Have you been trying to break into the world of messenger marketing? This emerging trend in social marketing is really catching attention — and not because of the automation factors that most people think of when they say “chatbots” but rather because of the genuine relationships they can help you cultivate with your subscribers. Brenda and Windy talk to RJ Redden, founder of Black Belt Bots, about the impact a messenger chatbot can have on business marketing.
Brenda Ster: Hey, hey everybody! Welcome to another episode of Social Marketing with Sassy Suite. I am Brenda Ster in Arizona! And joining me as always is the delightful, Windy Lawson from Florida. Windy! Hi!
Windy Lawson: Sunny Florida! Hey girl, hey!
Brenda: Hey girl, hey! Hey you guys, over in the Socialite Suite and in the Elite Suite, we get a lot of questions about Messenger Bots. Messenger Bots! We’ve been using them across the Suite, we’ve been using them in our various groups, and every time we use one, we must get 20 people who say, “how did you do that, and how do I do that?” So we decided to go out and find some help on how to teach everyone how to do that. So, we are joined today by RJ Redden, founder of Black Belt Bots, a messenger bot service. And RJ is an evangelist and technology coach with more than 20 years experience and she’s gonna tell us everything we need to know about this emerging communication tool and why everyone needs to be thinking Messenger Bots as part of your conversational marketing strategy. So welcome, RJ, hi!
RJ Redden: Thank you, I am so happy to be here, you don’t even know. This is a pleasure. We were having fun before hand and now we’re gonna have a lot fun during this Podcast.
Brenda: I know! Here’s me, right before we started recording, I was basically talking all about what we should have been recording. And Windy’s like, “Brenda, stop talking, we have to hit record!” So, we did!
Windy: I know my role!
Brenda: She does, she manages me, she’s my handler. Anyway! So RJ, tell us a little bit about you! Tell us how you got started and where do you live? Give us your 90-second backstory. We are all love — we love getting to know new people. So tell us about you.
RJ: Well, in the beginning, I…
Brenda: In the beginning! Oh, she’s already fantastic. We love you!
RJ: Thank you so much. Well, I have been teaching people technology for about 20 years, as was said before. I love turning people on to being powerful with technology, instead of feeling beaten down by it. You know, everybody’s like, “you gotta do this, you’re gonna do this, you gotta do this and.” And for many years, I’ve been the one standing between all of that noise and small business owners and saying, “okay, let’s focus, what do you wanna do. Let’s help you find the tools that will help you do that!” And it was a great gig, loved it, loved it hard. But at some point, I just kinda needed a change and I felt like I wanted to — instead of being knowledgeable in 78 different arenas — let’s be extra, super knowledgeable in one. Let’s just pick one thing–
Brenda: Mhmm, sure.
RJ: –And what happened was, you know, I wrote my first chatbot by accident. I was creating something for a client, because she was having some trouble. She would commit to doing some things and then not be able to follow through on those things. And so I said, “can I write something to help you?” I created this fabulous thing that was — go out to this place, report to this spreadsheet, that’ll filter into here. It was gorgeous, I tell you, it was gorgeous! But then I noticed that she wasn’t using it, and I said, “Umm, why are you using that thing?” And she said, “RJ, I have three children who need food in the morning, before they go to school and I would much rather have something that I don’t have to leave Facebook Messenger to use. Can you make that?” I had learned about bots just recently. I am one to jump in with both feet and so I said, “Yep, I’m gonna make that for you.” So, long story short-er, I made Accountabilabot, which was a seven–
Brenda: A what? Say that again, account-a-what?
Windy: Accounta– Like accountability bot, Accountabilabot.
Brenda: Ohhhh, Accountabilabot. I thought it was, I thought it was like a billing invoice bot, but you’re saying it’s an accountability bot– Accountabilabot!
Brenda: Well is that, did you trademark that word. Because if you didn’t, you better go do that right now, because that was brilliant.
RJ: I need to grab that dot com, I don’t know what I was thinking.
Brenda: That was hilarious. Okay, Accountabilabot.com; RJ owns that, or she will after this podcast is recorded.
RJ: Yes, I will! So, I made, I made that, I made that specifically for her. She was using it, she loved it so much she passed it around to a few friends. Those friends put it on their Facebook walls and I had 70 people in overnight!
RJ: I thought to myself, “I have never–.” And these people were answering questions like, thoughtfully and honestly. Because it’s a perceived, like it’s a perceived one-on-one conversation.
