Messenger Marketing for Writers featured image C3POs sitting on a window sill (cropped)

The Complete Guide to Messenger Marketing for Writers (Updated for Changes in 2019)

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If you’re using Facebook to market your writing, then you’ve probably already heard of chatbots, messenger marketing, and you might have even looked into using messenger marketing yourself. Unfortunately, almost every guide and template out there talks about using messenger marketing for retail. So I wanted to put together this guide on messenger marketing for writers – specifically writers and authors who aren’t trying to get people into a shop.

They just want to connect with and engage with their audience!

And the good news is that messenger marketing is perfect for writers and authors who want to form a deeper relationship with their audience.

Whether you believe that messenger marketing is driving changes to digital marketing, or that messenger marketing is a sign that the digital marketing world has already changed, one this is for sure, messenger marketing and using chatbots is here to stay. That’s not to say that if you don’t hop on this particular bandwagon that you’ll be left behind – not by a long shot.

In fact, even though 80% of small businesses claim to want a chatbot by 2020, the majority of businesses still don’t have one (and many businesses that do have one don’t have an effective one).

And guess what. I don’t know very many freelance writers who have already adopted a chatbot. In fact, I went looking at several different Facebook pages a few days ago and didn’t find a single chatbot connected to any of them.

So, messenger marketing for writers is wide open. It’s the perfect, low-cost way to stand out from the crowd.

What is Messenger Marketing?

As you may have been able to guess by now, messenger marketing has to do with automation and chatbots. But it actually goes much deeper than that.

Caroline Forsey defined social media marketing as the process of creating impressions on your audience through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

I think this is my favorite definition of marketing because it doesn’t get hung up on words like “promotion” or “sales.” Of course, most of the time we are hoping to use that impression so that if we run a promotion we are able to get sales, but marketing itself is much more involved than merely promoting or selling our services.

With this definition in mind, Messenger Marketing is the process of using messenger apps, such as Facebook Messenger, to connect with and create an impression on your audience over time.

Communication is Changing

Which came first? Messenger marketing or the changes to communication?

Plenty of digital marketers out there will try to tell you that messenger marketing is changing the way marketing online works.

But I disagree.

I believe messenger marketing came about as a response to the changes in digital marketing. As ManyChat explains: if you want to make an impression, you approach clients where they’re already hanging out. And clients today are hanging out online.

So what about email?

Let’s just get one thing clear – email is not dead.

The majority of people still spend a lot of time reading and responding to email. However, email is no longer about communications the way it once was – it’s more about outreach:

We send out an email to initiate a conversation and then we move onto a different platform: chat, video call, or phone call.

We would never wander around Facebook messaging random people to pitch them about hiring us to write their content. First of all, that would be horribly inefficient. And secondly, that’s just not the type of behavior that people expect from a messaging app – that’s something that belongs in an email.

Messenger is more personal — more intimate. People don’t go to their messenger apps to find coupons or discounts or pitches from freelance writers to write their content.

They go there to talk to their friends and engage with the people and organizations they love best. They go there for customer support, tips, and value-packed information that will make using those services better or easier on them.

They go to their messenger for a connection – not for a sale.

This is what truly sets messenger marketing for writers apart from email and outreach. Email to send your pitch, then send them to messenger to nurture the lead and continue the conversation. Messenger allows you to invite clients to talk to you, find out more about you, and connect on a much deeper level than a pitch email can achieve.

What makes a chatbot so powerful?

By themselves, a chatbot is really just a fancy autoresponder, like what you might have on your voicemail or even your email. Someone messages you while you’re not sitting online, and the chatbot sends a response.

And that’s fine if that’s all you want to do with your chatbot. But let me tell you something: installing a chatbot to do nothing but respond to a message when you’re away is a lot like getting your hair and makeup done and wearing a fancy dress to work at home.

Okay?

Like most things dealing with social media, chatbots work best when they are social.

So you’re not just sending out a letter and then hoping that they read it and respond to you. You’re sending a message and inviting them to chat with you.

And, what’s more, if you add your website into the mix, you’ve got a seriously powerful tool. Now, thanks to Facebook Pixel, you have a way of drawing people straight from your website into your Facebook messenger and a way to retarget them later with Facebook ads (should you ever decide to run a paid advertising campaign).

And finally, while a lot of people tend to think of chatbots as a way to replace human interaction, the truth is that with messenger marketing, your chatbot should make it easier for your clients to talk to and connect with you when they want to.

