What You Need to Know to Crush it with Facebook Messenger

Mar 05, 2018

Facebook Messenger Chatbots.jpg

What your customers want, and expect, from you has changed.

Spend any time researching ecommerce online and you’ll invariably come up against the same tired tactics with a new spin.

We still depend so heavily on a one way method of communication. We aggressively throw ads on social media, use popups on landing pages, and send emails at users in an attempt to get them to convert.

But customer expectation is changing.

Customers no longer just want to be on the receiving end of your store’s marketing. They want a more active role and to engage with your brand.

The smart stores of tomorrow aren’t refining current tactics to eke out another 1% in CTR or CVR.

Tomorrow’s biggest successes will be the stores who adapt to changing user behavior and expectations. The stores who align their organic marketing efforts with the desires of their consumers.

The question everyone’s trying to answer is what is going to be the driving force of conversions tomorrow?

The Changing Face of Ecommerce Engagement

The shift in consumer behavior has already started. In fact, it started years ago through platforms like Twitter.

Twitter gave user’s the ability for real time engagement with brands. It allowed customers to lodge complaints and get instant feedback leading to 64% of consumers demanding instant interactions with brands.

Real Time Engagement.jpg

Most companies have installed some form of social media management enables this instant communication. However, whilst great at resolving problems and improving loyalty in existing customers, it’s too reactionary.

Tomorrow’s smart brands aren’t going to rely on a wholly reactionary approach. Tomorrow’s success stories will be brands who instigate real time conversations with users.

Conversations which lead consumers through their purchase decision helping them make an informed purchase. It’s a method termed conversational commerce, and it’s changing the way online brands operate.

We’ve been working hard over at Recart to test as much as we can within conversational commerce which has uncovered some pretty incredible stats.

When testing Facebook Messenger against email we’ve found engagement to be far higher.

Facebook Messenger Email.png

But not only was engagement higher, the instant responses and more conversational approach led to better rate of recaptured carts and higher revenue gains.

From the tests we’ve run and the statistics I’ve seen, Messenger is the future for ecommerce.

But don’t be fooled and think that the massive engagement rates are going to make implementing your own Messenger campaign easy.

As with any other marketing channel or tactic, Messenger has its own set of rules and best practices. For you to get the most out of your campaigns, you’re going to have to know how to properly leverage the channel.

The Basic Rules of Facebook Messenger

Before you get too excited at all the revenue you could be making through Messenger, we need to talk about the potential pitfalls.

Breaking the Messenger rules is going to get your Messenger privileges revoked, destroying any potential of keeping up with your competitors.

Thing is, the actual focus of Messenger’s rules are pretty simply. If you want the short version, I’d simply say don’t spam, don’t be annoying, and always get opt-in permission.

If you want to read the full rules and regulations, you can check them out here. I’ve pulled the key points out for you below as well.

- To start a standard (non promoted message) conversation the user has to initiate contact

- You have 24 hours to follow up after the close of the last message from the user

- With standard messages you are allowed promotional content within the 24 hour window

- Automated subscription messages can be sent outside the 24 hour window

- However, subscription messages must not contain promotional content. They can only include news, productivity content, or personal tracking updates

Facebook Messages Ecommerce.png

An example of what’s not permitted in subscription messages

Just think in terms of value. Before clicking send ask yourself if the message adds value or if it’s breaking any promotional rules. Simple, right?

These are the hard and fast rules for Messenger as of right now. However, the smart money’s on Facebook rolling out rules more in line with the rest of the platform in the near future.

In recent months Facebook has announced their desire to crack down on things like vote and share baiting. You know what I’m talking about, those annoying posts that are some variation of “like if you’re X, share if you’re Y”.

They want to focus on value and fostering real relationships with people.

These rules don’t yet apply to Messenger, but I don’t think it’ll be long before they do. Already I see a couple of brands with bots implementing “engagement bait” tactics in an effort for the user to open a dialogue and refresh that 24 hour promotional window.

The guys at ManyChat put a bot together as a cautionary example on what not to do:  

Facebook Messenger Chatbot Manychat.jpg

Avoid this.

Facebook is going to great lengths to stomp this sort of low level engagement out. It might not be explicitly against the rules now, but I’m pretty certain that it will be in the not too distant future.

Automation is More Important Now than Ever Before

Automation in digital marketing is nothing new.

For a long time we turned to email for help with on-boarding users, generic welcome sequences, and follow up messages.

With technological advancements, we implemented transactional emails like cart abandonment, receipt delivery, and even automated upsell and cross-sell campaigns.

But the thing with email is it’s too one way. It’s been an incredibly effective medium for a very long time, but modern consumers want to be more than a simple recipient.

Modern consumers want to be heard.

They want a voice, and they want to communicate with the brands they frequent. They want to be treated like people, not an open rate or CTR statistic.

According to Salesforce, two of the top three reasons consumers become loyal brand evangelists are immediate responses to questions, and personalized customer care.

