How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

A Messenger chatbot is a great tool for improving sales and boosting your business. To be successful, of course, it needs subscribers. Then, your bot must engage those prospects in order to convert them into customers. To grow your audience so you can increase sales this way, there are specific tips and strategies you should know—from building quality flows to acquiring users from comments. To help you, we’ve built this comprehensive guide with the key steps to bringing more users to your chatbot, and then engaging them so they convert and boost sales and success for your business.

#1. Plan how you want to use your chat bot

Great success begins with great planning. In order to effectively attract and convert prospects, you’ll need to lay the right groundwork.

Define a goal.🎯

First things first: What do you want your business to gain from a chatbot marketing campaign? The goal you set should be specific—include numbers and metrics wherever possible, and make sure it’s something that will benefit the big picture of your business. It’s also important to set a time frame for this goal, so you can track your progress and hold yourself or your team accountable.
If you’re a new business who wants to concentrate on spreading brand awareness, for example, your goal might relate to gaining a certain number of new chatbot users. If you’re an established company and your central focus is to boost sales, set a concrete goal around bot conversion rates or click-through rates. Step back and analyze where your business has the most room to grow and improve, and set that as the focus of your chatbot marketing.

Make a strategy.📑

With your goal(s) in mind, decide what the key function of your bot will be. The best way to do this is to find out what your current customers’ most common pain points or questions are. You can study past customer chat transcripts, or speak with your sales or support staff. Look for trends and root causes, and design a bot that can help.
For example, let’s say you discover that customers are commonly confused about the difference between two of your popular products, leading to sluggish sales. You might plan to create a bot that will guide users through their similarities and differences, and will ask questions about their needs and preferences in order to make recommendations. If you use your bot as a tool to improve this aspect of the customer experience, you’ll also be working towards a business goal of increasing conversions.

The other component of your strategy should include plans for how you want your bot to interact with users. Make it sound natural, and use language that will resonate with your demographic. Give it a name and persona, and include engaging elements like gifs, emojis, and images if they match your industry and tone. Ensure your bot will reflect what your brand stands for.

#2. Create your chat bot

Whether you’re new to bots or are upgrading an existing one, it’s now time to head to Chatfuel and start building. The section after this one will teach you how to attract more users, so it’s crucial that you have a great bot to send them to.

Build a quality flow for your bot.🛠

The key point to remember here is that having messages from your business appear in a user’s inbox on the Messenger platform, alongside conversations with their friends and family, is a privilege. Blatantly promotional messaging that’s far too frequent will not be welcome. However, a tool that makes a prospect’s experience with your brand easier or that shares content to delight, educate, or otherwise engage will be appreciated.

Remember, chatbots have two main purposes: to save you time, and to improve the experience for your customers. Keeping these two goals in mind will help you create helpful, quality content for your bot. Think about the tasks that take up a lot of your team’s time, and then design your bot to automate them—like answering FAQs or qualifying leads. Consider which aspects of the customer experience cause friction or frustration, then build your bot to streamline them—like learning about your products or placing an order.

For more advice, check out the top tips on creating a bot that will boost sales from Jacqueline Samira, Chatfuel’s Head of Growth.

If you’re having trouble visualizing how you want your bot’s flow to be, draw it out! Even just mapping the flow on pen and paper can be helpful, or you can use an online flow builder like Draw.io or X-mind. Either of these methods will help you envision the customer decision tree and its order more concretely. Beware of thinking too big, at the start. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at trying to build a bot to solve every possible business or customer need, choose one area that’s most pressing and begin building a flow just for that.

