This blog post was last updated on 17 March, 2023 to reflect the following changes:
- Recurring Notifications are now called ‘Subscription Lists’
- Weekly & Monthly frequences have been removed with ‘Daily’ or ‘One-Time’ the only available options.
- Instagram has opened a beta application to release Subscription Lists to selected accounts
Chat marketing is evolving. And with new changes comes new opportunities – like recurring notifications. This is the biggest shift in chat marketing since 2020, and it’s an incredible chance for businesses to maintain a high level of engagement and loyalty using a Chatbot. Here’s what you need to know about how to set up subscription lists, and how you can start using them in your own marketing strategy.
Key Points & Summary
- Subscription Lists allow businesses to send ongoing messages to customers beyond the initial 24-hour window
- Users only need to opt-in once to subscribe to a Subscription List
- Messages can be sent once every 24 hours
- It’s currently only available on Messenger, Instagram is available in Beta. Contact us here to get access.
What are Subscription Lists?
Facebook has introduced a brand new method to maintain consistent contact with your Chatbot subscribers – introducing Subscription Lists. Recurring Notifications (now referred to as Subscription Lists) are ongoing messages that users have opted-in to via simple and upfront prompts outlining the frequency of messages that they’ll likely receive if they choose to get them.
This brand new feature (as of May 2022) is available on Messenger with beta currently being rolled out on Instagram. Contact us here to get access.
So, while we have the opportunity to make the most of the feature for free – you can bet we’re going to capitalise on it!
Subscription Lists work like this:
STEP 1: GET USER OPT-IN
During the initial 24-hour chat window, you offer users to opt-in to receive ongoing updates. The opt-in notification gives an expectation to the user of the frequency of messages they might receive. They can be preset as:
Weekly Monthly(Meta updated these frequencies in February 2023 to provide Daily frequencies only)
STEP 2: SEND MESSAGES
After the user gives you permission, you can send messages based on the frequency they chose about whatever topic you like (no seriously)
It could be sales & promotions, newsletters, campaigns, or business updates – you just need to make sure it abides by the frequency interval and that you don’t go over the top (Facebook has said they will punish repeat offenders of negative feedback). Facebook will prompt them with a reminder to confirm they’d still like to receive messages from you. This message will be delivered on your behalf after 6 months from the initial opt-in.
These messages come after: 6 months for Daily messages 9 months for Weekly messages 12 months for Monthly messages
Why are Subscription Lists a huge advantage for Chatbots?
Subscriber Lists are a big shift for Meta’s messaging strategy. From March 2020 till early 2022, Facebook’s policy only allowed you to send messages within a 24-hour window. After that period had closed or unless the user re-opened the chat with you, you had to resort to a number of different methods (we outline the best ones here in this blog post). But now, with the user’s permission, you can message them outside of this window and as long as it abides by the conditions they opted-in for.
But where it REALLY is going to be an advantage, is using this communication method compared to other more regular or consistent channels.
Take email marketing, for instance, a recent study showed on average businesses had 21.5% open rates and 2.3% click-through rates. While some industries such as retail had open rates as low as 17%. While it’s important to capture key contact info such as email addresses, the dwindling open rates mean you need to work harder in a much-more crowded inbox to get a customer to open an email – let alone click on it.
Comparatively, if you look at the same engagement rates for Messenger. Studies show that open rates can be anywhere from 80-90%, with a study showing 88% open rates and 56% click-through rates.
There are numerous ways you could utilise this new feature, but adjusting and transforming your regular email marketing content to fit in shorter, easier to consume messages could drastically improve the return you get from this type of tactic (not to mention the shorter amount of time it takes to setup).
How to use and set up Subscriber Lists?
Firstly, we’ve done much of the heavy-lifting when it comes to setting up recurring notifications. Download our FREE template if you want to skip the setup instructions.
You can follow the steps in the video here or the document steps below to setup recurring notifications:
STEP 1: Setup your Subscription List topics
You can do this within the Manychat flow builder, or via Settings > Messenger > Manage Notification Topics
From here you can view and manage topics you have setup previously
To add a new topic hit the ‘Topic’ button.
- Type a ‘Topic Name’ – this will be seen by the user during the opt-in process
- Choose the ‘Frequency’ – choose between:
- Daily over 6 month period after opt-in (one message per calendar day)
- Weekly over 9 month period after opt-in (once every calendar week)
- Monthly over 12 month period after opt-in (once every calendar month)
- Optionally put a description for your own internal use
STEP 2: Setup the opt-in block in your Manychat flowFirstly, you need an image to use in the Manychat block to help promote the Recurring Notification topic. Image sizes are:
- Horizontal – 909px wide x 476px high
- Square (at least) 600px wide x 600px high
In the Manychat flow builder, add a ‘Notification Request’ in a Messenger node
Complete the following fields:
- Topic – choose one previously setup or scroll to ‘Create New’ and follow the steps in Step 1 to set a new topic
- Add a Title in the field. This is a description of what the user can expect from opting-in to this topic. Be as descriptive as possible to avoid complaints. The character limit is 65 (even though it says 80)
- Add your image to the image section of the node
STEP 3: Send messages to users that have opted-in to topics
You can choose to automatically subscribe users post opt-in to automated messages as part of Sequences or Broadcasts.
When you send these messages and to ensure that your Chatbot isn’t flagged or restricted, you need to check that the recurring message frequency is valid for the user.
To do this, we recommend starting by adding:
- A condition before the message to check if the ‘Notification Topic available right now’ is the topic you are sending the message about
- Add another condition to also check if ‘Messaging window segment’ is ‘recent interaction (< 24 hours)’ as it could be possible to send the message to anyone currently still in the 24-hour window.
