As a concept, marketing has led an exciting journey throughout the ages – from face-to-face friendly haggling in the ancient agoras to innovations such as the newspaper, radio, television, and finally, the internet.
Its role, however, has remained the same, and that is to sell products or services by addressing consumers’ specific needs, desires, and pain points. Modern-day marketing strives to deliver highly personalized experiences to consumers hungry for a sympathetic ear and above-average product recommendations. Online personalized marketing has thus far seen unprecedented growth in record time. It has spread to all possible devices and mediums, ultimately bringing us new ways of interacting with consumers through so-called conversational marketing.
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Table of Contents
What Is Conversational Marketing, Exactly?
As you might expect, conversational marketing is a strategy that relies on interacting with target audiences – or quite literally, having conversations with them. The idea is to leverage one-to-one conversations with consumers to build trust and personalize the customer experience, both of which ultimately lead to boosting conversions.
And how do we do it?
Well, the first thing that most people think of are chatbots and live chat customer support. We’ll definitely talk about chatbots more in this article because they’re central to conversational marketing and they’re continuously evolving in amazing ways. But before we turn the spotlight on them, it’s important to emphasize that conversational marketing is not just about the tools – more on that in the next section.
Catering to the Changing Conversational Preferences of Consumers
The tools that allow conversations to take place vary, and they will change as user preferences change. Chatbots and live chat are all important tools for carrying out a conversational marketing strategy. Conversations between a business and a customer can also be carried out via SMS, Facebook Messenger, email, phone calls, various messaging platforms, or in comment threads on social media. The latter is where social media monitoring also becomes a vital tool for conversational marketing.
The point of conversational marketing lies exactly in meeting customers whenever and on whichever platform they prefer. It’s about interacting with them in a way that personally suits them best. To do this well, businesses need to be highly adaptable and serious about getting to know their target audience. But once you manage to engage a potential customer where it’s most convenient for them, you have set the foundations for a very promising customer journey.
The rest is about having real conversations and tailoring the content of each conversation to the given channel and the user’s needs.
When you’re conversing with a customer via Twitter, for example, you’ll need to be approachable, helpful, and perhaps even creative within that little block of characters available. And when it comes to chatbots, you’ll need to pour your efforts into making sure that your bot is able to carry out an enticing, natural conversation.
Shaping the Customer Journey with the Help of Chatbots
A chatbot is a service, or better yet, a combination of rules, machine learning, and artificial intelligence that one can interact with via a chat-like interface.
Although automated, chatbots are designed to provide a very individualized experience in each conversation. In return, these conversations gather invaluable information about the potential customers you can later use to your advantage.
If done correctly, a conversation with a chatbot matches the lighthearted conversations one encounters on the market square or any brick-and-mortar shop. And this is why they’ve become such a vital factor in the marketing equation. This is the technological breakthrough that has allowed so many sellers to cater to all customers, at once, 24/7.
Chances are, you’ve already had a close encounter with some of the more advanced bots, perhaps when you were using your online banking services or just ordering food. The little “ping” you hear once you open a website is there to announce a chat window and your very own chatbot to greet you and hopefully guide you to the end of the sales funnel.
Bots can recognize returning customers, make recommendations, guide, provide information, even throw in a joke or two in order to mimic a real salesperson and make the user experience as pleasant as possible.
While the customers enjoy their shopping or browsing, you are able to:
1. Humanize the online shopping experience
Your bot will offer a warm greeting and encourage conversation, accompanying the visitor through their customer journey.
2. Acquire thorough knowledge about your customers
You’ll know the reason behind their visit to your website, what they value most, what they want, and what they expect. You can later use this data to teach your bot how to better communicate with visitors and address their needs.
3. Make your sales pipeline stronger
Unlike human employees (who can now focus on other tasks and processes), bots don’t sleep, take vacations, or get sick. They are available non-stop to all, and what’s more, they provide immediate service.
4. Boost conversions
Chatbots are a much friendlier alternative to lead conversion forms few wish to engage in.
5. Provide better recommendations
With the help of machine learning processes, chatbots are continually learning. The more conversations they have and data they gather, the better the quality of conversations. Bots can even set up product demonstrations, meetings, or calls.
