Chatbot marketing for local businesses is coming of age.
Eighteen months ago, I built a few chatbots for my clients. They were successful in driving new engagement with their website and Facebook page.
The summer of 2019 brought with it lots of Facebook Messenger rule changes, driven by Facebook’s obsession with making its Messenger user experience, unlike email, a platform where marketers can’t abuse and annoy its hundreds of millions of users.
An example of one such change was that messenger marketers could no longer send commercial messages anytime they wanted to their subscribers. Instead, many marketers now had to pay for ads to get their message out. There was great gnashing of teeth and angst amongst Facebook Messenger marketers as they watched this and other restrictions unfold.
During this time, I couldn’t figure out what Facebook was doing or if the changes were going to be worthwhile for my clients. So, I simply stopped using Messenger chatbots and focused on other marketing and traffic strategies for a while. After all, Facebook Messenger isn’t the only way to get your brand message and offers into the marketplace!
As expected, giving this a little time was beneficial because issues began to sort themselves out, and now, I think Messenger chatbot marketing has become a better experience for both marketers and page subscribers.
Four things have happened that have brought me back to using Messenger chatbots for my clients:
- For the time being, Facebook’s Messenger Marketing rules are now clearer and the uncertainty factor for businesses that want to use Messenger marketing practices has been reduced.
- The development of chatbot functionality that is more useful to marketers and users alike. Local businesses, in particular, can benefit from this.
- Marketers understand more how to make Bots a little more friendly, fun, and personable, enhancing the experience for its users (Messenger and page subscribers)
- More users are seeing benefits of, and getting used to interacting with chatbots.
Because of this evolution, I’m bullish on chatbots again and we’re back in the business of using chatbots as viable marketing tools for our clients.
What Are The Benefits of a Messenger Chatbot?
A chatbot is a program designed to interact with real people, via a bot that operates on Facebook Messenger.
They’re not really new but recent developments have made it possible for Messenger Bots to understand language and intent, perform simple transactional tasks, answer people’s questions, respond quickly to routine requests, and build a relationship with the customer without a real human being involved.
Subscribers benefit by getting a seamless and quick way on Facebook to get their product or service questions answered, and take advantage of deals and offers. It’s a great customer service and marketing tool.
Chatbots don’t totally replace human interaction but they can perform basic customer interaction tasks quickly and efficiently. This can help build a local business’ reputation for good customer service and strengthen its online and social media presence.
If you haven’t yet jumped into the idea of chatbots for your business, it’s worth it to review some of the main benefits for using chatbots as part of a local business marketing strategy: (note that “Messenger Bot”, “chatbot”, and “Bot” are all used interchangeably.
9 Benefits of Using Chatbots in Your Local Business Marketing Strategy:
- Messenger Bots handle customer interactions with your Facebook page 24/7 and free up staff from dealing with routine customer requests.
- A well designed chatbot signals to your customers that you care about getting them their information quickly.
- They’re a more affordable option for local businesses to use to scale their business.
- People are always on Facebook and frequently check their messenger notifications
- Chatbot platforms can integrate multiple communications modes – Messenger – SMS – Email.
- A Facebook Messenger Bot allows you to build a relationship with your customers, clients, and patients. They can get humans involved when needed.
- Chatbot technology is easier than ever to use and there are more resources available to help in setting them up.
- Messenger Bots allow you to gain and monitor insights from clients
- Building a Chatbot can help you generate leads and increase conversions.
Chatbots are not right for every business. But for those where an online and social media presence helps grow the business, it can be a strong marketing strategy.
Common, Useful Chatbots For Local Business
There’s new chatbot functionality available for local businesses such as for restaurants, doctors, auto repair places, real estate offices, spas, professional services, and many other businesses.
Here are some of the most popular Bot tools:
Customer FAQ’s – A simple Messenger chatbot can be set up to answer the most common questions or issues that customers have, and a clickable button or link can be placed on any of your web pages.
Customer loyalty programs – Replaces bloated apps that need to be downloaded and outdated punch cards that are easily lost, never used or don’t offer enough incentive for customers to come back. Bots make this an easy to manage, easy to use social process run via Facebook Messenger.
Viral giveaways and contests – can generate a flood of new customers instantly, and with very little ad spend. The Messenger Bot allows the subscriber to enter a contest for a giveaway – a gift card, free meal, or another service like a massage, oil change, etc. The system also captures their email and phone number, helping to build another business asset – a contact list that you can market to forever.
Coupons and Vouchers – Customers LOVE deals. According to recent research, 90 percent of consumers use coupons in some way during the buying process. For brands, coupons and vouchers help reach existing and new customers in a way that influences buying decisions all managed through the Messenger Bot.
Birthday Marketing – The Birthday Bot is an evergreen system for attracting customers with special deals into any retail business, especially restaurants. Messenger Bots can make this unique marketing strategy easy to manage and profitable to run.
Professional Services and Agencies – The Agency & Prospecting Messenger Bot is the face of your company. With it, your prospects can view your company bio, your services, testimonials, and contact you or schedule an appointment.
Getting Customer, Client and Patient Reviews – Set this up through Facebook’s Messenger to encourage and make it easy for customers, clients, and patients to leave Google, Yelp, or Facebook reviews.
If you think you can’t afford to do at least one of these things, you’re most likely wrong. Costs vary by complexity but have come down as we discover learn best practices. Besides, operational savings and the additional awareness, and engagement with your brand, plus the incentives you offer can quickly scale your business.
The trend for installation and use of Messenger Bots appears to be rising. And local businesses may soon find ourselves in a position of competing with companies that adopt and nurture Messenger Chatbot marketing.
Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how chatbots might help grow your local business.