Many of us in business are very familiar with using a sales funnel. We’ve all heard about sales funnel and/or used them as ways to market our business, Facebook Messenger marketing using chatbots in particular, which are like ClickFunnels but within Facebook Messenger exclusively. This is becoming increasingly popular because of the rates of responsiveness and conversion. Ian Smith from Evolve Media is one of the premier experts in doing this. Ian shares what’s unique about all these chatbots and Messenger marketing from a fresh perspective. There are so many different ways to reach people over social media and market your business, but these chatbots are very effective and a very new modern way to do it. It’s the hot new marketing method and we’re going to learn all about it from Ian.

I’ve got something exciting to share with you. This is a subject that I know is of interest to many of you, podcasters, potential podcasters, small business owners and entrepreneurs. That is about a new way for you to market and grow either your business or your listening audience, anything it is that you’re trying to do to lead generate or monetize your business or your podcast through something that’s rather new. It’s been around for maybe a year or two at its earliest, but it’s new to most of us. It’s about using Facebook Messenger and more importantly chatbots to market and grow your business. Many of us in business are very familiar with using a sales funnel. We’ve all heard about sales funnel and/or used them and maybe with tools like ClickFunnels as ways to market your business. Chatbots in particular, which are like ClickFunnels but within Facebook Messenger exclusively and some off of master, you can get them in from other places like websites or ads.

This is becoming increasingly popular because of the rates of responsiveness and conversion for using Facebook Messenger and these bots. It’s quite exciting. I have a guest and his name is Ian Smith from Evolve Media. I have to admit I didn’t meet him at first. Tracy met him and got connected to him in another way and then she’s been talking with him offline or off of this podcast for quite a while. She set me up to interview him for Feed Your Brand because unfortunately, Tracy is traveling at this time and couldn’t be available. I get to interview him, which is great because in some ways that’s better because I don’t have as much background. I’m going to have him tell his story and what’s unique about all these chatbots and Messenger marketing from a fresh perspective of mine. This is something that I became aware of earlier in 2018 at the Traffic & Conversion Summit. Messenger marketing and chatbots were all the rage. It’s the hot new marketing method and we’re going to learn all about it from Ian.

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Introducing Messenger Marketing: The Hot New Marketing Method with Ian Smith

Ian, thank you so much for joining me on Feed Your Brand.

Thank you so much for having me.

I’ve been excited to speak with you, at least since we’ve had this book. My cohost, Tracy, who could not be with us for this interview, has had the opportunity to speak with you several times before in other forums or events and situations and speaks very highly of you.

I’m glad to hear that she speaks highly of me. That’s great.

Can you help share first with my audience a little bit about the highlights of your path to becoming a social media marketing expert?

My first step into advertising was with a local print magazine. I was doing sales for them selling ad space. I did that for a while then I left that business to start doing sales for a digital marketing agency here local in Orlando. I learned a whole bunch there and then I left that company to work for a young guy that I had met. He was a good friend of mine. He had his own business. I worked with him, helping him with sales and marketing. We grew up his business pretty well. We went through a merger and it blew up his business fast. Then he and I started our own digital marketing company together. We had multiple partners in that business, one of them being Kevin Harrington, the guy from Shark Tank. With Kevin, Jeremy, Max and a couple of other guys, we were able to launch our first digital marketing agency, our first real business together and it exploded.

We did about $4.5 million in our first year of business. We experimented with our own venture, which took off. We were selling Donald Trump-related products. That was my first, “This digital marketing stuff is powerful, Facebook ads are powerful, ClickFunnels are powerful.” That showed me there’s something here. Ever since then I have been going all in, learning the new cutting-edge technologies that are coming out. Trying to stay on top of the ball with learning the new stuff that’s coming up because there are a lot of new cutting-edge technologies that you can leverage these days. It’s a lot of work staying on top of it.

I bet it is. It’s ever-changing. $4.5 million that first year, that’s quite a good first year. Your business is Evolve Media, is that right?

Yes. Eventually, with that agency, which was called Quantum Media, I exited that business. I did a buyout, left that business, started Evolve Media and that was since early 2017. I’ve been running Evolve Media since early 2017.

