Welcome to the new era of Facebook marketing, one in which marketers find themselves deep in the thick of the Facebook Messenger chatbot age. We’re devising Messenger strategies, assembling chatbot sequences, and racking up wins for our companies and clients. So when it comes to the future of Facebook chatbot marketing, we certainly have some predictions.
Crystal balls not being readily available at the time of writing, we made these predictions based on data, trends, and history (the “repeats itself” bit). Here are fourteen predictions — some possibly surprising — about Facebook Messenger marketing and chatbots.
1. Chatbots will outperform any other marketing channel.
Let's start out with an easy one. Prognostications aside, this is a present fact. Although there isn't an accurate way to measure all the marketing channels known to humankind, we do know that Messenger open rates and engagement levels completely outstrip any other marketing tactic or channel that we’ve used. And that's solid enough crystal ball evidence for us.
2. More businesses will sell goods and services directly in Messenger.
If you’ve ever created a Messenger chatbot or played around in Messenger, you know it’s a powerful platform. It’s not just messaging. It’s everything.
As Messenger expands both its user base and functionality, it’s going to become easier for businesses and customers to make transactions directly within the app. Businesses are always looking for ways to sell their products with fewer contingent costs, complications, and overhead. Messenger will provide a powerful way to do this. Whether it’s a business offering a consulting retainer agreement, or a custom-built snowboard, Messenger will make it happen.
3. Facebook Messenger will add enormous functionality to business messaging.
What we’ve observed through the Facebook shakeup, the implosion of the News Feed, and the sundry proclamations of Zuckerberg, is that Facebook is laser-focused on expanding and improving Messenger. It’s like Christmas morning for businesses. Why? Because the monetary beneficiaries of Messenger are businesses. Messenger chatbots are already enormously powerful, but their capability is set to grow as Facebook grants businesses more messaging autonomy, freedom, capability, and features.
4. Businesses will divert funds from conventional display ads, and will spend more on click-to-Messenger ads.
Many businesses have wised up to the fact that traditional display ads are no longer as successful as they once were. Don't worry, Facebook advertising isn’t dead (yet). But it sure doesn’t dish out ROI like it used to.
Because of this, more businesses will use their advertising dollars to purchase click-to-Messenger ads. In doing so, they stand to benefit from more long-term engagement with customers, a growing Messenger contact list, and lower CPA.
5. Building a Facebook Messenger contact list will become a high priority for businesses.
The new thing on the scene in the Messenger marketing arena is Facebook Messenger contact lists. At MobileMonkey, we stopped spending money on engagement ads or traffic ads. Instead, we rally up Messenger contacts like crazy.
Those forty-two-thousand-and-counting contacts aren’t passive. They stay engaged and excited, which is why we get 80% open rates in the first sixty minutes on our chat blasts.
6. Contact list curation will expand in importance.
The importance of growing a Messenger contact list is a thing. See prediction above.
And with it, we’re seeing the necessity of engaging those users. A contact list that sits in a database and gathers database dust does nothing for your business. Thankfully, Messenger chatbots have many features (think visual content, like those easily-accessible gifs) that make it easy to keep users engaged.
Tools like chat blasters are designed exactly for this purpose. With the blaster, you can send a message to your entire mailing list, a segment, or whoever you'd like.
It’s getting even better. Since this is a growing trend, I think we will begin to see even more creative ways to keep a contact list hot.
7. Proprietary on-page chatbots will start being replaced by Facebook Messenger chatbots.
TBH, website chat widgets seem like wastes of time unless they're Messenger chatbot widgets. Here’s the logic: The marketing value of engaging a proprietary chatbot on a business website ends once the chat ends. The customer is gone. The interaction is over. You don’t have a name. You don’t have an email. It’s a one-and-done. And that’s it.
Consider, by contrast, a Messenger chatbot widget. When a potential customer opens up a Messenger conversation from your website, they are a contact in perpetuity. You know their name. You’ve got their information. You can send them chat blasts. You can segment them. You can re-target them. You can send them a drip campaign. The chat history remains active on their phone or desktop.
That sheer logic is why we’re seeing a rapid increase in the downloads of the leading WordPress chatbot plugin, the WP Chatbot. Businesses realize it’s worthwhile to engage users on their website using Facebook because that’s how customers prefer to interact. Plus, this doesn't create an undue burden upon customer service, being that the messaging is entirely bot-driven.
8. Virtually all of a business’s interaction with customers will be bot-driven. And most of that will happen on Messenger.
Gartner famously predicted that by 2020, the majority (80%, to be exact) of customer/business interactions will be handled by AI. In other words, chatbots. Cue the scary organ music and the coming mayhem when robots replace humans. But please note that this is actually a good thing. Instead of hurtling towards AI apocalypse (sorry Elon), Bots create opportunities for humans to do more human-esque things.
Thanks to chatbot builders, building a customer service chatbot can be easy. Simple drag-and-drop interfaces like the one below means zero coding and more power to you.
