What Is a Messenger Bot and How Can it Help My Business

Come on, admit it…….you’re just a little bit curious about all the hype surrounding Messenger bots.

Even if you haven’t looked into using them in any more detail than reading the odd blog post, like this one, you probably have an interest in learning what they’re all about.

What’s stopped you from trying them?

I guess you’re unsure how to get started, how to use them to grow your business, or you just don’t want to get distracted by another ‘new’ strategy.

Because here’s the thing – Facebook bots don’t have to be complicated. In fact, you could set up your first bot in minutes to start increasing subscribers and building your audience.

But first, a little context…..

Communication Is Changing

The way people communicate is changing in a big way.

Just compare the way you communicate today with the way you did 10 or 15 years ago. If you’re like most people, you have shifted away from email and phone calls and toward SMS and messenger apps.

Like everyone else, you probably prefer communication that is convenient, instantaneous, and always at your fingertips. And, because most of us use our smartphones as our primary PC (not to mention our primary source of contact with others), we prefer communication that is smartphone-friendly.

Messaging apps are the perfect solution.

They’re fast and intuitive. The responses you get are short and easy to read. And people like using them!

These are just a few of the reasons why messaging apps have become so universally popular today, and why they’re such a great channel for marketers looking to reach new customers and grow their business.

What Is Messenger Marketing & Why Is It Important?

Messenger Marketing is simply the act of marketing to your customers using a messaging app.

You can build a list by attracting new leads, nurture those leads by sending them content and answering their questions, and ultimately convert those leads into new paying customers.

Conceptually, it’s similar to how Email Marketing works. But in practice, Messenger Marketing works much differently than email. It’s much more conversational— with Messenger Marketing people are looking for a conversation that feels 1-1, where emails from most businesses are one too many. Also unlike email (where open and click-through rates continue to decline year after year), Messenger Marketing is actually growing.  Rapidly. 

In just about every country in the world the most frequently used app is a messaging app. They’re pervasive; everyone uses them. And this has been the case for quite some time. Messaging apps surpassed social networks in terms of monthly active users way back in early 2015.

Here are a few reasons why:

High Engagement Rates

A 2016 report from Statista compared the open and click-through rates for different types of emails. In their research, they found that the average email open rates were 5.9%-18.8%, and the average click-through rates were 0.4%-2.1%.

Compare that to Messenger Marketing—where marketers are currently seeing open rates of 80% or more and click-through rates greater than 30%—and you’ll start to get an idea of the potential of this new marketing medium.

People are much, much more likely to open and click on a messaging app than they are with an email. And that’s good news for any company hoping to engage their leads and prospects online. 

Messenger Apps Have Less Friction Than Email

One of the beautiful things about messenger apps is that they provide a seamless user experience with very little friction.

By comparison, think about all the friction that comes from using email:

First of all, simply looking at your inbox is probably enough to fill you with anxiety. If you’re like most people, your inbox contains anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand unread messages. Seeing all those “open loops” is painful, especially when you know it could take hours to sort through & organize all those unread messages.

April 2017, Facebook Messenger hit 1.2 billion users. Running behind only Facebook (2 billion users) and YouTube (1.5 billion users), it currently sits at joint third place with Whatsapp.

Combined messaging apps are now bigger than social networks themselves with the four biggest messaging apps surpassing the four biggest social networks across the total number of users.1

People are now using messaging apps to do much more than just chatting with family and friends. Such as purchase goods, inquire about products, order pizza, connect with brands, post ‘stories’ and watch content.

The most exciting prospect of using Messenger for marketing purposes is the results people are getting.

Can you remember back to the days when you could achieve 70%+ open rates and 30%+ click rates using email marketing?

Neither can I.

But that’s what you can expect using messenger bots in your marketing.

Everyone from Neil Patel to Joe Soto and Andrew Warner are gaining 100% inbox deliverability rates, 80% open rates and 50% click rates using messenger bots.

Why Facebook Messenger?

With all the messaging apps out there, why should you focus on Facebook Messenger as your go-to app for Messenger Marketing?

