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How to Increase E-Commerce Conversions with Facebook Messenger Chatbots

  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Growth Marketing

Chatbots are popping up more often as consumers get more comfortable with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and virtual reality.

These things used to sound “sci-fi” to most people but are now as mainstream as the iPhone. Apple even demonstrated the iPhone 8’s optimizations for augmented reality at the product’s launch event recently.

Now, e-commerce retailers can use chatbots to increase sales and provide customer service around the clock.

Chatbots sound complicated, but the best part is you don’t even need coding knowledge to use them.

In this article, I’ll show you some great examples of how other e-commerce businesses are using Facebook Messenger chatbots. Plus, I’ll show you how to create your own so you can make sales on autopilot while still providing personalized service to your customers.

Let’s dive in!

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What’s possible with e-commerce chatbots

You can create a Facebook chatbot to do just about anything.

Here are a few examples of common types of bots you’ll find in the e-commerce space:

1. Order/shipment tracking chatbots

These are the simplest form of chatbots to set up.

They tell your customers important information about their order. They can send an order confirmation and notify a customer when it ships.

Shopify has several Facebook Messenger chatbots for order updates, starting at a few bucks per month.

If your customer has connected their Facebook account to their Shopify profile, the chatbot automatically sends them updates via Facebook Messenger.

An order confirmation looks like this:

Zennkai Salon Facebook Messenger Bot

A few days later when the order ships, the customer receives another notification.

Zennkai Salon Order Confirmation

Clicking “Track shipment” takes the user directly to the shipping carrier’s website. They can see up-to-date information on the location of their package.

Your customer can also choose to click “View order,” or “Continue shopping.” Both take them back to your website.

Pretty cool, right?

These kinds of chatbots work with nearly any e-commerce system out there.

2. Customer service chatbots

Unhappy customers often turn to social media to post about bad service they’ve received.

This has the added effect of being publicly visible to their friends, and your other customers, too.

Large companies have the budget to hire multiple shifts of workers to monitor their social media accounts around the clock. But what about small businesses?

The use of chatbots is disrupting online customer service.

In fact, 80% of businesses want to start using chatbots by 2020, says a recent survey by Oracle.

Replacing customer service reps with chatbots could save companies an average of 29% per year in salaries:

Further, 49.8% of customers expect businesses to respond within one hour to customer service complaints on social media.

That doesn’t seem like a lot of time but social media moves quickly!

Think an hour is too much to expect? Consider this: 91% of unhappy customers won’t ever shop with your brand again.

You might think an hour response time is unreasonable, but it doesn’t matter. You need to meet your customer’s expectations, not yours.

Chatbots are a great opportunity to start improving the speed of your customer service, automatically.

You might think the worst way to please angry customers is to stick a robot in front of them, right?

Wrong.

Chatbots help connect customers with your human team faster.

Chatbots on their own aren’t great at solving problems, as most of them still lack the necessary intelligence to understand complex issues.

But when used as a tool to guide a customer through a simple shopping process, or connect them with a real person, chatbots work.

Here’s an example from 1-800-Flowers.

When a user first connects with the chatbot, a blue “Get Started,” button appears.

1-800-Flowers Facebook Messenger Chatbot

Click it and the chatbot presents two options: placing an order through the bot or connecting to a human customer support rep. Here’s a snapshot of a friend’s recent experience:

1-800-Flowers Facebook Messenger Chatbot 2

The bot cuts down on people tying up a customer service rep’s time with placing a simple order. But, it still makes it easy to connect with a real person to solve an issue.

It’s a win-win: your customers get quick access to help and wait times stay low by weeding out unnecessary calls.

3. Product finder chatbots

These are exceptionally useful bots for e-commerce companies.

They allow your customers another way to search for your products and interact with your brand.

And bonus for you: it’s completely automated.

eBay launched ShopBot, their AI personal shopper bot, in October 2016. It understands contextual requests because it has machine learning capabilities.

This allows it to remember your preferences over time.

ShopBot pulls customers in right away with the promise of a free gift if they start searching.

eBay ShopBot

It gives you an idea of what to type in. It asks for a phrase in simple language, like, “I need a new phone charger.”

eBay ShopBot 2

It then asks you more questions to narrow down your price range.

eBay ShopBot 3

Or, to choose a specific Apple phone model.

eBay ShopBot 4

Of course, there are limits to how smart a chatbot is when it comes to interpreting human language.

It doesn’t get every question right.

But, they can be a useful tool for many customers to find what they need quickly and easily, without ever having to go to your website.

4. Order-taking chatbots

These chatbots are convenient for customers who already know your brand and what they want.

A popular use of these bots has been in fast food restaurants. Subway recently launched their own ordering bot for Facebook Messenger.

On the Subway Page, just click, “Start Order” to place an order with the chatbot.

Subway Start Order

The bot asks for your location and then presents you with multiple stores around you to choose from. You can then click on the menu to order what you want.

Subway Facebook Messenger Bot

More complex e-commerce brands, like fashion retailer ShopSpring, have had a harder time finding bots capable of handling complicated order requests.

Shop Spring launched a Facebook Messenger bot in 2016. However, they axed it after it began giving customers wrong information.

ShopSpring Facebook Messenger Bot

Source: SingleGrain

It just couldn’t handle the number of variables in each request.

Chatbots can handle fairly simple order requests.

The trick is to not expect them to replace a real human.

They have some logic, but not enough to handle complex exchanges like the example above.

Something simple like a sandwich off a menu? Sure.

Finding pants in a certain color, size, and price range across hundreds of possible products? That’s pretty tough for an AI chatbot.

These bots can help serve your customers well, but only if you use them within their intellectual limitations.

5. Customer survey chatbots

SurveyBot allows you to send your customer a survey via Facebook Messenger once their order is complete.

