Bot Platform Review with Chatbot Expert Arvell Craig

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Reading Time: 13 minutes

Guest: Arvell Craig As an early adopter of chatbots technology, Arvell helps companies create chatbot funnels that take leads on interactive journeys to become qualified opportunities.
He recently launched the “COFOCUS Accountability Chatbot” inside Facebook Messenger which automates accountability conversations for professional coaches.
With – we are helping marketing agencies standout with their clients by providing innovation, uncommon creativity and positive ROI on ad spend.

Overview:On this episode of Digital Conversations, our host Billy Bateman and guest Arvell Craig review the advantages and disadvantages of the four major bot platforms in the industry.


Billy  All right. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the show. On this episode of Digital Conversations, my guest is Arvell Craig. He’s a marketing coach and chat bot expert. Arvell, welcome to the show.

Arvell  Thank you, Billy. I am glad to be here.

Billy  Yeah, really glad to have you on the show. We connected a few weeks ago and realized that between the two of us, we had a lot of good knowledge about the different bot platforms and today we’re just going to have a conversation and like what we like about a couple different platforms that people are using for bots and for a live chat. But before we get into that. Just tell us a little bit about yourself.

Arvell  Yeah, sure. Thank you. Yeah. So, yes, I’m a digital marketing coach and, you know, chatbot guy, I’ve been in digital marketing for a long while. You could say maybe,  years I’ve been involved. I tell people playing on the Internet and hanging out in coffee shops is what I used to back in the days. But now it’s been a wild ride of kind of watching the Internet blossom, working with a lot of small businesses from Detroit originally, but working out of different places, small businesses.

And then as Internet chains got into SEO and web site design, they kept changing and then eventually got into email marketing and I was really good at email. I loved the email for conversions for low cost and yeah, they make three years ago I heard about chatbots at inbound. And I started to play around with them. And then, yeah, I just you know, when you’ve been in the industry for so long, you can either get stuck doing one thing. You can be cynical by saying by watching all the shiny objects come and go.

But I was just like, you know, I’ve seen the social media get hype and I just watched it. There was never a full focus on mine. And I was like, man, I’ve been in this game for a while. I’ve never really focused on a niche and really created a brand around it. So, three years ago, I said, let me go and just focus and just see where this conversation of marketing and chatbot thing goes. Because I realized that it wasn’t a temporary short term trend, but I began to notice that all types of digital communication will change and will involve some types of intelligence, N.O.P, A.I.. Eventually it’s all gonna be connected. So yeah, that’s kind of my general story.

4 Most Popular Chatbot Platforms

Billy Awesome man. Email marketing. It’s not going away though. So that’s for sure. But the combination of email and bots is a device for our customers, we’ve seen to be very effective. That’s a good, good skill set. So let’s set this up a little bit. We’re going to go through four different platforms here for what I think are the most popular ones right now. So, we’re going to talk about Drift, Intercom, ManyChat and Chatfuel. And what we like about each one, and where they’re lacking. And you know, what we recommend for different use cases. So, let’s get started with the one that just seems to be on fire and growing like gangbusters right now, which is Drift. So, I know you use Drift quite a bit Arvell. So, I’ll let you lead off. What do you like best about Drift for your customers?

Arvell  Yes. So, when I’m trying to help somebody figure out a chatbot platform, the big first question is like, where is your audience? Where is your traffic? Where are you investing? So first thing is like, are you investing in social media? Is that were you doing stuff, you need bots there or is it on your Web site? And so for Drift, it’s definitely the one if you’re investing on your Web site.

If you’re often it’s B2B, it’s just super for that. So, the big value for Drift, again, it’s core audience is going to be B2B marketing. If you got SDR’s and TDR’s in salespeople book meetings, Drift is great for booking meetings. It’s great for integrating with Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot. All those things you know, it’s me. That its sweet spot. And then lastly, if you’re doing account-based marketing again in a B2B world and you’ve got a long or complex sales cycle, you’ve invested in your Web site, you invested in like inbounding content, you invest into a good marketing automation and CRM. Yeah. Drift is there again. I say for that purpose, for that context, Drift is number one and there is no number two. That’s just my opinion.

