Missed an episode of Chatfuel School—the podcast where we cover hot topics in the world of bot-building and marketing? Don't worry; we took notes for you. 🤓 The topic for May 6, 2020 was conversational design for high-converting chatbots, and we brought in author, podcaster, and chatbot-agency owner Mary Kathryn Johnson (MKJ) to share her expertise! Here's the full episode. 👇 Keep scrolling for a recap of what you missed.

An artist wouldn't use oil paints on a piece of notebook paper, or crayons on a canvas. 🎨 They'd end up with a mess that interferes with the idea they're trying to get across. For maximum impact, artists know they have to express themselves in a way that fits their medium—and it's the same for marketers.

When it comes to conversational marketing strategy, this concept is especially important. Copying and pasting marketing material from other channels into chatbot blocks or cards won't be effective. Instead, you have to adapt your messaging to the chat medium.

We're not in traditional marketing territory anymore, which is one-way communication that's directed at the masses and focuses completely on the product. Instead, conversational marketing is two-way communication with a single prospect at a time. It revolves around the needs and wants of potential customers, and lets them drive the sales conversation.

👉 So how can you make the shift to conversational marketing?

👉  How can you adapt your content to a Messenger chatbot so you can get as many conversions as possible?

MKJ shares six steps to help you with your chatbot's conversational design!

conversational design

#1. Become obsessed with learning about your prospects.

To be a great conversation designer, you need to know as much as possible about your potential customers. The more you can understand about them, the better you'll be able to tailor your Messenger experience to them, and the more receptive they'll be to your marketing. MKJ suggests answering these questions to help you dig into who your customers really are:

  • Who is the prospect? 👥 Start with the basics, and be as specific as possible: age, gender, location, values, marital status, occupation, etc. Then, dig deeper. What are their challenges? What are their goals? What are their values? What do they believe in?
  • What is their need? 🧐 Investigate as many details as possible for the use case of your product among your target audience. How would they use it? What were they using before? What features would they be looking for in a new product for this use case?
  • How will your solution improve their life? 📈 This generally goes deeper than the obvious use of the product. Example: You're not just selling skincare products. You're selling confidence and youth, a transformation.

It's easy to see why a deep understanding of prospects will make for impactful conversational experiences. We've all felt this personally in our interactions with others! Everyone becomes more interested and engaged if the other person understands or tries to understand who we are and where we're coming from. And that's exactly the experience conversational marketers should provide to users.

#2. Work backwards from the conversion.

MKJ calls this process backwards mapping. It means focusing on the goal first. What do you want your chatbot users to eventually do?

  • Click through to your ecommerce store?
  • Visit your sales page?
  • Register for a webinar?
  • Complete a quiz or survey?
  • Share their contact information?

Only you know what a conversion should look like for your unique business—and deciding on one is crucial. "If we aren't clear about the destination," MKJ explains, "we can't create the path prospects need to take to get there."

"If we aren't clear about the destination, we can't create the path prospects need to take to get there." –Mary Kathryn Johnson (MKJ)

#3. Figure out what prospects need in order to know, like, and trust your business.

Now you know what kind of conversion you're aiming for. Next, use what you learned about your prospects in step one. It'll help you figure out what they'll need from your business in the conversational experience to feel comfortable taking the desired action. As MKJ puts it: Find out what they need to "know, like, and trust about your business."

MKJ shares the example of a client of hers who is a relationship coach. 🌹 Her chatbot marketing agency built a Messenger bot to qualify leads for the client's services, so it asked users a series of questions. The third question was: What's your relationship status: single, married, or divorced? Only 22% of users answered this question, compared to 80% who answered the previous one. It was a sign that the bot was demanding too much trust from users too soon.

  • To fix the problem, MKJ's chatbot marketing agency redesigned the question flow to gradually work up to that one. 🔧 They focused on building trust with smaller asks first, so the prospects could warm up and feel comfortable before divulging their relationship status.

This is exactly why testing and monitoring your Messenger chatbot is so important, MKJ reminds us. It's not a set-and-forget tool. It's an experience, and you can't know for sure how people will react to it until they try it out.

To help with the process of testing and optimizing, MKJ's chatbot development agency team uses these no-code Chatfuel tools:

  1. A/B Test plugin, to split-test two different variants of a particular section of your chatbot
  2. Built-in stats, to see at a glance if users are dropping off at any point during the flow, and to pinpoint exactly where
  3. Send Analytics Events to Facebook plugin, to visualize your chatbot sales funnel to monitor its performance

#4. Create a strategy map.