Facebook Chatbot Loyalty.jpg

Traditional email automation can take care of the need for immediate responses, but the customer care aspect is lacking because the messages are too generic.

It’s why so many brands are turning to services like Intercom, Drift, and ManyChat. With these services you can’t fully automate personalized responses, but you can have certain keywords trigger highly relevant responses.

This is the next level in automation. A move away from one directional communication to focus on conversational communication.

Thing is, whilst chat services are able to offer truly immediate responses and more personalized responses thanks to keyword recognition, it’s far from perfect.

You’ve just got to take a look at this example from 1800 flowers to see there’s still a few kinks to work out.

Facebook Messenger Chatbot Customer Service 1800flowers.jpg

Chat automation and the goal of fully automated customer service is still something we’re working towards. However, that’s not to say there aren’t some campaigns that can be fully automated and bring great results.

Through some extensive testing, we’ve found Messages that replace traditional transactional emails are a great starting point for increasing revenue.

Transactional triggered messages we’ve seen great results with include:

Abandoned Cart Campaigns

Facebook Messenger Abandoned Cart.png

Receipt Delivery (with discount code)

Facebook Chatbot Discount Code.jpg

Fulfillment Updates

Facebook Chatbot Fulfillment Status Ecommerce.jpg

And whilst we haven’t tested the below extensively (yet), a welcome message is always a good idea for any business to help users find what they need or direct them to the most high converting, profitable areas of your store.

Here’s a great example from Spring featured on AdEspresso.

Facebook Messenger Fulfillment Example.jpg

These automated sequences can help get your messages in the right place at the right time.

What they can’t help with is saying the right thing.

Messenger is a completely different beast to what you’re used to. It has a completely unique set of rules for crafting compelling messages.

How to Write Killer Messages

With this emerging platform comes and emerging set of best practices. You have to know how to capture the attention of your users in the comparatively limited real estate a phone screen provides.

You can’t fall back on the methods you’ve been using to drive email conversions or landing page copywriting techniques.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered a couple of key issues that will help even a novice Messenger marketer see better results.

1 - This is Conversational Commerce, Not a Hard Sales Pitch

There’s a far greater deal of consumer interaction with Messenger. This interaction not only defines the channel, but is also the reason for its success.

With Messenger, you have to think in terms of real life conversations. You’ve not got 1000s of words to hit multiple emotional triggers, completely outline the benefits, and highlight the features of your products. You’ve got a sentence, maybe two to respond to consumer questions.

And that’s the key word. Respond.

This is a conversation. You have to relinquish a certain amount of control so you can better assist your users.

You’ve got to ask questions and answer in a way that directs the user to a logical purchase decision. If you do this well, the customer almost convinces themselves that this is the right product for them.  

The Spring example above shows how to do this well, however you can’t just jump in and anticipate how to best help your users.

At the start, I’d recommend handling a small sample size of messages personally.  

This’ll help you understand what questions people ask, and the answers that bring the best conversion rates. Once you’ve narrowed in on those key Q&As, you can set up a sequence like the Spring example.

To help better illustrate this, I’ve included another example below from Spring again.

Shop Spring Facebook Messenger Chatbot.png

Asking the customer what they want in this manner leads them to the perfect product, taking the hard persuasive work out of your hands.

This is the future of ecommerce marketing. And if you take nothing else away from this piece, let it be this. The future of marketing resides wholly in you being able to start profitable conversations with your users.

2 - Keep it Short and Sweet

There’s an ever-raging debate in the copywriting world on whether long vs short form content.

However, when discussing the merits of long vs short form content most are talking about a couple of hundred words vs a few thousand.

When it comes to Messenger, both are far too long.

Not only are mobile device screens too small to fit anything more than a few dozen words comfortably, but people don’t want to read huge essays on their phones.

They want quick, short messages that get to the heart of the matter.

When you’re crafting your messages, ask yourself the below 2 questions to help get to the point:

  1. What’s the primary goal of this message?
  2. Can I cut anything out without sacrificing the goal/meaning?

On top of these fundamentals, cut down the character count through contractions and slang. If you’re stuck on how to do this, read some real messages you’ve sent to friends for inspiration.

Remember, this is conversational commerce so you can get away without relying on overly formal business speak.  

3 - Images and Gifs (especially important for ecommerce)

Ecommerce is popular because it’s so convenient. You could be shopping for a new pair of shoes whilst sitting at home on the sofa, taking the bus to work, or waiting in line at the bank.

However, the one area ecommerce falls short of the physical retail experience is a tangible shopping experience. You can’t pick the product up to feel its weight, check the build quality, or see it in real three dimensions.

It’s why so many CRO consultants repeatedly offer the same advice - you need high quality product photos to try and bridge that gulf.

How does this translate to Messenger?

Well, the need for high quality images is still forefront. If you’re sending campaigns like cart abandonment or up or cross sell, you’re going to want to include an image of the product to jog the user’s memory and offer that little desire push you’re after.

