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Conversational Marketing: Past, Present, and Future



Conversational Marketing is not a new term.

In 2020 (just four years ago), we explained conversational marketing as “the fastest way to move buyers through your marketing and sales funnels through the power of real-time conversations.”

The History of Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing’s roots can be traced back to the early 2010s, when chatbots started gaining popularity, primarily using menu-based interfaces in both voice and chat. These systems required substantial maintenance and support from marketing teams to automate processes, build personalized paths, and implement proper handover approaches to real users.

Different vendors offered varied solutions with distinct features and integrations, including platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp, and website widgets. Despite these advancements, the early applications of conversational marketing faced significant challenges, particularly with the limitations of early chatbot technology and the heavy reliance on specific platforms.

Source: Google Search

Messenger Marketing

A few years ago, we saw a significant increase in conversational marketing applications, primarily using Facebook Messenger, and we saw a rise in applications that leveraged this, like ManyChat. A ton of companies adopted the new features. The goal was to create dialogues, build CTAs, define result intents, and allow users to engage with businesses through Messenger. This method required considerable effort to develop and maintain, often making the investment slow, risky, and ultimately not feasible.

Initially, Messenger marketing was primarily used to drive sales, increase engagement, and provide support. Businesses would create Messenger followers instead of traditional email lists or social media followers to find new ways to engage potential customers. For instance, we developed Roxie, our chief communication officer bot, which was supported by many ready-made dialogues to cover various user ambiguities. Roxie was instrumental in driving engagement and providing a seamless user experience.

And then Facebook killed it … Why? How? … keep reading

How did Facebook kill messenger marketing?

Back then (around 2020s), Meta (formerly Facebook) made specific changes to its Messenger platform’s policies that significantly impacted how businesses could use it for marketing purposes. The key decision was to restrict the types of messages businesses could send to users, focusing on improving user experience and aligning with stricter privacy regulations. Here are the main points of Meta’s decision:

Strict 24-Hour Messaging Window: Businesses were allowed to send messages to users who had interacted with them, but only within a 24-hour window. After this period, businesses could only send messages if they were responding to a user-initiated conversation.

Message Tags Restrictions: Meta limited the use of message tags, not allowing businesses to send updates outside the 24-hour window. These tags could only be used for specific purposes, such as event updates, post-purchase updates, account updates, and human-agent interactions, thereby reducing the possibility of spam.

Subscription Messaging for News: Meta restricted subscription messaging to approved news publishers. This meant only recognized news organizations could send regular updates to users who opted in, effectively curbing the use of Messenger for general marketing campaigns.

Introduction of One-Time Notification (OTN): Businesses could request permission from users to send a single follow-up message after the 24-hour window. This required explicit user consent, ensuring that users had control over receiving additional messages.

Why did Facebook kill messenger marketing?

As per Facebook, here were the main reasons:

1. Marketers were abusing the messaging platform by sending unsolicited and unwanted messages, which resulted in a negative user experience.

2. Users were not trusting the messaging platform, as they were being bombarded with messages that were not relevant or useful to them.

3. The engagement rates on the messaging platform were low, as users were not interacting with the content being sent to them.

4. Facebook only provided limited options for businesses to interact with customers, such as sending links to their websites or social media pages. This limited the effectiveness of conversational marketing on the platform.

Yes, indeed, Marketers abused it. Unfortunately, they always do, but I believe the most important of all the reasons above is the unspoken one. Meta didn’t find a way to secure users and monetize that channel properly. Period. When something is used by marketers but it’s not making money for Meta, it doesn’t need to exist. Simple, right?

Manychat and other applications dealing with that channel died in one day.

It wasn’t the first time that happened. Let me remind you of another similar case. Keep reading…

Facebook Pages

The first one, again by Facebook, was when they killed Facebook followers on Facebook Pages by making two simple algorithm changes. They underwent several updates that prioritized content from friends and family over content from brands and pages. This change reduced the organic reach of business pages, making it harder for them to gain followers without investing in paid advertising.

In addition to the above, Facebook Decreased Organic Reach as part of its effort to improve user experience and reduce spam. Facebook drastically reduced the organic reach of posts from business pages. This meant that even those following a page would see less content in their newsfeed unless it received significant engagement.

Yes, another user acquisition strategy and millions of advertising spend went wild.

Email lists and GDPR/CCPA

I will not elaborate in this article, but another significant opportunity for building our audience around company products was collecting emails and running genuine campaigns. However, introducing GDPR/CCPA legislation required that email recipients give specific consent to remain in our database. Since email campaigns typically have a 5-10% click-through rate, companies saw their email lists shrink by 90% almost overnight. Astonishing.


Around the same time, chatbots began to gain popularity, primarily utilizing menu-based interfaces for both voice and chat. These systems required significant maintenance and support from marketing teams to automate processes, create personalized user paths, and implement effective handover approaches to real agents.

The number of flows supporting our Roxie to properly “communicate.”

Various vendors introduced diverse solutions with unique features and automation capabilities. Crucially, these chatbots offered integrations with multiple platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and the widely used website widgets.

The rise of the voice

Voice technology was introduced as a new frontier, but due to its contextual limitations, it never fully reached a broad public audience. These systems were designed to perform specific tasks within certain domains, such as banking (e.g., blocking a card or checking an overdraft balance), delivery services (e.g., tracking the status of a delivery), or mobile operators (e.g., topping up a mobile number).

