Ever notice the chatbot that pops up on the bottom-right corner of your screen as you mindlessly browse your favourite online stores? Well, you have just encountered an aspect of conversational marketing that is quickly gaining a considerable amount of attention in the market right now. While still a relatively recent and divided concept, conversational marketing has provided many resourceful opportunities to better facilitate conversation and dramatically increase in capturing and successfully converting inbound traffic. Specifically, with the introduction of chatbots, businesses can capitalize on the power of real-time conversations and can seamlessly guide consumers through their buyer’s journey while also creating each step a more personalized experienced. Chatbots have become increasingly more reliable due to consistent technological advancements and the hype of automated intelligence isn’t slowing down especially in the current market where engagement is commanded. Furthermore, customers now have an abundance of different approaches concerning the ways they communicate with businesses. With some remarkable capabilities emerging over the past years, there are many real-world practical examples of organizations successfully implementing automated intelligence in conversational marketing. However, are we ready to put all our weight and trust in technology alone? Maybe we’re all just caught in the current wave of A.I interest. If you’re a marketer or business owner trying to make that decision right now, continue reading to see how conversational marketing could possibly benefit your organization.
What is Conversational Marketing
Based on one-to-one interactions in real-time across multiple channels, conversational marketing is a customer-centric and dialogue driven approach in driving engagement and improving customer experience. It is becoming a personalized way to help move your buyers quickly through your marketing and sales funnel and could play a huge role in helping connect with prospects in a more supportive, organic way. With 2021 expected to see some of these trends continue to rise with 86% of online shoppers holding a high regard for proactive customer support, an aspect that chatbots can offer immediately (Aum, 2020). The differing key elements of conversational marketing will change how you view one-to-one conversations. More than just live chat, it’s about adapting to the communication preferences of your audience and potential consumers.
Chatbots in Conversational Marketing
When the topic of conversational marketing arises, people automatically think of chatbots. Rightly so, as they play a huge role in the implementation of targeted messaging and engagement through your communication channels. More importantly, chatbots are often used to automate the process of gathering data, providing information about products/services and further qualifying your leads. People don’t typically have the time and patience for the traditional process of B2B buying as it can become cold, impersonal and way more painful for the buyer than it needs to be. Today, chatbots come in all shapes and sizes with various levels of advancements. Free versions of chatbots seldom allow for any of the flashy AI capabilities of their pricey counterparts. Whereas more robust bots allow visitors to circumvent any form submission and interact with a bot until you or a member of your business decides to jump into the conversation. However, this is not the case for many conversations that go beyond simple transactions. A common misconception is that artificial intelligence simply removes the overall need for human interaction. With the increasing prevalence of chatbots, customer expectations are bound to be raised even further, therefore it raises the question if bots are efficient enough in communicating and providing the value customers are looking for.
“Chatbots are already ever-present in various sectors, offering precision, automation, scalability and efficiency. AI is seen as an opportunity to move people up the intellectual stack, where they become more productive contributors to their enterprise."
Engage, Qualify and Generate Leads
It’s undeniable that online activity is now our new normal. In the current marketplace, consumers have many different choices concerning the ways they communicate with businesses. One of the advantages of chatbots is that they are always available online, targeting the majority of your habitual users - millennials. Where customers can initiate conversations immediately and get the answers they are looking for, allows for better engagement and an increased generation of qualified leads. As opposed to having to wait for phone calls and emails or take time filling forms to be passed on to the sales team for further screening, bots are able to automatically sort customers to personalize their next steps based on the answers gathered through an initial series of questions and collection of necessary qualification details (name, email, service preference). This means valuable hours saved for your team, attaining leads that may have been missed as well as new contacts that can be added to your emailing list. On the other hand, your sales team gets a qualified lead with full context. When asking the right questions at the right time, this approach not only helps you convert and qualify leads but can also foster long lasting relationships through readily available communication.
Provide Valuable Insights About Customers
Apart from being able to simulate and provide real-time conversation, chatbots can become a useful tool in generating valuable consumer insights into your product/service and user experience. Collecting feedback is an integral task for any business and almost every customer conversation can be used as a golden opportunity to deliver a better experience. Not only can conversational analytics help avoid potential failures, but they can also provide businesses with a better understanding of their customer journey and expectations. Your chatbot platforms can surface patterns, trends and correlations from mapping popular user paths, tasks and exit points. This helps businesses better understand the buyers’ pain points and provide the necessary data to implement strategies that can drive sales conversions and maximize revenue.
Reaching New Customers
Consumers nowadays are overwhelmed by content. To reach and engage consumers today, you need to be where they are and chatbots are a new way to do just that. Because chatbots are predominantly found on messaging platforms, they are subjected to a virtually limitless audience. Being continuously active on these online platforms helps companies tap into new demographics and reach new customers who may otherwise want to reach out to a business via email or call. Being able to integrate chatbots across multiple channels allows your brand to be readily available to not only support your customers but also to create new opportunities in generating new leads.
Better Customer Experience
Less friction. More convenience. What it really comes down to is that automated messaging can significantly ease a customer’s purchase process and make it easy for people to get answers on the fly. With chatbots, not only is 24/7 support available (because live agents need sleep) but companies can also reduce first response and resolution times, deliver consistent engagement as well as tailor experiences accordingly through collected data gathered from previous conversations. Being able to action readily available and efficient live support eliminates a lot of needless back and forth for the customer, so it’s no surprise 69% of consumers prefer to use chatbots to communicate with a brand over phone and email support (Salesforce).
“Chatbots especially in retail are enjoying a surge due to the omnipresence of messaging apps. By leveraging the ability to build a chatbot on these platforms, brands are engaging with their customers in a more conversational setting."
Build Customer Relationships
You’ve moved your customers through your marketing funnel and into generating a complete sale, however marketing doesn’t just end there. By continually enhancing and engaging the relationship with a customer, brands can increase loyalty growth that can continue a profitable lifecycle. AI chatbots can become a vital tool in maximizing return potential through integrating an always-on approach. For example, brands can use the opportunity to follow-up after a sale to maintain engagement. These include acknowledging the customer with a thank you, providing relevant product recommendations, gathering valuable feedback and even interacting with informative and sharable content. As a result, a consistent user experience can be established where each individual customer feels appreciated and creates a positive association with your brand.
So what are the benefits and limitations of conversational marketing? It’s important to keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits all solution for every business. When choosing a strategy for your brand, make sure you take into account what will work best with your goals and values. Contact MarketPartner if you need help deciding how to use these strategies most effectively or want an expert opinion about whether they're right for your company's needs. Or let us know your thoughts about using AI-driven sales automation software? Leave us a comment below.