From mid-November until the start of January, I ran a challenge. It’s something I’ve never done before but something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. It was all about how to give your website a makeover for 2018 so that you can get more customers online. I gave away a ton of information for free plus a special offer at the end, but I think the thing that I’m most proud of is that I ran the challenge using a Facebook messenger chatbot!

What is a chatbot?

FitSmallBusiness.com explains it great:

“A chatbot is a computer program designed to interact with people. It is capable of simulating seamless conversations with customers and typically exists on channels like Facebook Messenger, Siri, WeChat, Telegram, SMS, Slack, Skype and many others. Chatbots are transforming the way people interact with the internet – from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.”

Most challenges and sequences like this are done with email but I just felt like that’s getting a bit outdated. I’m not sure about you but I get a gazillion emails/newsletters in my inbox and I end up deleting most of them because I just can’t keep up with everything I’ve signed up for!

So, this challenge is done using Facebook Messenger. I set up the chatbot using FlowXO and it honestly makes the whole process so much more interesting and a lot more interactive.

The results for the challenge were not as amazing as I was hoping for by far! But I’m not giving up on it because I really believe that chatbots are a great tool to be using. The problem I had was just getting people to actually use the bot. Whether that was down to me not marketing enough or people not quite understanding what chatbots were, I’m not sure.

However, the feedback I got from the relatively small number of people that did do the challenge was great! They enjoyed it and thought it was fun, helpful and a great way of doing things!

Want to try using a chatbot in your business?

Here are my top tips:

    • If you want to do it yourself, try FlowXO. If not, look for a professional with experience in setting up bots. FlowXO makes creating this complex system fairly straightforward! They’ve got great guides on how to set up your chatbot so I won’t go in to too much detail here.
    • Keep it simple! I think perhaps where I went wrong was doing quite a long sequence all at once. A few people that did my challenge said that they’d rather have had a smaller sequence of messages each day instead of doing the whole challenge all in one go.
    • Keep it simple with strategy too. What would your customers enjoy or benefit from? Don’t make it too complicated.
    • Use images and gifs to keep it interesting and keep people interacting.
    • If you’re using FlowXO, a good way to add a bit of delay in between messages is to use the ‘wait until a date’ option. You don’t have to add full days in between messages, you can simply write ‘+5s’ to add 5 seconds in between a sequence so the messages don’t come through too quickly, it comes across more natural and it gives them time to read. You can change the number to change the number of seconds.
    • Make sure you can still get normal Facebook messages on your page too! Ideally you don’t want your bot to answer absolutely everything. To do this with FlowXO, create a blank flow with a catch-all trigger. For the flow running your challenge, create a trigger message e.g. my bot was activated when someone wrote ‘new year challenge’.
    • Don’t let the chatbot be the face of your business. You, yourself, or your brand, needs to stay at the forefront of the business to be authentic and trustworthy. People work with people, not with robots.
    • Facebook Messenger chatbots are a relatively new marketing technique. Just because it didn’t go as well as expected for me, doesn’t mean that you won’t get amazing results! You never know, you may end up being a new pioneer in chatbots!

 

Here are some great examples of how chatbots are being used:

    • There are pizza chatbots that allow you to order pizza via Facebook! Dangerous!
    • You can schedule appointments.
    • Customers can find out more information about your services or products by interacting with your chatbot. This is a good one if you often get enquiries asking the same thing! Like interactive FAQs.
    • Chatbots can be used to file complaints or give customer support – how much do you hate being on the phone for hours?! “You are 316th in line”
    • You can even set up a chatbot to take payment so that your customers can place orders and pay there and then.

A great real life example of a successful chatbot that I use everyday is Shine Text. I get a free, interactive, motivational message every day and the option to explore that message and read related articles if I want to.

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