If you’re not yet using Facebook Messenger to market your ecommerce business, you’re at a serious disadvantage.
With over 1.3 billion monthly users, not only is Messenger one of the largest chat platforms in the world, it’s also the second-most downloaded iOS and Android app of all time.
- Facebook Messenger is growing at a rate of 600K new users per day.
- Facebook Messenger ads are incredibly cheap for most niches. I’m often able to pay just $0.02 per subscriber.
- Facebook Messenger offers a potential reach of 2.6 billion users once it integrates with major chat platforms Instagram and WhatsApp.
Over the last several years, I’ve been using Facebook Messenger bots to market my online store over at Bumblebee Linens, and it has significantly outperformed my other channels.
Though individual results vary, but compared to email, my Facebook Messenger messages regularly achieve…
- 5X higher open rates;
- 8X higher click-through rates;
- 3.5X higher revenue per subscriber;
In this post, I’ll show you how to use Facebook Messenger marketing to increase your ecommerce sales and build customer loyalty.
How Facebook Messenger bots work
In many ways, Facebook Messenger marketing is a lot like traditional email marketing—you can build a subscriber list and send out broadcasts.
The main difference is that a Facebook Messenger bot can also use artificial intelligence (AI) to interact with customers.
Unlike with email, for example, you can program a Messenger bot to respond automatically to specific customer service queries.
You can also create surveys, quizzes, and onboarding wizards to guide your customers to the most appropriate products you sell.
The other key advantage Facebook Messenger has over email is that the open and click through rates are often significantly higher. Messenger is generally perceived as a much more personal form of communication, typically reserved for friends and family. (Whether marketers ruin this perception, only time will tell.)
One of the major downsides of Facebook Messenger marketing, however, is that Facebook forces you to pay to send promotional messages to your subscriber list with Facebook Sponsored Message ads.
That said, Messenger continues to be one of the most profitable ad platforms today. Here’s a small, targeted broadcast that I sent to approximately 2K subs. Some 376 recipients clicked on the message, and the return on ad spend for this broadcast was 17.98X.
Though the sample size is small, these results are typical across my businesses, and I regularly receive over a 15X ROAS on average for my Messenger broadcasts.
The rules of using Facebook Messenger
As with other advertising platforms, you have to play by the rules. Remember, Facebook owns the Messenger platform, and if too many people hit the “report” button or if you have a high block rate, your Facebook bot could get suspended.
You can’t just spam your subscribers and hope they convert. Here are a few important rules to keep in mind.
Promotional messages and the 24 hour rule
The only time you are allowed to send promotional messages (e.g., coupons, sales) for free is within 24 hours after a user interacts with your Messenger bot.
Beyond this 24-hour window, you must pay for Facebook Sponsored Message ads to send promotional messages. Right now, it costs approximately $0.02 per subscriber to reach your list.
Facebook does allow you to send certain non-promotional broadcast messages for free outside of the 24 hour window:
- Event updates. You can remind a customer of an event they registered for.
- Product updates. You can update a customer on a product they purchased.
- Account updates. You can update a customer on their account status.
- Human agent updates. You can send a manual reply within 7 days to answer a user’s inquiry.
Unfortunately, most Facebook Messenger tools will not help you from accidentally violating these rules, so it’s up to you to obey them. For the most part, you must pay for Facebook Sponsored Message ads to send promotional broadcasts to your audience.
Automated Facebook Messenger flows for ecommerce
With the above rules in mind, it’s relatively straightforward to set up revenue generating Messenger flows that are completely automated. These flows are often referred to as chat bots.
By programming your bots to obey the 24-hour rule, you can send targeted promotional messages on autopilot to close the sale.
Here are the automated flows I use for my ecommerce store.
Abandoned cart recovery
It’s estimated that around 76% of customers abandon their carts before making a purchase. And while an abandoned cart email flow can recover up to 30% of your lost sales, you can use a Facebook Messenger bot to scoop up the rest.
My chatbot automatically messages a customer four hours after they started checkout if they did not complete the sale.
The automated message above displays the exact items in the customer’s cart, along with a button that takes them immediately to checkout with their cart prepopulated and ready to go.
Because the open and click-through rates for Messenger are significantly higher than email, more than one abandoned cart message is often unnecessary.
Browse abandonment recovery
Browse abandonment recovery messages prompt casual window shoppers to take action.
My chatbot automatically sends the following reminder several hours after a customer looked at a product without adding it to their cart.
The message above displays a photo of the exact product they browsed; the recipient can click the “Shop Now” button to add the item to their cart.
Messenger bots can also send customers a confirmation message when they complete a purchase. You can also use these messages to encourage a repeat purchase with cross sells depending on what they bought.
