EP 45: The Best Strategies in Conversational Marketing with Ben Parr from Octane

Episode Summary:

We talk to Ben Parr of Octane AI about all things conversational marketing. We dive into the best ways to reach your customer in Messenger, SMS, and Email at the proper stage of the sales funnel, creative ways to use each channel, and what’s next for each channel in the coming months. We also discuss the benefits of Octane AI as a conversational messaging platform, and how you can get started with your business today.

To learn more about Octane AI or to get it for your business: http://bit.ly/2rzLerv

 

Episode Highlights:

  1. 2:15 How did Octane AI start?
  2. 7:35 What are the TECTONIC SHIFTS in Messenger since Octane AI started?
  3. 13:17 The BEST value tactics without the 24+1 Rule
  4. 17:02 How do you keep your email, Messenger, and SMS organized under one roof?
  5. 19:51 What are the best lead message tactics being used on Octane AI right now?
  6. 22:54 What is the most underused part of Messenger right now?
  7. 27:22 Going into 2020, is Messenger an Owned or an Advertising channel?
  8. 32:57 The COSTS of Sponsored and Click-To-Messenger Ads
  9. 35:04 What’s coming to Octane AI in the future (BIG PLANS!)

 

Resources Mentioned:

  1. Messenger and SMS platform – Octane AI
  2. Facebook Messenger Tool – Manychat
  3. Email Platform- Klaviyo

 

Episode Transcript:

 

Jeremy: Welcome, welcome, to another week’s episode of the Messenger Mastermind Podcast. In this episode, I’m joined by my incredible co-host, Ben Vandal. How’s it going, man?

 

Ben Vandal: It’s good, man. I’m excited here to get some new blood on the podcast and really see what’s going on in the messenger world out there.

 

Jeremy: Yeah, this week, Mark is traveling the world. Pretty sure he’s getting a tan somewhere, so we decided to bring in an awesome guest from the community that we’ve been spending a lot of time with at conferences and other events. Today, we’re going to be interviewing Ben Parr, who is the co-founder of Octane AI.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Octane AI, they are one of the leading messenger platforms, and they also provide SMS services as well. So, if you think about it, a single explanation would be marketing automation for you messenger and SMS. Ben’s also a pretty impressive guy. Before founding Octane AI, he was co-editor of Mashable, where he wrote something like over 2,000 articles for them, as well as the author of a bestselling book, Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention. We dive into a lot of interesting things about the landscape of messenger, Facebook Advertising, where we things going next, and we’re really excited about it. So, we’re just going to dive right in.

 

Well, it’s great having you on the show—welcome to the show, Ben.

 

Ben Parr: Thanks for having me.

 

Jeremy: So, we gave our audience a quick intro to yourself and Octane before, but we think it would be great if you could just give the quick story of where you kind of got into this crazy game of Messenger and SMS marketing as well as how you decided to start Octane AI.

 

Ben Parr: Yeah. So, let me start with Octane AI, myself, and then, the story. So, Octane AI, we are the Facebook Messenger and SMS platform for e-commerce. We work with over 1000 top direct-to-consumer and Shopify and ecommerce brands on all of their Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing. We are the platform that powers the automations in the same way that an e-commerce brand might use a Klaviyo, a Mailchimp, to send out messages when people have abandoned a cart, and at the more advanced level, recommending products, advanced quizzes, getting more opt-ins, and coordinating email with your Messenger and SMS campaigns. So, we work with, like, Proactiv, and GoPro, and Manscaped, and a lot of fast, or direct-to-consumer brands like that.

 

I’m one of the co-founders. I am co-founder and President. My original claim to fame was that I was the editor/co-editor-at-large at Mashable, the technology news website. I spent three and a half years at Mashable, opened the West Coast office, wrote 2,446 articles at my three and a half years at Mashable before leaving and writing a bestselling book for HarperCollins called Captivology: The Science and Psychology of Attention; Why We Pay Attention to Certain People and Products and How to Utilize that Science to Captivate and Capture the Attention of Others.

I went through 300 years of scientific research on attention and memory, interviewed over 100 people, both the world’s leading PhDs in the subject and top business leaders like Cheryl Sandberg from Facebook, Steven Soderberg, David Copperfield, the magician, the creator of Super Mario, Shigeru Miyamoto.

