Wondering how Facebook Messenger bots can help?
To explore how to improve your marketing and sales with Messenger bots, I interview Molly Pittman.
More About This Show
The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.
In this episode, I interview Molly Pittman. She’s a Facebook Messenger bot expert. She also co-hosts the Perpetual Traffic podcast. Her business is Digital Strategy Book Camps, and she’s an ambassador for ManyChat.
Molly explains why Messenger bots have high open rates and convert customers without being pushy.
You’ll also discover how you can easily improve marketing campaigns with Messenger bots and ManyChat Growth Tools.
Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below.
Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:
Facebook Messenger Bots
Molly’s Start With Messenger Bots
When Facebook released a Messenger ad placement in November 2016, Molly was actively running Facebook ads and covering Facebook ads for Digital Marketer. She immediately realized bots would become more important because Messenger ads would require marketers to automate different responses. So along with Messenger ads, Molly became interested in bots and ManyChat.
Molly focused on ManyChat because so many people mentioned it to her. Ezra Firestone told her the tool could build a Messenger subscriber list. When 10 other people told her the same thing, she knew ManyChat was something she needed to check out. To see how it worked, she installed it on the Digital Marketer and Ryan Deiss pages.
Soon, Molly was on this podcast talking about her early experiments with ManyChat because it was a marketer-centric platform. At Social Media Marketing World 2018, Molly also moderated a keynote with Chatfuel and ManyChat, which are two major contenders in the marketing world. Now she’s doing some work for ManyChat.
Listen to the show to hear my thoughts about Social Media Examiner’s chatbot strategy.
The Present and Future of Messenger Bots
To begin our conversation, I note that the 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report revealed that only 15% of marketers are using Messenger bots, but 51% plan on using Messenger bots in the next year. So these bots have come a long way but are still a growing, early-stage technology.
Molly says marketing on Messenger and communicating with bots present a huge opportunity for marketers because you can communicate with people in a place where they want to have the conversation. Any communication channel where people exchange short, simple messages, whether that’s Messenger or WhatsApp, is hot right now.
Specifically, Facebook Messenger has more than 2 billion active monthly users, which is more people than those who use the Facebook app with the news feed. So Messenger is important because it’s where people are having conversations with their family and friends.
Also, the consumption and adoption rates for Messenger are incredibly high. For example, Molly has a client with a campaign audience of more than 10,000 people and a 96% open rate on Day 6 of a follow-up sequence. Open rates are so high because people tend to open messages in Messenger. It’s less crowded and more personal than email. Also, many people receive message notifications.
When you look at using bots to help you have those conversations on Messenger, the present state of bots is different from the future-focused examples you see at Facebook’s F8 developer conference or those created by large companies that have invested in state-of-the-art bots.
Right now, most people don’t program Facebook Messenger bots to answer any question that a consumer might ask your brand. Instead, the bots work similarly to digital marketing campaigns. For example, bots can work with your web funnels and email subscriptions. You can also program automated responses to certain things that people might type into Messenger.
In other words, today, bots offer the ability to create marketing campaigns in Messenger, where your audience is hanging out. With ManyChat, you can get started with bots for $10 a month, and it’s designed for businesses that can’t afford a huge development team to build the bot of their dreams.
Molly then shares some examples of how bots can work like marketing campaigns. You might use a bot like an email autoresponder platform by setting up an automated sequence to follow up with people and timing those responses. With ManyChat Growth Tools, you can connect a Facebook ad or a unique link to Messenger.
Messenger bots are beginning to handle transactions, too. People who use Stripe can process payments in Messenger via ManyChat. The tool basically facilitates the order-form process by sending shipping information through Messenger.
Going forward, natural language processing (NLP) is going to improve and allow more people to create more sophisticated bots, but right now, the technology isn’t mature enough. NLP is what enables a bot to read text and understand what the essence of the text is.
To illustrate NLP’s limits, I mention a bot Social Media Examiner built with Flow XO. We tried to train the bot to understand every conceivable query using open-ended customer support questions. Then we used the bot on our Social Media Marketing World page. We learned that a bot programmed to show general question topics and present increasingly specific options works better.
