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What is the difference between a form and chatbot?

What is the difference between a form and chatbot?

There are many tools available to marketers today to promote engagement, increase conversation rates, and up revenue. Two of these are website forms, the veteran in online marketing, and the new kid on the block, chatbots.

Website forms have long been a mainstay in the marketer’s toolbox to get valuable high-quality customer information that can be turned into marketing qualified leads. In contrast, chatbots are becoming more popular with many businesses relying on them in their day-to-day marketing efforts.

But what exactly is a chatbot and how does it work? More importantly, what’s the difference between a chatbot and a website form? Is a chatbot just another form or is it somehow different? Here we’ll look at these questions and help you to decide whether a chatbot is right for your website.

Website Forms

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Before the advent of chatbots, most websites relied solely on website forms to gather information from visitors and to market, sell, and serve those visitors through engagement with the business.

An effective marketing strategy would therefore entail the use of several forms, like:

  • Newsletter subscription forms
  • Contact forms
  • Demo request forms
  • Content download forms

All these, with proper form conversion, enable you to gather information, get to know your customers better, and guide them through the sales funnel with a view on making sales and increasing revenue.

Chatbots

Chatbots are AI-based real-time conversational tools. They’re designed to simulate conversation and, with conversational marketing becoming more popular, the use of chatbots is on the rise.

Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular because:

  • 55% of customers said they prefer to communicate with businesses through messenger. Therefore, to meet customers where they are and improve your marketing efforts, a chatbot might be your best bet.
  • They save you, the business owner, time, and money. If you’re currently using humans to answer simple questions, you may be better served using a chatbot and using your workforce somewhere else.
  • They’re reliable. They’re never late and they never call in sick, so they’re always available to interact and engage with customers.

Like forms, chatbots also give you the opportunity to get customer information and capture leads, but they also have other uses like booking meetings, creating service tickets, and giving support.

What’s the Difference?

Now you might think that Chatbots are just another sort of form and that they’re not that different. Sure, you can do most of what a chatbot can do with a form. Customers can ask questions, log issues, and do bookings with forms, so what’s the difference in using chatbots?

The answer lies in the user experience. Although both can be effective marketing and engagement tools, they offer a completely different user experience.

Chatbots are starting to find traction because of the improved user experience they can offer. In a customer-centric world, customers want information faster than ever and here chatbots deliver in spades. Just think about it, with a form, when a customer needs advice or information, they fill out a form and then they’ll have to wait for an email with the answer. In contrast, chatbots can give the information instantly without the customer having to wait. They can provide a personalized, more human experience that allow your customers to make decisions must faster which can improve your return on investment and increase your revenue.

But what’s the downside? The thing is users are used to forms on websites. So, clicking on a call-to-action button and being taken to a chatbot instead of a form can be a bit unsettling. So, their newness can prevent users from using them.

Another issue is that well-designed forms provide all the information upfront. They can see what information is required and what they’ll get in return. This is something chatbots don’t offer and some users may be hesitant of having to try and figure out how to interact with a bot.

With chatbots, you’ll also have to design complete playbooks based on a visitor’s response. This can deal effectively with more complex queries but may also be harder to implement. 

Which Should You Use?

Are you excited about using chatbots on your website or should you still use forms? We recommend that you should use both. Although chatbots are still relatively new, customers won’t become more comfortable with chatbots unless they’re given the opportunity to use them. So, sticking to only using forms on your website can put you at a distinct disadvantage compared to your competitors.

You can easily implement both forms and chatbots on your website and try them out. HubSpot gives you the ability to implement forms and chatbots on your site with the HubSpot forms and the HubSpot Conversations tool, respectively. You could therefore implement a HubSpot form and HubSpot chatbot and test where engagement is higher and what works best for your circumstances.

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By using and testing both, you’ll be able to perfectly optimize your website conversion rate for the market where you’re in and your customers.