Blog Post: E-mail vs. Messenger

Will Facebook Messenger be the killer of e-mail marketing?

I have previously written about the two marketing methods in the article “Is it time to bring the 38-year-old newsletter dinosaur into our millennium?”, however that was almost a year ago and I would like to share new insights with you.

There are some similarities between Facebook Messenger chatbots and e-mail. They are both very targeted, direct forms of marketing. Whereas traditional advertisement-mediums like billboards and tv seek to reach the widest possible audience, e-mail and Messenger send a specific message to pre-selected and segmented customers. Furthermore, both methods seek to, not just bring awareness to a product or service, but also to link the customers to where they can make a purchase or complete the sender’s desired outcome.

So, with these similarities, the question arises: do Facebook Messenger chatbots provide a better alternative to e-mail marketing? Let us take a closer look at them.

While e-mails present all content at once, chatbots would likely start with a proposition, update, or question. From there, the information the customer receives will vary based on their inputs and interactions. Think of e-mail as a speech, and a Messenger chatbot as an interview. Like a speech, e-mail is a one-way communication, with all of the information being presented in one continuous sequence. Messenger is comparable to an interview in that it exists as a series of back-and-forths, a two-way communication, with one side attempting to gather information (the bot), and the other (the human) providing that information based on the questions asked.

E-mail consists of a single, vertical layout of content. They can contain multiple images, lines of copy, and links. E-mails can also present a variety of messages and CTAs (Call To Action) within one communication. Size constraints, however, limit the capability of e-mail to send larger, more engaging content such as video and audio. Also, recipients rarely complete a desired action within the e-mail itself. Rather, the e-mail compels the user to do something and links them to where they can do it.

Facebook Messenger differentiates itself from e-mail by allowing most desired actions to be completed within the message. Without leaving the platform, users can: fill out polls; provide information; watch videos; listen to audio and, most importantly, make purchases. In theory, the fewer steps required for the user to reach the desired outcome, the more likely that desired outcome is to be reached. By aggregating the marketing message and it’s actionability into one place, Messenger makes itself a much more interesting platform than traditional e-mail.

In order to understand the differences of the two channels, let us look at a practical example, a reminder from your optician that it is time for your yearly eye examination.

E-mail

An e-mail is sent, that informs the customer that they are due for their yearly eye examination. A CTA links to a web page in a browser where the recipient can select their optician and see available dates. A date is selected, booked and an email confirming the appointment is sent.

Messenger chatbot

A message is sent that informs the customer that they are due for their yearly eye examination. It asks the recipient a date and time they’re available and sends appointment times based on that customer’s inputs. The customer selects the one they want (either through a quick-reply or text input) and the bot confirms the booking. The bot is also configured to send a reminder message a day prior to the appointment.

So, ultimately Facebook Messenger is appealing to marketers because it provides the direct contact and accuracy of e-mail without any of the content or actionability limitations. Bots can provide a richer, more interactive experience, and therefore become desirable. The challenge lies in identifying how Messenger features are beneficial to your customers and incorporating them into your message.

So, do we have any facts showing that Messenger is way better than e-mail marketing?

Well, so far we have delivered Information bots and Chatbots to quite a few clients with many thousands of Messenger Users and have sent out millions of Messenger sendouts. The result is an average openrate of >60% and an average Click through rate of >20%. Furthermore, the conversion of signing up for the Messenger Bot is between 7-15%, depending of the use case. These are numbers an e-mail marketer only can dream of. Please note, that our Zummy Insight Engine makes the sendouts to the customers very personalized, which also explain the great KPIs.

KPIs for Zummy Messenger Bots:
  • High Conversion Rate for Signups
    5-10x higher compared to e-mail

  • High Open Rate
    4-5 x higher compared to e-mail

  • High Click Through Rate (CTR)
    3-5 higher compared to e-mail


For one of our client, we also deliver e-mail newsletters. Their customers sign up for the Messenger newsletter simultaneously with the e-mail newsletter. Within the first week, after signup, 75% of their readers usually do unsubscribe for the e-mail newsletter.

What about demographics? Well, for the client mentioned above, their readers are mostly seniors with grey hair, so age does not seem to be a differentiator. However the youngster are spending 3.5 more time in messaging apps than those over 45. When I communicate with my kids (ranging from 19-26 years), we definitely do not use e-mails. As time goes on, these younger users will rely less on traditional e-mail platforms than the generation before them.

At the end of the day, Messenger chatbots and e-mail should be judged for their merits based on how they match up with your brand’s needs and how many customers you have. The trend is clear, though, the 38 year old, e-mail marketing method is getting closer to retirement.

Any marketing manager should evaluate and test how Messenger chatbots can take the stress off of their e-mail plan and open up new doors to customer acquisition and retention.

Key Insights

  • By aggregating the marketing message and it’s actionability into one place, Messenger makes itself a much more interesting platform than traditional e-mail.
  • By using a Facebook Messenger Bot, you will get a significant higher signup conversion rate compared to e-mail.
  • A Bot with personalized content gives much higher Open rates and CTR than e-mails.