One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people who are new to chatbots is about chatbot builders.

So I went ahead and wrote an article on the 15 best Messenger bot builders.

But another popular question I seem to get is:

 

“Balint, should I choose ManyChat or Chatfuel? And which platform do you understand better?”

 

The first question we’re going to cover in lots of juicy detail. And I’m going to give a boring answer to the second: I think I understand them both equally (and not to be cocky — but I know both of these platforms better than pretty much anyone).

Maybe a more enlightening question would be which do I use more?

RescueTime shows a daily head-to-head competition between MC and CF

 

As you can see my daily hourly usage is virtually the same for both platforms, so still pretty inconclusive.

Having already written a detailed article on both of them, this time I wanted to compare these rival bot builders directly with each other.

Just a heads up, but I won’t be naming an absolute winner because choosing the right platform comes down to your unique business needs, personal preference, and budget.

What I will be doing is listing key points that’ll help your final decision, and add the unique strengths (and weaknesses) of both bot builders. Also, I’ll do my best to make the review educational and provide lots of practical examples.

After reading this review you’ll have learned much more about chatbots – and all the exciting possibilities that come with them.


 

Why I recommend these platforms the most

 

If you’re a newbie who wants to get into chatbot marketing, I’m always going to suggest you check out these two platforms first. Why is this?

Well, why don’t we start with the first great thing about each of these platforms:

 

They both offer a free version.

 

This is ideal, and one of the reasons why they grew so fast. It’s nice you can quickly and cheaply test both of them out.

I tend to recommend these two platforms because they provide the most functionality for the average user who doesn’t know how to code. I’ve been working with both for over a year now and love how they grow and update their software regularly.  Talking about growth…

As you can see they are dominating the market. I added Flowxo (another powerful platform) in as well to demonstrate the difference.

You can see the fast growth in traffic for both platforms also by taking a look at on their monthly visits. I wish these images would include the last 2 years…

 

 

ManyChat has a higher number of monthly visitors. I assume also a higher percentage of login visits.

Chatfuel’s estimated visits stay consistent for the last 6 months according to SimilarWeb.

Talking with the CEO’s and the Support Team has been a positive experience as well, and I can tell both platforms are in this for the long run – they certainly put the customer at the forefront of their business. I know this because some of my suggestions have been added to the functionalities that are available today.

Overall, I can recommend both if you’re looking for trusted software for building your Messenger list. Messenger Marketing is greatly about long-term list building, so you want to pick a partner you can rely on and evolve with for years to come.

manychat vs chatfuel

ManyChat vs Chatfuel Feature Comparision – Fastest answer on which to choose

Now let’s move onto the specifics . . .

Getting Started, Interface, and Building Elements

 

It’s very easy to get started with either software. You just have to log in with your FB profile, provide the necessary permissions for the app, and connect your FB page with a bot.

ManyChat requires you to connect a page before starting, but it’s not necessary with Chatfuel. An interactive onboarding will help you the first time (but I’ve never done this myself to be honest).

 

Messaging elements

If you want to use basic text messages (which you can delay to make more human-like, which gives the user more time to digest the texts), cards, lists, videos etc. – you won’t have any issues.

It’s super easy to add these elements. ManyChat requires you to upload the files, while Chatfuel gives you a place where you can link the files (mostly Dropbox – has to be the concrete file link).

 

Blocks, Steps, Flows, Groups

There is a bit of a difference here in terms of how conversations are built logically, but both are easy to use and understand.  

In Chatfuel the Groups/Sequences are built up by blocks that can contain many messaging elements

Steps (MC) and Blocks (CF) can contain multiple messaging elements (texts, cards, lists, and multimedia). You can create a conversation by connecting these (using button clicks for example). Chatfuel organizes blocks in groups while ManyChat gathers steps in flows. The great thing is that you can reuse them anytime, so you can trigger the same conversations from multiple points.

