Quick summary

In a rush? Here’s a bite-sized summary of this guide. In order for a chatbot to improve sales and boost your business, it needs subscribers. To grow your audience, you must Plan, Create, Promote, and Nurture. First, lay the groundwork by setting goals for your bot campaign. Design a strategy to reach them and solve your most common customer pain points along the way. Next, create your bot, which all begins with building a quality flow. Give your bot a name and persona, always offer clear next steps, and iterate frequently. Then, promote your bot by integrating it into your website, sharing the link, connecting it to your ads, and utilizing the Acquire Users From Comments feature (which works best with high-quality page posts). Finally, nurture your subscribers by mindfully sending Reengage messages (formerly known as Broadcasts) and using Sequences, which you can make even more powerful with user attributes.

#1. Plan

Great success begins with great planning. In order to effectively attract and convert prospects, you’ll need to lay the right groundwork.

Define a goal 🎯

First things first: What do you want your brand to gain from a chatbot marketing campaign? Choose something that will benefit the big picture of your business, and make sure it’s specific—include numbers and metrics wherever possible. It’s also important to set a time frame for your goal(s), so you can track your progress and hold yourself or your team accountable.

If you’re a new business who wants to increase brand awareness, for example, your initial goal may relate to gaining a certain number of new chatbot subscribers. If you’re an established company and your central focus is to boost sales, you might set a concrete goal for your bot’s conversion rates. Step back and analyze where your business has the most room to grow and improve, and set that as the target of your chatbot marketing.

Make a strategy 📑

With your goal(s) in mind, decide what the key function of your bot will be. The best way to do this is to find out what your current customers’ most common pain points or questions are. You can study past customer chat transcripts, or speak with your sales or support staff. Look for trends and root causes, and design a bot that can help.

For example, let’s say you discover that customers are commonly confused about the difference between two of your popular products, leading to sluggish sales. You might plan to create a bot that will guide prospects through their features, similarities, and differences. It could also ask questions about user needs and preferences in order to make custom recommendations. If you use your bot as a tool to improve this aspect of the customer experience, you’ll also be working towards a business goal of increasing conversions.

The other component of your strategy should include plans for how you want your bot to interact with users. Make it sound natural, and use language that will resonate with your demographic. Give it a name and persona, and include engaging elements like GIFSs, emoji, and images if they match your industry and desired tone. Ensure your bot will reflect what your brand stands for.

#2. Create

Whether you’re new to bots or are upgrading an existing one, it’s now time to head to Chatfuel and start building or adjusting. The section after this one will teach you how to attract more users, so it’s crucial that you have a great bot to send them to first.

Build a quality flow for your bot 🛠

It’s important to recognize that having messages from your business appear in a user’s inbox on the Messenger platform, alongside conversations with their friends and family, is a privilege. Blatantly promotional messaging that’s far too frequent will not be welcome. However, a tool that makes a prospect’s experience with your brand easier or that shares content to delight, educate, or otherwise engage will be appreciated.

Remember, chatbots have two main purposes: to save you time, and to improve the experience for your prospects and customers. Keeping these objectives in mind will help you create useful, quality content for your bot. Think about the tasks that take up a lot of your team’s time—like answering FAQs or qualifying leads. Design your bot to automate them. Consider which aspects of the customer experience cause friction or frustration—like learning about products or placing an order. Build your bot to streamline those.

💡For more advice, check out the top tips on creating a bot that will boost sales from Jacqueline Samira, Chatfuel’s Head of Growth.

If you’re having trouble visualizing a natural, logical flow for your bot, draw it out! Even just mapping the flow with pen and paper can be helpful, or you could try a tool like Draw.io or X-mind. Either of these methods can help you envision the customer path more clearly. Beware of thinking too big at the start, however. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at trying to build a bot to solve every possible business or customer need, choose one area that’s most pressing and begin designing a flow just for that.

