What are chatbots? And should you use them for your agency? Check out these facts about how chatbots can help your agency (and your clients!) and how to use them.

Many business owners are unsure whether chatbot marketing is worthwhile. They wonder: How do I know if it’s worth trying? Where do I even start, especially with a limited budget?

In this post, chatbot marketing expert Kelly Noble Mirabella answers these questions and more.

I recently sat down with Kelly on an episode of Agorapulse’s weekly Live show, Social Pulse Weekly. Kelly is the owner of Stellar Media Marketing and the Baby Got Bot YouTube channel. She’s also an agency and educator partner of ManyChat as well as its official trainer. On top of all that, she’s a global speaker on messenger marketing and everything related to marketing and social media.

If you’ve been thinking of getting involved with chatbot marketing, you need to read this post. I asked Kelly everything from how to get started with chatbots, how chatbotsmuch money you’ll need, which guidelines we need to follow to ensure we don’t start out on the wrong foot, and more.

Q. How did you first get involved with bots?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “I started building Messenger bots over three years ago. Because I’ve been in digital marketing for 12 years, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. One day, I was cruising through Facebook and saw an ad from a company that did what we now call “comment growth tools” (which is basically when people comment on a Facebook post and then automatically get a message).

“At the time, this is all that existed. It was the new thing: Just type below, and we’ll send you a message. So I did it, and it worked! And I went and bought a lifetime membership to this tool. I started playing around with it but knew it was too early to really start using it. Nobody was doing it yet, so no one really understood it. Finally, around Christmas 2017, I decided I was going to clear my calendar and learn how to use the tool. And it was then that I became addicted!

“My roots are in building games, so that’s what I did. I’d do it on the weekends when my kids were watching cartoons, and it was a lot of fun. I also started getting coaching from Andrew and Pete, and they encouraged me to really jump in and niche down because it was something I enjoyed so much. So this is when I started Baby Got Bot … and the rest is history.”

Q. How can businesses use bots to stand out from all the noise on social media?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “First, it’s important to remember that chatbots are not the next email.

“Many people originally came into this space and focused on broadcasting, which was very annoying. So when I think about use cases that aren’t going to be annoying and that will bring people the biggest return on their investment, I’m thinking about how to use chatbots to start the funnel: to bring people in, learn what we want about them, then sent them to our CRM, email, and SMS text messaging platforms.

“We’ve been hearing about bots for the past three years, but I think we’re still just getting started.

“We’re still in the wild, wild west of bots. But I really think chatbots are the future, as they are kind of like the entryway into this omni-platform world. I know this sounds really futuristic, but it’s here, and we can do it right now.

“For businesses who want to venture into the world of bots, one thing you can do is consider the promotions you’re already running successfully, and just tack a bot onto that. For instance, if you’re running Facebook ads, you can easily add a chatbot element to give you accurate information about your customers.

“Here’s a quick example: Let’s say I want to get their email address. I can have the bot ask them, ‘Hey, is this your email?’ It will actually create a preview for their email, and all they have to do is tap it. You’re very quickly getting accurate info and are also building your list. You can retarget people, and put them into different campaigns. You can do this with organic posts or Facebook ads, and it’s just that next element you can use to create a more personal, conversational experience.

Social Pulse Weekly with Special Guest Kelly Mirabella

Skeptic about Messenger Bots? We were too until we met Kelly! Learn the clever and fun ways you can utilize chatbots to stand out from the social media noise and get more conversions! Join us LIVE Friday with the Chat Marketing Queen herself, Kelly Mirabella! Want to get reminded when we go live PLUS get access to Kelly's top secret Messenger takeover? Riddle me this for access:What is the name of Kelly's Chat Marketing Business:A: Hit me with your best botB: If you got a bot problem, yo I'll solve itC: Baby Got BotHit me with your best guess (A, B, or C) and We will see if you solved it.

Posted by Agorapulse on Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Q. If someone wants to learn how to use bots, where should they start? Do they need to know how to code first?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “No, you don’t need to know any code to build a Messenger bot. I hardly know any code. You just need a tool like ManyChat.

“If you want to learn to build them for yourself or have someone in-house building them for you, just go to my YouTube channel, Baby Got Bot. It’s super, super beginner.

“But the very first place I’d recommend going is to the free ManyChat course we just put on YouTube. It’s a really basic course, great for getting your feet wet and building your first bot.

“If you want to dig in even deeper, I also have that will walk you through every single feature of ManyChat. I also do private consulting and training, and bot-building if that’s something you need. No matter what your budget or need, there’s a solution.”

Q. How much should people budget if they want to start using Messenger chatbots?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “This is going to depend on how hands-on you want to be with your chatbot strategy.

Do you want to do it yourself? If so, then you need to think about what type of education you need and the platform you’re using. For instance, ManyChat is very affordable. You can get a free 30-day trial, or even just use the free version; however, most businesses are likely going to need a pro version. The price for the pro version is based on how many people you have in your Messenger bot. For instance, it’s $10 for up to 500 people, $15 for up to 1,000, and so on. The key is to regularly clean your list, as there’s no reason to be paying for people unnecessarily.

Do you want to hire someone to build your bot for you? Before you do this, make sure you have the basics in place like a main menu with a welcome message. Then you can have someone set up the rest for you. For this, you’re looking at anywhere from $750 to $2,000, depending on how many bells and whistles you want to have.

