CONVERSATIONAL MARKETING DEFINITION
As the name suggests, conversational marketing is the direct interaction between businesses and customers on different available channels. It is a one-to-one approach to marketing where personalization acts as a fulcrum for the marketing strategy.
Conversations play an essential role in today’s world. No one likes being sold to and it’s high time that businesses around the world understand this and act to recover lost ground.
Conversational marketing is the practice of meeting or conversing with your potential buyers or people who have shown interest in your services in order to let them understand your business more and answer all their queries.
Now, this could be achieved via phone call, face-to-face meeting, an email or short messages. Initiating a dialogue with people helps you understand them more and vice versa. This is such a key element in establishing any type of rational relationship today.
When we are doing business, it really is unsaid that prospects need to know everything they got to know about us. What better way to achieve this than having a full-fledged conversation?
Conversational Marketing in Today’s Time
The ways we used to communicate with our family and loved ones have changed. The same applies to marketing our products and connecting with our potential customers.
Over the years, the channels for effective communication between two persons have changed. From letters to telegrams, from the printing press to the telephone and from fax machines to the internet, we have come a long way.
Conversational marketing has existed from time immemorial and people have marketed their products via effective one-to-one sessions to the buyers since ages. It exists now as well but the modes of communication between businesses and their buyers have changed. But how?
Enter: Chatbots and SMS text-style messaging
What exactly is a chatbot?
A chatbot is an artificial intelligence program that converses with a user through a script and performs automated tasks assigned to it.
Delivering the right information to the right people at the right time is the way to tame the game nowadays. AI Chatbots and messaging applications do just that.
Providing 24*7 customer support is difficult but with chatbots, it is just one of the many things you can do and achieve.
Imagine how hard it is for small businesses to appoint a few customer executives exclusively for handling customer queries and solving customer issues.
We surely are aware of the fact that nothing can beat human interaction but smart chatbots handle all the repetitive tasks making it easier for manpower to look after other important chores.
According to Statista’s 2017 Whitepaper Study on Conversational Commerce:
- The number of chatbots available on Facebook Messenger trebled within six months
- More chatbots are in development for messaging apps than for virtual assistants
- Consumers prefer messenger over intelligent virtual assistants when it comes to chatbots
- One in ten have already used chatbots in e-Commerce, and one-third are open to trying bots
- Companies that use chatbots are seen as less human by the majority, yet a third wants recommendations and advice by chatbots
With the rapid growth of technology and the constantly changing consumer behavior, marketers need to keep up the pace with the world and it reflects in their marketing strategies as well. Conversational marketing too has adapted to the change and it is paying off big time.
The Key Components of Conversational Marketing
For this, we can go back to the basics and ask ourselves:
What makes up a good conversation?
I am sure we all agree on the fact that a good conversation must comprise of the following:-
Context: Without context, any conversation would become pointless. We cannot just have conversations without realizing where we are heading.
Let’s say you bought some product off a marketplace and were not satisfied with it. You call the support and ask for a refund. You were given an ETA but did not receive your money back.
You called again. Now, you would be expecting the support guys to pick up the conversation exactly from where you left it off the other day. It would really be a pain to provide all the details and explaining the whole situation to them again.
And this is why context is of paramount importance to any conversation.
We need to keep track of all the information that we gather in our conversations and use this information to serve our clients better.
Personal touch: Whatever may the conversation be about, we need to personalize it. It is quite astonishing that as soon as we personalize our messages, the person at the other end feels more connected to us.
One prime example of personalization in our day-to-day lives is the reference of people by their names. A person’s name is unique and whenever you refer to them by that name, they feel they are not just one of the many out there.
This small example can work wonders for businesses if used in the right place.
Real-time: The very concept of conversational marketing is to engage with people in real-time. This engagement can be with either a human or a bot.
The whole world is growing impatient and everyone wants quick and instant results. When the conversation is real-time, people feel valued and heard. This increases our chances for better engagement as there is no gap in communication at a single instance.
Keeping these three components in mind for an engaging conversation with clients or prospects, businesses can set new standards for personalization and bond amazingly well with their audience.
The Workflow of Conversational Marketing
On paper, strategies look very pretty but in reality, it may all become very confusing and hard to implement. The same applies to conversational marketing.
Right now, we all may be thinking that we already are using conversational marketing to good effect( some businesses really are) but it is not as simple as it looks. Just having a mere presence on multiple channels and chatting with your audience doesn’t solve the case.
Sounds intimidating, right?
I am going to simplify it for you.
The conversational marketing workflow consists of the following steps:
Seize The Moment And The Visitors
Almost every other business around us shells out a lot of money on the promotion of their services and products; just with the ultimate goal of increasing web traffic on their website.
