— October 23, 2017
Many marketers view chatbots as an alternative to email, with some even proclaiming chatbots as the “death of email.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Much like how content marketing can be used alongside email marketing, chatbots are a powerful additive channel that can boost your email marketing campaigns.
Customers are increasingly ready to embrace messaging apps as a customer service channel, and younger demographics even more so, according to HubSpot. This means it’s a trend that will only increase with time.
Chatbots are the next frontier of marketing automation. They create relationships with your customers through a live experience, instead of overcrowding their inboxes.
What are chatbots?
The easiest way to think of chatbots is as the next iteration of Live Chat.
As Live Chat became more widely adopted by brands and used by customers, it failed to live up to its “live” name. Today consumers wait on average 2 minutes and 40 seconds for a response on Live Chat, and 21 percent of their messages go completely unanswered. From a customer’s standpoint, that’s unacceptable.
Chatbots bring the immediacy back to live chat. Even better, they speak to your customers wherever they are, rather than forcing them to come to your website. Thanks to advancements like Facebook Messenger, chatbots are no longer clunky or robotic. They can handle a lot more functionality, and sound more like humans.
Can chatbots and email work together?
As Joe Crawford writes in Chatbots Magazine, “Think of email as a speech, and a Messenger chatbot as an interview. Like a speech, email is a one-way communication, with all of the information being presented in one continuous sequence. Messenger is comparable to an interview in that it exists as a series of back-and-forths with one side attempting to gather information (the bot), and the other (the human) providing that information based on the questions asked.”
Email marketing and chatbots both form relationships with your customers, but in different, complementary ways.
With email marketing, you can provide a complex, visually appealing layout that includes copy, images, hyperlinks, and CTA buttons. It is perfect for more important and detailed information contacts will most likely want to retrieve, as searching for it is easier than looking through chats and notifications.
Chatbots, on the other hand, share less information, but that information is precisely relevant to an individual user’s needs and wants, depending on what they share with the chatbot. Plus, much of the desired action can take place directly within the Messenger interface. Users can answer form questions, watch video, and buy products directly from a chatbot, while an email would require them to click through a link to take action.
When compared to email, chatbot conversations are more personalized and actionable. Experience it yourself with this hypothetical chatbot user flow from Hubspot.
Facebook Messenger chatbots and Email
One of the easiest ways to add a chatbot to your marketing funnel is to implement one into Facebook Messenger. Facebook itself has its own handy bot creator for developers, but there are also plenty of services out there that will create a bot that’s tailored to your brand’s specific needs.
Having a Messenger chatbot in addition to your email marketing efforts can result in more targeted and detailed user data, and higher conversion rates overall. One way it does this is with user-dreaded forms.
Forms are a lot of work for users, especially if you got greedy with the number of fields. Chatbots relieve customers of that burden, but they also minimize the work on your side.
Verve says 60 percent of people intentionally lie or provide false info online. 33 percent use a fake email address, and customers have no problem supplying someone else’s phone number to get access to your latest whitepaper. Meanwhile, less than 5 percent of Facebook profiles are fake. Start using Facebook Messenger chatbots today and you can stop mining through fake data.
There are plenty of other benefits to using Facebook Messenger chatbots alongside your email strategy. Let’s name a few, shall we?
- Users receive instant responses, increasing loyalty while they wait for a more detailed email.
- Facebook Messenger chatbots feel social, lively, and fun, making customers delighted to hear from you again.
- Chatbots can help your brand appeal to younger users, who might not be as responsive to an email as they are to a message.
How to integrate a Facebook Messenger chatbot in your email marketing funnel
Ready to get started with your own Facebook Messenger chatbot? Let’s review the many ways they can augment your email marketing funnel and engage your customers.
No longer do users have to leave Facebook to fill out a form on your landing page. Integrate with Facebook Connect login to enable single-click subscriptions like the L.A. Times does:
Use Facebook’s Messenger CTA buttons to make things even easier. For instance, after they view your Facebook Live, you can include a button in the conversation that says “Send me the checklist!”, that would trigger an email to be sent with the content download link or file.
Here’s an example from HubSpot:
Event promotion and reminders
Users can RSVP to events on and off Facebook and receive friendly reminders from your Facebook Messenger chatbot (as well as your usual automated email reminder). Disney created a chatbot persona of Officer Judy Hopps to hype Zootopia by engaging with RSVP-ed users on Facebook before the movie premiere and also before the DVD release.
Let users decide if they want to interact with you via Facebook, Messenger, or email. Incentivize to connect via Facebook Messenger by offering an exclusive whitepaper, ebook, or video, and offer yet another incentive for email, like an exclusive deal. As Mixergy and Bot Academy founder Andrew Warner shows in this YouTube video, Messenger works immediately. The second the button is clicked, they get a notification via Messenger on their phone.
Clear up your support team’s queue
Create a support chatbot to answer common FAQs so users don’t languish on your help page or get stuck in a long email thread with your support team. Airbnb lets hosts create custom FAQ. This minimizes frustration for hosts who get sick of answering the same thing over and over again, and it also makes things easier for customers so they’re likelier to convert faster:
Program your chatbot to ask questions that further segment subscribers and qualify leads. In this personal shopping assistant example from Convo Interface, the bot could help a person make a purchase right then and there, or send them an email with several options:
Chatbots drive conversions in real time. Belly Hungry’s chatbot lets people schedule reservations, find restaurant locations, or order takeout – all from within Facebook (no more going to Yelp or Google search and finding one of your competitors instead), while still getting their transactional emails to confirm their booking or purchase:
Optimize Facebook ads
Lower your CPM with more effective Facebook ads. Let customers immediately start a conversation with your sales rep, instead of having to click through to your website, as in this example from Business Pineapple:
Create your Facebook Messenger chatbot
So, how do you actually go about creating a chatbot? Fortunately, it’s easier than you think.
Several companies have risen to meet the demand. There are dedicated chatbot developers for Facebook Messenger like Octane AI, Chatfuel, and ManyChat. Then there are developers that work with Facebook, your website, as well as other apps like Slack or text messaging, like SnatchBot and Hubspot’s Motion.ai. Finally, some chatbot developers specialize in transforming landing page forms into a conversational chatbot interface, such as Botui.org, Landbot.io, Convointerface and Conversational Form.
Many of these chatbot builder tools helpfully walk you through the process, from mapping a conversation flow chart to adding custom buttons and more.
Of course, if you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can always code your own chatbot. Distilled shared their custom chatbot code in a recent Moz article.
Don’t wait. Jump on the chatbot train today.
Five percent of companies were already using chatbots in 2016, and 32 percent are planning to use or pilot them in 2017. Email marketing is getting tougher, since everyone’s doing it now. Supplementing your email efforts with a chatbot can help you to outpace the competition.