To use Messenger bots in your business now, Molly recommends identifying a goal such as building engagement, finding leads, or increasing sales. Then write bot copy that’s personal, and provides education and entertainment throughout the user experience. This way, you can achieve real business results using Messenger, even if your bot can’t answer any question someone types.
The examples you see at F8 showcase the future of bots. For example, a camera recognizes a bottle of wine, and you can click to buy that wine online. However, bot development is still in the process of making that functionality accessible to people.
Similarly, the Tommy Hilfiger bot is incredible and works like a true robot. The company has also invested in a huge team of people, which most businesses can’t do. However, these amazing examples indicate where bots are headed.
Listen to the show to hear more of my thoughts on Messenger and the bot user experience.
How to Generate Leads With a Messenger Bot
To clarify how simple campaigns you’re doing now can translate to a Messenger bot, Molly shares a strategy for delivering a lead magnet via a Messenger bot. She’s seen the value of this strategy because her clients have lowered their cost per lead by distributing a lead magnet through Messenger instead of a web page.
The lead magnet is something of value that you exchange for someone’s email, name, or phone number so you can follow up with them. For this example, the lead magnet is a yoga studio’s free guided meditation. The yoga studio might have a local store but also sells online courses. The lead magnet helps the studio sell subscriptions to daily guided meditations for $10 per month.
Step 1: Facebook News Feed Ad: To promote the lead magnet, the yoga studio could run an ad in the Facebook news feed that sends traffic to a web page, where people enter their contact information in exchange for the lead magnet. However, with this approach, an incredibly good conversion rate would be 50%, which means you lose half of the interested people at the landing page.
With an ad that sends interested people to Messenger, you don’t lose anyone who clicks the ad. To make this ad work, the ad copy needs to clarify that clicking the ad sends people to Messenger, and you deliver the lead magnet there. You need to clarify how the ad works because the idea of clicking an ad and opening Messenger is still new to a lot of consumers. They might think it’s a bug.
For example, when HubSpot asked people to click an ad to register for a webinar inside Messenger, the ad said, “Reserve your spot today. Register inside of Facebook Messenger.” The yoga studio’s ad said something like “If you want this free guided meditation, click below and we’ll deliver it to you in Facebook Messenger.”
Instead of an ad, you can allow people to opt into your lead magnet with an organic post. You’d simply need to ask people to leave a comment with a specific word to receive the lead magnet in Messenger.
Step 2: Welcome Message in Messenger: After someone clicks the ad (or comments on the message), your bot is now communicating with your potential customer via Messenger. The first message people see says, “Welcome. Thanks so much for your interest in our free yoga meditation. Click below to download. Enjoy.” This short and sweet wording is important on Messenger.
Below the welcome message, people see two buttons. One says Get Free Meditation, and the other says No Thank You in case the person clicked the ad by mistake.
You can customize the message based on the ad. In other words, not everyone interacts with the same bot when they chat with you via Messenger. To connect your welcome message to your ad, you use ManyChat’s Facebook Ads JSON Growth Tool, which gives you a code snippet you enter in Facebook when you set up the ad.
Step 3: Email Question: After the user clicks the Get Free Meditation button, you can ask people for their email address if that data is important for you. For example, the bot might say, “Quick question, what’s your best email address? We’ll send you useful yoga content to help improve your practice.” Molly notes that the copy highlights an extra benefit for sharing your email address.
To respond to this question, you want to give people the option of saying no or sharing their email address. What’s cool is that sharing an email address in Messenger is a little easier than it is via a web form. As a business on Messenger, when you say address or email address, a button with the email address the user has on record with Facebook appears.
To share their email, people can simply click that button instead of typing out their email address, which makes a big difference. The process is much easier.
Also, if you manage email marketing with an automation tool, you can integrate it with ManyChat so the email you receive goes right into your email system. You can use Zapier to send the email to Infusionsoft, MailChimp, or whatever you’re using. Although most email automation tools integrate with Zapier, if your tool does not, ManyChat has an open API you can use to build that integration.
Molly notes that you could also switch the order of Steps 2 and 3 by asking for the email address first and then delivering the PDF, audio file, or whatever form your lead magnet takes.