Billy  I tend to agree with you when it comes to B2B on your web site for a sales and marketing use case. It integrates with all your other tools that you’re using. It’s easy to use. It’s easy to train sales guys to use it. It’s great now. The one weakness that I would say is all of our customers are B2B and they usually have SaaS product. And we’ve had people that, you know, want to embed drift in to their product as well for support.

And I would just steer people away from that. Like if you just have a live chat, it can work really well. But if you want to do any type of automated messaging or a knowledge center that integrates with the bot it’s not great there. But for sales and marketing, unless you’re really like prohibited by cost and you want to look for just a more basic solution like Drift, Drift is the way to go. And then booking meetings.

It’s money. Think of anything else. Any other bot we’ve tried on a Web site works as well. It’s Drift for booking meetings. So, the next one is Intercom. It’s been around for a long time, actually, mainly in the support space. I think it’s really where they thrive. If you have a product where you want to embed chat into that product, Intercom’s, really good. If you want to do targeted messaging to help people get on-boarded into your product, Intercom is great.

They have an awesome A/B testing solution for just like if you’re just sending a static message to somebody in product, we do it for a lot of our customers where we help them increase adoption of their product without increasing the headcount for their support team. So based on user behaviour, Intercom is really good at being able to you can bet it into the product, you can track that behaviour and then send them a message like “Hey, you haven’t used this feature yet, here’s how you use it.” It’s really good at that.

And then the testing feature that goes along with that so that when you’re trying new messaging out, you’re able to speed up your rate of learning and what’s actually working for your customers and then even has some tracking on what they they do afterwards with those behaviour in the product based on those messages. So they’re great in product and customer support is my opinion.

They’re trying to move into the same space as Drift, where they want to be not only you’re in-product support and chat solution, but also on your Web site for sales and marketing. But it’s not good for both. Like it’s just straight up. It’s okay. But if you, unless you’re prohibited by cost, I don’t want to buy another chat solution and my boss won’t let me. If you’re B2B business and you want some on your website, I would say buy Drift. Don’t try to fit Intercom into that role because it doesn’t work that well yet.

Arvell  Can I actually ask you a couple of things about Intercom real quick.  You’ve got a quite a bit of experience in it. You know, because I’ve seen it for years. I know from the outside, but I’ve never log into it. One a few would have ever even seen the inside. I’m just curious. The first thing was you mentioned is it more for, would you say it’s even better for getting that SaaS back-in support versus a public facing customer support usage? Thats’s my first question.

Billy  I think it’s best on the back end. Now you can do public facing support and it’s ok with just like if all you want is a live chat on your web site. It’s pretty good actually, but their bot functionality is not it’s not great and the targeting is not good, you know. But on the back end, it’s great. Like once somebody is in product, like, you know, if I’m in, if you put it into a product X sales force and you know, you want it in there to help people with the live chat or a knowledge base or behaviour based messaging to drive adoption and retention. Intercom’s great. Like I’ve haven’t seen. I mean, used a lot of solutions for that. But we’ve used Intercom and pretty happy with it.

Arvell  Ok, cool. Thanks for sharing. I had no idea. And one other quick question. Does it take a bit? Does it go when you’re talking about behaviour testing and works in the product? And I’ve never built a SaaS product and so just curious, does it take a developer to be able to use it?

Billy  That’s the one drawback is the developers have to go and tag the product with tags from Intercom essentially and you map it up. So you do need a developer to go in and do that. But if you want to deploy, this is one plus though, on their bots on the front end for sales and marketing. If you want to deploy some activation off of a button, it’s really easy to do that. You don’t even have to get your web guy involved at all.  It opens up a window and I frame more than you mark which button on the Web site you want to activate, which bot.

