Here at AdStage we’re really excited to experiment with Facebook Messenger ads. Chatbots have taken off big time and 2017 has been tipped to be the year they move into mass adoption. There are now over 100,00 of them on Facebook Messenger. This growth is reflected in the increasing popularity of messaging apps, which are growing faster than social networks and fueling the rise of chatbots in the process.
Marketing is all about (a) finding your target audience and (b) communicating how your product or service can solve their problem. Which is why companies need to market through these messaging apps.
Why? People LOVE using Messaging apps and they prefer to use it to communicate with people we love. We iMessage our significant other. Facebook Messenger with our friends. Slack with our team. So let’s market to people where they currently are.
We’ve put together this guide to walk you through the ins and outs of how to set up them up and get the best performance.
How to Navigate This Facebook Messenger Ads Guide
This guide to messenger ads is broken down into four main parts. Feel free to skip to the section that is most relevant to your needs.
- Messenger Stats & Growth
- Facebook Messenger Ads
- How to Create Facebook Messenger Ads
- Messenger Ads Campaign Ideas
Part 4 – AdStage Case Study & Results (coming in June)
Want to get an alert when Part 4 comes out? Give us your address and we’ll shoot you an email as soon as it’s ready!
Let’s face it most people use their smartphones as their primary PC. This reliance on mobile phones grows in lockstep with our desire for constant and instant communication with family members, friends, and even work colleagues.
Enter messaging apps. Mobile messaging apps are exploding and are one of the hottest marketing trends in 2017. According to Business Insider, “the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks.”
Their exponential growth is largely due to their rich services and features, from free text messaging, to voice and video calling, group chats, stickers to convey moods, and even photo and file sharing. Now add falling data package prices and cheaper smartphones and it’s easy to track the boom from traditional calling to SMS to social messaging apps.
The Popularity of Messaging Apps
There are several networks in the messaging app ecosystem. As for the most popular network, it really depends on what you’re measuring and geographic location.
In the battle of the messaging services, Facebook Messenger (65%) has a lead over WhatsApp (56%) for membership, but WhatsApp is virtually level for visitors/users. WeChat is absolutely dominant in China; over 90% have an account.
According to a study of global internet users from GlobalWebIndex in 2015, Facebook Messenger was the most used messaging app with 37% of those surveyed using it, followed by WhatsApp (33%), Skype (21%), Line (10%), and Google Hangouts (9%). Nearly half (49.3%) of mobile users in North America and 43.4% of those in Western Europe will use messaging apps this year.
The MEF Mobile Messaging Survey 2016 indexes the messaging habits of nearly 6000 respondents across nine countries worldwide as shown below.
eMarketer’s latest report predicted Messenger will reach 105.2 million active daily users in the U.S by the end of 2016. That figure represents 40% of mobile users, making Facebook Messenger the leading over-the-top (OTT) mobile messaging app in the U.S. OTT messaging apps work over an Internet connection and not the SMS network like iMessage, which has boosted their popularity with international users.
SimilarWeb conducted a study using Android data from 187 countries and were able to determine the most popular messaging app all over the world (minus iPhone users).
While they’re consolidating under a few key players, in almost every country in the world, a messaging app is the most used app overall.
Messaging App Demographics
In general, messaging apps are especially popular among younger smartphone owners. In the US, 42% of smartphone users between the ages of 18-29 use messaging apps. And three in ten online smartphone users utilize general messaging apps, like Whatsapp, Viber, or Kik.
As the customer journey evolves and becomes more fragmented across networks and devices, there’s a real opportunity for marketers to reach younger audiences on the device of their choice, and on the network of their choice.
Which is exactly what Facebook is banking on with Messenger ads.
What is Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger is a free mobile messaging and chat app for smartphones that lets people send text messages, hold group chats, send and receive money, share photos or videos, and even make voice calls to their Facebook friends. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in February that WhatsApp serves as a replacement for SMS services, whereas Messenger aims to be a more “expressive and rich environment” with a broad range of content.
For businesses, Messenger is roughly two years old. At the 2015 F8 conference, Facebook unveiled a new Messenger feature to bring businesses on the platform with the goal of enhancing how people and businesses communicate. Since then there are now more than 1 billion messages sent each month between customers and businesses.
Plus, Messenger gives Facebook another way to own users’ time. The average user spends over 50 minutes a day scrolling and interacting on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot of time. However, there are only 24 hours in a day, and the average person sleeps for 8.8 of them. That means more than 1/16 of the average user’s waking time is spent on a Facebook owned platform.