 

So, after that, about a year after the book came out and the book speaking and touring, my other co-founders, Matt Schlicht, the founder of ChatBots Magazine, our third co-founder, Leif K-Brooks, who created Omegle, the three of us teamed up to start Octane AI.

 

In part because the trend was becoming super clear that more and more of all communications between consumers and brands was gonna happen over conversational channels like Facebook Messenger. The trend is super clear in China, and WeChat is the dominant way that this kind of transactions and commerce happen. That trend has been rolling out in pretty rapid scale, especially in the last year across the US, across Europe, across the rest of the world. Because this is just where people spend their time. They spend their time on messaging apps. The number one use of time on the phone is messaging, and if you are not connecting with your customers in the same way that you’re doing with email, over messaging channels, you’re just leaving giant piles of money on the table.

 

So, that’s kind of like, the short of it.

 

Jeremy: Awesome. I mean, I think that is an incredible story—you never really hear a boring story about how someone gets into this game, but I think the fact that you went from Mashable, covering everything in tech, to writing a book which I actually have with me—and if we have time, I definitely want to cover a couple things that I found super interesting from the book that I also think are super related to how we think about and deploy Messenger and SMS.

 

I love your guys’ founding story as well, especially with the celebrity element with musicians—I always think that that’s a great piece, that you guys were like launching albums for rappers in the early days of the company.

 

Ben Parr: For those who don’t know, I guess, it’s important: when we first started Octane AI and launched it in the end of 2016, we weren’t focused on ecommerce. We had ecommerce customers, but we were just a general chat bot platform. I don’t even think of us as chat bots anymore. We are a marketing automation company across these conversational channels that you use.

 

And, one of the first ones that we launched was the music artists, in part because we worked with a lot of music artists—Matt, my co-founder, was Lil Wayne’s digital manager, and we launched with 50 Cent, and Aerosmith, a bunch of others. You can message Aerosmith, you can message Kiss, and message Maroon 5, and Jason Derulo, and they’ll all answer you. And in tech, worked with more music artists than we ever have before. It’s kind of like a fun little addition to the business—you know, the fun things people send to Jason Derulo.

 

Jeremy: That sounds like it needs to be a bot in and of itself that you can sign up for for news updates. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s super cool. I think that also really speaks to how powerful this platform is—obviously, all of us are currently focused on ecommerce, but this conversation marketing kind of trend in general is pretty much the entire market. And that’s why we started this podcast a year ago, because we believe in the same massive trends, and we believe that the next huge opportunity for all these ecommerce companies are going to come from conversational channels. And, I think Messenger and SMS have been the two leading platforms for us so far, really, not only driving sales and revenue but also creating value for our end customers.

 

What would you say, Ben, have been the big tectonic shifts in Messenger since you all got started, and even within the last year?

 

Ben Parr: Here’s how I kind of think about it. Because Facebook, when they first launched the platform, they kind of described it in these very glowing, like, “You’re going to be best friends with Best Buy,” was essentially the pitch. It’s going to be the crazy AI future that—you know, chat bots that spoke like humans. Of course, the technology for that wasn’t there yet, and we’re still years away from that. So, there was disappointment when you couldn’t have the perfect conversation over messenger through automation, with AI.

 

But, you dug half a layer deeper, and you’re like, “Wait a second. Customers actually really do prefer this channel, they open things much higher, they convert much better when done correctly. This works really, really well!” So, I think now, you’ve been seeing this Renaissance—the expectations now, if you’re not expecting the crazy AI that’s going to be your best friend, this is a really incredible channel.

 

And so, with Facebook, they’ve had to change things to match that. And so, they’ve experimented with things. A couple big changes, obviously: Cambridge Analytica definitely being one thing that impacted the platform. Another thing being the removal of the pre-check checkbox, which has helped our business a ton, actually, and hurt a lot of other businesses in the messenger space. For us, it was great. In part, because, all these people who were coming through this pre-check checkbox—for those who don’t know, you know, the pre-check checkbox that happened on websites where it was prechecked, it would appear under the “Add to Cart” button, and they would all get abandoned cart messages if they didn’t finish the purchase. It was a big boon for ecommerce brands for a while until Facebook removed the pre-check.

