Image credit: Pexels.com

by Anton Pereiaslavtsev and Krista Krumina

Apple inaugurated an era of mobile apps with the launch of the App Store in 2008, but ten years on, users are experiencing “app fatigue”.

According to comScore, the majority of U.S. consumers still download zero apps per month.

As Ben Schippers, the writer for TechCrunch says: ''New apps, by in large, are not providing nearly enough value for consumers to come back to.''

Unless there’s a very compelling reason to download a new app, for most, and especially the older folks, it's just not worth the effort.

People are constantly running out of space on their phones, many can’t remember their app store passwords and just don’t want to learn how to use yet another app.

And chat apps (or chatbots or instant apps, as they’re also known) that run on messaging platforms, address many of the traditional mobile apps’ shortcomings.

CHAT TO THE RESCUE

In recent years, messaging apps have not only become the #1 place where people communicate, they’ve also emerged as major e-commerce platforms.

From WeChat in China to Facebook Messenger in the US and Europe, billions of users use messaging platforms daily not just to chat, but to shop and get stuff done.

You can quickly plan and book travel on HipMunk’s intuitive Messenger app, buy concert tickets on Ticketmaster Assistant, bank with American Express and turn your family vacation photos into personalized gifts with Zebra Instant.

Let’s look at the four main reasons why chat apps are replacing many mobile apps:

#1: CHATBOTS ARE INSTANT

The main advantage of chatbots is that, unlike mobile apps, they’re instant. There’s no need to download anything. You can begin using the bot within just three steps compared to the 11-15 steps (we counted!) to start using a new app:

1. Open Messenger

2. Search for the chatbot

3. Start the conversation

It’s that simple.

#2: NO LEARNING CURVE

Users spend on average 23 minutes every day messaging each other - they’ve become intimately familiar with messaging apps and their interfaces.

And, according to comScore, for many people, Facebook Messenger has become one of the apps they can't go without, and it's their home app:

By building services atop of popular messaging apps, we allow people to use our services without making them learn how to use them.

#3: FEWER ACCOUNTS, MORE FREEDOM

In addition to the pain of downloading and learning a new app, many apps require you to create an account to use them.

As much as 88% of users don’t want to create new accounts on websites, and the same applies to mobile apps. As a business, you're pissing off customers by forcing them to create accounts.

Chatbots solve that problem.

When it comes to online shopping, simply letting customers shop inside Messenger is a great way to reduce friction and boost conversion rates.

And with Facebook’s introduction of native Messenger payments, users can purchase an item with just three taps -- without entering their credit card info or shipping address.

And that takes us to...

#4: CONTINUOUS USER EXPERIENCE

Were you ever in the middle of making a purchase inside an app only to get interrupted with a phone call and then having to start all over again?

Today, people have shorter attention spans than goldfish - just around 8 seconds. We're so easily distracted that we leave many things unfinished.

When you close your mobile app before you've finished what you started, you have to start everything from scratch when you later re-open it. That's a big pain!

With chatbots, it's different.

Chatbot conversations won't disappear because you close your Messenger. You can come back and pick up exactly where you left off no matter how long you've been away. All conversations are saved, and your chat history is searchable.

You can start shopping on your smartphone and complete your purchase on a tablet or desktop.

This gives you an incredible freedom to use the device of your choice (eg., start the order on mobile and finish on a desktop) throughout the shopping journey.

When combined with smart retargeting that takes people back to Messenger and encourages users to continue the conversation, chatbots can become a goldmine for online businesses.

Every interaction is unique and continuous, and that's the level of personalization chatbots are famous for.

FINAL WORDS

While chatbots are unlikely to replace all apps, many apps designed for simple tasks such as shopping, customer service, and dating are in danger.

For consumers, chatbots offer many advantages over apps, including the ease of use, immediacy and instant familiarity all while reducing developing costs for businesses.

Chatbots have emerged to be a force to reckon with.

Watch this space.

Updated: Apr 26, 2018

by Ieva Baranova and Anton Pereiaslavtsev

Image credit: Alex Seegers, Botcopy.

Every day, 1.3 billion people are chatting and exchanging photos on Facebook Messenger. And launching a Messenger chatbot could be a great way to tap into this massive new channel.

But to succeed, your chatbot experience must be a joy to use and extend your brand organically.

A well-scripted bot is one of the key elements to creating an experience that will delight and sell. Chatting is the very essence of well, a chatbot -- and you need to craft a natural and engaging conversation with the user to build an emotional bond.

