**NOTE** I wrote this in response to an article I saw posted on Facebook where someone was claiming that “Messenger bots” are essentially worthless, having your own app is “better”, and showcasing several HORRIBLE bots as their evidence for such claims.
I own a software company, Chatmatic, that has helped over 2,500 people build Messenger bots and automations for their businesses (and their clients) so I’ve had first hand experience seeing the good and the bad...I wanted to post this formally so that I could ALWAYS link back to this whenever I see an article making similar mindless claims in the future. I appreciate your thoughts, comments, shares and feedback!--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Most articles that throw shade at Messenger show a HUGE miss-understanding of what bots are used for, the entire market for Messenger bots, and the growing demand for Messenger. It’d be impossible for me to rebut EVERY article with this one... but I’ll give it a shot.
I’ll do this in two stages... Reactive and Proactive Messenger automations
Consumers are messaging businesses more every single day. They want INSTANT feedback... that's the world we are in. If I message a company about shipping info, I want a response on the spot. If I want a reservation for a restaurant, I don’t want to wait to do that until you have the “time” to respond personally... I just want to know how to get the reservation.I sat in a meeting recently with the COO of a 100M/ year travel company who explained how he spent multiple 6 figures building an "app" and his NUMBER ONE problem is that no one will download it. Messenger and "wechat" solved that problem by being downloaded by 1.4Billion and 900M respectively. I could end it right there, if this were chess I’d be saying “Check” right about now... but let’s go for the “Checkmate”. If you don’t want to build your business into an app that is already downloaded by 1.4 Billion people, I don’t think you’re playing the right game.
As a business owner we can build our "app" using an app that already have 1.4Billion users (it’s reported that 1.2Billion of them use it monthly). That same app is already responsible for 3 BILLION messages per month between consumers and businesses. Why? Because there are 100Billion messages being sent through Messenger each month between friends so we are all getting "used to" Messaging people and getting a response. I don't want to have to download your app to ask you a question.
Making the argument that somehow "apps are better" than Messenger shows me that person is just looking to judge the game from outside of the stadium.
If your business isn't being "reactive" with Messenger you are missing most of the game. If you advertise on Facebook you are introducing people to your brand VIA Facebook and therefore providing them with a direct platform to reach you (Messenger) so why not set up some automations to help users get answers to common issues and give them instant feedback that doesn't feel robotic.
90% of consumers (in a recent poll done by Facebook I believe) agreed they would do business with the company that responds to them first! Pretty big opportunity to capture a majority of your audience by just being where they want you to be. (I’ll mention a recent example we’ve used with a small local gym later in this article)I work with multiple ecommerce brands that have told me
"Travis, I was sitting at Christmas dinner and I had 4 on going customer conversations I was trying to respond to and I never want to do that again."
People were asking for shipping info, for refund policy, for sizing charts... and this BUSINESS OWNER was having to donate their Christmas dinner to answer them or they may have lost that customers business. Why not make a bot to solve that problem? Do you think someone will be unhappy/ upset that you are answering their question INSTANTLY just because it’s not REALLY you? It is REALLY your answer, it’s just not you personally typing it at that second.
It’s actually simple to do. You build a “keyword engagement”, inside a system like Chatmatic, that allows your Messenger to look for the phrase you would like to respond to... and then you set up that response. Let’s say you commonly get asked for a sizing chart or directions/ address of your location. You would go into Chatmatic > Click Engage > Select “Keyword Engagement” > then choose how you want the system to evaluate the keyword (should it match exactly, just include the keyword in a longer message, etc) > And then you build your response.
Let’s assume you now have an amazing message built so that any time someone says the words “sizing” and “chart” in the same message (ie. Do you have a sizing chart, where can I find a sizing chart, can you send me a sizing chart) your message will send to them instantly giving them an answer to their issue on the spot.
The same thing can now be set up for “directions” or “Address” (ie. what’s your address? can I get directions?) which would even be able to instantly send someone into google Maps when clicking it.
It’s not black and white... it’s not one or the other... you can make customers happy AND do it through automations. Just use your brain, or hire an expert.
Next... let's talk Proactive.
We all have that friend that ONLY hits us up when they want something right? That friend that never cares about what we want, but just wants us to be there for them when they need something. That’s kinda what it’s like when you use Messenger to promote your stuff, but you never use it to provide value. Eventually, your audience will stop caring.
This is where "marketers" start to ruin things. "Better than email" is the phrase I see being lashed around, as if they are at all comparable. Just because both have "subscribers" and "Opens" doesn't mean they are the same.
We wouldn’t compare a shoe to a shirt... they are both "clothing" but obviously have different purposes. They also go quite nicely TOGETHER don’t you think?
Most marketers see Messenger as a way to get WHAT THEY WANT from their customers, rather than providing their customers with what THEY want.
The key to Messenger is that it's the ONLY PLATFORM where you can command undivided attention. Think about that. It's not a news feed... it's not a "stories" that will disappear in 24 hours. It's as close to ACTUAL conversation as you can get with a customer, and conversation isn't one way broadcasting. That's email... you send an email and you HOPE you don't get a response.
