Wednesday, November 8, 2017

004 – Messenger Marketing with Manychat CEO Michael Yang

Learn more about Messenger marketing from Mikael Yang.

Mentioned in the episode:
My ManyChat Review
ManyChat
MailChimp
Zapier
Facebook
WhatsApp
ICQ
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Also, please find the whole transcript below.

Balint Pataki: Thank you and welcome to the podcast. Thank you that you made time again and accepted my invitation. Many of us are familiar with ManyChat and your work in ManyChat but can you just give us a little bit of background where are you coming from, how did you come to bots and the idea of establishing a company in this age.

Mikael Yang: Sure. ManyChat is a messenger marketing platform and we help small and medium business to do marketing sales and the support through Facebook Messenger. Right now we power over a hundred thousand businesses in over a hundred countries around the world and we started this in 2015 when Telegram Messenger opened up their API and that was Telegram Messenger for those listeners who don’t know, it’s a messenger that is popular in other countries solves the same problems as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and Telegram opened up their API in July 2015 and we’ve created a platform for broadcasting messages to your Telegram Bot subscribers because we saw an opportunity to give people an option to communicate one to many through this channel and before that the only thing that people were doing on messenger is basically communicating one on one or in small groups so this concept of broadcasting messages to many people through messenger was still not known to anyone. We’ve built a platform that made it really easy to do it and grew virally and a year later when Facebook opened up their API we just knew what had to be done on that platform and we’ve built ManyChat for Facebook Messenger and now we are powering messenger businesses helping them to do marketing through this channel. The only reason to switch over or to add messenger to your marketing mix is because you are getting 10x engagement than through channels like email.

Balint Pataki: I think we will talk about the engagement a bit later. What was your first Bot experience? Was it via telegram, these so to say newsletters or grant communication or was that something that made you curious?

Mikael Yang: My first Bot experiences were in the times of ICQ and IRC wherein there would be these artificial entities, these bots that would perform some kinds of actions inside of group chat. For example, they could count your karma or they could facilitate an exchange between the groups between the participants inside the group. Also, I remember there was a Bots on the public servers of Warcraft for computing the Defense of the Ancients’ rating. You could ask that Bot what’s my raring, what’s that person’s rating et cetera. That would be the first encounters of Bots and if we’re talking about specifically Bots on messengers that would be telegram.

Balint Pataki: You started with telegram, did you already see that probably you’ll drag it along other platforms as well and possibly bigger platforms or you were already excited that telegram is big enough to have a huge opportunity in this space.

Mikael Yang: I think both things are correct. We saw how all the platforms would eventually need to open up their APIs because if you want businesses to be on your platform you got to give them tools to communicate with their customers and the fastest way to do that is to open up the APIs and give the third party developers an ability to create those tools for the businesses and to market and sell those. But still, we were already excited about telegram itself because the platform had over at that point was 60 70 million users. Right now it’s over 100 million users and it was already an interesting market for us to start working in but of course, Facebook Messenger opened up that’s an even bigger market. If you have to spare resources you got to make a decision where you’re going to play.

Balint Pataki: You had a head start in this race to build platforms without coding because that’s where most people already. They are either small business or marketers and they don’t have the coding of each but they still want to participate in messenger marketing. Since you started the market grew a little bit. Can you tell us how it changed? You said already that you have already over a hundred thousand Bots or businesses. Was your market share, is that a public thing?

Mikael Yang: We don’t know the market share because we don’t know the total number of Bots but I’m sure it’s pretty high. In terms of messenger marketing we are the number one platform and in terms of the number of Bots connected I don’t know the stats of the other Bot but I’m pretty sure we’re somewhere in the top. What was the other question? How the market has matured, yeah. It started with people just first of all when we transitioned from telegram to our focus on Facebook Messenger, we asked ourselves do we want to build this massive platform where anybody can build Bots or do we want to narrow it down to a specific set of customers and build a perfect platform for them? Our decision was to narrow it down the businesses to marketers who actually want to get results for their business, who want to get leads, who want to nurtures those leads, who wants to convert those leads and who wants to entertain those lead and those customers and to provide a better customer service for them. Our need was specifically business used cases and marketing use cases. We started with that and the market has matured quite a bit over time because at start there were all these early adopters and the betarers who are just trying things out or really excited about the platform who have heard about like this Bot type and gorgeous like they thought that Bots are cool and they need to learn about them. That was the first people that came on to the platform and tried to use it in the first half a year. Of course, when you have people who are just coming in because they are curious those people are not going to stick. Those people don’t have an actual used case in their minds. They don’t need a problem solved. They are just excited and that’s fun but if you want to capture value, you want to bring value and then capture some of that value you got solve a natural business used case. That’s when marketers started discovering us and actually sharing their results with everyone because a marketer would come and would get 300% ROI, 400% ROI like there is an article by digital marketer about 500% ROI and a lot of them were educators who are experts in the field who are just looking for new channels for things that’s for untapped opportunities and when they got those results they just went out and told everyone about it and that was the thing that drove our growth in the beginning. It’s the marketers getting results ensuring with other people.

Balint Pataki: Actually, I like that you, you said that because that was motivation as well and I learned about Chatbot I was like yeah, that’s cool in a way. Then Facebook opened up their platform to advertise directly into messenger. Messenger became an added destination of our people, click on the image and they got a message. I was like okay, this is something that I really have to explore. I actually I established this company and podcast from it. I actually can recall that to you, reference to your company as a messenger marketing, more like messenger marketing and automation company then to your bot company, do you think these bot automations are just not there yet as Facebook was so a little bit scaled down with the user inputs are and enabled that you can even forbid the users that they directly type into the messenger?

Mikael Yang: Yes and no. First of all yes we saw that from our telegram experience that bots are not about direct communication chatting or of course, there are used cases for that kind of interaction but for the most part you just want to get the job done. The customer has some kind of a request. They want a book, they want to get the info, they have something that they want from the business and that’s why they’re talking to this business. They’re not there to have a chat. Some of them are but 90% of them are there like it has to solve some actual problem for them. The quickest way to solve a problem is to provide a graphical user interface. When you encounter just an input where you can type anything like the question that’s in your mind is, is this thing going to understand me? What can I type here? With that examples you’re going to know what you can type and then the machine starts to ask you some more questions because it needs to process that into an actual thing, an actual request that it can forward to an API or something or to a human. We discovered that typing is not the best way to interact with the bots and that buttons are much more efficient and much more understandable like much more convenient for the customers and much better for the businesses because it’s easier to setup, it’s easier to analyze the engagements et cetera. When we started doing a messenger marketing Facebook, we didn’t have any way to interact with the bot besides buttons. Now we already have some forms of input where people tend to actually type a stuff in because there are cases where that is very valuable and of course there’re going to be more and more done through this kind of automation. But I don’t think that buttons are going anywhere because it’s much more convenient to just press something and get it then to type out your request. That would be our stance. We think that both of those things are important but right now you got to build from the basics.

Balint Pataki: Exactly and in my opinion, people are a little bit passive on the side with all these smartphones and all these instant things. It’s probably the easiness of typing. If you have a question about duration like do you plan to move in the next six months, three months, next year whatever, it’s just much easier to talk about it than type it out. As you mentioned that there has to be a used case. I really love how you asked me probably many other marketers about what specific thing could make ManyChat better, what would be the used case of it? I also noticed that even your CEO of this tremendously growing company you still take the time to keep a one on one context to many people and you suggest that they contact you via messenger. Something I noticed that messenger can be a little bit overloaded like when you use it a lot and talk to a lot of people and especially will be the case if there are more and more brands coming to it. How do you see the future for messenger itself from a user standpoint? Will there be more filters like in email? Would there be people probably signing up more accounts because of this or would there be plugins maybe like as Gmail has?

Mikael Yang: Yeah. I think the like if you’re talking about information overloads and being subscribed and having too many conversations on messenger, I think there are two ways this could go. First is going to be a self, the people are going to organize their communication brands themselves. If they get overloaded with messages on messenger they will start unsubscribing from brands that they don’t want to hear about. The beauty of messenger is that when you unsubscribe from some page you never hear from that brand again and it’s not like email where you can just re-upload somebody into the database or use another service so there is like zero spam on messenger. The customer is always in control who he is talking to but we know that people are like the thing, the product either works or the person doesn’t use it. I don’t think that this is a very probable scenario where people will be curating their own. If they get too many messages on messenger and they start to get a better experience, it’s going to come down to two things. They’re either going to curate and delete the things that they don’t need and they don’t want or they’re going to switch and use other messengers for communication with their people. The other thing is also not really probable because messengers have this gravitational pull of all the users who are already using those messengers. If your friends and family and colleagues use Facebook Messenger it’s going to be really hard not to use it. I think that the most probable scenario that’s going to get actually happen is that either nothing is going to change and you’re just going to be talking to the … you want to talk or a messenger is going to introduce a separate tab for the businesses. You would have your personal conversations on one tab and you’re going to have your conversations with businesses on the other tab. That thing I think is going to bring the open rates down because you’re not going to see all the businesses like that tab is something that you can leave unread and it’s going to affect, right now it’s really hard to leave messages unread messenger because you are trained that those messages are important that they are coming from your friends and if you have that red badge on your messenger you’re checking it like most people try to keep it on the zero. If you have a lot of things that are irrelevant that don’t require immediate action from you like messages from the businesses then that badge is going to become less meaningful. I think there is a high probably that Facebook is going to introduce another tab for businesses but when we talked to Facebook about it, they said that they have no plans to do that. I think it’s if they see, the question is if they see a drop in customer like satisfaction and user engagement, they will definitely do that because the user engagement is the most precious thing for the Facebook messenger team. If there are no users, there will be no businesses. You got to watch out for the user and right now there is just not a lot of businesses who are doing messenger marketing like it’s growing crazy but hundred thousand pages is nothing compared to 20 million Facebook pages that are using messenger right now just one on one. When Facebook sees an increase in pages using messenger marketing and if they see a job in user engagement I think they will definitely introduce some kind of filters for people to get less messages which is going to affect the businesses but is still going to leave messenger marketing the most engaging trial on the market because it’s not a matter of what tab or something it’s a matter of our people checking that channel or not.