There are several reasons.

First of all, if you live in the U.S. or Canada, Facebook Messenger is the hands-down clear winner in terms of users. With over 1.3 billion active users each month, Facebook Messenger has an enormous reach.

Second, Facebook has been testing and expanding the capabilities of its Messenger app for this very purpose. So unlike WhatsApp, which is still a fairly bare-bones app (more like SMS), Messenger features the ability to build automated chatbots complete with images, videos, galleries, call-to-action buttons, and more—making it the app of choice for marketers and business owners looking to grow their business with messenger marketing.

Here’s an example of a Facebook ad with “Send Message” as the call-to-action. If you saw this ad in your newsfeed, clicked the button, and sent the company a message, you would be automatically added to their ManyChat subscriber list:

HubSpot post using the message to sign up feature on Facebook

By using ManyChat’s growth tool widgets, you can even embed a “Send Message” button on your website—allowing people to join your messenger list right from a blog post:

Code&Quill Message Us feature on a blog post

And here’s an example of a post using ManyChat’s “comment to subscriber” feature. In this post, the text tells people to leave a comment if they want to receive a free guide:

Coach Rock using comment to message feature

Once you do, you will be sent an automatic response message, like this:

coach rock comment to message feature example

How Brands Are Winning With Chatbots

Before I first started looking seriously into messenger bots, I can’t say for sure whether I’d encountered any firsthand.

But how could I know?

I mean, a chatbot by definition is a piece of software used to simulate conversation, so if executed correctly, how would you know whether you were talking to a bot or a person?

Since I’ve been messing about with messenger bots, I’ve seen them being used to fulfill all manner of sales and support tasks. They can be pretty flawless – almost indistinguishable from talking to a real human.

Dominoes have developed a messenger bot that allows you to order pizza. You can also transfer money through TransferWise through a messenger bot and British Airways have developed a bot named BOTler to offer London-bound customers a ‘best of the best’ guide to the capital.

Even gourmet supermarket Whole Foods Market has a messenger bot which functions like a virtual chef and allows you to use emojis or keywords to search for recipes.

But I know you’re probably thinking: These are big brands with even bigger budgets, how can I use Messenger bots in my business on my small budget?

Luckily for you, there is now a heap of very accessible apps enabling even the least tech-savvy entrepreneur to build their own chatbot empire.

And it’s the latter that proved the most interesting to me.

Because despite all the fanfare around open rates and click rates, messenger subscribers remain just that, and they remain in the messenger app until you can encourage them elsewhere, i.e., in your email list

In the same way that you don’t own your Facebook fans, you don’t own your messenger subscribers either. Plus Facebook has some very specific T&C’s in their developer’s policy regarding the use of Facebook Messenger. Meaning you can’t send certain types of content whenever you feel like it.

Different Types of Messenger Bot Platforms

I found nearly 20 Messenger bot platforms in my research for this post. I’m going to share three solid options with you. They are ManyChat, Credi Response, and Chatfuel.

  • ManyChat certainly appears to be one of the most popular platforms, and for good reason, too. I chose to use ManyChat to build my first bot. And I was incredibly impressed with the level of training, support (email and Facebook group), UI and impressive features which boasted a number of ‘growth tools’ to help users grow their messenger subscribers. Check out ManyChat and get started on their free plan!
  • Credi Response‘s offer is very different – it promises to turn every Facebook comment into cash by sending a personal message to everyone who comments on your Facebook page or a Facebook post. It starts from $9.95 a month. The main difference between Credi Response and ManyChat is that Credi Response is a response bot and ManyChat has different options such as the ability to send broadcast messages and send sequences – think autoresponders within Messenger.
  • Chatfuel is used by leading publications including TechCrunch, Y Combinator, Forbes, and VentureBeat. Chatfuel is similar to ManyChat but doesn’t have any of the growth tools that ManyChat offers. Where Chatfuel shines though is in its AI engine which automatically detects user phrases similar to phrases that you predefine and then shows relevant messages to your subscribers – pretty neat! It also has a starting price point of FREE which makes it pretty hard to argue with.

