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Leveraging Facebook Messenger as a Core Acquisition Channel w/ Ben Parr from Octane.ai

Tune in to today's episode to learn how to leverage Facebook Messenger as a key part of your user acquisition strategy with Steve Weiss, the CEO of MuteSix, and Ben Parr, the Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Octane AI. 

Episode Transcript — Leveraging Facebook Messenger as a Core Acquisition Channel w/ Ben Parr from Octane.ai

Speaker 1: You're listening to the spend $10K a Day podcast brought to you by the performance marketing experts at MuteSix. This is your source for cutting edge insight into the world of online advertising from the team with more Facebook case studies than any other agency on the planet. Here is your host, Steve Weiss.

Steve: Welcome everyone to an awesome episode today of sped $10K a Day podcast. Today's a special day. It's right before mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing mothers out there. Every day is actually Mother's Day, but just want to put that out there as well. Anyway, today we have an awesome guest, Ben Parr from Octene the AI. Getting deeper into Facebook messenger and how to leverage Facebook messenger as a core acquisition channel.

Ben has one of the top technologies in the Facebook messenger space. He's been awesome enough to come on board and share some of his Intel with us and with the audience. Really appreciate you coming on Ben. Ben, tell us a little more about your experiences, well, your background. You've a really interesting and rather unique set of experiences, and I'd love for you to share a little bit about yourself and tell us what you're working on now. Octane at AI, you're telling me more about a conversational marketing product you just announced as well. So I'm sure the audience would love to wear more about that as well.

Ben: Thanks Steve. It's a pleasure to be on. There's a whole bunch of things there, so let me go through them one at a time. So a quick on my background. So my original claim to fame is at 24 I was the co-editor and editor at large of Mashable, the technology news site. And so I joined Mashable when I was 23, I wrote 2,446 articles during my time at Mashable, I opened the West Coast office. I managed a team of 50 and I did that for about four years before I left, and I did a column for CBS and Cnet. I wrote a book called Captivology on the Science and psychology of attention and why we pay attention to certain people and products. And I joined a couple of boards and I invested in a bunch of startups.

And then about two years ago, my two other co founders and I started Octane AI to help businesses communicate with their customers over conversational platforms. And specifically we focus on conversational commerce. So using apps like Facebook messenger to increase sales, communicate with customers, it build better targeting, all sorts of different things, the full kind of experience. And the same kinds of ways that stores have run email campaigns, we've been abled those over messenger, not just abandoned carts, but also drip campaigns, advanced segmentation and targeting, data collection, the whole suite. So that's all everything in a nutshell I guess.

Steve: That's really interesting because there's still a lot of people in ecommerce, and pretty much people who run stores that really worry that if I get into messenger I'm going to cause a lot of customer service headaches. So I'm there. And one of the biggest push backs that we get on a daily basis is, especially we, even for some of our stores that we operate is we don't have the customer service team that allows us to really efficiently do a messenger campaign. Because remember unlike email, people actually respond to messages. If you send them a message with an Emoji, with a discount, people will be like, "No I don't want that." Or they're going to reply. And I feel like the evolution of Messenger, the integration with the Messenger program with the greater marketing team. And we've seen a lot of companies we work with have a tremendous amount of success with that.

Ben: Yeah, absolutely. The thing I think is... At least with ours offer, our goal is to actually reduce the amount of time that you have answering questions, be for example, GoPro is a customer of ours and they have this really amazing messenger experience where it'll help you troubleshoot through all sorts of different problems that you might have with all sorts of different cameras. And it definitely has reduced the amount of time that they've spent answering the same kinds of questions all the time.

I think in the same kind of way, if you open up messenger as a channel and you don't have good automation, it will create a lot more work. But our software is designed to reduce that work so it automatically answers questions. You can create different responses to those common questions. You can create even full interactive conversations to those common questions. It's part of the technology that we built when we first launched this platform and 2016 in fact.

Steve: Interesting. So tell us... Go step one, step two, step three. I'm an ecommerce brand currently running a lot of Facebook ads. The key to using messenger, is people have to be logged into Facebook obviously. So I'm an ecommerce brand, I'm selling performance outerwear, selling pretty much plethora of different products. How am I integrating with octane AI? What is step one, step two, step three? How do I get the best performance out of Octane and make sure that I'm setting myself up for success?

I think you're kind of unique in that you guys don't want to alleviate the customer service concerns that come with Messenger. Whereas I feel like a lot of the other platforms are more focused on the integration between the two. So I'm just curious, step one, step two, step three, and then what type of results could we expect almost immediately once we integrate?