The copy you use in the chat largely depends on the business you’re in, but there are general principles you can follow to make it shine. We have compiled 7 universal copywriting tips that will help you achieve the highest possible ROI for your chatbot.

1. Come up with a catchy name for your bot

Your chatbot must have a single focus and aim - and it should be reflected in its name (and all the other copy, for that matter). When choosing a name for your baby-bot, remember - a unique and distinct title or phrase will help customers remember it and find it in Messenger’s search or in the Discover tab.

But don’t choose a name that’s too descriptive (like “Everyday Weather Forecast”) - it should still sound like a name. For example, Poncho is a funny weather forecast bot impersonated by a cheerful cat in a raincoat.

In addition, your bot’s name should:

2. Guide the user with conversation prompts

Many users are still unfamiliar with bots. Unlike websites with many calls-to-action, your Messenger bot’s initial interface is very simple.

Help them by quickly getting to the point of why they should use your bot and encourage them to engage with a clear call-to-action.

Facebook automatically adds a“Get Started” button, and you have a short intro and a welcome image to work with - make sure that both are inviting and reflect your brand and the chatbot experience.

As the chat continues, proactively provide options for the user to guide the conversation in the desired direction. Keep the chat dynamic and fun by asking regular action from the user through Quick Reply buttons and other prompts.

“You’d be surprised what you can learn about your business just by giving your users freedom to chat”, says Mr. Dye.

For example, a bot for a local cinema can ask you if you have any plans for the weekend and offer you to see a movie on the big screen. If you confirm you’re interested, the bot can ask what kind of movies do you like. Depending if you like drama, action or romantic comedy, the bot can offer you something from the cinema’s repertoire.

3. Create a personality your users will LOVE

You might be wondering - how can an automated bot feel personal? In fact, a personal and friendly approach is exactly what people expect from a Messenger conversation - so your bot should aim for nothing less - and make sure your bot copy always stays on brand.

For example, Erwin chatbot successfully mimics a natural conversation. Just like when you meet a live, polite person, Erwin greets you, introduces himself and asks how you’re doing:

Tips how to make your chatbot sound more personal:

  • Greet the user by name

  • Ask how he/she is doing or start with a friendly joke

  • After every sentence you write, ask yourself if you’d speak like that to a friend

  • Use emojis and stickers, like you would when chatting with a friend

Pro tip: Do make sure, however, that users know they are talking with a chatbot. Even if it seems obvious to you, it might be the user’s first interaction with a bot.

4. Make chatting easy for the user

To keep the person interested in the conversation, your sentences need to be short, engaging, and to the point. Don’t ask too much effort from the user - as most people are using Messenger on the go, they would prefer to engage with your chatbot by clicking through the buttons.

Some tips to simplify the conversation flow:

  • Write 1-2 sentences per text bubble

  • Send several text bubbles at a time (instead of one large bubble), but try to limit yourself to 3 bubbles as notifications can get annoying.

  • Use buttons with several options to click

  • Make every exchange as clear as possible

  • Avoid using jargon or terminology that might be unclear to your audience

Pro tip: Avoid open-ended questions as they make it easier for the user to stop replying or say something that the bot doesn’t understand.

5. Make your chatbot fun and interactive

Many users like to play with the chatbot to see what responses it will come up with. Unless your chatbot represents an overly serious industry like law or medicine, don’t be scared to play with it and add a layer of personality with quirky texts:

  • Funny prompts to start the conversation. For example, Dad Joke Bot starts the chat by saying “Press my button to get a joke from my dadabase. Get it?! Dadabase?”

  • Playful (but still relevant) questions. Zebra instant offers to “magically turn your photos into custom products right here on Messenger”. And asks “Wanna give it a try?” thus creating a sense of game and excitement.

  • Original error messages instead of the boring Sorry, could you rephrase that?

  • Several variations of the same hint or prompt. For example, Erwin bot sends you riddles and gives a different answer every time you guess correctly, or wrongly.

If your chatbot can achieve its aim (solve a user’s problem, help to order goods or services via Messenger, etc.) and give positive emotions to the users, they are likely to return to the bot again.

Pro tip: Ask input from the user - photos, gifs, and emojis will liven up the conversation.

For example, Zebra Instant has incorporated photos and interactivity into its chatbot by creating a printbot. People can send their photos to the printbot and see them turned into products that can be purchased and shared without leaving Messenger.