Step 4: Thank-You Message and Purchase Request: After someone shares their email, the bot sends the next message in the sequence, which thanks the user for the email and shares an offer.
For example, the bot might say, “Thanks so much. One more thing. Are you interested in receiving a guided meditation every day? It’s proven to encourage yogis to keep up with their practice. It’s only $10 a month.” Below the message is a Yes and a No button.
In other words, by translating a traditional lead generation ad sequence to Messenger, you can make an offer within about 20 seconds of the first interaction with your ad. Also, your offer isn’t pushy. The offer makes sense because this person just downloaded the free meditation. Even if the user clicks No, you can still share useful content to continue the customer journey on Messenger.
I ask Molly how you might follow up if you don’t want to pitch an offer and just want to nurture the lead. In this case, Molly says asking questions works best. The questions you ask depend on what you need to know as a marketer or what you care to know about someone. Messenger’s a great way to ask questions and allow people to segment themselves.
For example, Molly has a fitness client whose bot asks questions (such as “What are your health goals for this year?”) followed by options people can select (such as Lose Weight, Feel Younger, Have More Energy). ManyChat allows you to tag people based on their responses, and the bot can recommend content based on their interests. This client also sends a weekly health tip.
Impact on Cost Per Lead: For the yoga studio, switching from an opt-in web page to Messenger decreased the studio’s lead cost by half. Similarly, Molly had another client that was generating leads with an ad and opt-in web page for about $6 per lead. After switching to Messenger, this client lowered the cost per lead to $1.75.
When this client switched from the web page to Messenger, they changed the ad copy only to clarify that the lead magnet would be delivered through Messenger. Their lead magnet was a PDF delivered via Messenger and their sequence also collected an email address.
Based on these results, Molly says Messenger is an interesting way to generate leads. You still get that email lead, but you’re also generating Messenger subscribers along the way. The tactic works because it’s so frictionless for the end user.
People also know a Messenger user experience will be mobile-friendly. When an ad takes users to a landing page that isn’t mobile-optimized or takes forever to load, the experience is bad. If the ad opens Messenger, you know those issues won’t occur and the conversation will move back and forth quickly.
I then ask how hard it is to set up this lead-magnet sequence in Messenger. Molly says if you’ve already created the lead magnet, setting up this sequence in ManyChat is easy and takes about 30 minutes. All you need is a link to download the lead magnet and a link to your sales page if you plan to pitch a low-cost item like the $10 subscription.
Listen to the show to hear Molly share more about the Facebook JSON Growth Tool.
How to Pre-Interview Potential Clients or Employees via Messenger Bot
This tactic works well for an agency, consultant, or architect who offers high-ticket services, and your sales typically involve a phone call or email exchange. Molly learned this tactic from her friend Ralph Burns, who has a Facebook ads agency called Tier 11 and co-hosts the Perpetual Traffic podcast with her. Tier 11 uses ManyChat to generate leads, qualify them, and sort their responses.
Step 1: Bot Triggers: When Ralph was speaking at a live event, he wanted to generate leads at this event without sending them to a form on his website. To send people to Messenger instead, Ralph used Messenger Code, which creates a scannable code similar to a QR code. You create the Messenger code in ManyChat by selecting Growth Tool and then Messenger Code.
After you create the code, you can print it on a flyer or display it in a booth. You could also put it on your website. When someone scans a Messenger Code, it triggers a sequence in Messenger. In Ralph’s case, his process allowed people at the Tier 11 booth to scan the code if they were interested in the company running their Facebook ads.
Ralph also set up a URL that triggered his pre-interview bot. When he spoke at this event, he could verbally point people to TierEleven.com/apply, and people who visited the link began the bot sequence. The link also works on his website. You create this type of link in ManyChat with the Ref URL Growth Tool. Both the Messenger Code and the URL create several entry points for Ralph’s bot.
Step 2: Intake Questions: In Messenger, the Tier 11 leads answered questions based on the company’s intake form. Answering the questions is easy, and the completion rate is high because people aren’t faced with a bunch of forms they have to complete.
The experience in Messenger is very much like a conversation you would have with a friend or a person who’s answering these questions. The questions are delivered one at a time, and you see the next question only after you answer the last question.
