The Beginners Guide to Facebook Messenger Bots: Tips, Ideas, and Best Practices

Mackenzie Maher
By Mackenzie Maher

The dynamic of advertising with Facebook is changing.  New user agreements, news feed filters, and the rising cost of paid ads have made it harder for brands to reach their desired audience.  Enter Facebook Messenger. This new feature from Facebook is changing the game for marketers who are willing to put in the work at the ground level.  Facebook Messenger allows marketers to automate a vast majority of their outbound and inbound marketing. Ultimately the use of Facebook Messenger bots saves time and money all while reaching a larger target audience.   

Understanding Bots and How They Work For You

A bot is an automated software that is programmed to execute a prescribed set of tasks.  A chatbot, specifically a Facebook Messenger bot, is a more specialized type of bot whose prescribed tasks are specific to a conversation on the Facebook messenger platform.  While a chatbot cannot maintain an entire discussion by itself, it is beneficial for handling the initial stages of customer inquiries.  Chatbots are set up to gather information while offering instant customer assistance and can be programmed to handle a multitude of questions and customer interactions that have the potential to increase sales by reducing marketing costs and increasing ROI.

One of the critical elements for Facebook’s chatbots is the ability for the messenger bot to parse natural language and turn it into structured data.  This is what Facebook refers to as “Natural Language Assistance,” and it allows your bot to learn over time.  As your bot encounters more questions and different scenarios, it parses the questions, i.e., natural language, and then turns the interactions into digestible data.  This data is then referenced with every new conversation to determine a more specific variety of outcomes which allows your chatbot to give better answers. This type of artificial intelligence is enabling marketers to take a step back and focus more on outbound marketing tactics while the chatbot handles the preliminary inbound customer inquiries.  In 2018, it was reported that Facebook had over 300,00o active chatbots, a 300% increase from the previous year. It is no surprise that the number of chatbots within Facebook Messenger are multiplying in number as 2 billion messages are sent monthly between businesses and people.

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Here are some immediate advantages as a marketer to having a Facebook Messenger bot handle your automated inquiries:

  1. You get access to user information – By using the Facebook Messenger bot, you are given access to user identity, contact information, and their profile photo.  Thanks to Facebook’s user agreements this feature is only available with Facebook Messenger and not with other web-based chatbots.

How It Can Be Used: User information is stored in your messenger history and can then be used to send that customer push notifications.  With every new customer your bot chats with, you generate a new lead you can leverage for future advertising.

  1. You get Facebook Identification – Because the conversation happened within the confines of Facebook Messenger, you now have a record of the customers Facebook ID and can then leverage that information for future marketing.

How It Can Be Used: Unlike an email which often has a higher turnover rate, Facebook ID’s tend to remain the same and can be used to deliver Facebook retargeting ads in that users feed.

Should You Use a Bot?

According to Larry Kim, founder of Mobile Monkey, Facebook Messenger chatbots are the #1 growth marketing channel for the next +5-10 years. A Facebook Messenger bot has the potential for a great deal of marketing upside but deciding whether a bot is right for you and your business is an urgent need to identify.  Here are some strong determining factors that would make a case for how and why a bot would be beneficial.

  • If your product requires your customer to be educated about your industry a Facebook bot is an excellent way to engage and promote customer education.  
  • If you need to expand your reach, Facebook Messenger bots can assist in reestablishing engagement with your followers.  According to Social Media Today, the average reach of an organic post is 1-2% whereas Facebook Messages are opened at a rate of up to 80% with an additional 20% click rate!
  • Facebook Messenger bots contact users directly, which bypasses News Feed filters, ensuring that your promotions and ads reach their intended audience.
  • Messenger bots can reduce your marketing cost, and according to Larry Kim “new Facebook Send To Messenger Ads can generate leads at 30-50x less than what you’d pay for the usual Facebook ad campaigns.”
  • Due to the frequent interaction between users and Facebook Messages, Facebook messages sent with Facebook Messenger bots convert up to five times more users than typical Facebook desktop ads.
  • According to a recent case study by Mobile, Monkey Facebook Messenger bots can cut the cost of lead acquisition from $150 to $5.
  1. Improve and Increase Customer Service Capabilities

Facebook Messenger bots were built with the aim to make life easier for marketers.  Being able to automate Facebook Messenger bots means taking something like a new member registration and using a bot to auto-prompt a customer and guide them through the entire process. This process saves marketers time.

Similarly, bots can be designed for specific Q&A conversations wherein you can configure a chat based on specific keywords and commonly asked questions.  Finally, bots can be programmed to ditch out to a live operator at any time, ensuring that if there is a question outside of the bot’s parameters, a live customer service rep can cut in.  According to Mobile Monkey, 56% of people prefer to message instead of calling customer service.  Messenger bots allow for the best of both worlds wherein automation assists personalized customer service.

  1. Build Brand Awareness

Messenger bots are perfect for building brand awareness, and there are several ways to make your bot brand specific. You can personalize how someone views and interacts with your bot via embedded messenger buttons on your website, messenger codes, buttons and links, which can be clicked to begin a conversation. It is vital for brands to be open to receiving communication as 53% of people are more likely to buy from a business they can message.  Having your bot greet someone with a greeting message about your business, or promoting a link to a recent event is a powerful tool to increase brand awareness.  

