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For decades email has stood unopposed in the world of digital marketing. Email marketing has stood the test of time because it still delivers the highest ROI of any channel, it’s personalised and can retain customers using direct data on a continuous loop – therefore I’m guessing it’s part of your existing strategy. So, which is better; Facebook Messenger Bots or Email Marketing?
As we have learned throughout history, every king has been usurped by the evolution of changing public demand. This might not be natural selection, but email’s reign might have finally received some long-needed competition. Our insatiable appetite as marketers may have finally produced email’s rival:
Facebook Messenger Bots
What is Email Marketing?
What are Facebook Messenger Bots?
Advantages of Email Marketing for Your Business
Advantages of Facebook Messenger Bots for Your Business
What do Facebook Messenger Bots do Better?
Will Messenger Bots Take over Email?
WHAT IS EMAIL MARKETING?
Email – with 2.76 billion active users – is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels for reaching a broad audience of consumers who have already shown interest in your products or services. It is the king of ROI, and on a platform where 91% of users are active everyday, it has unprecedented potential to hook your audience repeatedly.
Every marketing platform contains multiple elements of intriguing and unique creative mixed with analysis and feedback. Each of these play a vital role in the life of your campaign. Broken down into 4 fragments of an effective whole, these are email’s main content segments:
The overall design of the email, layout, heading and structure of the message provided. Emails with clear and concise headings and copy are opened 8X more than heavy or busy emails.
Retargeting, broadcasting and messaging represent the bulk of email content. Personalised emails have a response rate 70% higher than their generic counterparts.
What’s In It For Me? Make your message and value provided clear from the start. This will erase any doubt the user may have of trusting you when taking action.
Consider your language and tone to benefit your brand and capture the audience’s attention. Your copy needs to persuade the reader to keep going, and take action.
WHAT ARE FACEBOOK MESSENGER BOTS?
A messenger bots is a piece of software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and converse with you. The more you chat with the bot, the more it will learn and the more useful its responses become – like The Terminator.
Its 1.2 billion users visit the Facebook Messenger App multiple times a day, to ‘check in’ to their private conversations. Its content, therefore, is more personal and informal than the email drivel often pushed out by companies – remember this when using it.
The bot appears as a typical messenger interface, and the messages appear as ‘normal’ in app conversations. However, many bots now also use menus with pre-set phrases, such as “Tell me what’s new”. So you can imagine that interactive industries, such as travel, finance, media, health and retail have all found success through this system.
Bots use AI technology to understand your question, contextualise it, find the right response and deliver it with a conversational ‘human’ voice.
So, now comes the classic marketer question: If you build it, will they come?
The answer? Yes. But you will need to promote your bot.
Users are able to search for companies and bots inside Facebook Messenger by name, so you’ll probably get some users that way. The main ways to promote your bot and get it off the ground include:
link back to your bot through your Facebook page and posts.
Using your customer’s phone number you can find them on Facebook Messenger via this tool. These will include an opt in form for the first Facebook communication.
Like Snapchat’s visual barcodes, you can scan the image and it will take you to the brand’s Messenger bot.
You can embed these buttons on your website. When users click, it automatically starts a conversation with them.
ADVANTAGES OF EMAIL MARKETING FOR YOUR BUSINESS
When traversing the cut-throat jungle of email marketing, it is important that you have a clear understanding of what you want to include, how you wish to inform and what value you provide – otherwise you’ll get lost and so will your customers.
From the inception of your campaign your content must be compelling. If you can capture your audience’s attention on a regular basis, you can leverage this extremely powerful channel. With an astronomical average open rate of 21.73%, and an average click-through rate that puts Facebook marketing to shame, the email marketing jungle has plenty of hidden treasures to discover.
Research has found that 6/10 online consumers made a purchase as a result of email marketing – more than half of your conversions come from email, a completely free medium. Essentially, low-cost conversions and incredible ROI is why email marketing continues to thrive in a world where AI, albeit in its infant stages, exists.
Conversely, social media ads deliver a 20% conversion rate on average. This is largely due to email’s ingrained sense of familiarity when receiving marketing material through the platform, while targeted marketing messages through Messenger might seem a little intrusive.
Now, a lot of numbers have been thrown around to support the case for email marketing, but what does this all mean for your sales and marketing?
Send your Latest Promotions to Your Email List.
Since consumers have come to expect marketing material in their inbox, they will likely respond to content a lot more positively, provided you make it inviting and offer value. Your value proposition should include some element of exclusivity – this will encourage engagement and action.