Ben: Those are great questions. So the steps are pretty straight forward and simple. You connect your store, so we support Shopify, we're supporting other platforms. Then you connect your Facebook account and that's it. Then it's all up and running, it's all automated, and certain automated campaigns are automatically on and you could turn them on or off. Shipping and receive notifications. One of the big ones is our abandoned cart campaigns.

We automatically add a messenger checkbox pre-checked on these different pages on your add to cart pages. And then when customers, if they don't complete a purchase and they're logged into Facebook and they have that box checked, an hour later they'll receive a message from your store. And so we've been having this product in private Beta, our entire conversational commerce experience. And out of the 50 or so stores that had been in our private Beta, this includes companies like Pure Cycles, and Filly Flair, and Apt2B. They've seen increases in revenue between 7% and 25% just by turning on the software.

And this is because they're reaching on average three times more customers higher up in the funnel and they don't only get them through a bandit cart campaigns or shipping and receipt notification campaigns, but they are able to send conversational campaigns. They're able to actually create product recommendation conversations. They're able to do all sorts of things. So the whole kind of thing is it's super easy to set up. It takes a few minutes and then you can track how much money you're making automatically because most of the campaigns are just automated and they just run on their own, and you can customize it as much or as little as you'd like. But you'll still be very successful with it.

Steve: So how it works is, where does the messenger box pop up on the website to get approval? So does it pop up on a product page? Does it pop up on... Is it similar to a just [inaudible 00:07:23] ? Because you say you're not doing just abandoned cart, you guys are trying to really make it so that messenger is going to be a good tool for prospecting as well to get that first purchase. So where exactly does it pop up on the website? What's the, from a best practice perspective?

Ben: So we automatically add the send a messenger checkbox on all the product pages. That's the best practice. It automatically does that. You don't have to think about it. You can even customize the color and other pieces of it.

Steve: She it's actually on the... It's not even on shopping cart, it's on the product. That's interesting. So you actually put it on the product pages?

Ben: Yes. Right next to the add to cart button.

Steve: Right next to the... Oh, okay, so you're putting... So just so the audience is clear, you're putting the Messenger checkbox next to the add to cart button and then once they opt into messenger, and they come back to the website, then you have a specific flow that's going to hit them with a message once they come back to the website, then leave again. Correct?

Ben: Well, if they come to the website and they add something to a cart with a site powered by Octane AI, and they don't make a purchase, they'll get a message whether or not to come back to the site or not. And so we've already... They've got the opt in, they will receive a message, and our messages, you can customize them to say something like, "Did you forget something?" It'll show you the product, and then it'll give you different options, to complete the purchase, one out of nine of those messages converts into a sale. But also asking for if you want a reminder, if you want to just say thank you. And we have different buttons for doing all that. And a lot of people actually ask for a reminder and then they complete the purchase later. But I think the end result of one out of nine messages converting into a sale is probably the biggest one that opens a lot of people's eyes.

Steve: Interesting. So pretty much you have a segmented series, which you probably have templates and messenger templates that you add it next to the product pages, and then you have specific templates that people can use to test out with to see whether it's reminders, whether it's different types of things to get them to add to cart, et Cetera, et cetera. And then that's what's really making up... That's what we really are bringing on 15% to 25% more sales. Because I know just from running, obviously we're an agency, we run over a hundred million dollars a year in Facebook spend. We know that the add to carts, we see a very small add to cart percentage. If we could up that add to cart percentage of some campaigns through messenger, that's going to be a big win for us. For everyone.

Ben: Yeah. It's an on average, for Octane AI customers, they're reaching three times as many customers and they're usually doubling the amount of money they're making from their abandoned cart campaigns. You need every edge as a small business owner, as a store. When we provide that edge and we make it as easy as possible to set up and use. We designed our software to be really very similar in a lot of ways. So the email marketing software you use, and so it's designed to be super intuitive and so you can do as much or as little as you want.

So for example, someone might, not just the abandoned cart piece on add to cart, but you could create popups. We have a widget where you can add a messenger chat right on your site if you wanted to do that, you can add it at the shipping and receipt notification stage. You can have very simple conversations but you could create your own. So yes, we provide those templates and you don't have to do anything else and you will make money. Every customer of Octane makes more money than they spend, but you can also customize it as you wish. If you want it to have more personality, or if you want to run more complex drip campaigns, or similar to a newsletter. You can do all of that and it's all really effective.

Steve: Got It. Okay. So let's talk a little more about the future of Messenger. Obviously you talked a little more about this conversational marketing platform you just announced, you're at F8 Conference, the Facebook F8 Conference. Tell us a little more about this conversational marketing platform that you guys are launching. It's really, really interesting.