As you start mapping the flow of your chatbot, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use variables to personalize. Remember, your bot will have access to all the information on the Facebook profiles of its subscribers. One benefit of this is that you can personalize the user’s experience with your bot. Design your flow to include personal touches, like a greeting with their first name.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

  • Make your bot approachable. We’ve already mentioned how your bot should have a name and persona to welcome users and make them feel comfortable. One other small but impactful way to make your bot approachable is to include a face in its profile photo. Whether it’s a photo of a real person or a drawing, having a face next to all the messages your bot sends can help users feel more at ease conversing with it.
  • Let users know exactly who they’re dealing with. Trying to pass off your bot as a real human will only lead to frustration and lack of trust among your users. Instead, make it clear that they’re interacting with a bot, and offer them the option to connect with a human agent at any time.
  • Allow for reading time. A human wouldn’t send several lengthy messages immediately, back to back—we wouldn’t be able to type them that quickly. So even though your bot can send multiple messages instantly, it’s important to add wait times in between. Not only will it make the conversation seem more natural, but it will give the user time to read and understand everything at a comfortable pace. Also make sure none of your messages are so long that the user will have to scroll to read them. Keep them short and sweet, and break up longer ones as needed.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

  • Always offer a clear next step. Buttons and quick replies are the main way to guide users through the conversation. Buttons appear vertically as a menu and you can display up to three at once. Quick replies appear side by side in bubbles, and you can have as many as 11 at once. Note that quick replies disappear once one is tapped; buttons do not. A third option is to display a gallery with images, information, and links to offer the user options to move forward. The method you choose depends on your objectives for the bot. Just make sure one appears promptly at every step of the way so the user is never left wondering what to do next.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

  • Make it easy for the user to interact. Buttons and quick replies are great since they allow the user to respond in a single tap. However, there may be situations where you need the user to type a custom response themselves. If your bot asks for a text input after only using buttons or quick replies, make it clear to the user that they need to enter a custom response. If not, they might not understand and will continue waiting for reply options to appear.
  • Encourage re-engagement. If a subscriber wants to interact with your bot again in the future, make sure this is possible. You can close the original conversation with a message that invites them back next time they need something, or you could have a “Start over” button that appears at the end of the conversation and never disappears.
  • Test your bot and update frequently. Creating an effective chatbot that solves problems and streamlines tasks for your business and customers takes some experimentation. Once you’ve designed your first flow, have friends or colleagues test it and give feedback before you release it. Once you have actual prospects and customers interacting with your bot, keep an eye on data and chat transcripts so you can monitor its performance and iterate as needed.

#3. Promote your chat bot

Now that you’ve built or fine-tuned your bot and the groundwork has all been laid properly, it’s time to learn how to grow your audience.

Integrate your bot into your website.💻

There are several different ways to promote and share your bot in order to gain new users, so you can experiment and find out which work best for your business. If you have a website that already gets traffic from prospects and customers, start there with one of these three options: the Customer Chat Plugin, the Send-to-Messenger Plugin, or the Checkbox Plugin.

A) Customer Chat Plugin

First, you can place a Messenger chat window right on your website with the Customer Chat Plugin, so site visitors can interact with your bot then and there if they choose to click the button. To install the Customer Chat plugin on a custom website:

  1. Log into your Chatfuel dashboard and navigate to the Grow tab. Once there, find the Customer Chat code generation tool.
  2. Hit Enable and enter the domain of your website.
  3. Use the Copy button to copy the generated code to your clipboard.
  4. Open the source of your website. Then, paste the code between the <body> tags of the HTML.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

Or, if you have a WordPress site, you can simply install the Customer Chat Plugin there:

  1. Log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New.
  2. Type in Chatfuel Customer Chat.
  3. Select the Chatfuel Customer Chat plugin by Chatfuel & Master of Code and select Install Now.
  4. Activate it by clicking Activate Plugin.

Finally, if you prefer to install it manually:

  1. Download the plugin and extract the chatfuel-customer-chat folder.
  2. Use your FTP software to upload the chatfuel-customer-chat folder to the wp-content/plugins folder in your WordPress directory.
  3. Go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Plugins, and find Chatfuel Customer Chat in the list.
  4. Activate it by clicking Activate Plugin.

B) Send-to-Messenger plugin
The Customer Chat Plugin is a button that will expand into a Messenger window if the site visitor chooses to click it. If you’d prefer to select a specific placement for the button, however—like in a pop-up, for example—you can use the Send-to-Messenger plugin instead. This button will have a link to take users to your bot in Messenger instead of opening a conversation window right on your site.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Log into your Chatfuel dashboard and navigate to the Grow tab. Once there, find the section called Acquire users from your website, and select the Send to Messenger Plugin button. This will open the code generator.
  2. There, you can choose the size and style of the button you want it to generate. You can also include an optional ref parameter to track the source of the acquisition. If the ref parameter already exists in your bot and is linked to a block, the user then will not receive the welcome message when they trigger the button but receive the block the ref parameter is linked to.
  3. To test, hit Preview in the code generator.
  4. If you’re happy with how it looks, hit Copy to copy the generated code and embed it on your website.

