The simplest encyclopedic meaning of conversational marketing will tell you that it’s a process in which lead generation and selling are based mostly on a one-to-one conversation. Namely, you sell the best if you interact with people. Old knowledge with a new name.

In short, it means that one-way communication channels called emails are not successful anymore. It’s one-to-one communication involving a personalized one-to-one conversation that overtook traditional emailing.

By interacting with clients we can build trust, have a chance to engage them and it isn’t a distant way to a sale.

Over the years, eCommerce has lost its human touch. Brands have ceased to make online communication conversational. They have become a bit Impersonal, Static, Slow and One-Way.

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To fill the void left by traditional marketing, Inbound came to re-invent marketing so it’s less annoying bringing in a more human-centric approach for the metrics-driven approach, And its been hugely successful.

  • But, today, people want more from you.
  • They want you in an always available state.
  • Always There.
  • Always Knowing who they are.
  • Always ready to help.

This is still Inbound. But it’s a new dimension for marketing and even for sales and customer service too.

This is Conversational Marketing.

The Birth Of Conversational Marketing

The first chatbot was created in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum. This chatbot was named Eliza at first and then became Chatterbot later on.

The purpose of Eliza was to simulate conversations with real people. Eliza did such a great job that some of the users thought they were chatting with an actual person. But that wasn’t the end.

Joseph had to put Eliza to the test by testing Eliza on the Turing Artificial Intelligence Test. This is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

Eliza passed the test and became a sensation after it was programmed to impersonate a non-directional psychotherapist in an initial interview.

What is Conversational Marketing??

Before we move on to the practical advantages of conversational marketing, we need to define this relatively new concept. The model is obviously communication-centric and gives more room for user interactions.

Conversational marketing is the new marketing model that highlights the importance of real two-way communication.

Conversational Marketing or Commerce is a term coined by Chris Messina of Uber, this term refers to the combination of messaging applications and e-commerce through voice technology and is way toward cooperating with a brand or purchasing a product or service through non-customary channels, such as, voice assistants, SMS text, online and social media chat. ( Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Home, or chat apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Talk, and We Chat.)

Normally fueled by A.I or machine learning chatbot, This platform is more than an automated chatbot and far superior to web chat services more commonly seen on websites and consumer preferences paved the way for conversational marketing to pick up footing, fundamentally in B2C retail.

Adoption of conversational marketing in the B2B space is still behind, as those purchases or subscriptions are often more complicated than B2C marketing.

By embracing conversational marketing, consumers can chat with company representatives, get customer support, ask questions, get personalized recommendations, read reviews, and click to purchase all from within messaging apps.

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With conversational marketing, the consumer engages in this interaction with a human representative, chatbot, or a mix of both and allow you to complete a purchase at their own speed and on their own time.

“Conversational Marketing exploits the potential of messaging apps to reach the target audience directly, establishing more human-like relations with potential customers. Therefore, conversational marketing provides brands with accurate customer-related insights.”

Timothy Smith — Chief Marketing Officer at UK Best Essays

Conversational Marketing Today

Consumers are increasingly relying on messaging apps for all forms of communication, whether personal, business, or commerce. Increasingly, consumers are using chat to find and select products and services, and to complete the payment process, all without having to call, email, or even visit a brand’s website.

Everything is happening within the messaging app.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Research firm Juniper reported that more than 94 trillion digital messages were sent in 2015, with the bulk being through email. However, instant messaging has just about reached its tipping point, with the total number of instant messages sent overtaking emails by mid-2016.

Messaging apps are becoming a preferred means of communication. According to eMarketer, 1.4 billion consumers used messaging apps in 2015, which is up 31.6% from 2014, and that number is expected to hit 2 billion by 2018.

Conversational Marketing Tomorrow

As conversational marketing is about personalization and availability, it makes sense that the future of marketing would be to couple both the idea of extreme personalization with the exponential usage of messaging applications.

This would hit all the requirements, on both sides of the conversation. Data is being collected, offers personalized, responses are sent quickly, sales are always on, content is relevant, etc.

Bringing instant messaging and conversational marketing together, we can expect to at least quadruple that number. Recent research has found that SMS open rates are, on average, as high as 98% according to this report by Dynmark.

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” –Craig Davis, former Chief Creative Officer at J. Walter Thompson.

Conversational Marketing Methodology

Conversational Framework From Drift

The idea of conversational marketing can seem a little out of sorts compared to the more traditional models so we follow Drift’s methodology, which breaks down the process.