This is a whole flow of ManyChat with different steps containing messaging elements

This is a whole flow from ManyChat with different steps containing messaging elements

 

I started out with Chatfuel, so for me it seems pretty easy . . . but people often tell me they find the interface of ManyChat slightly better.

 

Cool Features of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Easy drag and drop for multimedia
  • Better overview with the Flow Builder
  • Easier to use interface
  • Images with Buttons

Chatfuel:

  • No need to add a page to start
  • More gradual delay function
  • Easier to connect to specific points of interaction

 

 

Broadcasts and RSS

 

One of the most important things in Messenger Marketing is nurturing your list. You can do this by regular broadcasts (which are called newsletters in the email world). Both programs let you build different segments/buckets that you can reach with highly personalized messages. As you collect more information, the more your targeting will improve.

 

ManyChat makes it a bit easier to stay within the rules of Facebook, but both programs track 24 hours from the last interaction. 

Because Messenger is used differently to email – you might want to avoid messaging people in the middle of the night. This is where Facebook does an excellent job at providing us with time zones.

You can schedule your messages in the user’s time zone, and ManyChat also allows you to set a timeframe and adjust the notification (silent, or just one ring etc.).

Message types

ManyChat trying to educate more on the restriction of promotional messages

On the other hand, Chatfuel lets you send out messages at regular intervals. This can be useful when you utilize dynamic content from somewhere else. If you always send out messages at the exact same time with great consistency – it’s easy to change the content and leave all the other settings as they were.  

 

Automated Messages via RSS

I’m not a big fan of sending out generic content, but it definitely has its use cases. For example, I receive a message every time the Messenger blog is updated. 

Chatfuel has provided a way better solution that gives you more options to choose from.

Individual Messages based on (3rd party) action

Think about sending out a message when someone has a birthday or a reminder that an appointment starts in 2 hours. You can do this via Zapier with both software; Chatfuel also has an open API to integrate any solution you’d like to.

 

Pros of Each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Set notification
  • Easier to play by the promotional rules

Chatfuel:

  • Regular Broadcasts
  • Better RSS
  • Individual 3rd party Broadcasts

 

Triggered Messages & Sequences

 

I figured out that I had many ‘sequences’ with only one function. I was surprised to see how powerful these 1-time messages were. For example, when I don’t want to overwhelm a user with tons of options, I might send the message an hour later.

Another powerful example is sending out helpers/reminders if the user is stuck somewhere, or if you manually want to take someone to a specific point of the interaction.

Now I distinguish triggered messages because they aren’t real sequences to be honest:

In Chatfuel, you have a different way to set these 1-time triggered messages up, but they offer less functionality compared to real sequences.

Easy to set up 1 time reminders, invitations in Chatfuel

Easy to set up 1-time reminders, invitations in Chatfuel

If you want the users to receive a sequence of messages, you have to get them to subscribe at some point of the interaction. This can be the bot’s very first message as well.

Both ManyChat and Chatfuel give you rich functionality, so you can even send out ‘blank messages’ that only do some attributes/custom field updates in the background.

For ManyChat you can turn these sequences on or off for individual users. But in Chatfuel you’d need the Pro plan to be able to do that.

 

Cool Features of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Can activate sequences on free plan

Chatfuel:

  • Easy 1-time-triggered messages

Getting Subscribers via Growth Tools

 

Growth tools give you a chance to collect leads and are probably the reason for many marketers to learn more about chatbots. By using them you can be far more particular – relying on what you offer – rather than the default welcome message. The more individual they are the better.

You can likewise fragment these individuals as of now with a principal message. That way, your messages a short time later will be more applicable, enhancing trust and transformations.

The best thing is that you can track how they really perform, which enables you to improve over time. Think email popups, buttons, or just different links that you can post in different places to track their effectiveness.

