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  • Writer's pictureAlison Ellerbrook

Email is dead. Long live Messenger.

Ok, ok, ok email's not dead - yet!

What is over, however, is chasing people for their email addresses so you can send them a newsletter every so often. Have you looked at your open rates recently?

A well written email with an enticing subject and quality content is still a helpful marketing tool, but email marketing is an increasingly difficult way of reaching your audience.

Behold Facebook Messenger and the world of chatbots.

You may say that you don't like Facebook. That people are deserting the platform in droves. You shudder at the idea of automation; I would ask you to be open minded, Messenger is a different animal.

Despite Facebook's rocky start to the year, Messenger is the world's largest messaging app with over 1.3 billion users. Messenger sits alongside Facebook and many people use the app without going anywhere near the newsfeed. What is extremely attractive to us marketers is Messenger's open and engagement rate.

Did you check your email open rate? It's probably sitting between 5-10%. Facebook Messenger's open rate is an eye watering 70-80%, and that's way too tempting for those of us wanting to connect with our audience.

In an ideal world we'd have our Messenger app staffed 24/7 responding immediately to live chats; wouldn't that be nice? Most of us aren't able to do this and that's where chatbots come into play. The great thing about chatbots is how much you can do with them enhancing your customer's experience rather than detracting from it.

Instant response

Setting up a chatbot enables you to respond immediately to a customer when they connect with you on Messenger. Set up a welcome message and give further information about your business (head over to my Facebook page to see mine).

Reacting in real time shows your business is attentive and keen on providing great service.

Customer service

I don't know about you, but I'd rather get support using social media than have to hang on the phone to a call centre, and it appears many people feel the same way. Chatbots enable you to create automated yet personalised messages, use keywords to tailor your responses, and even configure your response times.

Starting off a conversation using bot and then, if automated responses don't resolve their query, give the customer the option to live chat with a human. This is the ideal scenario for using Messenger for customer service.

Generate leads and sales

Did you know that you can develop a chatbot that will message a user when it picks up a keyword mentioned in a post comment? It's a pretty effective way to build leads and sales.

Say you have a free guide to share; you could set your chatbot to send a download link to everyone who comments 'Yes please'. Then you can set messages to follow up with them in the days or weeks after. When you consider the high open rate of Messenger compared to email there's huge potential for business here.

Grow subscribers

Linking to your chatbot from your website or email you can encourage people to connect with you on Messenger even when they're nowhere near Facebook. Growing your subscribers is much like growing an email list and enables you to send out offers and information en-masse (knowing the open rate is going to be pretty decent).


Facebook now offers the option to send your ads to Messenger so you can promote to your audience's inbox. This is relatively new and not overused yet, so it's a good opportunity to take advantage of improved conversions.

There's so much you can do with Messenger and chatbots; experiment with posting photos or video, enable people to book a table at your restuarant, room at your hotel and even integrate your shopping cart so people don't even have to leave Messenger to shop at your store - all this, and more, is possible.

How do I do it?

Aside from the capabilities within Facebook where you can set up a certain amount of automation, there are lots of tools out there to help you set up chatbots in Messenger without having any coding knowledge. I like Manychat and ChatFuel is another one; have a play and see what works for you.

Alison Ellerbrook delivers social media management for small business and can also help you set up your own bespoke chatbots for Facebook Messenger!

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