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Messenger Chatbot 2020: A Match Made in eCommerce Heaven

By Samir ElKamouny
messenger chatbot

Let’s talk some more Messenger marketing.  Recently, you’ve probably heard some marketing thought leaders throwing around terms like messenger chatbot, messenger marketing, and talking about how everyone in China buys everything using chat platforms, but what does that all really mean?

We’re here to clear up the confusion.

We’ve been experimenting with the combination of Facebook Ads and Messenger chatbots for the past two years and have developed a tried and true strategy that consistently produces a fantastic ROI for our eCommerce clients. I’ll highlight two examples for you at the bottom of this post, but in the meantime here’s a teaser:

    1. Client #1 – 200% Return on ad spend (Google only gets a 0.7%!!!)
  1. Client #2 – 700% Return on ad spend

The bottom line is Facebook Messenger bot is a great channel for customer acquisition, it’s perfect for eCommerce. Only problem being most people we speak with don’t quite understand how it works.

Keep reading and I’ll walk you through a strategy we’ve developed that produces exceptional results, and show you how it can be easily adapted to fit the unique aspects of your business to help you move more product.

The Strategy

A quick word about our strategy. We’ve developed a template, if you will, that has provided positive results across a variety of industries. This does not mean it’s a plug and play solution! The beauty of the method is that it offers a simple framework that is easily customizable to fit the needs of your business.

The bones of this strategy make it work, but the customization is what really makes the difference between a positive ROI and “slap yo mamma” results.

The Process (here’s how we do it)

“How do my customers discover the bot?”  This is the first question we hear from clients during initial discussions on Messenger marketing.

The answer is simple, Facebook ads! Traditionally when a user clicks on your ad they are taken to your website (or landing page) featuring your product. However instead of directing a user to a website, we send people directly into Facebook Messenger and start a conversation with them. So far so good, right?

There are thousands of blog posts and videos with instructions on running Facebook ads, so we’re not going to cover that today (we will in another post so subscribe now), but here’s an important element unique to messenger marketing: choosing the right campaign objective.

Campaign Objectives

Facebook offers a variety of campaign objectives, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s boil them down to two. Messages and The Other Ones.

The Other Ones

No need to send me hate mail, I know that grouping all Facebook campaign objectives like this is a huge oversimplification.  The point is that when you use an objective like Traffic or Conversion, you have to provide a link directing users to a website when they click your ad.

When creating Messenger marketing campaigns, I use URL shorteners like Bitly or TinyURL to direct a customer into our Messenger Chatbot using a REF link.

Pros of the “Conversion or Traffic” Objective

    • Generally lower cost per click.
  • Wider audience, ads will be displayed to everyone in your target audience.

Cons of the “Conversion or Traffic” Objective

    • Display link will be a shortened URL.
  • User will have to click through the dreaded Get Started page before they’re able to interact with your chatbot. For those that are unaware, users arrive in Messenger and are greeted with a blank screen and must proactively click “Get Started” to begin. It’s a true conversion rate killer. 

Messenger Objective

When you choose Messenger chatbot for ecommerce as your campaign objective you can send users directly into Messenger and they can immediately interact with your chatbot, no link shortener needed!

Pros of the “Messenger Objective”

    • No Get Started Page required, after an ad is click the user is taken to a customizable screen to start interacting with your chatbot.
  • Higher percentage of users clicking on ads will opt-in to your chatbot.

Cons of the “Messenger Objective”

    • Smaller audience. Your ads will only be displayed to users who have the Messenger app installed.
  • Generally higher cost per click.

Which Objective Is Better?

Now we get to the real meat and potatoes!  The answer is… you’ll have to try both to find out!  While Messenger optimized ads get a much higher percentage of users opting into your chatbot, you’ll pay a higher cost per click. This means that Traffic or Conversion campaigns will usually cost less to get a user interacting with your bot.

Whenever we kick off a new project, we always run a test using both methods to identify which results in the lowest cost per subscriber and so should you.

Initial Interaction With bot

Now that the user has opted in, and is interacting with our Messenger bot, it’s time to take action. Let’s give users an optimal experience, with some personalization depending on where they are in the sales process.

Top Of Funnel

Prospecting is the key to finding new customers. It may not have the highest returns, but it’s awfully hard to sustain sales if you aren’t introducing new customers to your brand.

When a new potential customer clicks on a prospecting ad in Facebook, they are taken into Messenger to engage with a chatbot. The primary goal is to introduce the customer to the brand and begin to qualify them.