Balint Pataki: Exactly, just a couple of things that you mentioned. One of them is that it’s going to stay because of the attention. I think another thing that we don’t have on other channels on the future is the integrations that we can … businesses. The instant scheduling for them just for example or having information about delivery in e-commerce or whatnot so there’s more to this communication than the other communications besides being as probably in most countries, actually in most western countries the main source of communication between families and friends as of now. Another thing that you mentioned is that it’s going to be probably another tab and then it drops the open rates and the engagement rate and exactly that’s the reason I suggest everyone jump on it now because there’s a bigger opportunity now. They have just more room to experience and to master this skill because messenger marketing is different from email marketing. Their communication is different and you have to learn it in a way. What would you suggest for marketers that jump on messenger marketing, how do they learn the craft of making these probably smaller messages a little bit more relaxed or laid back style of messages?

Mikael Yang: Yeah. I think you mentioned most important things and every channel of communication has its own tone of voice and their own context of where that communication is happening. Messenger happens in a channel where people are used to talking with their friends and family. Those communications are short and those communications are less formal. They’re much more one on one, much more personal. I would suggest experimenting bringing down that ton of voice from formal to something much more casual and keeping the messages shorter and making them interactive. That would be the third thing making them interactive, inserting buttons, inserting ways for the person to express themselves because it’s much more of a conversation and much less of a here is this thing like go and do something. It’s much less direct. If you want to have that rapport of your audience, it should be more suggestive like hey, what do you think about this and the person can express their opinion and the conversation will go down different paths. If you’re a smart marketer both of those paths will lead to the conversion event that you want the person to do but it will be a differently structured conversation. For a person who is like hey, are you only starting with bots or are you already an advance marketer? They can say I’m only starting or I’ve already built auto bots and depending on that answer you can position your product for that specific segment and say if you’re only starting out we have five like the first five lessons are on the basic things you will learn everything from the beginning and if they’re already an advanced user you say did you know that in the last five lessons we are covering some really interesting and not widely known techniques and tips and trips for advance bot marketers. It’s still the same product. It’s still the same course but you are talking to the needs of the customer. I’m not suggesting like you somehow mislead them. I’m suggesting that you provide them the value that they’re looking for by positioning your product the way that is going to solve their problems if the products is solving the problem. If it’s not, don’t lie to your customers. That’s a bad thing to do.

Balint Pataki: I see it in a way that it should be like a win-win situation and for marketers we get to speak their language. It’s trust higher conversion rates and from their perspective they get exactly what they want and they don’t have to dumbler on stuff that’s unuseful for them.

Mikael Yang: Yeah. Think like a salesman. If the person comes to salesman, he doesn’t have this one script for everyone that is just linear from A to point B. Most salesman think about their customer, what does that customer need? Maybe you have two products. Maybe you have a product for the beginners and a product for advanced people and if you get to know your customer you can suggest them the product that fits best with their current needs. I think that’s the power of the bots. It’s the ability to have that conversation and to basically get to know the customer and then see how you or your business can provide value to that specific case of that customer.

Balint Pataki: That’s what I also often say that it’s like one on one intimacy scaled like a salesman actually being there but not limited to one person or just a couple of person in the room. One of the most requested upcoming features for ManyChat was integration with Zapier and you no doubt did it for awhile. I was actually testing within the beta and it’s awesome. We have many opportunities to link different … so if someone doesn’t know Zapier, it’s a software that enables you to connect different softwares together and pass through information through them. One of the used cases I often use is integrating with an email service so people are able to type their email addresses and then automatically put in to a separate list on your newsletter software and they get an email there. What are the best used cases that you’ve seen so far for a couple of months I guess?

Mikael Yang: Yeah, it’s been out for two months I think. The best used cases would be like to get the email. Marketers are worried about Facebook controlling the communication and the channel between them and the customer so marketers want to have a backup and they do have a conversation open on messenger but they still ask for an email and put it in their list so that in case something goes wrong they still have the email of the person which is totally understandable. The channel is in beta. I think that’s one of the most frequent used cases. The other one would be synchronizing with CRM. Get on leads through messenger creating cards or like contacts in the fusion soft cards and Trello or something and then tracking those cards and updating those cards as the conversation goes on. That would be I think second one. The third one would be actually creating calculators and quizzes and really sophisticated automations through the use of Zapier. For most people it will be too complicated to set up but you can do really sophisticated stuff through our Zapier integration. Basically you can at any point inside the messenger float, you can ask Zapier, you can trigger a zap that will go out in external service, get some data and then send them back into ManyChat which allows you to basically infinitely extend ManyChat to do anything. Recently just a few weeks ago we released a new version of Zapier integration which allows you to first of all search by custom field, so now if the person fills out their email for example or a phone number in messenger and you already have that in some kind of a database like in your own CRM with their phone number or email, you can configure a length between the CRM and ManyChat and based on that email for example or that phone number, you can find the person like for example if the person moved inside the CRM to the next stage, you can actually go to ManyChat, find that person by the email and then send them a message or subscribe them to a sequence or do something. That’s pretty huge in terms of the ability to synchronize between systems and the second thing is you can now send not only text messages from Zapier but you can now actually trigger whole flows with like cards and buttons and galleries et cetera right from Zapier through a messenger. It’s pretty cool actually.

Balint Pataki: Yeah. I’m actually obsessed with all of these automation opportunities and it also provides an easy way to have something from the offline word into the online words. One of the things is like events where people have these lists and you can have this Google Sheet for example and you’re able to track who attended the event and whatever interested in and exactly what you said put them on a sequence on an automation. What are some things that Facebook doesn’t allow you that you would love to build but there are some limitations that’s coming from the messenger side. For example typical would be like having only three button options or some limits.

Mikael Yang: Yeah. I think the things that you can do right now, we’re only scratching the surface with what you can do with messenger. There is no one thing that I’m like only if we have this then we would give so much more value. The things that are already possible with the messenger platform are infinitely impossibilities. I think the only thing that comes to me like being able to trigger a URL from a quick reply. Right now quick reply can only trigger a message like it will be cool if a person pressing on a quick reply could open or view. But it’s not a huge thing. It’s not something that I would be like this is weird right now using messenger possibilities to I think about 5% of what’s possible with it. It’s much more about us building a platform like cases the used cases, creating the templates, creating the guides for marketers, for agencies, for businesses to enable them to get more, to become closer to their customers.

Balint Pataki: Talking about that so you can expand greatly on the already available messenger functions, we actually talked about this early summer I guess. We talked about how cool would it be to filter people and have different flows for them. As we talked back they are interested in different like both markets are done just a starter, would they have very different messages than advance one but after a while you could have the same message for them but you still filter them all. What’s to know about this feature?

Mikael Yang: Definitely, filtering and the ability to do logic inside the flows is something that is coming up really soon. We are already working on it so it’s not like a thing on the roadmap. It’s going to have some time, we are right now working on it and we’re going to release it soon. That will expand the things that are possible with messenger a lot because right now everything is very deterministic. The button leads to a message or it leads to some actions or something. Now there will be much more flexibility. The button could lead to different messages based on who is pressing that button which opens up a lot of avenues for creativity in terms of what marketers and business owners will be able to do with this.

Balint Pataki: Some of the things that even Facebook provides, for example the time is only if you could just filter out like you do a webinar for example and then you have audience from across the globe you can still [inaudible 0:36:39] probably split it up into two parts so it’s not 4 AM in the middle of the night for them.

Mikael Yang: Yeah. You can actually do that already if you’re talking about broadcasting you will be able to do that. You can target people really specifically. If you’re talking about segmenting them out using sequences or something that’s coming.

Balint Pataki: Thank you. I think I will jump into the community questions because I told on Facebook groups that I will interview you. Loise asked what’s a good frequency to target repeat customers without fatiguing them? A little bit back about this fear of the people … so many brand messages, how to do it as of now.

Mikael Yang: It depends on your bots. There is no right one size fits all answer to this question. We have people who are broadcasting two times a day. We have people who are broadcasting once a month and both are getting great results. It depends on what people expect from your bots, how you’ve said those expectations and do you have the content to broadcast more frequently or less frequently. The bot that was, I’m talking about the broadcast twice a day is a bot that specifically says I’m going to send you news in the morning and in the evening about this and that and this is how it works. If you want to subscribe, subscribe. If you don’t, don’t. if we are talking about just businesses in general like SMBs, restaurants, e-commerce or something, I would suggest that if you’re not creating content every day, if you’re thinking about communicating with your audience, I would suggest something along the lines of once a week, once every two weeks so that you should provide value. If you don’t have anything to say don’t just send something because you feel that you have to talk to your audience. If you don’t have anything to say don’t talk or create something that’s going to be interesting for your audience but don’t just have a schedule and like we got to send something this week so like let’s send something. People are just like you. They want to get value. They want to be spammed with irrelevant messages that don’t have any meaning. If you think about people think about what would be interesting to you, the golden rule. It’s just like market to other people as you would want to be more marketed to you.