Ben: So yeah, at Facebook's F8 conference this week, we announced our... A couple of things, we announced our conversational commerce platform, which includes our Shopify integration. A couple of other integrations. We have an integration with Klaviyo, as an example, where you can actually sync your email campaigns with your messenger campaigns. I don't know if anyone else has really done this to the level we've done it so that you you can have it decide to send an email or a message. All sorts of different cool things. And we'll talk more about that in the very near future.

We announced some of the other features like the ability to recommend products through gift and product finders. So for example, L'Oreal, another one of our customers, they, for their keels Bot, it'll actually ask you a series of questions. What kind of skin do you have? What kind of weather is it where you live, what kind of products are you looking for? And it'll recommend a product. And we made that kind of functionality available to everyone.

And so overall we are really focused on helping stores make their customers happier and increase their revenue. This conversational commerce platform... We're really diving deep and providing not just... Not just one campaign but all the campaigns that you might want to run if you were taking your email campaigns and bringing them over to messenger or other conversational platforms.

Steve: Got It. Interesting, interesting. That's it.

The Klaviyo integration. I'm curious to see how that kind of works or how the execution of that knowing that we work with Klaviyo really closely and do you send the same messages? How do you make it more of a people based marketing approach? That's really interesting to me because I feel messengers still a very sensitive area for marketing. People, they respond to messenger a lot more than email. It's still hasn't been hit hard from a marketing perspective.

So I'm really interested in to see how the integration works and how people respond to it. Because obviously people have just not got a lot of messenger focused emails before or messenger focused message. I know I haven't gotten one messenger correspondence, maybe the brands I buy from, and I buy from a lot of different web brands. So I'm just curious how that will look.

Let's talk a little more about the future of Messenger. Obviously Messenger is becoming more and more important from a Omni channel marketing approach. Where do you see the future of the way Facebook is using messenger, how they think about messenger, how messenger integrates into a full channel marketing approach? What's your vision of where we're at a year from now? How are companies going to evolve on the Messenger Platform? How are they going to personalize, et Cetera, et cetera?

Ben: So I've had a good number of conversations, a lot of people on the Messenger team at F8 and before. And it's hard to predict exactly where they'll go. But I think a couple of key things are they're really invested in a calmer conversational commerce and commerce as a channel. So they're want to half see more of these use cases for talking with customers before the purchase and following up after the purchase. All sorts of different things like that. I think from... They recently announced their augmented reality platform for messenger, so you can imagine, and we thought about things. But being able to almost try on a product or see things before you purchase and there's some cool things that you can do in that kind of thing. I think they're trying to simplify the experience but make it really, really relevant and they're trying to make it a really, really clear win for stores.

So I see it in the next year or two, them expanding upon the commerce related features, making it more useful to store small and big, making it a better tool for business, and making it a simpler app to use for end consumers. And then I see them doing more and more integrations directly into websites. Not just on the Messenger app, but the Messenger widget that you can put on a website, to send a messenger check boxes. I think that's the direction that they're going. And I'm sure they have some things under their sleeve that I have no idea about. But they're very invested in commerce as a channel.

Steve: What about other messenger platforms? What about Instagram Messenger? What about WhatsApp messenger? Do you think any of these platforms, Facebook will open up to be transactional platforms? Yeah, that's what I'm interesting because, obviously, I don't really use Facebook anymore. I am all Instagram now so I rarely go on Facebook to talk to anyone. And I'm just curious as to how does the Instagram messenger and Facebook messenger kind of correlate to each other?

Ben: I think the only thing I can really say on that, is if you're an Octane AI customer, you'll know first when those platforms that you mentioned are available. All I can say is all of Facebook is definitely interested in commerce and I don't have any predictions on if and when, but the moment that we can do the same kinds of things we do over messenger, we can support Instagram or WhatsApp or even other platforms internationally. We will support them asap.

Steve: Cool. Right before we wrap things up, Ben, really appreciate you taking the time out of your day. Is there any followup thoughts that you want to share with the audience before we wrap things up? Pertaining to messenger, pertain anything focused around using messenger in their integrated omnichannel approach?

Ben: So, I think if you want to take this step, so for the stores out there, I think it's just the most basic piece of it, is that it's very clear that the customers have moved away from email to move towards messaging as a medium. And so it's the old business mantra of you have to be where your customers are. And so it makes sense to us at least that every store and every business will be using messenger and other messaging mediums to communicate with customers. I think the next step is having the tools and the AI and the platform to not make it a giant workload as you mentioned before. And we've spent and invested a lot of time in that area, making it super easy to set up lots and lots of automations, to answer these questions, to recover abandoned carts to increase revenue.

