chatbot pricing

Chatbot Pricing: Everything You Need to Know About Chatbot Prices for SMBs

Growing small businesses and startups know a secret.

Efficiency and automation are the keys to scaling. If you aren’t around 24/7 to answer questions from new leads and process orders around the clock, you get some software to do it for you.

Enter chatbots for business.

Chatbots are seeing the fastest rate of new technology adoption today, with 27% of SMBs reporting they use chatbots in their business.

So how much will it cost a small business to invest in a chatbot?

What does a chatbot for marketing and sales or customer service chatbot for an SMB cost?

If you’re an SMB looking for answers to the questions of chatbot pricing, here is everything you need to know.

If you want the one-minute version, jump to the end of the article where we dish up exactly what you need to know and do. Spoiler: It starts at $50/month.

Here’s what we cover in this article:

How much does a chatbot cost?

Chatbots cost from $0 to $1,000/month or higher, depending on all the things you program them to do.

That’s as simple an answer as we can give in one sentence. (Read the rest of this article and you’ll have a much more nuanced understanding.)

Here’s a 3-tier way of understanding chatbot pricing. Again, simplistic, but tl;dr.

  • Free + Your Time – Create a chatbot in-house and have a basic, functional chatbot for responding to customer inquiries and questions.
  • $50/mo for Software + Your Time – Create a chatbot in-house and have a powerful, robust chatbot to generate new business, do instant lead capture with interactive Facebook ads, and boost sales.
  • $500-$5000/month – Hire a chatbot agency to create and maintain chatbots that do lead gen, execute sales funnels and do customer care and remarketing for you.

Now, let’s get into the all-important details.

Chatbot pricing — it all depends on your business goals

Before you can get an accurate estimate of how much your dream bot will cost your business, you need to answer this question:

What do you want your chatbot to do?

It’s important to decide on the purpose and functionality of your chatbot.

Here are some options for small businesses investing in chatbot technology:

  • Customer service chatbots – Customer support chatbots can serve a variety of purposes — FAQs, store hours, and directions, services, etc. Many times, these chatbots look act a lot like a phone menu, except they’re way more interesting. Think gifs and stuff.
  • Website chatbot – One of the best uses of chatbots is providing user support and steering prospects toward what they’re looking for while potential customers are on your website. A simple plugin plus a chatbot makes it happen.
  • Scheduling or registration chatbots – Want to take the busywork and hassle out of setting appointments for your beauty shop, coaching sessions, or dentist office? A chatbot can handle all of this, saving your office team time to work on more strategic initiatives and saving your business cost of staffing for this administrative task
  • Transactions chatbots – Chatbots can support ecommerce transactions, including providing discounts and coupons, receipts, shipment, tracking information, etc.
  • Lead generation – Lead generation chatbots are marketing-focused chatbots that usually involve prospecting and lead capture plus lead nurturing tactics like drip campaigns.

It’s worth mentioning at this point, that you can create all of these chatbots using MobileMonkey and chatbot templates.

chatbot pricing guide

Using a template can save dozens of hours in labor and setup, and is an easy way to jump into the chatbot game with very low costs.

All of these chatbots use Facebook Messenger. You can also create chatbots on other platforms such as Slack, Kik, Viber, Telegram, Whatsapp, LINE, Skype, and other platforms.

Facebook Messenger is the platform of choice for most SMBs for a few basic reasons — the target audience uses it.

Chatbots like those created with MobileMonkey provide a powerhouse of functionality for chatbots across all small business use cases. If you’re just starting out with chatbots, you would do best to start with a Facebook Messenger chatbot created on MobileMonkey because:

  • Majority customers are accessible via Messenger (1.3 billion active users on Messenger)
  • Facebook bots get access to a lot of useful customer data and businesses get the benefit of obtaining this data automatically on first connection
  • Facebook Messenger bots integrate directly with Facebook ads and are shown to reduce Facebook Ad CPA and increase AOV
  • And the price tag is most affordable building a bot on an existing platform like Facebook

There are two main ways to calculate chatbot pricing — doing it in-house or hiring an agency

Broadly speaking, the next decision you’ll need to make is this — do we create the chatbot ourselves (i.e., in-house) or hire an agency to do it?

That might be the literal you as owner or “marketing person” of your SMB. Or, you can have an employee create the chatbot, your tech-savvy kid, or an intern.

Total transparency, making a chatbot is very easy.