In the node connected to the notification topic:
- Choose ‘Outside 24 hour window’ in the Send section at the top of the node
- Choose the relevant notification topic in the ‘Reason’ field.
Repeat this process for any follow-up messages, keeping in mind that you need to keep the below gaps as a minimum between the relevant subscription list frequency:
- Daily: One message per calendar day
Weekly: Once every calendar week Monthly: Once every calendar month
Use cases and industry examples for Subscription Lists
Industry: Coaches, course creators and online influencers
Use Case: Deliver content for an online challenge or course
Creating free or low-priced challenges can be a great way to promote and convert registrants to a higher-priced course, program or service.
Using the Daily Message Frequency you could deliver timely content each day of a short challenge. Using this tactic you can:
- Keep the attendee engaged throughout the challenge
- Measure and monitor their progress to gauge the likelihood of converting at the end of the challenge or identify users you can focus more closely on
- Automatically deliver the daily content using Manychat’s Sequences feature to set the interval and message that is delivered to the user
You could also deliver content or updates throughout a paid course product as well. Using the Weekly Message Frequency you could:
- Send automatic updates to check in, monitor progress or delivery further advice
- Create an onboarding series that releases content on a schedule, making it easy for them to access
- Overcome objections and obstacles that students are facing by making it easy for them to communicate via a channel that is simple to use
- Sync with sales, membership or database systems to verify registration and create a more personalised experience for the student
Industry: Personal training, gyms, yoga studio programs
Use case: Keeping clients engaged during a membership or program
Recurring notifications are perfect to keep clients engaged and motivated as they go through your program.
Using the Daily/Weekly Message Frequency you could:
- Send motivation prompts on key days of the week to help clients push through challenging parts of the program. For example:
- Setup the week with some tips on a Monday morning, or
- Give some motivation and pointers to help them stay on track over the weekend with a timely Friday afternoon message
- Subscribing clients to an on-boarding sequence after signing up, helps give them the information they need when they start. This helps keep them on track and reaching the point where they can see results so they become loyal clients.
- You can also link these messages based on activities and progress. For instance, if you have an in-person facility that tracks visits, you could send timely reminders and messages of congratulations when a client has remained consistent with their progress or has been sporadic with their visits
Industry: e-commerce & retail
Use Case: Create a superb post-purchase customer experience to build loyalty
Customer service is at the heart of every small and medium business, but we often focus on the customer service prior to a purchase and neglect the customer experience after they have purchased.
Using the Weekly Message Frequency you could:
- Send a series of onboarding messages that helps educate and inform the customers with key information, setup and how to make the most of your product
- Provide key links to help troubleshoot or find support for the product
- Offer key up-sells or offers as a current customer
- Assist in streamlining any customer support by notifying internal team members that they are a current customer
- Capture and encourage detailed reviews and feedback
Industry: Subscription services
Use case: Make it easy and transparent to manage while relieving strain on customer support systems
Regular subscription boxes are a revenue-generating dream for some businesses, but they can often cause confusion and issues with internal systems and add additional stress on customer support systems.
By using the Monthly Message Frequency you can clearly communicate directly with customers so they don’t miss any critical updates. Using this functionality you could:
- Send timely reminders prior to payment or processing of an upcoming order
- Make it simple for customers to update their current subscription with key links or by automatically gathering the information necessary so the customer support team can quickly make any updates for the customer
- Follow-up to see if customers would like to increase their frequency of the subscription, or add complementary products. This could be accompanied with the previous example of the post-purchase educational series to increase usage.
- Capture and encourage detailed reviews and feedback
Use case: Re-purpose regular email subscriber updates to recurring notifications
The majority of businesses have a regular email newsletter that they rely heavily on to increase customer engagement and sales. But with open and click through rates dropping, businesses are looking to other communication channels to complement their email marketing.
A simple way to do this is to match the frequency of your email marketing with a recurring notification and send the updates to customers across both channels.
To do this, you could:
- Turn the key info and links in your newsletter to shorter, bite-size snippets making it easier to read and consume
- Preview the contents of the message in the initial notification and use language (much like a subject line) that will help increase click-through rates
- Build the information and site links into a gallery carousel (see below)
- Measure and monitor clicks on each item to help determine what topics interest subscribers
- Build relevant (not annoying) ‘follow-up’ messages within the 24-hour window after the customer clicks on any important links to offer further assistance/help.
- Encourage subscription to the recurring notifications by including a link in emails directly to Messenger. Be sure to add the user’s info to a ‘customer ref parameter’ so you can capture that info when they enter your Chatbot and sync it with your email system
Frequently Asked Questions about Recurring Notifications
Users have to explicitly opt-in to recurring notifications by choosing to accept the recurring notification topic you message them.
Once they have opted in, you can then send them notifications based on this frequency.
You can send follow-up messages by manually setting up a Messenger flow, automated sequences, or broadcasts.
Yes, but for different frequency’s and it’s recommended that you don’t try to ask users to opt-in too much. If your page receives too much negative feedback there is a chance that your page will receive a warning and a restriction
Users will then have the choice of whether or not to continue receiving the Recurring Notifications. Based on the Recurring Notification frequency the user had opted into, this is when a re opt-in request is sent:
- Daily – 6 months
- Weekly – 9 months
- Monthly – 12 months
No, these are an addition to One Time Notifications and allow you to send messages on a repeat basis. Whereas OTN only allow you to send one follow up message.
Recurring notifications can be a powerful way to increase engagement with your chatbot and keep customers coming back. They’re an easy way to add value for your customers and keep your brand top of mind.
Ready to start using recurring notifications in your chat marketing? Download our free template and get started today!