Balint Pataki: I actually wanted to add it but you said it perfectly. One of the other things that you can ask them like you can segment them on that and filter them out. You can send out for some people once a week. You can send for some people twice a day. It’s totally possible.

Mikael Yang. Yup and then use that targeting to send the messages to people who wants to get twice a day or sent twice a day.

Balint Pataki: Definitely and you have some conversion in mind in the future, you can also rate these people how active they are. There are some awesome features of managerial probably, some people don’t know about what’s the last interaction. You can re-engage them and ask what’s going on? Is it not actual for you anymore and then they open up in many cases. Actually I like this but right now blah-blah-blah and you have a conversation and you can get to know your customers better. Sinan asked what are the best practices for e-commerce businesses?

Mikael Yang: I think e-commerce businesses should first figure the channel itself. I’ve seen two approaches. First, treat it as a better email like send shipping instigations, send receipts, send updates about what’s in stock or actually people do cart them and then through this. There is lots of things that you can do with messenger that are right now done through email and with much greater success. The other thing is use messenger for live chats. Actually talk to your subscribers. Talk to your potential customers or customers who have already bought something and that’s what messenger is made for. Email is less convenient in terms of one on one communication. It’s slower and it’s bulky in terms of you have a signature, you have an intro, it’s not this easy fast thing that is really lightweight that you can do on the go. I think using messenger as a live chat communication tool will be also one of the things that e-commerce will start doing more and more over the next year.

Balint Pataki: Thank you for bringing that up. Actually, email is the electronic mail and messenger is sending just messages on chat application. That’s good to put into perspective. One of the things Facebook is probably a little bit unsure about or causes a lot of confusion is the 24 hour rule. Darryl asked what opportunities are for marketers to message people who specifically want to be on your notification list but they haven’t interacted with your bots in 24 hours but you want to send a promotion.

Mikael Yang: They’ve made it really clear that even if people subscribe to your promotions, you cannot send them. What you can do I think is that I would have to check with the messenger policy team but I think what can be done is you can tell them do you want to get a reminder whenever we have news for you? Or do you want to get a reminder every Tuesday 10 AM and if they say yes then you can send them a reminder which doesn’t contain the promotion and then when they click on the reminder like saying open the reminder or chug the reminder then they’ve interacted with the bot and then the 24 hour rule opens up and then you can send a promotion as a response to that click. I don’t think that that solved the initial thing but if they are really into the bot and they actually want to get the notifications you could set up this system like this but I think Facebook is going to come up with its system to actually send promotional messages after the 24 hour rule. There’s got to be like something and I think that’s just going to be the way that they make money is like by just having some kind of a paid way to send messages. Actually, they already have a paid way to send messages. It’s called sponsored messages but I don’t think that that is working for the market because wit works more like ads and you don’t control who get the message, you don’t control when they get it. It’s like hey just show some people that interacted with my bots this message and you’re just like maybe someone will see it.

Balint Pataki: Yeah. If they introduce that that would be very good to have for example the tagging system from ManyChat, they limit it and somehow import it into the Facebook probably like the ad or Facebook broadcasting for payments whatever and then you can have your segmented list there as well.

Mikael Yang: Yeah. Let’s not get into the secret stuff but there is going to be I think some way to pay for the interactions that are promotional.

Balint Pataki: One of the things that I came up with is asking user questions because in many of the sales processes it’s all about getting to know your customers in a way and I think when you can cleverly form a question and it’s not directly related to the promotion but perhaps you get your customers better and get to know them better and after they answer they probably have their interest as well. If they don’t answer they probably have the interest anyways and if they answer you’re within the 24 hours so that’s a good time to send your promotion after follow up. One of their questions are about if you have any special tips about list segmentation? I found list segmentations are very important and what do you see, what users have to do what are the best practices on that?

Mikael Yang: We’ve introduced some of the really important ways to segment your list based on the interactions that the user had. Not only you can tag people based on the way that they pressed or didn’t press any buttons but also the way that you can actually segment that list afterwards based on those tags based on the growth tool that they’ve entered the bot exit through or based on the last user or the first user interaction inside the bot. For example you could only target people who have interacted with the bot in the last week to get the most recent users or you can have the people who have interacted with the bot in the last week but also signed up a few months ago. You are now getting active users who are your regulars or you can segment the users who have not interacted with the bot in the past three weeks so you’re getting the slipping away users who have been active but now are not. There’re definitely some really interesting ways to segment users and I think segmentation is really key to sending relevant messages to the right users at the right time.

Balint Pataki: I totally agree. Every time I want to create a segmentation I think about how can I make my messages more personal and segment them according to that. If they have two different interests then they’re segment according to the interest as well. Steven asks what are the biggest mistakes that are made by messenger marketers as of now?

Mikael Yang: I think treating messenger marketing as an email marketing in the same way. I think we always compare messenger marketing to email marketing but as any new challenge, you got to adapt and you got to adapt to the medium and it’s much more personal, it’s much more shorter for them, it’s much more engaging, it’s more visual. You got to use pictures. You got to use gifts. You got to use emojis. You got to be informal because it’s freaking messenger. It’s where your friends talk with you. You shouldn’t be talking like a business. Maybe that’s your style but most of the businesses should be much more informal. It’s a private friendly means of communication and you got to stay forth. You got to stay engaging. You got to use buttons. In email you got to send like if you have some things to say like a lot of things you send along email. On messenger, you don’t send a long message. You send a short message with the outline and then you attach buttons to it and the buttons then open up other messages. I would say the number one mistake would be not adapting to the …

Balint Pataki: What were the funniest situations that have arise on out of the messenger marketing? Did you see something like you were surprisingly funny or good solutions?

Mikael Yang: Some of the surprising situations is that some people think that they are talking to bots and most of the time their messages are actually getting read by humans. That creates some really uncomfortable situations when for example men could send some pictures to the supposed bots which is not a bot but an actual person looking at those pictures. Our support team quite frankly has to sometimes go through those unsolicited personal photos as I might call them.

Balint Pataki: Politically correct.

Mikael Yang: I think it’s going to be like there are a lot of fun things. People behave much really different when they think that they’re talking to a bot whether compared to when they think that they are talking to a human. They know that the bot or assume, maybe in the future bots will have feelings but right now they know that the bot doesn’t have feelings so they are much more direct and much less kindness towards the bot that they say mean things to the bots. I think those kinds of situations could be considered funny when you read through them but that would be my answer.

Balint Pataki: Sometimes I’m very surprised when I look at manually on the messages and I … what did you do here.

Mikael Yang: For some reason people think that those conversation like they’re talking … they know that. It’s like it’s a business page. They’re sending messages to a business so they know that those conversations are in some way private or something because businesses have different people working in support et cetera. Sometimes when people posts particularly really mean things to the bot you just want to go like screenshot that. Maybe send them a reply, don’t do it. We are actually people sitting here.

Balint Pataki: I actually setup a standard message in Facebook inbox that please mind your language. Actually one of the things that I appreciate about you also comes along with the marketing focus that ManyChat has is that you are most likely a messenger marketing platform and not a bot reading platform in a way. How important do you think that people are forward about like is it are you talking to a bot or the messages are answered by people because if it is buttons and instant answer, sometimes there is this confusion and people aren’t sure about that. How open should the businesses be about that?

Mikael Yang: I think they should be pretty open. There are buttons like people don’t send buttons to each other. People send messages and they talk and they communicate and they figure out what they are going to do together. I don’t think that it’s a secret that whenever you are getting a message with buttons like it’s automated and be talking to you. I think it should be noted that sometimes it’s going to be a bot sometimes it’s going to be a person and the difference should be clear to the customer so that they know what to expect and how to interact with this either person or a bot. I don’t think that marketers should be hiding the fact that this is not a … like you are not hiding them and it’s not automated. If you’re doing a broadcast, an email broadcast, is that an automated message? Yeah, it’s going out to a thousand people but you wrote it. I don’t think that’s automated. I think sequences could be considered automated because everyone is getting this input. Again, you wrote that message like if it’s a like consider an educational course. A seven day crash course and Facebook marketing like you’re signing up for the course and then you’re getting the messages. Yes, the messages are automated but as a person you are expecting like I don’t think that somebody is expecting the teacher to be there exactly seven days after the person subscribed sending them a personal message manually. I think the distinction should be clear to the customer and I think that there is already a lot of hints about is that bot speaking or is it a person speaking.

Balint Pataki: Exactly, that is always also my answer and it should be obvious from the context about what’s going on because if they just engage with the bot and they have personal questions and they get an answer even if I don’t sign it it’s a personal answer.

Mikael Yang: Sometimes people start to talk through live chat with people in there saying is that the bot asking me and you’re like no, it’s me, it’s Mike. I just want to know this thing. Soon those are going to be bots. AI is going to get to the next level where it’s going to be like now we actually have to somehow make sure that people are understanding is that the bot speaking or is it a person speaking.