Order confirmation messages also train customers to expect further correspondence via Facebook Messenger, which indirectly improves your open and click-through rates.
Generate incremental revenue on autopilot
All of the flows described above obey all of Facebook’s guidelines and run on autopilot.
Here’s a snapshot of how much these flows generated for my ecommerce store last quarter without my intervention. Again, while these are my personal results, I’ve talked with countless other small business owners who have seen similar (or even better) numbers.
Simplify customer support with a Facebook Messenger bot
Responding to the same customer support queries day in and day out can be tedious and time-consuming. And as your business grows, repetitive messages can overwhelm your customer support team.
Fortunately, you can offload the most commonly asked customer support questions to your Messenger bot.
For example, the two most asked questions we get are:
- How long will it take to receive my order?
- Where is my order?
As a result, we created two dedicated buttons to answer these exact questions in our live chat Messenger widget.
If someone clicks on “Get Delivery Time,” they’re directed to our shipping times page.
If someone clicks “Check On An Order,” they’re prompted for their email address, and the bot automatically checks on the status of their order.
You can also use keyword automations to allow Facebook Messenger to recognize certain words in a chat entry and then reply with an appropriate automated message.
For example, Bumblebee Linens often receives questions like:
- Do you offer discounts?
- Do you sell wholesale?
- Do you ship internationally?
To reduce customer support load, I programmed my bot to send pre-written response sequences to these questions. For example, every time a user types “Do you sell wholesale?” they get the following response.
If we don’t have a suitable pre-written answer to their question, users can opt to chat with a member of our customer support team.
I receive a notification in my support desk whenever a user clicks “Talk to human” in the chat window. This is the only time my customer support team will have to act and manually answer the question. As you can imagine, this saves a lot of time.
Boost customer retention with a loyalty program implemented in messenger
Because one of my stores primarily caters to the wedding industry, we don’t get a high percentage of repeat customers. In fact, only 12% of Bumblebee Linens’ customers are repeat customers. However, repeat sales account for over 36% of our annual revenue.
A good percentage of these repeat customers are influenced by our customer loyalty program, which we implemented in Facebook Messenger.
While there are many loyalty programs available for purchase, you can run an effective loyalty program with Facebook Messenger for free.
How to implement a customer loyalty program in Facebook Messenger
Here’s a high-level overview of my customer loyalty bot that I implemented with a Messenger tool called ManyChat.
To start, my loyalty program chatbot asks a customer whether they want to join the rewards program.
If the customer clicks “Yes,” they can receive promotional messages from my store for 24 hours, as per Facebook’s rules.
Because my loyalty program tracks orders by email address, my bot then asks the customer to provide their email address immediately after they opt in.
After signing up, the customer gets tagged as a loyalty program member. They also earn 50 free points just for signing up. ManyChat stores all point totals and email addresses. Here’s what that implementation looks like:
After making a purchase, the customer gets a special Messenger link with an embedded order number.
The information is then forwarded to ManyChat, which stores the order number in a custom “Order Number” field.
When a loyalty program member tries to redeem their points for an order, ManyChat verifies whether the order is valid by forwarding the customer email address and the order number to my website.
If the order is valid, the customer earns loyalty points equivalent to the order value.
ManyChat also keeps track of every customer’s order number to prevent customers from redeeming the same order twice to get points.
Finally, the Messenger bot thanks the customer for their order, updates them on their total points, and invites them to view the prizes they can redeem.
How customers redeem prizes
My loyalty program bot automates everything, from rewarding points to customers to granting rewards.
Customers with enough points get to click on the reward to redeem a free prize. ManyChat pings my website, and the customer gets a coupon code with instructions on how to claim the prize. (I intentionally don’t offer free shipping for prizes to encourage customers to shop for other items.)
Customers without enough points get to view their point totals, along with a message encouraging them to continue shopping.
I also email loyalty program members every 28 days to remind them how many points they need to get free stuff. These messages entice customers to continue shopping by reminding them of their point totals.
How to grow your Facebook Messenger subscriber list
The results of your Messenger marketing efforts are only as good as the size and quality of your subscriber list.
And before you can send broadcast messages or automated flows, you must first get visitors to opt in to your Messenger bot.
Fortunately, it’s quick and easy to build your subscriber list on Messenger. A visitor only has to interact with your bot once to become a new subscriber.
In this section, we’ll go through different ways to grow your following on Messenger.
1. Run a messenger giveaway
A Facebook Messenger giveaway contest is one of the fastest ways to grow your list. Users get a chance to win a prize, while you collect new subscribers.
But unlike a traditional email-based giveaway, Facebook Messenger giveaways:
- Are 100% automated. You set it up once and then it runs on autopilot. Your bot chooses winners, and prizes are awarded automatically.