 

In part, because people didn’t know that they were opting in for something, which is a bad experience. Nowadays, if you do a combination of Facebook Ads, and comment capture, and on-site opt-ins, you can actually get not just a higher rate of opt-ins, but much higher quality customers who are much more likely to make a purchase and not report you as spam. So, they’ve been making more and more of those kinds of changes. I think you’re starting to see the stability of the platform really come into play now, where, they’re really finding their stride in what they want the Messenger platform to be and how they want it to be used. You’re going to see less and less of those “Changes that you expect” in the first year or two of a new platform.

 

Jeremy: Yeah, I think those are all really great points. When technology is typically introduced it’s, “This is the greatest thing that will eliminate everything that’s working improperly today,” and it almost never actually pans out that way.

 

So, for everyone who’s been listening to the podcast for a while, we used to refer to that time period as the “Wild, Wild, West.” We’re actually big fans of these stabilizations. While there are some things that we are losing, and some things that don’t allow us to be quite as creative as we’d like to be, it will help the adoption grow, which means there are more people to target; more people to target means there are greater opportunities to provide value to customers, which has many benefits.

 

I think that’s a good segue into the latest update that’s going to be coming in January of 2020 from Facebook, where unless you’re a news organization—and Ben, correct me if I’m wrong here—but unless you’re a news organization, you’re basically not allowed to send free non-promotional broadcasts to subscribers anymore. You have to submit your Facebook Fanpage to be qualified for these types of messages. Is there anything I missed there?

 

Ben Parr: So, Facebook is reducing the number of, like, tags for non-promotional messages. A lot of people, frankly, abused the system, and sent lots of promotional stuff on these non-promotional tags.

 

So, they’re simplifying it, which I think is a good thing. But, one big thing of that is, yes, unless you’re a news organization—or, there’s a couple other key use cases—the way in which you’re going to send out a broadcast message is using sponsored messages. Facebook has clearly been moving toward sponsored messages over the last couple months, and that’s the main way that—honestly, this is already the main way we recommend our customers, send messages to our customers. There are a lot of actual really amazing benefits to sponsored messages when they’re done correctly.

 

But, just like sending a general broadcast—a promotional, non-promotional message—the old method, will go away except for very limited use cases.

 

Jeremy: Yeah, and I think that’s an interesting change in the landscape because when you did have the 24 + 1 rule, and you were allowed to send those non-promotional message to kind of backdoor that engagement into a promotional message—a lot of, at least, what we’ve done in the past is the ability to kind of use those messages like you would an email broadcast, where you’re really not paying for it, but you can drive sales.

 

So, I would love to find out—especially because you all look at so many different brands. What have been the two to three best tactics that people have been using to continue to drive value and continue to drive revenue even though they’re not using that 24+1 rule tag anymore?

 

Ben Parr: So, the tactics really fall around sponsored messages. We outline a lot of this, actually, in our giant 250 page Messenger and SMS playbook. We have a giant playbook—for those who don’t know—that goes into detailed things you can do with Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing. Using Octane AI, how we’ve seen the most successful ecommerce brands drive sales (OctaneAI.com/playbook for those who want to take a look).

 

Some of the things we really talk about and some of the things we’re really seeing is, one, a sponsored message that gets people to click on something within the sponsored message—activates that 24 hour period—which allows you to send the browse cart abandonment messages. In OctaneAI, we have a feature called Convos—it’s our version of, like, the newsletter, it’s our version of the, like, back-and-forth conversation.

 

And so, you link a sponsored message to a Convo, then you offer them the discount or something like that, they’ve engaged, the 24-hour period is open, you can send them the browse abandoned cart message and the other key promotional flows in that 24 hour period which is when the vast majority of the promotions happen anyway.

 

The second one is: sponsored messages really allow you to do really detailed targeting. And so, just like email, the more targeted your segments, the more targeted your messages, the better you will perform. Same with ads. Sponsored messages allow you to target messages based on Facebook Custom Audiences. And so, you want to create—there’s some crazy stuff you can do, like creating a Facebook Custom Audience of people who watched a certain segment of a video. Creating a Custom Audience for somebody’s birthday, for an anniversary, for when they become engaged. And if you just keep that sponsored message on, it acts essentially as a flow, where it keeps on sending the message each time someone new is added to that custom audience.

