In the game of digital marketing, the playing field is always changing. One night, everything is wired for baseball: Swing the bat with a single strategy and it’s a grand slam.
When algorithms or policies change overnight, the rules fly out the window…and suddenly it’s a soccer game – requiring very fancy footwork to get the same ball to the finish line.
Or even worse, after months of a steady decline, you find yourself wondering why yesterday’s methods are not fulfilling today’s strategic goals.
As media choices continue to fragment, user personas cluster into highly specialized niches, and customized messaging prevails, it’s time for a massive shift in marketing:
Consumers want to communicate with brands differently…and it’s getting much more personal.
Consumers don’t want broadcast-only-buy-me-now marketing. They want two-sided interactive relationship with a true exchange of wants, needs, and value.
…Enter the golden era for chatbots, messenger marketing, and automated responses in our funnel structures.
In case you haven’t noticed chatbots in the last few years, consider this a formal wake up call.
Let’s Recap: “A chatbot is a computer program that is capable of having human-like conversation with a user by receiving and sending text messages for the purpose of automating a business process,” according to Hristo Borisov, Director of Product Management at Progress.
These programs are interactive and allow individualized, guided, relevant communication between two parties - in our context – usually a consumer and a business. They are designed for customer service, support, and personalized communication.
ManyChat hosted its first ever #Conversations2018 Conference in Austin September 21-23. Around 1,000 digital marketers converged on The Fairmont Hotel to learn about innovations in messenger marketing, chatbots, and sales funnels.
If you missed out this year, skipped a session, or simply couldn’t pull away from the swanky lounge downstairs, consider this your unofficial (unsponsored) Cliff’s Notes guide to the event.
These top insights from the conference will help you build better strategies, generate better results, and approach funnels in a new, fresh way:
Mikael Yang presenting onstage.
Photo Courtesy Dorne McLoughlin
Insight #1: To increase conversions and CTRS, test and deliver messenger marketing campaigns.
Have you ever had a problem that irritated you? Well, good news: You might be sitting on gold.
When Mikael Yang was trying to create a platform to solve a business problem in 2015, he found that custom broadcasting via a messaging app was extremely time & cost prohibitive. There had to be a better way... He called his friend and technical cofounder Anthony to discuss the problem. Within a few days, they had a prototype…and ManyChat was born.
Now the company has 400,000 bot pages with 150,000,000 subscribers that send 3 billion messages per month. That kind of growth is staggering, but it’s really an indication of the wide implications of messenger marketing.
If you haven’t implemented automated social messaging, take note: This is no fringe communication tactic. According to an eMarketer report, 2.5 billion will be using messaging apps per month by 2021. Another report touts that more than half of 18-44 year olds prefer their mobile communication via text above voice and video. According to Mailchimp, the average open rate is 2% for emails. Trends now indicate that messenger marketing can have as high as 10x higher click rate than email. The data speaks for itself: Messenger marketing is on its way to overtaking email in advertising, sales and support channel.
Chatbots help you avoid the conversations that you don’t want, and generate conversations that you do want. When used correctly, chatbots can create customer journeys, help you provide personalized content to the right audiences at the right time, lower cost per result, build trust with customers, automate internal processes, aid customer listening, and elevate your brand experience overall.
Mikael Yang, ManyChat
Mikael Yang behind the scenes after the conference.
Photo courtesy Page Vandiver
Insight #2: Ask your audience specific questions. Listen. Then deliver specific answers to their needs and problems.
Our problem isn’t that we don't have enough leads. It's that we don't have enough quality engagement with the leads that we have. *Mic drop* We're not listening enough to what they want and then delivering it to them.
Try something new: Change the way that you look at funnels. Instead of expecting low results (a large reach at the top of the funnel and smaller conversion at the bottom), start engaging conversations with targets at key points in their customer journey. Start by leading people from your page, ads, and emails into chats and bots.
Add binary, specific questions into your email responses, bots, and funnels…And surprise: People will talk back, giving the opportunity to deliver tailored answers and content that produces more conversions.