As you start mapping the content of your chatbot, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use variables to personalize. Remember, your bot will have access to all the information on the Facebook profiles of its subscribers. One benefit of this is that you can customize the user’s experience with your bot. Design your flow to include personal touches, like a greeting with their first name.
  • Make your bot approachable. We’ve already mentioned how your bot should have a name and persona to welcome and engage users and appropriately reflect your brand. One other small but impactful way to make your bot approachable is to include a face in its profile image. Whether it’s a photo of a real person or a drawing, having a face next to each message your bot sends can help users feel more at ease conversing with it.
  • Let users know exactly who they’re dealing with. Trying to pass off your bot as a real human will only lead to frustration and lack of trust from your audience. Instead, make it clear that they’re interacting with a bot, and offer them the option to connect with a human agent at any time.
  • Allow for reading time. A human wouldn’t send several lengthy messages immediately, back to back. We wouldn’t be able to type them that quickly! So even though your bot can send multiple messages instantly, it’s important to add wait times in between. Not only will it make the conversation seem more natural, but it will give the user time to read and understand everything at a comfortable pace. Also make sure none of your messages are so long that the user will have to scroll to read them. Keep them short and sweet, and break up longer ones as needed.
  • Make it easy for the user to interact. Buttons and quick replies are the main ways to guide users through the conversation. Buttons appear vertically as a menu and you can display up to three at once. Quick replies appear side by side in bubbles, and you can have as many as 11 at once. Note that quick replies disappear once one is selected; buttons do not. A third option is to display a gallery with images, information, and links to offer the user options to move forward. The method you choose depends on your objectives for the bot. Just make sure one of them appears promptly at every step of the way so the user is never left wondering what to do next.
  • Always offer a clear next step. Buttons and quick replies are great since they allow the user to respond in a single tap or click. However, there may be situations where you need the subscriber to type a custom response themselves. If your bot asks for a text input after only using buttons or quick replies, make it clear to the user that they need to enter a custom response. Otherwise, they might not understand and will continue waiting for reply options to appear.
  • Encourage reengagement. If a subscriber wants to interact with your bot again in the future, make sure this is possible. You can close the original conversation with a message that invites them back next time they need something. You should also have a “Start over” button that appears at the end of the chat and never disappears.
  • Test your bot and update frequently. Creating an effective chatbot that solves problems and streamlines tasks for your business and customers takes some experimentation. Once you’ve designed your first flow, have friends or colleagues test it and give feedback before you release it. Once you have actual prospects and customers interacting with your bot, keep an eye on data and chat transcripts so you can monitor its performance and iterate as needed.
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#3. Promote

Now that you’ve built or fine-tuned your bot and the groundwork has all been laid properly, it’s time to learn how to grow your audience. There are several different ways to promote and share your bot in order to gain new users, so you can experiment and find out which work best for your business.

Integrate your bot into your website 💻

If you have a website that already gets traffic from prospects and customers, start there with one of these three options: the Customer Chat Plugin, the Send-to-Messenger Plugin, or the Checkbox Plugin.

A) Customer Chat Plugin. This plugin will make a Messenger icon appear at the bottom of the user’s screen when they’re on your homepage. If the user clicks the icon, it will expand into a Messenger chat window, and they’ll be able to interact with your bot then and there.

To install the Customer Chat plugin on a custom website:

  1. Log into your Chatfuel bot dashboard and navigate to the Grow tab. Once there, find the Customer Chat code generation tool.
  2. Hit Enable and enter the domain of your website. *You can also include an optional ref parameter here to track the source of the acquisition. If the ref parameter already exists in your bot and is linked to a block, the user won’t receive the welcome message when they trigger the button. Instead, they’ll be taken to the block the ref parameter is linked to.
  3. Use the Copy button to add the generated code to your clipboard.
  4. Open the source of your website. Then, paste the code between the <body> tags of the HTML.

Or, if you have a WordPress site:

  1. Log into your Wordpress dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New.
  2. Type in Chatfuel Customer Chat.
  3. Select the Chatfuel Customer Chat plugin by Chatfuel & Master of Code, and click Install Now.
  4. Activate it by clicking Activate Plugin.