Now you know where you want prospects to end up, and what they'll need from your chatbot along the way to get there. Your next step is to map out the conversational design from a high-level view. (You can do this right in our visual, intuitive interface, Flow Builder!)

You don't need to craft actual chatbot messages yet—just sketch out the key points of the conversation. Think of it like deciding on the chapters of a book before writing it: coming up with titles and content for each major step in the progression of the novel. 📖

  1. Start by listing the different ways you'll drive traffic to the bot (Entry Points are perfect for this!).
  2. What information do you need from the customer next? In the example below, the brand needs to know what type of product the client is looking for.
  3. Based on the user's answers to your chatbot's questions, decide where to take them next. Is it to a new, more focused set of questions? Educational info or tips?
  4. Finally, map out how you'll funnel users from the previous content to the conversion you chose in step two.
Create a high-level strategy map of how users will move through the conversation before you start writing actual chatbot messages.

#5. Translate your content to Messenger.

MKJ warns that the worst thing you could do is take the text from one of your emails or your landing page and paste it into your chatbot. Instead, you'll need to adapt your content to the Messenger chatbot style.

She suggests taking a page of your existing marketing material and practice breaking it down into a paragraph, a sentence, then a word or two. This exercise will help you distill your message into one key idea. That way, you'll have a focused direction for the conversational design of your chatbot.

MKJ shared some more tips on adjusting long-form content to fit a Messenger chatbot:

  • Stick to one idea per message. 💭 Trying to squeeze multiple topics or thoughts into a single message will make your content harder for users to digest.
  • Don't include more than ~160 characters per text block. 🙅🏻‍♀️ MKJ says that if you press Enter to make a new paragraph within a message (unless it's purely for emphasis), your message is probably too long. Think of it like writing for Twitter: Brevity is key!
  • Use GIFs and emoji. 👀 These visual elements are common in Messenger experiences, because they help break up the text and keep users interested.
  • Remember to focus on the transformation. 🙌 It'll help users stay interested and keep the conversation on track. Back to MKJ's skincare-company example: Focus on the healthier, younger-looking skin users are after rather than the hard facts about your moisturizer.

And don't forget: However you choose to design your chatbot's content, make sure it matches your overall brand voice and follows the basic rules for great copywriting!

#6. Fine-tune your CTAs.

MKJ's final tip for conversational design is to focus on conversational CTAs. A single Buy Now! CTA at the end of your chatbot's flow isn't enough. Make users more likely to click that one by getting them to agree to multiple, small CTAs first. Add these micro-commitments along the way to get users interacting and saying yes to you before you make your big pitch.

To that end, MKJ recommends including questions that are designed simply for engagement. Check out this example from the chatbot her team built for a client selling ecommerce courses:

There's only one button, so getting users to click it doesn't provide any data or show their preference. It only serves to get the client interacting and saying yes early on in the conversational experience.

Here are MKJ's tips for writing effective CTAs to use throughout your Messenger chatbot's flow:

  1. Choose strong verbs and commanding terms. 💪 YES! Tell me more! is a perfect example.
  2. Use words that provoke emotion. 😧 Another example of a button response MKJ's team created for this bot is, WHAAAA? Show me! The pre-set response is enthusiastic, and clicking it will help users build their own enthusiasm too.
  3. Give a reason why the user should take the desired action. 🤷🏻‍♀️  Remember to keep that transformation you're selling at the forefront of all your chatbot's messages. Focus on the user and what they have to gain.
  4. Use (but don't overuse) FOMO, or the fear of missing out. 😳 Words and phrases like Now!, exclusive access, Don't miss, hurry, etc. can help evoke this feeling in users.
  5. Incorporate numbers. 🔢 They'll help you organize your flow and let users know what to expect. For example, your chatbot could offer 3 ways, 4 ideas, 5 examples, etc.

Boost conversions with careful conversational design

Whether your chatbot hits your conversion goals or not depends entirely on how you design the conversation. Remember to focus on the customer and how you can solve their pain points, and to keep your messaging short and concise to fit the Messenger platform. Happy botting!

Learn more about MKJ, and check out her chatbot marketing agency Messenger Funnels, a Chatfuel Premium Agency client. Then, sign up for a free account with Chatfuel to start building your no-code Messenger chatbot today.