Facebook Messenger and chatbots are changing the face of marketing.
Unprecedented access to data and automation tools has unlocked huge potential for companies, enabling direct communication with their audience.
But this potential isn’t easy to maximize. If you’re a business owner looking to capitalize on chatbots, you need to carefully consider your marketing goals, your audience’s needs, and how they want to be talked to.
The best chatbots are carefully constructed around individual brands and audiences.
Business owners looking for effective sales solutions need to be strategic. They need to understand how Messenger-based bots work, how they can serve their audience most effectively, and how they can be cohesively used as part of holistic, omnichannel marketing strategies.
Facebook Messenger vs other marketing channels
Better Engagement + Conversion
If you’re still on the fence about using Facebook Messenger and chatbots, you shouldn’t be.
With 1.3 billion monthly active users, Facebook Messenger reaches an incredible number of people.
In addition to the sheer size of its reach, Messenger has proven to a more engaging platform than traditional marketing tools. If engagement is best measured in conversion rates, Facebook Messenger outperforms email by a wide margin.
Facebook Messenger is delivering results across a wide range of businesses and capacities. This is more than just building “likes” for your brand (though you can do that too).
Brands have had the option to integrate a simple Messenger account with their Facebook fan page or on an external website. But with chatbots, these effects are being amplified and executed at scale.
There’s an underlying reason behind these great statistics. Messenger has fundamentally changed how brands can interact with their audience.
We’ve gone from one-way, en-masse marketing to one-on-one, conversational service.
It’s the closest thing we’ve had to the greeters and personal assistants you interact with everyday at your local retail stores, restaurants, and other commercial outlets.
It’s transformed the online buying experience. Consumers can now lead the conversations instead of simply being marketed to.
Building the conversations
Before getting into sales-specific strategy, it’s important to cover the basics of how brands can create and guide the communication that takes place with their audience.
At its most basic, Facebook Messenger can serve as a place for a completely unguided conversation between two accounts.
Before chatbots were rolled out, Facebook Messenger business accounts were solely operated by human representatives. If you wanted to get in touch with a business, you would have to send their Messenger account a message and wait until their rep responded.
The limitations are obvious limitations, right? There’s only so much a single human rep can handle, and that person can only be available for certain periods of time.
Chatbots have transformed this. Now brands can handle a virtually unlimited amount of messages, 24/7, and respond immediately.
This is great for a variety of goals, like information gathering and research.
UNICEF runs U-Report, a bot that sends out polls on social and humanitarian issues. While not always completely open-ended, the surveys are a great way to reach more people than ever before.
Open-ended conversations can be great for research, but it’s not the most effective strategy for guiding buyers along a sales funnel.
Again, think of the role of a sales assistant. Their job is to help shoppers narrow their choices, select the right product options, and then check out smoothly.
In order to accomplish all that, both sales assistants and chatbots should use clear decisions that lead to concrete choices. In Facebook Messenger, this is done with buttons.
For example, Omega Bank’s chatbot leads users down three distinct pathways using three buttons: Current Balance, Nearest Branch, and Report and Issue.
These are how Messenger represents fixed choices along a decision tree. Think about them like mini action steps, and each question as a chance to move further along your sales funnel.
Not all brands are going to have the same goals. Just like with all online marketing, you need to be very clear about what you’re trying to accomplish with these messages.
Different goals will require different messaging strategies.
Those strategies could vary from the simple gathering of information, to entertaining your audience, or answering key questions to blast apprehension.
Before designing conversations, it’s important to know what your goals are. High conversion rates are only good if they’re measuring actions you’d like your audience to take.
Since we’re focusing on ecommerce, the main goal we’re interested in is sales. Chatbots like jumper are designed to engage potential buyers and guide them all the way through checkout.
Rules of the game
Before getting to how to write the most effective messages, it’s important for business owners to understand the parameters Facebook places on Messenger-based marketing.
Once a user messages a brand’s chatbot, the bot has up to 24 hours to respond with promotional messages. Once that window shuts, the chatbot can only send one additional, non-promotional message to that user.
That 24-hour window resets every time the user engages with the bot.
This policy creates an incentive for brands to ensure their bots provide speedy service and avoid spamming their audience. Above all, it means the emphasis is on user-initiated engagement.
Brand owners and business fan page managers need to stay current with Facebook policies. For example, Facebook’s recent changes to its subscription messages policies shifted permission from app level to page level. Page admins need to apply to get approval from Facebook, and show examples of their subscription messages.
These subtleties are important elements in constructing a Messenger marketing strategy that drives sales. The most attractive copy, pictures, and deals won’t mean much if your chatbot doesn’t play by Facebook’s rules.
Writing effective messages
Now that we’ve covered the conversation types, potential goals, and best practices, let’s lay out how to communicate in a manner that engages and drives actions (and sales).
If you get lost in the technical elements of bots, data, or conversion rates, take a step back and remember that this is a conversation.
Think about engaging with a great salesperson working for your favorite brand. What would make that conversation “good”?
You’re probably looking for relevant service delivered in a positive manner. If you had to prioritize just a few qualities, a productive conversation with any brand rep – human or bot – can be broken down into a few qualities.
So, what makes for a good conversation? How can you stay engaging?
Firstly, think about why one of your customers is communicating with you. Whether it’s for sales or customer service, the bottom line is that you have to be helpful.
