The way we communicate is rapidly changing. Consider the number of text messages you sent in 2008 compared to the number you likely send today.
Also consider who you are texting. In the past month alone, I’ve sent or received communication via text message from my real estate agent, my son’s physical therapist, a moving company, multiple restaurants, my doctor and a meal delivery service. It’s undeniable that the way we communicate with each other and the way brands communicate with us is shifting; and convenient communication methods are becoming more important.
Entrepreneurs who want to keep successfully marketing their inventions must follow suit and learn to communicate with their target audience in ways that audience is already communicating. Enter: Messenger marketing.
What is messenger marketing?
It’s using a messenger app to market to your customers. Messenger marketing has the same goals as any other marketing strategy: to raise awareness, gain leads and ultimately make sales.
One of the biggest challenges with messenger marketing is that consumers expect communication through messaging platforms to be near instantaneous. That’s hard for any company to manage, but it’s especially difficult for the inventor who may only have a handful of people working for him or her, if anyone.
Fortunately, marketing automation systems such as chatbots make messenger marketing easier than ever.
What are chatbots?
A chatbot is a chat program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to engage with a company’s audience by answering questions, providing information and helping consumers along their purchase journey, ultimately funneling leads into customers.
There are many different types of chatbots and places to use chatbots. But especially Facebook Messenger—with a reported 1.3 billion active users each month—provides a huge opportunity for business owners to use this technology to grow their customer base and increase sales.
What can chatbots do?
Chatbots can handle just about any aspect of marketing you need. But to understand what they can do, it helps to start by learning how they work. The specifics vary from bot to bot and campaign to campaign, but in general, this is how a chatbot sequence works:
- The Facebook user completes an action that triggers the chatbot and enters it into the chatbot’s sequence. This action could be as simple as sending your brand’s page a message, or a bit more complicated like commenting on one of your Facebook Ads. Most chatbots offer a lot of flexibility here.
- The chatbot starts (or continues) the conversation using Facebook Messenger. Some chatbots ask questions that have open-ended answers; others provide multiple answers from which the user can choose.
- The chatbot and the user continue their conversation in Facebook Messenger, with the bot gently guiding the user down the customer journey through pre-set, timed messages and prompts.
Keep in mind that these chatbots use AI to create custom, personalized experiences for each user. You won’t be blasting everyone who sends you a message with the same response. Instead, the chatbot allows for logic branching and personalization, so the user can choose the type of information he or she wants to receive.
As you start to figure out your messenger marketing strategy, keep in mind the types of things a chatbot could handle for you:
- Nurturing leads by responding to messages, answering questions and providing the information needed to turn a lead into a customer.
- Delivering new content to your customers, such as a blog post, update or even an announcement of a major sale.
- Providing shipping updates. Customers can choose whether to receive tracking information and order updates through email or through Facebook messenger.
- Scheduling appointments and phone calls with a member of your sales time.
- Accepting orders, thereby letting people shop directly from Facebook.
It’s important to understand that you cannot push sales or promotions through your chatbot. It’s against Facebook policy to send promotions without being prompted.
Should I set up a chatbot for my business’s Facebook page?
Chatbots are incredibly helpful, but they aren’t the right fit for every business. Before you spend valuable time setting up a chatbot, carefully consider how you’re currently using Facebook, how your target audience uses Facebook, and whether you have the capacity to support a chatbot strategy.
How is your Facebook page performing? If you aren’t posting new content regularly, begin there; it’s helpful to already have an engaged audience in place before you start to use a chatbot.
More important, is your target audience on Facebook? If your audiences use Facebook heavily, even if it’s more for personal usage than business, a chatbot could be a great way to take your marketing to the next level. However, if your audience isn’t on Facebook at all, it’s best to focus your time and money elsewhere.
Additionally, before you decide to use a chatbot, carefully consider how much time you can devote to it. Setting up the chatbot initially may be the most time-consuming part. However, even with an automated bot handling communication for you, you’ll still need to regularly spend time managing the bot.
It’s important to create a good customer experience through every message your chatbot sends.
Tips for setting up a chatbot
First, decide what you want your chatbot to do. Will it provide shipping updates? Answer customer questions? Offer new content? Take potential customers through your sales funnel? Although you don’t need to have all details sorted out yet, having an idea of what you want your chatbot to do will make it much easier to choose a chatbot program.
You can choose from many different third-party chatbot programs, so it ultimately comes down to which functions your business needs. Some platforms are easier to set up, others have more flexibility with what they can do, and others integrate with different messenger platforms. Carefully examine things such as price, functionality, reviews and more.
Once you’ve settled on a chatbot, begin creating your sequence. Remember, you’ll be sending prospective customers on a journey with you through Facebook Messenger, so it’s important that the chatbot’s copy is clear, concise and engaging. Make the copy feel like a dialogue; keep it human, conversational and natural. Your messaging can be much more casual with a chatbot compared to other forms of marketing.
Most chatbot platforms are set up to make it easy for the average person to create an effective chatbot strategy. With a little thought and ingenuity and the help of a good chatbot program, you’ll be well on your way to growing sales.