 

There’s some super, super high returns on that. And, sponsored messages is really cheap, especially now. Where, we’ve seen from some of our customers, they get like a 95x return on the spend that they have on sponsored messages, which is an incredible number. It’s still a lot cheaper than SMS.

 

So, I kind of always recommend: one, sponsored messages as your broadcast: make sure somebody has to click something in order to get their discount or something so you activate the 24-hour period. So, and then have cart abandonment on automatically.

 

Second one is really targeted messages and segments. You know, male, female, birthday, anniversary, as detailed as you can get—you’ll convert better. And, just keep them on constantly. And then, really using that flow to get other key information, especially phone number—that way, now, you have phone number and messenger linked. For OctaneAI, for example, you know, we have the ability to create SMS segments based on the data that you’re using from Facebook and that you’re collecting from those back-and-forth conversations. Which makes your SMS campaigns run a lot better.

 

That entire combination works remarkably well.

 

Ben Vandal: Ben, thanks for bringing up the playbook. I’ve been really diving in lately, taking some detailed notes. I’m about a hundred pages in. For anyone who didn’t hear him say—it’s 250 pages.

 

Really, a detailed step-by-step guide of what you can do with the tool. One of my favorite things about Octane is kind of how you bring everything under one roof. You have the email, SMS, and Messenger all intertwined and not stepping on each other’s toes, but able to be utilized effectively and in the correct order.

 

Do you have any tips for anyone who is struggling with that right now, and not using your platform (other than to sign up for Octane)?

 

Ben Parr: Well, one is very simple. It’s message people across multiple platforms. I do see sometimes some reluctance, like, “Will our customers be mad?” They’ll only be mad if you send an email and a messenger or an email and an SMS at the same time. If you stagger the timing, no one gets mad, and you have a much better chance of conversion because some people don’t emails, some people don’t open Facebook Messenger.

If you’re hitting all three, you’ve got a nearly guaranteed chance that they’re going to see some message that you’re trying to send. So, when you’re doing this, one: you want to integrate your Messenger with your email platform. So, in our case, we integrate really deeply with Klaviyo, which is one of the top email platforms in the world of ecommerce.

 

And so, you can trigger Facebook emails based on actions taken in Facebook Messenger, which allows for complete coordination between Messenger, SMS, and email. So, that’s one.

 

Two is just: write out the timing you want—a good schedule. I’ll give you an example of a good schedule. If someone abandons a cart, start with a Facebook message. Do it within an hour of them abandoning the cart. If they don’t convert, like, four hours later, send an email. And so, obviously, if someone converts at the messenger level, they won’t get the email—even if your email and messenger were not connected. Because, they bought—they converted. Email will know that. Email won’t trigger an abandoned cart email. But if they haven’t converted, send an email about four hours in. And then if they haven’t converted after that, send them an SMS sometime later.

 

I’ve seen customers do it between 8 and 24 hours. And, just do a sequence of that, over the course of maybe one to two days. Or, a couple of days, to remind people over these different channels.

Messenger should come first, then you should trigger email and SMS afterwards, because those have a different kind of cost and calculation. But, create a schedule, and just use that schedule for your cart, and your browse abandonment. You can even do that with your welcome series. That schedule will help you a ton.

 

Ben Vandal: Yeah, really, and without Octane, it’s nearly impossible to segment and coordinate those messages the way you just said. So, we really do appreciate the tool.

 

And you talked about the importance of sponsored message when you’re using Octane, and it really is a more reliable and targeted way to reach your customer. What are some of the better tactics that you’ve seen as far as the lead message from a sponsored message that your customers on Octane are using?

 

Ben Parr: So, the messaging itself?

 

Ben Vandal: Yeah, kind of something that’s eye-catching that gets people to engage with it so you can get them to that 24+1 sequence.

 

Ben Parr: So, the biggest things that seem to work really well are, like, one, obviously—incentives work, but it has to be the right kind of incentive. Discounts are the most common one, but you can’t just send a discount every time. Something like offering, like, a piece of knowledge. Like, an eBook for example. If you’re a fitness company, you can be creating unique eBooks and content around fitness routines that a lot of people would want to have. Something of value.

