“What’s the cost to build a chatbot?” Well — It depends. On many factors.
— the chatbot type, its functionalities, the channel of deployment… and the list can go on and on. Chatbot technology is becoming more complex and with complexity comes the high price tag.
So if you’re thinking about hiring a third-party company for custom chatbot development, be warned — it can be expensive.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative – chatbot platforms (sometimes referred to as “bot builders”).
If you’re looking for a solution to help you automate your customer support activities, have a look at these articles:
Bot builders are great solutions for everyone who wants to make custom bots faster and (way) cheaper.
But let’s cover both options. First, let’s see how much building chatbots by third-party companies cost and what the price depends on. And then, compare it with the “build your own bot” solution and calculate the cost of it.
- Custom chatbot development with third-party companies
- Custom chatbot development: Costs summary
- Cost of building a chatbot by yourself
3.1 Chatbot cost calculator
- Cost of building a chatbot by yourself : Costs summary
Let’s get started!
Not sure chatbot is right for you? Have a look at what online live chat software solutions can help you with.
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Chatbot With a Third-Party Company?
Chatbot cost varies. We’ve already got that. Before you decide to have others develop the bot for you, you need to be aware of the factors that will influence the final cost of such a service.
Who’s going to build the bot for you is the very first thing you need to think about. Is it going to be a freelancer? Offshore company? A big local business?
Apart from the price, the choice of the contractor will also have a significant impact on:
- The process length. The smaller and/or more distributed team, the longer it may take to deliver you the ready product.
- Technological know-how. If you choose a freelancer or a small business, they might not have the necessary expertise to develop any functionality you wish for. For example, features based on AI.
What channel would you like to deploy your chatbot on? Will it talk to your customers on your website or online store? Will it engage them on social media platforms? Or maybe it will work only inside instant messaging apps, such as Kik, Telegram, or WhatsApp?
Bear in mind, that each additional channel will cost you another $700-1600. Apart from the text-based chatbots, you may want to develop your bot on voice-enabled devices, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
There is no fixed number of what your chatbot can do but it doesn’t mean your choice is unlimited.
What your chatbot will be able to do will largely depend on:
- Type. Generally, there are two types: AI-based and rule-based chatbots. AI bots are more independent but require a lot of training. They are much more expensive, too. Rule-based bots are cheaper and simpler as they only need a ready-made conversation flow.
- Channel. Not all channels will support every feature although a lot of them overlap. For example, if you would like to add a voice capability to your web-based chatbot, that will cost you around $760.
- Language. Chatbots can support many languages. However, AI bots will require extra testing for each language (+ $600-1300). Whereas, rule-based chatbots can chat with your customers in any language since it is you who customizes their text messages.
Frontend means anything that your customer sees and interacts with. In the case of chatbots, that would mean the user interface (UI). You can think of it as the “face” of your virtual assistant.
For customers, a good UI means that they will have no problems locating and understanding how to chat with your bot.
For you, as the business side, a good UI means that your bot feels like a natural part (or extension) of your website or store. I.e., its color scheme, style, labels, and messages are consistent with your brand voice.
Some bots come with fixed UIs. It means that you will not be able to adjust it on your own in case your website template changes. Being able to customize UI on your own may incur additional costs.
Chatbots need a backend to store and organize messages coming from your customers. Backed also holds the business logic and integrations. If the frontend is the face, then the backend is the “brain” of your virtual assistant.
It is yet another factor you need to account for when choosing a chatbot made by another company.
The final price will also be heavily influenced by the number of apps and platforms you would like to integrate your bot with (e.g.: email, CRM, instant messaging apps, analytics, etc.).
Depending on the development effort, the extra cost ranges between $1300-2500.
Tip: Even some of the most popular chatbot companies, like Intercom, have several modules that are sold separately. If you need a simpler solution, check out your options here: Best Intercom Alternatives: Tidio vs Zendesk vs Intercom vs Drift.
Even some of the most popular chatbot companies, like Intercom, have several modules that are sold separately. If you need a simpler solution, check out your options here: Best Intercom Alternatives: Tidio vs Zendesk vs Intercom vs Drift.
A chatbot is a piece of software. That means it’s prone to errors and becoming outdated after some time. The scope and length of the maintenance period might depend on your agreement with the contractor. Services not included in the agreement will be charged extra.
The cost of maintenance is usually 10-15 percent of the total development price.
Chatbots are one solution, but you may want to have a closer look at the other ones too. We tested some of the best live chat software for websites. And if you happen to run your business on Shopify, learn how easy it is to install a live chat for Shopify.