After you scan or go to the link, the bot says, “Hi Molly, it’s Tier 11 here. I’m Tier 11’s chatbot.” The copy is personal, and you see a little robot with the Tier 11 logo. After the bot introduces itself, it says, “So first things first. Are you here because you want to hire us to run your Facebook ads? Or are you interested in joining our team?” The user can click Hire You or Join Your Team.
Each option goes to very different sets of questions. After you click the Hire You button, the bot says, “Great. Before you chat with Adam, our VP of Biz Dev, we’d like to ask you a few questions. What best describes the kind of business you’re in?” You can choose eCommerce, Courses, or Coaching. In this way, form drop-down lists are translated into bot questions and button-based answers.
Next, the bot says, “Great, you run an eCom business. Can you tell us what your approximate revenue is?” To answer this question, you can choose from different categories. Then the bot asks what your monthly digital media budget is. The first button is $49K or less, the second is $50K to $100K, and the third is $100K or more. You select the one that best describes your business.
The bot then asks how you heard about Tier 11, and you see feedback on your application. Based on the buttons you clicked, you either qualify or you don’t. If you qualify, the bot says, “Thanks, Molly. You’ll be hearing from Adam within the next 1 or 2 days.” If you don’t qualify, it says, “Hey, it doesn’t look like we’d be a good fit right now, but here are some coaching programs we have.”
Step 3: Follow Up: This approach works much better than pointing prospects to the Contact page on Tier 11’s website because as soon as someone starts this conversation, they’re now a Messenger subscriber. Also, Ralph’s business development person can see who didn’t finish answering all the questions and re-engage that conversation.
When interested users answer the questions, the bot can automate alerts. For example, when Tier 11’s bot qualifies a lead, Adam, the VP of business development, receives an email and a Facebook notification so he knows he has a hot lead.
Adam loves that he can follow up with leads using the same method the lead used to reach out to the company. With other lead systems, Adam typically receives an email address. After trying to reach someone via email, he might need to follow up via phone, too. With the Messenger-based questionnaire, everything happens in one place and is likely accessible on the lead’s phone.
Messenger also provides details about your lead without your having to ask for that information. You know their first name, last name, workplace, and other details they shared in their Facebook profile. Because people are more likely to get in touch via Messenger, Ralph doesn’t even care much about asking for an email address.
Although Molly doesn’t have specific numbers for how this tactic works for Ralph, it’s worked well enough that he now uses the link to his bot as his call to action on the Perpetual Traffic podcast.
Listen to the show to hear Molly and me discuss what Messenger codes look like.
How to Sign Up Webinar Attendees via Messenger Bot
Molly then explains how you can translate your webinar sign-up process and your follow-up to a Messenger bot.
Step 1: Bot Triggers: When someone clicks a Facebook ad or post to sign up for your webinar, a Messenger bot can guide them through registration. With the Messenger bot approach, the user doesn’t have to fill out a form, and the bot can even have people add the event to their calendar and remind people 5 minutes before the event begins, which significantly boosts attendance.
If you have an email list, you can send an email that lets attendees choose whether to sign up via a web form or Messenger. For example, your email might include a link created with ManyChat’s Ref URL Growth Tool. People who click the Messenger URL are then directed to the sign-up process in Messenger.
To connect your Messenger bot to your webinar platform, you use Zapier.
For a 4-day virtual event, which is an experience similar to a webinar, HubSpot triggered Messenger bot registration via an ad in the Facebook news feed. The ad said “Join Gary V., Facebook, and HubSpot for four days of virtual events. Reserve your spot today. Register on Messenger.” When you click the ad, Messenger opens and shows a Register Now button that starts the process.
Step 2: Bot-Based Registration and Follow-Up:The registration process for the HubSpot event was similar to Ralph’s spot campaign. The bot begins with basic questions like, “What is your company name?” and “What’s the URL of your website?”
Next, the bot asks, “How many people work at your company? It’ll help us send you more helpful content.” The user can choose one of three options. The bot says, “To make sure we send the right follow-ups after the event, do you work at a marketing agency?” Molly said No.