Reach Interested Customers.
You can use email to stay connected to your customers and interest groups. Your advertising campaigns may cover a variety of powerful marketing awareness tools. To supplement this, email allows you to send information directly to your consumers – provided your message is clear. Personalised emails will further peak the interest of prospects that could be converted through an easily followed sales process.
Drive traffic back to your website through specific CTAs (Call-To-Actions).
When marketing sales or exclusivity offerings, it is imperative that you drive traffic directly back to your website. Take this opportunity to build trust by supplying the consumer with exactly what they signed up for – whether it be reward points or the latest blogs or ebooks. The compelling call-to-action (CTA) presented in an email is far more readily accepted than those present in social media. The customer expects to be delivered to another page and is thus ready to learn more.
This is because emails are not an experiential platform of social interaction, but rather a means to acquire information. The audience can therefore leave the platform without disrupting their experience – making them more inclined to through to your website.
ADVANTAGES OF FACEBOOK MESSENGER BOTS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Chatting with a bot should be like talking to a human that knows everything. If you’re using a bot to change a restaurant reservation, the bot should, for example, know how to use any credit on your account and for how many people you typically book. They accomplish their task from start to finish, in the place where your customers already spend most of their time: messaging apps.
Facebook Messenger bots integrate with your Messenger and Facebook apps, and are able to draw information from both. A ‘chatbot’ instigates a series of dependent questions to collect the necessary information to understand your intent, and then deliver the right content to satisfy your needs.
With access to both your background information and your current instructions, bots automate conversations that deliver personalised results on a scalable level.
Today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users, with people now using them more than social networks. As people research, they want the information they need as quickly as possible and are increasingly turning to voice search and messenger requests as technology advances.
Artificial intelligence will continue to radically shape this front, but a bot should connect with your current systems so a shared contact record can drive personalization.
The Forrester research company, predicts that by the end of 2020 about 80% of businesses will adopt chatbots to increase their CRM (customer relationship management) and revenues.
Better Open Rates & Engagement
Messaging is the principle way of interacting with customers through a direct stream of conversation. Because of its interactive and immediate response, Chatbots have far higher open rates than emails (chatbotslife.com).
Who doesn’t check unopened messages on their phone?
With access to both your background information and your current instructions, bots automate conversations that deliver personalised results on a scalable level.
Are using Messenger Bots really worth it? Think about where your customers now spend most of their time during the day, and you’ll find that, yes, they are worth it. Messenger doesn’t broadcast your brand like Facebook ads or Google Adwords, but that’s not its purpose – and why this guide isn’t comparing it to either. If you want to interact with your customer on a granular level, you need to be able to handle multiple inquiries at once. Chatbot automation makes this possible.
equates to a higher click-through rate, much like named email subject headings. Chatbots take this further by incorporating your past personal information, location, device and your current need, to enhance user’s experiences. Data extracted from the conversation also supplements future interactions, by learning (through AI) what your customer’s habits are.
So, what if this hubris surrounding Messenger Chatbots and AI is true? Is email marketing in danger of being replaced?
WHAT DO MESSENGER BOTS DO BETTER
With the help of messaging apps, bots help consumers find solutions no matter where they are or what device they use — no forms, cluttered inboxes, or wasted minutes spent searching and scrolling through content (Hubspot). Communication, service, and transactions intertwine.
Unlike the self-serving marketing of the past, bots directly provide a service to the customer.
In general, bots can be broken down into two categories: informational bots and utility bots.
Provide users with a new format in which to consume content. For instance, you could subscribe to breaking news alerts based on your reading habits.
Solve a user’s problem, whatever that may be, via a user-prompted transaction. The most obvious example is a shopping bot, such as one that helps you order flowers or buy a new jacket. According to a recent HubSpot Research study, 47% of shoppers are open to buying items from a bot.
But utility bots are not limited to making purchases. A utility bot could automatically book meetings by scanning your emails or notify you of the payment subscriptions you forgot you were signed up for.
Email inboxes have become more and more cluttered, so buyers have moved to social media to follow the brands they really care about. Ultimately, they now have the control — the ability to opt out, block, and unfollow any brand that betrays their trust.
Facebook Messenger’s bots recognise the user’s intent and provide the right content with minimum user input. Every question asked brings the user closer to the answer they want. This is where Messenger Bots outperform traditional forms of marketing – and yes, for the sake of this argument email is in that category.