ManyChat has historically been stronger in that department, and it still offers an easier setup to this day:

They offer local keywords for the comment-method, and have now caught up with the Chatfuel customizable checkbox plugin as well. It offers Messenger codes (QR codes of Messenger) and also tracks every opt-in automatically, providing you details concerning its effectiveness. In my ManyChat review post I also demonstrate how to setup one.

Chatfuel automatically creates a greeting page for your bot when you associate it with a FB Page. It also offers a way to connect with FB ads, without having to copy any code snippets.

 

Cool Features of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Local keywords for comments
  • Messenger Codes
  • Automatic Opt-in Tracking

Chatfuel:

  • Facebook Ads are customizable within Facebook
  • Automatic Landing page with a button to the bot

 

Using Variables, Tags, Custom Fields

 

This is where the magic happens in the background. These enable the bots to know your name, time zone, and conversational history.

Messenger bot collecting and saving information

There are 2 main categories here:

  • Information you receive automatically from the software (FB and the bot builders)
  • Information you save on your own as the user interacts with your bot

Chatfuel is giving you more options in both categories but ManyChat is not that far behind and about to catch up with arithmetic functions soon.

In terms of the received data, there is nothing you’ve got to do. FB provides names, time zone, gender, and language information amongst others. You have more maneuverability in Chatfuel when it comes to displaying these values and working with time zones.

If you want to make your bot more useful, however, you have to proactively save information into tags, variables, or custom fields.

 

Tags or yes-attributes

The tags (ManyChat) and ‘yes-attributes’ (just made that name up for Chatfuel) are used for simple things or values that you don’t want updated. They’re either true or false. For example, if you want to know specific information about a user such as “did they finish onboarding?” – ‘Yes’ would mean there is a tag. ‘No’ would mean there’s no information about that.

Even though it’s simple, it’s very powerful. Every time you save such information, you create at least 2 new segments or buckets.

In ManyChat, you can also tag people who clicked on buttons. In some cases, even if you don’t set up things correctly – you can still fix it manually afterward.

Manual tags in ManyChat

In Chatfuel you can just set up a variable and add the value ‘yes’ to it.  Eg. Onboarding finished – yes.

 

Attributes/Custom fields

 

Attributes (Chatfuel) or Custom fields (ManyChat) let you store information that is easily updateable.

 

What’s the difference to tagging?

Let’s see a practical example of a bot collecting information about housing needs. If you use the tagging: ‘interest-studio’ (or set up the attribute as ‘yes’ in CF), you will still know this even if they tell you later on that they’re interested in 1 bedroom flats as well.

However, if the interest attribute/custom field contains the interest itself, you can’t store both values on it at the same time and you’ll only see the most updated information. This is desirable in many situations.   

How I manage the different attributes in Chatfuel for different purposes

How I manage the different attributes in Chatfuel for different purposes

You start by creating a ‘category’ (eg. email address, diet preference, age etc.) that you’re interested in. Then you or the user (via free input) attach a value to it. This is so later in the conversation you can utilize this information with the conditions or broadcast targeting. 

You can also choose the type of data you’d like to save. Text, number, and date are the most common ones. Chatfuel also gives you great usability with the ‘share location’ plugin.

For example, you can message everyone who has the status ‘finished’ for onboarding. Or not ask for the email address again if {{email}} has any value. Also, you can restrict information about alcohol for users under the age of 18 or 21. This provides countless examples and many use cases arise that way.

The arithmetic functions provide you ways to combine different variables. In many cases, you may like to combine these variables or do calculations with them. For example, the number of sales multiplied by the price shows you the revenue for that certain product. Fitness professionals may want to count BMI or calorie needs.

With Chatfuel, you can update and add new variables via the JSON plugin, while ManyChat offers this with the limitations of Zapier.