Finally, if you prefer to install it manually:

  1. Download the plugin and extract the chatfuel-customer-chat folder.
  2. Use your FTP software to upload the chatfuel-customer-chat folder to the wp-content/plugins folder in your WordPress directory.
  3. Go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Plugins, and find Chatfuel Customer Chat in the list.
  4. Activate it by clicking Activate Plugin.

B) Send-to-Messenger plugin. If you’d prefer to select a specific placement for the Messenger icon on your website—like in a pop-up, for example—you can use the Send-to-Messenger plugin instead. This plugin will create a button with a link to take users to your bot in the Messenger app, rather than opening a conversation window right on your website.

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Log into your Chatfuel bot dashboard and navigate to the Grow tab. Once there, find the section called Acquire users from your website, and select the Send to Messenger Plugin button. This will open the code generator.
  2. There, you can choose the size and style of the button you want it to generate. *You can also include an optional ref parameter here to track the source of the acquisition. If the ref parameter already exists in your bot and is linked to a block, the user won’t receive the welcome message when they trigger the button. Instead, they’ll be taken to the block the ref parameter is linked to.
  3. To test, hit Preview in the code generator.
  4. If you’re happy with how it looks, hit Copy to copy the generated code and embed it on your website.

C) Checkbox Plugin. The third option for integrating a Messenger chat with your bot into your website is the Checkbox Plugin. It will appear as a checkbox asking the user if they want to receive additional updates on a certain topic via Messenger.

For example, if a user made a purchase on your site, a button could appear asking if they want to receive shipping updates via your bot. If they RSVP’d to a virtual event on your site, you could ask if they want to receive notifications from your bot when it starts.

To install the Checkbox Plugin, follow almost exactly the same steps as you would for installing the Customer Chat Plugin on a custom website. The only difference is that once you’re in the Acquire users from your website section in Chatfuel, select Checkbox Plugin. Then continue through the remaining steps listed above.

Of course, every bot also has its own URL that you can share. The link to its welcome message will look like this: m.me/examplebot, with the end portion named for the bot. However, you also have the option to generate a REF link that will take users to a specific part of your bot. It can be a regular part that’s visible to all users, or a hidden section accessible only to those who have that URL. A sample REF link looks like this: m.me/examplebot?ref=couponcode, with the middle portion named for the bot and the end portion named for the section.

For example, if you wanted to convert people on your email list into bot subscribers, you could email them a REF link that leads to a coupon code from your bot. There are three main benefits to this strategy. First, if they respond to it, they’re now a subscriber. Second, they got to be engaged directly on the topic of their interest without having to go through the default welcome message and search the entire bot. Finally, REF links are also a great way to track which channel is bringing you the most bot traffic.

To create a REF link:

  1. Log into your Chatfuel bot dashboard and navigate to the Automate tab.
  2. Create a new group. Name it for the audience you’ll be using the link for, like email list.
  3. Create a block with the content you want to share with this group, like a coupon code.
  4. Next, as long as your bot is connected to a Facebook page, you’ll see a green button that says Link at the top of the page. Click that, enable the slider in the window that appears, and hit Copy.
  5. Then you’re free to share the URL that’s now on your clipboard.

Create engaging page posts ✏️

Creating great social media content to engage prospects is already a cornerstone of the marketing strategy for most brands. However, when it comes to chatbot marketing specifically, this aspect becomes even more important. The reason is that Chatfuel you allows you to convert users who comment on your Facebook page posts into bot subscribers automatically, using the Acquire Users from Comments feature. So in order for it to be effective in growing your audience, high-quality page content is key.

How the Acquire Users from Comments feature works

Here’s how to set up this feature:

  1. First, ensure your bot is connected to a Facebook page.
  2. Next, log into your Chatfuel bot dashboard and navigate to the Grow tab. Locate the Acquire Users from Comments feature and click Add Rule.
Locate the Acquire Users from Comments feature and click Add Rule.

3.  You’ll automatically be taken to a rule setup window. There, you must decide if you want your bot to respond to comments on all your page posts, or a specific one. We recommend the latter, so your users don’t feel spammed. To do this, enter the direct link to the post, which you can find by clicking its timestamp on Facebook. Note that only top-level comments (those that reply to the post directly) will trigger the response.