Businesses have no idea that chatbots are very powerful and that this is even possible. Click To Tweet

Our audience is always very interested in ways they can market themselves, their brands and their businesses. That’s why most of them are podcasting and creating content for their website. You have become also an expert in chatbots and using Facebook Messenger, among other things to do digital marketing.

Chatbots are very powerful and it’s weird. I discovered Messenger marketing and ManyChat, the platform that you use to build them out. I was like, “This is incredible. Let me go all in on this.” I started doing that and I realized I’m way too early on this. Facebook doesn’t even have great systems for getting people to opt into your Messenger bot and the platform is very limiting like ManyChat for example. I went all in and learned a whole bunch and then I took a break from it. The more that I learned about it, I was like, “This is too early. I am too early to the punch.” Now I revisited it and I’ve been in touch with it over the past year. I discovered that this is the time now. Now is when I need to go all in on this, I need to start learning about this, I need to start building out bots. I need to go all in because this is a great point right now where open rates are high, click rates are high, engagement is ultra-high and it’s only going to skyrocket even higher. It’s like businesses have no idea. When I talk to new clients about this stuff, they have no idea that this is even possible. They don’t even know what I’m talking about. That also reassures me that I’m in a good spot right now and I seem to keep on pushing it. The businesses that do jump on to this Messenger bot stuff, to running Facebook ads, driving them into your Messenger bot, those are the businesses that are going to capitalize and be able to leverage the early adopter type of advantage.

It seemed to be all the rage when I was at Traffic & Conversion in February. There was a lot of discussion about ManyChat and the opportunity. It seemed that digital marketers were all the rage. I wondered too, at that time, if it was early or if this was the time and how long also it was going to be as effective as it is now. Are you seeing a continued ramp up in its effectiveness?

150%, yes. It’s funny that you talk about Traffic & Conversion Summit. DigitalMarketer is like my Bible. I follow them religiously. They have a podcast called Perpetual Traffic. In the episode that they launched, they were talking about how Facebook has WhatsApp. They own Messenger, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. They haven’t yet monetized WhatsApp in the slightest. WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users and Facebook has not yet rolled out any ads for WhatsApp or allowed you to build any kind of messaging sequence. That is what’s right around the corner from us. Facebook rolled this out with Messenger. They rolled out ads on Messenger and inside the inbox. The next step is going to be WhatsApp.

You can run these automations and get people to opt-in to your message bot, your chatbot on these two different platforms. Messenger, which has 1.7 billion users and then WhatsApp, which has another a couple of billion. We are at a great time right now and I highly recommend to your audience, start doing your research. Jump on this because now is a great time to be jumping on. Imagine when Amazon first came out or when email marketing first came out. Imagine if you were one of the early adopters and launched your Amazon store way back when it was brand-new or launched an email marketing agency or an email marketing business and start to leverage that when it was first coming out. You have that head start advantage.

If you get it now, are you still on the leading edge of this curve?

Definitely, they’re saying that by 2020, the majority of businesses will be playing in this field. Like email marketing, you’ve got these big timers like Chipotle and the massive businesses, Walmart, everybody’s doing email marketing. Which is why open rates have fallen in the teens or in the 10% no less than 10% for open rates is because everybody’s doing it now. They’re saying by 2020 is when a lot of businesses will finally grasp the whole Messenger message platforms and start marketing through Messenger and WhatsApp.

Messenger Marketing: The businesses that do jump on to this Messenger bot stuff are the businesses that are going to capitalize and be able to leverage the early adopter type of advantage.


I didn’t realize the WhatsApp thing was coming. I’m a WhatsApp user just for communication with people, but the fact that you will be able to power that as a marketer in different ways in the future is great to know. With this whole chatbot revolution of marketing, am I correct that you can create a sales funnel all within Messenger or within a chatbot?