Arvell  And so that’s pretty nice. So, it’s easy to get going. But like I said, the bot functionality is a little bit clunky.

Billy  It’s not as good as Drift like just straight up. Not even close.

Arvell  Thanks for sharing. Yeah, I just I was fascinated about where it thrives. You know that back in size, I’ll look into it. I got some clients with some new Web sites being built and with some is not a SaaS, but it does have its own like user management and customer kind of area. And they’re pretty support heavy. But we only use Drift some of this, I guess.

Billy  The customer support function like try it out. It’s good. So, the next one is one where I’m not as strong. But I know you know really well, which is ManyChat. So I’ll let you lead out on what you like there and what is best for?

Arvell  Yeah, definitely. So, you know again, like how I would get my bias towards Drift on a Web site. Front end and B2B. It’s very clearly great for what it does. But when it comes to Facebook Messenger, right now, in my opinion, ManyChat is definitely the number one solution to get in for sales and marketing, lead generation, and for funnels.

It’s funny. We’ll talk about now in a minute, but I used to not use ManyChat, but now it’s pretty clear. I mean, what’s cool about ManyChat the Quander core functions is the fact that it’s very visual. It was built for marketers. It’s built for not saying, non-techi. You know, I’d say it’s like the MailChimp of a Facebook messenger marketing. So, it’s built real simply to be very visual.

And with all the tagging you think about like A/B testing and tracking every click, tracking and seeing, you know, how far people go into your funnel or go into your bot. Whether it’s per click or per percentage, it’s just really built to have a marketer happy so you can see how people make decisions and where they go through your flow. That was a part that other systems were just it weren’t built visually.

And so that’s one of the main keys that that makes it wonderful. Number two, it has a lot of resources built in simple. One part is how you engage people in a conversation. But the other thing is, how do you get people to start? How do you get opinions? How do you get subscribers? How do you get people to be begun to engage?

So ManyChat was the main company that invested highly in helping a marketer get people in to the bot, such as if they comment on Facebook on a post, whether it’s, you know, they type a keyword or just any, if they just type anything with a Facebook post, how you bring them in bot that way, where the other little widget floating on your Web site, you think about all of the pop ups and all the Opt-in Monster, OptiMonk and all these different like pop ups and different things like that. ManyChat has tons of those that you can put on your Web site the same way you would do like an email opt in. You could have buttons.

You can have banner ads at just a click a button. And if they have Facebook, you know, on your site, you log in. It’s just they’re just many, many ways to get people in from ads and on these different ways, just as anything. It’s got so many built in features to make it easy to get subscribers. And then I’ll say the third thing that makes ManyChat special, especially where they’re going now, is the whole trend of omni-channel marketing, is kind of a buzzword and ManyChat.

They introduced at that their conference, conversations conference maybe a couple of months ago was the fact that now they have SMS and email into their system. So, whether so in it, what is really to me, what is really not saying gaming, what Facebook has got all these more all these rules about inaudible in your bot. After hours there’s just tons of restrictions about how do you nurture and message and follow, what will people do, because messengers almost fits.

It’s like email versus a Website bot you can only talk to people when they’re on your website. But once they leave, there’s really no relationship. But with Messenger, it’s you know, it’s on your phone. You always have a connection to that person. You know, their Facebook profile, you know their name, the last name. They’re you know, it’s connected to Facebook. So, you can always message them and ping them. And so, Facebook is on rise now. But the main thing is that this whole Army channel thing with SMS and email is the Facebook, doesn’t they have some restrictions on messaging people on your list X  hours.

Now you can hit them up on email or SMS to bring them back into messenger. And once they get back into messenger and they start typing, that -hour period is switched on again. So now you can do all kind of automation and stuff like that. So, don’t get too complicated. But that’s the third thing I like about ManyChat. Those three things that it’s visual, tons of ways to get people into the bot. And now with the omni channel of SMS and email, it’s gonna, it’s pretty cool.

