Chatbots — these are the droids you’ve been looking for.

Ever have a sneaking suspicion that the “person” you’re chatting with might actually be a robot? Well, love ‘em or hate ‘em, chatbots — or conversational agents — are tapping into something that has been missing in many digital marketing programs for non-profits since email first hit the scene decades ago: the illusion of (and authentic) personalization.

At Masterworks, we first started building chatbots for our clients as a way to engage donors beyond the inbox, seeing as email is not exactly a breakthrough marketing channel in 2020 (17% average open rates and 0.05% average response rates). Not to suggest that email isn’t worth doing, but as an additional marketing channel to introduce and layer into our overall creative strategies.

Go search chatbot results and you’ll quickly find some outlandish boasts of 75% open rates and 50% click-through rates. And while that may seem hard to believe, based on the chatbots we run, these types of numbers aren’t far off at all.

In 2020, chat is the leading digital content engagement method for the average person

A lot of our work in digital — whether it’s fundraising, recruitment, brand awareness, or content marketing — relies on creating a sense of personal connection with the constituents we are engaging with. The problem is that many of the platforms we’re on aren’t actually used for personal connection anymore. 

Think about how the modern platforms we use are actually used by regular people: Facebook isn’t about posting status updates, photo albums, and sharing our lives with a small group of friends anymore, it’s about sharing articles and opinions, getting into heated debates about said opinions, and seeing ads for things we’re interested in. 

Email isn’t about having conversations at all anymore, it’s about receiving transactional updates and getting marketed to. In fact, email platforms like Google and Outlook make it easier and easier to never have to read or open email; you can just see an email on the homescreen of your smartphone and swipe to delete it.

Simply put, the average person isn’t talking to other average people on these channels anymore, they are doing that with messages — SMS, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, etc.

The proof is in the pudding

Okay, so people are chatting and modern retail and service companies are using chatbots. But does it actually work for non-profits? For us, the answer is YES. And this isn’t just a claim, here are the numbers to back it up. 

These numbers use our direct chatbot averages with appeal-based offers in chat against similar industry numbers from users that come in via organic website traffic.

For one of our clients, we ran a test with a normal digital fundraising offer where we had a Facebook ad point prospects to a donation page that saw about a 4% conversion rate on acquiring them as a new donor. At the same time, we took that same ad but pointed the ad to a chatbot dialog that engaged prospects on a deeper level before pointing people to the exact same donation page. The result on the same donation page, but going through the chatbot, was a 23% conversion rate.

Chatbots cast a net so wide it even surprises us

Do chatbots work in fundraising? Yes. Cost-effectively? Yes. Is that their best value to an organization? Absolutely NOT.

Imagine having someone on your staff who was able to: 

  • work 24 hours a day
  •  take phone calls and answer questions to help point people to specific resources on your website
  • block people who are making inappropriate or harmful comments on your Facebook ads
  • send out prayer alerts
  • ask for prayer submissions
  • find and recruit volunteers
  • call and thank donors
  • tell captivating stories
  • gather resource and testimonials
  • present non-believers with the Gospel and pray with them
  • screen candidates for planned/legacy gifts
  • educate new people on all the programs you do
  • help segment your file based on individual interests
  • promote events
  • get petitions signed
  • flag someone for follow up with a different department
  • send out appeals for donations

Now imagine that same person doing all of those at the exact same time for 5000 people at once.

How much would you have to pay in staff salaries to cover that many conversations? Or maybe the better question is, how much would that be worth to you? How much more could you do with your existing staff if such a “person” was on your team?

You see, that’s the best part of running a chatbot — it can cast an incredibly wide and effective net. So wide that we advise many of our clients to treat its operation as a program expense instead of a fundraising expense simply because it works best when it can operate with as much influence as it can get.

One of our clients, who was surprised at how effective their chatbot was at asking people if they needed prayer (one of the core ministry efforts they do) reported: “Before we launched our chatbot, we would typically get about 5 prayer requests per week. Now we’re getting more than 50! It’s such an amazing problem to have to solve.”

That same ministry actually saw more than a dozen people give their lives to Christ through their chatbot within the first 60 days of operation.

Is a chatbot right for my organization?

Excited about the possibilities of using a chatbot? Well, if you want to achieve any of these goals for your ministry or organization, perhaps it’s time we had a chat of our own.

  • Generate leads with less friction and better conversion rates
  • Cost-effectively quantify constituents for specific offers
  • Expand your file onto a channel with higher-performing metrics
  • Filter out negative commenters from your ads
  • Reduce the burden on staff to manage incoming digital queries and scale their efforts
  • Deepen constituent engagement to improve conversion response
  • Effectively recruit staff, volunteers, missionaries, etc.
  • Segment and retarget with high-fidelity in real-time
  • Increase touch points without increasing out-of-pocket promotional costs
  • Automatically identify groups (like current donors) and put the right next-action in front of them (like sustainers or planned giving)
  • Sell products
  • Fulfill ministry initiatives like education, prayer, emergency response, evangelism, advocacy, and more
  • Capture website engagement and keep communication lines open after they’ve left the website
  • Gather real audience feedback and  insights from real people to inform your next marketing and program decisions

Sound fun? It really is. And so that you know we’re putting our money where our mouth is, if you want to see specific case studies on our chatbots or are ready to chat, give our own chatbot a whirl and it will help point you in the right direction. Click the button below!

Open in Messenger