Yes, and that is so cool. That’s why it’s such a game-changer. I was a huge ClickFunnels user. I love ClickFunnels still to this day. I have drastically left ClickFunnels in a major way because I can do all of that stuff now with ManyChat and with Messenger as far as getting people to fill out a lead form. I asked the question one at a time, now I’m able to get people to answer more questions because the questions are presented one at a time versus a whole lead form on a landing page. The beauty of ClickFunnels is that you can track your conversions, so you can’t yet do that with Messenger. I would love them. To be able to have a Facebook pixel or a conversion event that you can tie in when they answer this message, that’s going to trigger a conversion event, that would be awesome. Conversion event tracking is where ManyChat can relax right now. For a lot of the same things that you can do a ClickFunnel, you can now do with ManyChat. To give you an idea, I created a new Messenger bot that I’m going to use as a lead magnet moving forward. I’m about to create a YouTube video all about this, but what I did was I created a blog post Messenger bot.

In the same way that you have a blog post and it’s got all this text, let’s say it’s got 1,000 words or whatever, I’ve created a Messenger bot where you can now digest the blog post in stages. You click a button saying, “Yes, next topic.” What I did was I created like a listicle, you know how it’s like, “Five ways to do XYZ.” I created a blog post called Five Proven Strategies to Increase your Lead Quality and Decrease your Lead Cost. I say, “Are you ready to proceed with strategy number one?” I send them strategy number one and then I say, “If you want to learn more about this, click this button and we’ll go deeper on this topic or you can proceed to strategy number two.” People proceed through the different strategies and then at the end of strategy number five, I say, “Would you like to book a call with me and we can figure out how we can set one of these Messenger bots and implement some of these strategies into your business today?” Then that’s my call to action. I pushed them into a call and then pitch them on our services.

For you, even in your own business, it’s lead generation but your company is providing a service for businesses to implement a digital marketing strategy using Messenger and chatbots for them.

We have two parts of our business. We have our done-for-you services part of the business where they hire us. We build up everything for them. We build up their Facebook ads, their chatbot, landing pages, their email sequences, everything like that. It is a higher price for the done-for-you services. It’s going to be a higher price than if it’s do-it-yourself. We have our do-it-yourself services where we sell templates and we sell courses. For the people who are wanting to do it themselves, we have the tools for that. We teach you how to do that and we have the templates already half built out for you to change your copy and things like that.

Start doing your research. Jump on Messenger marketing because now is a great time to be jumping on. Click To Tweet

There’s an option for the customer that values spending money to save time and getting it done right away, and then the customer that maybe is bootstrapping it more and is willing to do more of the legwork themselves, but they need to learn what to do. Can you give us a top-level mental picture of how the process or the sequence might go for a consumer that’s soliciting out there? Are you starting with a Facebook ad targeting an audience and then they are clicking something in getting into Messenger? Is it not just Facebook? Are there other ways? It would be helpful for our audience to understand this linear path, although it may not be that linear, just conceptually so they can understand the process.

The second somebody engages with your page through the Messenger, that’s when they become a subscriber. There are multiple ways to get them to engage with your page. You can embed what they call growth tools on your website, and there’s a whole bunch of different growth tools. There are pop-ups, there are these little chat boxes that hover in the bottom right corner, there are boxes that you can embed inside your overall blog copy, things like that. Those are the option for outside of the Facebook ad realm. You can also put a little button, if they click that button, it will send them a message through Messenger. The whole thing here is that they have to initiate communication with your page first. Once they initiate that communication, a message gets sent to them. They then need to engage with that message, click a button, reply to it, something like that. That’s what locks them in as a subscriber. Whether that’s a Facebook ad that initiates that message of them clicking that button on the Facebook ad or it’s them clicking a button on your website or landing page, it needs to be initiated.

Once you have them inside your Messenger bot and inside Messenger, then you start your two-way conversation where you ask them a question, you have them click buttons, you have them type in their answers. The beauty of Messenger and this whole Messenger marketing stuff is that it’s two way versus email. Nobody replies to an email blast. They just read it and they click or they don’t click. With Messenger, they can click, respond, type in, watch a video, listen to a voice memo that you sent them, an audio clip. They can download PDFs directly through Messenger, all this kind of stuff. What I would usually recommend to incentivize that first interaction is to give away a free digital download, to give away some free value. That’s what you’re going to be using in your marketing messages saying, “I have this great thing that you want. Click this button here and I’ll send it to you through Facebook Messenger.”

