$500 million and counting

Driving Engagement with Rich Media:'s Integration Strategy

Russell Ward, Co-Founder & CEO of

Embark on a journey through the Wytpod episode featuring Russell Ward, Co-Founder & CEO of Dive into the tech evolution that propelled from entertainment marketing to a pioneering force in chatbot solutions. Uncover the secrets of their no-code revolution, smart answers, and rich media integration, empowering businesses to redefine engagement. Join the conversation as they explore the future trends shaping the dynamic landscape of AI-driven chatbots.

Massively allows anyone to create and instantly deploy chat bot solutions anywhere messages can be sent and received.

Russell Ward
Co-Founder & CEO of

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Wytpod. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at Wytlabs. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and E-commerce SEO. And I’ve got Russell Ward with me. He’s the Co-founder and CEO at Massively allows anyone to create and instantly deploy chatbot solutions. Anywhere messages can be sent and received.
A big welcome to you, Russell, and I’m so happy to host you today.

Thanks for having me. I’m excited to have a conversation.

Now, before we dive into the platform, can you please let the viewers know a little bit about you and your professional journey so far?

Sure. I founded massively almost 10 years ago with my Co-founders. Before that, I had a career in marketing and more specifically entertainment marketing working for, Disney and here in Canada on brands like Tell a Student Family channel which is the equivalent of Cartoon Network or HBO, those types of brands we launched massively as an extension of that experience truthfully in 2014 as a way to engage viewers in story.

We had an idea that wouldn’t it be cool if you could talk to characters from TV shows or movies and that was the genesis of massively. And we set out to build that. We quickly realized that talking to characters isn’t that different than talking to brands.

And given my background in marketing, that became a natural pivot for us is we found ourselves in this space, we had built the platform which again, we weren’t calling a chatbot platform, but essentially that’s what we had built. And in 2014, 2015. We started to see a massive increase in messaging channels.

The messengers, the Twitter DMs, the Vibers, the WhatsApp, the WeChats of the world, we’re beginning to take off people were engaging with their friends and family in that way. Brands were looking for a way to, interact with people naturally or natively all in those channels.

And so that’s how massively what was founded.

Basically, the market is pretty crowded and in your niche altogether, so I would love to know what sets you like the platform apart and what are the unique value propositions?

To its users? Yeah, that’s a great question.

And you’re right. It’s it’s a it’s incredibly crowded and competitive. And, again, going back 10 years ago, it wasn’t chatbots have been around for a long time. But, the application and the market conditions were right. For companies like ours, but we were still one of a very small handful of companies that were doing what we were doing.

And so it was, a relatively easy story for us to tell. People were interested in us because we were doing something different. Our technology was unique enough in terms of our NLP, which again, 10 years ago what a lot of people were using and doing. And when we started, we got a lot of traction early.

But because we had a different kind of approach and our approach was focused on engagement versus the technology side of just being smart and answering questions and, being able to perform that utility. We differentiated ourselves in that space. So we were focused on the applications that, were designed to engage an audience versus just service an audience.

So customer service was a natural application of chatbots. We we didn’t ignore that, but we focused more on, providing solutions that were designed to engage. And we did a lot of work for brands that, provided customers with Opportunities to extend campaigns to extend their brand ideas, naturally in a conversational way in these messaging channels.

And that was our kind of core differentiation at the beginning. And we still lean on that in a lot of ways, but we’ve embraced it. The broader use case and the kind of call it the kind of the full end-to-end solution, which does rely a lot on being able to answer questions accurately and with confidence.

Being able to deliver utility, and automate workflows and all of those things that, customers wanna do, but also in a way that that it’s engaging, that reflects the brand tone, the brand voice. And we, still do lean on that differentiation around engagement.

We’ve also simplified our tools a lot. So anybody can build these applications, which again is another way we differentiate. We’ve created the ability for anybody to build and deploy. You don’t need to be a developer. You don’t need a coding background.

You don’t need a technical background, you can build and deploy these on your own.