C) Checkbox Plugin
The third and final option for integrating a Messenger chat with your bot into your website is with the Checkbox Plugin. It will appear as a checkbox asking the user if they want to receive additional updates on a certain topic in Messenger.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

For example, if a user made a purchase on your site, the button could ask if they want to receive shipping updates via your bot. If they RSVP’d to an event on your site, you could ask if they want to receive notifications from your bot when it starts if it’s a virtual event, or a map and directions if it’s an in-person event.

To install the Checkbox Plugin, the steps are exactly the same as installing the Customer Chat Plugin, except once in the Acquire users from your website section, select Checkbox Plugin. Then continue through the remaining steps listed above.

Share a link to your bot. 📣

Of course, every bot also has its own URL that you can share. The link to your bot’s welcome message will look like this: m.me/examplebot, with the end portion named for your bot. However, you also have the option to generate a REF link that will take users to a specific portion of your bot, which you can make accessible only to users with the code.

For example, if you wanted to convert people on your email list into bot subscribers, you could email them a REF link that leads to a coupon code from your bot. If they respond, they’re a subscriber. Plus, they got to be engaged directly on the topic of their interest without having to go through the default welcome message and search the bot. REF links are also a great way to track which channel is bringing you the most bot traffic.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot

To create one, head to the Automate tab in your Chatfuel dashboard and create a new group. Name it for the audience you’ll be using the link for, like “email list.” Then, create a block with the content you want to share with them, like a coupon code. Next, as long as your bot is connected to a Facebook page, you’ll see a green button that says Link at the top of the page. Click that, enable the slider in the window that appears and hit Copy. Then you’re free to share the URL that’s now on your clipboard. A REF link looks like this: m.me/examplebot?ref=emaillist, with the middle portion named for your bot and the end portion named for the new group you created.

Create engaging Page posts.✏️

Of course, creating engaging social media content is already a cornerstone of the marketing strategy for most brands. However, when it comes to chatbot marketing specifically, this aspect is even more important. With Chatfuel, you have the ability to convert users who comment on your Page posts into bot subscribers automatically, using the Acquire Users from Comments feature.  Comment marketing is a highly effective way to grow your chatbot subscriber base and increase engagement and conversions. With Chatfuel, you can set up the auto-reply bot feature in just two minutes.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot
How Acquire Users from Comments Looks like

Here’s how to set up this feature:

  1. First, ensure your bot is connected to a Facebook page.
  2. Next, log into your Chatfuel dashboard and navigate to the Grow tab. Locate the Acquire Users from Comments feature and click Add Rule.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot
Locate the Acquire Users from Comments feature and click Add Rule.

3.  You’ll automatically be taken to a rule setup window. There, you can decide if you want your bot to respond to all comments on all your Page posts, or a specific one. We recommend the latter, so your users don’t feel spammed. To do this, enter the direct link to the post, which you can find by clicking the timestamp of that post on Facebook. Note that only top-level comments (those that reply to the post directly) will trigger the response.

4. You can have your bot reply to all comments on a post(s), or only those that contain specific keywords or phrases. To set up the second option, set up an autoreply rule with a few different possible phrases a user could enter that would trigger this reply.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot
How to set up an autoreply rule.

Remember to make your bot’s reply as engaging as possible. You want users to respond to the message, because only then do they become reachable (meaning you can contact them again in the future).

Additional tips to keep in mind

Although setting up this feature in Chatfuel is simple, there are a few considerations to take into account to drive the best results.

