This essay originally appeared in the October 3, 2019 issue with the email subject line "Will someone make a conversation do-over tool?" and a list of 5 content tech ideas I wish existed.

Using a chatbot can be a Sisyphean experience.

Chatbot: Hello! How can I help you today?
User: I’ve done my research on your website! Can you help me get to a realistic quote based on my needs?
Chatbot: Here is our webpage about pricing.
User: Yes, I’ve seen that because I did my research on your website. I see that you have a user-based and usage-based pricing model but I’m not sure which would better suit me.
Chatbot: Here is our webpage about pricing.
User: Ok. Do you have a calculator so I can better estimate my budget?
Chatbot: Would you like to sign up for a demo?
User: I would just like a quote based on my needs.
Chatbot: Here is our webpage about pricing.
User: What will this tool cost my business?
Chatbot: Here is a link to sign up for a demo. Someone will contact you within the next two weeks.

Sisyphus rolls a "spinning rainbow of death" Apple loading graphic up a hill [gif]

If you spend time on martech or agency websites (and OH BOY I DO), you’ve probably encountered the most common low-code chatbots. One has great marketing; the other has a questionable founder; neither are set up in a way that is particularly helpful to the end user. In search of scale, the most common chatbot companies haven’t pressed their users to commit to using the new technology to listen.

The common bots have capabilities to be helpful and some are programmed well, but most marketers set the bots up to parrot their existing website structure and content. They’re basically the same old webform writ chatty. Unless you have a website with thousands of pages, surfacing the same three pages really isn’t going to help a user.

Enter a tool like Twyla.

At a glance: Twyla

Visual review of Twyla features: enables creativity and innovation; uses ai/machine learning; has an agency partner program; uses cutting-edge technology; integrates with common tools; at the monthly price of a new computer. This tool is finely tuned, team-oriented, and has a small learning curve.

Twyla is an AI-driven chat and conversational design tool. It’s low code, meaning a content designer with basic programming skills could figure it out. And it’s really, really neat. If I were going to make a chatbot version of myself without custom development, I’d be eyeing Twyla.

Conversation design considers how people actually interact with a bot via text or voice — which, right now, is different from how people interact with each other. It means providing a variety of answers based on different question formats. (And yes, there are bots that provide very human-like interaction, but I’m all for transparency: please, let your customers know if they are talking to a robot!)

The ahead-of-its-time chat-flirting scene from the '80s movie Pretty In Pink [gif}

Conversation design also requires conversational analytics, which can break down common problems and identify frustration points. Because natural language processing isn’t perfect, especially when it comes to bots, on the back end Twyla highlights pain points in the conversation so you can alter them and provide users with more helpful information.

Twyla also encourages users to prototype and give their bots a branded voice and personality; it’s content strategy for 2020. The built-in conversational design tool lets marketers and strategists explore new avenues with conversation… and if you don’t want to design the conversation yourself, Twyla has conversation creation managed services.

I would love to see more content marketers experimenting with chatbots beyond forms and customer service — Twyla makes that possible. The tool itself is fairly intuitive, but conversation design is… somehow not intuitive. Or else, it’s so intuitive that naturally it’s difficult to break it down. And it integrates with your CRM as well as customer service tools.

Also, I have to respect… Twyla doesn’t have its own bot on its marketing website because the website is really basic! Twyla understands that every website doesn’t need a chatbot! Yes, that means you have to demo the tool to see it, but if you’re up for it, it’s a fun demo.

I would recommend Twyla for brands or publishers who are comfortable with experimentation, have a significant amount of content on their websites, employ next-level content strategists, and are interested in creating empathetic conversations.