Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, there is a lot of hype surrounding chatbots in the marketing space. Ever since Facebook announced the release of their Messenger Bots platform at their 2016 F8 conference, brands have been trying their best to reach the potential of one billion people using Facebook Messenger as their primary communication channel.
One million people, imagine that, and that is not how many people have downloaded the application; it is the number of people who regularly use Messenger to talk to friends, family members and now also to potentially your business.
In only three months after the launch, more than 11,000 bots were already created. Chatbots are quickly becoming a standard part of any digital marketing strategy. And unless you want to miss out, now is the time to jump on board.
If you’re a small-business owner, a large corporate, or a famous artist with an enormous fanbase, if you’re interested in streamlining marketing or customer service, then using a chatbot is something that’s worth taking a closer look at.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Facebook Messenger bots and what value they can bring to your organisation.
What Is a Facebook Messenger Bot?
Most of the time, when people say bots, the first thing that comes to mind is a robot to which you can talk and with which you can interact. And this is indeed also the case with Facebook Messenger Bots.
And although chatbots are governed by a predetermined set of rules, you as the creator always have the possibility to take over without your customer noticing the difference. In the end, though, you want a bot that combines most of your rules with artificial intelligence, so you won’t have to interrupt yourself anymore.
Most of the times, the first thing that comes to mind to people about chatbots is that they can be used for customer service. However, the truth is that there are much broader ways to use them. Think of news, sports, travel, retail, fun, games, chatbots can be utilised across all genres that you use to engage with your customers.
And that brings us straight to the core of what a chatbot is, and why it differs from almost all other forms of digital advertising (display ads, email, video, social media). A lot of times, companies are using digital advertising still like it was a radio commercial. They blast content towards their targeted audience like it was a tv-commercial.
Chatbots, however, have the possibility to engage with your audience. Even though at its core, it is still a computer program, that is bound by rules. The end-user perceives it as if they were having a conversation with a human. That by itself, put its value higher than even that of the most successful application or advertisement you could ever create up until now.
The result? A (Facebook Messenger) chatbot helps you to achieve the holy grail of all your marketing efforts. You can make an emotional connection with your customers.
Why Use Chatbots?
More and more people are turning to social media messaging, including Facebook Messenger to start a dialogue with a business. Whether this is positive (questions or comments) or negative (complaints).
While a lot of times, there are great tools that can help you manage the increasing number of messages send to you, however sometimes when there is a massive increase (for example when a server goes down, and your website can’t be reached) of people talking it can get a bit overwhelming to give a timely response.
Facebook Messenger chatbots give you the possibility to automate the most used questions and answer your customers might have. Think of questions like “what is your return policy”, or “in which colours is this item available”. By automating these types of questions, you’re freeing up your customer service for more serious issues.
The biggest reasons, however, why you should be using chatbots is:
- The insane open rates of 80-90%, because every time you send a message, your audience’s phones buzz and they check it instantly
- If designed well, chats are way more fun to read than all of your other communications, GIF’s, videos, interactive buttons, etc. are all sort of different ways to keep people’s attention
- It is still early stage, unlike your Facebook fan page where it gets harder and harder to get any form of engagement without paying top dollar, or email where you’re competing with all the other newsletter out there, there are not a lot of companies that are already operating in this space. This means less fighting to get any attention
- Chat messages are easy for people to unsubscribe from. And of course, you can unsubscribe from an email newsletter. But how many people do this? Or they just mark it as spam hurting your overall open rates for the people that DO care? Having this easy way to unsubscribe, gives the customer full control
- There is an entire generation, for which email seems less and less important. Research done by App Annie shows that unless if you’re above 45 email is used less than messaging apps:
Create Your Messenger Strategy
Okay, so you’ve decided to create a bot for your organisation. Now what? Before you start thinking about implementing any part of automation, it is always best to think things throw a bit.
What is the experience you want to create for your customers? What are your social media goals? Do you want to create a utility bot? Or maybe a bot purely for entertainment? If you understand what it is that your customers are interacting with the bot need to get out of it, will make it a lot easier to create the best experience for them.
The set of questions you need to think of, is what do you want people to do with your bot? What type of actions should they take? Will it be a very simple process based on interactive buttons, or are there going to be multiple tasks with maybe even open-ended questions that you want them to complete?
To get an answer to these questions, look at the way your customers are currently interacting with your organisation outside of Messenger. A good place to start is you asking questions with your support staff, figure out what are the most common (types of) questions and then design interactions around that in Messenger.
