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Manychat vs. Chatfuel: Which should you use? [2023] | Zapier

You’re probably here because staffing your Facebook Page and answering the same questions all day isn’t your idea of time well spent. Manychat and Chatfuel will help automate the answers to repetitive questions and tap you on the shoulder when you need to be there for more unique interactions.

I spent a lot of time on both platforms, building my own chatbots and paying attention to where each one might work best in a business setting. Here, I’ll share my experiences using Manychat vs. Chatfuel, so you can decide which makes the most sense for your business.

Chatfuel vs. Manychat at a glance

Here’s the short version:

  • Manychat’s interface is more intuitive and better for bigger, human-staffed teams; it’s also available on more channels.

  • Chatfuel is better at handling open-ended questions and offers more templates to get you started.

Keep reading for more details on my experiences with each app.



Ease of use

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Intuitive interface; uncluttered screens

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Clean, functional interface

Chatbot features

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Great for conditional branching and scripted conversations, but not as accurate on open-ended questions

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Keyword grouping improves accuracy on open-ended questions; includes back-end improvements to increase accuracy

Contact segmentation

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Adding filtering conditions and saving segments is easy

⭐⭐⭐ The user interface for setting conditions isn’t as straightforward

Available channels

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, email, and SMS

⭐⭐⭐ Facebook and Instagram


⭐⭐⭐⭐ 25 templates with step-by-step help

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Over 50 templates; install with one click


⭐⭐⭐⭐ Free plan available; paid plan unlocks all features and pricing scales with contacts; predictable costs

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Free plan available, with all features unlocked; pricing is based on number of active conversations in a 24-hour period, which could be more unpredictable

Manychat’s interface is more intuitive, but Chatfuel has better onboarding

Manychat is nice to look at: it has a clean interface and a pleasing color scheme to help you distinguish each section. It keeps clutter to a minimum on most screens, especially when you’re building a chatbot flow, the web of message blocks and actions your visitors will move through as they interact with it on your Facebook page.

Manychat’s user interface helps you focus on the flow-building process with a clear color code and the right amount of visible buttons and controls.

There are two views to build these flows:

  • The basic view lays all the steps out in a list, useful when you’re writing all the message blocks in bulk.

  • The flow builder places all the message blocks on a canvas, giving you a visual scheme where you can drag and drop to connect each message and add delays, conditionals, and other special rules.

When you’re in the flow builder, most of the settings are hidden, which helps you see what you’re building with greater clarity. When you want to edit a block, you can click on it to reveal the left-side menu, letting you pull the knobs and tune the behavior.

Since each flow has a specific purpose, Manychat suggests a division that makes sense. The Growth tools are meant to gather and qualify leads, Automation deals with the recurring questions your customers have, and Broadcasts act like email marketing campaigns, sending a set of messages to all the contacts in your list.

Another area where Manychat nailed it is in contact segmentation. At some point, you’ll want to personalize each conversation even more by using customer data and behavior. You can add tags to each of your contacts, great for labeling people who are interested in one of your handmade wool shirts, for example. Once those tags are in place, you can create flows that will only be available for people with that specific tag.

Tags aren’t the only way you can separate people based on interests: it’s also possible to set a range of filters—for example, contacts that engaged with your bot in the last five hours—and then save these as segments. Follow that up with setting a flow to talk to these recently-engaged contacts, offer a discount code, and watch the sales come in.

Chatfuel’s user interface has come a long way in the last few years, but there’s slightly less space to work on your flow due to the left-side navigation, and there’s a bit more clutter on the screen when compared with Manychat. Also, Chatfuel doesn’t separate flows by purpose right at the outset: you have to group flows and create categories to organize them yourself.

Chatfuel's flow builder
Chatfuel’s flow builder provides more information on the same screen, with a more discreet set of colors.

Despite this immediate impact, Chatfuel’s onboarding experience is excellent. It shows the basics of a welcome sequence, a reply-to-comments automation, and how to leverage Facebook ads in a series of interactive, step-by-step tutorials. When you complete these three challenges, you unlock 50 conversation slots for your free plan, raising the limit to 200 active conversations in a 24-hour period.