The biggest thing I think is the results are just there. It's 7% to 25% increases in revenue. Very clearly capturing more customers. Some of our customers have tens of thousands of people. They can now send Facebook messages to about new products, about customer updates, about all sorts of things. And that's worked out remarkably well for all of them.

And so I say it's all right, dip your toe in the water. You guys have a lot of experiences, I should talk to you or talk to us, I'm happy to answer those questions. It's really simple to turn on and to just track your ROI. But the ROI is there. I don't think it was there two years ago, but now this platform has matured as a business channel, and I think you're going to see it go from customers being delighted by it or to customers expecting you to be able to do some things over messenger and other messaging platforms.

Steve: I think that that's really interesting. I think the future is being able to provide automated drips. And who knows if like Facebook is going to... I'm always concerned that Facebook might change. You might have all these people on your messenger flows, so I always caution people to don't over invest in acquiring people for your messenger flows. Remember that Facebook still... You still have to play by the rules, and even if you have all these people, they could change up tomorrow. Unlike email where you actually own a sense of that audience data in this sense. You don't own any of that audience data. Correct?

Ben: You're correct. We've thought about that, and that's definitely, I have to come back because though would definitely be something to talk about on that front, because we have the same concern too.

Steve: Yeah, you feel like you're acquiring something of value, but the reality is is that the value... Facebook owns the value, you know? Does that make sense?

Ben: I totally agree with the idea that you have to invest in the entire marketing stack. You're right. I think Facebook is very invested in commerce as a channel, but they control the platform and they can change things, but there are interesting ways in which to leverage the audience that you build on Messenger for the other things that you do.

So we have a feature where you can very easily collect emails and phone numbers, be it like, they can opt in and they can share that with you. And you can use that, you can use messenger as a channel to build up new lists and to share that data. That's why, for example, we built this Klaviyo integration. We didn't want that data to be siloed. So you can actually export some of the data that you've gained through messenger and sync it with your Klaviyo account, and eventually with other services and other platforms and other apps that you use. And if anyone out there has an app they really want us to integrate with, definitely shoot me a note on Twitter at Ben Parr or anywhere else and we'll get working on it.

Steve: How does that work? So how do you integrate, that's really interesting. How do you integrate messenger data with other third party? So I guess someone has to get an email address first? Correct? To integrate with Klaviyo, but someone gets a phone number, someone gets or any other kind of custom audience data. Do you integrate that back into Facebook? Can you actually build custom audience data off of Messenger lists? Or can you actually, I'm just curious as to what that audience onboarding experience looks like.

Ben: There's a whole bunch of cool things, at least the v one of our Klaviyo integration, but you're right. Typically you want to have some kind of unique identifier like an email address or a phone number in order to sync data between the two. But it is really straightforward and there's very straightforward methods in which you can ask people for that information through Messenger.

And then what we do is we sync the events that are happening on Facebook messenger with the actions and the flows that you have in Klaviyo. And so you can have Klaviyo flows customized and changed based on messenger events, things like if they've received an abandoned cart message, if they've unsubscribed from an abandoned cart message over messenger, things like that.

And we're still working on some other cool things where in terms of our integration with Klaviyo, but I think the biggest thing for us is that we don't want to be a data silo. We want to be working with all the apps that you use to make it a seamless experience. You can expect as an example, as end desk integration, to be released in the pretty near future. And we're going to have more of those like that so that you don't have to choose one of these apps or you can work... They all work together.

Steve: Cool. That's awesome. I'm excited to keep on point with the integration. Just stay in the loop. I think that's where I think there's a huge opportunity, is the sharing of audience data across multiple, multiple platforms with Messenger. There's a huge opportunity. Alright, cool. This has been really insightful podcast, actually learned a lot myself. I'm going to wrap things up right here. Ben, really appreciate you jumping on with us. This has been an amazing experience. And if someone wants to get ahold of you, you said that they could reach out to you at Ben Parr Twitter or what's the best way to get ahold of you?

Ben: So on the social accounts, it's @BenParr, B-E-N P-A-R-R. On Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, Instagram, everything. But you can also just email me. It's Ben@Octane.AI. So O-C-T-A-N-E dot A-I. If you want to email me, ask me a question, feel free to shoot me a note.

Steve: Cool. Thanks Ben. Appreciate your time, man.

Ben: Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Steve: Yup.

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