And because like you mentioned one of the key features is accessibility to users with no programming experience at all. How has this approach influenced the user base and the types of chatbots that are created on the platform?

Sure. Yeah. So again, essentially, and I think the no-code approach appeals to everybody, quite honestly. And again, as a marketer as somebody who comes from that space, there was always, a bit of a bottleneck to bring you, your technical folks or, or wait for, your app to get built or your application your website to get updated or whatever it was.

And so having it, the ability to do that myself as a marketer was always something that I valued. You can streamline the process. And anybody in the marketing space who feels that pain and that need to control their destiny.

It appeals to, but more specifically the idea of self-service and no coding requires appeals to those small to medium-sized businesses, those owners who don’t have those resources at all who either have to hire them or, rely on external Go 3rd parties to create those things for them and it’s quite frankly, just out of reach for a lot of small businesses.

It’s just not something that they would choose to spend their limited resources on. Making it accessible to people who again, don’t have the resources either the time or the money to build these complex applications. Was, that’s ultimately, the type of user base that we’re targeting with our self-service solution.

And Russell, what I’ve noticed is I understand your platform pretty sure is capable of catering to multiple industries, but that’s something which is a marketing decision that you have to niche down, right? You have to focus your energy on specific industries. We know that the performance will be much better.

Multiple factors around it. You know, I would love to know what industries are you focusing on. And what is the thought process behind those?

So again, we’re focused. Most specifically and again, this is a way to differentiate between kinds of main street businesses small businesses, e-commerce, home services, the professional services.

Those businesses that, are potentially owner-operated that again, they don’t have the resources, but they need help. They acknowledge that their customers don’t want to wait for an answer. They acknowledge that they need help. Booking appointments, automating some of those workflows, checking order status, generating quotes, generating recommendations, those types of things that we can automate for them in a really easy and straightforward way.

And it, also provides them with an ability to meet those customers or those potential customers where they are in the moments that count. So if they’re searching for, an electrician they can, start the conversation directly at that search result. They don’t, the extra push to get them to your website, to get to, to generate a quote to book an appointment, or to answer a question.

We can do it directly at that moment or from an Instagram ad or a messenger ad or through SMS or their website quite honestly. And if they do, require a real person, give them the ability to, jump into that conversation and answer or get the information that they need to get back to them in a timely way.

So those are the types of businesses that we’re targeting. They’re, in most cases, they just need that automation to simplify a few workflows to answer, those questions that need immediate answers and to hand over to real people when required.

Also, could you please highlight some notable success stories?

All companies where massively played a crucial role. And you have mentioned some of you didn’t want brands either. So would love to know like how exactly those are the main KPIs and how exactly, massively help them escape.

Yeah, sure. I’ll give you a recent example where we are helping a salon chain of salons or franchise salon franchise called Hello Sugar in the U. S. Automate bookings and appointment reminders. So they are their kind of lead generation is done through social and they offer free wax to people through this solution. And that was all done manually.

So all of these leads were coming in. But it was taking real people in some cases, 15, 20 minutes to find the location, find the time that’s right, book the appointment, confirm the appointment, try to upsell them because that was ultimately the objective here is not just to give something away free.

You want to be able to get them to graduate to new services or other services. And that process took 15, to 20 minutes. And they weren’t converting at a very high rate. So when we conversationally automated that process, when you engage with that lead-generating ad which again was what we would get the phone number from the client, our bot would kick in, we would ask the user immediately to confirm a location and time, and book that for them. So we were cutting that process from 15 minutes to 2 minutes, but we’re also increasing the lead-to-conversion ratio. And so that last report was about a 32 percent increase versus the kind of human agents handling that.

So again, it’s just a way for that, and again, that’s that’s a use case that required a bit of a kind of customization for us. And for the client, but that’s that app, that application is repeatable for any number of companies that, require that appointment booking process.

And so that’s, again a use case that I like to highlight. Recently, we’ve begun adding a lot more functionality to that bot, which is, essentially how a lot of this works is, you start with something simple. It works, and then you begin to expand it.

Yeah. And grow the workflows that you’re automating or the capabilities of the bots or the channels that you’re on.