4. You must also choose if you want your bot to reply to all comments on a post(s), or only those that contain a specific keyword or phrase. If you select the second option, set up an autoreply rule with a few different possible phrases a user could enter that would trigger the reply.

How to set up an autoreply rule

⚠️ Note that this feature won’t work for posts you designed solely to function as ads—so-called “dark posts” that don’t actually exist on your page. Any post you want to use must have been published there originally. Boosted posts will work as long as they still exist on the page.

It’s also important to make your bot’s initial message to these users as engaging as possible. You want them to respond to the message, because only then do they become reachable (meaning you can contact them again in the future). Note that stickers and images can’t be tracked, so don’t use these as your bot’s first message, and don’t encourage them as the initial response from users, either.

The life cycle for a chatbot subscriber acquired from a comment on a Facebook post

Now that we’ve covered the technical requirements for using this feature, all that’s left is to make sure your content is designed for maximum engagement. One common mistake page admins make is creating posts that don’t explicitly invite users to engage. The key is to make everything you post intriguing, useful, or entertaining, and always include a question or other type of invitation to comment.

Also avoid posting engagement bait, or oversimplified, irrelevant questions designed only to get comments—like What’s your favorite color? for example. Facebook will punish this type of unhelpful content with lower reach, so it’s never worth the temporary boost in engagement you may get. As you experiment with new types of posts, you should also study your page metrics to track your performance and make sure you’re reaching the right audience on Facebook.

A few ideas for engaging posts that may help you get more comments include:

  • Run a Q&A. Feature a member of your team or a leader in your industry and open up a Q&A, where your audience can comment their questions. This type of content adds value, educates users about your brand, and can get you more bot subscribers.
  • Ask for opinions. Get your audience on Facebook involved by asking for their opinion on something related to your brand, like the name or color of a new product, for example. People love to share their opinions, which you can use to your advantage to get more users to your bot.
  • Do a giveaway or a contest. As long as you follow Facebook’s rules, giveaways and contests can be very effective for increasing post engagement. For example, a clothing retailer could offer a discount code on swimwear to anyone who comments their favorite summer activity on a specific post. The code can be delivered to commenters via bot automatically, converting the recipients into subscribers if they then respond to the message.
  • Post user-generated content. Asking for or sharing photos/videos taken by your audience will help build a sense of community and encourage interaction in the comments.

Creating better Facebook content is a win-win for your business. The more engagement your posts get, the more bot subscribers you’ll get, and the more the Facebook algorithm will reward you by showing your posts to more people.

Take advantage of ads 💰

Another surefire tactic for gaining subscribers is to make the most of the synergy between your bot and Facebook ads. There are several different ways to do this. First, you can boost your page posts to promote engagement. If you’re not getting enough comments organically to really benefit from the Acquire Users from Comments feature, running a boost can help.

Apart from boost, you can set up a few different types of Messenger ads to bring more users to your bot. Just remember: They must be engaging, thoroughly tested, and well designed for this strategy to be effective. The three types of Messenger ads are:

  1. Click-to-Messenger ads. They’re exactly what they sound like: A regular Facebook ad, but with a CTA button that takes the user to a Messenger chat with your bot. It’s a far more effective strategy than leading to a static landing page, because your bot can provide an instant, personalized experience. Users can get more information about your brand automatically and right away, instead of opening a browser window, filling out a cumbersome web form, and waiting for someone on your team to follow up. The process for setting up this type of ad is simple. Just create your engaging Facebook ad as normal, select Messages as the consideration, and set the Message destination as Click to Messenger. Then use our native integration to link the ad to your bot.
  2. Sponsored messages. If you want your bot to push promotional content to users for free, you must send it within 24 hours of your last interaction with a subscriber. If you pay for a sponsored message, however, you can send promotional content to subscribers at any time you choose. Check out our post, Sponsored Messages 101 to learn how to create and optimize these ads.
  3. Messenger home placement. This third type is simple: It allows you to show your ad directly within Messenger, in between a user’s other conversation threads. The great benefit of this method is that users are already in Messenger conversing with friends and family—so they’re likely to be more receptive to chatting with your bot, too. Plus, they don’t have to switch apps or be redirected to engage with it. To set up this type of ad, all you have to do is select Messenger – Home as the placement. Otherwise, create your ad as normal.