Using Messenger Bots To Build Your Email List

For reasons we’ve discussed above, you’re going to want to combine messenger marketing with email marketing and slowly find more ways to move subscribers onto your email list.

I’ve seen more than half a dozen strategies used to build your email list from your messenger subscribers. I’m going to outline three of my favorites and show you how to use them on your site.

Before we get into the fine details, we need to take a step back to look at the bigger picture: before you can convert a messenger subscriber into an email subscriber, you’ve got to grow your messenger subscribers. D’uh!

Here are two effective ways you can do that:

  • Messenger landing page or button. Create a Messenger landing page, opt-in model or embed a Messenger button on your website. Incentivise people to click on it in the same way you would any other opt-in, except this time they don’t have to submit their details.

Each user will then be asked if they want to open the message in Messenger. A message will be seen in Messenger inbox and your user is now subscribed.

  • Comment on page or post. You can trigger a bot once someone comments on a page or post by leaving a comment or by using a specific word or phrase. Note that in this case, a user will only become a subscriber once they reply to the first message.

    Automate Your Messenger Marketing With Chatbots

    Chatbots send content to your users automatically, based on the actions they take (clicking on call-to-action buttons, typing in certain keywords, and so on).

    But unlike email autoresponders, chatbots allows for logic branching and greater personalization. Instead of simply blasting out the same email to everyone, chatbots allow for menu options like this:

    This gives the user the option of choosing which information they get—so they only receive messages they’re interested in. (Which is probably another reason why Messenger Marketing has such high engagement rates.)

How To Turn A Messenger Subscriber Into A Lead

For the purposes of this article, I’ll be describing the process using the first of the three platforms I described earlier, ManyChat.

First, sign up using your Facebook profile and connect your page. Now you’re ready to create your first bot. Yay!

You might be thinking, why not just send out a link to a landing page in your first message?

And you could.

But it might be counterintuitive and lead to poor user experience. My recommendation would be to send out a sequence of automated messages to educate followers and build trust. And on the final message, to incentivize them to join your email list with a new offer.

Using ManyChat sequences, you can easily set up automated messages.

If you choose not to send an initial sequence, you can send frequent broadcast messages (just like with email) and infrequently send out a link to a new ebook or the lead magnet you’re promoting.

Note that you can also add an RSS feed, which will deliver new blog announcements to your subscribers every time you publish a new post.

Other Tactics That Can Help You

Because they’re highly engaging and encourage two-way communication, quizzes are a great and quirky tool to use on a messenger platform.

I’ve taken three quizzes in messenger. All have been quite fun to take part in and fairly educational in focus. All have ended with the messenger bot sending me to a landing page to opt-in to something.

It’s effective because it’s fun. The person is already engaging even before you make your opt-in offer, which lowers their defences.

You can also use a user input block to capture email address inside of messenger.

By using a user input block you can offer something of value (your lead magnet) in return for their email address.

For example, Nick Julia of Mind Heros asks a multiple choice question. When you submit an answer, it prompts you to enter your email address.

Create a Messenger Ad On Facebook

Because Messenger is so closely integrated with Facebook, Messenger Marketing is, in many instances, closely tied with Facebook marketing. And there are several different types of Facebook ads you can run that will result in people interacting with your chatbots.

Time To Take The First Step

Now that you know how to set up your own Messenger Marketing campaigns using ManyChat, there’s only one thing left to do—take the first step! If you’re already a ManyChat user, that means logging into your account and working through the steps in this guide to create your own marketing chatbot.

If you’re not yet a ManyChat user, what are you waiting for?

Every day more and more companies are joining the Messenger marketing craze and discovering just how effective marketing can be when you communicate with your leads in a personalized and interactive way. It’s 100% free to sign up, so you have nothing to lose.

Click here to get your free ManyChat account now! (This is not an affiliate link)

You should find out more about messenger bots. If you would like someone to set up the bot for you we can arrange that for you too.


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