Zebra offers you to edit each product, share it, or show more items with the same photo. 

This shopping experience is fun and enjoyable for the users - the experience is lighthearted, instantly satisfying (users can instantly see their photos on products) and a lot more memorable. When brands can entertain people into buying their products, they are much more likely to be remembered.

6. Don’t show all your cards at once

Revealing all the features of your chatbot at the very beginning can be overwhelming for users, and they can soon get tired of chatting and abandon your bot. To avoid this, keep the conversation interesting and flowing by gradually introducing different options.

Allow the user to adjust the timing of the conversation - offer to set reminders, send a notification every day/week, etc.

For example, Poncho weather chatbot offers to adjust the frequency of receiving weather forecasts and other notifications. After chatting to the bot for a week, I received an offer to add my horoscope to the daily notifications. This new feature made me think that it’s worth keeping in touch with the bot for a longer time to see what else it has to offer.

7. Optimize and update your chatbot

Carefully follow the success of your bot after you launch it. Find the parts that tend to confuse people or put them off and try a different approach in your texts.

Also, update your chatbot script on a regular basis not to bore your regular visitors. A good strategy is adjusting your copy to seasons or popular holidays. Going the extra mile will give users a feeling that your bot is always up to date.

Your chatbot is the face of your business

As Messenger chatbots - and especially printbots - are still rather new, building one for your business or community now means a head start over your competition.

Adding a chatbot to your Messenger might not be enough, though.

It's crucial that you invest your resources to make your chatbot sound human and most importantly help users to accomplish their goal quickly. Every word, every sentence your chatbot says - from the way it greets the user, to the way it communicates error messages - should be well thought-out to be memorable and make a positive impression of your brand so that people would love to continue the conversation...

Updated: Apr 26, 2018

Want more traffic to your chatbot on Messenger? Then keep reading.

Today, I'll show you how to use Facebook Messenger ads to acquire new chatbot users, and how to bring people back to your chatbot to resume your existing conversations.

But first -

Why Facebook Messenger ads?

Glad you asked!

First, Messenger ads are a great way to start a conversation, and that's exactly what your chatbot needs.

When someone clicks on an ad, he or she is taken to Messenger and greeted with a welcome message, which is a clear invitation to conversation. Second, ads that take people to Facebook Messenger have a significantly lower cost per acquisition (CPA) than ads that take people away from Facebook - to apps and websites. Here at Zebra Instant we did a comparison and found that Messenger ads have the average CPA of $1-3, while app and website ads - $9 and $7 respectively. Third, the popularity of the Facebook Messenger app is growing so fast that some even believe that Messenger will outgrow Facebook itself. Today over 1.2 billion people use Facebook Messenger, so it's a way to reach millions of people where they hang out on a daily basis.

And finally, Facebook not only allows unbelievably precise targeting options, but it also lets you personalize your ads and messages people see. You can even send direct messages from your business to customers on Messenger, which is the most personal type of ad since LinkedIn Sponsored In-mail. For example, if you sell custom print products, such ads can be a personal and a great way to remind customers of an upcoming birthday or holiday and offer them to buy a gift for the occasion.

To create Facebook Messenger ads, you will need:

  • a Facebook Business Page (or fan page)

  • a Facebook Ad Account

  • ad images

  • a chatbot*

*If you're in the printing business or just want to make it easy for your fans to order custom photo gifts, you may want to check out the Zebra Instant Facebook Messenger chatbot.

When all is set, we can move forward and create the campaign.

How to create a Facebook campaign that brings people to your chatbot

First, go to your Facebook Ads Manager and click ''Create''. At the next step, you'll be asked to choose your campaign objective.

Your campaign objective is what you want people to do after they've clicked on your ad. Facebook needs to know your goal so that it can show your ads to people who are most likely to do what you want them to.

In this case, we want to get users to engage with our chatbot, so we choose ''Messages'' as our campaign objective:

Next, you must decide who you want to target.

There are two types of audiences you can show your ads to:

  • People who don't have an existing conversation with your chatbot.

  • People who have an existing conversation with your chatbot.

That is, you can either attract new customers to your chatbot, or you can retarget your existing customers, meaning - you can bring back people who've talked to your chatbot before but, for some reason, haven't converted and made a purchase.

Depending on which option you go for, your ads will have a different Ad type, Placement and Ad format. To help you understand the difference, let's create an ad for each of the two types of audiences.