Think of the last time you called the bank and got their automated voice system.

When people call the bank, they don’t mind talking to the machine at first to get some basic information. Checking their balance, making a deposit, or even replacing a lost or stolen credit card.

When do they get mad about the automation system?

When they have a question that the system is not equipped to handle and they can’t get to a person. Whether it be because the automated system is glitching and not sending them even though they’re screaming into the phone “assistance!” or smashing the 0 button, or simply because it was never put into the menu.

Either way, when a person wants to talk to a human, the automated system is no longer helpful nor welcome. And the best ones will make it easy for that client to reach the human without having to smash buttons (or even having to ask twice).

In other words, having a chatbot should, and if set up correctly will, enhance your presence, qualify your leads, and help nurture you clients.

Won’t chatbots just make you sound like a robot?

Not if they’re done right. If they are built correctly, a chatbot can can be just as conversational as a human can be. But it takes strategy, forethought, and really good dialogue writing to be able to do that.

Have you ever overheard a half of a conversation, say someone talking on the phone where you can’t hear the other side of it? Creating a messenger bot is a lot like that: writing in your half of the conversation based on what you believe your audience will say to you.

There is an episode of Doctor Who, Blink, that demonstrates this very well. In this episode, The Doctor is trapped in 1969, when he recorded a video of himself reading a half a conversation based on a transcript he found in the future. Forget for a moment about the timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly stuff, and think about that recording. Even though his side of the conversation was prerecorded 38 years in the past, Sally Sparrow was able to keep up and feel like she was having a conversation – not just receiving a warning message.

That is the essence of messenger marketing.

(And also, it’s a wonderful episode of Doctor Who, if you want to watch that clip, you can see it here).

The Complete Guide to Messenger Marketing for Writers

First thing’s first: you need a strategy.

A lot of writers read about the open rates and the click through rates and they immediately want to hop onto a chatbot and use it to replace their email. This won’t work for two reasons:

  1. As I said, people don’t use messenger apps the same way they use email. So if you start to use messenger apps the same way you use email, they will ignore you and unsubscribe.
  2. You need to have a strategy in place, first, so you’ll know what kind of experience you want your audience to have with your chatbot.

Think of all the things you think your potential clients might value that can be done over a messenger chat with you:

  • Have you send them links to blog articles you think they would find helpful
  • Daily (or weekly) tips about something industry-related
  • Request a price quote
  • Ask you a question about your services or ideas
  • Have you send them a copy of their invoice
  • Even pay you

Now, even though I specified “done of a messenger chat with you,” the truth is that for a lot of these things, chatbots can start the conversation. For example, you can build a quote request calculator that would allow potential clients to start entering information about their needs, receive an estimate, and then connect them with you to review the information and put together a formal proposal.

In fact, almost anything that can be done with you over a messenger chat can be started with a chatbot.

So, put together a list of the type of experiences you would like your potential clients to have with you on messenger. And use that as the starting point for building your strategy.

Messenger Marketing Guidelines and Restrictions

Before we get into the specifics of what you can do with messenger marketing, let’s take a minute to cover the things you can’t (or shouldn’t) do.

First of all, this is Facebook Messenger we’re talking about. And I probably don’t have to tell you that no matter which one of Facebook’s platforms you use, Facebook puts the end-user experience first and foremost.

Facebook is all about meaningful connection – not free advertising.

That means that no matter what you build on the messenger platform, connection with your audience should be the top priority and the driving force of your strategy.

Secondly, Facebook has always been protective of their platform. They are constantly looking at how people are using their platform and taking steps to make sure people (and by people, I mean marketers) aren’t able to turn it into a spammy website that no one would want to come back to. And they are going to do the same with Messenger.

As I said earlier, right now Facebook Messenger gets amazing open and click through rates. We’re talking upwards of 80%-90% and higher for open rates and close to 50% open rates. But that’s not because Messenger is such a great marketing tool – it’s because of how people use Messenger.

If you go against how people use Messenger, they will unsubscribe, unfollow you, and possibly even report you to Facebook.

What is the 24+1 rule?

Facebook’s 24+1 Rule is just one tool that Facebook uses to make sure that people continue using Messenger as intended and that marketers can’t muck it all up by getting too spammy. And that rule is as follows:

Once someone subscribes to your chatbot, or interacts with your chatbot by sending a message, you have a 24 hour window during which you can send them pretty much anything you want, including promotional offers or messages that lead to promotional offers (such as an invitation to join your group in which you will be selling services, or an invitation to watch you live on your page in which you will be selling services).

