Facebook is taking aim at email and direct mail marketing with new tools and features it's bringing to Messenger
Horacio Villalobos / Contributor
- Facebook is making a big push for Messenger at its F8 conference this week, pledging to drop the size of the app to 28 megabytes and appealing to developers to build quick chatbots for it.
- A handful of new features helps marketers run more sophisticated marketing and plug into CRM software, which could threaten email and direct mail marketing that advertisers have used for decades to run targeted advertising.
- Facebook reported that businesses send 20 billion messages per month through Messenger, up from 2 billion in 2017.
- The Messenger push aligns with Facebook's new emphasis on privacy and suggests that the company will increasingly pitch marketers on branded chatbots and ads in the app.
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Facebook is betting big on Messenger and wants marketers to get on board.
At its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, today, Facebook unveiled new features for Messenger aimed getting developers to make more chatbots for the app.
Marketers have had mixed results with chatbots, and the idea behind the new tools to track metrics like lead generation and in-store traffic is to get service-focused brands to ramp up their efforts.
"There was a lot of testing in this space, and we're finding that it's most appropriate for things like service organizations where if you have a product that you were complaining about, it's a channel that is easier to work with than email," Oscar Garza, EVP of global media activation at Essence, told Business Insider ahead of F8.
Three new features will let marketers get granular targeting and upload chat data, tactics that are core to the way marketers have long used email and direct marketing to send targeted messages and mail.
A new lead-generation template lets advertisers use Messenger to get consumers to interact with the app before being directed to a human representative.
Developers can also create reminders that follow up with consumers after they've left a Messenger app and download the list of sales leads manually, through CRM software.
Facebook is also adding more features to the shortened URL service it runs in Messenger called m.me. The links redirect users to a Messenger app if someone clicks on it from an email or website. Now, developers can add them to mobile apps and websites. A logged-in customer with refund or billing questions in a retailer's app can click a link to chat with a representative on Messenger, for example.
Another feature lets businesses such as hair or nail salons do appointment booking through Messenger.
Facebook is speeding up Messenger
Facebook also announced some new growth stats for Messenger: 40 million businesses and 3,000 developers push out 20 billion messages per month on the app, up from 2 billion in 2017.
To encourage developers to quickly build chatbots that are fast and light, Messenger said that in an effort dubbed "Lightspeed," it plans to cut the app by 70 megabytes to under 30 megabytes so it will load content in two seconds and likely help with Facebook's move towards encryption and ephemeral posts.
Video is a growing area for Messenger and the app reported that 410 million people connect over video chats every month. Messenger is testing a video feature that allows people to watch videos together in real-time, similar to Facebook's Watch Party feature, and is also rolling out a desktop app for Messenger. The company did not give an exact date for the launches but said they will roll out later this year.
"It's clear that 2019 will be a transition year for Messenger and for messaging as we proceed to build an app that realizes a privacy-focused vision for social networking," Messenger wrote in the post. "The idea being that if we were to start to build a social network today, we'd start with messaging first."