Written by Michael Keenan

November 20, 2020

You probably already know that Chat Marketing helps you build relationships with your customers, gives you a proven way to nurture leads, and enables you to convert them into long-lasting customers. 

But are you aware that regardless of your business type, a contact list is the most important element of a successful marketing strategy? No? Well, listen up: With that list, you can share your brand story, promote your business, and showcase products, all while turning contacts into paying customers. When paired with Chat Marketing, it’s your golden ticket to financial victory.

Let’s look at how you can expand your list. Online businesses looking to attract potential customers can use opt-in Growth Tools on their website to acquire sign-ups for their contact list; service-based businesses may offer lead magnets to generate qualified leads. 

ManyChat’s Messenger Ref URL is one such Growth Tool you can use to grow your contact list in just a few simple steps. 

In this quick-start guide, you’ll learn how to swiftly build a contact list from scratch by using one of ManyChat’s most effective tools: the Messenger Ref URL.

First, what the heck is a Messenger Ref URL?

The Messenger Ref URL is a Growth Tool that caters to any bot builder or marketer yearning to build an audience. It’s a simple URL you can add anywhere—your social bios, marketing emails, a presentation, or even a guest post on a major publication—that will direct people into your ManyChat bot to become a contact.

You can drop the link into any digital channel you want to drive traffic from. A Messenger Ref URL is easy to add anywhere and proven to work—our research shows that it’s consistently the most popular Growth Tool for ManyChat users. 

Kelly Noble Mirabella using Messenger Ref URL

In the example above, ManyChat Educator Partner Kelly Noble Mirabella uses a Messenger Ref URL to connect with YouTube viewers in Messenger. She uses Rebrandly to create a branded version of the link.  

The message shown to a user after they click on your link can be the classic Get Started call to action, or you can use one of ManyChat’s Conversation Starters

You can create a different sequence with tailored messaging for each channel you add your Ref URL to. For example, when a subscriber clicks into your bot from an email, you might start with a simple “Hey {First Name}! Thanks for subscribing to Messenger for future updates. I’m even happier to see you here than I was when you joined my email list!” 

Build a Messenger Ref URL in five steps

Here’s our quick ‘n’ dirty guide to creating your Messenger Rel URL:

1. Create a new flow in Flow Builder

Building a Messenger Ref URL step 1

2. Click Add Trigger, then select Messenger Ref URL under Facebook Triggers. 

Adding Messenger Ref URL to Starting Step

3. Create your Flow 

Tip: Make sure your first message is related to where the contact came from. Think of it as an introduction to the Flow. For example, if a new contact enters from your YouTube channel, you could make the text relevant by saying, “Thanks for checking out my YouTube videos! Ready to take your style quiz?”  

First message for Ref URL flow

4. Copy the URL and, if necessary, add any custom parameters or save Messenger contacts to a Custom Field

Messenger Ref URL copy n paste

5. Paste it any place where you want to send people into Messenger.

Messenger Ref URL in Instagram

Where to put your Messenger Ref URL

Ref URL is one of the most powerful growth tools on the market. You can put it anywhere you’d add a regular link, and in just two clicks, a person can subscribe to your bot. 

1. Email

One of the most effective ways to get your first Messenger subscribers is by courting your email list. People on your contact list already know and trust you, so they are more likely to join you on Messenger. However, make sure you communicate why someone should subscribe to your Messenger bot. If people are going to allow you to bombard them with updates, they’ll want something in return. Send them a new guide, promotion, or something else of value that encourages them to click.

Once you’ve worked out what to give away, include your Ref URL in your call to action, email signature, social links, and even calendar invites. The sky’s the limit!

2. YouTube

When you create a YouTube video, include your Messenger Ref URL. You can introduce it at the beginning and mention it again at the end of your video. You can also do this by pinning your Messenger Ref URL in a comment on each video. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even include it in your About page (even though no one really goes there—you have nothing to lose).

Caveat: People will only click through in large numbers if you’re giving away something of value for free, so be sure you have a “hook” to incentivize them. 

3. Facebook Live 

One standout insight surfaced at Conversations 2019 was that Facebook Live is booming. If you are going Live, you should call out your Ref URL just like you would in a YouTube video. In addition, you can post it in your FB Live post to enable people to subscribe beforehand. 

ManyChat expert Molly Mahoney of The Prepared Performer, a digital growth agency, weighs in with a pro tip on using Ref URLs on Live: 

Let’s say you are offering a free gift connected to the Comment Growth Tool, but you also want to give people a chance to book a call with you. You can have them drop the word CALL and then go back and reply with a Message Ref URL, or simply add the Message Ref URL to the description of your video. 

If you want to get really ninja, add the URL to a button on your video after you are no longer Live. Keep in mind once you add this button you will not be able to change it, so make sure that the CTA is evergreen.

4. Ads

This can be one of the most powerful ways to use your Ref URL. Whether you run ads through Google, Facebook, YouTube, Messenger, or other platforms, make sure you include your link. This way, whenever someone clicks on your lead magnet from the ad, they’ll end up in your bot flow. 

To learn more about advertising on Facebook with ManyChat, read Boost Your Business with New Facebook Ads Integration.

5. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with upwards of 650 million users in over 200 countries. You probably even have a profile yourself. If you do, you can nudge your connections into your ManyChat bot in just a few steps. 

John Bellamy, a LinkedIn lead generation expert, uses a simple lead magnet campaign to turn LinkedIn Connects into subscribers. Here’s the message he uses: 

LinkedIn Lead Generation Examples from John Bellamy.

Notice how his call to action is a Messenger Ref URL. When one of John’s connections clicks it, they’ll enter a bot flow and automatically become a subscriber.

6. SMS

If you already have an SMS subscriber list with a third-party service, you can bring them over to Messenger as well. Messenger lets you send longer (and more) messages than SMS does and helps you stay top of mind.

Turning SMS subscribers into Messenger contacts is as simple as including your link in a text. As we’ve mentioned before, don’t forget to provide an immediate incentive for them to click over. Flash sales, special discounts, free webinars, and free quotes are one of many ways to create urgency and encourage clicks.

Making the most of your Messenger Ref URL

Messenger Ref URL will be one of your best friends throughout your ManyChat journey. It’s easy to use, incredibly effective, and can be mastered in a short period of time. I mean, if you’ve gotten this far (you finished our blog post!), you should be ready to start using this growth tool right away. 

So what are you waiting for? Get over to your dashboard, create your Ref URL, and start dropping that link everywhere to kick off and grow your subscriber list. 

Grow your contacts list and make more sales, faster, with ManyChat Pro. Upgrade now.