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How to Do Chat Marketing: 6 Experts Reveal Their Secrets [Examples]

While chatbots are common customer support tools, they are also an underrated marketing tool.

Average email open rate in 2020? It’s  21.33% across all industries, according to Mailchimp. Average Facebook Messenger open rate? Close to 80%.

How can you use chat to increase brand engagement? I talked to six chat marketing experts, to ask their secrets to generating ridiculous brand engagement and their most successful campaigns (one of which generated $100,000).

Offer a solution to their problem

One of the best ways to engage an audience through chat is to offer a free solution to a prospect’s problem. Karen Sahetya, of Brand Central Marketing, shares a stellar example of how she did this for a sales coach who wanted to funnel prospects from Facebook Messenger into their email nurture sequence.

Karen created a two-message chat sequence that drove prospects to download a free file of successful cold prospecting emails.

  • Chat message one: The welcome message details the value of the email templates and promises that the templates will help the recipient drive consistent, qualified leads.

  • Chat message two: The effectiveness of the welcome message led to a 98.9% open rate of this message, which asked for an email address to send the templates download. Eighty-six percent of recipients submitted their address.

The secret to engagement: Understand your prospect’s problems, offer a free solution, and then offer a paid solution. Karen says, “Don’t make your funnel solve the problem you want to solve. Make it solve the problem your prospect needs you to solve for them. Meet them where they are in their journey.”

Make sure to explain the value of your free solution in your nurture sequence to increase opt-ins.

Explain the value of your free solution in your chat nurture sequence to increase opt-ins, says @KarenSahetya via @CMIContent @mss_bojana. Click To Tweet

Encourage customer conversations

Chatbots are a common conduit for giveaway campaigns. Stephen Bradeen, of On Spot Automations, shares how he cracked the code to supercharging giveaway engagement.

Here’s how they did a recent giveaway campaign that generated over $100,000 in sales in one month and over 11,000 new email subscribers:

Entrants first responded with their email, phone, and one-time notification (OTN) permission to opt in to the giveaway.

The next message was largely responsible for the campaign’s success. Rather than ask for a share to the entrants’ social accounts, the brand asked them to share through Facebook Messenger with their friends and family. Every share earned another entry in the giveaway.

The average share rate was one per entrant, though some people shared with more than 10 people while others never shared. Ultimately, this became a viral, organic way of growing the email list and driving sales. The system then detected the shares to select a winner randomly.

A #Facebook Messenger-based giveaway led to $100,000+ in sales and 11,000+ new #email subscribers in one month, says #StephenBradeen via @CMIContent @mss_bojana. Click To Tweet

Due to the success of the campaign, Stephen says, “We’ve since turned this into a weekly campaign to reengage our audience when they didn’t win and use the opportunity to offer value and educate on new products.”

The secret to engagement: Turn every person into a brand advocate but encourage them to do that one-to-one or one-to-few on chat features like Facebook Messenger. The direct, personal outreach is more difficult to ignore.

Make it personal

Research shows that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that personalize offers. Chatbots can help automate personalization.

Chit Chat Founder Ryan Dearlove personalized a wildly successful engagement campaign using chatbots.

Pre-pandemic, a travel booking company wanted to increase bookings. The opening line was simple yet captivating: “I’ve found a great flight matching your travel preferences.”

The recipient could pick “reveal details” or manage their contact preferences.

The details revealed were based on the Facebook Messenger user’s demographics and history. Even if the recommended flight wasn’t what the person wanted, the conversation introduced them to the brand and showed them low fare opportunities from their country or city.

Ryan reports that the campaign received an 87% opt-in rate.

The secret to engagement: Ryan says, “One of the many benefits of Messenger marketing is that you can personalize the message based on the users’ demographics and historical usage of the Messenger bot.”

Messenger marketing lets you personalize message based on the recipient’s demographic and bot use, says @Ticking_Box via @CMIContent @mss_bojana. Click To Tweet

By leveraging personalization, you can create a more relevant offer to each person. You also can add a sense of mystery or gamification to your chat sequence to increase engagement.

This campaign also performed well because the user wasn’t required to type in any information or details. The less required from the person, the more engagement.