And the Open Bot development toolkit is a standout feature that you have how exactly massively impasse users with this toolkit. And what kind of flexibility does it provide for creating Transport solutions?

Sure. Again, it’s a simple process. When you sign up. The 1st step is the welcome message slash, flow builder. So that’s the scripted part where you can customize, how you introduce yourself, what the, the, if you want a prompt that kind of, that, that want that invites people to have a conversation and you can script those and build those flows as the 1st step.

And those can be as simple as, Okay. Just a welcome message, or they can be complicated scripted flows with buttons and carousels and suggested responses that, build different flows that you can direct the user from. The next step is ingesting your data.

So if you want this to be smart you’re just toggling on what we call smart answers. What smart answers does, it allows you to ingest information about your business. We have a kind of a bounded approach to generating the answers. So we’re not, just guessing or trying to generate answers via chatGPT.

Although we are using a lot of their language models, we’re not general knowledge answering questions. We’re answering questions specifically about your business. So the next step is to give us your, input on your website or ingest a data set. And we’ll use that to train the experience. The specific to your business.

And again, for smaller businesses, a lot of the basic intents, a lot of the basic questions that you’re going to get answered, we’ve pre-trained for. If it’s order booking or order lookup, or if it’s, booking appointments, or if it’s, a contact flow a live chat, or a help request that’s all baked in. So you don’t need information about that. But, specific information about your return policies or, whatever it is, that’s the type of information you want to ingest. Or you just link your website and we’ll pull the information from that. From there you’re, you select the channels you want.

If you are interested in web chat, then you design what that looks like. So you can configure it with, headers and footers and colors and, everything that you can imagine to configure that. And we kick out a code snippet that you deploy to the web page. If you’re looking for social channels, then you’re just connecting those from that.

So you’re authenticating massively in one click to deploy to Google business messages or Instagram or SMS or Facebook Messenger or where, wherever it is. So that’s the steps. It’s, it’s four steps. And again, you can choose from templates if you want.

If you don’t want to design a specific bot, you can start from a template for common use cases and just, deploy it as is.

And that’s also the core of the platform is increasing engagement, right? That’s the core.

I would love to know what exactly you do to engage your customer base. And help the chances of retention and all of those things. And how exactly does that generate you know, in your company?

Great. So it’s a good question. So again, we offer our self-service and our managed service. I’ll speak specifically to the self-service because the SaaS, that’s what you’re interested in.

So I’ll talk more about that because it is very automated in terms of, our onboarding. What we do is we rely on our channel partnerships to bring in those We work closely with them. So You know, again we’re a point solution, if you will, in kind of the overall marketing toolkit.

So we work closely with more full-service marketing agencies or marketing platforms who, require a chat solution. And so we, the Significant portion of our leads come through those channels or from our live chat slash customer service channel partners as well.

So who is, doing a lot of live agents? Multiple agent kinds of ticketing solutions, but don’t have the automation. So those are our 2 biggest channels. We also obviously have our own. And both of those channels, quite honestly, are very sticky. And so our churn is very low in those channels there, because again, the types of customers that are coming through those channels are locked into those platforms.

So if I’m using, a full-service marketing solution. For my website, for my CRM, for my social tools for all of those things, you’re less likely to, switch all of that out without, obviously if there’s, if it’s not working for you, you’ll switch it out, but there, we have a locked in a solution.

So churn is low on those channels. If you are coming through our old lead gen which again, when we’re targeting our potential customers, we’re looking to engage them when they’re looking for a solution like ours. So Google search, as I mentioned, it’s a solution that we offer our customers, but we use that ourselves.

So somebody is looking for, customer service solutions for small businesses or customers, chatbots for salons, or whatever those kind of long tail of search terms are. That’s what we target. And, again, we offer a free tier if you want just live chat on your website or a scripted bot on your website.

That’s free. And we’re generating a lot of leads with that kind of approach free live chat, free web chat. And then we’ll upsell them to them if it works for them if they need it. I generated a solution as well. So they’ll have the ability of a 14-day free trial with all of those tools at their disposal.