Once that 24 hours is up, you get one chance at a followup message, sort of like a nudge reminding people of the offer you sent.

And that’s it. Anything outside of that 24 hours plus one time followup cannot contain anything promotional at all, or else it needs to be paid for and sent as a sponsored message.

Update as of 2019: Facebook has tweaked the rules of subscription broadcasting a bit. If you have a chatbot for Facebook Messenger, make sure you read this post to find out what the new changes mean to you.

Choosing a Chatbot Builder

Once you decide to get into messenger marketing, the next major decision to make is which chatbot builder do you want to use?

There are several considerations you will want to keep in mind as you wade through the different chatbot builders:

  • Price. This is probably going to be a major issue: how much will a chatbot cost you? And how many subscribers will that price support?
  • Features. Which chatbot has the features you need. This one is tricky because if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can easily get sucked in by all the fancy checkmarks on their features list and end up signing on for something that doesn’t have what you need but has a bunch of stuff you don’t need. The only checklist you should worry about it the one you write out yourself. Find a chatbot that meets each of those features.
  • Scalability. A tool’s ability to grow with your business is one of the first things I look at. I don’t want to pay for a huge tool that works best for large, corporate businesses when I’m too small to take advantage of most of their features, but I also don’t want to have to change tools out simply because I’ve outgrown them and they no longer serve my needs. Look for a platform that will allow you to grow and will continue to serve your needs.
  • Integrations. Part of the reason chatbots are so powerful is they are able to pull other tools together. Perhaps you want a way to integrate your mailing list, payment system, or shop? Check out which platforms have a way for you to do this.
  • Available Help and Tutorials. With most chatbot platforms, you don’t need to be tech savvy to get something up and running. However, that doesn’t mean that problems won’t come up. How many tutorials and helpful documents are available that can help you out should the unexpected happen (either published by the platform itself or by other experts who use the platform).

For a pretty thorough break down of the available chatbot builders out there, you can check out Balint’s post over on Chatbot Tutorial.

Why I Chose ManyChat as my Chatbot Builder Platform

Ultimately, my decision to use ManyChat as my chatbot building platform came down to the fact that it had all the features I needed in a simple to use interface to build chatbots of varying complexity and (most importantly) would give my audience the experience I wanted them to have.

With ManyChat, I can build a selection of flows, each with any number of growth tools, subscription options, and algorithms to ensure that it is delivering the exact right message to the exact right person. The flow builder also allows me to move things around and view the entire workflow at a glance.

Additionally, I can tag and segment my subscribers based on any number of criteria, including what they signed up for, which growth tool they opted in from – even their answers to specific questions. Their targeting and retargeting abilities help me manage my clients at every step of their journey.

I also love ManyChat’s commitment to making sure you stay within Facebook’s rules and guidelines for messenger marketing. Facebook is not always clear about its wording when it comes to its policies and guidelines (for example, what entails a promotional message? That debate has been going on for months already). ManyChat has a huge team of people dedicated to making sure they know and understand Facebook in and out and that they can help translate some of those gray areas for you.

And finally, ManyChat makes it easy for my audience to get in touch with me. They won’t get stuck in a loop trying like crazy to get out of the automated sequence to ask me a question. ManyChat not only allows me to set when and where to notify me that someone is trying to get to the human, but it also has Live Chat: a built-in feature you can use to check and respond to messages in real-time. Best yet, you can even pause any automation that they might be in the middle of to talk to them (so they don’t accidentally trigger a new sequence by talking to you).

If you want to know more about ManyChat or to connect with their community, you can join their Facebook Group. There’s no requirement to join, and they’re more than happy to answer your questions and help get you started.

ManyChat also offers a free, comprehensive video course on how to use their platform. Just make sure you grab some coffee or something before you start. The course is enormous, covers a huge range of topics, and while the information is outstanding, some of the videos can be a bit dry.

Naming your Chatbot

I know this might sound silly, but after you’ve set up your chatbot, you probably want to name it. Maybe even assign a personality or even a story and a brand: just like you were putting together a character for one of your books.

Mine is named C3P-Omi. I know, I know. It’s not the most original name for a bot in the world. But I love Star Wars and it seemed to suit my chatbot.

The reason you want to name your chatbot is because Facebook doesn’t want you use your chatbot to trick people into thinking they are talking with a human being when they aren’t. Having the name helps keep the character of your chatbot separate from your own character without betraying your brand.