Look at it this way: People are most fascinated by those who are fascinated with them, and the more that you listen to your audience and deliver customized answers to their needs and problems, the better results that you will see. Ryan Deiss used these tactics and implemented a bot on his contact page, earning an extra $250k in conversions in 2 months.
Ryan Deiss, Digital Marketer
Screenshot above, link to download below.
(Might want to crop around Cat - far right - since there is a similar picture with Molly, Mikael, and Curt)
Insight #3: Best practices from someone who generated $80k in a week:
Brace yourselves…the conversions are coming…
…if you use these best practices: Don't be afraid to stand out - Add memes, conversational language, branded GIFS and options that speak to your end user.
Always test your bots and funnels before you implement or fully automate. And prepare for the onslaught of messages and follow-up activity that must take place. (Hint: Bring on more support. A funnel that aims & succeeds at generating $80k in will need a lot of follow-up.)
As you build and scale, always remember this golden rule: "You do not own Facebook, YouTube or Google. Do not hedge all your bets on one platform. Even if it's a great channel...Always build your own audiences [and capture their data in your own CRMs]." It sounds simple, but fail to follow it and the results could prove deadly for your business and future revenue.
Cat Howell, Eight Loop Social
Molly Pittman & Dan Gamito co-presenting an excellent session early in the conference day 1.
Photo courtesy Dorne McLoughlin
Insight #4: Redefine the word "Market" in your thought processes.
In the famous words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I don't think that word means what you think it means."
When building target market descriptions and strategy, marketers should never neglect to include the end user's emotional state. Target markets don’t stop at numeric ages or simple preferences (ex: Females between the ages of 21 and 65 who like Justin Timberlake); they should also connect to emotional needs and wants that drive actual consumer behavior.
For example, in planning funnel strategy for a Portland coffeehouse, a market could look like this: "New college students in Portland that feel disconnected from home and are suffering with anxiety." Funnel steps should be planned around the type of progress or transformation that your end user wants to make with his or her emotional state.
Thinking this way positions you to then ask better questions through bots and re-engage with tailored content for better results, like PDF guides of the city, offers for products and incentives for loyalty programs that do more than just initial lead generation. Remember that we are mostly buying an emotional state when we purchase products and services. "We're buying better versions of ourselves."
Molly Pittman & Dan Gamito, ManyChat
Photo courtesy Geraldine Lerroye.
Insight #5: Funnels & chatbots are really tools in a bigger picture of building relationship with your customer.
Brands that miss conversations with their customers are missing out on conversions. And these conversations should be treated like developing a relationship. Find out what your customers want to know and give it to them. Focus on the conversation BEFORE the conversion by creating irresistible content and weaving it into your funnels.
Here's how: Create a list of the top questions in your inbox and create content that answers those questions in video snippets, automated FAQs, and lead magnets. Weave these content pieces into your funnel and draw people across your page, ads, livestreams, offers and bot.
Use chatbots to remind people when a livestream is about to happen, and invite them to opt-in to a lead magnet after the stream with your chatbot. Spend a long time developing relationship and trust, deliver specific answers and products that customers request, call them to action, and you will need buckets to catch the excess overflow from your results. Rachel Miller implemented these tactics to launch her course and generated multiples over her initial $25k goal.
Rachel Miller, Moolah Marketing
Mikael Yang, Curt Maly & Molly Pittman backstage
Download higher res version:
Photo courtesy Curt Maly
nsight #6: It's all about quality, not quantity.
You don't need to have maximum numbers in your audience to have maximum impact on your bottom line. Speaking specifically to a few people is better than speaking generally to a wider audience.
A bot with only 160 subscribers may not seem impressive, but reconsider this: Curt Maly’s team generated $57k from $1500 with a bot he built for his clients, proving the point: "You don't need to have generic conversations with a bigger audience. Maintain great conversations with a few people and you can have great results..."
Curt Maly, Black Box Social
Alex Afterman, Mandy Miller, Mikael Yang, Jenna Curry and Page Vandiver.