Balint Pataki: The way I do is if I answer in a time limit so it could be also bot. Sometimes I just have it open as a tap. I definitely sign it but it’s me after the first message but if it started conversation then yeah, they should know that it’s me on the other side. Thank you. These were the community questions and I asked every guest of the podcast, there are so many interesting people in the industry in developing chatbot, having knowledge about the marketing, who would you nominate as our next guest?

Mikael Yang: I would nominate Molly Pittman. She started talking about messenger bots a long time ago and she knows about messenger marketing more than I do. She started a lot of content about it when nobody knew about ManyChat or messenger marketing specifically and she knows how to get results. She was the one to get 500% ROI for digital marketer using messenger marketing. Definitely, I would nominate her.

Balint Pataki: Okay, thank you. I will definitely invite her because actually, she made me check out ManyChat again back in last year I was like yeah it’s good but probably there are other options and she was always talking about ManyChat. I’m like I should probably just give it a second time and I didn’t regret that. Thank you. If people are interested in ManyChat what shall they do, what’s the next step in a way?

Mikael Yang: Go to manychat.com, it’s M-A-N-Y-C-H-A-T.com and check out ManyChat. It’s free. Login with Facebook. Connect like any page or create a test page, doesn’t matter. Just send your first broadcast to yourself. Just feel the power having a way to send a message to all your messenger subscribers with this visually without having to code anything. If you want to grow your business, if your business is if you think that your subscriber is your customer are using Facebook Messenger or just Facebook in general just I think you will really like it. The next step would be to go to ManyChat, we have unlimited free plan like there is nothing to it. It’s just like go check it out. If you like it you’ll like it. If you don’t just like close, nothing happens.

Balint Pataki: Actually in my review article that’s the first thing I wrote. ManyChat is so easy to setup, you’re just like two clicks and I’m already …

Mikael Yang: We have a new onboarding in place, which… actually did you, see that?

Balint Pataki: I just saw the new landing page or the new design of the page.

Mikael Yang: Yeah. If you connect, your account is already connected. If you see one of your clients or somebody connects like their first page, you will see that we have a new onboarding which is pretty cool. It walks you through the setting up here, your welcome message thing, your first broadcast and it’s pretty awesome.

Balint Pataki: Okay. Probably next time I will just sit next to a client and show things around. Amazing, thank you for your time and you shared your insights with us, thank you very much.

Mikael Yang: Thank you for having me.

Balint Pataki: Thank you, bye. I hope you like the interview. You can find the links and the full transcript of this episode at chatbottutorial.com/4. I would love to continue the discussion so please comment under the post or leave us a review on iTunes to support the podcast. Also, you can ask questions for the upcoming episodes that me or my guests can answer for you. Just hop over to chatbottutorial.com/ask and they will record your question there. If you’re interested in learning more about messenger marketing, I regularly host a free live training online. You can sign up via chatbottutorial.com/webinar. Thank you for your attention and talk to you in the next episode.

Let me know in the comments what you think.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Chatfuel Review – The Best Messenger Bot Builder?

When I first started building chatbots 11 months ago, I tested all available tools on the market. I even started learning how to code.

I was quite delighted to find Chatfuel. I was able to build basic flows with it and could understand what was going on without having to “mine” my text out of a swarm of {><.[] characters.

Having said that, Chatfuel might be not the best fit for you, but there are many other great builders out there (especially since last year). If you’re still unsure which one to choose, read my article about the best chatbot builders available.

My first chatbots were very experimental. Facebook opened Messenger as an ad platform in November 2016, and I looked at the bots as extensions of FB ads. I needed a way to automate the first messages after the post, create segmentations and be able to retarget users. Ideally, they would be easy to create and duplicate so I could test and quickly implement the working concepts for other FB pages, niches, products.

Chatfuel was not only able to provide these functions but has been constantly improving and adding more each month ever since. Unsurprisingly, they managed to add publications such as Techcrunch and ABC news to their portfolio.

In this review article, I’m going to go over some of the things that I think can be important to review before putting your trust in Chatfuel.

Setting up

The setting up of Chatfuel is very straightforward. Just log in with your FB (which is just a click if you’re already logged in to Facebook). You have to give Chatfuel necessary permissions to manage your messages.

What I don’t like is the compulsory FB page connection to your ‘first bot’. Anyway, setting up a FB page is very easy and Chatfuel directly offers this option.

chatfuel start

When you’ve done that, the dashboard looks like this. This is where you will see an overview of all the chatbots that you’ve created/cloned.

chatfuel dashboard

The tutorial templates can help you explore some of the functionalities and use cases to make sure you glean more from your Messenger bots.
Tip: Click on the ‘View All Templates’ to see the template I’ve created for Chatfuel, especially if you’re interested in Event Chatbots. 😉

Chatfuel’s Features

This is where Chatfuel really shines. Some of the functions you won’t need. Some of them are easy, such as creating a message or adding an image. Some of them enable more advanced Messenger flows and can be quite complex to set up. In my course, Bot Mastery I explain these in detail so anyone can do it for their business.

If you’re starting out with chatbots, I would recommend starting rather slow, or on a test FB page, so you give yourself enough room for inevitable mistakes.

In this section, I’m going to expand on the following features:

  1. Blocks
  2. Artificial Intelligence
  3. Growth Tools
  4. Sequences, Broadcasts
  5. Plugins

Blocks (Messages)

This is the most straightforward part, so I’ll start here. These are the basics of the chatbot. The user engages with the FB Page, and Chatfuel answers with a block, which can have more messages in it.

So what elements can messages have?

chatfuel cards

Cards are probably not the best name here, but you see what’s going on here.

Text –No matter how many fancy other elements we have inside the chat applications, text is always the cornerstone of communication.

chatfuel messages

You can add up to 3 buttons after every text you create.

The best way to create the flow of messages is to connect different blocks together. Admittedly, the easiest way you can do that is by adding buttons (max 3) under the text.

Image – very straightforward; you can communicate with images. Unfortunately, there is no drag and drop or link function

Gallery – This type of Messenger element is a great way to combine images, texts and buttons. Moreover, you can stack them together, so users can just swipe to find their ideal option. It’s great for offering menus or different products to buy. Also, you can choose from 2 extra functions for your button (Share, Buy).

chatfuel gallery

People can share or buy your stuff directly from Messenger.

 

List – Somewhat similar to the Gallery option, but here you list the items vertically. People are more used to scrolling upwards, but it takes up more space in the conversation.

Chatfuel tends to focus on available features, so what Messenger enables, they try to offer us eventually. I was somewhat surprised when it took quite a while until the element became available.

Quick replies – These horizontal buttons offer yet another great way to connect blocks with each other. It is also possible to save the clicks as attributes. You can use them directly under the elements listed above, but not the following ones.

Audio – A great way to add variety to your messages. Supports up to 25 MB and has to be linked (hosted somewhere). I recommend Dropbox to keep things easy.

Video – Same spiel as audio, but adds an extra visual element. This is where the 25 MB limit can be more restrictive. Bigger videos can take quite a while to load, so the limit is somewhat useful.

Typing – A great way to send delayed messages and show your user that they should stay there for an incoming message. 20 seconds is the max, but you can add more afterwards.

User Input – The best way to:
1. Capture information
2. Carry on the conversation without buttons

chatfuel user input

You can also validate the user input, to make sure you get the type of data you’ve asked for.

Share Location – This is a special type of user input. A very precise location can be sent to the chatbot with just 2 clicks of a button. This comes in very handy when you want to display directions to your physical

This comes in very handy when you want to display directions to your physical business, or create segments based on the cities and countries the users are located in.

As I already mentioned (and suggested), you can trigger (and also connect with each other) these blocks through button clicks. But there are also other ways the users can reach the certain blocks. In the next two sections, I would like to mention them.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) aka Keywords

When people first learn the concept of chatbots, they think about chatting with a machine. They naturally just want to type in their answers and have the chatbot understand their intent. In practice, however, it often doesn’t work out that way.

Actually, Facebook even took a step back in March and encouraged the usage of buttons even more. I’m not saying you should disable the user input, but with Chatfuel, you will rarely provide a great experience if you don’t guide your audience.

In most cases, I suggest you only mention certain keywords for users but try to cover as many expressions as possible, without causing trouble… (see images below)

It’s great that you can set up a random answer in case it’s often used.

chatfuel keyword options

Make sure your chatbot is not boring by giving more canned answers.

Chatfuel’s Keywords tool is more than just keywords. It is capable of grabbing the user’s intent, even if it does not match 100% the AI setup.

For example, if you add “What’s the time?” to the tool, it will still recognize the question if the user asks “what time is it?” Unfortunately, it can also be a negative experience.

chatfuel keyword recognition

There should be a different intent behind ‘no’ and ‘no problem’.

Growth Tools

This is an area where Chatfuel has improved a lot over the last couple of months. Of course, there is still huge room for improvement, but we’re well equipped with a good basis for luring more users into our Messenger funnels :).

I believe there are 3 very powerful methods to acquire customers and Chatfuel offers them all:

– Comment auto reply method

– FB ad with Messenger as ad destination

– Landing page with a button to the bot

 

Comment auto reply method

You can find more information in my Facebook Comment Method article , so I’m not going to go into further detail here. You can acquire new users just by leaving a comment on your post.
The setup is straightforward, let this picture do the talking:

chatfuel autoreply comment method

You have to setup a new rule for every post that you want to use.