 

Pros of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Simple tagging
  • Manual options on free plan (even after…)
  • Updateable attributes via Zapier

Chatfuel:

  • More variables to work with
  • Arithmetic functions
  • Advanced Location information
  • Updateable attributes via webhooks

Cloning, Copying and Duplicating

 

Both improved in this regard, with updates enabling you to duplicate certain elements of the conversations inside your bot or to other bots you manage. This helps with building the bots tremendously, as we can utilize templates and flows – no need to start from scratch.

In short, both programs allow you to duplicate complete bots to another page. Although in ManyChat you need a Pro account in order to receive a complete PRO bot, and it also needs to be connected to a FB page already.

In terms of multiplying parts of the bot; you can easily duplicate ‘blocks’ and ‘steps’ within the bot. Both platforms let you clone their biggest building units ‘groups’ and ‘flows’, respectively.

In the visual builder of MC you can even copy the smallest building elements like single messages or ‘actions’.

Chatfuel also allows you to copy entire sequences, while ManyChat makes sharing outside of your managed bots easier. Sharing a flow just to display a work is also possible with MC.

 

Cool Features of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • You can the smallest elements
  • Showcase flows by sharing URL
  • Share flows without invitation or admin rights

Chatfuel:

  • Clone sequences
  • Can copy all functions regardless of account type, also without FB page connection
  • Some basic templates ( one of these is by us )

Integrations, Zapier, and Payment

 

Integrations give chatbots a completely new array of tools to make our lives more awesome. They help us bring information into the chatbot, as well as pass data on. This enables synchronizing databases, enables the user to ask certain information, or get updates from certain events that happen.

When you’re able to match users with your CRM, you’ll be able to identify certain Messenger marketing efforts that ended up in a booked appointment – and eventually a sale. Users can find out the delivery status of their recent purchase, without having to know websites or tracking numbers. You’re also able to send an automatic birthday wish to the specific user etc.

ManyChat has not yet opened their platform (beta is rolling out these days) but with Zapier you can connect your bot with 1000+ other services. Chatfuel provides Zapier support as well, besides the open system that enables you to develop custom solutions connecting almost everything that you can imagine.

Facebook allows Payments inside of Messenger (not for digital products), but it’s still not widely available. Chatfuel helps you integrate Stripe so it’s easy to set up payments (ManyChat is due to add this feature as well).

 

Cool Features of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Better Zapier integration

Chatfuel:

  • Limitless integration via JSON API
  • Stripe integration

 

Support

 

Both companies have basic documentation about the use of their platform. Chatfuel used to have a forum, which helps when searching for information – but it’s getting outdated very quickly. Many of the bug reports and questions are answered in their respective FB communities.

ManyChat’s support just moved from a chat widget to a ticketing system. This lets the user categorize the issue, which hopefully improves the historically rather slow support. Pro users have a 24 hours answer time, while free users need to wait longer.

Chatfuel offers chat support if you head over to the help tab on the top of the page, or you can send them an email with your issue as well.

As a superuser, I have a different line of communication, so can’t really provide an objective review of the support. Sorry.

All in all, I believe both companies are doing their best to keep up with all the issues even though the platforms are changing constantly (FB and their own). Having said that, in my opinion both need improvement.

Quick tip: Use screenshots to make it easier for the support to understand. Both systems let you simply copy paste your messages with keyboard shortcuts. I suggest you use lightshot. I use it several times a day, and it makes communication so much more effective.

 

Pros of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Ticketing system with categories

Chatfuel:

  • Chat or email support

 

 

Live Chat and Individual Information

 

In the heat of automating everything let’s not forget that there are humans on the other side of the conversation — with often completely different needs. It’s nice to not have to answer some basic and frequent questions manually. But there are many use cases where we have to use our precious personal time and answer.

In terms of live chat, ManyChat is hands down better. It provides you an opportunity to message the individual users directly from their platform.

Chatfuel’s people tab is only available for Pro users and doesn’t offer direct messaging opportunities. When it comes to the accessibility of data, CF lets you access and export information that you could not access otherwise. For example, exporting the Messenger ID (PSID) comes in very handy when you need to migrate to a new bot or synchronize databases.