Facebook Messenger Example Upsell Cross-sell.png

But equally important is the inclusion of gifs in your messages.

Take a second and run through your message history with friends. Is it wholly text or do you break up what could otherwise be boring text with fun gifs?

The latter, right? I mean, my own message history is constantly punctuated by gifs. Used strategically, they can add an often much needed little bit of humor to your communications.

Here’s an example of my own Messenger sequence and the gif I hit people with after they thank me.

Facebook Chatbot Messenger Example.png

Conversational commerce is more than using slang and being personable. It’s about building relationships with users, and being a little less serious is a great way to do it.

4 - Emojis

Emojis are great for Messenger for a number of reasons. As something people use in lieu of words to quickly communicate feelings, they’re great at continuing the building of those fun relationships.

However, they’re also great for grabbing attention. The bright colors are eye catching and, if you choose wisely, you can use emojis to direct attention to certain areas of your copy or message POINT DOWN EMOJI.

But, and this bit is the best bit, emojis are also proven to increase engagement.

  • On Twitter, emojis result in 25.4% more engagement
  • On Facebook, emojis result in 57% more likes, 33% more comments, and 33% more shares.
  • On Instagram, nearly 50% of all comments and captions contain emojis.

Emojis are a quick and easy way for you to increase the engagement and effectiveness of your Messenger sequences, and you should be implementing them wherever possible.

5 - Small Steps lead to Big Gains

I’ve noticed a common trend with the implementation of new tools. Brands want to jump in with two feet before understanding how to properly leverage the tool, the benefits it could bring, or how to optimize going forward.

They’ll look at use cases (like the below) from more experienced brands and take their achievements as an initial benchmark.

Facebook Chatbot Storyboard.jpg

Taking this approach is foolish and demoralizing.

If you’re starting out with Messenger, don’t worry about complex flows and triggers. Instead focus on the small steps to get you ball rolling.

At the beginning, your focus should be on two things, and two things only with Facebook Messenger.

  1. Personally responding to customer service enquiries to better understand your audience and make automating chat responses easier later on
  2. Automate simple transactional messages like cart abandonment, receipt delivery, welcome messages. This will bring great ROI without having to figure out the intricacies of your strategy.
  3. Once you’ve got a good start in these two areas you can start experimenting with more complex sequences that nurture customers.

6 - Segmentation is Still A Necessity

Sending the right message to the right person at the right time is impossible unless you’re segmenting your audience.

Just because Messenger is a more conversational medium doesn’t mean you can overlook traditional methods of targeting. You have to segment your audience based on action, intent, and potential profitability.

Sending abandonment messages to visitors, notifying old customers of new sales, and offering better service to those who do purchase form you is still one of the best methods to continually increase revenue.

7 - Leverage your Brand Voice

Brand voice is about more than just standing out from the crowd. It’s the personality of your company, and often, it can be the thing that attracts customers to you instead of your competition.

Use Brandvoice Facebook Messenger.pngA great example of how to exercise your brand’s voice

People want to feel an affinity with the brand of their choice. They want to feel like they’re part of a select group of friends with their own shared lingo.

Your brand voice needs to be present in all your communications. You have to present a unified front to the user across channels so they know they’re talking to their favourite brand.

8 - Always Have Your Greater Funnel in Mind

Increasing your Messenger subscriber list is great.

Improving the CTR and time on site thanks to your Messenger marketing is even better.

Seeing people rave about the improved customer service is better still.

But these are all individual conversions. Small steps that, whilst important, aren’t what you’re shooting for.

Don’t get caught up in the sensationalist claims and vanity metrics that are once again being popularized thanks to Messenger.

Keep your eye on the overall funnel, how Messenger contributes to each stage of it, and most of all keep a keen eye on the revenue related macro conversion.

Messenger is exciting, but if you’re not careful you can easily get caught up in the messages and not in the conversions.

You’ve got to Get Started with Messenger Today

The marketing world is full of fads. New developments some online “guru” tips as the next big thing, but that ultimately burns out before it can get any real traction.

Conversational commerce is not one of these fads. It’s proven itself to be more effective than current marketing channels, and is being adopted by some of the largest brands across the globe.

However, it’s still in its infancy. There’s still no true best practices guide, the companies that are exploring the area and developing tools are not yet as established as email or ad companies.

Now is the time to take some of your time and give it to Messenger marketing. Get on board now and, but the time this becomes common knowledge out there, you’ll be one step ahead of the pack.

If you’ve no idea where to start with Messenger be sure to stop by Recart.com where we’ll set you up with a free trial.

Pete Boyle

Written by Pete Boyle

Pete Boyle is a conversion optimization specialist and content manager for Recart, one of the top paid apps on Shopify that's already helped its users recapture over $50,000,000 in lost revenue. Check out Recart today and start recovering the money your store is leaking.