Another useful detail that Chatfuel offers is the possibility of testing your chatbot within the platform, without having to hop over to Facebook every time. Manychat doesn’t offer this: you have to log in to your personal Facebook account and start a chat with your business page to test the end result.

Chatfuel has more templates, but Manychat’s are easier to adapt to your needs

Writing just one conversation thread is already hard work. Now imagine multiplying that by two or three more branches to cover all the information your customers could want from your chatbot. That’ll take at least four cups of coffee.

Thankfully, both platforms offer a set of templates to cut the setup time. Chatfuel is more generous, offering more than 50 templates across use cases, from email signup sequences to eCommerce solutions, both free and paid. Installing each template takes just a couple of clicks, and you can edit every step until it’s working as you want it to.

Chatfuel's templates
Chatfuel’s templates come with a simple explanation of their purpose. After you install a template, you can start editing it right away.

If you don’t find anything you like and still don’t want to start from zero, you can ask someone from the Chatfuel team to build a flow for you. This will open an Intercom live chat window, where you’ll connect with the support staff. They’re very friendly and reply quickly, so you can count on them to show you around and help you build the best bot you can to service your audience.

Manychat is still playing catch-up on templates, having a library of 25, from customer feedback to paybots. But the templates are great, as each comes with notes on each block, unpacking what’s going on at every point. This has two advantages: first, it helps you nail the exact functionality you’re looking for; second, it’s like a hands-on tutorial, helping you create a chatbot-building mindset that’ll be useful when you want to start from scratch.

Manychat's templates
Manychat’s templates come with notes, explaining what’s happening at each step.

Manychat has one particularly eye-catching template: it can integrate with Google’s DialogFlow via a tool called Janis.ai, adding real conversational AI features to your chatbot. If you’re looking forward to training your own algorithm as if it were a silly beagle puppy,the entrance to the rabbit hole is this way.

As a side note, Manychat doesn’t offer a service to build flows for you, and reaching out to their support team isn’t as immediate. There’s a lot of in-depth online help in the form of documentation and knowledge bases, but interacting with the humans at Manychat happens only via a ticketing support system that’s not advertised front-and-center on the platform. You can find the send a ticket button on Manychat’s support page.

Chatfuel handles open responses better, while Manychat is better for human customer service teams

There are two ways your audience can chat with your chatbot. The first is by selecting one of several pre-determined buttons, a bit like classic text-based role-playing games. The other is through open responses: people type what they want into the chat window, and the bot figures out what’s going on and responds appropriately. The results can be amazingly on-point or totally hilarious depending on how you configure your keywords.

Chatfuel is more accurate because it lets you create keyword groups. You can bundle words with similar meanings together. For instance, you can pack all the questions people would ask to find out your email address; then, choose what the bot should do when those words are detected: Start a flow? Reply with your email address outright? Pass the ball to a human and start a live chat?

Chatfuel's keyword groups
Chatfuel’s keyword groups let you add multiple variations of a question, so you can set what happens next when those keywords are detected in a chat.

Manychat also offers keyword-based triggers to start flows, having a similar way of setting up your keywords and choosing what happens next—but you have to be much more exhaustive on the keyword lists you enter into the platform to increase accuracy. Chatfuel seems to be doing something extra in the background in this aspect, as it’s more flexible and can still reply appropriately even if you didn’t type exactly what your customers ended up typing.

No matter the overall accuracy, this advice applies to both platforms: take some time to read past chats from your customers and see what words they’re using. Keep adding them to the appropriate keyword groups and things should go smoothly. I hope you don’t deal with a lot of crosswords champions though: that crowd could put you on synonym-hunting for a long time.

So Manychat doesn’t take the crown on open-ended response accuracy, but when it’s time to get your customer support team on the field, it does pretty well.

Messaging from Manychat
Message your audience directly from Manychat and coordinate with the rest of your customer support team to handle lots of chats at the same time.

You can access the chats from within the app—both on web and mobile—and reply to all questions there. When you’re talking to a customer, Manychat pauses any automated campaigns you have for that contact, so the conversation isn’t interrupted by a discount code. You can create a set of canned responses that you can trigger with a shortcut, so you can send out details about your return policy without having to type it out every single time.