And all the channels at their disposal. If at the end of the 14 days, they still just want the live chat, then they’re free to use that going forward. And that includes a CRM that includes the ability to build scripted flows and scripted bots and deploy them to their website.

Beyond the initial kind of trial period, we’re engaging with content. Our newsletter is, the space itself changes all the time. So recently we’ve been focused a lot on generative AI and how that, can, how small businesses can capitalize on that in a meaningful way.

Not just general kind of applications, but how you can use it to perform specific functions within your business. So we’re developing a lot of content around that. And we built specific content for the various personas, right? So we tailor it to, home services.

We’ll tailor it to e-commerce. We’ll tailor it to, again, entertainment, given our background, is still a big category for us. So we’ll tailor our content for entertainment as well.

The platform’s ability to integrate basically with rich Media, and e-commerce Solutions is quite integral, right?

Can you please elaborate on that feature as well? How has been and that been leveraged in campaigns and the impact on the user engagement bit and the conversion rates as well?

So again, there’s a couple of kind of different answers to that. So we support, all media types.

And we are a build-once-deploy-everywhere solution. So we adhere to the formats of various platforms as well. So when you build a carousel in massively, then, the channels that support carousels, that’s what will display kind of rich carousel. So you can go shopping and buy directly from those experiences on those channels on the channels that don’t support that will display the information or display the content differently. Most of them do support some form of, rich content, but not necessarily in the same way. We are, our platform accounts for all of that.

And in terms of the types of rich content that Serves to engage gifts, images you know, video links, all of that stuff, serves to increase engagement. So it’s not just text-based. It’s not just our ability to recognize language and present information back in the form of text.

We respond to image gifts. We respond to everything and we support those formats that are integrated across, several different channels or solutions. So, if you’re on Shopify as an example we support the order look-up. We, it’s just a matter of authenticating massively.

And we can automate those those solutions as well. So those are the types of things, that we offer dynamically. Also again, as I mentioned, have smart answers, which gives us the ability to update answers on the fly. Or gives the business owner their own. If something changes, or they need to add to have a promotion that’s starting, or they need to change pricing or whatever it is, it’s just a matter of going into our smart answers, updating information, and retraining the bot on that that new data.

Alright. I would love to know a bit about the managed service part how exactly does your team collaborate with the clients and deliver tailored solutions aligned to their specific goals and objectives?

Yeah. So again, normally, again, as I mentioned we have channel partners, and a lot of the I guess the requirements are coming through that channel partner versus directly from the brand.

So if it’s Zendesk as an example they’ll have a client that, needs us to either automate a process for them to automate their their FAQs. To, build a custom flow that will trigger some kind of elevation for them to build a custom intent. All of those kinds of more complex.

Use cases typically will come in a request from the channel partner. And, our approach internally is to scope out those exercises because in most cases they’re custom. If it’s just a matter of updating and maintaining a data set, then we don’t necessarily have to scope that out.

But when we’re building something custom, then, we’ll bring in, our PMs and development resources. And in most cases, what we call our conversational experts. So our conversational designer can build the flows and script if required.

And the scope of those exercises, we, we have a fixed managed service rate, but for the custom work, then we have to add some pricing to that depending on the complexity and, how long it’s going to take. Most of those experiences. Our over a term, so we’re not just building and letting them go.

We’re building and managing them and updating them and optimizing them over time. In the case that, we are not just, looking to optimize our experience, but to help them with a more downstream solution as well. If it’s lead generation, for instance then we will work with their agencies to craft the lead-generating solution.

So that could be a landing page where the bot is deployed. That could be an ad where the bot is deployed. And, for all of that kinds of entry points for us, we need to work closely with the other agency partners to ensure it’s a a smooth and natural flow from the ad or the landing page to the conversation.

And from there, again, the agency or the channel partner. Works with the client to ensure that all of that kind of is working. And we’re a subcontractor or vendor in that solution.

