The ultimate guide to conversational marketing: all you need to know
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?
Even if you’ve never heard the term conversational marketing, we’d be willing to bet you’ve experienced it as a consumer.
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
And 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
- Email marketing
- Social commerce
- Conversational display ads
- SMS messaging
- WhatsApp messaging
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 display ads
Conversational display ads are another example of conversational marketing. And while they take up the same placements, targeting and reach as traditional display ads, they work in a slightly different way.
When you click on a traditional display 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?
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.
How can conversational marketing help my business?
So, what are the benefits of using conversational marketing automation, 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.
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?
Click on the image below to download the infographic
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.
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.
A personalised 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.
How to use conversational marketing for your business
We now know that conversational marketing offers a more 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?
To begin, you can do away with the tedious, multiple stages that traditional marketing brings, and scale it down to three key steps:
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.
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.
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.
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.
By responding to a customer’s questions almost instantly, the chatbot can potentially more than double your chances of conversation and, ultimately, sales conversion.
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.
The way forward in marketing
Conversational marketing is a fresh approach to the way brands communicate with their customers online.
By 2021, 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.
If you’re ready to see how conversational marketing can help build your brand and lead to increased profitability, get in touch with our specialist team. We’re here to help!
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.