 

The second one is: short and sweet works best as the initial message. With something related to messenger, especially sponsored message, your goal is not to convert them when they’ve received the first message. It’s to get them to click something. And then, it’s much easier to convert them afterwards, because now can send the follow-ups. Now, you’re going to send them the code afterwards, or something of the sort.

 

And then, a third thing I just see is: the more personality the better. And so, like, some of our brands—I’ll give you one example that works really well. SkinnyMixes. If you go to their website, SkinnyMixes.com, they got the messenger chat embed, the OctaneAI chat embed, on the bottom right, they offer a free bottle. It’s a really, really successful flow. And they do similar things when they send out broadcasts. And, it’s a really, really high converting flow. A huge percentage of their website visitors convert into Messenger subscribers, and thus, email and SMS subscribers, because they have a flow where they ask for that information after you’ve subscribed on Messenger, and it’s a really successful flow for them to get more customers connected to them and through the door. And so, you know, part of it too is the, like, personality, and they have a digital barista that recommends different coffees and different products based on the answers you give.

So, like, super short, super compelling; that one reason, or incentive—it can be a discount, it can be a piece of information or content, they click, and then you’re really driving what they’re looking for. And then, the more, like, creative and unique the copy, in terms of like, matching the personality of the brand, the better.

 

Jeremy: Yeah, that’s great. I think that’s what we find from all of the bots we build across our sites and our clients’ site as well. Because it is conversational and I think the other piece to think of—if you haven’t started yet—is that it’s a back-and-forth.

 

You don’t have to say everything in the first message, because the more engagement you get, the better it is. The message can be short and sweet. Something else that we found super successful for that lead message is just asking a super engaging question. Something that they feel like they kind of need to answer. Usually, we’ll start that flow, and then once you start that conversation, then you can follow up with appropriate prompts to then keep bringing them back down to whatever piece of information you want to drop them to, and then eventually to the site.

 

So, I guess my question, Ben, is: you’ve got all these things going on, you’ve got sponsored messages going, you’ve got the chat embed on your website, you’re gaining subscribers. What would you say you find is the most underutilized part of Messenger right now?

 

Ben Parr: Oh, there’s a lot. I’m going to mention at least three, but I might end up at five. And I know that’s kind of cheating, even our customer base—the percentage of our customer that are not doing all the best practices. And if they did, they would double, triple, quadruple the revenue they were making from Messenger alone. Like, we actually found that the customers who are doing our best practices on average increased their revenue 7.5%.

 

Their overall ecommerce revenue.

 

Jeremy: Storewide.

 

Ben Parr: Storewide. Crazy numbers.

 

Jeremy: Wow, okay.

 

Ben Parr: A couple key things. One: Comment Capture, which some people call the “Comment Grow Tool” or whatever. It’s sending messages to anyone who comments on any of your Facebook posts or any of your ads. We have a feature called Global Comment Capture: you turn it on, it sends a message (you ask an engaging question). Lots of people respond, especially if you have high engaging ads or high engaging posts. It drives ton of people into your funnel and you can really convert them at a really high rate.

 

We actually have an author who just did it and it helped him get to the bestseller list. We have a case study: Peter Hollands. He got to number one on the Billboard Charts, in part because of that, and having a really detailed messenger flow where he would ask his fans lots of questions.

 

So, that’s like one.

 

Second one is for sure Click-To-Messenger Ads are still heavily underutilized. A Click-To-Messenger Ad is just like an ad that can follow up with the customer. When they click, they drop into Messenger, and now they’re opted in, and they get that 24-hour period to browse abandonment, abandoned cart messages. We’ve seen some of our customers double their Return on Ad Spend by just using Click-To-Messenger Ads. They work so, so well.

 

You need to be doing it. And you can use that, also, to collect email and phone number in the same sequence. It’s a no-brainer, in my opinion. So that’s another one.

 

And then, the third one, here. We just came out with this, but certain popups work better for getting opt-ins than others. We have found, as example, our Exit Intent popup, just in general Exit Intent popup, works incredibly well. So, the recommendation I always give is: you can use whoever for your email popup. For your welcome popup (and that’s a great popup for the welcome) use Messenger as an Exit Intent. Offer another channel for them to opt in if they didn’t want to opt in—if they didn’t want to opt in for email, we’ve actually found that people are much more likely to opt in on the exit on Messenger versus on the open.