9. Early adopters of Facebook chatbot marketing will outpace late-adopting or non-adopting competitors.
To sprinkle a little competition in this article, it's fair to say that Messenger chatbot early adopters will rule the marketing scene. Businesses who are currently using Messenger chatbots are vastly outperforming businesses that aren’t; so there are really very few reasons not to do a little research into how this trend could work for your business sooner rather than later.
10. More individuals and influencers will create Business Pages and start using Messenger chatbots in their marketing.
The rise of the influencer industry has shaped many marketing trends. Many of these influencers are happy to stick with Instagram alone, since doing yoga in Tulum or Mykonos is just so Instagram-worthy.
But now there’s an appealing reason for these influencers and other marketing-minded influencers to add a Facebook Page to their marketing arsenal: chatbots.
Many of today’s influencers and micro influencers are marketing virgins. They aren’t trying to build email lists or segment audiences as much as they’re just looking to grow followers and establish loyalty. As Instagram merges with Messenger, more of these influencers will understand how chatbots can help them achieve their goals of growing followers and establishing loyalty. Becuase chatbots are only available to Business Pages, more of these influencers will start their Page and use chatbots.
11. Chatbots will be functional across three platforms — WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
You probably already know that Facebook is merging Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. What this probably means is that soon we — chatbot savvy marketers — will be able to create one chatbot sequence and release it simultaneously to users on all three platforms. This move will not only expand the audience reach of chatbots, but it will also probably mean a reconfiguration of how Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messages look and feel.
12. The Messenger interface will change.
Don’t envy the developers who are trying to stitch together Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Integrating these three sounds like a rather daunting task. As the messaging components of the three apps are integrated, it’s probably going to mean that each of the three user interfaces will change. The comfortable and stable WhatsApp screen will shift. Familiar Messenger swipe patterns will change. And Instagram’s messaging features will probably get a facelift.
Each of the apps has messaging capabilities that aren’t available on the others. These may not disappear, but they will most likely shift to adapt to the merge.
13. Facebook will introduce measures to add a monetization model to businesses using Messenger.
Facebook is a business. Businesses make money. Right now, it’s evident that Messenger is the future of Facebook. Apart from click-to-Messenger ads, there’s not a whole lot of monetization going on in the Messenger world. When marketing a business using Messenger, people don't pay Facebook to make chatbot sequences, send chat blasts, or grow my contact list. It’s all free. Meanwhile, revenue from display ads are starting to go flat. For instance, Axios made this report a few months ago:
Executives have been warning investors for months that these ads are nearing a growth ceiling on its main app. And analysts say engagement on Facebook’s main app (where it sells most of these ads) is declining, which puts even more pressure on the tech giant to quickly find new sources of revenue.
Because of these stats, Facebook will begin to make money from the businesses who are growing dependent on Messenger. What will this look like specifically? It’s too early to tell, especially because Messenger’s functionality is still in flux. First, Facebook needs to create a dependency upon Messenger. At some point, expect that Facebook will begin to take a monetary share of all that success you’re experiencing with Messenger marketing.
14. Facebook will develop a cryptocurrency that allows users to easily purchase goods, products, services within the Facebook ecosystem.
Did you know that Facebook has an entire blockchain division? The company began aggressively hiring blockchain experts in late 2017 or early 2018. According to various news outlets, the blockchain division stands at around 40 strong and is growing. An undisclosed deal took place early in 2019 in which Facebook acquired a London-based blockchain company, Chainspace, expanding the company’s blockchain talent and research pool.
As of April 22, 2019, Facebook was hiring for 25 blockchain-related positions — from attorneys to security engineers located in offices from Menlo Park (mostly) to Tel Aviv.
Some news sources call this “mysterious,” but it’s actually rather vanilla flavored. Of course an enormous company like Facebook would want to dip its toe into the burgeoning field of cryptocurrency. Mark Zuckerberg is open about that.
But there’s a twist.
The VP of Facebook Messenger until last year was David A. Marcus, a brilliant entrepreneur and all-around genius who definitely looks nothing like George Clooney.
He was the former president of PayPal; and he once founded a mobile media monetization firm. And he also founded a company that facilitated mobile phone payments. And then he helped Facebook acquire Braintree, which invented Venmo. And then he invented Messenger’s P2P payment platform. And then he was appointed to the board of directors at Coinbase. All of that sounds pretty cryptocurrency-ish, no?
Now, and definitely not by coincidence, he’s running Facebook’s blockchain division. Cleary, there is plenty of mixing-and-mingling between Messenger technology and blockchain innovation, being that the former head of Messenger is now playing with blockchain technology.
Evidently, Facebook has made some progress. Already, they have a stablecoin that is designed to allow Whatsapp transfers in India. This move signals the fact that Facebook has the capability and interest in pushing this technology farther. A Facebook representative remarked, “Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications.”
A version of this article was originally published on Mobilemonkey.com