Despite these limitations, the introduction of Voice User Interfaces (VUI) marked a significant development in conversational technology, addressing how people naturally communicate.


Interacting with a VUI fundamentally differs from using a Graphical User Interface (GUI). While a GUI provides visual elements like text, buttons, images, and links for user interaction, voice-based interactions require modeling the experience to match natural conversational patterns. Designing for VUI involves creating conversational and engaging prompts, mirroring how people talk and expect to interact verbally.

Democratizing Conversational Marketing with AI

A few years ago, communication logic (the “brain”) was heavily dependent on the front channel, primarily through chatbots, messengers, and various applications serving users. This approach often proved infeasible, slow, and risky. When platforms like Messenger implemented policy changes that affected chatbots, entire dialogue systems collapsed, requiring significant redevelopment efforts. Additionally, transitioning from one chatbot to another meant completely rebuilding conversational paths and flows, further increasing the complexity and cost of maintenance.

The Future of Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing should not be viewed as a standalone stage in the customer journey but as a supportive element throughout all stages. Users typically engage with chat to learn, compare, and derive value, making decisions about whether to buy and, ultimately, whether to buy from us.

Our mistake as marketers is trying to control users’ entry points. Users will always choose their preferred channel based on timing and convenience. We must adapt to their choices to truly connect. ━ Theo Moulos ━ CEO GrowthRocks

To facilitate this, AI alone is insufficient; we must train our AI models with comprehensive knowledge and enhance the user experience with related videos, articles, podcasts, and playbooks. Additionally, providing effective call-to-actions (CTAs) is crucial for facilitating user interaction. The key is to blend a well-trained AI model with an enriched graphical user interface (GUI) and intuitive CTAs to create a seamless and valuable user experience. But the most important of all: You need to come up with valuable content, content you own. That’s a great starting point for you!

Working with AI Conversational Models across funnel stages

Abusive Marketers

Despite the implementation of numerous regulations and protective measures, it remains an unfortunate reality that nothing can fully shield users from the tactics employed by abusive marketers. These marketers often employ misleading, aggressive, and invasive strategies that violate user trust and degrade the overall experience of digital communication. As technology evolves, so do the exploitation methods, making it a constant challenge to avoid such unethical practices. Therefore, it is crucial for both regulatory bodies and ethical marketers to remain vigilant, continuously developing new safeguards and raising awareness to protect users from these detrimental tactics.

The Role of Marketers in Educating Potential Users

In this complex landscape, marketers must recognize the importance of shifting their focus from aggressive, sales-driven tactics to education and value-sharing strategies. By prioritizing the dissemination of valuable information and insights, marketers can help potential users make informed decisions. This approach fosters a sense of trust and respect and positions the marketer as a reliable source of knowledge and support. In doing so, marketers can build long-term relationships based on mutual respect and understanding, ultimately leading to a more engaged and loyal customer base.

Sharing Value as a Marketing Strategy

Sharing value should be at the heart of every marketing strategy. When marketers provide genuinely helpful and valuable, relevant, and insightful content, they create a positive impact that resonates with their audience. This could include educational articles, how-to guides, case studies, or industry insights that address the needs and concerns of potential users. By focusing on value-driven content, marketers attract and retain their audience and differentiate themselves in a crowded market. This strategy cultivates a culture of appreciation and trust, where users feel respected and valued, leading to a stronger, more authentic brand connection.

Building Trust through Authentic Engagement

Authenticity in engagement is paramount for building lasting relationships with users. Marketers should aim to engage with their audience in a genuine, transparent, and empathetic way. This means listening to user feedback, responding thoughtfully, and providing honest information that helps users solve their problems. Authentic engagement fosters a sense of community and trust, encouraging users to view the marketer not just as a seller of products but as a partner invested in their success and well-being. This trust is the foundation of sustainable growth and customer loyalty in today’s digital age.

The Future of Ethical Marketing

The future of marketing lies in a commitment to ethical practices that prioritize the well-being and education of users. As consumers become more savvy and discerning, they are increasingly drawn to brands that demonstrate integrity and a genuine desire to contribute positively to their lives. Marketers who embrace this future will focus on creating meaningful, value-laden interactions that respect the user’s intelligence and autonomy. By doing so, they will protect their audience from abusive tactics and elevate the entire marketing industry, setting new standards for engaging in ethical and effective marketing.

The AI Value Formula

The formula for successful conversational marketing in the future is:

User Value = AI (Knowledge Capturing + Smart Conversational Skills) + Enriched User Interface + Smart, Relative, and Intuitive Call-to-Actions

Unlike the past, when reliance on single applications led to significant risks, the current approach ensures businesses own and monetize their IP, avoid past mistakes, and respect user interactions to deliver valuable and engaging experiences.

My 2 Cents

Past issues of conversational marketing will not be repeated because we now own and control our intellectual property and chat platforms rather than relying on a single application. This ownership allows us to monetize our assets and maintain flexibility. We must use this power responsibly and avoid abusive practices, such as delivering content with AI-generated typos that undermine the quality and respect we owe our audience. We can ensure sustainable success and foster user trust by prioritizing respect and value in our interactions.

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