The ultimate guide to conversational marketing: all you need to know
Have you ever heard of conversational marketing? Are you trying to learn more on how chatbots can benefit your business? Look no further.
In this guide, we will cover every aspect of this new marketing field, which is set to grow tremendously in the coming years.
Enjoy your read!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is conversational marketing?
- Conversational marketing technology
- Conversational marketing tools
- What are the different types of conversational marketing?
- Conversational marketing benefits
- How to use conversational marketing techniques in your business
- Conversational marketing trends and stats
- Conversational marketing impact on the buyer’s journey
- Conversational marketing examples
- The future of conversational marketing: chatbots and AI
- Conversational marketing Report [PDF]
In our fast-paced, digital age, instant gratification has become the norm. Hungry? Order your favourite dish without leaving your sofa. Need a ride? One click of an app and you’ll be on your way. Looking for love? You can even choose a partner with a quick swipe right.
Nowadays, when we want it, we want it now. And as consumers, we’ve come to expect the same from our brands.
With 71% of customers now expecting companies to communicate with them in real-time, conversational marketing is leading a revolution in how brands interact with customers. And it works. In fact, studies show that 52% of consumers are more likely to repeat a purchase if the company offers support via live chat.
So, what is the definition of conversational marketing? This guide will drill down into the nitty-gritty of what it all means, how to use it, and how it can benefit your business.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing is a technique that allows you to build relationships with leads and customers through real-time conversations. This form of marketing relies on intelligent chatbots and targeted messaging to engage with people when they’re actually on your website.
Unlike status quo, hands-off marketing, which forces people to go through lead capture forms and then wait who-knows-how-long for a response, conversational marketing makes engagement easy. As a result, you’ll convert more highly qualified leads faster.
Now that you’ve got a basic idea of how conversational marketing works, let’s dive into the ways that it’s impacting and changing the way customers buy.
In a nutshell,
Conversational marketing uses real-time conversation to help build relationships between brands and consumers.
Unlike more traditional marketing methods that rely on lead capture forms (and the interminable wait for a response), conversational marketing instantly engages prospects for quicker conversion rates on those juicy leads.
Watch the video
Conversational Marketing Technology
But what are the main channels I can use to create these conversations? There are many ways to do this.
Conversational marketing uses automated responses and artificial intelligence to engage potential prospects from the get-go, including:
- Customer service chatbots
- Live chat
- Social commerce
- Conversational display ads
- SMS messaging
- Online messaging (WhatsApp, Telegram, and more)
Conversational Marketing Tools
So here comes the question: what are the best platforms and tools for conversational marketing. The market is plenty of platforms suited for every business need. Plus, some of them are even free to use! If you want to learn more about these, read our blog on the best platforms and tools for effective conversational marketing.
What are the different types of conversational marketing?
Put simply, anything that involves interaction between customers and the brand is a form of conversational marketing.
Conversational marketing improves the user experience and drives more sales. It’s a more personal approach that moves buyers swiftly through that sales funnel, often using questions one at a time.
As its name suggests, it feels a lot like a real-time conversation.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Chatbots and conversational marketing
A chatbot is a software programme that uses artificial intelligence to mimic natural language, bringing a personal touch that’s unachievable with web contact forms.
Conversational chatbots use website chat windows, SMS, and social messaging to answer queries, solve problems, and drive customer conversion. And they’re proving very popular. Chatbots are the fastest growing brand communication tool, with more than 300,000 active chatbots operating on Facebook alone.
Chatbot automation technology has taken huge strides over the past decade, allowing chatbots to take on much more sophisticated tasks. Nowadays, you can programme your chatbot to respond to a complex range of questions and comments, and respond differently to messages containing certain keywords. Thanks to recent advancements in AI, chatbots can even use computer learning to refine their language over time, achieving much more natural and human-like responses.
Conversational ads are another example of conversational marketing. And while they take up the same placements, targeting and reach as traditional ads, they work in a slightly different way as they’re built with the purpose of creating one-to-one conversations with your customers.
