Facebook Messenger Chatbots – What Are They and Do They Work?

Facebook ChatbotsIn 2016, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s Messenger Platform, which soon led to discussions about how businesses could take advantage and incorporate it into their marketing.

Before long, the idea of using the new platform to communicate with customers seemed both logical and convenient, but businesses couldn’t expect to have someone online at all times to answer questions or perform outreach – thus, the idea of the Facebook chatbot came into play.

What Are Chatbots?

Chatbots (also known as “chat extensions”) themselves have been around in some form or another for decades, found in places from emails to apps and everything in between.

They are a type of automated messaging software that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to converse with people. This essentially allows current and potential customers to ask questions immediately, whenever they are visiting your website, whether it’s 3 p.m. or 3 a.m.

Facebook chatbots are very similar, but instead of being in your app or website, you add them to your business’s Facebook Messenger platform.

You still use an outside source to create them, but customers can access the bot through your social page rather than your website.

The popularity of chatbots will only continue to rise in the coming years as the shift to digital communication continues to grow. According to a Gartner study, by 2020 nearly 85% of our engagements with businesses will be completed without talking to another human being.

How Do Chatbots Work?

Basically, a bot is a computer program trained in highly repetitive operations, like the canned responses you see in emails that answer the same questions again and again. Based on what you’ve taught them, these bots are able to recognize certain actions and keystrokes in order to respond accordingly.

What Are the Benefits of Using Chatbots?

Now that we’ve taken a look at how these chatbots work, let’s dive into the important part – how they can help your business.

  • Improve Availability for Your Customers
    Chatbots allow your business to appear available 24/7 since the bots never tire or need a break. They allow customers to quickly and efficiently interact with your business for simple questions, which will help free up your representatives to focus on more complex tasks and other aspects of your business.
  • Increase Multitasking Capabilities
    In conjunction with improving overall availability for customers throughout the day, chatbots also have the ability to process large amounts of requests at once. The human brain has its limits and studies have found that the process of multitasking splits the brain’s ability to focus and function properly, often leading to mistakes. Bots, on the other hand, can accurately respond to thousands of chats simultaneously, improving the overall efficiency of your business.
  • Enhance Customer Satisfaction
    No one wants to be left on hold for 10 minutes before talking to someone, or wants to wait hours to hear back via email. By incorporating a chatbot on Facebook, you can provide customers with an alternative way to contact you so you can give them a quicker response, which can instantly elicit a more positive perception of your company. This can help further enhance the overall customer satisfaction for your business, which we know can help lead to more business down the road.
  • Nurture Leads and Retain Customers Through Your Pipeline
    Incorporating a Facebook chatbot can become a touchpoint with leads currently in your sales pipeline. It’s also a great resource for combating “abandoned shopping carts” by serving as another way to reach out to customers who might have trouble during the checkout process.
  • Share Your Database of Knowledge
    Many businesses already have a great knowledge database, or section of their website that organizes all the resources and information a customer may need. Often, though, these databases can be difficult to search through. A Facebook Messenger chatbot is a great way to educate your customers about your product or service.

Although many of these benefits apply to chatbots in a general sense, they can have the same positive influence on your business and social interactions when used in the Facebook Messenger platform.

Do Facebook Chatbots Actually Work?

While the use of Facebook Messenger bots has definitely increased in popularity, the question remains: Do they actually work?

The simple answer is yes, but the more complex addition to that answer is that it depends on a number of factors.

Diverse companies have been using Facebook Messenger bots successfully for years, including Sephora, Pizza Hut and even The Wall Street Journal.

In fact, HubSpot performed a number of experiments and discovered that Facebook Messenger broadcasts had an average open rate of 80% and a click rate of 13%. When delivering the same content through email, HubSpot saw an open rate of only 33% and a click rate of 2.1%, indicating that Facebook Messenger outperformed email marketing in this experiment.

Although it’s shown success for many brands and even outperformed email marketing in certain settings, there are still a number of factors you need to consider before implementing a Facebook Messenger bot for your own business.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Is your audience on Facebook?
  • Are you currently promoting a specific product or service?
  • Do you already automate other aspects of your business?
  • What is your goal/purpose for this bot?