The point to be noted here is that we want targeted traffic on our sites and not just every other web user.
So, how does conversational marketing help us out here?
We need to replace the age-old lead capture forms on our websites with conversations. Artificial chatbots and/or real-time messaging can make our jobs easier. We just need to identify our main priority web pages and let the chatbots do their thing. Web pages with the most traffic should get the deserved gift of chatbots. If we do not have enough traffic, we can surely add these chatbots everywhere. Yes, on every page.
It helps in better filtering of our visitors and identifies people who are really serious about buying our products. We can even personalize the messages in the conversations with enriched data.
All the information shared by our prospects (like email, phone number, etc.) is saved automatically by the chatbots.
Segregate The Leads
According to the Lead Response Management Study, the odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times. The odds of qualifying a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.
Sadly we are not up to the mark.
According to Drift’s lead management survey, out of 433 B2B companies, just 7% responded within five minutes. Meanwhile, 55% took 5+ days to respond or never responded at all.
With conversational marketing, you have the upper hand. With chatbots at your service, you are sure to respond at the earliest every single time. Unlike your support executives, chatbots are awake 24*7 every day of the week.
You just need to make sure that you have provided a good question script to your chatbots. The script will include all the same questions your sales representatives ask.
What is a chatbot script?
A script is a pre-defined mix of questions and answers which are fed into a bot so that it can have a conversation with the users according to their responses.
Albeit chatbot scripts vary according to the nature of the business and the different stages of the buyer’s journey, here are some general questions that can be a part of your script:
- Hey, there. Can I point you in the right direction? (list 2–4 options to click)
- Are you interested in sales or support? (Sales or Support)
- How are you thinking about using our product?
- CTA example- Talk to a live human agent/ Schedule a meeting with an expert.
You can set some qualification criteria which suits you and deliver messages accordingly. The people who qualify as leads through your chatbot filter can be easily routed to a sales representative who will deal with it from there.
Read more on how to develop a simple chatbot for business.
Closing The Deals
This is the third and final step of the conversational marketing workflow. After all the hard work of capturing and qualifying leads, it all boils down to connecting with your leads and converting them to customers.
And I think we would all agree that humans are our best bet to do that. ( Bad luck, bots! )
But even in the final stage, bots can be of paramount importance. Firstly, they can provide the leads with the option to book a demo or an appointment with your representatives and after that is done, they can send invites to both the parties.
If in case some representative is unavailable, bots can do the cleaning work by connecting the leads with the available ones or continue the conversation.
The main motto behind all of this is to let chatbots do all the dirty work for you and human interaction is saved for only the very important tasks.
Great Examples of Conversational Marketing
Conversational marketing is not just theory but over the years, it has given proven results as well.
There are brands that have used conversational marketing to its maximum potential and hence have achieved new heights of success.
RapidMiner is a data science software platform developed by the company of the same name that provides an integrated environment for data preparation, machine learning, deep learning, text mining, and predictive analytics.
It is the perfect example of a business that has used a lead qualification bot and filtered the qualified leads from the mainstream website visitors. Their strategy was simple. They took a bold step in replacing their old lead capture forms with AI chatbots. The chatbot script consisted of questions that a sales representative would ask and it paid off big time.
Tom, the CMO of RapidMiner, shares his views
“If the bot uncovers that someone’s ready for a sales conversation, we can connect them to our sales team. If the bot uncovers that someone has a question about a particular product feature, we can bring in one of our product specialists. So the bot really helps to narrow that conversation and we can then bring it forward to the right person.”
The E-Commerce giant needs no introduction and has successfully implemented one of the most advanced chatbots of our time.
eBay’s AI chatbot which debuted on Facebook Messenger integrates conversational marketing with voice search and makes it very easy for shoppers worldwide to find what they are looking for.
eBay ShopBot is a personalized shopping assistant that helps people find the best deals from eBay’s one billion listings. Their vision is to make shopping with eBay as easy as talking to a friend, whether you are looking for something specific or just browsing for inspiration.
Lyft has really raised the bar in the ride-sharing transportation network with the introduction of chatbots.
Their chatbots help people request rides and connect with drivers.
On the Lyft app, interactive help is a chat-like experience, which is powered by AI and machine learning-powered bots. AI is used to anticipate and predict what questions a customer might have, and then personalize the experience for the passenger as they work conversationally to solve the issue at hand.
Jaime Gilliam-Swartz, Senior Director, Voice of the Customer and Shared Services, Lyft says that “one of the reasons chatbots have struggled at being adopted in the past is that they are binary, a decision tree with a specific set of questions, a specific set of answers.