When you click on a traditional ad, you are taken to a landing page or a website shop. But with conversational display ads, you stay with the content you’re browsing while simultaneously starting a chat in the ad with the brand’s conversational chatbot.
So, you could be browsing a website for a new car at the same time as receiving recommendations on various models, and even booking a test drive at the dealership. See how the sales can rack up?
A great example of this are Facebook’s Click to Messenger Ads, which we’ve thoroughly reviewed in a dedicated blog.
Social commerce is a type of e-commerce, in that it involves selling products online. But while traditional e-commerce sells via a website, social commerce operates directly through social media.
With social commerce, the entire customer journey happens in one place, from product discovery to research, to check-out. With just a few clicks between seeing a product and buying it, social commerce offers a much smoother journey for your customer — with no app-jumping or clunky webpage loading.
But what makes social commerce really powerful is the opportunity for real-time interaction with potential buyers. By responding instantly to customer queries, you can build trust in your brand, drive engagement, and ultimately boost your sales.
Interested? We’ve written plenty of blogs on social commerce in case you want to learn more.
What are the main benefits of conversational marketing?
So, what are the benefits of using conversational marketing, and how can you make it work for your business?
The potential it has for lead generation is immense, but the benefits are even more wide-ranging. Let’s take a look at the main ones:
- Improved customer experience
- Increased conversion rates
- Fast-track customers through your sales funnel
- 24/7 customer service
- Giving a personal touch
Now let’s look at each one of these in more detail
Improved customer experience
If you think that price is the deciding factor for consumers today, you’d be wrong. According to a McKinsey study, 70% of a customer’s journey is based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Conversational marketing puts customer experience at the forefront of your marketing plan, giving customers what they want, in a shorter amount of time, with much less fuss.
And let’s face it, in our round-the-clock global economy, businesses can’t really afford to just shut down and not be available for their customers. But we’re only human! We all need a lunch break and a coffee, to see our friends and family, and even rest now and again. With a solid conversational marketing strategy, you can always be available for your customers with targeted and efficient responses (and still have time to sleep).
Additionally, by avoiding the delays associated with more traditional communication, conversational marketing also saves time and money for your business. What’s not to love?
Increased conversion rates
As chatbots streamline the customer experience, they can have a very positive effect on conversion rates. With 41% of customers using conversational marketing tools to make purchases, it’s clear chatbots are good for much more than just customer service.
Just the act of talking to customers makes it more likely they’ll buy from you. Traditional lead forms tend to have high abandonment rates. But with conversational marketing, we skip this step and get right to what they need. The experience is slicker, and the customer is happier.
Fast-track customers through your sales funnel
So, how can conversational marketing speed up your sales funnels? Quite simply, it’s because it uses significantly fewer steps than a traditional marketing strategy. Take a traditional sales funnel. Customers have to land on your website, fill out a form, become a lead in CRM, get assigned a score, enrolled in automated email, respond to outreach, cold-called — the list goes on and on. It’s exhausting, for you and for your customers.
Traditionally, prospects wade through a minimum of five laborious steps before a brand reaches out to them. That’s way too many obstacles in the way of customers who want to buy! It’s no surprise that typical landing page conversion rates are low.
In contrast, chatbots offer a frictionless journey through the sales process with only three steps: Engagement, understanding, and recommendation (more on this in just a bit). It’s quicker for the customer and more efficient for you. And with fewer hoops to jump through, there’s less opportunity for the buyer to get distracted, change their mind, or abandon the sale. It’s a win-win.
Providing 24/7 customer service
We humans are not made to be workaholics, and why should we be? Life is about much more than cold coffee and answering emails. But ensuring a good work-life balance for your team doesn’t mean your business needs to suffer. If you can get a chatbot to do the hard graft, what is there to think about?
And let’s face it, most customers will not be available during the normal 9-5 working hours. They’ve got jobs of their own to do. No more annoying voicemail messages explaining that you’ve closed for the day, and no more customer frustration as they wait for a reply. The chatbot is there to take the reins.
In the global market, 24/7 customer service also opens your doors to customers beyond your own time zone. The potential for growth is very exciting.
