There is something profound happening in the messaging space. As I pitch my new product which automates conversations on Facebook Messenger, most people are interested, but have no idea what’s going on. The messaging (bot, although that is a bad word) space is very trendy, but most ideas I hear don’t add up. But it’s a really good thing that people are interested.
This is probably due to the power of Facebook’s incredible reach and marketing. Facebook has anointed Messenger as the new channel & platform, generated a ton of buzz, but no one has seen a great chatbot yet. So we have social media workers and consultants abuzz with excitement for Messenger bots, but they’ve actually never tried a bot or even seen a good use case.
Then I reach out to see if they want to discuss building a chatbot. The answer is a resounding hell yeah (we want to be part of the future). It’s clear that no one has thought what they might want to do with their first Messenger Bot. There is no example for them to point to.
My suggestion is simple. Make your first chatbot a webform.
This is a metaphor, so let me spell it out. No marketer would just put up a webform and expect people to fill it out without having a specific reason to fill out the form. It’s a freaking science to optimize conversions. Builders and brands shouldn’t expect people to come and interact with their bot, if the value isn’t clearly established. Right now there might be a few insiders just poking around, but that won’t last long. To get real users there needs to be a reason to chat, just like there needs to be a reason to convert.
Promotion is also important. If there is a good reason for someone to convert on a form, then there is probably a marketing campaign, driving people to that form. Successful messaging interactions (bots) also need to be promoted. From what I’ve experienced so far, people are not searching out bots to interact with. Users are driven toward messaging conversations from ads, press or live (podcast, video, event) calls to action — the same way a brand might drive someone to a URL/landing page.
The webform comparison is also useful when building a messaging script. Webforms ask specific questions and look for specific data coming in. Bots should do the same. Simple and direct questions are a good way to build momentum in the conversation and lead the user through a good interaction. It’s really important to collect the information you need up front, before getting cute. If you’ve tried more than 5 bots, you’ve had at least one experience where the “AI” failed and they give you a number to call or an email to contact. That’s about as bad as it gets.
Did I mention that you can compare your Messenger conversions to webform conversions easily. We’ve seen bots convert much better than a landing page once the conversation starts. It’s great to send people emojis, but it’s super interesting to know what the response rate is when you ask for email.
The biggest advantage might be that a webform is valuable for the brand. Especially if the form is for acquisition. Companies know what to do with acquired data and users understand filling out webforms. As organizations move to this new channel, let’s set ourselves up for success and use these initial launches to acquire new users.
If the first chatbots act as webforms focused on acquisition it’s a great baby step towards conversational commerce or more advanced objectives. It’s an obvious step to hook Facebook ads up to Messenger bots to increase conversions from ad campaigns. If you’re curious how his works, check out our bot that helps generate leads for @Mssg. Click here http://m.me/atmssgand message in the hashtag #chat.
If you heart this post I promise to write more.