So, you may remember not that long ago — as in, last month — I was very keen on chatbots. I got a lot of inspiration from Andrew Warner over at Mixergy, who had helped me see some things that I hadn’t understood at all about the format. Now we must be radically relevant.
Fast forward a few weeks … and Facebook announced that they were putting all new bots on hold while they conduct a massive audit.
It turns out that having to put on a suit to testify before Congress can make a founder cautious. It might seem awkward, but truly, in the long run (which is how I roll), it matters very little. Here’s why.
No, chatbots aren’t dead
Just to get this one out of the way: there’s no reason to think that this is anything other than a pause on chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger platform.
As it happens, anyone who had a bot already running was fine — this is just a pause on new ones. So if you were an early adopter, you have my permission to pat yourself on the back.
Now, if this was technology that Facebook didn’t like, or that they felt was exploitative in some way, chatbot creators could be having a bad time. However, despite the slightly creepy-sounding name, chatbot technology doesn’t rely on any of the privacy strip-mining that has Facebook in hot water right now.
One thing I like about chatbots is that they provide an additional way to connect with our audiences in a direct way. But I’ve talked with a few people who have run chatbot campaigns, who mentioned that they “didn’t even collect the email.”
I don’t think that’s a great idea.
Think “and,” not “or”
Permission-based chat technology can potentially give us another channel to connect, for people who prefer to communicate in that way. And there might be other channels that will make sense, like text messages or WhatsApp.
But we know that Facebook is honey badger: they don’t care about our individual businesses, and they never will. So relying solely on Messenger (or anyone’s chat platform) to connect is unacceptably risky.
Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Medium, and YouTube are all really fantastic tools. But don’t rely on them alone. Make sure you have diversified how you can connect with your audience.
And the one way to connect that you tend to be able to “own” is the email address.
So don’t think about “or.” Think about “and.” Every time you can.
What would make email work better?
One reason that alternative communication options are attractive is that email inboxes are cluttered. For some people (like me), they’re wildly cluttered.
The answer isn’t: “Never send another email.”
It’s great to be able to diversify our connection options, but we also need to recognize that we’ll run into hiccups, like the one we’re seeing now with Facebook Messenger.
What’s the answer? To earn our audiences’ attention, we need to declare war on content clutter. Send fewer email messages, but make the ones we send radically relevant.
Now, for a long time, that was fairly hard to do on the fly. To be able to creatively and dynamically switch messages so that different people went down different paths depending on what they found interesting — that took some significant resources to set up, both in time and money.
In other words, it felt too hard and too expensive.
That is changing really fast.
At Copyblogger, we’re in the process of moving our lists over to ConvertKit, and proudly recommend them as a marketing partner.
One of the reasons we love ConvertKit is that a regular person — an ordinary writer with an email list — can set up creative, ultra-relevant sequences, and then easily connect them so their audiences see the right thing at the right time.
It sounds great — and it is. But I know from my own experience that it can be easy to get overwhelmed by something new, even when the tech is highly user-friendly.
To that end, we’re hosting a live workshop on simple but smart ways to use segmentation and automation, so you can lower the overwhelm factor and start declaring your own war on content clutter.