About CentreChat

Maintain Content In ChatBots

About CentreChat👀💬

CentreChat is a Content Marketing Platform that was designed for Shopping Centre owners and their marketing agencies to manage the content in their ChatBots.

Anything updated in CentreChat is automatically published to their Chat Channels. It is accompanied by the CentreChat App built for retailers to use to configure, publish and redeem their promotions.

CentreChat was started by Martin Swanson and has offices in Cape Town and France. Martin has a BCom (Econ) from UCT and a Post Graduate Diploma in Property Investment and Valuation from Stellenbosch. He ran a retail leasing agency for 10 years in Cape Town and has been involved in Digital Media for 20 years.



Try it yourself. Scan this QR Code and it will pop you into Facebook Messenger and convert you from an anonymous reader of this article to a subscriber.


Shopping Centres are sitting on potentially millions in additional revenue – currently hiding in plain sight.

A new entrant into the non-GLA (non-gross lettable area) revenue streams for Shopping Centres are Chatbots. These artificial intelligence driven, automated discussions, are easily deployed into a Centre’s Facebook Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp channel and take charge of any incoming messages from users.

“What’s happening today?” “Which shops sell stationery?” “What time do you close?” “How much does your parking cost?” “Where will I find a mountain bike?” Do you have any promotions?” Or by simply clicking on a structured menu of choices.

Over time, a Chatbot can be trained to respond to hundreds of different user utterances, understand with increasing accuracy what the user is looking for and reply intelligently (often bringing in data from external sources to add to the reply). And where they can’t, bringing in a human agent is quickly done.

It is these replies that open the door for generating page view inventory, common inventory in the media game. But slightly more powerful.

A powerful new communication channel

Messenger or Conversation Marketing is a more personal and engaging form of marketing. By introducing your brand into the Chat Apps people currently use to chat with their friends and family, you have moved your brand into that sacred place of trust. Trusted Apps that they use each day. Trusted brands they communicate with each day.

Unlike email marketing, where breaking through the noise between spam and many other mails and newsletters is a challenge – Conversation Marketing cuts through that noise. If a user is sent a message via Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp– there is an 80+% chance the user will read it and a 50+% they will click on the Call to Action in the message.

In terms of this discussion, that means that where brands were hoping at best for an email campaign delivery rate of 35% an open rate of 20% and a click through rate of 3% – Conversation Marketing is a game changer.

We need to talk about that Facebook page

When something gets posted to a Facebook Page it runs the Facebook post algorithm gauntlet.

Facebook looks at all posts in a user’s network (posts from groups, friends, brands, and more), discards and demotes content based on the users past behaviour, scores the remaining posts and arranges a variety of posts for the user to scroll through.

For this reason, a post to a brands Facebook page may only be seen by 15% of the total number of page followers. It can go up if the post attracts engagement.

So a page with 10 000 followers, can only hope for 1500 of them to see a post when it is published. And when they see the post, they are swiping up through their newsfeed at such a rate, that their attention span suffers.

A great way to build a marketing list

When a user sends a message via. Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp, they first have to agree to become a subscriber to each channel. Building out a user list be asking for email, phone numbers and permission to communicate with the user in terms of the POPI act is effortless.

The Formula for Success

In Media, cpm is a well understood terms for cost per thousand views. But in order to sell a thousand views, they need to be generated. And they wont be generated if centre management, centre marketing and the Chatbot aren’t singing from the same sheet.

In other words, if the centre succeeds at a. bringing its users back to its chat channels on a regular basis and offers them content to keep them engaged, which in turn generates page views – then b. they will have inventory to sell.

And if they don’t do a. then they won’t have b

To demonstrate how to achieve inventory for sale here is a little formula:

CPM Units = Subscribers x Frequency of Visit x Number of Replies

The cost per thousand units for sale = the number of subscribers in Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram X how often they return each month X the number of outgoing messages they generate.

So if a Centre has 10000 subscribers in Messenger and they visit the channel once a week and they generate 5 replies on average each visit then the formula looks like this:

240 CPM Units per month = (10 000 Followers x 4 Visits per month x 6 Messages ) / 1000

The price of a CPM will vary but can be anything from R 500 cmp to R 1250 cpm depending on what the advertiser gets in return.

That kicks out a potential for an extra R 120 000 (R 1.4 million p.a.) to R 300 000 per month (R 3.6 million p.a) in non GLA revenue.

Capitalised at 9% gives an increased capital value of between R 15 – R 40 million. Revenue hiding in plain sight.

A word on Subscribers

Converting Facebook Page followers to Messenger subscribers is relatively straight forward. If you have activated your channel, ask them to send you a message! Or even simpler, send them a url to click on.

Converting footfall in the Centres to subscribers, can be done through a QR Code on a poster with a Call to Action such as ‘Win this thing”.

Last, Facebook has integrated WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger so deeply into its range of paid advertising products that with a nominal budget reaching them and converting them to subscribers is easy.

A word on Engagement

Entertaining shoppers produces more engagement and more page impressions. Think a treasure hunt – they scan a QR Code at the entrance, it plays a video or asks them a question in their Chat Channel. Electronic Scratch Cards, Quizzes, Augmented Reality – just the right subject for your marketing team.

A word on E-Commerce

By engaging with Shoppers from the comfort of their homes or on a taxi – Centres can put themselves and their retailers top of mind when their Shoppers contemplate ordering online from Takealot or other online vendors.

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