  1. Send Broadcasts to Subscribers to Increase your Customer Lifetime Values

As discussed previously, engaging with customers via Facebook Messenger bots means being able to contact them directly with specialized events and offers.  Sending broadcasts is a perfect way to use your messenger bot to demonstrate value to your customers. Most often these dedicated broadcasts will come in the form of an offer or sale.  For example, if you run a streaming service and you were offering premium membership free for a month, you could broadcast that offer to your users with your messenger bot. The bot could then be programmed to answer specific questions to promote and increase the value of that brand’s customer service.

  1. Retain E-commerce Shoppers During Checkout

The abandoned cart is one of the most problematic issues that online businesses face.  However, Facebook Messenger bots offer a simple solution to this problem.  According to an E-commerce Industry Benchmark Report from Klaviyo, the average revenue per recipient of an abandoned cart with a traditional email campaign is $5.81 with a 41.18% open rate and a 9.50% click rate.  However, when paired with Facebook Messenger bots Klaviyo reports that these numbers rise drastically to a revenue per recipient of $7.97!

An additional benefit of having a bot assist during the checkout process can be viewed in this example: If a customer abandons their cart during checkout after interacting with a messenger bot, that customer can be sent a targeted ad directly with a reminder to finish their purchase.  Most often this prompt comes in the form of a small reminder and an offer for a discount or free shipping.

  1. Encourage People to Visit Your Product Page

Targeted messenger ads are a great way to generate interest in your brand and promote your business.  As discussed before the messenger ads can include Web plugins, Messenger Codes, Messenger Links, or Messenger Usernames which can lead straight to your product page.  This use for messenger bots is advantageous for marketers as it allows customers the opportunity to explore your business and brand. Facebook Messenger bots are perfect for enhancing business visibility.  You can add your bot to Facebook’s Discover Tab which will promote your bot in a list of nearby business to help you become more available to Facebook users.

Once users have connected with your page, messenger bots can then assist your customers as they navigate your product page. Bots can be built with specific prompts that could range from asking something vague like “do you need assistance?” to something more specific like “are you interested in subscribing at a limited time discount?” With very simple prompts, Facebook Messenger bots encourage customers to explore and learn more, all while being pushed through the sales funnel.

  1. Lead Nurturing

In addition to creating and raising brand awareness, Facebook Messenger ads also retain a record of customers that can be accessed for use. Because of Facebook Messenger’s high open rate of 50-80%, your outbound marketing is doing the most good when directed through messenger ads. As you collect information from your users, you can generate custom audiences, and create tailored campaigns based on interest level. All of these tasks are made to generate leads as well as increase potential customer conversion rate.

  1. Sharing your Knowledge Base

Navigating a website or product page can be intimidating.  According to Hootsuite, there is a significant drop in sales when it takes more than five clicks to get to the point of purchase.  As a result, it is essential to define the role of your bot and then make the process as simple as possible. Having a bot to answer any questions is a great way to share your knowledge base with your customers.

Often there are questions that we would instead just ask someone rather than taking the time to seek them out ourselves. A prompt from a bot to impart knowledge could save a sale with something as simple as “I’m here if you need me!” Even a prompt like “Did you know our product is conflict-free?” or “Have you heard we are offering free shipping?” could help give the customer enough knowledge to make an informed decision and ultimately make a purchase.    Through prompts and suggestions, Facebook Messenger bots can help share product knowledge as if there were a live sales assistant in the room.

Tips and Tricks for Crafting Messages via ChatBots

  1. Go easy on the text and don’t send more than 3 unanswered messages in a row
  2. Show them you’re fun! Use emojis, images, and GIFS to keep things casual
  3. Personify brand aesthetic and engage the user – it should always feel authentic
  4. Provide people with an option to unsubscribe
  5. Collect data from your subscribers for future targeting
  6. Some assembly required…click here for a quick guide for setting up messenger bots
  7. Treat it like a conversation -most people like to talk
  8. Have answers to the most common questions you receive…pick the top 3
  9. Customer service is key! Remember these bots work for you, and you work for the customer!

Your Facebook Messenger bots should be set up to assist your customers and increase their overall satisfaction.  While bots have a terrific upside for marketers, they are first and foremost a reflection of your brand’s customer service.  According to Facebook 1.3 Billion people worldwide use Facebook Messenger monthly and according to Hootsuite Facebook Messenger is the third most used app in the world.  Facebook Messenger facilitates customer engagement, it is cheaper than developing an app, and it has higher engagement rates than traditional email marketing.  Advertising with Facebook Messenger, and specifically with the use of messenger bots, is an emerging strategy that is already yielding strong results and growing numbers. This article gave you a good starting point to discover messenger bots, but now you need to decide if they are right for you.  

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As a Social Media Account Manager, Mackenzie works to develop dynamic strategies and creative content that will help clients grow their organic social presence. With a strong background in writing and marketing, and an eye for design, her role at PDM allows her to flex her strongest muscles and indulge her outside-the-box thinking. Equally happy when creating a witty caption as she is mocking up a new visual concept, the San Diego local and UC Santa Barbara graduate treats every day as a new opportunity to achieve marketing greatness.