Facebook Messenger bots may be the latest and greatest tech on the marketing scene, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for every brand.
So, how do you know if they’re right for you?
In this article, you’ll find out.
What You’ll Learn:
- Who should (and shouldn’t) use Facebook Messenger bots
- Who can use Facebook Messenger bots
- Facebook Messenger bot tools overview
- How to use Messenger bots in your Facebook ad strategy
According to Business Insider, An estimated 80% of businesses plan on adding Facebook Messenger bots to their marketing mix by 2020.
Given how accessible they’ve become, it’s not surprising that brands are eager to embrace this new channel. Facebook bots can answer questions, keep subscribers informed, and bring a wide range of tasks into the Facebook environment.
With 2020 just around the corner, I’d like to explore this question—is it worth it to set up a Facebook Messenger strategy?
The answer is complicated. Facebook Messenger bots come with a long list of benefits, but they don’t necessarily apply to every brand.
80% of brands may be better off investing in paid ads and learning their way around a changing Google landscape. Meaning, you shouldn’t use Facebook bots because it seems like the right thing to do.
That said, you certainly can have a chatbot strategy that works for your brand. However, there are some things you need to know before getting started.
For one, many Messenger features require Facebook’s approval. And two, you need to make sure Messenger bots are a good fit for your brand.
Here, I’ll go over what you need to know about Facebook Messenger Bot strategies and how to figure out if this channel is right for you.
Who Should Use Facebook Messenger Bots?
Based on the sheer volume of coverage chatbots have received in recent years, you’d think that the consensus is that every company should have a Facebook Messenger bot strategy.
But the reality is, this is one of the hardest channels to get right.
It’s really great for people who have a strong Facebook advertising strategy and a brand that people want to hear from. This isn’t necessarily determined by the number of people like your brand or products.
Instead, ask yourself this: do you have a captive audience that wants you to send them messages?
Few brands fit into this category. Celebrities like a Tony Robbins or a Kevin Hart, say, can stand to benefit from using Facebook Messenger bots to keep fans updated. Influencers with an engaged audience also fall into this category. You can also justify a Facebook Messenger Bot If you have a lot of Facebook Ad spend.
Unfortunately, Facebook Messenger bot success often depends on having the resources to make it happen. Many of the top brands using the channel aren’t celebrities, rather national or global brands that have teams dedicated to creating well-done bots.
Sephora, Dominos, Taco Bell, 1-800-FLOWERS; these brands and their bots immediately come to mind if we’re talking best practices. Unfortunately, the common thread here is that extensive reach and a big budget.
If you’re a typical company, a lot of customers aren’t that thrilled about receiving Messenger updates.
For example, a smaller e-commerce store probably won’t have a whole lot to share on the platform. Chances are, they’re not cranking out long-form content with a devoted audience. In this case, focusing on getting in front of the right shoppers (think Google Ads and partnering with micro-influencers) might be a better use of limited resources.
Alternatively, a company or news site with a small but loyal audience could benefit from sharing content on the platform and using paid ads to attract additional subscribers.
Bottom Line: Should You Be Using a Facebook Messenger Bot?
I get it. The urge to jump on the latest and greatest trends in marketing is strong, and as evidenced above, many brands plan to adopt a Facebook Messenger Bot into their strategies.
But here’s the bottom line: For most businesses, a Facebook Messenger Bot simply won’t produce the returns you’re looking for, due to the reasons I mentioned above.
If you’re still on the fence, here’s a quick summary.
You shouldn’t use a Facebook Messenger Bot if:
- You’re a small company without a large audience
- You’re a B2B company
- You don’t have a large ad budget or Facebook ad strategy
You should consider a Facebook Messenger Bot if:
- You’re a well-known personality or celebrity
- You’re a major brand with a large following
- You’re a small company or news site with a smaller but very loyal audience
- You have the ad budget to fit Bots into your strategy
Can Any Brand Use a Facebook Messenger Bot?
Beyond answering this question of who should use Facebook Messenger bots, there’s also the question of who can use them. Standard messaging is still available to any brand with any working bot.
However, subscription messaging is offered only to those given the green light by Facebook’s manual reviewers.
As of April 2019, Facebook began requiring page-level subscription messaging permissions.
Before the change, chatbot builders could apply for those permissions, then extend them out to their customers as part of the service.
The application process is relatively straightforward. You’ll need to include a category for your business (i.e., e-commerce, finance, entertainment) and describe how you plan on using the chatbot. The form also asks about the type of information you plan on sharing with customers.
Keep in mind; this means you’ll need to include specific examples your chatbot might send.
Additionally, Facebook breaks subscription messaging into three categories:
- News—messages that let people know about events or information across a range of categories. News, per Facebook guidelines, is pretty broad and can include anything from a head-up about a flash sale, a breaking alert, or celebrity gossip.
- Productivity—Updates designed to help users manage personal productivity with reminders, calendar events, or payments.
- Personal Tracking—Messages aimed at helping people learn more about themselves—think budgeting help, wellness tips, fitness, and health tracking.
According to Mobile Monkey’s Larry Kim, applying for subscription messaging means you agree not to send promotional messages under the non-promotional blast category.
You also agree to what’s known as the 24+1 policy.
For standard messaging, this policy states that if a customer replies to a bot message or initiates a chat, businesses can send unlimited promotional content during the next 24 hours. If that timeframe expires, companies are limited to one non-promotional message to follow up.
Keep in mind that promotional content is allowed for standard messaging.
Subscription messaging should be used exclusively to build trust with an audience and send them content that is useful, educational, or entertaining.