To finish the registration, the bot said, “Last thing to complete registration: What’s your phone number? We’ll keep it safe, pinky promise.” After Molly gave them her phone number, she saw a confirmation message that said, “Great, you’re registered for Four Days of Facebook.” A GIF also appeared and added some personality. Chatbot for Online Training uses a similar approach.
Although registration was complete, the bot went on to make an offer, which Molly found interesting. The bot said, “Not using HubSpot yet? On Day 3, you’ll learn how to use Facebook lead ads with the free HubSpot tool, HubSpot Marketing Free. You’ll need to have a free account ready to follow along. Sign up for the Free below.” Then the bot said, “That’s all for now, talk to you soon.”
A few days later, Molly received a reminder that the event started the next day and prompted her to add the event to her calendar. The bot had options for the common calendar apps: Apple, Google, and Outlook. You simply clicked one to add the event to your calendar.
Right before the event started, Molly received a message that said, “Welcome to the start of Four Days of Facebook. It’s going to be an awesome week. Click below to start watching.”
After the webinar, a bot can share a way to replay it or act on a follow-up offer you made.
Impact on Cost: Molly has seen other companies use this sequence and lower their registration rates because they’re not sending people to a registration page. Answering questions in Messenger is easier than visiting a dreaded web page and filling out form fields.
These companies have also increased attendance because Messenger reminds them. They don’t have to look through their email. With these results, Molly thinks this sequence is great if you host webinars or any sort of online event.
Listen to the show to hear Molly and me discuss what to call Messenger- and web page–based registration options.
How to Manage Messenger Bot Messages
I then wonder, when a page receives a substantial number of Facebook messages, how you sort the bot messages from the person-to-person messages. Molly says that when someone’s messaging your page, you can set a default welcome message that points the sender to an FAQ page and prompts them to click to talk to a human.
Your bot needs to be forthcoming by saying, “I’m a bot, I’m not a human. If you want to talk to a human, click here.” And then it says, “We’re usually available from 9:00 to 5:00. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” That will notify a human.
For people who are trying to reach out via her page, Molly keeps the welcome message very simple. Her options are Talk to a Human, Read Our Blog, and Listen to Our Podcast. Your message will vary depending on the assets of your business.
As soon as someone clicks Talk to a Human, the automated bot sequence turns off, and you flip over to live chat. Then, you’re having a real human-to-human conversation. Because the user clicked an option that disables the bot, you don’t have any confusion between the bot sequence and the human conversation. Like Molly, HubSpot lets you contact a person instead of chatting with the bot.
Also, your bot conversations are organized based on the different sequences you’ve set up with the Growth Tools. People can come into your bot in a variety of ways, and the Growth Tools keep all those sequences and conversations organized.
For example, people could come to your bot from comment-to-message, unique Ref URLs, or 1 of 10 lead magnets with unique Messenger codes. ManyChat keeps the sequences organized because you’ve used a Growth Tool to automate what actions happen. However, as soon as the user asks to talk to a human, the automation stops so you can provide person-to-person customer service.
Listen to the show to hear Molly share more examples of different bot entry points.
Discovery of the Week
Quik for mobile is a video editing tool from GoPro. It has an excellent user interface and power features.
The Quik user interface is seamless, crisp, and easy to use. The app does basic video editing like adding photos, videos, music, and text, and trimming shots manually or automatically. However, the app also helps you pull all this content together automatically, making it useful for creating stories.
The QuikStories feature pulls content from your phone into glorified slideshows that are great for creating professional-looking, entertaining stories for Instagram or Facebook. To create a story, select content about your day or an event. The content can be vertical or square. Then, let Quik turn that content into a video automatically. From there, you can edit the video manually.
Quik can also sync your video clips, images, and other content to the music that’s playing. When the beat drops, the music style changes, or a song simply moves to the bridge, the syncing feature automatically switches to a different video clip or image.
Like other apps, Quik has different transitions, graphics, fonts, and filters. Unlike other apps, you can work completely within the app to add content and create your video.
Listen to the show to learn more about Quik and let us know how it works for you.
Key takeaways from this episode:
What do you think? What are your thoughts on Messenger bots? Please share your comments below.