 

And so, we saw one customer quadruple the amount of people coming into their system just by adding an Exit Intent popup. And, it’s so heavily underutilized. It works so well. So, that’s just like three examples of things you could be doing that really will drive a lot of people into your funnel. And, once they’re in the funnel, the rest of it just makes money with the browse, with the cart, and the flows that you set up, and everything else.

 

Jeremy: Yeah, I would say we strongly, strongly agree with everything you just said. Click-To-Messenger Ads are some of our biggest wins right now. We actually covered how some of our clients are saving 12-15% on their CPAs by running Click-To-Messenger ads versus just driving traffic directly to the website and, yeah, I mean, I love Exit Intent popups. I think they’re one of the most underutilized tools across the board for most companies.

 

And I think it’s brilliant, because it’s just that check box that you just have a simple opt-in. And then, you grab all the people on that list, and you know you at least have browse abandonment from those customers, if not abandoned cart as well.

 

So, yeah, for anyone who isn’t doing those things, I would strongly recommend adding those to your list as well.

 

So, I have a couple quick questions that are a little—some are a little tangentially related, and some of them are from the book as well.

 

So, Ben, my first question for you is: I think the way we’ve been thinking about Messenger a lot in the past has been as more of an Owned Channel, akin to email. But, with the changes, and everything being focused more on sponsored messages, it almost sounds like an advertising channel. So, I guess, in 2020, with this next kind of tectonic shift in the landscape, would you classify Messenger to be more of an Owned Channel or more of an advertising channel for ecommerce companies moving forward?

 

Ben Parr: So, that’s a really good question. And, I think it’s a little bit about your perspective. My perspective is that Messenger is not the same as email or SMS. It is really, really powerful, and you need to be doing it, but, classifying it as an owned channel is hard to say. In part, because it is dependent on advertising, and Facebook does change things from time-to-time. Often, I think, in the long-term, for the benefit of the entire community, because they’re thinking the long-term of people don’t get oversaturated and never want to do business on the platform.

 

Like, these changes help out and decrease the amount of spam. But, at the same time, this is also why where having flows where you’re also getting phone numbers—or, in our case, we actually have some tech where we can actually associate phone numbers to Messenger accounts and Facebook accounts based on a whole array of different things we do on the site and through checkout, and all sorts of things. And the result is: now, you have this unified customer profile which allows you to do a lot more things. Again, like, segmenting your SMS out based on Messenger data that you’re collecting from conversations, you can send out on SMS a link to a convo on Messenger that asks key questions, does the quizzes, something you can’t do in SMS, and use that data to segment your SMS further, or to recommend products.

 

They work really well in tandem. So, yeah, Facebook is definitely moving the Messenger platform more onto like—more advertising. This was always inevitable, because Facebook is an advertising company, first and foremost. But, it works remarkably well for—it’s a remarkable channel for driving people into your funnel in a way that is more cost effective than running a traditional Facebook ad, than running a traditional ad of any type.

 

And, it coordinates really well, and that data coordinates really well, and the data you can collect coordinates really well with your SMS and email campaigns. The result is, Messenger can do things SMS and email can’t, and email and SMS can do things that Messenger can’t. You want to use three together.

 

Ben Vandal: Yeah, that’s a great point, Ben, and very well put. And, I will just follow up with a question here: this summer—we talked about it on the podcast and a lot of people in a lot of different bot builder groups saw a Messenger sponsored folder where all the messages from businesses were going into. Almost the Messenger equivalent of a spam folder.

 

Does Octane have a plan if that actually does come into effect? I know you’re more equipped than most for SMS and email capabilities. But, is there something that we will do to stand out in Messenger if that does happen, because I know that’s one of the big benefits of Messenger: the open rate, it’s getting in front of everyone’s eyes.

 

Ben Parr: I don’t have any indication that that’s a thing that is going to happen. I think it’s one of those things where if it is—like, Facebook has done a good job of, like—if that’s a thing that’s going to happen, they’re going to give plenty of time for people to process and prepare for that. At that time, I think, would be the deeper discussion. For us, yes, because we have SMS, we are definitely in a different category. And, again, for example, you know, if you are even just sending emails and text messages out to customers with convo links, with messenger links—with, like, OctaneAI links—that is not dropping into some other inbox. That’s them directly engaging.