Custom Chatbot Development: Costs Summary
Each chatbot project is different. What you get depends on many factors, including your own business needs. As a result, it is hard to indicate any fixed cost figure or even the total time.
If the chatbot you need is going to be your first bot ever, then start small. Focus only on the bare essentials and add additional features progressively.
This way you will minimize the initial cost. When you collect some observations and data over the course of time of having the bot, you will be able to assess better which features you really need next.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Chatbot Yourself?
If the sheer uncertainty and the number of factors you need to consider do not sound appealing to you, then consider a DIY approach.
With self-service chatbot platforms, you can build your custom own bot from the ground up. Let’s quickly summarize the factors from the previous approach and see how they compare.
By looking at this table, you may conclude that all the hassle connected with custom bot development is taken off your shoulders. And indeed it is like that.
The only thing that is left to be done by you is to build your dream chatbot. If that sounds intimidating to you, then you can relax. You do not need to code anything.
The chatbot building process is very similar to how children play with building blocks. They choose the right block and connect it with another so that together, those pieces become a house, car, or anything they can think of!
Chatbot building with bot builders is exactly like that. You combine blocks that represent bot logic (so-called “nodes”) to make a fully functional chatbot. Take a look at the article linked below to read more about it.
The Real Cost to Build a Chatbot by Yourself
As surprising as it may sound to you, but the sheer cost of creating a bot is zero. To be more precise — zero money.
What’s really involved is your time. You will need to think about what kind of bot you need. That means you should know what your bot will say and when, and what is the goal of it. For instance, is your chatbot supposed to collect leads or answer FAQ questions?
If you don’t know the answers to those questions yet, check out:
Basically, the analysis of your business requirements is on your side. Then comes the bot creation. If you have the conversation flow outlined, then the whole building process will be much shorter.
The Price Breakdown
All right then, so when it comes to the monthly subscription, what are you actually paying for?
Apart from the general aspects such as technological infrastructure and maintenance, the price is based on the number of times your chatbot triggers each month to engage a unique visitor.
Now, let me explain what it means.
A unique visitor is a visitor who lands on your website for the first time within your billing period. E.g. You started using Tidio for free (or upgrade your account) on May 12th, so the visitor will remain unique for another 30 days (counting from May 12th onwards).
When your chatbot engages such a visitor (e.g. with a welcome message), one trigger is deducted from your total monthly triggers quota. Afterward, your chatbot can hold an unlimited number of conversations and send an unlimited number of messages to that unique visitor.
After 30 days, this visitor will be again counted as a new unique visitor and cost you one trigger.
The same visitor can visit you many times during the same billing period and it will not cost you any additional trigger.
However, in case that visitor completely wipes their entire browser storage data or visits you again from another device, then they will be regarded as a new unique visitor. This will cause the trigger to be deducted from your quota, as well.
Chatbot Cost Calculator
As a Tidio freemium user, your chatbots can engage and send unlimited messages to 100 unique visitors per month. If your website or store gets particularly busy and you need your chatbots to be able to serve more customers, you can upgrade your account to get more triggers.
As the table shows, the price per automatically engaged unique visitor is very low. But! In real-life scenarios, the cost is even lower.
Here’s a fact: An average visitor triggers 1.89 chatbots.
Let’s say that your chatbots can engage 5000 unique visitors. What you get is: 5000 * 1.89 = 9450. This number means how many times your chatbots trigger to talk to your visitors. So you actually pay only $0.0019 (~$0.002) per visitor.
That price will get even lower if you have many bots active on your website or store.
Custom Chatbot Development with Bot Builders: Costs Summary
Bot builders give you more room for experimentation and improvement. You can test them, fine-tune them, and add new ones anytime you want. You do not need to worry about any technical prerequisites, infrastructure, or extra costs for ad hoc changes in your bot.
The pricing for chatbot platforms is transparent, the features are clear, and you pay (or go freemium) for as long as you want. No contract. No cancellation fines. You start, upgrade, or downgrade any time you want.
The Cost to Build a Chatbot Is No Longer an Issue
It is clear that custom chatbots are kind of like a venture into the unknown. You need to weigh your needs against the potential cost to build a chatbot. And sometimes, even make some functionality sacrifices to keep the price and development time on a reasonable level.
That is why chatbot platforms (bot builders) became so popular. They offer incredible freedom to businesses of any size. Online entrepreneurs can build their own bots in minutes without worrying about high costs and long development times. They can make improvements to their bot themselves or even re-built it from scratch.
Make your custom chatbot on your own to make it truly what you want it to be. After all, if you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
Do it well, then. Build your bots with Tidio.