How does Personifying your Chatbot help with Conversions?

People actually don’t mind talking to chatbots, but they still want to feel like they’re talking: not filling out a form. By giving your chatbot a name and a personality that complements your brand, you can build a conversational experience with your audience that will make it more likely for them to answer your questions.

And, when all is said and done, if anyone ever asks C3P-Omi to talk to me, she comes and lets me know real fast.

Example Messenger Marketing Strategies

So, what can you do with a chatbot?

The possibilities are endless.

Create an Interactive Quiz

You can use a quiz for so many things:

  • Help your clients decide on a writing project
  • Help your clients narrow down on a niche
  • Help your readers connect with characters in your book
  • Help your readers learn more about you

Think about all the types of quizzes out there that you’ve ever participated in: I’ll bet there are dozens of them. Now think about how your readers would feel if they could take a similar quiz about your book, your course, your services, or you?

Would they get a kick out of finding out which character they’re like? Or testing their knowledge and how much they know about you?

And Interactive Quiz is a great way to help your audience connect with you and your writing on a much deeper level without ever having to leave Facebook Messenger. Why pay to send them to some other website covered in other-website-branding when you can build a quiz right there in your chatbot with your branding and your chatbot’s personality?

Build, Qualify, and Nurture your Leads

No matter what type of leads you’re collecting, Facebook Messenger can help. It can start as easily as having an invitation to comment on a Facebook post, sharing a link, or even adding a small chat window onto your website.

You can keep your leads in Messenger and retarget them with paid campaigns later, or invite them to move over to your email list. Keep engaging with them through different offerings such as daily tips or daily jokes, content sharing, and so much more.

Stay on their minds

Do you remember the last time you tried to check in with a past client to see if you could be of some help, only to have them say something along the lines of “oh, I’m so sorry. Yes, I had a project but I posted it up on a site and I’ve already hired someone for it.”

It can be frustrating when a client with whom you’ve had a good relationship in the past hires someone else simply because they forgot about you when they needed something. But it happens a lot.

But with a chatbot, you can build out regular sequences designed to help keep yourself on your clients’ radar to keep that from happening.

Build a Quote Request Calculator

This is probably one of my favorite flows I’ve ever build on C3P-Omi: my quote request calculator. With it, potential clients are able to go through and share some of their information without worrying that I might turn around and spam them later.

They get the convenience of being able to receive a fairly customized estimate of the cost of my services based on their answers regarding their project without having to actually schedule a call with me. And I get the freedom of being able to put together a customized quote without having to display my rates publicly.

Plus, it helps qualify certain leads. Anyone who sees the estimate and decides not to go further or book a call with me later, I don’t have to worry about.

Promoting your Chatbot and Getting Subscribers

Once you’ve developed your messenger marketing strategy and built your chatbot’s flows, then it’s time to start promoting your chatbot and inviting people to sign up and subscribe to it. There are several ways you can do this.

Put a Facebook Messenger button on your website.

All it takes is a second and a click and your clients or readers will be able to ask you more questions or communicate with you right inside Facebook Messenger without having to leave your website. Easy and convenient for both of you.

Build a Landing Page.

Whether you build a dedicated landing page or put together a page takeover, using a landing page is a great way to get your chatbot in front of the right people and keep them focused on your chatbot.

Build a Link and Share it.

The nice thing about having a link is that you can put it just about anywhere you want it: inside your eBooks, inside courses, your email signature, blog posts, other social media channels…anywhere you have an audience and want to invite them to come chat with you.

Facebook Comments.

Have you ever seen someone go Live on Facebook and invite you to comment in order to receive their latest book or guide? More than likely, that was handled by a chatbot. Or a really, really good virtual assistant – but I’m putting my money on a chatbot.

Paid advertising.

When all else fails, you can use paid advertising to grow your chatbot subscriber list. The best way to do this would be to offer something valuable that people would want to opt-in to your chatbot to get.

By valuable, I don’t necessarily mean pricey: I mean something they might enjoy and would definitely want to see. For example, maybe that quiz I talked about earlier, or a great piece of content on your blog, or a guide or eBook.

Chatbots are changing the landscape when it comes to messenger marketing for writers.

It’s funny to think that in a world run by algorithms, something like a chatbot can help you form and maintain a deeper — and more personable — relationship with your audience.

Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts about messenger marketing you might like:

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