What was once just a feature within Facebook is now one of the world’s most popular mobile messaging app services.
Messenger Stats & Growth
The undeterred rise in usage of Facebook Messenger continues from over 1.2 billion active users that’s ⅙ of the global population. 88% of online adults are a member of at least one of Facebook’s four main services: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram.
Image Credit: Facebook
And according to Facebook’s 2016 Q4 report, there are 400 million Facebook Messenger users using voice and video chat on the app each month.
Here are a few more staggering stats Facebook hasn’t been shy about sharing.
- 10% of all Voice over IP (VoIP) calls made globally take place within Messenger
- 17 billion photos are distributed by Messenger each month
- 22 million GIFs shared every day, the equivalent of 254 GIFs per second
Image Credit: Facebook
This graph from Statista presents the number of Facebook Messenger users in the United States from 2014 to 2020. In 2015, 90.4 million U.S. mobile phone users accessed the messaging app to communicate. This figure is projected to grow to 139.2 million users in 2020.
Over the last year, we’ve seen Facebook look for ways to keep customers and shareholders happy and engaged. They continuously roll out new features, many copied from Snapchat, keeping the platform fresh and users actively engaged. They introduced Messenger Ads in Q4 2016 hinting at their ambition to carve out another revenue stream similar to Instagram.
Facebook Messenger Ads
Messenger ads provide marketers another avenue to start a conversation. And there’s a real business case to be made here as customers become more interested in using Facebook Messenger to make online purchases. Statista reports 84 percent of millennial respondents are willing to connect their PayPal account to Facebook Messenger in order to use conversational commerce.
2 Types of Messenger Ads + 1 Closed Beta
Currently, there are two types of Messenger ads available to advertisers with another one in closed beta.
- Send People to Messenger (Direction) – use Messenger ads to have your leads initiate the conversation with your business.
- Send Ads to People on Messenger (Placement)
- BETA: Testing Home Screen Ads (see example below)
How to Create Facebook Messenger Ads
There are currently two types of Messenger Ads available. Let’s walk through how to set up each type of ad.
Send People to Messenger (Direction)
Send People to Messenger ads appear in the News Feed with a call-to-action button that opens a Messenger conversation. It’s a a unique way to start a conversation and provide a personalized experience for your customers or potential customers.
Here’s how to get started.
1) Choose the Traffic objective (Note: This may appear as “Send people to your website” for some advertisers).
2) Choose your campaign name and click Continue.
3) Choose your audience, budget and News Feed placements (Note: You cannot use Instagram as a placement option when selecting Messenger as a destination).
4) At the ad level, choose your format. You can choose Carousel, Single Image, Single Video or Slideshow format.
5) Choose the Page you want to connect.
6) Choose Messenger as your destination.
7) Type a welcome message. When people click on your ad, they will automatically be directed to Messenger and receive a copy of your ad and the welcome message.
8) Select your call to action. I’d recommend Send Message so the user understands.
9) After you’ve reviewed your ad, click Place Order.
Keep in mind: Your Send People to Messenger ad won’t appear to people who don’t have the Messenger app.
Send Sponsored Messages to People on Messenger (Placement)
Now let’s set up the other type of Message Ad available to advertisers.
1) Choose the Traffic objective (Note: This may appear as Send people to your website for some advertisers).
2) Type in your campaign name and click Continue.
3) Choose your budget.
4) Choose your audience. Keep in mind that you can reach people who’ve messaged your page.
5) For placement choose Messenger. Note: selecting Messenger will turn off all the other placements.
6) At the ad level, choose your format. The option currently available is the Single Image format
7) Choose a website destination URL.
8) Write your headline, text and link description.
9) Once you’re happy with the ad, click Place Order.
Messenger Ads Campaign Ideas
There are some really interesting use cases from companies that have experimented with Messenger ads and chatbots. For example, Digital Marketer ran a highly successful campaign that generated 500% ROI in 3 days.
Or Nordstrom’s Messenger chatbot that asked a series of questions about user preferences, which users could answer right in the app. Depending on the input, the chatbot would then offer them some gift ideas, specifically picked for them. Rather than relying on customers to interact with your website, these examples show innovative ways to stay engaged with customers on a preferred platform and device.
Another way you could employ Messenger ads is to send out coupons or discounts. Below ranks the types of advertising and promotions that consumers in the United States are willing to receive via Facebook Messenger as of 2016, sorted by age group.
A total of 52 percent of Generation X survey respondents stated they were open to receive notifications of store sales upon entering a store via Facebook Messenger.