- Can gather emails at the click of a button. Facebook automatically imports the email associated with a user’s Facebook account, so no typing is required.
- Are inexpensive. I typically pay 25–50 cents per email/messenger subscriber combo.
Right now, Messenger giveaways are popular among Amazon sellers and dropship store owners because you can quickly build a following and launch new products.
If you are using ManyChat, you can import my Messenger giveaway flow and start using it right away. Otherwise, you can follow the flowchart image below:
Most giveaways start with a Facebook ad. Here’s what my exact giveaway ad looks like.
After a user clicks on the ad, they are asked whether they want to enter the giveaway. As soon as they click “Yes”, they instantly become a subscriber.
Then, the bot asks for the user’s email address and places them on a special giveaway email autoresponder sequence.
Remember, Facebook automatically populates the email address associated with a user’s Facebook account. This is important for mobile users because they don’t have to type on their smartphone.
Once the user opts in, they’re given a large coupon code to shop in your store. Done correctly, the profit from your coupon promotion can cover the cost of your Facebook ad.
Finally, a randomizer in your chatbot picks a lucky winner after 23 hours (to obey Facebook’s guidelines). Winners get instructions on how to redeem their prize automatically from your website. Non-winners get a consolation coupon for your store.
2. Offer a free gift on add to cart
Instant rewards are also an effective way to get customers to opt in to your subscriber list.
In the above image, I entice customers to opt in to my Messenger bot in exchange for a free gift. (Instead of revealing the gift upfront, be mysterious—but not misleading. Curiosity is an effective way to draw in subscribers.)
Once they check the box and click “Add To Cart,” they automatically opt in to your Messenger list.
3. Add a live chat widget to your website
On the homepage of Bumblebee Linens, you’ll find a live chat window in the lower right corner of the page.
A visitor can click the “Chat Now” button in this widget and get answers to their questions.
The user becomes a subscriber as soon as they click any of the buttons.
At zero cost, our live chat widget handles basic customer inquiries and continuously grows our subscriber list.
4. Run Facebook ads with the comment growth tool
Running Facebook ads is another way to build your subscriber list and generate sales at the same time.
With a tiny modification to an existing Facebook ad, you can gather Messenger subscribers whenever someone leaves a comment on your ad.
Here’s an example of a top-of-funnel offer that I run to customers.
The beauty of this ad is that it entices customers to leave a comment to receive a special coupon. When they do, they’re taken to Facebook Messenger with the following message:
Extra comments and shares boost the organic reach of the ad, and you end up paying less for your ads!
5. Give out coupons behind a messenger wall
You can also gain additional Messenger subscribers by placing coupons and promotions behind a Messenger wall.
The following Facebook ad targets my customers who have not placed an order in the last 60 days.
After clicking on the ad, the Messenger bot prompts the user to click a button in order to unlock their coupon. By interacting with the bot, they automatically become a subscriber.
6. Use a spin-to-win pop up
While somewhat controversial, in my experience, pop-ups are a great way to attract email subscribers, and they can be used to gain new Messenger subscribers at the same time.
I use a spin to win pop-up for my ecommerce store to entice customers to redeem prizes through Facebook Messenger.
Here’s how it works.
I first display a pop-up window to capture an email subscriber by offering a chance to spin the wheel of fortune for valuable prizes in my shop.
There are no losing spots on the wheel and this gamified form converts email subscribers 131% better than a traditional coupon form for my shop.
After a customer wins, they’re forced to redeem their prize via Facebook Messenger. When they click on the “Redeem Coupon On Messenger” button above, they are directed to the following bot.
The “Shop Now” button directs the customer back to your shop with the coupon code automatically applied.
7. Create Facebook Live videos
Getting users to comment on your Facebook live videos is another way to get subscribers. When a visitor comments on your post, they’re added to your subscriber list and receive an automated message.
If your live presentation is genuine and helpful, visitors will be happy to leave a comment in your post. You can even give out special offers or access to your slides to encourage viewers to leave comments.
Just make sure that you avoid explicitly telling people to comment in the post copy (or Facebook may lower the reach of your video).
Because there are so many different ways to market your ecommerce store, it can be difficult to integrate and prioritize your efforts. Some customers may prefer email and others may choose Messenger.
As a result, you should cross pollinate your subscriber lists as much as possible and not depend on any single marketing platform.
For example, if you have an email list, send out a promotion that can only be redeemed on Facebook Messenger. On Messenger, periodically send out a promotional broadcast to obtain an email address.
Though keeping up with Facebook Messenger rules can be a challenge, the performance and reach of the Messenger platform are too great to ignore. If you haven’t yet tested Facebook Messenger for your business, now is a great time to start.