"Automated chatbots have the potential to completely revolutionize the face of customer service, marketing and sales as we know it" - Forbes, July 2018
Do you remember the days of MSN instant messenger? The little menus that would pop up on the bottom of your screen and you could see which of your friends, family or colleagues were online? You might also remember the introduction of messaging into Facebook, which used a similar interface as the old MSN version.
Messaging on Facebook became easy, convenient and in a lot of cases provided more privacy and was less prone to spam than giving out your phone number or even email address. More and more of us began using Facebook Messenger, and then Mr Zuckerberg and his team had a pretty genius idea.
Fast forward to 2016, when Facebook announced that Messenger would be its own platform. And to top if off, they also announced they were allowing developers to build automated chatbots on the platform.
Why does this matter? Well, Facebook has confirmed that Messenger is their priority, and the aim is to make it the hub through which we all communicate with friends, family AND businesses.
Think about it this way: though it might seem like a bold statement, we're currently with Messenger marketing where we were with web sites in 1998.
Consider these stats:
Here's the Zuck himself at the 2016 F8 conference telling us all about his new plan (video has been bookmarked at 13:07):
If you're a business owner, marketing manager, creative or in any industry where you want to reach your customers directly and engage, entertain and delight them then a Messenger Marketing strategy makes a lot of sense.
What's more, this is prime time to get ahead of the trend here. Consider this graphic showing the amount of chatbots on the platform compared to the amount of users and businesses with a Facebook page:
If the amount of active Messenger users was shown in proportion, you wouldn't even be able to see the number of chatbots!
When first implementing your chatbot for your company, there are a few best practices to remember:
This is an exciting time to be getting onboard the Messenger train. Yes that's Messenger with a capital M! Your customers will love the novelty of engaging with your chatbot, and you'll love the tracking options that allow you to see exactly how they're responding to the content you're sending! Email isn't dead, chatbots just makes it so much easier to collect email addresses. YouTube isn't going anywhere, however Messenger makes it so easy to deliver a link to a video right to a customer's fingertips.
In an upcoming post I'll be talking about how Messenger can talk to just about any other app. Uber ride to my favorite restaurant at the tap of a button without having to use the actual Uber app? No problem!
I first visited Nashville back in 2009 and fell in love. I fell for the whiskey soaked neon buzzing honky tonks. The unassuming little venues in strip malls with pot-holes in the parking lots that have hosted performances by some of the most famous acts in music. The fried chicken and enormous burgers that I would never find in my home of Sydney, Australia. Most of all, the friendliness and welcoming spirit of the locals made me feel like I'd found a new home. So I decided I'd move there one day!
Fast forward to 2019, and my relationship with Nashville has progressed to a steady commitment. Having lived here for three years, it’s not surprising that I've seen some dramatic changes. In case you haven't heard, Nashville is booming. Over 400,000 people have migrated to the greater area since 2010. Like Austin TX, another southern city prone to stereotype, the cowboy hat and boots cliches are giving way to waves of millennial newcomers. The new Nashvillians are eager to plant roots and start new jobs and start new businesses. Even ecommerce behemoth Amazon will be building their 2nd headquarters here and Apple Music has announced plans to move their main headquarter into a warehouse in the inner city.
With such a surge in growth, who wouldn't want to take advantage of opportunities to set up business in the area? Locals and new residents now have a huge number of options when it comes to choosing where to eat, drink, shop, work and play. 51 restaurants opened in the downtown area alone in 2018, up from 43 in 2017. Fashion designers are opening boutiques and launching new lines as the buzz builds, new co-working spaces are springing up as entrepreneurs work on their next big startup ideas. And true to the Nashville spirit, hundreds of musicians write songs, produce tracks and perform in innumerable venues.
It's an exciting time to watch all of these businesses thrive, and perhaps the best example of this "options explosion" is the craft beer market. Who loves micro breweries? Nashville does! Yazoo, Fat Bottom Brewery, Black Abbey, Southern Grist and Tailgate Beer are just a few of the options, catering for casual beer drinkers as well as the most seasoned beer nerd.
14.5 million people visited Nashville in 2017. Add to this the 1.9 million who live in the greater Nashville area and you have a lot of potential beer drinkers. What's the best way for the businesses to reach these visitors and engage with them? Consider traditional approaches:
The problem with all of these options is that they demand many micro interactions. And micro interactions are like little bricks in a wall that seperate a customer from a behaviour or purchase. While a Google search may bring up a website for visitors to consider, they will still have to go to the site, navigate and find what they're looking for. The same for local blogs and guides - they rely on the viewer having the time to navigate a website, dig for articles in the link structure and move further away from their original search.
Discount booklets and coupons are still available for most major cities. They’re a cumbersome and archaic way to reach new customers, and they also come with the environmental impact of using a large amount of paper.
Unless an app solves a universal problem or one that at least plagues many people, no one is going to use it. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that for individual businesses, and even most franchises, apps are just about dead. Even back in 2016, a Localytics survey found that amongst all app users, across all industries, 80% do not use the apps they have downloaded after three months.
So consider a craft beer aficionado looking for a micro brewery to try. In this image, each beer represents a different micro brewery vying for our hero's attention.
Because of all the micro interactions involved, he's faced with a complicated and cumbersome experience.
Our hero remains separated from his craft beer drinking experience by a wall of micro interactions. Though it's not a huge wall, it's a wall nonetheless.
Consider what our hero can experience with Messenger:
What better way to help someone who is looking for a craft beer brewery than to directly message them?
This is the power of Messenger marketing. The Messenger platform is so native, so convenient and already part of most people's day to day interaction with friends and family. Therefore, very few micro interactions are required in order to shift attention to engaging with an offer from a business.
For our Nashville micro brewery owners, imagine sending an offer to your new potential biggest fan, who accepts the offer and downloads it to his phone via Messenger.. You then send him a discount Uber code which he uses by pressing a button that books his ride for he and his wife and friends. Within 15 minutes he's at your brewery raving about how awesome it is to discover new beer this way. Wait, there's a tasting event at the brewery next week with live music? One click on a button brings up a ticket purchase screen from Eventbrite, ticket is purchased and delivered. All through Messenger.
What's more, the end users have control over who messages them. It is impossible to spam, blast, saturate or abuse the platform. This puts the pressure is on marketers to create an enjoyable and engaging user experience, or the end user taps a button and ta-da. Guess what? No more messages.
Are apps dead overall? No. Messenger is itself an app. It's the walls of micro interactions which define apps that are crumbling. These walls are made up of downloading, installing, signing in, signing in again, learning the user interface, updating, the list goes on and on.
Nashville is an exciting city to be living in right now. There really seems to be "something for everyone". The businesses that are quick to recognise and adopt the power of Messenger will have a big advantage as consumers come to expect more personalisation, more enticement up front and more control over the advertising and communication they receive.
I envy the visitors who get to visit Nashville for the first time and fall in love with the city just like I did in 2009. The difference is, Messenger will make it much easier and put the city right at their fingertips, minus the micro interactions.