I would love to know what the new trends that you’re seeing in the market and the near future in the chatbot universe altogether and how exactly you plan like massively to adapt to these new changes and any new development

That is in the same direction.

Yeah. Again the massive shift or development has been large language models and the generative AI capabilities that are that are now widely available, but also have increased expectations and expectations for clients, expectations and interest from clients.

And that’s the biggest development. And I think from a practical or an application standpoint, it’s understanding how we can leverage those in a meaningful way for our client base. And how it’s improving the solutions in very general terms.

It’s, the accuracy of our ability to answer questions. The ease of implementation, if you will is improving things. But you still require, humans, you still require people either, if, you need somebody to close a deal, or you need somebody to, answer a more complicated question, or you have a frustrated customer who wants to talk to somebody and so providing those tools is still essential to the solution.

Really, that’s where we’re focusing Is, we have the technology now. Everybody has technology now. It’s how you use it. That’s going to be key to success going forward. We are seeing a massive increase. In people just wanting to talk, wanting to learn what does this all mean?

And so we’re spending a lot of our time educating small businesses specifically what is chat GPT? What is open AI? What is a large language model? How does it work? What’s a hallucination? How do we avoid all of these things that we’re reading about, false answers that are being generated, or misinformation or what are the risks associated with that?

We’re spending a lot of time with our small businesses who get to a certain point, they’re a warm lead. They have the right intent. But there’s a blocker around, some of the lack of clarity on what you know exactly this can do and should do and doesn’t do well for them.

Alright, Russell, we’re coming to an end and I would love to have a quick fire round with you. Are you ready for that?

I am ready. Let’s go. Okay.

What never fails to make you laugh?

Oh, geez. My kids and they’re adult kids now, but they always make me laugh. Again they’re funny people, but they’re also just a joy. And even if I’m not trying to be funny I just get, enjoyment and I laugh a lot with my kids.

How many kids have you got?

I have two kids. Okay.

How old are they?

22 and 19.

What is your hidden talent?

My hidden talent? I guess I’m handy.

I don’t know if that’s a talent or not, or a skill but I have in my younger days. Worked through undergrad and part of my early adulthood as an electrical apprentice. So I have some, skills that way, and that translates to different things.

And I have an interest in it as well. So there you go. I guess I’m handy. Yeah,

What is not a big deal to most people but is torture to you?

Ooh, ah, that this is not a big deal, eh? I, this is, this might be an odd answer, but the work from home versus office that I love coming to the office.

And, for a lot of people. They’re more productive, and they don’t like to commute and all of those things that they like for working at home. I don’t see those benefits at all. I’m way more productive in the office. I like separating work and home. And again, I don’t know if that answered your question, but I think most people are on the other side of that.

They like the work from home. I don’t like the work from home at all.

What was your last Google search?

My last Google search. Oh, so as I mentioned, we get our leads that are coming in through channel partners. And so when I get a request, and so every morning, that’s the 1st thing I do is I’m and so I’m Googling.

That’s what I did this morning we had a handful of requests. So I was Googling the clients to learn more about them. That’s that’s what I did. So I’m just Googling, going to their websites learning more about, what business they’re in, and seeing how that, how our solution can apply to their businesses.

Now coming to my very last question any funny nicknames your family or friends used to call you?

I guess I have nieces and nephews who have kids now, and so their, theoretically, I’m a great uncle, so they call me grunkle which is a combination of a great uncle. I don’t know if that’s funny or not.

I also used to get Brussels sprouts as for Russell Brussels sprouts was a nickname as a child. So there you go.

Any nicknames from your work colleague?

Ah, I had a colleague who had a reputation for enjoying beer and wings. So they called us literally beer and wings.

So I don’t know if I was wings or if I was beer, but that was what they used to call us together, beer and wings.

Thank you, Russell. Thank you for your time. Thank you for all the wisdom that you shared for today’s session. I appreciate it. And I’ve learned a lot, about chatbot, about the company, all of it.

I appreciate it. I appreciate the opportunity and I’ve enjoyed our chat. It’s been fun and hopefully, people find it valuable. Thank you.



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