Your customer chooses from multiple choice answers, types a reply, or clicks a number from one to ten to answer the survey questions.

SurveyBot

This is a great tool to follow up on order deliveries, support calls to customer service, or to send to your VIP customers.

But, don’t overdo it with too many questions.

If you do, no one will want to fill it out.

Keep your surveys short to improve the chances that your customer will complete them.

The ideal customer survey length is 10 questions at the most. Five questions or under is best to make sure your customers don’t get bored.

Things to watch out for

Facebook Messenger chatbots can be great if used as part of your overall social media strategy.

Don’t just use them because they’re the latest cool gadget.

They are not a strategy by themselves.

Only use a chatbot if it adds value to your customer. When used properly, they can help you automate the easy part of your customer service or sales process.

Just make sure you watch out for these things when using chatbots.

Annoying your customers

This is a huge one, obviously.

You’re implementing a Facebook Messenger bot to help your customers, right? To make their lives easier and improve their relationship with your brand.

So make sure it’s actually making their lives easier.

Your chatbot needs to be smart enough to handle what you ask it to do. For example, the complicated ShopSpring example above? Way too complex.

The bot didn’t know what products the customer wanted to see, and couldn’t match them up to the sizes the customer was asking for.

Ordering flowers or putting you through to the right customer service rep like 1-800-Flowers?

That’s a good use of a chatbot.

Customers know they’re talking to a bot, but they expect the bot to be able to handle their request.

And, keep in mind that 31% of consumers say not being able to reach a real person in customer service is their top complaint, according to Microsoft.

Make sure your bot can direct a customer to a real human if they’re asked to.

Accuracy of information

As a customer, there’s nothing worse than receiving the wrong information.

If your bot can’t match up a customer’s request with one of your products in even a simple case, it’s not a good idea to use it.

For example, when I ask eBay’s Shopbot to find a specific pair of Converse shoes, it does very well:

eBay ShopBot 5

When bots first came out on Facebook Messenger in 2016, the results weren’t so great.

About 70% of all interactions with chatbots failed. Meaning, a person had to step in to answer the query.

Being able to display accurate information is only possible if the bot can understand how real people talk and text online.

Research company Gartner estimates that 85% of all customer service conversations will be successfully resolved by chatbots by 2020.

The Buying Process Has Changed

Source: XCubeLabs

That’s a huge leap in just a few years from a 70% failure rate to an 85% success rate.

This is possible because of the speed at which these bots are learning how to interpret human conversations.

ABM AMRO, a Dutch bank, has even been experimenting with a bot that tells you how much of a mortgage you qualify for.

When it comes to money, accuracy is extremely important.

So make sure your bot gets it right before you launch it to the public, okay?

User-friendliness

It goes without saying that your chatbot should be user-friendly.

Everything about your customer’s digital experience should be.

For chatbots, being user-friendly means it should be convenient for your customers to use.

It should take them fewer clicks to find information with your bot versus going to your website themselves.

Sephora recently launched their Assistant for Facebook Messenger. It takes five fewer steps for customers to book a makeover appointment with the bot.

With the chatbot, users can book an appointment with as little as three messages. It also sends a confirmation email to the customer.

Assistant for Facebook Messenger

Source: Facebook

So far, the chatbot has increased Sephora’s bookings by 11% while still providing a good user experience.

Personalizing the bot to your user’s preferences makes it a better experience.

Uber allows users to order a ride from Facebook Messenger, without ever opening the app.

Uber Request a Ride

The convenience of not having to open the Uber app may seem trivial right now.

But imagine a future where Uber, your bank, your doctor, and your favorite store all had chatbots for Messenger.

It would be like the new Internet. Facebook Messenger becomes the browser you experience all these brands with.

Instead of scanning websites for information, you chat with your favorite brands.

Pretty crazy stuff.

Build a bot with no code

Sold on creating a chatbot for your business?

The most advanced chatbots are custom-made for big brands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one, too.

Start with one of these code-free chatbot builders and create your own Facebook Messenger bot:

  • ChatterOn. All types of bots with a visual bot builder.
  • ChatWoot. Customer service bots for Messenger.
  • WhatsHelp. Lead building bots for Messenger.
  • Shopify. Built-in conversational commerce abilities if you use their e-commerce platform.
  • FlowXO. General chatbot builder.
  • Hutoma. Deep learning and complex conversational chatbots.
  • Motion AI. Drag-and-drop chatbot builder.
  • Meokay. Chatbots to connect your email marketing with Messenger.
  • ChattyPeople. Create text or voice-based Messenger chatbots.

There are lots more bot builders out there than what’s on this list. Depending on your industry, it might make sense to use a bot that specializes in what you do.

These sites will give you a place to start if you’re ready to build your first Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?

Get access to our free CRO toolkit and skyrocket your organic traffic, on-page conversion rate and more (includes resources not found in the blog post).

Are Facebook Messenger chatbots the future of e-commerce?

Gone are the fears of robots taking over the world and keeping us measly humans in glass pods, like in The Matrix.

In Microsoft’s 2016 State of Customer Service survey, 90% of respondents said they expect brands to have a self-service customer support area on their websites.

Self-Service Customer Support Portal

Source: AcademyOcean

Using a Facebook Messenger chatbot can help your customers get instant service the moment they expect it, any time of day.

It’s possible today to shop through Messenger apps, though mass adoption could take awhile.

Imagine a day in the future where you could Facebook Message your local grocery store and place an order for pickup or delivery.

Or, you receive a message from your favorite band that their new album is out. You can buy it with just one tap in Messenger.

These things are technically possible today.

Start thinking about how to integrate a chatbot into your social media marketing strategy today, so you don’t get left behind.

Do you already use a chatbot, or plan to in the next few years?

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