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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 the world over. 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 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. Faculty 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 primarily based on interruption by means of adverts, by which communication with a possible donor was fast, and the response we sought – a donation – was rapid. And we knew they’d work, as a result of emergency campaigns do work nicely on digital. There’s urgency, the difficulty is well-known, and the necessity is obvious.

However there was additionally a possibility 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 residing 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 carried out, we acquired one thing sudden by e-mail. It was an inside doc, containing a collection 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 singular alternative. We already knew that psychological well being was a key theme for our audiences. A collection 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 reasonably 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 participating: 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 person with completely different journeys, and work with completely different goals with every chatbot (consciousness, engagement, conversion, and so on.)
  • Customers perceive the chat format. Chatbots really feel much like extensively used instruments like WhatsApp and, in contrast to with touchdown pages, customers solely must course of one piece of data at a time when participating with them
  • They’re extremely optimisable. Each click on is an information level. It’s straightforward to grasp the place persons are being engaged and the place they aren’t with the intention to shortly and simply adapt and alter every bit of textual content and each level of interplay
  • They’ll include many types of media and content material. Customers don’t want to go away the chatbot to expertise all the things 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 initially of April in 2020. The “bot” was truly considered 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 collection of tales within the punchy conversational textual content fashion of chatbots. It supplied recommendation on eight potential types of emotional stress, with numerous illustrations to interrupt up the textual content and convey it to life.

Moreover, we created a downloadable lockdown equipment that supplied recommendation and steerage 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 and marketing 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 combat towards COVID-19.

We added the newly-created chatbot to our coronavirus net 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 each day, making certain sturdy preliminary engagement with the chatbot. We additionally posted concerning the bot on our social media channels, figuring out we may count on big attain on any content material referring to psychological well being and COVID-19.

Along with e-mail advertising and marketing, we additionally developed Fb adverts to advertise the chatbot and attain an viewers past our most conventional supporter base. Inside 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 1000’s of instances. On one event, a message despatched by me and one other member of my staff to high school dad and mom teams on WhatsApp went all over the world; 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 docs on the chatbot!

The chatbot has since been tailored into completely different languages and contexts. However, as lockdown has change into 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 continued to optimise and now must revisit our technique to plan how we are going to use the bot in an always-on method, 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 just a little chatbot-crazy, releasing a number of bots to satisfy quite a lot of completely different goals: peer-to-peer fundraising, engagement, recruitment, common donor acquisition, and extra. Throughout our speak at #FRO2021, we talked delegates by means of the seven superpowers of chatbots and the way MSF Spain employed each to check this newest software in our arsenal.

Throughout the pandemic, nonprofits and charitable organisations all over the world have made big 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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