“Do you want someone to do your monthly management for you? If you want to do monthly webinars and broadcasts, you’ll need to pay for monthly management. For this, you’re looking at the initial setup price, plus the monthly fee. And this will vary based on how many broadcasts you want, how many growth tools you need, etc.”find out why teams love managing their social with agorapulse

Q. Why should businesses be using chatbots?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “In 2019, the number of active users for messaging apps reached the same number as those using social networking sites. And every year, the number of people using messaging apps is just going to continue to go up.

“There are so many fun, cool messenger apps out there. WhatsApp is a big one, and we’re all waiting on the API to open on that. We’re also waiting for DMs on Instagram to open for chatbots. But it’s coming.

“This is the time to get in early. Remember when Facebook came out with ads? How many people wish they had gotten into ads back then when they were affordable! That’s where we’re at right now with chat marketing. There is no doubt: It’s the future.

“All paths lead to chat.

“We saw a big influx of people adopting chat marketing last year, but then everyone seemed to fall off. There was a report that said people were less likely to learn about it or adopt it … I think because again, people were thinking of it as email. So I would say, start small, and then go from there. The simple actually wins for me more than anything.

Q. Everyone is so busy, and many people may be thinking they don’t have enough time or money for this. Can you point us to some brands that might inspire people to start using chatbots?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “[Entrepreneur] Gary Vaynerchuk has a simple chatbot that’s quite well done. I think people often overcomplicate these things, thinking they need all the bells and whistles. But all you need is a simple entry point, and then to ask a couple of questions to get the information you need so you can put people in the right funnel. That’s exactly what Gary does. You can check it out on his Facebook Page. Just click Send Message to get started.

“He uses all personalized GIFs to ask certain questions. Aa a non-marketer, you’d think, ‘I’ll just answer these questions really quick.’ But as a marketer, I know he’s using the questions to figure out how to best target me and deliver personalized experiences.

“Another one people need to check out is Sephora. They get omnipresent. They know how to take things to the next level by using what’s available out there today. You might have seen the sponsored filters makeup companies use in stories, where you can try on makeup? Sephora has that build right into their chatbot. For instance, it will ask, ‘Would you like to try on this lipstick right now?’ Then you click it, it opens up the AR camera, and you can actually see what that color looks like on you.

“As an end user, this seems really complex and amazing. But many of the things you think are complicated are actually very easy to do in a Messenger bot.”download your free smart goals for social media strategy ebook

Q. What are the Messenger guidelines or rules people need to be aware of when setting up their own chatbot?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “This isn’t a rule, but it will definitely help you start off on the right foot. Stop thinking of Messenger bots as email. Facebook does not want you broadcasting to your audience. They’ve made it abundantly clear with the rules I’m about to tell you.

“When ManyChat first introduced broadcasts, people thought of them as email broadcasts. Everyone was just sending out messages, thinking this is like the new email. But then Facebook didn’t want chatbots annoying people, so they instituted the 24+1 rule, which worked like this: Within 24 hours of the initial interaction, you could promote all you wanted. But then after that, you only had one chance to follow up.

Now the rule is that you have that 24-hour window to interact, and then four message tags you can use outside of that 24 hours. But most people don’t qualify for any of those tags, so you just have the 24 hours.

“Many businesses are wondering, ‘How am I supposed to message people then? What I am supposed to do with all these people?’ That’s why I keep saying you need to push people into your email list or onto SMS text messaging. ManyChat integrates text messaging, email, and Messenger. So I’m able to send a text message once each week to my bot shots saying, ‘Click here to access the detail on Messenger.’ Then it opens up in Messenger and triggers the 24-hour window where I can do anything I want for those 24 hours.

“Another important rule is that you have to let people unsubscribe. That’s a super-important policy rule, but people break that rule (and the 24-hour rule) all the time. How Facebook deals with this depends on the seriousness of what you’ve done. You may receive a first warning, which is a notification that you’re unable to send messages. You can appeal it, which most people try. Or Facebook may just shut your page down without any warning.

“A lot of people ask why Facebook is making all these rules. To answer this, think about what would happen if Messenger turned into WeChat. For those who aren’t familiar with the issues around WeChat, it’s a cesspool of spam …and nobody wants that. The integrity of the platform and marketers is at stake if people become annoyed. If that happens, no one is going to bother with any bots. And Messenger is really important to Facebook, so they don’t want it to get to that point.”

Q. What advice do you have for people who are worried about starting out with chatbots?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “Brian Fanzo says, ‘Perfection is a fairy tale,’ which is absolutely true. Technology may not work correctly all the time, and people get that. Sometimes, the Internet doesn’t work, and sometimes you have to restart your computer. Understand that when you start something new, there will be mistakes, and that’s OK.

“We learn from those mistakes. I think everyone is learning every day, especially with all the new technology and new platforms we’re using.”

Q. Any last words of advice for our readers?

Kelly Noble Mirabella: “I’ve been doing this awhile, and I have a long history of being squirrely. There are all these new networks and opportunities, and I’m like ‘Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!’ I think we’re in this amazing time in history where we have all these tools at our disposal. But I think that while we’re using all the tools, we’re not connecting the dots.

“I think we need to start opening our vision and asking how we can integrate all the pieces into a cohesive puzzle because that creates the user experience that’s going to win for everyone. For instance, when people come to your chatbot, you could simply ask them, ‘Would you like to get this via email?’

“The whole experience needs to connect to have a good flow, not be all separate. I think that’s the best advice I can give anyone.”

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How to Get Started with Messenger Chatbots: Advice From Kelly Noble Mirabella