Brenda: Mhmm, yeah!
RJ: There are so many times where you’ll get a group of, you know, Facebook group of people together and you’ll ask these awesome questions, and your five besties will answer, because they love you. But as for, like, really drawing people out people don’t wanna, people don’t wanna communicate like that sometimes in a public manner–.
RJ: –So I did Accountabilabot, people absolutely loved it, kept asking for more of it and I was just like, “I need to do this, I need to do this all the time.” So it took me about two weeks to decide, “this is it — messenger bots.” And really, not just because I had like an overwhelming success. That stuff happens, right? But because messenger marketing — it’s a whole different entity than so much of the marketing out there, which is hit you over the head, get in front of people’s eyeballs, whether they want you or not. You know, give them information, whether it’s valuable to them or not, keep on top of their minds. This is completely 180 degrees opposite. This is sending targeted messages that have some value to people that have expressed that they wanted these things. When you’re doing things like that, you’re making real connections, having real conversations with people —
RJ: And then the sky’s the limit. That is the missing element of marketing as it has been for so long. That conversation, that one-on-one connection, an actual connection with people. So I got so excited about it, I changed my business. I’m still wearing my shirts with my old logo on it. You know, my wife thought I was crazy, but whatever, we’re good!
Brenda: You know like, in your intro, you said like seven things that I want to talk about. I’m literally like, “oh my gosh, you said conversational marketing, you said attraction, you said one-on-one engagement, you talked about personal, you did-.” You literally mentioned all the things that we talk about in the Suite all the time. So I think the big element here and why we find this so compelling, is exactly what you said about people not necessarily wanting to engage in big public forum, but feeling safer communicating in a one-on-one manner-in a more conversational way. So conversational marketing is sort of auto — is using the technology to automate the conversation that we’re having with our community. So we can still be having one-on-one communication, and we can add personality, and sparkle, and engagement, and social, and all those elements in a– in a way that people find more trustworthy.
RJ: More trustworthy and more compelling. More something that people will — you know, people open my bots, they see the bots in the inbox, and they smile and they wonder, you know, what she’s saying next, what’s going on next? That’s what I want. When is the last time you opened your email inbox and actually smiled. Oh my god, that doesn’t exist.
Brenda: Only when someone sends me money!
Brenda: Oh look, Paypal! Hey! That’s true, and we have an example of that. We use bots in our Elite Suite already. And we were — you know, Windy and I have sort of trained Elite Suite, I guess, to look forward to our joke, because we include a totally punny, ridiculous joke in most of our messages, where people will open it just for the joke and then hopefully that they open it for the joke, but they got the message that we were actually trying to deliver, which was why we wanted them to open it. And bots have a higher rate of open, than even email communication still, because it’s literally landing in your Facebook Messenger. It’s literally landing where people are communicating with their friends and family still.
RJ: It really is. And that’s — that’s the thing, is that you know, an email list and marketers will tell you this: build your list, build your list, build your list – and I believe that too. I just don’t, I just don’t use email for my list any more, because that– it’s such an impersonal disconnect. With Messenger, people have been using this app for years, it’s been in the top 10 apps consistently for I don’t know how long. People use this, they go to talk to the people they care about, the people in the businesses they care about. People go to their inbox to work, people go to their — their email inbox to work. People go to, you know, go to their messenger for some entirely different reasons and that’s where — that’s where I wanna be. I wanna be where people are looking, talking to people they care about, absolutely hands down. And one of the things that I would love to point out too, is that we say the word ‘bot’ a lot. And it’s completely true that the messages, about 50 percent, half of it is automated messages. It’s automated in the computer knows who to send it to, what time to send it, which message to send will be most valuable. But the messages — and the two of you know this already — the messages are all you. In the messages are written by you, the images are designed by you, if you’re putting little GIFs in there – that is all you and your personality, or the personality of your bot — if you’re, if it’s separate than your own personality. That, that really it lends the human touch. And then the other 50 percent, you’ve got automated messages telling people who you are, what you are about, all of your products and services and stuff, but then the other 50% is you picking up a conversation. I do it like this in my bot, I do this every day, ‘This is RJ, not the bot. Is there anything I can do for you?’ Sometimes I’ll write them a text. Sometimes you can leave them, I mean, you can leave them voice messages through the pages app, just letting people know that you’re there and that you’re wanting to help, and if they have any questions that you’re — you’re right there. That leads to so much of a different potential client experience than, you know if you’re selling folks through an email funnel, which email still works–
Brenda: Right, mhmm.
