You’ve heard the buzz. Chatbots will replace mobile apps. Chatbots will replace email marketing. Chatbots will replace customer care agents. Chatbots will cut your costs and increase your revenue. And they’re gonna do it all while you sleep.
There’s a lot of hype floating around right now about chatbots in general, and Facebook Messenger bots in particular. It’s no surprise that, according to a survey by Oracle, 80 percent of businesses want a chatbot in place by 2020.
Can bots really do everything they promise? It’s still early days. In the meantime, here are some real-world examples and best practices to give you a firm footing in this new landscape.
What are Facebook Messenger bots (a.k.a Facebook chatbots)?
Basically, a chatbot is a piece of automated messaging software that uses AI to converse with people.
Bots are programmed to understand questions, provide answers, and execute tasks. From a customer’s perspective, they’re a friendly and accessible time-saver. Rather than opening an app (let alone downloading one), making a phone call (ew), running a search, or loading a webpage, your customer can just type a message, like they would to a friend.
A Facebook Messenger bot is a chatbot that lives in Facebook Messenger, meaning it converses with some of the 1.3 billion people who use Facebook Messenger every month.
If you’re on Facebook, you probably already have a Facebook Messenger strategy. A Facebook Messenger bot is how you scale that strategy.
As of the 2018 F8 conference, Facebook has 300,000 active Messenger bots. That’s three times as many as the year prior.
Why use Facebook Messenger bots for business?
There are two major advantages to using a Facebook Messenger bot.
First, there’s a low barrier to entry for both you and your target audience. Facebook Messenger is the third most-used app in the world, used by 68 percent of app users.
And it’s not just for group chats among friends and family. A recent Nielsen survey found that people think messaging is the second-best way to talk to a business. People exchange 2 billion messages with businesses over Facebook Messenger every month.
Compare this to the rest of the mobile app market, where 71 percent of users delete an app within 90 days.
If you want to communicate with your customers, building a Facebook Messenger bot is a lot cheaper than building a mobile app.
The second advantage is that the field is still wide open. While Facebook has 6 million advertisers, there are only 300,000 chatbots. That’s a lot less competition.
Meanwhile, marketing email click-through rates (3.1 percent, on average) haven’t improved in years, and only 30 percent of marketing emails are even opened. Chatbots can help you bypass inbox competition too.
So that’s the context. Let’s break down exactly what a Messenger chatbot can help you do:
1. Reach your audience directly
Headliner Labs found that people are 3.5 times more likely to open a Facebook Message than a marketing email. And since customers can respond (usually by pressing a CTA button—they don’t even need to type), they’re likely to move further down your marketing funnel.
On top of that, Facebook Messenger has sponsored ads, which can be sent to anyone who has previously been in touch with your Page. Yes, this means that you already have a subscriber list. You can use these ads in tandem with your chatbot to target high-intent customers.
2. Save time and money on customer care
Customers expect 24/7 availability, but they hate waiting on hold. They also ask many of the same questions over and over (and over) again.
If you’re spending a lot of time helping people track deliveries, check your return policy, or book appointments, a little automation will go a long way. Free up your focus for the tasks that a Messenger chatbot can’t do.
3. Identify leads
As your bot greets potential customers, it can identify their needs, ask basic questions, (i.e., “What’s your budget?”) and immediately direct high-quality leads to your human sales team.
4. Handle e-commerce transactions
With the right script, bots can do the selling, too. And because everything happens without leaving the comfort of Facebook Messenger, drop-off rates are lower than in a traditional ad-to-webpage pipeline.
Also, conversational commerce leaves room for personalized upselling as the bot makes suggestions. Everything from “Seems your flight won’t be leaving until 4PM. Would you prefer a late check-out?” to “Fries with that?”
5. Re-engage customers
Bots are capable of retaining information, and you can use those details to go the extra mile.
Rather than paying for a barrage of advertising, a Facebook Messenger bot can reach out personally, offering relevant content at the right time. Remind a customer about those cycling shorts still sitting in her cart, or that she sent her mother-in-law birthday flowers this time last year.