I recently had an experience that changed the way I think of digital marketing.
It happened on Facebook.
More specifically, it happened on Facebook Messenger.
I’m talking about Facebook Messenger bots, also called “messenger bots,” “chat bots” or “Facebook bots.”
My colleagues shared with me a recent marketing campaign that they conducted using Facebook Messenger.
The metrics convinced me: 88% open rate and 56% click through rate!
Sure, I’ve had some great email marketing campaigns, but it’s hard to top that result.
The experienced proved to me that Facebook Messenger bots are one of the most powerful new methods in digital marketing.
What do Facebook Messenger bots do? Think of it this way. It’s like email marketing, but using Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger bots are a relative newcomer to the marketing scene. That’s why it’s an exciting time to dive in and learn all about them.
Being an early adopter of Facebook Messenger bots will give you a huge advantage as a marketer.
You may have heard of a concept called first-mover’s advantage or FMA.
The idea is this: If you’re the first one using a specific tactic or employing a particular tactic, you win.
The early adopters of SEO were able to dominate the SERPs and gain massive organic search traffic. The early adopters of Facebook groups built massive followings. The early adopters of Twitter created huge brands and cultivated enormous influence.
The earlier you learn and use a new marketing tactic, the more likely you are to benefit from it.
It’s the perfect time to use Facebook Messenger bots.
Right now, we’re in the phase of Facebook Messenger marketing where customers are not yet experiencing things like “banner blindness” (web ads) or “email fatigue” (email marketing).
When you send a prospect a Facebook message, they’re far more likely to view and click through than they would with an email marketing message.
It’s hard to ignore! Plus, it’s new and exciting.
People are responding to Facebook Messenger messages in record-high numbers. I know for a fact that you can get 88% open rates on your Facebook Messenger bot campaigns.
I’ve seen the proof, and I’m a believer.
What I don’t know is how long the good times are going to last.
Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Messenger bots and how to get started raking in those leads for yourself.
What Facebook Messenger can do
First, let’s be completely clear as to what Facebook Messenger bots are.
As I mentioned above, using Facebook Messenger bots is a lot like email marketing. But instead of using email you’re using Facebook messages.
That hasn’t changed.
What has changed is my view of Facebook Messenger.
I now realize that Facebook Messenger has a massive reach, higher levels of interactivity, and more AI capabilities than email.
So what does this all mean?
It means that I take it seriously when Facebook Messenger rises as an additional marketing tool.
Here’s what you can do with Facebook Messenger bots.
- You can deliver messaging sequences to people in Messenger.
- You can create a sales funnel that brings in sales right within Messenger.
- You can send downloads (like resources and content upgrades) via Messenger.
- You can have automated conversations with real users on Messenger using AI.
There’s a ton more you can do.
It’s simple and brilliant.
I don’t know about you, but I use Facebook Messenger all the time. I use it more than texting, more than WhatsApp, and even more than email!
(During the time that I wrote this article, I sent 28 Messenger chats on my iPhone!)
Messaging, texting, and IM applications have become second nature for a lot of people.
It’s not that email is going away. It’s just that messaging is the main way that a lot of people communicate.
It’s obvious that Facebook Messenger can be a ridiculously effective marketing channel.
Wait, what’s this about a bot?
Before showing you the details on creating a Messenger bot, I think it would be helpful to talk about bots in general.
When most people hear the word “bot,” they tend to think that it is something bad.
True, there are bad bots. Some bots are so bad that they’ve given all bots a bad name.
Why are some bots so bad? Here’s the dirty truth from Sitelock:
Bad bots represent over 35 percent of all bot traffic. Hackers execute bad bots to perform simple and repetitive tasks. These bots scan millions of websites and aim to steal website content, consume bandwidth, and look for outdated software and plugins that they can use as a way into your website and database.
But there are good bots, too, like these nice guy types:
- Copyright bots
- Data bots
- Spider bots
- Trader bots
- Service bots
- Sales bots
The entire SEO industry depends on a bot.
Bots is short for “robot.” And as you’re aware, robots can do some pretty awesome things.
The bots we’re talking about aren’t industrial robots or even service bots.
Up until now, such bots have been used mostly in customer service roles. (Below, I’ll show you some platforms for creating a customer service bot.)
If you’ve ever chatted on Skype or Messenger with a “customer service rep,” you might have been chatting with a bot.
But these messenger bots can do way more than just help you book a hotel in Bali or buy a pair of sandals for the summer.
Bots can help us as marketers get higher open rates, clickthrough rates, leads, and sales.
