4 Proven Ways to Get Your Bot Discovered
So you've built an awesome new chatbot, now what? You need to get your bot discovered and grow your user base. Marketplaces at Facebook Messenger, Discord and Slack are already bogged down with more than 100,000 bots. So how do you break through the noise and get your bot discovered?
May 8, 2018
Ted Livingston, the founder and CEO of Kik, says a successful bot developer does three things well: they build an easy-to-use bot that’s great at its task, they know how to grow the bot’s user base, and they give those users suggested interactions and responses.
The challenge in Livingston’s formula is to find ways for people to discover your bot.
Users discover bots much like they find new apps—paid advertising, online referrals, social media, and word of mouth. Consequently, the programming industry fears that bots will follow the same pattern as apps have—overpromotion in a saturated marketplace where breakthroughs are rare.
Facebook Messenger includes more than 300,000 bots. Moreover, the space is growing quickly. With numbers like that, it’s hard to stand out and get discovered.
What can you do to help get your hard work recognized? The answer is to learn how viral apps incited growth and to optimize that process for your bot. Check out these four tried-and-true methods to get your bot discovered.
Make Your Bot Easy to Find
HiJiffy, a conversational booking bot for hotels, explains that consumers haven’t adopted chatbots because most people are still unaware that they can use a service like Facebook Messenger to reach companies. HiJiffy recommends educating your target customers by making the bot very easy to discover—for example, naturally introduce your customers to the bot as part of a transaction.
Once you’re successfully engaging customers with your chatbot, submit it to the Messenger Discovery section and focus on improving its base metrics, like average session length and user growth. If you can sustain month-over-month growth and high user engagement ratings, you can improve your likelihood of becoming a featured bot in the Messenger Marketplace. As Chatbot’s Life shows, earning that coveted highlighted spot can win you more than 100,000 users in a week.
To avoid reliance on a single bot platform (i.e., Facebook), host your bot on a .BOT domain. This allows you to own the user experience and direct customers to any framework or platform over time. A unique top-level domain can also improve your bot’s visibility in search engine results pages.
Beyond Messenger, post your bot in online forums and marketplaces. Although these shouldn’t be the primary source of discovery, resources like Product Hunt are still invaluable.
Remember that having a dedicated domain for your chatbot is also a great way to promote healthy, long-term traffic. A dedicated website lets you promote the bot via SEO, paid advertising, and supporting content.
Ask for Feedback in Chatbot Communities
Peer feedback is part of any good developer’s agenda. It’s essential to join bot enthusiast groups, like Botmakers Slack, Bots Facebook and r/Chatbots. Bounce ideas off these groups, and ask for feedback on your bots. This method is a win-win, you get to perform user testing and you potentially gain new users in the process. CMX suggests that, to optimize your product feedback process:
- Start with a small group and expand from there.
- Streamline how you pitch feedback requests and accept answers.
- Create a two-way relationship between product and community.
- Always offer examples of issues you’ve encountered, considered, or overcome.
As a best practice, we recommend that you engage with these communities for a few weeks before you post a link to your chatbot and ask for feedback. Establishing yourself as a trusted member of the community lets you teach others and help solve their problems. This bolsters your thought leadership within the developer community and adds authenticity to your feedback requests.
After you incorporate the feedback, gain additional engagement by creating an “update” post within the communities. This lets you retarget people who initially gave you feedback, find new users, subtly promote your improved bot, and teach the community about your discoveries.
Design Your Bot for Mentions
In an interview with Top Bots, Kik’s Livingston says he believes mentions and invites are among the best ways to get your bot new users. As he explains:
Mentions is the ability to bring a bot into a conversation, a chat or a group chat. Bots can also use mentions to bring each other into conversations….The way mentions makes bots go viral is like this: you start with one user. This user calls your bot up in a group chat and now you have 10 users. Those 10 users call up your bot in different group chats and suddenly you have 100 users and then 1000 users.
One idea Livingston shares is that of hiding a premium bot feature behind a paywall, to be unlocked when money is spent or five friends are invited. “Boom, that bot gets to reach out to those 5 people, then they repeat,” he said in the interview. “It could be that simple. So if you can demonstrate just a bit of value, I am convinced that pretty much any bot can find a way, at some level, to be viral.”
Pull—Don’t Push—Users to Your Bot
As we mentioned, how you get your bot discovered is no different than how you get any product discovered—digital or otherwise. Success requires a methodical approach.
Ekim Kaya, the founder of Botego, notes on Quora that any “push” method (like direct messaging, email, or in-app notifications) could associate your bot with spam. Instead, he recommends that you “pull” the users to your bot. His post gave 15 recommendations, and our five favorites follow:
- “Storify” the bot. “Don’t design your marketing communication for a bot, but do it for a character such as ‘Mr. Tax,’ so that your offering will be easier to understand for a user who encounters a bot for the first time.”
- Find the lede. “Make [your bot] journalist-friendly. Reach out to relevant journalists and say something like, ‘World’s first robot who provides help with tax preparation helped consumers save 10,000 hours in one month!’”
- Encourage word of mouth promotion. “Offer incentives for users who could share your bot at the end of the conversation. Either create a natural word of mouth marketing effect with valuable content, or offer something in return.”
- Use multiple platforms: “Don’t neglect conventional methods such as sharing the link to a bot on your website, Twitter account, etc. Build a landing page for your bot that runs your bot, and buttons to launch it on Facebook Messenger, Skype, Telegram, etc.”
- Find new partnerships: “Partner with 3rd-party services. If you have a New York City Guide Bot, partner with a New York City Tour company, and ask them to add your bot link into the email they send out to people who purchase tours.”
Ultimately, it’s no surprise that you need to start by building a good, useful bot. There’s a reason that Livingston’s first suggestion is to “make a great bot.” But while you’re innovating and solving problems, stay a step ahead of the competition by incorporating user experience into your design. Then take our advice and watch your bot get discovered—make the bot easy to find, incorporate peer feedback, design it for mentions, and pull users in. Maybe yours will be the next breakthrough bot!