Is ManyChat worth it? The big benefits (& bigger pitfalls) of this newsletter “replacer”

Facebook Messenger automation has been touted as the end of email marketing, and rightly so. Spearheading that change is ManyChat, which simplifies creating your own Messenger bot. But is ManyChat worth it?

I’ve used ManyChat on two very different websites over the past month. One is Ironeko, the site you’re currently reading, and another is a local business I work for. Running both of these at once, I was hoping to find a way around the hassle of building a newsletter.

Messenger bots are used by a lot of blogs, forums and businesses to stay in touch with their users, so it’s more than worth trying. However, I discovered that it was a complicated issue.

But what are the pros and cons?

the ManyChat logo

The Benefits of Marketing with Messenger

A quick Google will return some impressive stats about Messenger marketing:

  • Messenger is adding users at a rate of 666,666 per day.
  • 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger each month.
  • Facebook Messenger marketing has 10-80 times better engagement than email.
  • Send to Messenger Facebook ads have the equivalent of a 100% conversion rate.

(Source: mobilemonkey.com)

Those are some staggeringly good numbers! So why aren’t more businesses using Messenger Marketing rather than emails?

Pitfall #1: Growing Your Messenger List

Growing your list should be your priority with both standard newsletters as well as Messenger marketing. With emails, it’s pretty easy for a few reasons:

  • Emails are standardised as the primary contact information people need to submit when buying online.
  • People don’t care much about giving out their email address.
  • Emails have existed for so long that even old businesses probably have thousands of them.

While there are only two ways to grow your Messenger contacts:

  • Someone sends a message to your company’s Messenger.
  • Someone presses a button on your site, agreeing to receive updates.

That’s it.

What it means for businesses…

Realistically, as a business, the only way to receive a Messenger contact would be to wait until someone asks your page for information. I now ask you this: How many times have you as a user done that in the past year? A couple? Maybe 3 or 4?

On the other hand, how many stores have you shared your email with to complete a purchase? How many eBay sellers received your info after buying something? It’s likely that number will be a lot higher.

What’s even worse is that older generations are infinitely less likely to use Messenger at all. And these stats plummet further once we consider how unlikely it is that someone over 50 will use Messenger to contact a business.

What it means for blogs and other sites…

Since it’s unlikely that someone will message your page for info, the only thing you can do is hope someone will click a button like this to receive updates.

A screenshot of a ManyChat button on the blog Ironeko.com

Let me tell you, this is EXTREMELY unlikely – unless you have massive traffic.

Pitfall #2: ManyChat Will Hit Your Website’s Performance

I couldn’t quite believe this myself, but it seems like Google has become much stricter with their PageSpeed evaluation.

For example, here’s Ironeko‘s Javascript Parsing time without using any ManyChat Widgets.

Analysis of Ironeko.com's Javascript parsing time without ManyChat widgets

Here’s the same measurements taken minutes later on the same page with a ManyChat widget.

Analysis of Ironeko.com's Javascript parsing time with ManyChat widgets

That’s a whopping 2579ms vs 3394ms of loading difference. On Ironeko this translated to around 30 points in Google’s speed scale, which is absolutely massive. So, for now, is ManyChat worth it for me? No.

Pitfall #3: Facebook Messenger Policies are about to kill Messenger Marketing

Yes you heard that right.

From March 4 2020, pages will not be allowed to send promotional material to users outside of a 24 hour window after they subscribe.

Outside this window, businesses will only be allowed to send messages tagged into 4 specific categories:

  • Confirmed Event Update
  • Post-Purchase Update
  • Account Update
  • Human Agent

Even ManyChat knows this is spelling doom for Messenger Marketing. To quote them:

For messages that don’t fit any Message Tag – use SMS or email steps instead. ” (Source)

Conclusion

It’s hard to tell what the future holds for Messenger marketing as the policy changes are big blow to the reputation it managed to build up until this point. Loopholes could be found that’ll become widely used; the policy could change again; or Messenger marketing as we know it could be no more.

Is ManyChat worth it? Ehh. For now, try it out on your site if you find the time, as it’s a fun enough experiment, and see what kind of dent it makes in your performance. If your performance is still pretty good with the widget, keep it! Though I wouldn’t bet on that.

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