Photo courtesy Page Vandiver
Insight #7: Turn your customers into raving fans with reward & loyalty programs with bots & Apple Wallet.
With social messaging tools like ManyChat, agencies and companies can provide loyalty and reward programs that not only save money – but save brands from extinction. Starbucks company revenue was on the decline in 2012. Within 4 quarters of rolling out their reward and loyalty program, the company's trajectory was completely reversed. Now, 21% of the company revenue comes from its rewards members.
Make this tactic work for your brand or clients by looking at your customers like an engaged relationship. Use bots to ask for emails, referrals, and unlock rewards. Ask for reviews - and if customers share a negative or positive experience, design your bot to deliver short pre-recorded response videos or prompt them to share their review
Give customers a reward code or QR code that can be stored in their Apple Wallet. And suddenly, your brand (or your client’s) has just broken free of clutter and landed in the winner’s circle.
Philippe LeCoutre, Messenger Marketing Loyalty
Dorne McLoughlin, Mikael Yang, Philippe LeCoutre
Photo Courtesy Dorne McLoughlin
Insight #8: Start small. Replicate. Systemize. Repeat.
Let's say that you wanted to generate leads & automate appointment booking for a large franchise in Europe. Start small: Create an initial bot for the head office that solicits name, phone number, email and an appointment.
Then, replicate: For franchise locations, educate location owners in a group meeting with a demo. Create an offer that allows them to implement a bot for their location (or pay you to do it). To get maximum impact with minimal investment, start with the ManyChat free plan and make use of free templates available. Roll out an ad to a bot that generates leads & appointments.
Create re-engagement campaigns for potential customers who didn't convert with an educational video and a link. Then create systems to respond to demand that will be generated by your campaigns.
This is the strategy Dorne McLoughlin implemented for her client BabyBallet in the UK. Their revenues soared and Dorne’s did, too.
Dorne McLoughlin, Ribbit Media
Insight #9: Bots can rocket power course sales.
By implementing a chatbot into her client's funnel, Mary Kathryn Johnson found that it helped provide consistent value and credibility and increased her client's "know, like and trust" factor.
Overall, they helped her client generate $1M in online courses in 99 days. She discovered that prospects downloaded 2.9 lead magnets before buying, spent hours consuming content on the client’s Facebook page, and continued to see opt-ins on content generated more than 8 months ago.
Mary Kathryn Johnson, MessengerFunnels.com
Sonya Keenan being interviewed off stage about brand story, customer journeys, and digital marketing.
Photo courtesy Page Vandiver
Insight 10: Take your customer on a journey. Let bots help guide the adventure.
In our era, knowledge is the new currency. People want to leverage it to reach their dreams, change their lives, and pursue a new path.
Use your bots to help people be more successful versions of themselves and they will want to stay connected with you. Help your customers be the hero of the story and make them the center of questions, value and transactions
Design bot flows with top 10 lists, answer FAQs, follow-up guides, plans to work through content, quizzes, forms that automate onboarding processes and content that connects your customers to your content and the life of their dreams.
This builds trust, demonstrates your authority, and leads your customers to fulfilled wants and needs…which churns the marketing circle of life and generates new advocates and brand evangelists.
Sonya Keenan, Omnichannel Media Group
Thinking about implementing a bot for yourself or a client? ...Or are you still wondering what a Chatbot is? See a simple bot in action here: https://m.me/Page.S.Vandiver
Or for print readers, scan this QR code with your messenger app:
Page Vandiver is a sales funnel, digital marketing, social media & Facebook Ads expert. Her clients have been seen on CNN, Good Morning America, Shark Tank, Realtor Magazine, GodTV, Bethel TV and more. Her team has reached more than 79 million people, generated 750k+ in engagement & generated between 2-15x return on adspend for her clients. She regularly coaches business owners in digital marketing, geeks out over other marketers' hacks & wins, and enjoys people, coffee, writing music with her husband, and her greyhound Noodle. The Best Way to Connect With Me: www.facebook.com/page.s.vandiver