Yes, I speak from the perspective of an elder Millennial who works on a computer all day. But if you have a working knowledge of computers — think Facebook Messenger or a basic SaaS — then whipping up a chatbot is quick and easy if you use a chatbot builder like MobileMonkey.

By “agency,” I’m referring to hiring an outside business that specializes in marketing and chatbots.

This is an estimation of how pricing would work based on which route you go.

 

In-House Chatbot Costs

Agency Chatbot Fees

Chatbot Software Platform

$50-$500/month

$50-$500/month

Chatbot Setup and Development

Salaries (5-100 hours of work)

$500-$2,500

Ongoing chatbot support and maintenance

Salaries (0-10 hours of work per week)

$50-$5000/month

What’s involved in those:

  • Chatbot Software Platform – At the most basic level, you’ll need a chatbot builder. Sign up for MobileMonkey to get a robust Facebook Messenger marketing automation and advertising solution.
  • Chatbot Development and Setup – This is the work of making the initial chatbot that answers commonly asked questions about your business and collects useful info about your new contacts that you can use to qualify them, identify what they need, and enter them into a marketing sequence or sales funnel. If you do this in-house, you’ll expect to spend a certain number of hours to learning the software and making the chatbot.
  • Ongoing chatbot support and maintenance – Once your chatbot is up and running, expect some ongoing tweaks. Agencies do this for a fee, or you could spend a few hours a week doing it in-house. If you’re running a simple chatbot like an FAQ bot, this may require zero to one hour weekly just to review unanswered questions and see if your bot should have any new Q&A responses programmed. If you have several chatbots doing several things — drip campaigns, Facebook Ads, etc. — it might take more time.

Here’s the basic idea. Doing it yourself usually allows smaller dollar amounts are drawn from your account but it requires you to invest that other limited resource, you or your team’s time.

Now for disclaimers and tips:

  • Hiring an agency to create chatbots frees you and your team up to do what you do best. In the long run, that might lead to optimal revenue.
  • If you run a tight, lean team of highly-compensated employees, hiring an agency might work best. For example, if you’re a small law firm, brokerage, or real estate agency, outsourcing the job to an agency makes more sense from a cost perspective.
  • Alternately, if you have a team of 5-20 employees, including some tech-savvy specialists or a marketing department, consider doing it in-house. This marketing team (or individual) may be able to make the time and have the technical chops to create your chatbot.
  • Consider hiring contractors to do the work, too. An agency-alternative is the contract model, in which you might hire someone to do the setup and development and train your team to do the ongoing maintenance.

Consider these costs for accurate in-house chatbot pricing

Obviously, there’s more to chatbot pricing than just the software, even if you do it in-house. Here are some costs to factor in:

Chatbot Platform – $0-$500/month

First, you’ll need to get a chatbot platform. MobileMonkey is one of the most robust and competitively-priced chatbot builders available. Get it. Use it. Do it.

Although we have a vested interest in recommending it, we are also aware of the market and

Pricing starts at $0 and goes up for our full-fledged, high-octane chatbot builder with all the bells and whistles.

Check out all the details on our MobileMonkey pricing page.

Employee time – $50+/hr

If you assign this task to your team, make sure you understand

  • What they won’t be doing as a result of taking on this job. Will it hurt the business or lead to a loss in revenue?
  • How much they cost per hour. Making chatbots is a high-value job, but it does not require a highly-trained or highly-paid person to do it. It involves more experience than mopping the floors but doesn’t require an advanced degree or years of experience.

Those who are often tasked with the job of creating chatbots are in the “marketing specialist” job level range — someone with 2-5 years of experience, a bachelor’s degree, and some technical ability.

According to Glassdoor, marketing specialists earn, on average, $50,528/year.

chatbot pricing information

For an hourly rate, that’s about $100/hr. The overhead for this employee (equipment, vacation, insurance, etc.) is presumably 1.4x higher. So the hourly cost for this employee is about $140/hour.

With that number in mind, if your marketing specialist spends 10 hours to create a chatbot, the cost to you is $1,400.

Consider these 3 costs for accurate agency chatbot pricing

Here is an overview of the kinds of costs associated with hiring an agency to create your chatbot.