Facebook Ads

There hasn’t been much help regarding this from Chatfuel’s side, but fortunately, FB made it easier over the last couple of weeks. So there’s no real reason to use the JSON anymore.

You can just set up buttons to point to specific blocks.

Landing Page with a button to the bot

This is a great addition by Chatfuel. They automatically create a landing page for your bot when you connect it with a FB Page. There’s a great showcase of the welcome message there which you wouldn’t have any other way. This also gets rid of the friction with the “Get Started” button.

chatfuel landing page

Standard Landing Page is provided for every page by Chatfuel.

Sequences, broadcasts

Being able to send out messages based on certain criteria is hands-down the biggest selling point of Messenger Marketing. You will experience open and click-through rates that are unheard of in email marketing within the last couple of years.

You can select the subset of users you’d like to send messages to based on the information that Facebook provides or you’ve collected with your Messenger bot.

Also, you know the time zone of the user, so you’re able to time the messages to certain hours no matter where the user is located in the world. I’ve built a bot with educational content that sends out messages on a regular basis.

regular broadcast chatfuel

You can select the days, time, and time zone of a repeat broadcast.

Sequences help you send messages based on a trigger in the chatbot. You can set up messages for every new user for 7 days to learn more about your company or send them reminders if they didn’t complete an action. There are a lot of opportunities here to optimize the customer experience.

Overall, you have fewer plugins to work with in the broadcast section, but you can always link to certain blocks with buttons.

A very recent addition to Chatfuel is that it also tracks the link clicks of the broadcast messages.

chatfuel broadcasting

Sending out messages in the users’ timezone is not always possible via email…

Plugins

I’m going to go over some of the plugins that Chatfuel offers. There are more, but these are the most common used ones.

Chatroom

You can put users of your chatbot together to chat with each other if they want. Users can see each other’s name, but they cannot talk privately unless they search for each other.

chatfuel chatroom groupchat

Me casually chatting with myself via a group chatbot…

While users are actively using a chatroom, the chatbot won’t send messages to them (unless it’s a broadcast message).

Attributes

You can set up attributes based on the answers or button clicks of the user.

You can put your users into different baskets and communicate with them accordingly. You can ask them if they want to receive weekly or bi-weekly updates from you. About Bitcoin or Etherium. In English or German. There are no real limits here. You can also track the progress of sign up or challenge by adding attributes.

You might want to ask explicitly for certain information and save it, such as age or email.

Go to block

The ability to create different pathways for different segments or buckets is what makes chatbots so powerful. One of the first examples I used was splitting the audience according to gender, as Facebook provides. But you are free to use any information you’ve already collected. When you understand this part, you will religiously set up attributes for your messages.

 

Limitation, Issues

Chatfuel does a great job at providing as many possible features as possible without completely overwhelming the user. Therefore, this section is going to be rather short, but there are still some things I’d like to point out.

Comment autoreply

For me personally (and for others as well), there were(are) quite a few issues with its reliability, so I switched back to FB Auto reply, which also provides more advanced options (read about it here).
The first message can’t contain attributes, which isn’t a big deal, but would be great to have.

To trigger the first block after they answer, the first message is only possible via a keyword. This way, it isn’t so easy to track people. It also may interfere with other parts of the chatbots. In many cases, you’d want to use an easy word that increases the likelihood that the new users will type.

No live Messages

Without coding knowledge, it is not possible to change attributes for individuals or to see the conversations inside Chatfuel. If there’s something to fix or add or note, you have limited opportunities. The collected data (attributes) is also hidden in the conversations unless you track it in a sheet or some other system. I’ve already seen plans for this and eagerly wait for the release of this function.

Zapier 1 way communication

This could help the previous issue. Sending information or messages back to Chatfuel via Zapier could add a completely new range of possibilities. Imagine someone is attending a webinar of yours and it is automatically marked in your chatbot, so you can follow up accordingly.

Button Click Data

When you link out to a web page or provide a phone number for the button action, you have no information about whether the user clicked on it or not. For that, you would need some advanced settings or find workarounds, which makes it less likely for you to properly track the clicks.

 

Price, Support

Price

Since I started to use Chatfuel, the topic of removing their branding has always come up quite frequently. Their business strategy apparently concentrates on acquiring as many new users as possible in the early years of chatbot builders.

 

Two indicators for that:

  • The free accounts come with a mandatory Chatfuel button on the first level of the persistent menu.
  • Pro accounts can only remove the branding (or the entire persistent menu) and don’t have anything else to go with them.
chatfuel branding removal

This is how the ‘Create a bot on Chatfuel’ looks like. Taking up much of your Messenger ‘real estate’

Prices start from $30 for the first 1000 (reachable) users, go up gradually from there, and adjust each month.

Just a couple of milestones for you to get a rough estimate:

1500 users $48
2000 users $72.
3000 users $102
5000 users $150
10000 users $275

From 100,000 users ($2525) custom solution is needed.

chatfuel price calculator

The price can go up quite significantly if your chatbot gets traction.

All the functions are the same, so unlimited messages and requests are included. You can only reach users if they messaged the page after it was connected to Chatfuel.

Also, note that the subscription is tied to the Facebook page, so you can freely clone and add new versions to your page as your chatbot evolves.

Support

I’m in a unique situation and have the ability to talk directly to staff.Having said that, every time I come across an issue I do a quick search in the community forum. In many cases, someone has already had this issue, desire or experience, so no extra messages are needed.

The staff and moderators are frequently on the community forum and communication is fluid between team members.

In some cases, there is a bigger time bridge until an answer arrives. In these cases, the status page (http://status.chatfuel.com) comes in handy.

Balint Pataki with Dimitriy Kachin - Chatfuel

With Chatfuel’s Head of Partnerships – Dimitriy Kachin

 

Conclusion

 

Chatfuel is one of the earliest bot builder platforms that put its focus on Messenger. Providing a big range of functionality without branding removal, backed by a great team and investors (among others) made Chatfuel not just one of the biggest, but one of the best general chatbot builders.

Personally, my favorites are the attributes combined with “go to blocks” and the ability to add integration.

If you want to start quickly with a great range of functionality, you can’t really go wrong with Chatfuel. It’s not a coincidence I cover Chatfuel in detail in my Bot Mastery course and build many bots for clients on their platform.

If you want to learn more about Chatbots and Messenger Marketing, join my free webinar.

Hope you’ve liked my review about Chatfuel, let me know in the comments if you have anything to add or have a question.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

002 – Finding Bots – Interview with Botlist co-founder Seth Louey

Learn more about ways to find bots from Botlist co-founder Seth Louey.

Mentioned in the podcast:

Botlist.co

Golden State Warriors bot

Product Hunt

seth at botlist.co

Also, please find the whole transcript below.

 

Hi everyone, it’s Balint from chatbottutorial.com and today I have a guest with me. He’s Seth Louey, he is the founder of the BotList.co and today we’re going to talk about his experience with chatbots about BotList and in general about the design of bots.

-Hi Seth, could you please introduce yourself in a couple of sentences for the people who don’t know you yet?

-Sure. Hey I’m Seth Louey here, I am the co-founder of BotList. We basically are an app store for bots or I would like to say we try to connect humans to bots. We have been alive for about a year now, well a little over a year and we’ve seen some amazing things in the bot ecosystem and I’d like to think that we’re one of the best discovery platforms out there for bots.

-Ok, awesome, thank you. I know you designed websites before. Did it ever occur to you that the websites should be more interactive and not the way they are?

-Oh yeah. I could see this coming from many years away, actually when I first jumped on slack back in the day, I think it was like 3 or 4 years ago, we actually coded our own bot in slack and it was just something very fun to do, it was named Claptrap and it was just, you know, you could interact with it every day and it would just be a fun little tool to take away from, you know, work and it would be nice little break so we could definitely see in our action coming from a long way away, so yeah. It’s an incredible time to be in the space.

-Was there a need for you that you wanted to be more interactive with these forms or you just heard about it from somewhere?

-You know, I think the thing is like everyday everybody is so busy and you know if we can make things easier with automation it would give you more time to do the things that you really want to do in life. You could definitely see the need for it, especially with multiple social media channels and multiple tasks, everyday everybody needs to work harder and faster but we don’t really spend much time enjoying the everyday things, so when you automate some of your trivial tasks, it’s better for you, you now, to spend a lot of time in life doing the things that you really want to do.

-Yeah, that’s true, like the power of integration, so you can just see the IFTTT and
Zapier.
Exactly, exactly. So, what was your first bot experience?

– Well, before we launched BotList, we definitely tested a bunch of bots when they were first coming out, but before that I think the very first bot experience was the one when we built in our like internal communications and it was purely just for entertainment but I’d say, you know, the best integrations are the automated tasks like I said. I think IFTTT I wouldn’t necessarily call it a conversational bot, but I mean technically it is a bot when it automates a lot of stuff for you. So I would say very, very early on stages IFTTT was the first bot experience even though it wasn’t really a conversational piece. So if you look at it in that sense, definitely IFTTT, but as for like a conversational UI,  I think the posturing was probably one of the most memorable experiences, interacting with some of their, I think it was like Humanie (?) was their bot; that was probably one of the best experiences and one of those well factors of like ‘holy crap this, you know, conversational bot actually can just sit there and have a conversation with me’ and it’s not real human so I think that was very exciting and the most memorable.