Bots open a real-time communicative dialogue with the customer, instead of just analysing feedback provided to you. Granted both are highly effective, and once tested, the science of great email can boost your returns.
However, bots make people’s lives even easier.
They take the hassle out of subscriptions, link-clicks, cluttered messages and downloading content by harnessing the ask-and-you-shall-receive-immediately virtue of AI. Maximum impact with minimal fluff.
Bots start by asking a leading question that determines the single most important variable. Then use follow-up questions, – and to minimise friction – option buttons to gain the necessary context and hone in on a solution. So they not only open a dialogue with the customer, they streamline your solution to the customer’s need – instantly.
All any buyer wants is the most direct line between their problem and a solution.
In the future, that line is a bot.
WILL MESSENGER TAKE OVER EMAIL?
If the success of WeChat in China is any sign, these utility bots are the future.
Without ever leaving the messaging app, users can hail a taxi, video chat a friend, order food at a restaurant, and book their next vacation. WeChat has become so ingrained in society that a business would be considered obsolete without its integration. People who divide their time between China and the West complain that leaving this world behind is akin to stepping back in time.
40% of WeChat user’s message with a business every day (Qi’eZhiku).
As Clara de Soto, cofounder of Reply.ai, told VentureBeat,
“You’re never just ‘building a bot’ so much as launching a ‘conversational strategy’ — one that’s constantly evolving and being optimised based on how users are actually interacting with it”.
This constant learning will become the future of much more than the bots discussed above; it will usher in a new era of machine learning focused on providing customers with services they require immediately.
Research from Forrester showed 15% of companies worldwide said they were using chatbots regularly in late 2017, 30% were piloting them, and 41% were planning to use or test them in 2018.
This is directly attributed to the extremely intuitive nature of bots. Each deliver a myriad of services in accordance with how varying users use your products differently – adjusting content provided to the user’s response. Creating a persona around each individual, not just a group of consumers.
However, Messenger Bots are a double-edged sword amidst the current state of customer centric content. Bots provide a scalable way to interact one-on-one with buyers.
Yet, they fail when they don’t deliver an experience as efficient, complex and multi-layered as conversations people are accustomed to having with other humans on messaging apps.
Too often, bots lack a clear purpose, don’t understand conversational context, or forget what you’ve said two bubbles later. To make it worse, they don’t make it clear that they’re a bot in the first place, leaving no option to escalate the matter to a human representative. Therefore, as more and more brands join the race, we’re in desperate need of a framework around doing bots the right way — one that reflects the way consumers have changed.
When you spammed someone’s email, at least there was technology to filter out the noise. But since bots function inside messaging apps, you’re invading and polluting a historically personal space. If you’ve ever used Siri, you know there’s a much lower tolerance for machines to make mistakes. Customers will unsubscribe from your bot without thinking twice, if that bot is despondent.
This makes the stakes incredibly high to get messaging right.
But then why would someone would turn to a bot in the first place?
According to a HubSpot research report, 71% of people willing to use messaging apps to target customer assistance, do so because they want their problem solved, fast.
Immediacy is directly tied to patience. And customers don’t expect to need patience to acquire what they want. Patience isn’t required to use a bot – for the most part. Thus, by cutting out laborious steps in the customer’s journey, they will supersede email’s capabilities – catering to an impatient mass of consumers.
We’ve discussed how bots offer higher quality content, now comes the question of competition.
Executives have confirmed that advertisements within Discover — Facebook’s hub for finding new bots to engage with — will be the main way Messenger monetises its 1.3 billion monthly active users.
If standing out among the 100,000 other bots on the platform wasn’t difficult enough, we can assume Messenger will only feature bots that don’t detract people from the platform.
But this increasing level of competition isn’t new. Being seen amongst the fray of branded content is an age-old marketing adage – whereby creative, quality content is king. A surge of marketing volume and increasingly relevant advertising, has left brands with two must-haves to convert the customer. To be creative, and to deliver required services fast. This emphasises using visual mediums in unison with informative tools. Tools such as email and Messenger bots.
If this guide has expressed anything, it is that making your customer’s lives easier is imperative. A bot does this by providing instant customised service. Email does this by offering accessible exclusive information. So don’t abandon email just yet, but start building a bot that caters to your customer’s ever-increasing need for immediate answers.
The intelligent and judicious use of both traditional Email AND Messenger Bots will reward you. Both deserve a place in your digital marketing arsenal.
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