This is all great if you’re solo, but when you need to service dozens of interested prospects at the same time, Manychat can automatically distribute conversations among all your available customer support agents. If some of them are better at answering a range of questions—say, because they have access to billing and inventory—you can create groups and set rules to route conversations to different agents based on topic. This gets rid of the “let me just transfer you to Joan, she’s the one with the invoice data.”

Chatfuel didn’t always have the live chat interface available in the platform in the past, but it’s available now, and it works well. In addition to keeping all the chats together, you can trigger flows to end a conversation. This is a great touch to, for example, ask for feedback after a live chat session. But if you’re coordinating with a support team, all you can do is assign conversations to your teammates manually by selecting them from a dropdown menu in the inbox. It doesn’t distribute chats automatically, and you can’t mark the best agents in your team to deal with shipping issues or to help with assembly instructions.

Both apps offer Stripe integration for online payments; Manychat also offers PayPal

Chatfuel and Manychat will give you frictionless shopping on Facebook Messenger windows: they both integrate with Stripe, bringing online payment processing into the world of automated chats.

In both cases, you can add your products from your Facebook product inventory, offer them during the conversation, and your audience can click the buy button to get them. Once they do, they can enter their credit card details right on the page, and complete the transaction right there and then.

The only difference here lies in the presentation of each product. Manychat goes on a one-by-one basis, letting you add an image, customize the copy, and add the buy button at the end. Chatfuel lets you bundle up to 10 products on each block, which is better if you have a deep catalog.

In addition to Stripe, Manychat also offers PayPal integration. It’s not as easy to connect—you have to set up some webhooks yourself—but the help article is clear enough to help you tie all the wires together. And it’s worth doing it: PayPal is a widely recognized brand, known for being a reliable payment platform that protects both consumers and businesses from fraud. Some customers may be persuaded to shop with you if you’re offering PayPal as a payment method, whereas they wouldn’t feel the same confidence without it. This has the potential to increase your overall conversion rates over time.

Chatfuel’s free plan has a conversation limit, while Manychat’s free plan has contact and feature limits

Both Manychat and Chatfuel have free plans that let you leverage their feature sets for a while, and once you get some return on investment, you can upgrade to scale even further. But these free plans are quite different, which could impact your strategy. 

Chatfuel places a limit on the number of active conversations in a 24-hour period. Active conversations are anywhere the user is interacting with the chatbot or with you. As new conversations start, the number of slots becomes filled; as conversations become inactive for more than 24 hours, the slots are restored. This is the only limitation that Chatfuel imposes, letting you access all the features it has to offer, including online payment integration.

The free plan caps the number of conversations at 50. When you complete the first three onboarding tutorials, that cap is raised to 200. You’ll get notifications when you’re close to hitting the limit, so you can subscribe. The first paid plan, Entrepreneur, raises the limit to 500 conversation slots per month, and if you go over the limit, there’s a fixed rate for each extra conversation.

Manychat has more limitations in place, capping the number of contacts to 1,000 on the free plan and giving you basic functionality. When you upgrade to the Pro plan starting at $15 per month, you unlock all the features—noteworthy among them are SMS and email messaging, unlimited segmentation, A/B testing, and online payments. That starting price will then scale with the number of contacts on your list, so remember to clean it up from time to time.

How does this impact your strategy? Chatfuel lets you start selling via chatbot right away and gives you all the features for free. But the active contacts system could be difficult to manage as you have to wait the 24-hour period to get those slots back. Also, if you get an unexpected surge of incoming chats, Chatfuel could overload fast, and that could ramp up your costs quickly.

On the other hand, Manychat won’t let you integrate payments on the free plan, so if you’re relying on getting a few wins at the start to then improve your tech stack, it won’t be flexible there. However, the costs can be slightly easier to control with the contact limits, as you can delete inactive leads to keep below billing marks. No surprises at the end of the billing cycle.

Manychat vs. Chatfuel: Which should you choose?

You should go with Manychat if:

  • You want to offer chatbots on Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram, and touch the email and SMS channels too

  • You value a tool that’s well-documented, intuitive, and easy to use

  • Your audience would feel more at ease paying with PayPal

You should go with Chatfuel if:

  • Most of your flows will have open-ended questions

  • You need to cut setup time with templates

  • You want to sell via chatbots and are starting with a limited budget

Related reading:

This article was originally published in 2018. The most recent update was in January 2023.

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