-Thank you. So let’s go back to 2016 January when you started with the BotList. What did you know about bots back then? … that you had before, did you know that Messenger will open soon? What was the idea?

-Yeah, so the original idea for BotList came from a conversation with Ben Tossell, he was the Community Manager at Product Hunt. Ben actually was talking with myself and my co-founder Mubashar Iqbal and we were just talking about how, you know, bots would gonna be a thing; we knew Messenger like everybody could knew Messenger was a Facebook who was gonna talk, a little bit robot at F8 and I think this was in like January 2016. And all 3 of us kinda teamed up and said ‘well, there are multiple bots out there or they’re going to be multiple platforms out there’, so we needed like a one stop shop for finding all the bots, you know, there’s voice bots there is Alexa, Google Home, there’s the conversational UI, so we’ve just kind of thought about it, it’s like well everybody’s gonna have their own directory, Slack already has her own directory, so why not just create like one place where anybody can go and just search for, you know, something that will help them out everyday and that’s pretty much where we came from.

–  What there a point that you were like convinced ‘ok, boots are going to be big’? Was that an event or just continuous, like new companies entering into the space?

– You know, I think it really was like, at first we were, you know, thinking that it was going to be huge and we still do, you know, I personally went to F8 this year and just saw what are, you know, the possibilities of chatbots or conversational elements and that’s going to be huge. But originally, you know, we kind of created a lot of products and we kind of just like whatever sticks stick so this one, we kind of knew something was a little bit different with it from where we first started it but we weren’t sure how far it was going to go, and even then and even now. Because when we launched, a month after Ben actually didn’t have the time to put into, you know, driving the community because, you know, he had a full time job; I mean we all do but, you know, so he had to leave BotList, which was interesting just for the fact that we didn’t realise how huge this was gonna be. So like I said, to really further answer your question. I think there’s this like timeline of like you have this hype train and you keep driving it and in all of a sudden there is this… people are very impatient, so the hype train kind of like dies down a little bit and you know people start like questioning the product and you know the true believers kind of like skim off the top of like the true believers of you know bots and in general and we just kept our heads down and we believed and you know how bots can really automate, it’s just the development community needed to like kind of catch up and just be like ok we’ll figure out what’s the main purposes of these things and what are the tools that we can actually drive to make bots popular.

-Yeah, definitely, so some people being discouraged from bots because of, yeah, the expectations that they have. Actually I think the official communication of Facebook and Messenger is that they’re not chatbots, it’s just I think it needs more time for the better experiences.

-Oh yeah, I totally agree, but that really happens with everything, I mean, I look at like your first apps that came out on your iPhones. They wanted the best you know experiences but you know several years later there is over billion it like I don’t even know billions, I forgot what the number was, billions and billions of apps you know on your iPhone and people are just getting super overwhelmed by like downloading apps and trying new apps and testing, so there’s that as well and that’s why you know if you can get into one app and just test out a bot without downloading it, I mean, that’s pretty awesome where you start.

-Yes, the easy onboarding and no install is definitely a selling point against apps, you know. So I think I came across your site in November last year first time but you launched the day before the F8 conference 2016. What were the preparations back then? What was the basic of the website? I imagine it improved a lot since then.

– Yeah it definitely improved and we still have a long way to go, you know, nothing’s perfect. The thing is you know technically it’s not my full time job you know, so I actually have a full time job and Mobs does you know he contracts full time so we spend a lot of nights and weekends on BotList, so it’s not where we wanted to be yet and I don’t think it will ever be just for that you know I’m a perfectionist and everything changes and evolves, but so our preparation for the launching before F8 last year, was well, we knew we needed like a lot of content so we wanted to hit a mark, I think we tested and put on 400 or 500 bots in a time before our launching, so there was that we also went through the user experience. I am primarily a designer by trade, so I went in and you know I talked with the team and we would figure out ‘Ok, what’s the best experience? Can people test the bots, can people add media?’ So there was that, but yeah we launched the day before on Product Hunt and the theory was that if we can launch the day before F8 and Facebook just talks about conversational bots at F8 and they release the next day we can ride that wave of press and media. So we reached out to you know a bunch of publishers like TechCrunch, I think we were on Engadget, where are a bunch of tech blogs they publish and we just kind of rode the wave which was awesome. In that first day or two I think we’ve had like 90,000 people visit the site, which was pretty awesome. But you know a lot of work went into it, we worked on it since January and F8 was in April 10th of 2016, so hopefully it will improve in the next year so, but yeah it was pretty awesome.

-So you mentioned that Ben stopped after one month even though you had a pretty successful start. Was it really discouraging for you or you said ok I understand he’s busy and this is still a really hot thing to do and there’s the good future for you to stay?

-Yeah, that’s a great question. I think at first it kind of was because so Mobs and I have this theory since I’m a designer and he is you know our CTO. We always had this theory that best teams work in like three, so you need somebody to drive the product, need somebody to design and execute on a product and you need somebody to be there for the back and in like coating up the stuff that you’re coming up with, so the growth hacks whatever. And I think like at first we were really like kind of a little bombed that we didn’t have somebody you know the face of the company driving it, but then you know we took a step back and we talked about it for a little bit and we were questioning whether we get you know a third party, a person to join us or if we continue driving it and pushing it and I think the thing was that I really solved, I mean we both really solved it but I just got a little obsessive about bots and I just said you know like I’m just gonna to take the reins and we are just gonna go forward with it. We did test out another person joining the team about like a month later, that didn’t really plan out  but you know he was excellent and also you know getting us in front of VentureBeat so we are official media partner of the VentureBeat so it was nice. But yeah, so it was discouraging at first but we kind of you know took a step back and said ok, well if Facebook is running with bots and you know they have over 1 billion people monthly actively using this thing, then we could just continue with it, push it and drive it, so it was discouraging you know but it was a good thing because now we work a little stronger, that’s it.

-Yeah, Facebook actually just doubled down with bots F8 this year.

– Yeah, you could say that.

– So, you’re pretty active on Product Hunt and I think you were awarded as well. Didn’t you see any place for Product Hunt in these bots popping up like every other bot is published there as well or if it is just too generic for the bot ecosystem?

-No, I mean I see a lot of products or bots being hunted on Product Hunt. I’d say about an 8th of our bots are probably or have been hunted on Product Hunt. The thing is like Product Hunt is amazing community and look for Product Hunt for inspiration all the time. We actually, if you submit a bot and you have it on ProductHunt  as well, we want to feature that on your bot page so we have like a little call to action in a sense you know, discusses on Product Hunt or whatever. So people can actually go there and see what the Product Hunt look like. The thing is, I kind of like lost track of the answer, but I just get into it again, but Product Hunt is an amazing place for initial discovery, initial launches but we wanted to be the place for long-term communication for the bots and there is I guess a network of people that are interested in it, so it’s two different types of communities which is interesting. I’m not sure if I answered your question properly.

-Yeah, you did. So what is the biggest difficulty so far by building BotList?

– That’s a very broad question but I think the difficulty is the upkeep right now, we’re trying to automate a lot of that, you know, we still haven’t opened it up so botmakers can just edit their own pages, just because there’s an approval process we don’t want, you know, anybody going to the site and just seeing a bunch of spam, so that’s been kind of an issue I’d say. The biggest difficulty would be probably marketing BotList, but the thing is we’ve been in a game for so long that, you know, more and more people are starting to drive traffic to BotList and we have an excellent growth team that we were working with right now to market the bots to outside of the bot community and I think that’s interesting where we’re taking different tactics. Most people like basically market to the inner group, so there is like 25.000 people in this one bot group on Facebook. Most people are just probably trying market to them but we’re actually trying to market to other communities like entertainment or games (18m57s), so we are really just trying to put the focus on driving growth out instead of just keeping it in this like inner circle. I think that’s pretty difficult, but you know we are doing and excellent job right now, we have new users coming to the site every day every month and we are very excited about you know the future and what that can mean. So I think the difficulty of growing is tough especially when it’s, you know, I wanna call it a side project but it’s really not. You know, it’s a really full-time passion but like I said before, we both have full time jobs and I work on this still like midnight sometimes and I get up at 4 a.m.  So it can be tough week after week and that I don’t enough time in the day is probably the most difficult part.

-Yeah, I definitely wanted to comment on that that you have a full time job, you have BotList, which is another full-time project actually. If I’m correct you commute to work so you lose some time there as well and you even found the time to build some bots. What bots did you build?

