How COVID-19 helped MSF enter the world of chatbots

Nick Scott, Head of Digital at MSF Spain, writes about how the organisation had nice success with the implementation of chatbots because the COVID-19 pandemic unfold internationally. Together with Toni Matas, director at Persualia, Nick spoke about their expertise at #FRO2021 from The Useful resource Alliance.

Hand holding a mobile cell phone displaying an image of a chatbot conversation

In March final yr, our world modified from at some point to the following. At MSF Spain, we knew that the lives of our confined audiences had modified vastly. Their days lived on-line. Work on-line. College on-line. Even events on-line.

It was an opportunity for us to attempt a brand new advertising and marketing technique: inbound advertising and marketing.

COVID-19 would require us to launch digital-only advertising and marketing campaigns. Most of those could be campaigns based mostly on interruption by means of adverts, by which communication with a possible donor was fast, and the response we sought – a donation – was speedy. And we knew they’d work, as a result of emergency campaigns do work nicely on digital. There’s urgency, the problem is well-known, and the necessity is obvious.

However there was additionally a chance to attempt one thing completely different. For the primary time ever, the factor that almost all pursuits MSF – medical-humanitarian motion – was additionally the factor that a majority of individuals in Spain. These have been individuals who have been dwelling by means of a medical-humanitarian emergency in their very own nation, and these shared pursuits are the core of sturdy communication.

4 days after the primary lockdown was applied, we acquired one thing sudden by electronic mail. It was an inside doc, containing a sequence of suggestions to assist employees handle their emotional and psychological well being within the face of the pandemic.

With the arrival of this doc, we noticed a novel alternative. We already knew that psychological well being was a key theme for our audiences. A sequence of movies we’d launched providing recommendation on psychological well being in a pandemic was getting attain we not often noticed with our content material, being seen by tons of of hundreds of individuals. We noticed the chance to create a marketing campaign that doesn’t ask for one thing however moderately gives  it. A marketing campaign that doesn’t chase, however attracts.

An opportunity to attempt a brand new software: chatbots

We additionally had an opportunity to check a brand new kind of channel that we knew had the capability to be extremely partaking: chatbots. We have been already in negotiations with an company that specialised within the space of chatbots and conversational advertising and marketing and had been satisfied of their potential. Why chatbots?

  • They’re very versatile. You should utilize them to adapt to the wants and responses of every consumer with completely different journeys, and work with completely different aims with every chatbot (consciousness, engagement, conversion, and so forth.)
  • Customers perceive the chat format. Chatbots really feel much like extensively used instruments like WhatsApp and, not like with touchdown pages, customers solely should course of one piece of data at a time when partaking with them
  • They’re extremely optimisable. Each click on is a knowledge level. It’s simple to know the place individuals are being engaged and the place they aren’t so as to shortly and simply adapt and alter every bit of textual content and each level of interplay
  • They’ll comprise many types of media and content material. Customers don’t want to depart the chatbot to expertise every little thing from textual content and video to video games, information seize, and extra
Introducing our chatbot for psychological well being in lockdown

We launched our chatbot at first of April in 2020. The “bot” was truly one in all our workforce members: Maria Cecilia from our psychological assist unit – we even included her image to reassure customers and make the expertise really feel private. The content material she delivered was based mostly on MSF’s inside psychological well being assist doc, however rewritten as a sequence of tales within the punchy conversational textual content model of chatbots. It provided recommendation on eight potential types of emotional stress, with plenty of illustrations to interrupt up the textual content and produce it to life.

Moreover, we created a downloadable lockdown package that provided recommendation and steerage based mostly on the information contained throughout the chatbot expertise, together with different sources. Customers who give their contact particulars to obtain the package are registered for a follow-up electronic mail journey, which is the inbound advertising and marketing a part of the equation. Those that gave their particulars have been additionally given an summary of MSF’s operations and the prospect to make a direct distinction by donating to assist the battle towards COVID-19.

We added the newly-created chatbot to our coronavirus internet pages. As a result of their excessive rating in Google for the search phrases “epidemic” and “coronavirus”, these pages have been receiving hundreds of distinctive guests day-after-day, guaranteeing sturdy preliminary engagement with the chatbot. We additionally posted concerning the bot on our social media channels, understanding we might anticipate large attain on any content material regarding psychological well being and COVID-19.

Along with electronic mail advertising and marketing, we additionally developed Fb adverts to advertise the chatbot and attain an viewers past our most conventional supporter base. Throughout the first three weeks, we achieved very promising outcomes:

  • Over 100,000 arrived on the level of first interplay
  • 71,000 noticed one of many emotional suggestions
  • 7,700 leads (2,000 exterior Spain)
  • 78 donors (€3,350 donated)
  • 33 common donors

One of many bot’s best successes was WhatsApp, the place it was shared tens of hundreds of occasions. On one event, a message despatched by me and one other member of my workforce to highschool dad and mom teams on WhatsApp went around the globe; hundreds of individuals from Guatemala and Mexico have been reached by forwarded messages. Months later, we heard from our psychological assist workforce that we’d had sufferers from a centre in Guatemala congratulate our docs on the chatbot!

The chatbot has since been tailored into completely different languages and contexts. However, as lockdown has grow to be much less strict and the viewers utilizing the unique bot in Spanish has dropped, the price of adverts has continued to rise. So, we’ve got continued to optimise and now have to revisit our technique to plan how we’ll use the bot in an always-on approach, in a time when COVID-19 won’t be such an element.

A primary (of many) forays into the world of chatbots

In our digital response to COVID-19, we didn’t cease at only one chatbot. Throughout 2020, we went somewhat chatbot-crazy, releasing a number of bots to satisfy quite a lot of completely different aims: peer-to-peer fundraising, engagement, recruitment, common donor acquisition, and extra. Throughout our discuss at #FRO2021, we talked delegates by means of the seven superpowers of chatbots and the way MSF Spain employed every one to check this newest software in our arsenal.

Through the pandemic, nonprofits and charitable organisations around the globe have made large modifications to how they increase funds and interact with donors. Learn how UNICEF stepped up its donor retention efforts because the coronavirus took maintain.

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