 

As an example, you can text your customers being like, “Hey, we have a new quiz to help you find the right gift for Black Friday.” You know? “Go Here.” You click it, drop into Messenger, it asks you the couple key questions, it helps to drive the sale. Now, you’re connected, now it can do the follow-ups. It doesn’t matter what kind of extra folder thing is happening. That has already driven a ton of value. There will always be that value.

 

But, honestly, I am not concerned at all that that is going to be a thing—or if it’s going to be a thing, it’s going to be that kind of detriment. I think Facebook is really cognizant of balancing what’s going to make users happy, and the business use case of Messenger, and so far, with some bumps in the road, they’ve done a really good job.

 

I really doubt that it’s going to be, “All right. We’re just going to drop conversion rates from 80% to 1%.” Because, then, the business case is gone. So, it’s not a concern that I honestly think about. And if it’s something that does happen, you know, we’ll have plenty of time to go and dissect it, and I will definitely come back on the podcast and we can have an hour where we talk about it and run around in circles or something.

 

Ben Vandal: Thank you. We can all exhale now.

 

Jeremy: Yeah, so I think with the changing landscape, something that would be really helpful to understand—I know we talked about sponsored messages earlier in the episode—was, what are the costs you’re typically seeing from a sponsored message?

 

Ben Parr: A sponsored message, or a Click-To-Messenger ad? Because they are very different.

 

Jeremy: Oh, I was thinking just sponsored messages, but both sponsored messages and Click-To-Messenger would be great.

 

Ben Parr: Well, so, sponsored message more across the board—maybe a cent? At most, two cents per click, not per message sent. Per open, I should say. So, this is why sponsored messages does have a really high ROI. It’s because it’s very cheap, and it’s cheaper than SMS, and it’s not based on delivers. It’s based on opens. Which means, like, all you really need is that compelling message that gets someone to click something. Like you were talking about before: the compelling question, the compelling discount or incentive they want to have.

 

So, we see really high ROI on messages. That could change over time. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. I think—this is the time now to be running sponsored messages, and to be sending those messages to customers. Facebook is going to be delivering a lot of improvements to sponsored messages over the next six months. So, it’s pretty cheap. A cent or two per open, which is, when you go across the board, it’s fractions of a cent per message sent. Like, multiple fractions of a cent.

 

On Click-To-Messenger ads, it’s just like the ad rates. It all depends on the targeted group, it depends on the product vertical, it depends on the goal that you’ve set for the ad—it’s all the same rules of normal Facebook Ads. And so, if you’re already good at normal Facebook Ads, or you work with a great group who is awesome at Facebook Ads—I don’t know, maybe there’s an agency here or something that really has, like Mastermind, is really good at it. You know, then you’re going to do even better when you run Click-To-Messenger ads.

 

Ben Vandal: Ben, next question from me is kind of about the future. Octane has always been in the frontlines and kind of three steps ahead of everybody else in terms of a platform that utilizes messaging and SMS in front of everybody else.

 

What’s next for Octane? If you ask Matt, I know he talked about TikTok—what is next for Octane going forward in the future?

 

Ben Parr: So, to give a general sense—obviously, specifics are things we’ll have to announce in the future—there’s a couple things. There’s more advanced functionality that really helps, especially fast-growing direct-to-consumer brands, really double down, and really get that nuanced data that they’re looking for.

 

I’m talking about things like AB testing, for example. So, stay tuned.

 

Second one is, vast improvements to SMS, and making it so that it’s super coordinated with your Messenger. But those are specifics in the super near term.

 

In the long-term, is, we are really trying to build a better, more conversational experience for the customer and the brand. Because over the last, let’s say, ten years—here. If you and I have a conversation, we’re going to do it over email, in person, on the phone, over text. But, it’s one conversational thread. You remember the context of all the previous messages and conversations we had. For the brand, it’s not true. If you email, text, call a brand, that data is not one streamlined thing. They might be answering one question over and over again. But, it should be like a conversation with a person. It should be one unified experience. It would be a much better experience if it remembered and knew what you had emailed, what you had messaged, what you had called about in the next message it sent out. It’d be far more personalized—it’d be far better.