How to retarget your existing chatbot users

The main goal of retargeting ads is to separate existing customers from the new ones and show them ads that encourage them to convert - buy something, sign up for a trial, ask for a quote, or whatever. For example, in the case of Zebra Instant, that would be sending in your best photo of your dog so that we can print it out.

In this case, our existing customers are people who have interacted with your Page in Messenger. Thus, we can choose ''Sponsored message'' as our Ad type.

The ''Sponsored message'' ad type means that people will receive your promotion in the form of a regular message.

Let me quickly explain why this is a big deal:

''Sponsored message'' ads are probably the most efficient way to get your message out - and to be heard. Stats show that the average campaign open rate on Messenger is 98%. In comparison, the average email open rate is just about 21%. By reaching people via Messenger, there's almost a 5x better chance that your audience will actually act on your message!

However, there's a but:

Facebook values people's privacy and strictly controls who’s able to send promotional messages to its users on Messenger. So, you can't simply send promotions from your business page to anyone on Facebook; this type of ad is only available for reaching people with existing conversations with the particular page.

In other words, ''Sponsored messages'' are only available for retargeting. But the good news is that retargeting ads usually have significantly higher ROI (return on investment) than other Facebook ads.

Okay, back to creating the campaign:

After you've chosen the ad type, Facebook will automatically filter out people who have an existing conversation with your chatbot. If you like, you can also refine the audience. For example, you can choose to show your ads to women only if you want to customize your message on the next step.

When your audience is ready, set your daily or lifetime budget that you want to spend on the campaign. The larger your audience, the bigger budget you'll need.

On the next step, create your ad as you want people to see it. Write your copy, upload images and write your reply text - the first message people will have to react to after they click on the ad and to get the conversation going again. Once you're happy with how your ad looks, click ''Confirm'' and your ad is ready to roll!

How to create a Messenger ad to attract new customers

If you want to attract new customers to your chatbot, there's another type of Messenger ad you can use. It's called the ''Click to Messenger'' ad:

These ads will be shown in two places on Facebook:

On Facebook Messenger

In Newsfeed

Now, on the next step, you have to define your audience. That basically means telling Facebook what types of users you want to show your ads to.

You can define your audience by various parameters, including:

  • demographics (age, gender, etc.)

  • locations (regions, countries, cities)

  • interests (eg., people who're interested in custom print products)

  • online behaviors (eg., people who've previously shopped online)

  • etc.

The power of Facebook ads is the very fine segmentation and rich targeting options available.

For example, you can target dog owners with an upcoming birthday and income over $100K with an ad for dog-specific products, such as printed dog bowls. Or you can show your ads to young sit-at-home moms interested in photography and gifts.

Let me note that this type of ad also allows you target people who've already had a connection with your chatbot or business in general.

For example, using the Facebook custom audiences feature, you can show your ads to people who've visited your chatbot, Facebook page, or website. Read more about Facebook custom audiences and how to target them.

When your audience is defined, the next step is to choose the ad placement. As I mentioned before, on Facebook these ads will be shown in the news feed and on Messenger. You can also choose to show the ads on Instagram.

Then, before we move to creatives, you must set your campaign's daily or lifetime budget. While no one can tell you exactly how big the budget should be, keep in mind that:

  • The larger your audience is, the bigger budget you'll need.

  • The more popular your audience is (read: the more other advertisers are trying to reach these people), the more expensive your ads will be.

When your budget is set, move to the final step and write your ad copy, upload images and write your welcome message.

When you're happy with how your ad looks and sounds, click ''Confirm'' to launch it.

Analyze your results, optimize, repeat

Launch your campaign, then give it a few days to take off. Facebook needs some time to get to know your audience and filter out people who might be interested in chatting with your bot.

After some time, come back to your campaign and analyze the results. If you're satisfied, you may want to increase your budget. If the results are not as expected, try to optimize your campaign before you turn it off completely.

Pay attention -

  • Are some images performing significantly better than others? Leave them and turn other ad variations off

  • Do people ignore your ads on the newsfeed? Turn the newsfeed placement off and advertise on Messenger only.

  • Do men have a significantly higher cost per conversion? Show your ads to women only.

You get the point - turn off what's not working and leave what is. Then, come back later and do it again.

Now you're ready to create your Facebook Messenger ad and take people to your chatbot. Launch your campaign, then come back and let me know how it's going in the comments below.