Dashbot.io, a tool for analyzing bots, recently surpassed 70 million messages processed. One of the questions that comes up often for developers is buttons. What performs better: free-form text input or button-driven interfaces?

We took a look at the data across Facebook bots on our platform for the past three months. Keep in mind this is looking across all bots, not segmenting based on industry vertical or specific use case. At a high level, what we found is that a mixture of buttons and quick replies is good, but too many can have a negative effect on engagement.

Buttons and quick replies

Looking at the data over the past three months, the average percentage of messages sent to a bot from buttons has recently dropped, while the percentage of quick replies is steadily rising.

The average button percentage went from 29.5 percent in July to 31.5 percent in August and down to 26 percent in September. Meanwhile, quick replies have increased from 8.2 percent in July to 10 percent in August and 11.1 percent in September.


What’s better: click or chat?

Regarding buttons and quick replies: Like anything, they are great in moderation, but you have to avoid overload.

If we look at buttons and quick replies together, we see the average percentage of messages coming into bots of those two types of responses, combined over the three-month period, is 34.8 percent.

Bots that are within one standard deviation of the average have higher engagement than those with significantly higher button and quick reply percentages.

In fact, once you get over about 60 percent of your inbound messages being some combination of buttons and quick replies, the sessions per user per month metric starts to drop off quite a bit.


Time per session in both extreme cases drops off a bit, and messages in per session increases as the percentage of buttons and replies increases.

Taking action

One of the beauties of conversational interfaces is the ability to send in unstructured data — that is, the images, videos, button clicks, and more importantly a user’s own voice. It’s their own words telling you what they want from your bot and what they think of your bot.

We mentioned in a previous article that it’s important to monitor these different types of messages, and that adding handling for them can increase the engagement of your bot.

If your bot interface is heavily button- and quick reply-based, make sure to check the other message types coming in as your users may be providing valuable information that could help you improve the overall bot experience.

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