalign in there, it’s gross. You can put your keys or whatever. So like that product, there’s some skepticism behind it, cause you’re like, is it cleaning? Does it actually work? So we get a lot of abandoned carts. So retargeting is really important. So having people being able to follow up with the chat box, “Hey, did you have any questions?” And they’re like, “Yeah, does it actually work?” You know, the questions that people are thinking, so then they can actually swipe through FAQ’s and then the bot can have like little videos and little audios from the founder, and then we can also, if they don’t buy, we can also offer them some sort of deal and you can customize the actual offer to them. 

So you can say like, “Hey, you added this to your cart, so I’m going to give you 15% off with a special code that’s related to your name so only you can use it.” So it’s like, it depends on how advanced we want to get here, but we’re building some pretty advanced bots these days. 

Julia: Yeah, have you ever seen it, like with service-based businesses? Is it more just like question and answer sort of bots or are there other ways to use it in service-based business?

Tracey: Well, I guess I have a service-based business, so cause that’s what we do, we do done for you. And so I do, I use it for lead generation. So if I’m like on my Instagram stories, I’ll say, “Hey, send me a DM with the keyword,” to use this as an example, “And I’ll send you over my worksheet.” And so people can send me that keyword. And my bot is like, “Hey, were you looking for the worksheet on how to choose your thoughts and how to manage your mindset?” And they’re like, “Yes!” So then they give me their email and then I send them the worksheet. And now they’re on the email list and I can follow up with them.

They could type in, you know, “Send me the DM with the word ‘services’ and you can learn more about like our services and how things work.” And then it’s like, “Did you want to book a call?” And there’s a link there. They can click the button and book a call, etc.

Julia: That’s awesome. I didn’t even know that chat bots could do all of these things. If I’m totally honest, I feel like all of my associations with chat bots are those like terrible experiences. And so to think about ways to use them well is incredibly exciting. 

Tracey: It’s customer service. 

Julia: Right, right. Totally. How would somebody know that they’re ready for chat bots or how would they know that it’s not for them?

Tracey: Well, I would say it’s not for somebody who doesn’t have a proven offer. It would be stressful, I think, to try to build a bot if you’re not sure what your services are. Say you’re a freelancer and you’re still trying to figure out your services, or if you’re like an e-commerce brand and your website is not converting, like I would make sure that you have a proven product with a proven offer. So if you’re a coach and you have a funnel and show that your funnel is already converting, or if you’re selling your course or whatever, make sure that that’s already working because otherwise you’re just going to add complexity and that’s not necessary at that point.

But I would say that if you have a course that’s already selling. And when I say selling, I mean, like you’ve made at least 10 sales, like cold sales. I don’t mean your mom and your sisters, like people who didn’t know you that found you online and then they bought from you. That would be, you know, okay, people have bought this. It’s a valid offer. Then you could add a chat bot to help increase the sales. The other thing I would say is if you’re running paid advertising already,  adding a chat bot would be good. Meaning like you’re spending at least a hundred dollars a day on your ads. Like if you’re just kind of like spending a little less than that, then maybe you don’t add it yet until you’ve got like, “Okay, my ads are converting, everything’s working.” Then you can add the chat bot. 

So that’s kind of like my baseline. Like if someone comes to me and they want me to build them a chat not, those are kind of the metrics I look for. Because you know, I don’t want to add complexity or end up coaching you on your offer. And, you know, it’s like, the offer needs to be like solid and dialed in and already getting good results for people, whether it’s a product or a service.

Julia: And what’s so exciting is that then the chat bot can almost add fuel to the fire. Like the fire’s already going. You’re just adding more people, more fuel, more interaction, more personal interaction, more engagement. You’re not just starting from scratch. 

So you already mentioned this, like people could come and try your chat bot out if you want Tracey’s lead generator, but where could people find you if, even if they already know, like, yeah, I’m a great candidate for chat bots. Where can people find you?

Tracey: Instagram is the best way to connect with me because I’m live on my stories pretty much every day. And you can send me a DM with the word “free chat bot” and actually I have a free chat bot template. So you just say free chat bot to me on Instagram. So my name is @traceymatneyvps. VPS stands for Victory Point Social.

Julia: That’s awesome. If you were to leave any words of wisdom for our listeners, what would you close with?

Tracey: Stop doing all the little things like trying to build a chat bot before you make sure that your offer is ready to go. I mean, I know we kind of talked about this, but it’s like, as entrepreneurs, we get ourselves busy with building a website and making sure that all these little things are working or, you know, like my husband and I own a brick and mortar. It’s a board games and puzzle shop and he’s coming to me with like all these little ideas, and I’m like
No, you just got to like, let’s get your e-commerce store up and running, you know, before we try to add all these other things.” So focus on like making sales first. And once you’re selling something, then you can add all the extra things.

Julia: That’s why I just really appreciate you, Tracey, is because I feel like sometimes people try to sell people magic bullets and like a chat bot could be like a fuel to the fire, but it’s not going to fix your business. If your business is already struggling, like we have to work on those basic things and then add all of these extras to just blow wind into like the sale of your boat and then you can go further. 

Tracey: Yeah, like if you’re doing a five day challenge that’s brand new and you don’t have, you know, you’re getting 10 people to show up, the chat bot is cool, but it’s kind of an expensive way to make those ten people engaged. It’s more important that you focus on getting way more people to your challenge.

So I actually had a lady. I mean, my prices started at $2,500 a month, I had a lady that was ready to pay me. But she’s never even launched her offer at all. She’s never old it. And I just told her, I was like, “You know, I actually don’t think it would be a good idea for you to hire me.” And she was like surprised because she thought I was going to sell her something.

But I was like, “You know, I actually think what you should do is run a challenge first, by yourself. And you know, I’ll coach you.” because I actually do some consulting. I was like, “Come back to me after you’ve worked out the kinks and the logistics, and then we’ll do that for your next time.”

Julia: Oh, that’s sweet. That’s awesome. Well guys, you have heard it here from Tracey, how to make chat bots not awful and how to make them great for either challenges or whatever you might be doing. Reach out to her. It was @traceymatneyvps. 

Tracey: Yes. 
Julia: All right. Reach out to her on Instagram, check out her chat bot. Maybe you need one for yourself, maybe you don’t, but either way, it’s like a good experience to learn a little bit more about marketing in the wild. So see you guys next week.