Is it once they’ve clicked your ad on Facebook or only after they are within Messenger? I guess it depends if they’re coming from your website or not. At what point do you have their information that they’ve opted in and you know who they are and can contact them?

Once they have engaged with you via Messenger. If they click on your button on your website, that’s going to direct them to Messenger, so Messenger is going to open up. They are going to have to sign in, if they’re not already signed in. There’s going to be an open message window that they’re going to have to click on, “Get started,” and then clicking on “Get started” is what makes them become that subscriber. That is the flow that happens from your website. From Facebook though, they will click on that Facebook ad and then immediately they’ll be sent a message. They don’t have to click that “Get started” button. They’ll be immediately sent a message, but when they click on that message or they reply to it, then they become a subscriber. They have to engage with your Messenger bot in order to have them as a subscriber and get that information from them.

Messenger Marketing: The second somebody engages with your page through the Messenger, that’s when they become a subscriber.


We’ve been doing this for our own business, not yet with ManyChat or chatbots, that’s uncharted territory for us. We’ve been doing Facebook advertising to people filling out a form there to answer a few questions in response to the ad and it’s lead generation from us. Once they fill out the form, we have their information and we’ve been retargeting them off of Facebook through an email campaign, which has been producing a lot of good leads that we follow up. I can see how there are more different engagements and maybe more valuable engagements that happen in this two-way conversation in Messenger. I remember seeing some staggering rates of people that engage on Messenger versus other forms of marketing communication. Are you familiar with some of those and you could maybe share some with us?

I made a YouTube video going over the exact stats that I found. I have a client where we’re doing webinar opt-ins and we have people register for the webinar through ManyChat, through their Messenger bot. We collect their email address, we’re collecting their phone number and we’re getting their first and last name all through the Messenger bot. Then using Zapier, that information is zapped over to go to webinar and then the email is sent over to convert kit, so we can do our email marketing and follow-ups.

Similarly to that, if you’re a HubSpot user or an Infusionsoft user, can you also zap that information into your CRM where you’re keeping on track of everything from the Messenger Bot and the chatbot?

The integration of ManyChat working with Zapier is what jolted me into, “I need to go all in on this thing right now.” Before all that information that you collected inside ManyChat stayed in there and it was pointless to have that information. When ManyChat was integrated with Zapier, now as soon as that information gets collected in ManyChat, you can zap it over to a Google sheet, you can send it to your CRM, you can send it to your email software, all the different places that Zapier integrates with. It’s pretty powerful.

It sounds amazingly powerful and it sounds like something that we need to all be engaging in if we’re in any way trying to market our businesses digitally. It’s fantastic for instance, for most of our audience are podcasters in some way. Using that as a means to generate content and blog content for their website. I love what you said about breaking down a blog into pieces and having another way to put out that blog content in a different way people can consume it. I would think everybody creating blog posts now, especially whether it’s from their podcast or not, they’ve already got this content as an asset. This is another way to mine it.

The beauty of giving away a blog post like this is that as they consume it. When they click to say, “Yes, I’d like to read this blog piece, this content piece,” then they’re a subscriber. You then have that chain connection where you can message them repeatedly down the line. You can use this whole multimedia aspect of sending them videos, sending them audio recordings.

By 2020, businesses will finally grasp the whole Messenger message platforms and start marketing through Messenger and WhatsApp. Click To Tweet

Messenger is capable of all that multimedia messaging, video and all that. I want to make that clear for the audience. From an SEO perspective, when it comes to blog posts on the internet, you only want to have an original blog post. You can’t have duplicate content or that is an SEO no-no. It hurts both sides wherever it’s duplicated, but within Facebook Messenger, I would imagine that’s isolated. It’s probably a no index, no follow type of a post.

I can’t see your inbox and what you’re messaging that bot. It’s 100% private, it’s not on the SEO rankings at all.

That’s a fantastic thing to understand. It makes sense that it would be that way, but I wanted to be sure from the expert here. Everybody is always looking for, “How can I get more out of the content I’m creating?” I imagine you could probably do audio clips like you could do video clips if you wanted.