Giving a personal touch
One of the great unsung advantages of chatbots is how they can help your business improve over time. With conversational marketing, you can learn about your customers and tailor responses to suit their needs — helping you deliver effective solutions, fast.
A chatbot can guide your visitors towards relevant content and find ways to capture their information while they’re doing it. They can also find out what challenges customers are facing, what their shopping preferences are, and what they already know about your brand and products. The result is a kind of digital personal shopping assistant, offering tailored advice that works to each customer’s specific needs.
So, as you can see, there are many ways conversational marketing can benefit to your business. However, if you are still not entirely sure, we suggest you reading our “top reasons to invest in conversational marketing” blog, which explains why it’s the right to get on board with it.
How to use conversational marketing techniques for your business
Fortunately, conversational marketing removes these barriers, permitting leads to convert into customers. How does it work?
We now know that it offers a seamless, tailored experience for your customer, as well as moving prospects through your sales funnels much more efficiently. This is all great news for your business. So, how do you implement a conversational marketing strategy that really packs a punch?
Implementing conversational marketing allows you to establish a new lead-generating channel. This channel complements your existing marketing efforts. Conversational marketing can be distilled into three steps:
- Build Engagement
- Get a Better Understanding
- Provide Useful Recommendation
Let’s explore each of these steps further so that you gain better knowledge of how a conversational marketing sales channel functions.
This first step initiates interaction with your customers. So, when they land on your website, instead of encouraging them to sign up for a newsletter or fill in a form, you get your chatbot to ask how they can help. When visitors come to your site to download something, book a demo, or contact sales, you can use a chat bot to start a conversation. You can, in turn, use this conversation to lead your prospects further along the buyer’s journey to your next sales.
Whether a messenger chatbots or WhatsApp chatbots, they act 24/7 employees. They make conversational marketing work for your brand. When you immediately engage with your customers, you start a relationship, which will lead to better overall customer experiences. Instead of forcing leads to fill out forms, conversational marketing builds a bond and comes with immediate gratification. For the vast majority of businesses, this approach leads to higher conversion rates, more personalised experiences for customers, and more opportunities for sales.
But your direct engagement with customers doesn’t have to stop there. You can also follow up with the most interested customers instead of waiting for them to start a conversation. This proactive marketing approach lets potential customers know you’re interested in helping them solve their problems.
Like all great sales assistants, bots can post intuitive questions proactively, rather than waiting for the customer to make the first move. As well as having a range of standard openings, you can also create a bank of tailored questions for your chatbot to choose from based your customer’s actions on your site.
Of course, the more relevant your opening can be to your customer’s needs, the more likely they are to engage.
Get Better Understanding
After the chatbot has worked its initial magic, it can quickly build a clear picture of your prospect’s needs through a series of simple questions. And once it understands the customer’s problem, it can direct them instantly to a solution — minus the tiresome to-and-fro associated with traditional email queries.Remember that outdated sales funnel we talked about a little earlier? With such an antiquated system, it often took days of marketing automation and nurturing emails to nudge customers towards a purchase.
This immediacy is key. According to a study in the Harvard Business review, if you don’t respond to your customer within 5 minutes, your chances of success plummet by 400%. HBR also found that it takes an average 42 hours for sales teams to respond to leads. That’s a lot of missed opportunities.
Fortunately, chatbots allow you to interact with all visitors to your website within the five-minute time frame. They also understand which visitors are leads and can qualify them for your company in real-time. Best of all, conversational advertising lets you cut out the entire process of follow-up emails.
By responding to a customer’s questions almost instantly, the chatbot can potentially more than double your chances of conversation and, ultimately, sales conversion.
Provide Useful Recommendation
Once your chatbot has gathered enough information to gauge what your customer wants, they can then judge when to pass the prospect to a human being. At this point, your (very real) sales reps can swoop in and take over.
The bot complements the sales team by directing the prospect to the right rep, who can then swiftly target the problem and find the quickest way to solve it. This means your sales team spends their time dealing with the right kind of leads for them, without wasting valuable human resource sorting and filtering the prospects.
Bots rely on intelligent routing to connect leads to your company’s closers. They can even book meetings automatically with sales reps who can then focus solely on selling your products and services.
