I’ve been on an absolute tear lately. I’ve found my newest obsession and have trained my laser focus on it. It’s something I do. Ask our President / my partner in crime, Laurel. She’s the one that has to listen to my obsessions all the time. First Bob Dylan, then space, then sneakers and now–chatbots… and sneakers still.

I finished 10 hours of chatbot training videos in one day.

Now you get to deal with my obsessions instead. Let me tell you how we increased our subscriber list by 512% in just two months using Facebook Messenger chatbots.

What are Chatbots?

Messenger bots are programmable automated messages that engage viewers with simple AI. In other words–little robot marketers.

Facebook opened the doors to their Messenger platform for chatbots in April 2017 and it quickly became one of the most powerful–but underutilized–methods of getting your message to your target audience. The Facebook Messenger app is the second most used app on iOS with over 900 million active users per month.

Let’s Chat

We were looking for a way to provide actionable marketing advice and strategies for our audience but cut through the already noisy realm of email and social media. There were already companies owning those spaces with a loyal following.

The first chatbot we created was for an Easter Egg contest we were running to promote the launch of the new Rally website. Users had to hunt through our website to find the hidden easter egg–spoiler alert: it was How I Beat Shaq–and submit their answers to the chatbot.

There was a short period of organic growth where we promoted the chatbot in the following ways:

  • Including slides in conference presentation I gave
  • Posting to company social pages
  • Posting to personal profiles
  • Linking to it from our content

Then we developed RallyChats.

ManyChat Messenger Chatbot Growth

RallyChats are a weekly newsletter of the best-curated marketing content found on the ‘Net. Taking a page from the Daily Carnage, we focused on compiling content instead of creating it. We provided a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) and our own take on the information.

The difference between it and a normal newsletter is that ours goes straight into their Facebook Messenger inbox, mobile push notification and all.

We wanted to stand out as much as possible and carried that throughout the strategy creation. We didn’t try to make our chatbot sound human. We wanted to lean into the fact that it was a bot and so Rallybot 9000 was brought online. With references to killing all humans and T2, we accomplished that goal.

Let’s Promote

Facebook was our main source of promotion, specifically Facebook advertising. Their Click-to-Messenger ads made this easy by linking users to the sign up for RallyChats with a single click.

We created a robust audience target using:

  • Custom audiences including clients and email subscribers
  • A Lookalike audience targeting users that matched the attributes of the above audience

We A/B tested multiple ad variants and found the following combinations worked best for our audience:

The Results

The ads managed to double our RallyChat subscribers in just two short months and the weekly messages are seeing similarly fantastic results with open rates and click-through rates well above the industry average for emails:

  • Avg. Open Rate – 92.03%
  • Avg. Click-Through Rate – 22.35%
  • Four new clients

And that was just the first few months…

Let’s Get Dark

When I was a kid, I spent hours reading those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Each time I would reach a story conclusion, I would start over to go through another. And another. And another until I went through every possible combination.

Halloween was just around the corner. It is my absolute favorite holiday and I wanted to do something big. We hit on something special with using messenger bots and the RallyChats as a new delivery method for marketing tips and trends so were set on creating something that was truly next level. We knew chatbots could be used for something much more engaging than just customer service and product promotion.

You see where this is going.

We launched our Choose Your Own Death Haunted House Adventure chatbot in October. Players got to explore the seemingly never-ending rooms of this haunted house as they try their best to escape the horrors within. Demonic possession, ghosts, suffocation, spiders, living dummies—just a few of the fates that await—all on Facebook Messenger.

Players could go choose where to go, what rooms to enter, what they do or turn around and backtrack if things got a little too spooky. We stayed diligent in ensuring the architecture and layout of the house made sense from floor-to-floor so that the underground lake you drowned in would be found in the same place whether you got there from the basement or by falling through the rotted planks from the first floor.

Our two main goals were gaining exposure to the work we’ve done with chatbots and building our RallyChat list. Soon after the player completed their rounds, they would receive a message requesting they subscribe to be the sharpest marketer on the block.

Let’s Promote REDUX

Once again, Facebook and Instagram were our main methods of targeting users. We targeted three distinct audiences:

  • Marketers
  • Publications
  • Horror Hounds

The first two were to gain exposure and business. The third was to see if we truly succeeded in building something that horror and adventure fans both would love. We created ads that played on the classic aesthetic of the chatbot

The Results REDUX

The results and feedback were incredible. I got to see people across the country enjoying these tales the same way that I did, with many of them coming back to see either what other fates awaited them or if they could get out of the house—despite the title straight up telling them they’re going to die.

Get this. Overall subscribers to our chatbot increased an insane 3,600%! However, since we only want to send messages to the users that want to hear from us most, we only included those who opted-in to be included in our RallyChat messages. The RallyChat subscribers only grew 500%.

If you’re interested in chatting about chatbots or just want to become the sharpest marketer in the room, sign up for RallyChats using the form on the right of this page.

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