Let’s say you’re a podcaster. I know a lot of podcasters want people to download in the iTunes store because they’re trying to get that credibility there. If you’re not so much concerned with that and you want people to just listen, you’re trying to get people to consume your podcast and listen to you. You could send the entire podcast episode right through Messenger.

That’s something that I hadn’t even thought of. That’s something that we need to start doing. If you’re giving people another way to consume it, it’s another way to subscribe. The brilliant part is you’ll know who your subscriber is, where if they subscribe on iTunes or Apple podcasts or wherever, you don’t necessarily know who they are in the podcast world.

To give you an idea of how much data you have on them without even having to ask them, you have their gender, you have their first and last name. You can then click on and look at their profile and then all the information that they have on their user profile, you can extract all that information. If they have their location set, their relationship status, their photos, you can get a lot of information on your customers or your subscriber list doing things this way. It’s so crazy because when I go back to look at email lists, I still do email marketing, I’m not against email marketing. When I look at my email list, it’s almost a joke because it’s like I have their email address, maybe their IP address and the time they opted in.

I don’t have their first name, sometimes I may have their first name if they filled out that form, but it’s nothing. With Messenger, if you do ask them for their email address or their phone number, it auto-populates because Facebook has been so good about asking people for their phone number. They’re like, “What’s your phone number? Let’s get your phone number on file.” If you say, “What’s your email address?” Facebook has that and it will auto-populate for them. All they need to do is click that little button and it will automatically send you their email address. If you say, “What’s your phone number?” It auto-populates and sends it over. You don’t even have to ask for their first and last name because that’s already there.

Messenger Marketing: If you’re trying to get people to consume your podcast and listen to you, you could send the entire podcast episode right through Messenger.


I understand also when I was at Traffic & Conversion that Messenger has no limit to how many people you can connect to through, unlike your Facebook friends max out at 5,000 or something. Is it endless?

It is endless. You have to use your Facebook fan page to do this Messenger. All of the communication is through your Facebook fan page. You can’t build or subscribe a list with a personal Facebook profile. As many people as you can get in, the thing that you need to remember though is that you don’t own the asset. At any time, if you make some of those subscribers mad or Facebook wants to shut your page down and it’s happening. Facebook will disable some pages’ ability to send outgoing messages, they may limit your messaging abilities and then you’re cut off from your entire subscriber list. The goal here is to get them as subscribers, but then get their email address, get their phone number. Push them into a Facebook group, get multiple assets from them, get them as YouTube subscriber if you can, and an Instagram follower. The subscriber on Messenger is the starting point and it’s a great way to communicate with them but don’t let that be your end all be all.

People can opt out if they’ve had enough. If you’re peppering them with too many messages over Messenger, maybe they don’t want to get it anymore. If you’re providing them value, and this is where I see the opportunity could be as at least an entry point for podcasters, is either to offer them value in the option to receive your episode that way through Messenger, they opt the whole podcast episode or that they can receive your written content through there and they’re opting in. If you’re providing them value, they want to be there but at some point, they could get annoyed for whatever reason. If you’ve captured them and you’ve stored that data through zap, then you can reach them still through email or any other way you’d want to. It seems incredibly powerful.

As a podcaster, you only have your voice. They are listening to your voice. I’m a YouTuber, I put videos out on YouTube and what I have done to create a call to action in my YouTube videos. You could do an invitation and they click on the video and they go somewhere. What I’ve done is I’ve created, with one of those growth tools that I mentioned, it’s called a message Ref URL. What it does is you can create this special little Ref URL that when they visit this URL, it will automatically send them a specific message through Messenger. What I did was I took that Ref URL and I put it into Bitly and I made it a lot easier to use. Bitly is a URL shortener if you don’t know. What I’ve created is my own lead magnet, my own cheat sheet download. I tell people if you want to learn the eleven crucial features to setting up your Messenger bot and learning how you need to build out your Messenger bot, then you need to head to I tell people, “Go to that link, make sure that you’re signed into Messenger and then type in the keyword, learn, and then that is going to make sure that you get access to that free digital download.” I always recommend that to people if they’re doing a YouTube show, if they’re doing a podcast show, that they need to have that verbal call to action that they tell people, “Go to this website,” and then they can easily opt-in to a free digital download.