 

And so, we’re building, you know, towards that, we’re building technology towards that. We have patents towards that. We’re building toward this, you know—no matter which channel you’re communicating with—the brand and the customer communicating on—you know, it’ll remember that context and create more conversational, more personalized, more, almost human experience in a lot of ways.

 

So that’s kind of the direction.

 

It definitely does mean that there are going to be other avenues that we’re adding in and exploring, it’s definitely going to be improving the current channels that we have. It’s going to be expanding what we’re doing, across ecommerce and more. But that’s kind of the general. There’s a lot more cool things in the back of my head I’m still thinking through that I can’t say quite yet. But, you know, stay tuned.

 

Ben Vandal: Very exciting. And, Jeremy, anything you want to add here before we wrap it up?

 

Jeremy: Yeah, so, I have one last question. Can you break down what the “Compulsion of Completion” is for anyone who doesn’t know?

 

Ben Parr: Ah, you really did a detailed read of the book. For those who haven’t read my book—you can get it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, anywhere books are sold—but, in Captivology, I talk about the three stages of attention and how attention increases over time and how that works at a scientific level. And then I talk about the seven captivation triggers, and how these triggers capture our attention at different stages, and why they capture attention almost universally.

 

So, the Compulsion of Completion is part of the mystery trigger: we pay attention to these incomplete stories, incomplete thoughts, incomplete actions. We have a Compulsion for Completion: it’s actually a scientific phenomenon I write in detail in the book about. And it’s talking about how there’s this greater memory that we have when something is incomplete, and we have a desire to complete it.

 

And I wrote about, for example, this famous study in the 1950s where a psychologist had puzzles in front of children, and some of the cases would take the puzzles away halfway through, others would finish it, and she would ask weeks or months later about these puzzles, and what they’d remembered, and the ones that were unfinished were the ones that they remembered the most, because of that Compulsion to Completion: they wanted to complete it. It’s this thorn in your side.

 

And, when you’re trying to build something, you want to tell a story that they want to continue about your brand. Or, if they want to unlock something, or if they want to unlock something, or if they want to finish the quiz—these are all things that the Compulsion of Completion helps us, like, want to get to the end of.

 

We really, really, at a psychological level, something that’s just incomplete. And, it sticks in our head, if, you know, you get 75% there—you want to complete the game, you want to complete the level. You want to complete the task. You want to receive the reward.

 

Jeremy: Yeah, I think those are all great examples. I think my personal favorite is the Sopranos. I feel like for anyone who watched the show—and even people who didn’t—you’ll always remember how that show ended, or lack thereof.

 

Ben Parr: That was brilliant on their part. You know, no matter how you feel, everyone still talks about it, everyone still remembers it. And, memory is attention. If you don’t remember it, you didn’t pay attention. If you remember it, you paid attention.

 

Ben Vandal: Yeah, you know what’s funny is I don’t really have a great memory and don’t think of myself as having a great memory, and I remember exactly where I was when I watched the ending to that show. So, that makes a lot of sense.

 

But, Ben, thank you so much for your time. Tell people where they can get Octane, or where they can get a consultation about Octane, and get a demo about Octane.

 

Ben Parr: Yeah, so here’s the part where we go and promote the things, everyone! You want to go check out OctaneAI—OctaneAI.com. You can get a demo at OctaneAI.com/demo. And, our team will show you what it’s all about. If you’re on Shopify, you can even just go into the Shopify App Store and install it. But, you don’t have to be on Shopify to install it.

 

And then, definitely go and get the playbook. If you’re a geek about this stuff, OctaneAI.com/playbook. There’s enough content to fulfill all the knowledge you could ever want on Messenger and SMS marketing, and we’re constantly updating it. It also includes a whole bunch of offers from a whole bunch of partners of ours, and a lot of interesting knowledge and wisdom and pieces of advice from partners like, you know, The Messenger Mastermind Crew, and Jeremy, and everyone.

 

So, definitely go and check that out, too.

 

Ben Vandal: Thank you so much, Ben, and we’ll have those links in the show notes for anyone who wants to check out the product. Ben Parr, OctaneAI, thank you very much!