Billy  So there’s ManyChat. I mean, I haven’t used Facebook Messenger that much. So, does it help you stay like inbounds with the rules Facebook has on using messenger bots?

Arvell  Yes, it does. Yep. So, the main thing is once somebody is into your system, the main restrictions. There’s no real if you create like a funnel or a campaign, just think like email marketing. You can set up your drip sequence, you know, hours, minutes, on click or days or weeks, whatever. All that’s kind of set. But the issue Facebook has is there’s a different feature where you like doing a broadcast campaign, where you just take in everybody who ever sent you a message on Facebook.

You’re just blasting out yourself, a message to everybody. That’s where the restrictions come in, though. When you attempt to do that, Manychat very clearly say, okay, these people have opted in or engaged within  hours. So those are available. If you want to message everybody and you think you have permission, like if you’re like a news site, if you like, request permission from Facebook and sell them that I communicate regularly, Manychat with check that it helps you to know whether you’re permission to send out a message. So, yeah.

Billy  Yeah. That’s good to know, man. And then they have a/b testing in Manychat. Well some of that you mentioned.

Arvell  Yep. You could call it a conditional, or A/B test is conditional. I’m not sure if it’s A/B testing or just conditional logic.

Billy  Okay. Yeah. All right. Cool. Then right behind ManyChat is Chatfuel. Let’s let’s go in there.

Arvell  Yeah. Yeah. I’ll make it quick. Chatfuel is the one I originally jumped on. It was three years ago. It was you know the main, would be in the past two years. It was the main most popular chatbot building tool. It might still be as far as globally. But what I liked about them is that they don’t have any like there weren’t, it’s not really visually designed. It’s not made for marketers.

It’s almost like it was made for developers. And so just the logic behind building it. Thing is, you can do anything with Chatfuel. It’s like first with developers building it. People you can find games, you can find augmented reality bots. I’ve seen a kiya, you can grab a messenger through Chatfuel and you can see a physical car in front of you using Chatfuel.

So Chatfuel was great for developers, is great for like I’ve seen a lot of deep and complicated program stuff that you can do in there. Somebody can opt in. You can take their profile pic dynamically. Put your name on like a coupon. Right. Think about it. Coupon. Has their names. All this kind of fancy geeky stuff is what you can do in Chatfuel. You know, you can by-products integrate stripe super easily. You can add products and sales and just tons and tons of things like that.

You can do geo targeting. You can, you know, pinpoint where a person is. You can do some math and say, OK, you’re three feet or three miles from the closest store. So all that kind of programmatic type of stuff is where I think Chatfuel is still stronger at. If that you get if you have a developer on your team and you want to go there, you want to go geeky, go nerdy, you can do all that kind of stuff in Chatfuel.

Billy  That’s interesting in so Manychats like easy to use. If I’m just a marketer or non developer, I can get it done and make it work really well. But if you’ve got that developer Chatfuel takes to another level.

Arvell  Correct? Yeah, definitely.

Billy  It’s good to know, man. Well, I think this has been really good. I hope it’s been useful to everybody listening. If you’re thinking about getting into conversational marketing and using chat bots. Arvell, if people want to find out more from you and contact you, where can they get hold of you?

Arvell  Yes. So people can find me on all the socials, Arvell Craig is my name, so @ArvellCraig on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Linkedin and you can also go to my site “” is the domain, the simple way to find my domain, to find out more about me, what we’re doing? But yes, so those are the main ways. Go to the site, find me on social. I do travel a bit. I need to update my calendar. I’ll probably be doing, probably  different events next year. Minimal like travelling wise and speaking. So if somebody wants to connect with me in person. Definitely. Just, you know, go to my website as we get the calendar updated. You can find me, and we can be in person as well.

Billy  Ok, man. Well, thanks again for coming on. And until later, let’s stay in touch man.

Arvell  Yeah. Billy, I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Billy  We’ll chat later. All right.