One final way to use ads to bring more users to your bot is through Lookalike Audiences. Facebook already allows you to create Lookalike Audiences. However, they’ll be even more accurate and powerful when built with data exported from Chatfuel’s People tab, available with our Pro and Premium plans. This way, you’ll be targeting new users based on your existing bot subscribers, meaning you’ll reach people who are more likely to be interested in your messaging. To export this data, you can integrate Chatfuel with your existing tools and software using Zapier or a direct API integration.

#4. Nurture

You’ve used the tactics above to draw new users to your bot—now what? From here, you must nurture your subscribers to convert them—first to customers, and eventually to brand ambassadors and evangelists. Remember, of course, that new subscribers won’t necessarily increase revenue; only converted subscribers will, so this stage is crucial.

Engage and convert your subscribers 📈

Once a user subscribes to your bot, you’ll be able to contact them again in the future within certain parameters. Since the very first message they receive from your bot usually isn’t enough to close a sale, you’ll need to make the most of future contact to promote conversions. There are two main methods for following up with subscribers via your bot:

  1. Send Reengage messages (formerly known as Broadcasts). Your bot can send certain types of messages to your contact list of subscribers to reengage them. As long as you follow Facebook’s requirements for timing and content, these messages can be an effective way for your bot to convert prospects into customers, or customers into repeat buyers. Promotional messages can be sent within a 24 window for free, or you can send them any time using a sponsored message. Use them to send articles, product release announcements, sale notifications, and more—anything your users will find valuable and engaging.
  2. Use Sequences. Sequences are sets of messages to customers or prospects that can be scheduled and sent on a specific timeline. For example, you can have your bot send out a coupon code an hour after signing up, and a follow-up message if the subscriber hasn’t used it after 23 hours.

Note that when sending any kind of message to your bot subscribers, it’s important to always include the option for them to unsubscribe. While the goal is to have your bot provide helpful content that users will value and enjoy, it’s inevitable that some people won’t want to continue receiving your messaging. Making the unsubscribe option easily available shows that you respect users and their preferences, and that your intention isn’t to spam them.

There’s one other tool that can make subscriber messaging even more efficient: user attributes. They're essentially tags or labels that you can assign to your bot subscribers to track and segment them into different groups. Your bot will automatically have access to certain attributes from a subscriber’s profile, like gender, time zone, and language. These are known as system attributes.

However, with Chatfuel, you have the ability to create your own custom attributes to apply to subscribers, too. You can get the data automatically using a plugin, like the User Input Plugin or JSON API. Or, your bot can ask the user for the desired information and have them respond with quick replies. To create a custom attribute this way, you simply have to define a name for it, and then set up a specific value that can be yes, no, not set, or custom. The benefit of both types of attributes is that you can use them to filter your subscribers to send a message to only a specific group. They also allow you to customize the user experience even further.

For example, you could choose to put out a message only to users where {{gender}} is "female", or {{subscribed}} is "true". Or, you could utilize certain user attributes in your bot’s gallery or list cards to personalize the user experience, like creating a welcome message that says “Hi, {{first name}}!”  You could even create an attribute to apply to all subscribers who have made a purchase with you, or any user you gained via the Acquire Users from Comments feature. That way, you can retarget them specifically in the future. Finally, if you’d like to access your attribute data outside of Chatfuel, you can export it to Google Sheets by going to Add a new element, and selecting Save to Google Sheets.

Start growing your business with a bot today

A chatbot has enormous potential for positive impact on your business—especially now that you know how to grow your audience on Facebook Messenger.

It’s free to get started building your bot with our platform. However, if you’re interested in accelerating your results, book a call with a consultant today and learn more about our Pro and Premium offerings!

For advice and tips on building your bot, visit our active Facebook community. For in-depth tutorials and feature walk-throughs, check out our YouTube channel. Happy bot building!

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