In order to do that, you need to make sure that your conversation flow makes sense and will resolve most issues, or at least offer the option to connect to email support or a human rep.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to experiment with more subtle forms of engagement, like humor.
It’s easy to get this wrong, but there are some conversation-focused chatbots that prove chatbots can handle nuanced exchanges. Here’s an example from my conversation with one of the leading conversation bots:
Keep it consistent
Brand consistency is an important factor in building trust with your audience. Think about engaging with automated customer service at your bank. You probably expect security verification, straightforward answers, and no loose ends.
What if, instead, you were met with some wacky humor or sarcasm? How would you feel about your banking issues?
This isn’t just a Messenger chatbot issue, it’s basic business best practices.
Your language should reflect your brand image and your customer’s expectations.
Consistency isn’t just about language, though. If you’re using images and other visuals, do they fit with the overall feel of your brand?
When constructing your conversation flow, look to your website copywriting and email marketing for inspiration. You may want to consider developing a style guide to really keep things cohesive.
Develop a character with personality
One way to combine all this is to create a character that embodies your brand’s voice.
If you’ve ever build a customer avatar, ideal client profile, or buyer persona, you’re familiar with the power of character creation. Why not go through the same process for a chatbot?
Just like a style guide helps your brand’s designers and marketers create cohesive user experiences, a character with tangible personality can really pull everything together.
Plus, there’s just something about talking to an identifiable personality – even a nonhuman one – that appeals to people. Some of the most successful chatbots are built around personas that play off of their brands’ identities.
Domino’s Pizza and Kia Motors named their respective bots Dom and Kian. Fun, easy to remember, and just a little more personalized than an anonymous automated chat.
Get Creative with Visuals
The way a brand represents itself visually says a lot about it. Getting the basics right, like using Messenger-optimized graphics and clear product photography goes a long way.
Remember, these are conversations taking place either in the bottom right hand corner of your computer screen or on your mobile phone. High contrast and simple composition will do much better than complex visuals.
Don’t stop at just photography, though. Do you use other visuals when texting friends?
When in comes to Messenger marketing, emojis and GIFs are fair game. More than that, actually – emojis are proven to improve conversion rates.
Whole Foods uses food emojis to guide conversations around recipes. It’s a smart way to keep things manageable – there are only a finite number of food emojis – and fresh at the same time.
Make it punchy
The power of your Messenger messages depends entirely on how engaging your writing is.
Shakespeare called brevity “the soul of wit”; it’s probably also the soul of effective Messenger marketing.
Remember, this isn’t like email marketing or general sales copy. You’re not waxing lyrical about a product or to an unknown mass of people. You’re engaging in a two-way dialogue with a single person.
Have you ever watched or heard a conversation that’s extremely imbalanced? If one person is blabbering endlessly, it’s just uncomfortable.
If you struggle to write concisely, you can try using apps like the Hemingway App to shorten your sentences. Walls of text don’t work well anywhere online, but they can be a real killer in messages.
Clear choices and CTAs
The best way to create engagement is to ask for it. Call-to-actions, or CTAs, should make up the backbone of your conversation flow.
The best way to create progress along a funnel is to offer clear choices and ask for specific actions. This isn’t just a chatbot element – clear choices that lead a user through a decision tree is part of many operating manuals and customer service flows, human or computer-based. If you’ve ever dealt with automated customer service, you’ve probably had to go through a step-based series of choices.
Sales enabling chatbots, like jumper, can provide efficient service by responding to customers who have already indicated interest in specific products. Buyers at that stage don’t have to be led through a browsing process – they’ve already chosen what they want.
This Hubspot article offers a simple framework to analyze your conversation structure.
It’s a good idea to draw out your conversations and sales funnels as flowcharts. This will help you structure your questions and CTAs into clear sequences. Any basic flowchart program will work, but you can also use specialized tools like Botmock.
How to drive more sales with Messenger
Upsells, cross-sells, and repeat buyers
Your Messenger journey doesn’t have to end at checkout. Some of the most valuable actions come after a customer has decided to buy a product.
Once a transaction is complete, Facebook Messenger can also be used to send automated messages. Many email marketing-style flows can be recreated, and buyers can be sent anything from personalized thank you coupons to order updates.
Timing + Relevancy
Chatbots can function well as a standalone marketing tool, but they become especially powerful when linked with other forms of outreach.
If you plan to sell through a chatbot, consider running promotional campaigns that drive extra warm traffic to the bot. If the chatbot’s conversation is relevant to the journey they’ve just experienced, it will lead to a better user experience and higher conversion rates.
OHRA insurance, for example, more than doubled their conversion rates while running TV ads.
Consider what brought your audience to your chatbot in the first place. Keeping that context in mind may help you create more relevant copy and images, and a better Messenger experience for your audience.
How will you create effective Messenger messages?
The best thing you can do is get started. Once you’ve activated your chatbot, you’ll be able to experiment with different styles, strategies, and content.
You can track and analyze your Messenger marketing’s effectiveness with chatbot performance tools like Dashbot and Bot Society. The more you engage your audience through Messenger, the more you’ll be able to test and optimize. Double down on what’s working and cut out the strategies that fall flat.
Remember, at the end of the day chatbots and Facebook Messenger are simply tools to create a two-way conversation with your buyers. They’re powerful tools, but it’s up to you to engage with your audience and develop your brand’s voice!