The subscriber on Messenger is the starting point and it's a great way to communicate with them. Click To Tweet

Would you be willing to share with us, you mentioned a couple of YouTube videos, like the example of your five ways listicle or your other YouTube videos that are demonstrating some of these things?

I’m about to create a YouTube video showing exactly how I built out these five proven strategies to increase your lead quality.

That would be very valuable for all of our audience. That always makes sense rather than providing different URLs, people have to remember one to go to and not five or six. Is there any other important nugget or revelation or anything about this whole realm of chatbots and Messenger that I didn’t ask you about that you think is important for our audience to know?

We covered a lot of important stuff, talking about how it has to be with the Facebook fan page, talking about the actual opt-in process. How to get them as an actual subscriber, the ability to link it with a Facebook ad. You always want to tell them how to unsubscribe. You want to be very clear about that because you do not want people complaining or giving you any negative remarks because Facebook can easily turn off your page from having the ability to message. Always telling people, “If you want to ever unsubscribe from these messages, just type in the word stop or unsubscribe.” Whenever I send people a message, I do it in a permission type of way. If I’m trying to send them a link to one of my videos, I’ll say, “I created this awesome video. It’s called the five proven strategies for increasing your lead quality. Do you want me to send you the link?” Under that message, there would have two buttons. It would say, “Yes, send me the link,” or “No, thanks. I’m good.” If they click on the, “No, thanks. I’m good.” Then it will say, “No worries. Remember that if you want to unsubscribe from these messages, you can reply, stop or unsubscribe.” If they click on “Yes, send me the link,” then I’ll go ahead and send them the link to the video.

We all want to reach a lot of people and we all think we have fantastic things to offer them or we hope we do at least. If you annoy that person at some point, it could become a problem for you and they wouldn’t be your customer anyway at that point. It probably makes sense to remain in integrity and offer them a way to opt out that isn’t buried somewhere so that you don’t end up on the wrong side of Facebook. I can see how that would be very ugly. Thank you so much for spending some time with me and sharing these incredible words of wisdom with our audience here at Feed Your Brand. I truly appreciate it and I’m sure I’m going to be talking with you for our own marketing needs. This is an area that we need to be playing in this space now and we’re actively doing other kinds of digital marketing, but this is something we haven’t scratched the surface of yet.

Thank you so much for having me. I look forward to potentially working together.

Introducing Messenger Marketing: The Hot New Marketing Method – Final Thoughts

I don’t know if your mind was blown as much as mine was, but I’m super excited about this opportunity. The fact that Messenger marketing, it’s a way that once people opt-in, you know who they are, you can have them on your list. It’s relatively easy to make them an offer and capture their email and you can then retarget them outside of Messenger. Even within Messenger, the ability once they’ve opted-in to push messages out to them periodically. You want to be careful how much you do it because you want to make sure that it gets noticed. You probably don’t want to send something every day through Messenger but weekly probably or certainly every other week would have much more impact. It’s tremendously powerful.

If you’re doing a YouTube show or a podcast, you need to have that verbal call to action. Click To Tweet

I’m having Ian quote a project for us using chatbots for some of our own marketing of our podcast and our business. We’re going to be experimenting with it. In the future, we may have to do a follow-up interview. This is powerful stuff and there is an opportunity to take advantage of this while it’s still hot before it becomes passé or less effective. Anything new becomes a big opportunity for how to market to people and reach them. There are so many different ways to reach people over social media and market your business, but these chatbots are very effective and a very new modern way to do it. Eventually everybody may do it, but the opportunity is now at least for the next year or so to be able to go and do this for your business. You can reach out to us on social media if you have any questions or comments about this especially Facebook or anywhere, @FeedYourBrand. Thanks so much, everybody. I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it. We’ll be back next time for another great episode of Feed Your Brand.

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About Ian Smith

Ian Smith is a digital marketer that creates and distributes video content and written content in the form of sales funnels, landing pages, Facebook Ads, Facebook Messenger bots, and email blasts. His team is made up of experts who know exactly what it takes to build trust, credibility, and familiarity with audiences online, and their expertise lies in developing content funnels that get results and turn cold online traffic into qualified leads and loyal customers.



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