As such, 24+1 works a bit differently. In this case, you can send unlimited non-promotional content after a customer replies or initiates contact. Otherwise, you’re limited to the one message per 24 hours or until the customer interacts with your bot.
How Long Does the Review Process Take?
What are the Best Facebook Messenger Bot Tools?
Facebook Messenger for Developers allows brands to code their own bot from scratch using Facebook’s deep pool of resources. However, if you don’t have the time or the right experts on your team, you’re likely better off subscribing to a third-party chatbot builder.
We look at chatbot tools here in more detail, but here are a few high-quality options that help brands put their most professional bot forward.
- Pushnami—Pushnami is a push notification platform that offers a Facebook Messenger feature that uses machine-learning technology to deliver personalized, dynamic content through Messenger. What’s great about Pushnami is, brands can gain access to AI chat without learning to code.
- MobileMonkey—MobileMonkey is a freemium Messenger marketing tool that comes with a wide range of features from Q&A triggers to automated click-to-messenger ads. It also comes with the ability to schedule email blasts, drip campaigns, and send notifications when a hot lead wants to chat. What’s more, this company does a great job educating users through guides and informative blog posts, too.
- Conversable—Conversable is an enterprise-level SaaS platform that covers everything in the automated messaging and voice space. While this is definitely not for the mom-and-pop run chatbot, it’s a solid choice for larger companies (Facebook is one of their clients). Conversable provides not only a sophisticated Messenger bot, but tools for building Alexa skills and native chat, as well.
Facebook Ads Strategy and Facebook Messenger Bots
I’ve talked about Facebook Messenger ads in the past, but here’s a quick refresher if you missed it: Messenger ads are designed to get people to your Facebook page to chat with your bot.
Once users arrive on the page, you can program your chatbot to greet the visitor by referencing the ad—this way; the chatbot matches the message and intent used in the ad.
As mentioned up top, brands investing heavily in the Facebook infrastructure can benefit from adding a bot to the mix.
Some of the benefits associated with combining the two strategies include:
- Increasing Conversions
- Generating Leads
- Boosting Brand Awareness
- Improving Customer Service
- Extending Customer Lifetime Value
According to Social Media Today, Facebook ads that link to Messenger bots can expect to see between 4-50X more return on ad spend (yes, it’s quite a range) than their traditional, in-feed counterparts.
As I mentioned above, Facebook Messenger bots tend to work best for brands that have an established Facebook ad strategy and the budget to back it up.
But, what’s also important to understand is, you can use Facebook ads to grow your list. It’s similar to how you might use Google Ads to get people to opt-in to your email list.
One way to approach this is to promote your top-performing content using paid Messenger ads to spread the word. These days, Messenger ads are still relatively rare.
Use Click-to-Messenger Ads to Grow Your Subscriber List
Click-to-Messenger ads look a lot like traditional Facebook ads. You’ll still find them inside the feed. The difference is, instead of having the CTA take users to a landing page or a lead generation form, it instead opens Messenger.
Click-to-Messenger ads come with some distinct advantages. When a customer sends a message, they’ve subscribed to receive messages from your brand.
Add Your Chatbot to the Discovery Tab
Facebook’s Discovery tab allows users to browse through thousands of chatbots they might be interested in engaging with. The feature shows users nearby brands, as well as bots that may align with their interests.
Keep in mind; you will need to submit your chatbot for review before Facebook will feature your business in the Discover tab. According to the Facebook Developer page, reviewers look for trustworthy brands that are responsive and “make good use” of the platform’s features.
Consider Facebook Messenger AR
Last year, Facebook made a big announcement; AR was coming to Messenger. The feature—which is for brands only, by the way, is designed to help people make more informed purchasing decisions.
Notable examples of early adopters include Nike—which used AR to drop a new sneaker, Sephora—using it for virtual makeup try-ons, and Victoria Beckham—using the tech to let customers try on her sunglasses line.
The idea is users get an immersive shopping experience directly inside the platform. Brands will pre-populate the platform with filters and effects, triggered when the user opens their camera.
While Victoria Beckham and Nike might make Messenger AR seem easy, the technology demands some know-how and resources.
This feature is especially useful for e-commerce brands that can create sticker overlays so users can try on clothing, accessories, or cosmetics.
Building on that “try-on” concept, brands can take things to the next level. You might program the bot to ask customers what size, what color, and what fit they’re looking for. From there, they can check it out and purchase without leaving the Messenger environment.
Always Collect Data
Even without chatbots, Facebook Insights are a powerful tool for any marketer. Chatbots provide even more insights for marketers, allowing them to take the information people type into the chatbox and use it to create specific segments and retargeting campaigns.
The benefit here is, you’ll learn more about what kinds of content your users would like to see, and from there, can serve them personalized results. Done right, brands can take Messenger insights and spin them into more conversions and fewer churns.
Beyond the core benefits you’ll get from using Facebook insights to inform your Messenger strategy, that data can be used elsewhere–Google Ads, for instance.
Wrapping Up Facebook Messenger Bot
Facebook Messenger bots are a powerful, exciting way to reach new audiences and keep existing subscribers interested in your brand.
However, brands that lack the reach, the resources, or the content required for best results may be better off working on other strategies in the near-term.
The reality is, Facebook Messenger bots probably shouldn’t be the main place you invest your marketing dollars or time.
Again, those with some level of celebrity or a solid Facebook ad strategy in place stand to see the best results.
The point is, you need to think this through before investing in a bot that isn’t perfectly executed or doesn’t add value to users’ lives.