  • Avoid engagement bait. Although posting broad, oversimplified, or irrelevant questions like “Do you like dogs or cats? Reply in comment” may increase your engagement and give you more users to acquire, this quick boost isn’t worth it in the long run. Facebook will punish “engagement bait” with lower reach, so it’s best to only post authentic, engaging content that’s highly relevant to your audience.
  • Only link to posts published on your page. The acquire feature won’t work for posts that were created solely for an ad and only exist in Ads Manager (“dark posts”). You can acquire users for your bot from comments on a boosted post, but only if it was originally published directly to your page.
  • Stickers and images cannot be tracked. This rule applies to the initial message your bot sends to a post commenter as well as their first reply. Both must contain actual text for Facebook to mark the conversation as substantial enough for the user to become a bot subscriber.

How to Grow Your Audience and Engage Prospects With a Messenger Chatbot
The life cycle for a chatbot subscriber acquired from commenting on a Facebook post

In order to get comments on your Page posts so you can acquire more bot users, your content must be high quality and engaging. A common mistake Page admins make is creating posts that don’t explicitly invite users to engage. The key is to make everything you post intriguing, useful, or entertaining, and always include a question or other type of invitation to comment. As you experiment with new types of posts, you should also study your Page metrics to track your performance and make sure you’re reaching the right audience on Facebook.

A few ideas for engaging posts that will get more comments include:

  • Run a Q&A. Feature a member of your team or a leader in your industry and open up a Q&A, where your audience can comment their questions. This type of content adds value, educates users about your brand, and can get you more bot subscribers.
  • Ask for opinions. Get your audience on Facebook involved by asking for their opinion on something related to your brand, like the name or color for a new product, for example. People love to share their opinions, which you can use to your advantage to get more users to your bot.
  • Do a giveaway or a contest. As long as you follow Facebook’s rules, giveaways and contests can be very effective for increasing post engagement. For example, a clothing retailer could offer a discount code on swimwear to anyone who comments their favorite summer activity on a specific post. The code can be delivered via bot automatically, converting the recipients into subscribers if they then respond to the message.
  • Post user-generated content. Asking for or sharing photos/videos taken by your audience will help build a sense of community and encourage interaction in the comments.

Creating better Facebook content is a win-win for your business. The more engagement your posts get, the more bot subscribers you’ll get, and the more the Facebook algorithm will reward you by showing your posts to more people.

Take advantage of ads. 💰

Another surefire way to gain bot subscribers is to make the most of the synergy between your bot and Facebook ads. There are several different ways to use ads to gain more bot subscribers.

First, you can boost your Page posts to promote engagement. If you’re not getting enough comments organically to really benefit from the Acquire Users from Comments feature, running a boost can help.

You can also set up Messenger ads to bring more users to your bot. There are three different ways to do this—just remember, engaging, well-designed ads are a must for this strategy to be effective. The three types of Messenger ads are:

  1. Click-to-Messenger ads, also called destination ads. They’re exactly what they sound like: A regular Facebook ad, but the CTA button will lead the user to a Messenger chat with your bot instead of to a static landing page. It’s a far more effective strategy than taking users to a static landing page, because your bot can provide an instant, humanlike experience. They can get more information about your brand automatically and right away, instead of opening a browser window, filling out a cumbersome web form, and waiting for someone on your team to follow up. The process for setting up this type of ad is simple. Just create your engaging Facebook ad as normal, select Messages as the consideration, and set the Message destination as Click to Messenger.
  2. Sponsored messages. Facebook normally allows businesses to send promotional messages to subscribers within 24 hours of their last interaction. If you pay for a sponsored message, however, you can send one to subscribers at any time. To create one in Facebook Ads Manager, select the Messages objective, and choose the message destination as Messenger. Select Sponsored Messages in the dropdown menu under Messenger and select your business Page. Messenger will automatically be selected as the placement. Other than that, simply finish creating your ad and choosing your audience as normal. If you want to add buttons or quick replies to your sponsored message, you can do so under Customer Actions. Note that your message will automatically go to all your subscribers. If you prefer to send it only to specific groups, adjust the Advanced Options under Audience.
  3. Messenger home placement. This third type is simple: It allows you to show your ad directly within Messenger, in between a user’s other conversation threads. The great benefit of this method is that users are already in Messenger conversing with friends and family, so they’re likely to be more receptive to chatting with your bot. Plus, they don’t have to switch apps or be redirected to engage with it. To set up this type of ad, all you have to do is select Messenger – Home as the placement. Otherwise, create your ad as normal.

