The Rise of Conversational Marketing and Chatbots

We’ve all visited a website where a chatbot notifies you as soon as the page is loaded, asking if you need help or have any questions. Chatbots, and conversational marketing as a whole, have gained popularity and maturity very quickly in the past few years, so we thought it’s worth discussing the good and bad and promoting best practices in this particular niche. Read on to see how your business can benefit from conversational marketing and how to implement it effectively!

What is conversational marketing?

According to Giosg, conversational marketing is defined as a dialogue-driven approach to marketing whereby customers can engage in a live conversation with either a human or an automated and AI-powered chatbot. Real-time conversations with customers can be effective and efficient methods of reaching your brand’s goals, whether that is to create stronger customer relationships or generate additional sales. Conversational marketing also allows brands to communicate more in real-time and leave behind day-long response wait times for questions.

Trending social messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have made it very easy for brands to communicate quickly and directly with their customers. It is no surprise that these platforms have grown to 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion monthly users, respectively, and exist as a destination where brands often want to leverage their presence. Many brands have established a very reachable presence on these social messaging apps to make it known to customers that they are available to them quickly and easily.

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The benefits of conversational marketing

There are quite a few benefits that conversational marketing provides and that have contributed to its rapid implementation. As you read through these benefits, think about how your brand is currently doing in these areas and how conversational marketing can improve them:

A convenient way for customers to get answers

More people navigate websites on their phones than on their computers. Mobile users also prefer messaging-based interactions, largely because it is perceived that it can be easier to get an answer through messaging than through scrolling chunks of text on a website.

With the increase in usage of chatbots, customers are also able to get their answers 24/7. Customers’ patience levels are gradually decreasing, and many don’t want to wait until your business opens up to get their answer. If they see that you’re not available at the time that they want their answer, they will likely find a competitor that is! 24/7 chatbot availability also appeals to businesses that have customers in other countries and timezones; it can be hard to have a human support team available 24/7 for all timezones, but chatbots shine in this area.

A great way to gather insights about customers

Messaging with customers allows them to provide open-ended responses with the freedom to express their thoughts and feelings about your services or products. In addition, in cases where it is a human representing your brand, they also have a bit of freedom to comment on customer feedback and engage in further conversation. Contrast this with many other digital marketing methods (websites, ads, and email marketing), which are mostly one-sided and event-driven. It is relatively hard for customers to provide feedback through these channels. For example, although some email newsletters are able to accept replies that go directly to the brand, customers don’t typically think to do so. In other cases, the company may have set up a do-not-reply email address, in which case it is not possible for someone to send direct feedback or comments. Combine the open discussion that comes from conversational marketing with the possibility of keeping a record of the conversations, and it’s evident how conversational marketing can be used to identify trends and pain points within your customer demographic.

An effective way to build customer relationships

Many people would be ashamed or embarrassed to ask some of their questions to a real person, so using a chatbot to ask them is the perfect solution. And the same goes in the opposite direction: chatbots can ask customers questions that would otherwise be awkward or uncomfortable if it was part of real-life interactions.

Chatbots also allow your brand to express itself through the use of personalized/unique replies, emojis, images, and more! If customers have a fun and unique time interacting with your brand, they will be more likely to remember you and come back again. 

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Disadvantages of conversational marketing

Although conversational marketing presents a great opportunity for businesses to invest in and grow their business, there are a few pain points to be aware of. At the end of the day, chatbots simply aren’t human, so they will not be able to converse as naturally as a human would. Even with the best programming and automation currently available, there will be times when the response that the chatbot gives doesn’t really make sense or doesn’t give the customer the answer that they are looking for. This can lead to frustration from the customer and a negative experience with your brand, making them less likely to convert or return. Furthermore, in cases where you have a live human representing your brand, it can be costly to have someone engaging in 1:1 conversations with customers.

How you can implement conversational marketing into your brand’s strategy

According to Drift, there are three key steps to successfully implementing conversational marketing within your brand:

1: Engage

Compliment existing lead forms on your website by adding chatbots. Even if the questions that you use in the chatbot are similar to those asked in the lead forms, visitors that have a preference for chat-based interactions will find it easier to use the chatbot. 

A key benefit of chatbot over lead forms is that you can use them across multiple pages (in a non-obstructive way) so that they are visible to customers at any point of their visit. You can also customize the chatbot to target people based on their actions on the website. For example, if someone is viewing a page for a specific service, the chatbot can display a message catered to that service!

2: Understand

With chatbots and live messaging, you’ll be able to understand what your customers want within just a few messages, rather than across multiple emails and several days. Chatbots often have features built into them that allow them to recommend the most relevant next steps. But note that customers may not complete major actions or decisions based on suggestions of the chatbot. This takes us to the next step…

3: Recommend

Connecting your customers with a real person will make them much more likely to take the actions that you want them to, such as booking an appointment. For example, after a chatbot interacts with a customer and provides them with some information about the service they are interested in, you could recommend that the customer books a free consultation appointment with one of your staff.

Key takeaways

In the past few years, there has been a big shift in how businesses see and interact with their customers. Businesses are being less business-centric (focusing on methods and experiences that work for them) in favour of being customer-centric, where they focus on giving customers personalized experiences based on what works best for them. This is the new standard that companies are expected to adopt if they want to compete with others in their industry.

With this information, we hope that you were able to come up with ideas on how your company or brand could benefit from conversational marketing. Even if you have already implemented conversational marketing, there are many ways to improve the customer experience.

If you are interested in conversational marketing or chatbots, contact an UpOnline representative today and learn how you can give your business the boost that it deserves!