You send a Messenger message and you are literally ASKING for a response.
Once you, the business person, understand that you are engaging a user in a conversation you'll also realize you are moving them through the "sales cycle" much faster because you can do so much more through a conversation than through a random landing page.
If I send someone to landing page, I have to ASSUME they have the exact problem I am hoping to solve... where as if I send them to a Messenger "bot" I can ask them and then guide them to a solution that fits them. This is also not something your “app” can do very easily because you’d have to hire someone to build in the changes each time.
-- Oh... and I feel like this is a good time to remind EVERYONE that when you download an app you are asked if you want to turn on Push Notifications. When, honestly, was the last time you actually said YES to turning on Push Notifications in an app? --
There is a time and a place to be "aggressive" with Messenger bots and automations but it's not EVERY TIME and EVERY PLACE. Sometimes you just need to deliver your message in a more effective channel that gets their UNDIVIDED ATTENTION for a second. “Hey (INSERT NAME HERE) yesterday you had 9 things on your to do list and it looks like you marked all 9 off.... great JOB! Today is your anniversary, would you like me to order flowers and have them delivered to your house?” ^Personally I would benefit greatly from this^
- If someone walks into an open house and scans a Messenger code to instantly get the entire home listing information into their phone... that's a good bot. You can then instantly and easily follow up with that person, AND ask for their email and phone number. Most agents do this with paper and pen now, why not automate and speed that process up WHILE creating a subscriber?
- If someone loves watching your show live and you send notifications letting them know when you are live... that's a good bot.You just ask them to subscribe to Messenger if they want notifications for when you go live and you use the “Subscription Broadcast” method in Chatmatic to send them a message when you’re live.
- If you are an influencer and your audience LOVES getting notified of your new videos, or when you're on tour, or tickets to your concert are finally available... and you then give them that through a notification... that's a good bot.I’m shocked MORE influencers aren’t using this idea, but I’m sure more will catch on to the potential and you’ll be joining a few “influencers VIP lists” soon.
You COULD do all of these things using email... and I would suggest you still do. Try doing that same thing through the “download my app and please turn on notifications” method, and then you’ll see how obsolete the “app” world really is at this point. Yes, obsolete. I SAID IT!
We don’t need more apps in our phone, we need more functionality in the ones we have.
I currently have over 100 apps in my phone, of which I use approx 8 on a weekly basis and haven’t opened at LEAST 80 in the last month. The Crazy part is... here’s a list of some of the apps I am FORCED to use on a regular basis that could be Messenger automations:
- My Pool Filter app. Yes I have a dumb app that takes HOURS to use (every time I have to re input all of my pool filter information... this is crazy). This app allows me to set the times my filter will run. I feel like if you made a bot that lets me connect ONCE and then control from there, I’d be happier (and use it more).
- 4-5 apps are for my 2 year old daughter for when we go out to eat and she starts getting restless. They are educational apps so take your judgement on my parenting somewhere else.
- My Sonos and Home Automations Apps. I saw Mark Zuckerberg controls his home through Messenger, but Sonos makes me download their app to put music on. I’m ok with it for now... but I could also just send a message to Sonos and they could control my speakers through that connection.
- Nike. Ok guys look, I like Nike stuff. Like, a LOT! But I currently have 44 unread notifications from my Nike App. This is borderline “push notification abuse” and I may have to delete the app for it. Instead, just let me shop what I want in Messenger... done!
- Heck, even the Calculator app could be a Messenger bot. That’s actually something we should do.
- Crossfit Games. PLEASE, for the love of all things great, someone please tell them their ENTIRE app should be in Messenger. I went to the Crossfit Games (as a spectator of course) and their app was dumb. Let me subscribe to get updates on heat times and “follow” my favorite athletes... you did it in your app but I didn’t turn on Push Notifications because I didn’t want to be bothers by EVERY update you sent. Once I subscribe you have my personal profile attached, you could let me upload my “open” scores through Messenger and let me check the leaderboard. ALL THE WHILE you could also notify me of things I want notifications for...You have ANY IDEA how many years I missed submitting my open scores on time so I now have no record of my scores for those workouts? Maybe a reminder 1 hour before the deadline through Messenger, I submit my score in response, and it’s done!
- Flight apps. Like, Delta... can I just message your page with my flight number and have you tell me that it’s on time? Also I could connect to Messenger through your site after I buy my ticket and you could send me my ticket in Messenger. Instead of making me check my email 3 months after I bought my ticket and when I search “Delta” I get 1,000 unread emails that come up because you send me too many emails.
Those are just SOME examples of apps I have on my phone that I ONLY use when/ if I have to. These are obviously businesses that can afford to have an app built, yet they are ALL connected to more people on social than the number of app users... why not use that social ecosystem instead of REQUIRE they use your in house app? You can still collect lead information (with no typos by the way because it’s attached to their FB profile) and send push notifications IF THEY ARE WORTH BEING SENT.
Real estate agents can't afford to build an app for every listing... but you sure as hell can build a nice bot for each one inside of a couple hours, or hire a specialist to build a Messenger sequence for you and save time! Local businesses can’t afford to have an app made OR afford the marketing it would take to get an app downloaded... but you can absolutely make a Messenger automation that allows users to get REACTIVE message and then proactively market to them via Facebooks terms. In doing so you are getting your message out to people that actually have engaged with your brand in a conversation... how awesome is that!?
