5 Best Practices for Writing Chatbot Scripts
Writing scripts for chatbots is quite the adventure.
How come? Because it’s new. At least, it’s new for most of us.
Like writing for any new platform or medium, it comes with new rules, challenges, and best practices.
And there are certainly more than five things you need to know about writing a powerful script for a chatbot.
But these five best practices should give you at least a taste of what it’s like to be a chatbot copywriter.
But first, so we all know what we’re talking about, take a look at this screenshot of a chatbot conversation.
This isn’t a bot based on artificial intelligence.
It’s rules-based, using conditional logic.
For example, if you click on the button that says House, you’ll be taken to a part of the flow that shows just houses.
If you click on the Condo button, you’ll see just condos. And so on. The next set of questions in this flow is about prices.
The bot asks the user questions and then provides a few options.
As the user, you choose your own way forward.
This is the superpower of chatbots … the fact that the users make their own choices and feel in control.
They choose their own way forward, and you — as the marketer or business owner — get to present them with an option that exactly suits their preferences.
That’s incredibly powerful … to have them tell you what they want … and then give it to them.
Okay … now let’s look at those five chatbot copywriting superpowers.
1. Be clear about the bot’s purpose
As with any writing project, it’s essential that you have a clear goal.
In the case of this real estate bot, the goal is to have the user make an appointment with the realtor. They do this through a calendar app that is built into the chatbot itself.
When you choose a goal for your bot, make sure it mirrors a corresponding intention on the part of the user.
“I want to get an idea of the kind of properties available in this area, at a price that matches my budget, and then get together with a realtor.”
2. Create a persona for your bot
Because chatbots are conversational, they work at their best when they have an engaging character or persona.
With this real estate bot, that persona is going to match the voice and character of the real estate agent herself, Jen.
But most bots don’t stand in for a real person.
For example, the bot for LEGO has an avatar that looks like a robot made from LEGO … of course.
He’s called Ralph. And when you chat with him, he has a particular character. He’s fun and playful. Which makes perfect sense for the LEGO bot.
Do the same for the bots you write.
Whether your bot is based on a real person or not, create a persona and then give your bot a matching voice.
3. Use a conversational voice
As well as showing a little character, your bot’s voice also needs to be conversational.
Following fast on the heels of talking with someone face-to-face, texting is the ultimate conversational medium.
In fact, spend time with people in their twenties, thirties, and forties and you’ll find many of them actually prefer to hold conversations by texting.
Go back through some of your own texts with family and friends, you’ll see that the writing style is definitely “chatty.”
You need to do the same when writing chatbot scripts.
It’s not like writing web pages, emails, or even social media updates.
It’s far more conversational.
4. Keep it short and take turns
Again, take a look at your own text conversations.
You don’t write long sentences and paragraphs. You keep things short and to the point.
Most important of all, you take turns.
And taking turns is fundamental to any and every conversation, whatever the medium.
There’s nothing worse than trying to hold a conversation with someone who either never stops talking or never stops writing.
A good conversation goes back and forth.
And you pause for a bit between turns. You wait for as long as it takes for the other person to type their reply.
That’s what makes texting conversational, and why you have to respect the same conventions when writing chatbot scripts.
5. Use emojis and images
Wait, what? Use emojis? Isn’t that just for kids and teenagers?
No, it isn’t. 😃
Emojis are like the gestures we might make with our hands when talking with someone face-to-face. They help us place emphasis where we want it.
They’re also a kind of emotional shorthand. A quick way to express when we feel happy or sad. 😢
They can also help overcome ambiguity. Use them to let people know when you’re kidding about something. 😉
And you’ll almost always want to include an image or two. Further down that flow with our real estate bot, there’s a carousel of home photos to choose from.
And here is why this is such a great opportunity for copywriters …
Best practices in the design and publication of chatbot conversations is already fairly well established.
But what hasn’t happened yet is the arrival of script writers with copywriting skills.
For now, most of these scripts are being written by bot builders. And while building bots may be their superpowers, they aren’t trained writers or copywriters.
Bring a trained copywriter onto the team and you can create bots that perform at a whole new level.
That’s the real opportunity here.
Do you have any questions about becoming a chatbot copywriter? Share with us in the comments.
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