The great thing is, Facebook is a huge fan of these chat bots.
It’s obvious that Facebook wants as many users as they can on Messenger, so they’re throwing a ton of their own customer service support towards Messenger bot providers and bot builders.
So, unlike a cold email list, where you could get spam-listed by disgruntled customers, Facebook Messenger bots are a warm and welcoming opportunity.
Let me show you how they work.
How Messenger bots work
Actually experiencing the bots is way better than hearing about them.
You can get the full experience by opting into a bot at BotAcademy.com, which is the experience I describe below.
On the homepage of Bot Academy, I see an opt-in box. It loos a lot like a typical email lead generation CTA.
But it’s different.
Because the site isn’t capturing my email address! They’re chatting with me on Facebook Messenger.
Take a look.
Obviously, I’m going to click “Yes, send me the guide!”
Instantly, I see this:
I like the way that they say, “Talk to you soon. :)”. Already, the experience is interactive and personal.
Next, I’ll click “View it in Messenger →.”
Here I am in Messenger, and there’s the message from Bot Academy, just as they promised.
And this is where things get pretty cool.
Notice that message in the middle:
You agreed to have Bot Academy send you updates. Replying will allow Bot Academy to see info you’ve made public.
Sounds a bit ominous, but think about the implications for marketers!
If you’ve added a Messenger Bot to your Facebook page and website, you instantly have deep intel on everyone who ends up using your lead generation form!
Okay, let’s keep going. When I click “Yes. Blow my mind.” on Messenger, the bot immediately chats back to me:
Look what’s going on here. It’s like Andrew Warner of BotAcademy is messaging me, complete with selfies and emoticons!
And he’s leading me on (in a good way)! I’m curious. I’m digging this. I want to find out more.
Plus, I don’t have to type any replies! All I do is click the little, premade replies.
The sequence keeps going:
And obviously, I keep clicking more of the “Show me,” and “Tell me,” and “Yes, I do” messages, because it’s so darn easy and compelling.
The experience is almost like chatting with a friend.
It’s easy. It’s fast.
Honestly, it’s kind of addictive!
After a few Messenger chats, I’m in deep.
The representative from BotAcadamy will keep sending me chats and will keep delivering content.
Like I mentioned above, experiencing the usefulness of a tool is more helpful than hearing about it.
Give me the facts. Why should I use bots?
I’m showing you all of this information because I’m convinced that messenger bots (which include more than Facebook Messenger) are the next big thing in online marketing.
Also, I’m totally persuaded that bots can make your business more successful.
It’s hard to argue with facts and data — like the 88% open rates and 56% clickthrough rates.
So, let me give you some more of those facts:
- 1.2 billion (yes, billion!) people use Facebook Messenger every month. Your ideal customer is using Messenger.
- Many prospective customers aren’t comfortable providing their email address in exchange for your free download anymore. Worse, they might completely ignore your marketing emails. This is called “email fatigue,” and it’s a real thing.
- From the customer’s perspective, opting into an email newsletter or campaign requires more steps and work than opening up a Facebook Messenger thread.
- From your perspective as a marketer, building an email list takes a lot of work. Creating a list of Facebook Messenger leads is a lot less work because of the reduced friction. Messenger is a one-click subscription instead of having to type in your email, click submit, confirm email, etc.)
- A Messenger bot can have a sequence just like an email campaign. Sequences can be as long or short as you want and have as many options (or more) than an email sequence.
- Messenger sequences are way faster than email campaign sequences. With an email campaign sequence, you typically should wait a day or two before sending additional emails. With Facebook Messenger, you can send more messages in the next 10 seconds, 10 minutes, 10 days, whatever you want. Best of all, the response is instant and you can engage in real conversations with your leads.
- Prospects can instantly engage in live chat, which helps to close sales faster and with less friction.
- Retargeting your Messenger leads is easier and faster than retargeting email leads since the leads are already on Facebook.
- You can know where your subscriber went to school, where they work, what gender they are, how they look… all through Messenger. Try getting that kind of in-depth information through email!
- Messenger bots have the same kind of opt-in appeal that email lead generation forms have — popups, slide-ins, buttons, boxes, etc. You can even gain a new lead simply when they leave a comment on your Facebook page.
- Messenger is completely optimized for mobile or desktop. No more mobile configuration for email messages.
Getting leads using Facebook Messenger is easy.
But how about setting up your own campaign? How easy is that?
Le me tell you about my own experience.
How to create your own interactive Facebook Messenger bot.
My guess is at this point in the article, most readers are going to bail.