There are very impressive stats and ad placements. Right now, there’s a huge opportunity for early adopters to take advantage of Messenger before it gets ruined by spammy advertisers or before your audience gets completely turned off Messenger ads. Now’s the time to experiment!
Messenger Ads + Chat Bots = Automated Gold
Chatbots have taken off big time and 2017 has been tipped to be the year they move into mass adoption. There are now more than 100k of them on Facebook Messenger. This growth is reflected in the increasing popularity of messaging apps, which are growing faster than social networks and fueling the rise of chatbots in the process.
According to Chatbots Magazine, there are several global trends working together to make 2017 the year of chatbots.
- Mobile messenger domination
- App fatigue
- Support for chatbots by Facebook, Microsoft and other leaders
- Dramatic reduction in chatbot development costs
A chatbot (short for chat robot) is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with a human user in natural language, understands the intent of the user, and sends a response based on business rules and data of the organization.
I’m not talking about AI or Machine Learning. Think of chat bots like email marketing, but through messaging apps. People’s behaviors are changing and marketers will need to adapt to stay relevant. It’s like starting an email list when email became a thing. Or starting a podcast ten years ago. Those that are first to the game
Beerud Sheth, founder and CEO of cloud messaging platform Gupshup, wrote an article on VentureBeat and said,
“We’re in the midst of a once-in-a-decade paradigm shift. Messaging is the new platform, and bots are the new apps. The shift radically changes end-user experiences and developer frameworks and inevitably will change business models, how we monetize, and how we advertise.”
Small businesses without budgets for developers can experiment with codeless chat bot builders. These tools turn a company’s frequently asked questions, like hours and location, into automatic replies on Messenger.
Here is a List of a Few Free Chat Bots to Get You Started
- ManyChat – Visual bot builder for Facebook Messenger with broadcasts, analytics, scheduled posting and many other features
- Chatfuel – A bot platform for creating an AI chatbot on Facebook. Learn how to create a Facebook message bot quickly and easily, no coding required.
- Botsify – Create an AI chatbot without code
- OnSequel – Create media and entertainment bots without writing code to engage the 3B+ users on messaging apps.
We personally love ManyChat because it is (a) free (b) doesn’t require any coding, and (c) super user friendly.
You might be wondering how you could employ a bot for your business. Below are a few ways businesses are currently implementing to engage with their audiences.
Examples of when you could use them
- Customer Support
- Product Search
- Personalize yet automated responses
You might also be thinking that this would never work for my company. You may be right! Below are a few industries that will benefit the most from chatbots.
Sync Messenger Ads with Your Chatbot
Once you get your chatbot created it’s time to integrate it with your Messenger Ads campaign. We suggest taking some time to map out the messaging flow from our audience all the way to the desired outcome.
The key here to figure out what action you want the user to take once they click Send Message. Within the ad set up, Facebook provides the option to include an automated welcome which is perfect for kick starting a conversation and controlling where you want to take your audience.
We’re testing a few options with our integration into Manychat. First one is getting access to CRO eBook. Once someone clicks through from the ad they’ll see a welcome message that says, “Hi there! Looking to get your free CRO eBook? Just type “ebook” below and we’ll send it right over!”
If they type in “ebook” after the welcome message then will see this message.
Pretty awesome! The user was able to get an eBook without leaving a platform they’re comfortable with.
How to Set Up Keyword Sequences
Keyword sequences work off of a “if this then that” type of logic. Example, if this “keyword” then “perform this action.”
For our eBook Messenger Ads, we input if the user types “ebook” then message them the eBook.
When someone typed in this keyword is automatically kicked off the eBook delivery sequence as seen in the example above. All of this was done using Facebook Messenger Ads plus a chatbot keyword sequence to deliver our CRO eBook.
This is only scratching the surface of what you can accomplish with chatbots. You can create advanced customer journeys by varying the action and reward. Here all the options Manychat offers based on a specific keyword. From here you can automate the journey with “if this then that” logic into the desired response.
You can see that you could send an image, file, video, or a list with more options. The possibilities of this powerful automation are a lot like email nurture campaigns. It’s like a choose your own adventure for the user as they follow the map you created.
PART 4 AdStage Case Study (coming soon)
We’re diving into Messenger Ads and chatbots over the next 6 weeks. We’ll share our learnings and results at some point in June.
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JD is the Head of Acquisition at AdStage. He’s a savvy marketer, digital strategist, and avid cyclist. A stereotypical coffee snob and recovering Coloradan, he’s a creative thinker who sees the big picture but loves getting lost in the details.
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