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Marketers from all industries have always relied on outbound campaigns to reach potential customers. Before the time of the Internet, letters and phone calls were the main means to reach customers.

Then email blast campaigns became popular, as they offer a cheaper and more efficient way to reach out to customers. Email campaigns evolved into email drip campaigns, where a marketer can design a sequence of emails that will be sent over time to leads. Conditional drip campaigns are also possible, where the next email depends on whether the lead opened a previous email.

Email campaigns suffer from low open rates. Further, they are unable to effectively complete a conversion. For example, the email may encourage a patient to call the doctor to schedule an appointment or send a customer to a website to shop for concert tickets.

After email campaigns, came texting campaigns. The key promise compared to email campaigns is higher open rates. A marketer needs to have a list of phone numbers instead of a list of emails. The message of course has to be shorter, typically an image plus a small paragraph of text, possibly with emoticons, and a hyperlink, to be sent as one or more MMS messages.

Texting campaigns indeed increase the open rate, however they still suffer from the second drawback of email campaigns: they cannot complete a conversion. Instead, they typically send the lead to a website to complete the transaction. This incurs unnecessary friction and lack of instant gratification. For example, the text message may encourage a user to make an appointment, but what if the user has a question on insurance coverage or cost?

Chatbot campaigns are the evolution of texting campaigns, where a single message is released by a chatbot. That is, instead of blast sending a message to thousands of leads, we blast trigger a chatbot to the leads. For example, a texting campaign could send out message “It is time for your dental cleaning. To schedule your cleaning, go to”. Instead, a chatbot campaign could trigger a chatbot that initially sends out message “Hi Bob, it’s been a while since your last cleaning. Is now a good time to chat about it? Yes/No.” If the user replies “No” the chatbot will try again the next day, else the chatbot will continue with message “Great, let’s get you scheduled. Has your insurance coverage changed since your last visit? Yes/No”, and the chatbot can then continue to collect all needed information and find a suitable time slot. This increases the conversion rates, improves user experience and decreases customer service cost (saves calling center time).

How about HIPAA?

I cannot provide legal advice, but my understanding is that protected health information (PHI) can be shared over an unencrypted medium like SMS when the patient consents to it explicitly or implicitly (by initiating communication via SMS).

A second approach is to initiate communication via SMS and send a hyperlink that seamlessly takes the patient to a secure HIPAA-compliant Web-based chat. For example, the SMS message may say something like “Good morning from Dr. Smith’s office. To securely collect your information please follow this link.” The user clicks on the link and a full-screen web chat starts. All interaction is associated with the phone number of the user (patient).

SmartBot360 is a leader in chatbot campaigns. It allows users to easily visually create chatbot flows and then create conditional drip campaigns around these chatbots. To read more details about how SmartBot360 supports texting campaigns, read the relevant documentation page.

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