One final way to use Facebook ads to bring more users to your bot is through Lookalike Audiences. Although Facebook allows you to create Lookalike Audiences already, they’ll be even more accurate and powerful when built with data exported from Chatfuel’s People tab, available to PRO users. This way, you’ll be targeting new users based on your existing bot subscribers, meaning you’ll reach people who are more likely to be interested in your messaging. To export this data, you can integrate Chatfuel with your existing tools and software using Zapier or a direct API integration.

#4. Nurture

You’ve used the tactics above to draw new users to your bot—now what? From here, you must nurture your subscribers to convert them—first to customers, and eventually to brand ambassadors and evangelists. Remember, of course, that new subscribers won’t necessarily increase revenue; only converted subscribers will, so this stage is crucial.

Nurture your leads.📈

The message a user receives when they first arrive at your bot usually isn’t enough to close a sale. Once they’ve subscribed, you’ll have the ability to contact them with your bot again, and you’ll need to make the most of this opportunity if you want to promote conversions. There are two main methods for following up with subscribers via your bot:

  1. Send Broadcasts. Broadcasts are messages your bot can send to your contact list of subscribers en masses. As long as you follow Facebook’s requirements, Broadcasts are the most effective way your bot can convert prospects into customers. Use them to send quizzes, articles, product release announcements, coupons, sale notifications, and more—anything your users will find valuable and engaging. Whether directly promotional or not, Broadcasts can build user trust in your brand and teach them more about your products or services, directly or indirectly encouraging sales. Beware, however: Sending only sales-forward messaging all the time is a guaranteed way to make users unsubscribe, so use this tool wisely.

2. Use Sequences. Sequences are sets of messages to customers or prospects that can be scheduled and sent on a specific timeline. For example, you can have your bot send out a coupon code on day one, a follow-up message if the subscriber hasn’t used it by day three, and a “last-chance” reminder if they still haven’t used it by day five.

Note that when sending any kind of message to your bot subscribers, it’s important to always include the option for them to unsubscribe. While the goal is to have your bot provide helpful content that users will value and enjoy, it’s inevitable that not everyone will want to continue receiving your messaging. Making the unsubscribe option easily available shows that you respect users and their preferences, and that your intention isn’t to spam them.

There’s one other tool that can make Broadcast messaging even more efficient: user attributes. These are basically tags or labels that you can assign to your bot subscribers to track and segment them into different groups. Your bot will have access to certain attributes available on a subscriber’s profile, like gender, time zone, and language. These are known as system attributes.

However, with Chatfuel, you have the ability to create your own custom attributes to apply to subscribers, too. You can get the information automatically using a plugin, like the User Input Plugin or JSON API.  Learn how to connect plugins to gather information for attributes. Or, your bot can simply ask the user for the desired information and have them respond with quick replies. In order to create a custom attribute, you simply have to define a name for it, and then set up a specific value that can be “yes,” “no,” “not set,” or another custom value that you select.
The benefit of both types of attributes is that you can use them to filter your subscribers in order to send a Broadcast or Sequence to only a specific group.

For example, you could choose to put out a Broadcast only to users where {{gender}} is “female”, or {{subscribed}} is “true”. Or, you could utilize certain user attributes in your bot’s gallery or list cards to personalize the user experience, like creating a welcome message that says “Hi, {{first name}}!”  You could even create an attribute to be applied to all subscribers who have made a purchase with you, or any user you gained via the Acquire Users from Comments feature, so you can retarget them specifically in the future. Finally, if you’d like to access your attribute data outside of Chatfuel, you can export it to Google Sheets by going to Add a new element, and selecting Save to Google Sheets.

Start growing your business with a bot today

The sky’s the limit when it comes to a bot’s potential for positive impact on your business—especially now that you know how to grow your audience on Facebook Messenger.

It’s free to get started building your bot with our platform. However, if you’re interested in accelerating your results, speak with a member of our sales team today about our Pro and Premium offerings!

For advice and tips on building your bot, visit our active Facebook community. For in-depth tutorials and feature walk-throughs, check out our YouTube channel. Happy bot building!

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