What they both offer is the ability to update data about users without needing their actual input. This not only gives you control over little mistakes or bugs that might happen, but can help towards improving the customer experience (you can help them through little hang-ups). Every time your (off bot) automation isn’t sophisticated enough or you gain extra information about the user via different channels, you can update the individual’s profile in the bot.

 

Cool Features of each Platform:

ManyChat:

  • Live Chat on any plan
  • Friendly userface

Chatfuel:

  • Ability to export user information

 

 

Keywords and Artificial Intelligence

 

Within Keywords, the words that allow the bot to carry out different actions are determined. For example, if the user types ‘stop’ he can be unsubscribed from the list of subscriber – or the word ‘hi’ can trigger a greeting.

ManyChat needs exact matching (capital letters still match) to trigger the flow, while Chatfuel is able to correct certain typing issues plus ‘get the gist of’ and figure out simple sentences. It still doesn’t understand what the user says though, so no legit AI (sorry to disappoint). Using it’s API plugin you may want to connect another software that can interpret the user’s intent. Also, ManyChat is unable to randomize different answers to exacting questions.

The same intent but formulated differently triggers different answers

 

In addition, it might be dangerous when the bot misunderstands the words (as I pointed out in this individual review).

Fortunately, we can add a few variants of these words to make our bot ‘artificially’ smarter:

Pros of Both Platforms:

ManyChat:

  • Exact word matching (Dummy-proof)

Chatfuel:

  • Allows you to add variations for more interesting answers
  • Ability to randomize different answers to exacting questions
  • Ability to correct spelling mistakes
  • Ability to connect NLP like Dialogflow

 

 

 

Price

 

Both platforms give you a free plan with unlimited users if you don’t mind having their brand name on the first level of your persistent menu.  A wide range of functionalities is available and you are free to message your subscribers.

As a pro user you can get rid of the branding (or the persistent menu for that matter) and have enriched functionalities. The monthly price is adjusted automatically (to the day) as you grow your subscribers, so you don’t need to worry about that.

ManyChat has more restrictions when it comes to the free plan: 4 growth tools, 2 Broadcasts sequences, 3 custom fields and 10 tags.

Whereas if you sign up for the Pro Plan, starting from $10/month, you‘ll receive: unlimited sequences, custom fields, tags and richer functionality with A/B split testing and conditions. Pro plan also provides better support as already mentioned. Over 25 000 subscribers ($145) custom prices apply.

 

Chatfuel only adds the People’s tab when you become a paid client. This gives you the ability to export and update all the information you have about individual users. The exact prices of Chatfuel Pro are revealed only inside the bot under the Configure tab. Price starts from $30 (for the first reachable users), over around 38  00 subscribers (about $1000) you need to reach out to the team for custom prices. 

 

Summary of Pricing and Features (updated – July 2018):

ManyChat:

  • Free plan with limited functionality and mandatory branding
  • Pro plan starts from $10/months

Chatfuel:

  • Free plan with almost all functions and mandatory branding
  • Pro plan starts from $15/months
  • For over 25,000 users – a custom solution is needed.

 

Number of users Chatfuel Monthly Cost Manychat Monthly Cost
500 $15 $10
1000 $20 $15
1500 $30 $25
2000 $30 $25
2500 $55 $25
3000 $55 $45
5000 $55 $45
10000 $85 $65
25000 $180 $145

 

So there we go. We’ve come to the end.

 

Phew! Every single benefit of CF and MC all weighed against each other. I hope this article has provided some insight on which platform is more suited to your business, and which to choose moving forward.

Now I’d like to know what you think:

 

Which platform are you going to try first?

 

Or if you’re already using chatbots; which platform do you prefer to use with your business?

Leave your responses in the comment section below, and I’ll be sure to read every single one.

If you’re new to Messenger marketing, sign up for my Free Video Course.