When it comes to eCommerce this often means asking the customer a few questions about what they’re interested in. Then as a reward we offer a small discount on their first purchase, similar to what many brands offer when asking for an email sign up.

While I make the comparison to email capture, Facebook Messenger chatbot has some huge benefits:

    1. We get the chance to record their interests through a series of questions. This first-party data (the holy grail!) can be used later in Messenger broadcasts tailored to their interests.
    1. After a series of questions, we know what the user desires and can direct them to the product or category they are most interested in.
  1. Users are more likely to engage with your brand if you start a Messenger conversation in comparison to traditional methods.

Bottom Of Funnel

We also frequently re-market to website visitors and abandoned cart audiences using Messenger.  As with traditional marketing, retargeting is a great chance to re-engage users who are already familiar with you and your products.

The Messenger marketing approach is similar to what you (should) already do. Our retargeting ads offer some sort of discount or incentive to return, however the main difference is that we deliver the incentive via Messenger, while also bringing them into our subscriber list.

Follow Up Drip Sequence

Once our initial interaction with the user is complete, the really interesting work begins. This next series of steps is where the magic happens, and it’s going to require some creative planning

After initial interaction with our Messenger bot, users are entered into a follow up drip sequence of Messenger broadcasts (just like email marketing). These sequences last from 3 to 10 days, giving you the perfect chance to educate, nurture, and build value with your subscribers.

In addition to the above, the real benefit offered via drip sequences is that you’re able to continually engage users you’ve already paid to acquire, for free!  I regularly see open rates in excess of 80% and click-through rates ranging between 20-40% across client campaigns. You’ll be hard pressed to get this kind of performance from your email marketing campaigns.

When designing follow up sequences for Messenger marketing pay close attention to your content, badgering users with offers or redundancy is bad form. I prefer to offer up a mix of content about the brand and its products with only a few soft sell opportunities thrown in.

Integration with existing content calendar

Finally, after our customer has had an initial qualifying conversation with our bot, and completed the follow up sequence, they enter a more formal subscriber marketing list (on Messenger) similar to a segmented email list.  We like to synch up with an existing email marketing calendar in order to develop a parallel approach on Messenger. Content is also modified and adapted to what works best on Messenger chatbot (short and sweet, be direct, use emojis).

As with follow up drip sequences, I commonly hear people compare it to email marketing. In truth, it’s quite similar, but produces SUPERIOR results.

One word of caution here, beware of the 24+1 rule put in place by Facebook. There are some complexities and lots of grey area around this rule, but the basics are: if a user hasn’t interacted with your Facebook page in 24 hours you should not send them a promotional message.

I frequently see brands (even some marketers) breaking this rule, but it’s a no-go in our book. There’s absolutely no reason to run the risk of having your brand banned on Messenger. Plus, there’s an easy work around. Here’s how it’s done:

Simply include some kind of interactive element at the beginning of your broadcast. This usually takes the form of a simple question like “we’re about to launch the most amazing thing in the entire world, would you like to be the very first human to see?”. As soon as the user responds or clicks “yes” you’re able to deliver the promotional message. Any form of engagement resets the 24 hour window.

The Results

I promised results and I intend to deliver!  We’ve used a version of this strategy for eCommerce clients across many industries, and the results are exciting.

I’ll highlight two businesses. The first is a $150M a year online retailer that came to us with the goal of acquiring net new customers by building a subscriber list on Messenger. Their business model allows for an acquisition strategy with slightly positive results. With traditional marketing they expect to take a small loss when gaining a new customer. Profits are made afterward via repeat purchases and a positive lifetime value.

Our strategy not only produces a positive ROI right from the start (better than Google & Facebook ads), we generate a 200% return on ad spend when acquiring a new customer. When also consider the long-term value of repeat purchases, Messenger is more profitable than Google or traditional Facebook ads, and it’s scalable as hell!

Our second example is a client with a much lower repeat purchase rate. With this client we knew we had to produce significantly higher initial returns, and thus we placed additional emphasis on generating sales with an initial positive return. By focusing on top of funnel targeting (cold traffic), and an initial interaction intended to drive a higher percentage of users to the website, we generate a 700% return on ad spend!


Messenger is an amazing channel for every eCommerce business. It’s likely new to you, and it offers a new (and unique) experience for your customers. We’ve spent the past two years testing and experimenting in order to develop a few models that consistently produce fantastic results. This is one of them, and we encourage you to try it out right now. It will help you to open an entirely new sales channel, it’s highly scalable, it will make you more money, and it’s easily customizable. If you need some help just ask, via Messenger of course!

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