All your sales reps need to do is connect their calendars so that the bots can populate them with qualified leads. If you have more than one salesperson covering the same territory, these bots can assign them leads on a rotating basis.
Bots can also guide prospects to collateral and pieces of content, providing answers to the questions that they have. They can nurture leads and further qualify them by delivering the relevant information they need at the optimal time.
Learn more about how an experienced conversational marketing agency can help you ramp up your online game.
Conversational Marketing Trends and Stats
Conversational marketing is a fresh approach to the way brands communicate with their customers online. By 2022, marketing experts predict that a massive 85% of customer interaction will be handled without human agents. And with so many benefits to both businesses and customers, it’s easy to see why.
A strong conversational marketing strategy brings a personalised touch to the buying experience, leading to a shorter and frictionless sales process. It offers a quicker and more positive experience for the buyer, while providing you with a better understanding of your customers and their pain points. And it allows you to offer faster and more targeted customer service, while at the same time costing less than traditional marketing. It’s a no-brainer.
Did you know that only 61 percent of marketers rate their current strategy as effective? What’s more, 80 percent of marketers report their lead generation efforts as only slightly or somewhat effective.
Coupled with the fact that only 22 percent of businesses are satisfied with their current conversion rates, a new approach to marketing and customer engagement is clearly in order.
When it comes to moving leads through your marketing and sales funnels as quickly as possible, you must provide customers and buyers with authentic, personalised experiences.
The best way to do this? Conversational marketing.
Want to read this and more stats? Check our blog on stats and trends on conversational marketing, or download our conversational marketing report by filling the form at the bottom of this page.
Are you ready to explore how our conversational marketing experts can help you? Contact us to discuss ways to achieve your goals.
How conversational marketing impacts the buyer’s journey
Standard marketing practices no longer work. Why? Because they’re mismatched with the way customers now purchase things.
Think about it this way. If you’re not talking to people face-to-face, then how are you communicating? Via text, email, or other forms of digital messaging.
It’s no surprise, then, that 90 percent of consumers want to communicate with businesses this way, too. Yet, many brands continue to focus on sales funnels with loads of steps before an email exchange or messaging conversation ever occurs. (If it does at all.)
Is your current sales funnel guilty of this? Take a look at these “typical” customer experience steps for yourself:
- Land on your company’s website
- Fill out a contact form
- Become a lead in CRM
- Get scored and assigned a lead
- Cold calling
- Enrolment in email automation
- Responds to outreach
- Schedule a qualifying call
- Schedules sales call
- Answer a cold call
That’s a minimum of five steps before a brand ever reaches out to its potential customer via email! While you might assume that cold calling remains a more effective form of lead capture than emailing or messaging, think again. Only 43 percent of consumers will even answer a cold call.
Average landing page conversion rates hover around a measly 2.35 percent. No wonder so many companies feel frustrated by their sales funnel’s ability to convert leads into sales. What they don’t realise is the sales funnel itself puts multiple barriers between customers and sales.
Examples of Conversational Marketing
Know that you know everything about conversational marketing, why not learning from the best? There’s many examples of great customers interactions built by brands using chatbots and conversational marketing techniques in general, and we’ve put our best picks in a blog. Have a look at the below:
Future Trends in Chatbots & AI
Conversational marketing is revolutionising how brands interact with customers online. The benefits include creating a more human buying experience, which leads to a shorter sales cycle. This marketing channel can also contribute to a better understanding of your customers.
You’ll grow your sales pipeline while converting more and better leads.
Artificial Intelligence is certainly playing an important role in that, as our conversational marketing tools become more and more refined in resembling human interactions. If you’re interested in knowing our predictions on chatbots and AI, we suggest you read the below blog.
Download our conversational marketing report
We’re proud to present our latest conversational marketing report, a 17-page document full of key stats and emerging trends in conversational marketing, social commerce and more. Simply fill in the form below to get access to your copy.
Download our conversational marketing report
Simply fill in the form below and we’ll send you our 17-page eBook with plenty of stats, key insights and trends.