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.
But my question to you is, what’s stopped you from trying them?
Let me 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.
I get it. I felt the same. Notice the past tense.
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.
In this post, I’ll share three killer ways to use Facebook Messenger bots to boost your subscribers and build your email list.
But first, a little context
Well, as of 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.
People are now using messaging apps to do much more than just chat with family and friends. Such as, purchase goods, enquire 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.
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 fulfil 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.
Now that’s my kind of bot!
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 are now a heap of very accessible apps enabling even the least tech-savvy entrepreneur to build their own chatbot empire.
I’ve opted into communications with dozens of messenger chatbots in recent weeks to understand how other bloggers and entrepreneurs are using them. I’ve seen them used in live launches to send broadcast messages, deliver interactive quizzes and build an email list.
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 in many ways 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 favourites 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, optin modal 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.
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 incentivise 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 quirky 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.
Note that in the screenshot of Hubspot above, I have just (as in today) subscribed to their ‘Four Days of Facebook’ virtual summit. To opt-in, I had to enter my details via user input blocks.
Want more tools?
I’ve personally sourced nearly 20 different Messenger chatbot apps to help get you started with messenger marketing. To get instant access to them, click the link in my author bio below to access these free resources.
If you’re considering using messenger in your marketing, always consider the bigger picture. Don’t jump in feet first and assume you can build your email list right away.
It’s a total package kind of thing, and you need to integrate both email and messenger together. Bots are an extremely effective communication channel and it can enable you to interact with your audience in ways email can’t. But first you need to plan and be patient.
What other ways have you used messenger bots to grow your audience? Let me know in the comments.
Guest Author: Steven Mayall is the founder of stevemayall.com, a blog which helps online entrepreneurs and professional bloggers grow their business with technology. Click here to get instant access to his exhaustive list of resources for entrepreneurs, which is designed to help you avoid aimlessly searching Google or asking for recommendations on Facebook.