Another important consideration is the cost of implementing a Facebook Messenger bot for your company. Depending on how complex you want it to be, creating a chatbot can cost thousands of dollars and months of development time, but can be well worth it.

You can also utilize tools like Botsify or Chatfuel, which allow you to easily create your own chat robot without needing to know about programming. They also boast a much lower cost, with some being free up to an extent.

As with any tool, it’s important to analyze the pros and cons of incorporating a chatbot into your overall marketing plan.

How Do I Set Up a Messenger Chatbot of My Own?

Now that you understand the benefits and have weighed the costs, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to set a chatbot up. For this example, we will be using Chatfuel’s bot builder to create one for Steve’s Hard Prune Juice, a fake business account we made for our Digital Content Director Steve DiMatteo’s birthday.

Step 1: Connect Your Facebook Profile to Chatfuel’s Builder

Once you head over to the Chatfuel site, simply click on the “get started for free” button on the homepage. It should redirect you to Facebook and ask for your authorization. Once you provide access, you will be redirected to the chatbot builder where you can select the page you wish to add the messenger bot to.

Step 2: Connect Your Business’s Facebook Page

Since chatbots are tied to organizations, not individuals, you will need to connect your business Facebook page. Simply select the page you wish to connect the bot to and you should be redirected to the Chatfuel interface (Note: I had to refresh the page to get to the interface page). There should be an introductory tutorial that pops up to help you through the rest of the processes, or you can continue with our guide.

Step 3: Create Your Welcome Message

The first thing you’ll want to do after getting the proper authorizations in place is create your welcome message and default answer. This will be the first interactions customers will have with your bot.

chat welcome message

This should be a quick intro asking how your bot can help the customer. You also want to be sure to create a default message, something that appears if a user types in a query that you don’t have AI detection set up for.

Note: Make sure you are honest with your audience. Let them know they are talking to an AI. Not only will this help alleviate confusion later, but it’s also the law in California. Unless you have a way to block your bot from showing there, you will need to comply.

From here you will have two options: set up a navigation-type driven conversation (like a phone menu system), or you can have the AI set up to guide the conversation, which is entirely possible with Chatfuel, but will require a considerable amount of content development on your part.

Step 4: Set Up Your Conversation Navigation

For this step, you will begin to create your conversation navigation. In our example, we are trying to answer any questions users may have about Steve’s Hard Prune Juice.

While the possible questions a user may ask are endless, we are going to focus on three for now:

  • Where is Steve’s Hard Prune Juice located?
  • How can I get Steve’s Hard Prune Juice?
  • What are the flavor options?

For each question you want to answer, you will create a new “block.”

fb chat blocks

Step 5: Include Your Chat Dialogue

Once you have all your blocks created, go in to each and create the content you want to display about each topic. You can choose from a wide variety of options including text, typing, image, gallery and more.

Step 6: Link Your Blocks in the Main Navigation

Return to your main welcome page, and select the “add button” option underneath your welcome message.

fb chatbot process

Type in the button name you want the user to see and then select the corresponding block you’d like to take the user to.

Note: Chatbots work best when they are conversational, so don’t present users with too many options. You want to start with a few top questions and build the AI around those.

Step 7: Create Your Artificial Intelligence

Once you’ve build out all your content blocks, select “set up AI” in the side navigation. This is where you will brainstorm all the possible questions and phrasing that may be asked of your bot.

creating AI for chatbot

You can either enter text at this stage or direct users to a specific block.

There are two components included in this step:

  • Phrases to watch for – This concerns the terms that may be included in a query (e.g., directions or location)
  • Content to display – Once the bot detects a word or phrase it will display the text to answer the query (this is if you don’t select the block option)

Step 8: Launch Your Bot

Chatfuel actually autosaves as you go, so once you’re done updating everything, your chatbot is ready to go!

Just click the “promote” button in the left-hand navigation and share the link to your website, Facebook page, or even online ads.

Have a Question? Reach Out to Us Today!

Sixth City Marketing is a digital agency that specializes in search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, and social media marketing.

We have locations in both Cleveland and Columbus, with an in-house team readily available to answer your questions. Feel free to contact us today!

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