RJ: –I don’t wanna say, I don’t want people to fall over. But for me, I know where I wanna be and putting personality in there, putting that human touch in there, and then picking up the conversation yourself. That’s where the rubber meets the road, as far as I’m concerned. That’s where the real magic happens. I’ll tell you a statistic. Do you wanna know a statistic?
Brenda: Of course.
RJ: Okay, there you are usually really boring, but I’m gonna tell you–
Brenda: You found your people, we’re stats people. Show me the money honey!
RJ: Oh, I will! And this — this one’s a little shocking. So, I have been building, I built Black Belt Bot Spinning Dragon is her name, actually. She’s the cutest little ninja you’ve ever seen. I built that in March. I’ve been driving traffic to it, through every available channel since March: every time I live stream, every time I podcast, every time I write a blog post – there is a link to my bot in that, for sure. So, about how many subscribers do you think I have right now?
RJ: And I’m busier than I’ve ever been, I’ve had to hire assistants to–
Brenda: Good problems!
RJ: –keep up with my clients. The money is rolling in, hand over fist right now, and it’s because of that bot.
Windy: Quality over quantity, right?
RJ: Exactly right. So–
Brenda: Wow! I was way off the ballpark!
RJ: –a friend of mine who I built a bot for, she’s a coach, she had 94 people in her bot. One night, she writes about the inner-naysayer. It’s a really fabulous book! I’m in the book, so I always say that, page 100! Anyways! So she has a crowd of people in the bot, she has 94 people in there, she wrote, she just– she broadcasted a question one night, “hey, you procrastinating right now?” She started nine conversations and she got one people, one person enrolled in her high dollar program; multiple thousands of dollars off of a question in a chatbot. It’s not apples-to-apples, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with how many people you have. It absolutely doesn’t matter. The quality of the people that you have, who want to know what you have to say next, these are the people that you can to have a relationship with. And whether that includes a collaboration, a partnership, a transaction, maybe a referral relationship, those are all good things that bring us good things in the end. So that’s — I love to tell people that statistic. I love the people — to tell people that number, because it absolutely isn’t about the numbers in this, it’s about how much you reach out your hand to help people. How willing you are to listen, and provide value and provide feedback to them and have a real conversation with a real human being instead of an inbox.
Windy: Yup. Brenda, is she not our people?
Brenda: She is so our people, RJ’s our people!
Windy: So our people!
RJ: I just blew y’all a kiss on the podcast, I’m so sorry, I guess it’s a good thing were aren’t recording our faces.
Brenda: No, well, we tell them all the time that we record on video and then we isolate the audio, so we are–I mean, I’m normally talking with my hands and doing hand gestures, and I tell everybody, ‘If you can see me right now, I’m writing on my virtual whiteboard’. So yeah, that’s exactly kind of how we do it, and so yea…
RJ: Nice! That’s awesome.
Windy: So RJ, what are some of the best uses that you’ve seen of the Messenger Bot, implementation?
RJ: So some of the best uses that I’ve seen there have been some for direct sales that have been really, really nice and that is a lot of people are using it to train, to train their team members, or if it’s kind of a party situation; where you got — where you need to train party hosts on, “here’s what you need to do before hand, here’s what you need to do a week before, and here’s what you need to do the day before hand.” Training other people to be able to be ready to deliver a great experience. That’s one use of it. I, how I really think about it, is like this. I think about Disneyland. Have the two of you been to Disneyland?
Brenda: Oh yeah, I have 2 kids! All the time, all the time!
RJ: Have you seen they have those watches, where you just pay for everything now?
Brenda: Oh yeah, yeah,
Brenda: It’s not real money on your, on a wristband!
RJ: It ain’t real money on a wristband.
Windy: So I like the cruise lines, right? They’re so smart.
Brenda: It’s just a card! Here’s my card. It’s not real money!
RJ: The reason that we’re in love with services like that, the reason why we always call an Uber, and just about never call a cab anymore, is because those experiences are designed to — to make it so that you, the user don’t have any worries at all. That someone has looked around each corner and seen, foreseen what kind of problems you have, and they’ve gotten around that thing. I would say that the most successful Chatbots don’t belong to a certain industry, or a certain person, or a Gary V, or whoever you wanna say. I’d say the most successful ones that I’ve seen are the people that think around potential problems for their clients. That they answer questions before people have them. They make sure that people are having that Disneyland experience, right inside the bot. That’s — those are the most successful ones, those are the ones that build crowds, you know, that build subscribers that stick around. So I hope that was a good answer, to your question.