6. Save both money and time
When you implement a chatbot, you’ll no longer be obligated to stress about answering each inquiry in due time, answering emails, writing comments on social media posts, and the like. Once you delegate these tasks to your bot, you and your team can focus on improving your strategy and handling tasks that demand human creativity.
However, we can’t forget that some conversations will eventually require a human representative to step in at some point. A potential customer might have an issue or a demand that a chatbot is not equipped to address, in which case they’ll hand the conversation over to a real sales rep. By using a combination of artificial and human intelligence, you can significantly improve efficiency and see an increase in sales. The trick lies in understanding what each does best and how the two work together. The conversational design your chatbot implements can make or break the deal, so make sure it’s a brilliant one.
Most Common Chatbot Mistakes to Avoid
One of the best things about the chatbot building process is that mistakes are easy to avoid and even fix. This creates a stress-free environment in which you can focus on the best possible conversational engineering. Dodge these first, and you’ll have a strong foundation to build upon.
- You don’t plan properly
Engaging in a spontaneous building endeavor will most certainly lead you to poor results. Don’t rush, and make your bot’s blueprint with attention to detail. Choose its purpose and make sure that it benefits both the user and your business.
- You make the user work too hard
If your bot leaves the visitor wondering what to do next, your prospective customer will likely give up and turn to your competitors. It’s vital that you provide consistent guidance every step of the way, leaving no dead ends.
- You fail to enable a proper conversation
It’s not about what your chatbot can or cannot say, but rather the natural aspect of listening to what the customer has to say and being able to respond to it appropriately. If your bot carries on a monologue, it will come across as pushy and insensitive – an unfavorable aspect of any conversation, automated or not. Teach your bot to pause and offer opportunities for user engagement. That’s the only way to enable a pleasant two-way conversation that can influence a potential customer to do business with you.
- The unsubscribe button is hard to find
Not all users will want to remain engaged. If they can’t find a way to unsubscribe easily, they’ll become frustrated, which hinders their perception of your brand. And if your bot is implemented into a social network like Facebook, you can end up reported and penalized.
- You forget to check in on your bot
While your chatbot is quite capable of performing without your supervision, leaving it will make you miss out on optimization opportunities that will help you improve its performance. And better performance means more conversions, brand loyalty, and better reputation.
Conversational Marketing, Content, and Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Chatbots are designed to lead customers towards conversions through real-life, pleasant conversations. As a customer, you’ll want the other participant of the conversation to be attentive, remember your name, and respond accordingly. And if you have multiple conversations on different occasions, you wouldn’t expect to repeat any information all over again.
This is exactly why CRM is of vital importance. With digital memory, you’ll be able to carry out online conversations with customers as if you knew them.
To recreate real-conversation spontaneity, there has to be quick and reliable access to a shared knowledge base. Information on customers and data like communication history are crucial parts of a successful conversational marketing strategy. A good CRM will keep that data organized so you can get relevant content whenever you need it.
Of course, you don’t need to know everything about the customer, but it’s crucial to recognize elements from past conversations.
You can address them by name, offer something in accordance with their preferences, and answer their questions more accurately. If a conversation is handed over to customer service or a sales rep, they’ll need all the data from your CRM software to make sure they’re on the same page. Long gone are the days of being handed over from one customer service representative to another and going through the frustration of having to repeat everything each time.
Conversations Are the Future – Which Makes Good Content Irreplaceable
We might have grown accustomed to chatbots and casual chatting while shopping, but let’s take a step back. Could you have imagined having a meaningful conversation with a virtual assistant whenever you felt like it a couple of decades ago? Today, we’re practically having real conversations with machines – and that’s amazing!
Conversational marketing is setting new trends and forever changing the way brands talk to customers. Automated conversations are well-designed, natural, and effective. Apart from the channel of choice, focusing on content is of utmost importance. It should be clear, serve a purpose, and function hand-in-hand with your inbound marketing strategy.
The need to converse is innate. All living beings communicate, verbally or otherwise. Automated AI conversations are a technological breakthrough that has enabled businesses to communicate better with their audiences and customers. Your virtual employees are just communicating what you would have said if you were actually taking part in selling the item or service.
Conversational marketing has made conducting business more manageable, more productive, and more approachable. In the process, we have to maintain that human touch of empathy. After all, the customer might come for the products, but they will stay (and come back) for the service.