-Yeah, so I’ve built a few. We built another platform called BotJobs and it basically uses BotList’s network to facilitate the jobs in the bot ecosystem, so we have our own like job boards, which is kind of nice, but I built that bot on Chatfuel, I built like some fun ones, I built a good bot, because I’m a huge Marvel fan, I love Marvel, and I just wanted to have fun and see how fast I could build the bot and in a weekend it was like 15 minutes on Chatfuel it took me and I was like getting the art, getting the assets so it was nice. I’m starting to build more with some time because I want to test out the other platforms like ManyChat it’s live, it has just come out with some new updates so I want to test that out. Probably the most well-known bot that I did build was, well I started building our BotList but the one that’s probably more well-known is, I built a utility bot for Steven Bartlett, so he is the CEO of a social media agency, probably the number one agency in England and you know it’s an interesting bot because Steven is kind of an influencer and he talks pretty much with everybody in his community so he spends most of the day responding to Snapchat or YouTube videos or Messenger and he came to me and he said you know I have all these messages inbound all the time I just need something to kind of like filter them and kind of put them into their own like little category that’s you know something Messenger doesn’t really do, they don’t really you know tag like ok this one’s about business or this one is about advice, so you can kind of like determine what the messages are and how fast to respond to them. So that one is an interesting part I would say. So I would say that the only ones right now that I can really talk about I have some in the works  right now. Since BotList isn’t you know driving, let’s say we are not funded so we don’t have, you know, we have funding through advertising and bot jobs and stuff; we are starting to get into like or maybe we can build some bots for some celebrities or influencers or anybody who really comes to us just so we can fund a little bit of stuff that we need for BotList, so we are starting to do some contract work as well.

– Ok, thank you. Many things I wanted to ask later on as well that you mentioned so let’s just go with the advertising. You offer some people to feature their bots, is that correct?

– Yeah, so originally we wanted to do inline advertising so when you go to BotList you will see, you know, the daily bots and we wanted just to put like hey this one is sponsored. So that means he’ll stay up all week long as to where every bot changes, the list changes every day and sponsorship is you know a weekly slot that somebody can be up there all week long, they can pay, we have some numbers on and what that will affect, we can put them into the newsletter, you know we’ll tweet about it or put it on Messenger and we’ll put it into some of our other resources to help promote that bot. We recently opened up like a top page slider, so we are starting to get more advertisement in there just so we can drive more traffic throughout the week. So that’s kind of interesting but we want to create more ways that our community can grow and help them grow. So we are trying to do as much as we can but we are looking for I guess a little kickback with advertisement just to fund like hosting and buying t-shirts and sending it to people so that’s what advertising really does. It doesn’t pay salaries or anything, I don’t really get any of that, it just goes straight back into the service, which is a great thing actually. We are trying to create more ways people can just grow and advertise and you know utilise the traffic that we get on a daily basis.

– Yeah and I know that you turn this money back into the business and also have the whole bot community grow in a way.

– Yeah, so we tell to all of our community that if they can write for a like we have a publication on Medium, they can talk about you know some of the stuff that they learnt and in turn we will promote that with using another service called Quuu that Mobs had you know in hand in building, which was kind of nice, so we promote other content on social media and it goes out daily and the promotion through Quuu is awesome, I can think that gets enough for helping us out and pushing you know the bot community to the masses, so for example in an article can get you know up till like I would say 2.000 viewers or maximum 2.000-3.000 viewers used it shared across social media; Quuu has been amazing with helping promote some of the bots.

– Yeah, that’s amazing. Facebook one of the things announced this year is the more prominent role in the Messenger for the businesses with bots. They have a discovery tab or some kind of discovery tool inside of Messenger. Do you think it’s a kind of a competition for you or it’s for a different targeting group?

– Yeah, that’s funny. I was at F8 and a lot of our community was there as well and they’re asking my thoughts on that and I still have an article that I’ve been writing and I haven’t got out yet just way too busy but I don’t think it’s a direct competition. It was interesting seeing the bot community, the bot builders out there, a kind of rejoice in the fact that there’s just a discovery tab but the thing is it’s like getting featured on the app store. How difficult is that? You know, it’s so difficult to get featured on the app store. Will you get a featured in Messenger? The opportunities are very slim, so you kind of have to take that into consideration when you are building a bot, you are not just gonna submit it to the discovery tab and just cross your fingers and hope it grows. That’s not gonna be beneficial to everybody. You kind of have to do the old school, you know, building valuable content around you, what your bot does, building up your page, building up your community. So to answer your question more thoroughly, there’s only one you know, that discovery feature is really only on one platform and we have I think 16 platforms of bots. So it’s not gonna like sync BotList of anything and I don’t think that it’s going to be hugely successful for everybody, it’s going to be successful for a very minor few how do get featured. And I’m very excited about it. I think people, you know, who build these bots and spend a lot of time into these products, I think it’s very good for the ones that do get featured but I just don’t want to discourage everybody from just crossing their fingers and hoping that are going to get featured through Messenger, because that discovery tab could go away tomorrow. You know, Messenger could determine that, it’s not the best approach to discovery so the might just shut it off tomorrow, who knows. So that’s why like you know sticking to a like third party platforms or end building up your community and submitting to BotList; I think those are very important and I hope that, you know, the bot builders in the community see that it’s not the best approach, it would be amazing to get featured on Messenger, but I hope that our community just kind of continues to push their products because they’re learning and evolving just for the fact that, you know, a lot of the stuff, a lot of the bots that are out there aren’t the best but you can learn in the depths from that and I hope that they don’t get discouraged if they don’t get featured, that’s my only like crocs  there.

– Ok, thank you. I hope for the best for you, for your future, I see you’re working already very hard and I think you deserve a long, long-term success with that.

– Thank you.

-So you have a background in design, you mentioned, you worked with Riot Games, Epic Games, Warner Brothers, Entertainment and one of the things on BotList many people probably don’t know is that you personally look at every bot and just decide if it’s of a good quality enough to be featured on BotList. So you must have seen quite a few bots. I think   you probably don’t publish the precise amount of bots on BotList but I tell everyone listening it’s quite a few. So coming from the design background, what was the thing that you saw like discouraging? What were the negative things that you see you come up again and again with the bots?

– Yeah, that’s a great question too. So just to give you a little background, we test all the bots just because we believe that in order for bots to grow it’s about quality not quantity and a lot of the bots that do get submitted a lot of times they don’t have like some of the very basic fundamentals of building a bot. Same for Messenger. You don’t have like to get started  buying or somebody goes there and I just don’t do that the bot is like blank and there is nothing happening and if you say hi, the bot doesn’t understand ‘hi’, or the bot doesn’t understand, you know, get started or something so simple and what we try to do in order to give better about this in the next like quarter or something, but what we try to do is whenever a bot has those issues we don’t publish it, we just don’t approve this omission just for the fact that it’s broken. So lot of times what I do is when I do get a chance, I try to email whoever submitted that bot and just basically give my feedback. I’m starting get a little bit better about this; what I’m going to do now is that I’m going to record my first initial thoughts and then send them to the submitter, or the bot maker or whoever. I did this last week with a special bot and it actually turned out really well and got a lot of feedback, like the entire team that was building the bot was, you know, amazed at my first initial reactions with the platform or the product. So I’m going to try to do this a little bit more and in an essence, you know like having that simple like get started or responding to hi or responding to an emoji. All that stuff is definitely needed within bots and you know when you don’t have that and you don’t think about it because you to focus on creating that one initial value but you have to consider that if I don’t know anything about your product and somebody sends me this, I need to know like the very, very basic about like what am I there for. Because a lot of people test things like it’s so easy to test a bot because you don’t have to download it, all you have to do is go to a Facebook page and hit message or whatever platform you’re on. So it’s so easy to test these bots that a lot of people don’t really understand the value before they even go there, because that is not like this learning curve, that is not an app store where you like look at that bot and read ok well this is what it is, this is BotList, but, you know, for example like you go to an app store, before you hear of something, you go to the app store you read about it and then you have to download it. There is no like process with that right now. So understanding the value and pitching your value in a very, very short amount of time is very difficult for a lot of people and I think, you know, focusing on human psychology and on initial conversations and not throwing a lot at somebody at once. I think those are the major like issues with bots now, those few things of being very simple and very informational at the same time. I think these are some of the main key factors that some bots that are out there are having difficulty with.

– Yeah, the barrier to enter the bot markets, so to say,  is really low actually and also like the expectation of people is kind of different because they probably just want to message a brand and they … (35m36s) have their first bot experience vs the app way where the app should have been approved by the company and then they go as you said to the landing page and then install the whole app.

– Yeah.

– So you work for a company where you deal with payment methods. One of things Facebook tries to do is be like the ManyChat of the West, so integrate many payment opportunities. How do you see the future for that, also in regards to the Messenger code that they just updated?

– I think it’ll take some time, my generation is so used to, you know, spending in store, online, by purchasing online for e-commerce that was huge, but I think it’s going to take a little bit to get people used to the fact that, or get people to trust the messenger payments. You know, Facebook is such a broad community and it it’s everywhere; there has been privacy concerns in the past and I think getting that security is going to be very difficult, like getting somebody used to or trusting the security around payments is going to be difficult. But you know, I’d say like if they can make me trust them with payments, I would do it. I mean I probably do it now anyways just for the ease of purchasing and something just because like if I’m messaging a brand or something and I see it right there, I want to make it the easiest way possible to get those goods. So I can see it being here, I just think there’s someone like not trust issues but, you know, learning curve with everybody the broad audience trusting messenger and inputting you know the credit card or whatever. The codes feature is kind of interesting; I’ve never really used QR codes or anything, I thought it was a trend at first, I tested it, I guess I could say like I didn’t really liked QR codes for the whole like grab  your camera, download a QR code reader, scan it, get push off to a site, you know, I think I didn’t really like that at first but testing the QR code reader at F8 this year, it was very interesting you know, just open up the messenger app, open up the camera, scan it. But the thing is, you know, when you can have multiple QR codes for a bot and inject the user into a specific sequence of the conversation, that’s kind of interesting. And I don’t think we’ve seen like one of those like ‘wow that was amazing moments’, you know. I mean we haven’t really seen that yet with the readers because the codes are so new, but I can see it being like, you know, you’re walking through maybe you go to an amusement park or better yet, you go through a library or you go through something and I guess it’s like a step by step, I can just see it being like very powerful with storytelling, in conversation or I can see it being very popular with brand. So if you go to Golden State Warriors game and they have, you know, QR codes and concessions; you can like maybe scan something and pay for it right there or, you know. I can see it being huge, but it’s going to take some time and, you know, we are just getting used to the fact that there are these automated responses when you talk to brand, so it’s going to take a little bit more time to really drive that at home.