A good business practice is to always stay on top of mind of your customers. This also means that the interaction should not stop when the communication is over. Try thinking of different ways you can the engagement going. Don’t lose focus on your core areas, after all; you don’t want to confuse the people using your bot. But there are always little things to think of, in which you can surprise your visitors.
Growthbot recently did this by incorporating little marketing related jokes as part of the offering for example:
When you think you’ve got the answers to the above questions covered, it is time to begin building your bot. Go to https://developers.facebook.com/products/messenger/ and click “Start Building”.
Promote Your Facebook Messenger Bot
Of course, whenever you launch a new product, you’ve got to tell the world about it. Just like with Content Marketing, Creating content is only half the battle, the rest is gaining notice.
So how do you let the world know that your freshly created chatbot is open for business? Facebook is offering the option for people to search for companies and bots inside Facebook Messenger by name, but chances are very slim that you will get a lot of individuals using your bot this way.
So you want to do some promotion, to make everyone aware of your new chatbot and the great possibilities of interacting with this chatbot will give them. Let’s have a look at how you can do this.
The first and easiest way to start is by using what is called a messenger link. If you already have a Facebook page for your business, then it is easy to figure out what the messenger link will be. It is m.me/username.
This link can then be shared everywhere you want:
- maybe you want to inform you newsletter subscribers that they can start chatting with you so you can include the link there
- maybe you want to tell your followers on other social channels, like LinkedIn or Twitter that your chatbot is open for business so that you can share the link there
Anywhere you share that link when someone clicks it, it will open a conversation with your business in Messenger.
The next place you want to draw the attention of people towards your chatbot is by using Messenger Codes. Messenger Codes are a unique image, which works a bit similar to the user profile code or Snapcodes on Snapchat, or the QR code you might have seen around.
— Moovit (@moovit) April 27, 2016
By changing your profile picture on different social networks to this Messenger Code, you can easily draw attention to your chatbot. People can scan the code from within the Messenger app, and it will take them straight to your company page or chatbot.
Another quick and easy visual experience to draw the attention towards your chatbot is by placing a Messenger button on your website. You can embed the visuals that are readily available from Facebook on your site, put the Messenger link behind it and have people start chatting with you straight away.
The last options is a bit more advanced, but if you’ve got the phone numbers of your clients, you can use a technique called Customer Matching.
Using this method, you can initiate a conversation with your existing customer in which they have the option to opt-in to your chatbot.
These are four easy ways to get people to know your bot and start interacting with it. You can already start these chats with your customers even if you did not create a bot for automation yet. When someone starts communicating with you via Messenger, and there is no bot active yet, it will just turn into a regular conversation with your staff.
According to the creators of Fify, Fify is an intelligent fashion discovery and transaction bot. Fify will behave differently with different people, Fify is context-aware of what is happening in your world and will remember your taste and preferences.
You thought fast food could not get faster? Think again! With the chatbot of Burger King, you can simply order and pick up on demand.
This bot is created by a fan of Selena Gomez and shows how an artist can get close with their fanbase. Showing the latest news, new releases, behind the scene stuff, etc.
Wall Street Journal
The chatbot from the Wall Street Journal provides users with the most recent breaking news, stock charts and market data. It also enables users to follow stories or companies and will ping the followers once there is breaking news, or a story gets updated.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
A quick, easy and painless way to book travel on the airline. The bot from KLM is a quick, easy and painless way to book your travel with the airline. Next, to that, it will provide all your flight information, tickets confirmations, your boarding pass and up-to-date flight information.
How to Use Chatbots for Your Small Business
Although the above examples are examples of some big name brands, there is no reason why your small business should not be able to reap the benefits of Chatbots.
Chatbots are more than just maintaining a relationship with your audience; they can help you streamline common features of your companies website and support functions. Saving you time and money and contributing to boosting your sales.
For a customer, there is no need to look over your website to find the right contact details, dial a phone number, use your app or any other way to communicate with you that takes them away from the tools and processes they already use. They are familiar with chat interfaces, so it is only logical that you’re there to support them.
Modern businesses have the option to be efficient with their time so that they can deliver the best customer experience ever and make those continuous sales. Chatbots can help your business with that
The only thing you should never forget though is that although automation of your social media strategy can be helpful, it should never be a full replacement of the human touch of your company. Automation should enhance your strategy, not fully take over.
If you develop a chatbot for your organisation, don’t rely only on that to ensure the happiness of your customers. Make sure to monitor the interactions, and take over the chat from time to time to keep it surprised and engaging for the people talking to your company.
And now it’s back over to you. Are you already using chatbots in your organisation? Or are you planning on implementing them shortly? What are your favourite bots you interacted with up to today and why? Leave a comment below.
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