Is Conversational Marketing the Next Big Thing?

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What keeps modern marketers awake at night? Insight into how customers interact with their brand on their decision-making journey, more than anything else. Creating compelling customer experiences is entirely impossible without a keen understanding of how customers move through marketing and sales funnels.

From one-way communication, engagement strategies are now evolving to end-to-end conversational experiences. In fact, the very definition of ‘conversation’ is changing from in-person communication to also include interactive communication via chatbots and messaging. For marketers, this means that the success of chat and texting as a primary mode of communication needs to be taken seriously.

Clearly the next frontier in engaging customers, conversational marketing is fast taking centre-stage.

What is conversational marketing?

There is really nothing new about our use of bots. We’ve all had some experience with ‘talking’ to Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. Amazon uses bots to recommend products based on purchase history and Spotify uses them to recommend music based on your preferences. And with time, bots have only gotten smarter and more sophisticated. Today, they can understand and reply to human questions, using natural language processing technology. In fact, AI bots are also able to remember and identify visitors, a feature that has a powerful use in conversational marketing and personalisation.

The popularity of messaging combined with the emergence of applied AI has enabled brands to actually talk to their customers and, quite literally, have their own voice. Conversational marketing involves the use of AI chatbots to have one-on-one conversations with customers at scale. The chatbots engage with the website visitors, answering queries in real-time and pitching a product as per their needs.

Utilising bots, conversational marketing offers a new way to connect and interact with customers and prospects. Apart from engaging website visitors, it can significantly improve conversions as brands can answer questions in real-time and, thus, help close more transactions.

Why do we need chatbots at all?

While bots have become more sophisticated with usage of NLP, there is no denying that a human score over bots when it comes to a sophisticated and contextual use of language. However, while a human chat agent may be able to talk to 4-5 visitors at a time, one-on-one conversations are not possible at scale – think thousands of website visitors.

On the other hand, AI chatbots can handle multiple conversations at the same time, with absolutely no loss of efficiency or accuracy. Moreover, they can assess a user’s interest in buying a product and direct the conversation accordingly.

Conversational marketing makes smart use of chatbots as opposed to say, lead capture forms. This means that when a lead is live on a brand’s website or blog, they don’t have to wait for to-and-fro emails and can engage with the brand as and when they need to.

Personalising communication with chatbots

Every marketer understand that personalised and tailored conversations are the most powerful conversion tool. Personalisation rests on remembering and valuing a customer’s choices in order to forge a long-term relationship with them.

AI chatbots are enabling brands to connect with their prospects and customers in a personalised manner. From basic user details to detailed preferences, they can remember a customer’s choice and communicate accordingly. In fact, chatbots can further improve a customer’s buying experience by pitching relevant products and offers.

What sets apart AI bots from human agents is that they make personalisation scalable. They remember a vast amount of data about every customer – last visit, preferences, total sessions, contact details, etc. With AI chatbots, brands can tailor and run personalised campaigns, ultimately enhancing brand value, customer satisfaction, and conversions.

By embracing the change that is conversational marketing early on, 1-800-Flowers was able to expand their reach immensely, reporting that 70% of the orders received via their chatbot are from new customers.

This proves that users are feeling increasingly comfortable conversing with a bot. The ease and efficiency of the process gives the customer the feeling that they are working with an actual customer services rep, instead of having to click through a dozen web pages to get the job done. Ride-sharing app Lyft leverages bots on Facebook, Slack, and the Amazon Echo. It allows users to easily book rides while on the move.

Why brands must invest in conversational marketing

Conversational marketing offers powerful benefits compared to traditional marketing. Brands can leverage conversational marketing to analyse customer interactions and transactional data, convert more leads, shorten sales cycle through real-time communication and 24*7 availability, and ultimately create a more human buying experience.

However, the biggest reason for brands to invest in this mode is to use AI to build their voice and learn how and when to talk to customers. More importantly, brands must focus on building specific, vertically-oriented conversations instead of the one-size-fits-all bots we have in the likes of Google Assistant and Siri. If two different users were to ask Siri a question, they’d both get the same answer. On the other hand, a brand’s chatbot can personalise conversations for different prospects. A beauty brand, for instance, would be able to offer personalised guidance to prospects by learning everything about what they want, where they’re from, and where their interests lie.

eBay for example has one of the best chatbots in the shopping space. The bot is built especially for Google, which allows access from Google Home and more importantly from your Android phone. Once you eBay using the voice search, it helps you find the best deals as well shares information on your smart phone, making it easier for you to make the easy purchasing.

Author – Prashant Chauhan

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