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How COVID-19 helped MSF enter the world of chatbots

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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 12 months, our world modified from in the future to the subsequent. At MSF Spain, we knew that the lives of our confined audiences had modified massively. Their days lived on-line. Work on-line. College on-line. Even events on-line.

It was an opportunity for us to strive a brand new advertising technique: inbound advertising.

COVID-19 would require us to launch digital-only advertising campaigns. Most of those could be campaigns primarily based on interruption via advertisements, through which communication with a possible donor was fast, and the response we sought – a donation – was quick. 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 evident.

However there was additionally a possibility to strive one thing totally different. For the primary time ever, the factor that the majority pursuits MSF – medical-humanitarian motion – was additionally the factor that a majority of individuals in Spain. These have been individuals who have been dwelling via a medical-humanitarian emergency in their very own nation, and these shared pursuits are the core of robust communication.

4 days after the primary lockdown was applied, we obtained one thing sudden by e mail. It was an inside doc, containing a sequence of ideas 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 a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals. We noticed the chance to create a marketing campaign that doesn’t ask for one thing however moderately provides  it. A marketing campaign that doesn’t chase, however attracts.

An opportunity to strive a brand new instrument: chatbots

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

  • They’re very versatile. You should use them to adapt to the wants and responses of every person with totally different journeys, and work with totally different goals with every chatbot (consciousness, engagement, conversion, and so forth.)
  • Customers perceive the chat format. Chatbots really feel just like extensively used instruments like WhatsApp and, not like with touchdown pages, customers solely need to course of one piece of knowledge at a time when participating with them
  • They’re extremely optimisable. Each click on is a knowledge level. It’s straightforward to know the place individuals are being engaged and the place they aren’t so as to rapidly and simply adapt and alter each piece of textual content and each level of interplay
  • They will include many types of media and content material. Customers don’t want to go away 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 in the beginning of April in 2020. The “bot” was truly certainly one of our staff 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 primarily based 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 a lot of illustrations to interrupt up the textual content and convey it to life.

Moreover, we created a downloadable lockdown equipment that provided recommendation and steering primarily based on the guidelines contained throughout the chatbot expertise, together with different sources. Customers who give their contact particulars to obtain the equipment are registered for a follow-up e mail journey, which is the inbound advertising a part of the equation. Those that gave their particulars have been additionally given an summary of MSF’s operations and the possibility to make a direct distinction by donating to assist the struggle 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 1000’s of distinctive guests every single day, making certain robust preliminary engagement with the chatbot. We additionally posted concerning the bot on our social media channels, figuring out we might count on large attain on any content material regarding psychological well being and COVID-19.

Along with e mail advertising, we additionally developed Fb advertisements 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 ideas
  • 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 1000’s of instances. On one event, a message despatched by me and one other member of my staff to high school mother and father teams on WhatsApp went around the globe; 1000’s of individuals from Guatemala and Mexico have been reached by forwarded messages. Months later, we heard from our psychological assist staff that we’d had sufferers from a centre in Guatemala congratulate our medical doctors on the chatbot!

The chatbot has since been tailored into totally different languages and contexts. However, as lockdown has turn into much less strict and the viewers utilizing the unique bot in Spanish has dropped, the price of advertisements has continued to rise. So, we’ve continued to optimise and now must revisit our technique to plan how we’ll use the bot in an always-on means, in a time when COVID-19 is not going to 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 a bit chatbot-crazy, releasing a number of bots to satisfy quite a lot of totally different goals: peer-to-peer fundraising, engagement, recruitment, common donor acquisition, and extra. Throughout our discuss at #FRO2021, we talked delegates via the seven superpowers of chatbots and the way MSF Spain employed every one to check this newest instrument in our arsenal.

In the course of the pandemic, nonprofits and charitable organisations around the globe have made large adjustments 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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