Too often people look at "bots" as though they are robotic, cold and unfriendly... when they are done right they are anything but that. They are instantly gratifying, fast, purposeful, and can be charming.
New things take time to get adopted. Messenger automations are a hard thing to learn and not every business owner knows that it's relatively simple to put the pieces together on a reactive bot that can help grow their business which is why the growth is "slower" than some other systems.
Does that mean you should try to spend multiple 6 figures on having your own app built and then try to figure out how to get people to actually download it? I think I’ll pass...
Anyone could pick out a “bad bot” experience and take a screen shot of it and say “See, this is why you shouldn’t use bots” but I could do the same thing for billboards, fliers, posters, emails, landing pages, ads, banners... you name it. Just because someone does it wrong, doesn’t mean it can’t be effective when done right.
Like the gym that we helped by automating a response anytime someone says "I'm looking to drop in". They are now getting more business by INSTANTLY responding. They aren't losing potential customers because they can't sit by their phone all day and answer phone calls (and customers don't call businesses as much anymore... they message them... on Facebook). This gym used to lose "drops ins" because they couldn't respond until 10pm at night (after the gym closed) and the customer already messaged another gym and got the info they needed.
Now they get their 10pm back... and more customers. Nice exchange...
Lastly, before we jump on the "bah humbug" train about Messenger not being a "buzz word" anymore, let's remember that in 2016 Facebook had ZERO businesses using bots... and now nearly 400,000.
If ANY OTHER COMPANY got 400,000 businesses to use their platform in 2 years, we'd praise them...
If ANY OTHER COMPANY said “we had 3 Billion message sent between our users and businesses, we’d be losing our minds trying to get into that platform.
Yet, because it’s Facebook and the numbers they command are in the billions it’s hard to get excited about something growing 400,000 users in 2 years? Yeah... might as well call it a fad and move on back to bitcoin.
Are bots perfect? Absolutely not. Neither are people. In fact, we had a customer service rep in our OWN COMPANY who had a couple bad days where she was responding to our users in a VERY short manner. Turns out she was having a rough week, but that resulted in our customers getting VERY poor responses from our support.
People have bad days... bad weeks... emotions... and stress. Messenger automations don’t have those things. Not that we should do away with people and personal responses, but when a PERSON is responding to the same issues every day, from the same people, in the same manner, even they become somewhat robotic.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Also note, just because one thing works doesn’t mean it should replace something else. People are necessary in your organization and that personal touch is key. There will be times your bot CAN’T help someone so this isn’t a call to fire your customers support staff, just make their life easier by responding instantly to the most common concerns so they can spend more time working with people with more serious issues like figuring out if it was Laurel, or Yanny? (I heard Yanny, which makes me the minority as apparently 53% hear Laurel which is crazy to me)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
We switched about 70% of our in house customer support into Messenger and the responsiveness has been amazing! We are basically building our FAQ into Messenger specifically for our support channel and getting customers access to answers instantly... and without emotion.
If you look at the ecosystem that is being created RIGHT NOW people are downloading less apps, using less apps, spending more time in the apps they have, and spending a BOATLOAD more time in Messaging apps. But you’re right... you should just build your own app and “ignore” Messenger.
Don’t be blinded by the numbers either. Make sure you take your time, speak to an expert in the field who understands how businesses can use Messenger... do it right! Making your own bot just because you can is like trying to build a house yourself. You MAY get some of it right by watching some Youtube videos... but if you mess ONE THING UP your whole house could crumble.This is why we pay other people to build our houses... or we spend a lot of time learning what needs to be done. The same is true with Messenger.
Messenger isn’t a fad. It’s not slowing down. It’s also not going to replace all landing pages and email marketing. It’s somewhere in the middle.
It’ll be powerful for the people that use it right, and potentially destructive for the people who abuse it. At Chatmatic we are trying to help take the guesswork out of what to do, how to do it, and when is the proper time to “ask” instead of just “give” in your Messenger sequences. We eventually hope to make complicated things easy for your customers, through the use of Chatmatic and Messenger. We help give businesses their Christmas dinners back... their 10PM’s back... and help create relationships with their customers through conversation.
Who knows how Messenger and automations will change in the years to come but I know I’ve PERSONALLY seen multiple hundreds of thousands being made in the ecosystem that Messenger has created so I can’t wait to see how that continues to grow for those that adopt this and really utilize what’s available in the right way.
Feel free to take a free cruise through Chatmatic, join our Free training programs that show you have to build Messenger bots and automations... and also join our EPIC free Facebook groups where we share updates, case studies and other cool things.Where to try Chatmatic:http://chatmatic.com
Where to join our Messenger groups:http://facebook.com/groups/messengerbotsecrets
I hope you’ll share this information anytime you see someone discounting the value and potential of Messenger, hopefully this article will help SOMEONE utilize Messenger when they otherwise wouldn’t know where to start.
Travis StephensonCEO, Chatmatic