Brenda: Yeah, very! And I think you nailed — you nailed a key point that in our market, so much of who we communicate with are — the two big, big opportunities I think we have in our market are coaching, hostess coaching, team coaching team, personal one-on-one coaching, and follow up. Like you purchased from me something it’s time. Can I service you in some way on your product that you just bought?
RJ: Right! And follow-up is sometimes the hardest thing you know. I mean, because I know I feel it myself, I like to call myself a reluctant marketer, you know, I mean, I will spend three months building a beautiful class and then occasionally when somebody needs the exact criteria–
Brenda: You maybe think about selling it?
RJ: I got to think about mentioning it. You know. So this– having half of the 50 percent of those messages, as the automated delivery stuff. Somebody buys something from you, and you can automatically follow up, you can automatically follow up with your best foot forward.
RJ: And you never have to fumble through that conversation again, because I know you know what that feels like, and it’s not fun right, but having those things and the coaching for — for events and hostesses and groups, absolutely. You wanna provide a one, an eyeball on eyeball experience–
RJ: But getting people to that experience, it’s really easy to use, you know, use that bot to get people through that experience and then kind of see, okay, who are the people that are really, really picking it up and laying it down right now? Who are my rock stars who can I talk to right now? And — and then also, identify people on the end of the scale where it seems like they’ve dropped off and you don’t know they’re at. You can reach out a hand — so it really, it multiplies. It’s like a conversation on steroids, basically. It multiplies the amount of conversation that you can have so that you can figure out where people are in the path and then lend a helping hand, lend a clap on the back, do what you need to do to help them develop because that’s what they want to do.
Brenda: So let’s talk a little bit about learning curve, because when people say it’s technology, it’s a new tool, it’s totally scary. And I wanted to kind of package them into two different questions, kinda put them together. One is: how big is the learning curve to learn like a brand new technology? And then sort of a second part of that is what are some of the bigger mistakes you’ve seen people make in starting out in using a chatbot?
RJ: Yes, okay, so — so first question was the learning curve. So when I learned it and I am a complete geek. Oh, the pocket protector is coming on Tuesday. Oh you know, I love to stand in front of the computer all day, all night. My wife is like, “hey could you leave the office?” Oh, I suppose I could! When I turn on a technology that I love, I will make a huge effort to learn that. So the first answer, it depends on how geeky you are and how patient you are with stuff that’s brand new out there. If you are not super-patient, or if you get frustrated easily with computers, and so many people do, right? Then the process is going to take you longer. For me, you know, using templates and things like that to get started, not having to start from scratch is an awesome stuff. That’s awesomesauce. And so, yea, if you feel like you are learning curve is going to be good. There’s lots of stuff out there, lots of classes, lots of templates. Don’t start from square one. If you know that your technology toleration level is like a bucket of antacids. You know, take advantage of some of the stuff out there, don’t start from scratch. If you’re a geek, if you’re like me start from scratch, jump in the pool – You can’t screw it up!
Brenda: Alright, awesome, and how about the second part of what are some of the common mistakes you see people make in early chatbot and using them?
RJ: Absolutely, so the biggest one that I see — and I see this one every single day — is that people get wind of that statistic; that 90 percent open rate, 40 percent click-through rate statistic, and they get very emotionally excited about that statistic. And I get it! I have been sending emails for longer than I care to admit, to fewer people open-rate over time, and I get why that statistic is so important. But it’s probably one of the least actual important things about bots. Because, yeah, it gets a great big open rate, but you have to be offering something of value. So a lot of people who are screaming about chatbots lately are like, you know, “open rate, open rate, this is fast, this is easy, this would be super quick.” You know, calm down, It’s not, it’s not — the open rates important, but what it’s really about is how many conversations have I started today with people? How many times have I been able to help somebody with their understanding? How many times have I been able to offer value. That is so much more important than that 90 percent The 90 percent open rate. I see a lot of people think… Well, that means that I could send this message out to this many people and this will get it. So we’re gonna take that email that didn’t work, and we’re gonna copy and paste it into a chat bot. Please. Don’t do this.
Windy: Don’t do this! Don’t do that!
