Facebook Messenger Bots: What Every Marketer Needs to Know

Opinion: We have seen a lot of brands leverage them for expedited customer service

Messenger bots have been the clear winner for 2017's best new marketing channel
Facebook

Sophia the robot just made headlines by being the first artificial-intelligence-powered robot to get honorary citizenship from Saudi Arabia. This makes me feel like it’s time for us to embrace the machines and cozy up with a tool that more and more marketers are using these days: Facebook Messenger bots.

Messenger bots are autonomous digital messages that can answer questions, provide automated responses and be programmed with simple AI.

Messenger bots have been the clear winner for 2017’s best new marketing channel. We have seen a lot of brands leverage them for expedited customer service. Others have seen millions of daily users without a cent of acquisition spend after emerging from Instant Games, Facebook’s HTML5 game beta.

Bot-based Messenger applications capitalize on shareability and provide exponential growth, allowing players to invite groups of friends into an experience.

Messenger bots are particularly interesting if you have a Facebook Live show or a large Facebook page community and are looking to boost your engagement.

Having done a ton of experimentation, here are some key learnings from Lucktastic’s mad scientist investigations into the world of Facebook Messenger bots.

Three things to expect

  1. An initial burst: Launching a Messenger bot service is similar to launching any new channel. You will see a big spike upfront, pending on how meaningful you make the enrollment, and then a normalized steady state. Small bursts will also come from targeted promotions.
  2. Learning curve: Your customers will naturally have a learning curve. Keep your customer-service team in the loop and expect a spike in volume. For example, if you have a Facebook video that has a Messenger bot interaction and you post that video on YouTube, expect customers to try to activate the Messenger bot within the YouTube comments (they won’t be able to). Having a succinct description, pinned to the top of the comments section in Facebook, during the time of the event can help mitigate misunderstandings.
  3. Customer service: Once you have a Messenger bot associated with your page, all Messenger communications will auto-subscribe customers to the bot list—even customer-service interactions. So even when you are not actively pushing Messenger bot-based promotions, your list will grow. Make sure to give your customer-service team a heads up and develop a strategy to delineate marketing Messenger bot campaigns from everyday customer-service queries.

Important technology considerations

  • Do your research: There are a lot of bot management services out there with different value propositions and cost structures. You want one that provides solid subscriber insights, allows you to change the template of your Messenger bots, allows you to schedule in advance and is available at a scalable monthly cost. Do the research upfront, because if you change providers midstream, you’ll lose the subscriber base you’ve worked so hard to build.
  • Delivery rates: Your delivery rates may differ by message type. Dig in with your bot management provider and make sure you are leveraging messages and triggers that yield 100 percent delivery.

Make the most of Your Messenger bots

  • KISS: Keep your campaigns simple, very simple, especially during the initial engagement. Your customers will need to be on-boarded on how Messenger bot programs will work. Screen captions, with arrows in the comments section, can help educate people on Messenger bot interactions. And if you are using codes, keep them short and try to use one unified code across all of your campaigns: push, in-app messages, etc.
  • On-boarding: Get a plan, and some solid copy, together around an initial welcome message. When someone interacts with your Messenger bot for the first time, they may get confused. Also, it’s good practice to let them know how to unsubscribe upfront.
  • Use it: Your Messenger bot list is another communications channel that’s only valuable if you work it into your marketing calendar. Tie your list to existing promotions, create bot campaigns that leverage deep linking and gamify the experience in interactive ways. Messenger bots aren’t push notifications: They offer a wide breadth of engagement options that can make your audience genuinely want to interact with them.

Facebook Messenger bots are a new and exciting communications channel. If you have a Facebook presence and you are not using them, you’ll fall behind all of the other smart marketers that are taking advantage of this new audience growth tool.

Like every marketing channel, they have to be treated differently, harnessing their unique strengths and measuring their performance using metrics that make sense for the medium. These tips should let you know what to anticipate on your first Messenger bot pilot and help guide you to success. Happy botting!

Alex Tarrand is vice president of marketing at rewards app Lucktastic.

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