Go to the middle

If you use chatbots to drive coupon downloads or discounts and your engagement isn’t great, Jay Vics of JVI Mobile has some advice.

Coupons or discount offers are designed for people who are familiar with your brand and ready to buy. Consider offering something of value to people who aren’t ready to buy just yet.

Jay created a chatbot for a giveaway contest that automatically invited commenters on the brand’s posts to provide their email to enter a contest.

The chat sequence looked like this:

Of 198 who commented, 159 (80%) gave an email address and phone number to enter the contest and become an omnichannel subscriber.

The secret to engagement: Jay says, “If the business just offered a discount or a coupon or some other way of ‘selling’ to the audience, the rate would’ve been much lower. The way to get subscribers is to lead with pure value and understand that the prospect wants to know what’s in it for them.”

The way to get subscribers is to lead with pure value and understand that the prospect wants to know what's in it for them, says @JayVics via @CMIContent @mss_bojana. Click To Tweet

In giveaways, the prize also must be valuable enough for the entrant to provide their contact information and relevant enough to make the entrants viable leads for your business.

Align brand and audience incentives

Chatbots are a great way to engage with fans of your brand. Brian Meert, CEO of AdvertiseMint, shares a chat campaign they built that does just that.

Their client wanted to find a more efficient way to use messenger bots to collect consumer data for influencer marketing campaigns. Instead of running a giveaway, they ran a national casting call on Instagram to find the microinfluencers who already supported their brand.

They ran paid ads seeking influencers that received a 2.35% click-through rate.

After landing on the Instagram ad, the recipients saw a chatbot message with this line: “Hey beautiful. We’re seeking influencers.”

The chatbot then walked the 94% who clicked the message through the application process, collecting their name, email, phone number, social handles, etc.

About 80% of the applicants were approved and nearly 600 people became brand influencers in the first month.

In addition to growing their influencer roster, the snapshots provided of the applicants’ social media profiles helped build a robust database of audience information.

This chatbot produced incredible engagement because the incentives of the brand and the influencer are aligned. Additionally, unlike a traditional giveaway where the reach dies once the prize is awarded, this strategy creates a lasting partnership that helps maintain engagement with little additional effort.

The secret to engagement: The AdvertiseMint team’s microinfluencer chatbot campaign joined the brand to the audience to create a lasting partnership that provides both parties with value. Brian says, “When you focus on value first and then continually improve the process, you will be rewarded with high engagement and results.”

.@AdvertiseMint’s microinfluencer #chatbot campaign joined the brand to the audience to create a lasting partnership that provides both parties with value, says @brianmeert via @CMIContent @mss_bojana. Click To Tweet

Build automated customer relationships

Chatbots are a fabulous way to build relationships with prospects at scale. As the relationship grows, you can convert that person into a customer.

Yhennifer Mendes, formally of Social Zap, shares a campaign that produced high engagement rates. (The least successful message had an open rate of 68%.)

The client was a gubernatorial candidate who wanted to generate more traffic to his live talks and donations to the campaign.

(Note: The 0% clicks were update messages without any links to click.)

The campaign was successful because it focused on providing valuable content not available anywhere else. Given the more intimate setting, chat messaging allows recipients to feel as if they are talking directly to the sender or person behind the brand.

The secret to engagement: Use your bot to offer exclusive content, which makes subscribers feel special. Invest time in creating a genuine relationship with your subscribers so they feel as though they know you on a personal level. Use chatbots to notify people when the person goes live. But if your content isn’t truly outstanding, this strategy won’t work.

Use your bot to offer exclusive #content, which makes subscribers feel special, says @YhenniferMendes via @CMIContent @mss_bojana. Click To Tweet

Bottom line

Each of these examples used chat to boost their marketing, making them stand out from most brands, which see chat strictly as a customer service tool.

The key? Each one provided value to its audience. By putting audience members first and thinking about how to add value to their life in a way that’s relevant to your brand, your engagement will rise.

Whether you’re striving to increase brand awareness, drive conversions, or build an email list, try swiping some of these sequences to grow your business, and let us know how it goes.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute