Larry KimFacebook Messenger Chatbots.

What are they? What are they for? How do they fit into the strategic communications framework?

Good questions, right? Questions many of you have, I’m sure.

The Spin Sucks Community AMA!

And while Larry Kim isn’t Facebook, and he didn’t invent chatbots, both he and his new company MobileMonkey are making the idea of chatbots a more accessible reality for marketers.

So in an effort to answer #allthethings about Facebook Messenger Chatbots, we invited Larry Kim to host our second-ever Spin Sucks Community AMA, held on November 1st.

(Note: The link above takes you to the AMA thread in Slack, but you’ll have to join the free Spin Sucks Community to access it).

Our AMA Host: Larry Kim

First, a little context.

Larry is the CEO of MobileMonkey, a Facebook Messenger marketing platform.

He is also the founder of WordStream, a provider of AdWords, Facebook, and keyword tools—which was acquired earlier this year by Gannett (congrats, Larry!).

MobileMonkey is a different animal altogether (Get it? Animal? Monkey?).

It’s a Facebook Marketing Platform which makes it easy (easier?) for marketers to integrate chatbot tools into their communications mix.

Great, right?

But for many of us, it doesn’t really mean that much. In fact, it may generate even more questions!

To that end, Larry recently wrote an article on Spin Sucks about Facebook Messenger chatbots.  But, we still felt there was so much to say (and ask) on the subject, so he generously agreed to join us in the Spin Sucks Community to answer our questions.

Larry Kim: What are Facebook Messenger Chatbots?

Out of the gate, we felt it was important to establish a baseline.

Not everyone understands what a Facebook Messenger Chatbot is and what it implies, as a communication tool.

From Larry:

Chatbots are confusing.

A lot of people think of them as a lot of different things. Some people think of them like Siri, and Google Home, or Alexa. Like a personal assistant. And that’s because chatbots have very many use cases.

You can use them for customer service, personal assistant… but honestly, I think these are terrible use cases. I’m so underwhelmed with Siri, Google Home, and Alexa. I think they’re just glorified MP3 players.

And the customer support when you use a chatbot is pretty terrible. It’s like AltaVista from 20 years ago.

So, why am I so excited about chatbots? It’s none of those use cases.

I’ve very interested in chatbots as a top of the funnel messaging channel. One of the clever things about chatbots, and like Messenger Chatbots on Facebook, is that it’s a little bit like email in that you can send out push notifications to your subscribers. It actually makes your phone ring, or it buzzes and says “A message from Larry,” or a message from Mike, or Spin Sucks, about some event coming up.

And that ability to send out push notifications to customers, or prospects is actually the crown jewel from a marketer’s perspective.

It’s more of a replacement for email, he says.

He goes on to explain that email spam filters have become so aggressive that only two-to-three percent of emails actually get through.

Or, as he says, they go to the “promotions tab inbox dungeon.” Making it very hard for marketers to connect with users in a reliable way, striving for 50 to 80 percent open rates.

Larry Kim: Chatbots are the Next Email

So there’s this new communication channel that people already prefer to use. More people prefer using messaging over email, and less than one percent of businesses have any ability to connect with those customers on the messaging platforms that they’re using.

The result?

What we are finding is that the customers who connect with their Facebook fans using Messenger, they are seeing engagement rates that are 100 to 200 times higher than what you see in email.

It’s not just an 80 percent read rate.

It’s a 20 percent click rate. In email, it’s closer to a one percent click rate.

Bringing it back to the original question: What are these chatbots?

From my perspective? It’s the next generation of email.

It’s a little more engaging.

Larry Kim: Chatbots. Email, but Better.

And not just more engaging, but more effective and all-inclusive…

With email, it’s always a link to something else. I send you an email, it’s like “hey, we’re having a webinar,” and you click on the link, and that opens some funky browser window, right?

With Messaging, I can do all those interactions within the messaging session.

If I’m trying to get you to sign up for something, I can get the user to provide all their information directly in the chat.

They don’t have to open up some other window and get redirected somewhere else to do that, which is not a great experience on mobile.

We have thousands of customers and millions of active users—I would say 90 percent of them are using it to grow their business by having a more reliable, more engaging channel to their customer.

Wow. And that was just the first question.

Others included:

  • What are some of the best examples you’ve seen of chatbots on Facebook? What makes them stand out?
  • What’s the biggest mistake chatbot makers/designers do? How can they fix that?
  • What’s the worst example of interaction with a chatbot?
  • How long before chatbots move from text to voice interaction (similar to personal digital assistants)?
  • Talk to us about analytics. What do bot providers offer vs. native platforms? What does connecting the dots look like for proving the ROI of chatbots?

To watch the rest of the Larry Kim AMA unfold (at one point he shares his screen and shows us how easy it is to create a chatbot and messaging flow), please visit the thread and watch the video (and join the free Spin Sucks Community!).

Bonus: While there is a free tier to MobileMonkey, at the end of the AMA Larry provides a promo code for a free trial of the service.

The Spin Sucks Community: More AMAs to Come

If you didn’t have a chance, you should check out our first AMA with Jay Acunzo (and get the first chapter of his book for free).

And if you haven’t yet, please join the Spin Sucks Community! What are you waiting for?

Looking ahead, we will be scheduling additional guests in the near future. If you have ideas for an AMA guest, a theme/topic, or any other ideas, please leave your comments below.

You can also join the community and connect with us there!

Mike Connell

Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

View all posts by Mike Connell