One-Time Development Fee for Basic Chatbot Development – $500-$1000

An agency often prices bots based on their functionality. Basic bots include the following:

  • FAQ bot for customer support, often embedded on the business website
  • Bot for acquiring new customers and more leads
  • Bot for reducing the cost of Facebook Ads, and increase leads and sales from Facebook Ads
  • Bots for showcasing or recommending products for ecommerce or retail

The agency will usually do the setup and implementation of the chatbot for anywhere from $500 to $2,500 as a one-time fee.

This setup costs usually includes things like basic chatbot creation, chatbot implementation, chatbot troubleshooting, and even training you or your team on using the chatbot.

One-Time Development Fee for Advanced Chatbot Development – $1,000-$5,000

If you have a specific, one-time campaign in mind, you might be looking for chatbot development priced by the project. As long as the deliverables are defined, you can go this route. Of course, the more functionality and more integrations to other business systems that your chatbot needs, the more it will cost.

Ongoing Chatbot Subscription, Maintenance, and Support – $50-$5,000/month

Agencies usually offer ongoing support and maintenance for the chatbot. Many agencies, in fact, require this as part of the contract for chatbot creation.

Chatbot support is a good option and something that you should invest in. Unless you are experienced in creating chatbots, this support comes in handy.

Far from being wasted retainer costs, the monthly chatbot fee often covers the subscription price for the chatbot platform that the agency is using. In addition, you may receive on-demand support, troubleshooting, and enhancements.

If you discontinue agency support from your chatbot, you may lose various chatbot features such as integrations or monthly reports.

Additional landing pages, campaigns, opt-in points, etc. — additional charges.

Chatbot agencies often price their chatbots based on the quantity of certain things like landing pages or campaigns.

You may find that agencies will customize these prices, or they may have different pricing tiers that address the specific needs you may want.

Keep in mind, agencies do most of the work, but they will require your time. Your time is another “cost” that you’ll need to factor in as you consider chatbot pricing.

Sample Agency Chatbot Prices

This agency uses a tiered pricing structure based on things like the number of landing pages, campaigns, and connections.sample chatbot pricing

For this company, each bot setup is priced at £500.

chatbot pricing sample

The ongoing chatbot support package is £250/month.

FAQs about Chatbot Pricing

How much does a chatbot cost? Please, give me a simple answer.

Expect to spend between $500 and $2,500 whether you use an agency or create the chatbot in-house.

 

In-House Chatbot Costs

Agency Chatbot Fees

Chatbot Software Platform

$50-$500/month

$50-$500/month

Chatbot Setup and Development

Salaries (5-100 hours of work)

$500-$2,500

Ongoing chatbot support and maintenance

Salaries (0-10 hours of work per week)

$50-$5000/month

What are the upfront chatbot costs?

You’ll need to purchase a chatbot software, which is around $50/month. If you work with an agency, you may need to pay the entire $500-$2,500 fee upfront.

Do I have to hire new team members for chatbot development or servicing?

If you have an existing marketing team, one of those team members can learn the software and create chatbots easily. If you don’t have anyone on your team who is comfortable with computers and software, it may be necessary to hire a freelancer, contractor, or agency to help you create chatbots.

Can I just do this myself to save money on chatbot costs?

Yes, of course. It’s easy to learn how to create chatbots. It’s actually kind of fun, too. Keep in mind, you cost money, too. So make sure you’re considering the cost of your time as you learn and create chatbots.

I’m happy to pay any price for chatbots. I just care about ROI. Tell me about chatbot ROI.

Estimates range from 400% to 18,000%, depending on the functionality and placement of the chatbot (source, source).

For example, if your customer service chatbots saves you 20 hours a week of customer service tasks (at the rate of $15/hour), that’s a cost-savings of $15,600 over a period of a year. If you spent $500 on that chatbot, then your ROI would be 3,020%.

If I’m working with an agency, will chatbot costs increase, decrease, stay the same? What can I expect?

Your payout will probably be slightly higher than if you were to develop it in house. However, keep in mind that if you do create the chatbot in house, you’re going to either suspend your team’s current revenue-generating activities and/or pay for the hours that they are spending to develop the chatbot.

It’s safe to say that it’s usually a wash.

Is there something for free?

Yes, you can use MobileMonkey for free. You’ll gain access to the chatbot builder and loads of functionality. Doesn’t cost a thing.

I don’t have time. Just tell me the best way forward.

To get started easily and inexpensively, do the following:

  1. Get started now. Sign up for MobileMonkey for free.
  2. Learn all you can. Join MobileMonkey Island and check out MobileMonkey’s free Chatbot University. You’ll get lots of support.

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