Messenger bots have become a popular marketing tool for platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. A bot can help you connect with a large audience with automated messages without having to personally monitor every conversation. While there are several benefits to using messenger bots, there are also drawbacks. There’s no simple answer to whether they are the right tool for your marketing plans. You need to consider your needs and the purpose of your social media communications.
Pros and Cons of Messenger Bots
Online chat platforms are currently one of the most popular ways to communicate. The most obvious reason to consider using this tool for marketing is that many of your customers are on these sites. Statista reports that WhatsApp has 2 billion monthly users while Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion. If you’re looking for a way to reach any audience, messenger bots are worth considering. At the same time, there are both pros and cons to using them.
Benefits of Messenger Bots
- They let customers get instant answers. When you use a messenger bot for customer service, customers and prospects can receive immediate answers to questions. This lets you engage with people outside of normal business hours.
- A cost-effective way to reach your audience. Messenger bots are cheaper than mobile apps. They are also a lot less expensive than hiring staff to interact with customers around the clock.
- Better engagement than email. Your audience is more likely to read a message sent on Facebook or WhatsApp than an email. Email open rates are around 30%.
- They help you learn about your customers. Messenger bots are a valuable source of data mining. Track who is contacting you and what their most pressing issues are.
- You can advertise on Facebook Messenger. You are allowed to send sponsored ads to anyone who has engaged with your page. This lets you combine advertising with organic communications.
Disadvantages of Messenger Bots
- They are limited in terms of complexity and sophistication. No matter how insightful you make your bot, it still can’t answer every question or anticipate every issue. Customers can become frustrated if they can’t find an answer or get an irrelevant response. Bots are well suited to provide basic information and answer FAQs, but they aren’t meant for in-depth or complex queries.
- Bots lack the human touch. As helpful as technology is, there’s also a certain backlash against automation. People appreciate the experience of human interaction. A bot, no matter how helpful, can’t express genuine emotion.
- They require maintenance and updating. A bot isn’t something you create once and then you’re finished. As noted, bots help you learn more about your audience. While this is great, it also means that you need to update your bots in response to what you learn. Additionally, you need to make updates as your business evolves, and you add or remove products.
Examples of Effective Messenger Bot Marketing
It can be instructive to look at a few examples of how some companies have excelled at using messenger bots to connect with their customers.
Domino’s — The popular pizza chain lets customers place orders via Messenger. Significantly, anyone can place an order without setting up an account or registering. As long as they use Messenger, they can order using the company’s branded bot named Dom.
Whole Foods — The Amazon-owned natural foods supermarket has created a user-friendly Messenger bot that helps users find recipes and meal recommendations. This is a clever form of indirect marketing as customers will often have to make a trip to Whole Foods to get the ingredients.
Wine Bot for Lidl — Lidl, a global supermarket chain, wanted a way to educate customers about wine. The result was a friendly and informative “wine bot” named Margo. Wine is a trendy product but also a complicated field where many people feel intimidated by the vast amount of information. The bot makes it easy for customers to quickly find the perfect wine for any occasion.
Sephora — Sephora is a leading beauty and personal care brand that’s long been at the forefront of omnichannel marketing, making it easy for customers to seamlessly shop online and in-store. Sephora has multiple chatbots offering a variety of services such as helping customers book appointments. Another bot, Sephora Color Match, guides customers to find the ideal colors for beauty products.
These are just a few high-profile examples of companies using messenger bots for branding, customer service, sales, and educational purposes. As with any type of marketing, you need to identify the best way to use your messenger bot.
Getting the Most Out of Your Messenger Bot
Should you use messenger bots for social media marketing? The short answer is “Yes, if you use them the right way.” The above-listed drawbacks are only flaws if you try to use bots beyond the purposes for which they are intended.
Combine Bots With Live Customer Service
The best thing about bots is that they are always available. The worst thing about them is that they are programmed bots that can’t be expected to resolve every issue. The latter isn’t really a problem as long as you don’t attempt to use bots for all your marketing and customer service tasks. Make sure customers and prospects know how to get in touch with you for more detailed information, whether by phone, email, or live chat.
Plan How to Build Your Messenger Bot
There are several options for building a messenger bot. If you or your team have the skills to build it yourself, Facebook provides a guide for Messenger Developers. There are also many services and agencies you can consult, either to guide you for building your own bot or outsourcing the task. Before you get started, identify your budget as well as the specific features you want your bot to have.
Research What Your Audience Needs
For a messenger bot to serve its purpose, it must answer your audience’s most pressing questions. You should consult your social media, customer service, and marketing teams to advise you on these points. As noted, once your bot is up and running, it’s also important to track its interactions so you can make adjustments as necessary. You can send out customer surveys to users for guidance on what is and isn’t working.
Integrate Messenger Bots With the Rest of Your Marketing and Customer Service
Messenger bots can play a vital role in your social media marketing, but they can’t replace other essential efforts such as organic posting, targeted ad campaigns, and live customer support. They work best in conjunction with these and other tasks. As long as your customers are active on Facebook Messenger and other chat apps, you may as well find a way to engage with them while they’re online.