RJ: My God, never in your life. Oh my gosh, yeah, I– So, so that’s the mistake that people make is that their expectations ramp up in the wrong direction. A really good chatbot is something that grows over time, that gets some unsubscribes. I get unsubscribes every single week. It’s a blessing.That means that’s one less person I get to spend my energy on. It’s totally fine. The best Chatbots are — I make all of my clients swear — 20 minutes a day. I will spend 20 minutes a day answering questions, looking to provide value, looking around to see where people drop off, that kind of commitment over time, is what’s gonna build you something that is amazing and that other people will drool over.
Brenda: That’s fantastic. So we– and we are excited to announce, as part of our podcast today, and I’m gonna ask Windy to talk a little bit about our brand new partnership with Black Belt Bot and with RJ and — because we get this question all the time, we get the question, like, “how do you do bots? And how do we do training? And how can–”. And we’re not bot experts! We use them and every time we use something, people wanna figure out what it is, because they want to recreate it. And so we said, “let’s go find someone who knows about bots, and we’ll train you on how to do them.” Everyone wants them and we were like, “Oh let’s go find someone to do that.” So Windy, tell everyone about our new partnership!
Windy: Yeah. So we are thrilled to have a Black Belt Bots, as our Sassy Suite partner. RJ has built an amazing training bot-camp. Not boot camp, but a bot-camp–
Brenda: Now RJ, why that’s funny right there. I just have to explain the history in the context of why that’s funny, because we do boot camps all the time. We do boot camps, like that are these targeted training series, you know high intensity boot camps. So, so they’re gonna like bot-camp, because it’s like a boot camp, but it not! Oh and it’s funny, and we love corny jokes. Anyway, carry on Windy!
Windy: Yeah, so Black Belt Bot-Camp, which I wanna spell wrong every single time. But that’s gonna teach you step-by-step, how to create bots for every single part of your business. And RJ has that course available on her website, and I’m excited to say that, as our official partner, our listeners can get that course for a 20 percent discount. You can get all the details on the course at sassysuite.com/blackbeltbot. Easy for me to say – sassysuite.com/BlackBeltBot, and then use code at SASSY at checkout. And you know, RJ is going to really be a partner that’s helping us educate all of our Sassy Suite members and Elite Suite members, on really how to use this emerging technology use it for good. To do all the things that we’ve been talking about and avoid some of those pitfalls and traps that are not on the path to success in relationship building.
Brenda: Now, I’m out here on your website. I’m literally looking at your website right now and I’m like: There’s a bot-camp, there’s templates, there’s direct sales templates, there’s a customer service templates, there’s coaching templates. You are literally handing someone the blueprint to say, “here is the bot plan! Take the wording and make it your own, and boom! Done!
Windy: We might actually be cooking something up too.
Brenda: We’re cooking! Just ignore me. Don’t look behind the current y’all. This is why I don’t, this is why I don’t get invited to the podcast very often, because I disclose things that I didn’t even know where in progress. I– don’t, don’t look at me, folks, nothing to see here. Anyway. The only reason is that when you go to sassysuite.com/BlackBeltBot, you will see all these neat little things. So the Boot Camp though, or the Bot-camp, is a 20 percent discount with our new partnership. And then apparently, other things that are being cooked up with Windy and RJ that I am not privy to yet. So there’s that. So, nobody tells me anything around here, I tell ya. Anyways, you guys, we — here is the bottom line: Our goal in the Suite is to bring value to our community and to go find the partners, and go find the services, and technologies, and tools that will help our community businesses grow. And we listen to what you guys are talking about! And our goal and you all have been talking a lot about bots; and how do you do them, and why do I need them, and what are they, and what is– where do I all the things? So we’re super excited to bring a new partner to the Suite. And if you see RJ lurking around say, nice things to her because she’s awesome and, and we’ll probably do — be doing some trainings, we’ll probably have you in some other forum, and we’ll do people start to get to know.
RJ: I’m looking forward to it, this is so this is awesome. I love putting powerful things into the hands of, of folks who want to make a difference. That’s what I live for, that’s what I get up in the morning for so a—
Brenda: So do we!
RJ: — And a whole lot of it.
Brenda: Alright, everybody! Well, hey! As always, thanks for tuning into Social Marketing with Sassy Suite. If you are not yet over the Socialite Suite on Facebook – come on over! It’s our free private training group for a home-based business owners. It’s full of social marketing tips in community. The Suite is your home for all of those things to help you rock your business. We do trainings, we do challenges, we have just a 100,000 people, who are just hanging out. So it’s all good. So, come on over and join us and we will see you next time right back here on the podcast! And as always, we will see you around the Suite!
Windy: Bye guys!