Creating anything, especially something as complicated-sounding as a bot, is going to drive some readers away.
Hang with me for a minute. Make that two minutes. Why two minutes?
Because I made my own bot in just two minutes.
Creating a Facebook Messenger bot does not have to be complicated.
There are a couple ways to go about this:
- The programmer’s way
- The easy way
If you have programming experience and know your way around Python, Flask, and Heroku, then you can consider making your own Facebook Messenger bot.
If you’re like me and don’t know how to code, then you can choose the easy way.
I’ll share the resources for both methods.
First, we’ll go over the programmer’s method. Then, we’ll talk about the easy way. If you’re not a programmer, you can skip this first section.
The programmer’s method of creating a Facebook Messenger bot.
Instead of providing a step-by-step tutorial, I’ll give you the best resources I found on the subject:
Hartley Brody has a lot of helpful resources for Messenger bots. This article provides a really helpful starting point.
This Github guide is designed for beginners and intermediates.
For a nice visual lesson, check out this YouTube tutorial. The video walks through the stages of creating a bot on the Facebook Messenger Platform API.
Facebook is eager to help developers and programmers create Messenger bots.
Their tutorial is best for advanced programmers and shows the basics of creating a functioning bot in 15 minutes.
Coding is fine, especially if that’s your jam.
But keep in mind that doing so requires extensive coding knowledge, not to mention hours of work.
The easy way to create a Facebook Messenger bot
Now, for the easy way.
Marketers who aren’t coders (isn’t that most of us?) are adept at using online tools and programs.
Creating a chat-bot is as easy as any marketing SaaS or tool you’ve used.
To create my first Facebook bot, I used ManyChat. I found it to be easier than using Mailchimp!
There are other options out there. I’ll share a few more at the end of this article.
To start, go to ManyChat.com.
First, I clicked the nice big blue button on their homepage.
Then I signed into Facebook to authorize ManyChat.
Obviously, I had to approve what ManyChat could do on my Facebook page.
First, I went through a quick and easy tutorial on bots.
The tutorial took less than a minute!
Then, I had the opportunity to make my own broadcast.
After that, I could monitor my audience, create a live chat, use growth tools, and use the other useful tools.
See how simple it is? And it only takes two minutes.
It’s simple enough that you can add a bot to your page in the morning, and have leads by the afternoon.
Other platforms for creating Facebook Messenger bots
Obviously, ManyChat isn’t the only business that offers easy-to-create Facebook Messenger bots.
Here are a few other options for your consideration.
Chatfuel – Have seven minutes to spare? Chatfuel helps you “launch a full-featured chatbot in 7 minutes.”
Chatfuel is one of the leading innovators in the chatbot industry, and you’ll find all the resources you need on their blog.
One of the best features about Chatfuel is that it’s free up until 500,000 monthly active users. This means that entrepreneurs and small businesses can get all the power of a chatbot without being tied to a monthly subscription.
Sequel – Sequel provides chatbots for Facebook Messenger, Kik, Viber, and Telegram.
Their easy-to-use platform includes several helpful templates to start with:
These templates help to save time and give you some insight into how to create a conversational bot experience.
ChattyPeople – If you’re going for a basic AI customer support bot, ChattyPeople is a helpful option.
Meokay – Another helpful sales-focused chatbot is Meokay. Setting it up requires a bit of time, but the platform’s advanced functionality gives you a lot of power.
Botsify – Botsify is another AI-centric bot platform that is ideal for customer service functions. Botsify is used by some of the larger brands like Apple and Shazam.
If you’re a programmer, you’ll be thrilled with the integrations via plugins. If you’re not a programmer, you’ll love the drag ‘n drop template designer.
Assist – A done-for-you service that will build Facebook Messenger chat-bots in addition to bots for Amazon Alexa & Google Home.
Bot List – BotList is the best resource to find and experiment with bots. They are the “App Store” for conversational software.
Bot Academy – An educational resource for Facebook Messenger Bots, with plenty of helpful articles, data, and studies.
The point of this article is simple.
You have the chance right now to use one of the newest tools in digital marketing.
Facebook Messenger bots are a mashup of social, mobile, and instant messaging power, which is exactly the direction that marketing is going.
The last thing that you want is to become antiquated — confused to why your old-school marketing techniques aren’t working as well as they used to.
As digital marketers, it’s important for us to be adaptive and flexible.
Facebook Messenger bots are the future, and it’s time to start using them.
Let me know about your experience using Facebook Messenger bots or any questions you might have about them.