What are Facebook Messenger Chatbots?
Much like widely known digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Echo, chatbots are programs that use artificial intelligence to converse with users primarily through text, rich media and voice.
Chatbots are built on a Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine that allows you to set predefined answers to questions that a user may ask. From there, the chatbot processes these predefined questions and answers to converse with users.
While chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger service have recently stepped up and really taken off, chatbots have been around for much longer than you think. Chatbots have been used by businesses for many years to support their growing customer service demands. For years, you’ve been able to call a bank or a mobile phone network provider, and be greeted by an automated assistant that aims to solve your issues through basic voice and input commands.
As artificial intelligence and technology continues to evolve, and change the digital landscape with it, social media platforms such as Facebook have seen the potential to support chatbots through instant messaging services.
Following the acquisition of WhatsApp back in 2014 in a deal worth around $19 billion, Facebook has lead the way and their Messenger service now has over 300,000 chatbots. From ordering pizza with Dominos Bot, through to getting recommendations for great places to eat from Foodie, the marketplace is growing. You can see all all these chatbots for yourself on Botlist.
Why Facebook Messenger Chatbots Are Big Business for Ecommerce
Chatbots for Facebook Messenger have the edge over traditional customer service channels in two key ways – convenience and reach. The most obvious advantage is they’re always on, so customers can seek product options and advice 24/7, 365 days a year. In addition, they help brands forge stronger relationships with customers, while strengthening their social media presence.
So why have we seen a boom in Facebook Messenger chatbots? Here are some statistics to put things into perspective:
- Facebook Messenger has over 900 million monthly users.
- Messages between Facebook Messenger users and businesses exceed 1 billion each month.
- Nearly half of smartphone users aged between 18 and 29 use messaging apps.
- The number of active users on messaging apps has exceeded those on social network apps.
While these statistics show huge potential, they also open up great opportunities for ecommerce businesses to interact with and assist customers. All it takes is a big ecommerce player to enter the field for others to come flooding in. Enter eBay…
Described by eBay as a “smart personal shopping assistant” and “your own shopping expert”, ShopBot helps customers find the best deals on eBay.
While still in beta phase, ShopBot understands natural language to help customers find what they’re looking for, and fast.
Much like Spring, that launched on Messenger earlier this year, users can ask ShopBot what they’re looking for, such as black trainers, and it will then return product options. The user can then click through to the exact location of the product on the eBay website, or click “more like this” to prompt ShopBot to show more similar items.
What’s more impressive is ShopBot’s image recognition capabilities. So you upload a photo of a pair of shoes or vinyl record cover, and ShopBot will find relevent items on eBay. Thanks to increasing 4G mobile networks, customers are given more power to become more price savvy when it comes to shopping. Customers can take a photo of the product in the shops, upload it to ShopBot, and see if they can get a better deal on eBay.
Getting Started With Messenger Chatbots
With more simplified online tools popping up than ever, there’s no better time to be an ecommerce business looking to increase their relationship with customers with Messenger bots.
Facebook has taken extra steps to help businesses build their own chatbots for Messenger. By giving businesses and developers the tools they need, ecommerce businesses are free to build their own chatbots that carry bespoke features. These include welcome screens and structured messages, such as calls to action and postbacks.
There are some incredibly handy and cost effective online tools to help you build your own chatbot for Messenger, including:
- FlowXO offers a simple solution for businesses with no scripting or coding required to build chat bots.
- Chatfuel is free to use (up to 10,000 messages a month) and states you can build your own Messenger bot in just seven minutes!
- Botsify has four price plans, including a free version that integrates with WordPress.
Want to know more about Chatbots? Check out Chatbots Magazine for beginner’s guides and news on the latest chatbots