– Yeah, definitely and one of the things I really like about the way they announced it that I know it’s not really a thing to use QR codes outside of Asia, but still we want to improve.

– Yeah, one more thing, I think it’s going to get easier also, because people are going to be used to be spending a lot of time with these messaging platforms, so Messenger or Kik, you know, people are going to get especially with the AR stuff that’s coming out, right. They are going to be so used to spending the majority of their time on these messaging platforms so having different ways to inject them into different experiences is very powerful. And I think you can be huge, just it’s going to take a little bit.

– Ok. I have a community question from … He asks: ‘What bot features resonate most with users, for example AI, webviews, usability, usefulness?’

– Yeah, you know like right now people are just kind of throwing content at their users and I think that’s good for like publications or you know, like TechCrunch sends me a daily like here are the top things you subscribed to you. I think that’s pretty interesting, but a lot of people try using those cards and galleries for specific things that technically are the best user experience. So I ‘d say, you know, the best feature that I’ve seen was the Golden State Warriors bot doing an excellent job with keeping me up-to-date with real time broadcast of like their Playoff games. I think that was an excellent experience, because I’m so busy, I don’t have time to pay attention to the Playoffs but I do like the Golden State Warriors, so letting me know that Stephen Curry maybe nailed a buzzer-beater 3 or something like that. I don’t have to go to ESPN now. I don’t have to go and watch the highlights, I can see it right in that brand. So I think, you know, being more personal with brands is huge. So I think technically it’s not really a feature, but that real-time broadcast, I guess, really is a nice feature. AI is going to take a little bit of time to really… down an experience but I can definitely see AI and AR being like huge within bots. They’re going to complement each other really well in the future, but I think that’s a little bit off. So I’m not sure if I really answered that question properly just for the fact that it’s taking time for everybody to really figure out what the best possible experiences are right now. But you know sending those real-time broadcasts are really nice, especially if you are a fan of, a brand, a bot or something like that.

– Yeah, actually you asked recently in a Facebook group about quotations, what people think what would be the good things to say about the bots and why to develop bots. And what I answered is like bots can bring 1 on 1 intimacy at scale for the platforms that people have the attention for. I think it’s just to add on their answer as well like this disability to have this personalised and broadcasting thing in the messenger itself is a huge thing. What would be your quote?

– Ugh…um…

– Sorry to  really put you on spot now.

–  Yeah, I really like your quote actually. I think the 1 on 1 is huge, especially for the fact that most brands now say like ‘I’d like a clothing brand’. Most brands aren’t very personal, you might go to the store, you might purchase something, you might leave. One day you could have a really great experience with that brand and the next day you can have a very terrible experience, because the cashier wasn’t very nice to you. So you have this like crazy wave of like very positive and very negative emotions within that brand in an ecosystem. I mean everybody has had that, so when you don’t have to interact with a human component in that fact, and the bot knows exactly what I like and what I don’t like, that’s huge for a brand. Having that key component and being more personal with that brand is definitely a beneficial, it could be very, very, very beneficial if the bot is built right. So I agree, you know, I would like to just pay back and say I really love that quote, I think it’s excellent and I totally agree 100%. As for my quote, I don’t know actually, you put me on spot too soon…I just think that, you know, bots can be an amazing, new, innovative way to reach out to individual users. And I think it will be very important for people to understand conversation in the future and that’s going to be the difference between a very successful bot and a very terrible experience as conversation.

– Yeah, the conversational design I think is going to be a huge topic and I would love to have your thoughts probably a later time on it, but yeah, I appreciate your time and would have two more quick questions if you don’t mind. One of the things is that you see so many bots, I don’t want to go like your absolute favourite bot, but for example from the last couple of weeks what was something that you saw and said ‘hm, that’s something new, something worthy’?

– Yeah, I very talked about the Golden State Warriors bot, I think that was an exceptional experience and I’m still amazed by it, if anybody wants to try it out you should, I definitely suggest like taking a look at how they’re interacting with users and messaging and broadcast. But that was an amazing one, one that I spent a lot of time with, there is a bot called Lemonade Stand and I don’t know if it’s still live, I haven’t played within awhile, but you know, the initial experience was very funny, it was a game, so it was kind of like teaching you lessons and entrepreneurship. So if you have 5 lemons and you know, you can get 10 glasses of lemonade out of that, how much would you sell of it to get a profit? I spent a lot of time with that bot, just because it was very interesting for the fact of like I’m an entrepreneur and I’m like ok well, I’m trying to figure this out and I’m trying to get you know my profits up and my expenses down, I was trying to figure out the equation there, so that was very interesting and I liked that. Yesterday I think we released a Walking Dead chatbot that one was cool too because so Telltale Games does this story mode of like if you are part of the Walking Dead and you know, you have these two options and you go down this one rabbit hole, what’s that experience like afterwards? But they are not Telltale, I don’t remember who the publisher was, but they just put out their own bot. They are promoting their game but at the same time they can have his life story modes and you can go through, that was kind of cool. But yeah, so the utility, I haven’t really like you know, other than fact of like Daily Digests  and stuff I don’t really spend much time with like utility bots and you know, because the return on like say if I’m looking for a flight. I don’t look for a flight every day so I’m not going to return to that body every day. There are multiple use cases there with like different types of bots, but I’d say, you know, those are the top ones after my head that I kind of enjoyed in the past few weeks. I see so many that it’s like everybody always asks me what’s the best bot. Well, you know, I test so many bots every day that I always forget about, I wouldn’t say I’m the best person to ask that question just for the fact that I test so many that I kind of like forget about that user experience, because there are new user experiences every day. So it’s kind of a good and bad question for me.

– And it’s also with so many eye opening topics that people have the first experience stronger in their memories. So for example learn about, I don’t know, personal development and the first book they read about it is always the best so to say, because that opened their eyes n a way.

– Yeah, exactly. And my eyes are so blinded by the fact of just like I have to go there and test and when I’m there like digesting the value of a bot model. I mean, does it have to get started by and does it have, you now, a response to ‘hi’, you know. So I’m not really there for like testing the value of the bot, I’m there for testing the user experience of the bot and making sure that everything’s proper, all the links are proper, I get a proper avatar image and things like that, so it’s very difficult for me. There is a lot of times like I said, I’m going to open up, I’m going to start doing book reviews and testing in the fact of sending those to the bot maker. So I’ll be a little more aware in the future of that experience, so I am very excited about that.

– Amazing. I know you like to listen to podcasts as well as I do, when you have time like in the car or doing sport and you can’t really do reading. So that’s actually one of the reasons I started this Podcast to help people learn about chatbots more when they’re on the go. Who would you nominate as our next guest, who would you like to listen to and why?

– Have you ever talked to Josh Bocanegra?

– Not yet.

– People know him because he’s teamed up with Christina Milian and they built a lot of celebrity bots. The fact that matter is that Josh is really smart at testing different theories. So he would go in and build something in test like maybe Instagram influencers or like how you interact with the bot within Instagram influencer. So he tests a lot of conversational user experiences which is really great and you know, there’s a lot of like trial’n’error that he’s doing on the back and I think he would be an interesting person to talk to. Off the top of my head, I mean there’s so many out there that I would say just like, I’m trying to think of like different people Anastasia Green, she built the bot for Golden State Warriors, she would be an amazing guest, I like her approach to like that bot. So I think anybody who really is pushing the boundaries would be a great guest just for their trial and error testing and see what they’ve learnt I think that’s great. So, I would give those guests a try.

–  Ok, thank you Seth, I really appreciate your answers and taking your busy schedule and coming to the show. Where can people find you and how can they help BotList grow even more?

– Just submit your bot and write content, it will help promote it, we will spend  our money, I will promote it, that would be huge, just spreading the word about BotList and getting their content in front of people and our audience. I think that’s the best way anybody can really grow, so that helps out tremendously. I mean you can ask anybody that we promote out there of like the value that we try to give them. So I hope you know we are pushing, you know, the envelope for them as well. And you can find me anywhere, I’m Seth Louey, @sethlouey, I have every handle, I’m the only Seth Louey in the world and I’m proud of that, I even searched google, I swear I swear oh my God, I’m like the first actually 15 pages of google and it’s all about me, there is nobody else, so that’s kind of unique. Just find me there, go to BotList and if anybody has any questions or they want to talk about BotList advertising or anything about bots or you just want to update your bot, I spend multiple hours a day responding to emails and messages, so that’s seth@botlist.co

 Amazing, thank you very much.

– Thank you for having me.

– Thank you, bye!

– Bye!

 

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