What AI adds into an interactive help experience is that ability to be more dynamic, to handle just a few more use cases, and to continue to learn and grow from those use cases it sees, so it can constantly solve more and more.”
The Benefits of Implementing Conversational Marketing
Conversational marketing can offer a lot to your business depending on how well you use it. For some, it may seem irrelevant and for some, it might just be what the doctor ordered. The basic point remains that it has a lot of potential and benefits and is definitely worth having a look at.
I consider this to be the greatest advantage of conversational marketing. Nothing gets better than personalized messages for our visitors which makes them feel valued.
Consumers are tired of being treated like a number. Actually, they’re not tired of it, they’re over it. And that’s why personalized marketing matters for any brand looking for long-term customer loyalty.
With conversational marketing, prospects feel comfortable and share their queries and views frankly. This way, even after purchasing your product, customers become brand advocates and share their experience with family and friends. This is the maximum a brand can expect to achieve.
Smarter Work and Higher Efficiency
Chatbots reduce the human workload to a large extent. The amazing thing is that they can do this whilst producing great measurable results. This allows marketers, service people and others like us to concentrate and work on more significant tasks.
According to Convince and Convert, almost 40% of the US consumers would use a chatbot to get a quick answer in case of an emergency. Users realize the potential of chatbot technology and don’t hesitate to take advantage of it.
Chatbots have shown to use historical data to good effect and they are getting smarter day by day. Be it routing the visitors to the concerned department or qualifying leads, chatbots are making our lives a lot easier.
Audiences are growing impatient nowadays and everyone wants quick results. It would not be wrong to say that in the 21st century, time(or data) is money.
Imagine a company that’s available for you at any hour of any day in the week!
Just the mere thought of such a thing impresses us.
With the majority of customers being busy themselves during the typical 9–5 working hours, the option to contact a company at the weekend or later in the evening is extremely convenient for them. Conversational tools such as chatbots allow you to be available at every hour of the day, picking up inquiries after the working hours have finished.
Being available for your customers 24*7 helps in building a great rapport and trust.
Conversational marketing bridges the gap between you and leads. Using conversational marketing, you can generate a lot of qualified prospects that are actually interested in your brand and product.
The days for the old lead capture forms are over and it is the time to embrace conversational marketing in order to use it for generating more and more leads.
Learn and Grow
I accept that we still can use the old school technique of lead generation forms on our websites to collect useful information from our visitors.
What we will never be able to do is to provide context which can be only be attained in a one-to-one conversation. With conversational marketing at your service, you will learn something new about your customers and your business every day ranging from customer pain points to the best products you have ever created. You cannot get your hands on such insights even by using the latest analytics system.
Honest customer feedback and first-hand information are key to your optimization strategy. You need to ensure that you are learning about your consumers constantly and that knowledge is being utilized for the greater good.
FAQs About Conversational Marketing
Should I remove all of the lead capture forms from my website?
A big NO!
There is no hard and fast rule that you should abandon all other marketing techniques if you have adopted conversational marketing. Instead of withdrawing all forms from your website, you can use chatbots as a backup — add another option to handle interested prospects who want to interact with a human. It’s like paving another way- which is usually shorter to reach the same destination.
Is it possible to measure the effectiveness of conversational marketing?
This one is a simple yes.
The conversational marketing platform which you use will provide you with metrics and dashboards so that you can see how things are panning out for your business. Just like any other marketing channel, you can keep track of how well your strategy is working by analyzing the number of leads you brought in, the number of appointments you booked, and the amount of money you made via conversations.
Is conversational marketing scalable?
Chatbots provide you the functionality to offer quick and fast responses to your website visitors 24*7, even when none of your team members is around. As you have composed your chatbot script with commonly asked questions and fed your bot with intelligence, they can easily route the chats to the right person.
Conversational marketing comes with a clear cut message:
We ought to pay more attention to it than we are paying now.
Because conversations are the future.
Human conversations have been there since the start of time and with the exponential growth of technology and civilization, it has become a lot easier for people to talk to each other. The same applies to businesses and customers.
The ease with which conversational marketing fits into any sales strategy and the great results it has shown proves that conversational marketing is here to stay. Marketers should not overlook it as it has great potential but at the same time, they should consider a few things before diving into it.
The channel of conversation
The conversation itself
How it fits into your overall marketing strategy?
Keeping the above points in mind, a conversational marketing strategy should surely be considered for every type of business and is worth a try. Conversational content increases engagement as it uses questions to simulate choice and builds relationships by providing immediate, personalized, and relevant answers when consumers respond to those choices.