Implementing conversational marketing doesn’t force you to blow everything up and start from scratch. It’s the fastest way to move buyers through your marketing and sales funnel.

There are Three Simple Stages Called Conversational Framework: Engage, Understand, Recommend, Let’s us talk about them in a bit more detail.

Step-1: Engage Stage

One of the primary steps of marketing is engaging with your prospects and capturing your customer’s information, and up until now, lead capture forms have been the way we do it. Whilst forms capture plenty of data, the process afterward of having to wait for a response can put the customer off continuing the journey.

When visitors go through a lead capturing forms, contact sales or book a demo, A chatbot can be programmed to start a conversation by asking for customer information, for example, their email or phone number. Instantly, you’ve captured data and can continue to help with their inquiry.

But it doesn’t have to end there — you can keep the conversation going and continue moving people through your funnel instead of forcing them to wait for a follow-up email — if that’s what they want.

Stage-2: Understand Stage

It’s been said that the response time can be the difference between qualifying a lead or not, which is why chatbots work. They not only allow you to give a fast response but enable you to be available 24/7, ensuring every lead is qualified.

You can engage people on your website now when they want to engage with you.

With conversational marketing, bots keep you available 24/7 to engage with new leads instantly. Chatbots can understand who those leads are and what they want by qualifying those leads for you in real-time instead of forcing them to wait on follow-up emails.

Let bots ask qualifying questions for you. Build your bot using similar questions that you already ask on form fields or initial qualifying calls. The bot will then have a conversation with the lead to understand them better

This will also help the bot recommend the next steps for the person engaging with it. You’ll speed up response time and ensure your reps talk to the right people at the right time.

Stage-3: Recommend Stage

Bots are great at engaging and understanding leads, but nothing beats human-to-human interaction once it’s time to close the sale.

Chatbots are able to intelligently route leads to the suitable sales reps based on sales territory and can even go as far as assigning specific reps to a lead. Sometimes a lead doesn’t instantly respond after the rep has reached out, and if when they do come back, the rep is no longer available, a chatbot can step in until the rep is available again. This is a great way to keep your lead engaged.

With intelligent routing, bots will always make sure the right leads go to the right reps. If you have multiple reps in the same territory, leads can be assigned on a rotating basis.

Once sales reps connect their calendars, bots can book meetings for qualified leads directly from conversations. Your sales team will appreciate waking up to calendars full of high-quality meetings.

Bots can guide leads to pieces of content or collateral that will answer their questions or suggest personal solutions. And they can nurture leads to the next stage by further qualifying who they are and delivering relevant content over time.

The trend is here, Well Almost!

Some companies have realized that being available all the time, in a friendly manner and adopting a conversational tone is the way to go.

Companies like Wendy or even Netflix currently use Twitter as their main channel to help and communicate with their customers.

How do these experiences make you feel??

  • It feels special. you feel enthused to have someone respond directly to me via Twitter or any social platform, within a few minutes, and responding to my exact query.
  • Feels appreciated. As a consumer or customer you feel entitled to a certain degree of support and yet experience the same delight when they responded to you.

And makes you feel like sharing. You want to spread the word about their services.

“Businesses should strive to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person, with the right information, on the right channel, every single time.”

An Inbound Approach to Conversational Marketing

Great marketing is all about delivering the right message to the right people at the right time, but developing a conversational marketing strategy can take time — it’s not easy to think about the process when you’re trying to keep up with the day-to-day demands of running a business.

Automated communication has been a key component of that formula for years now, evolving as technology improves.

Conversational marketing isn’t something you can set and forget, you have to continuously optimize your strategy to see the best results, but there are five things you should keep in mind: Personalize, Contextualize, standardize, empathize, and optimize

  • Personalize

When speaking with a customer or prospect, conversations should be personalized with relevant shared knowledge. Shared knowledge is the foundation of good conversations.

Personalized details make the conversation feel more natural and help you to get to the root of the issue as quickly as possible.

  • Contextualize

Conversations that have context not only improve the end-user experience, they also help minimize misunderstandings and get straight to the heart of the issue.

Context is necessary to help answer the right question, at the right time, in the best way possible. Conversations that aim to answer the most important question first will provide the best user experience.

Spend time analyzing your interactions to determine what data will help improve your customer relationships.

  • Standardize

However, it’s important not to get too caught up in personalizing your messages. While personalization and contextualization are important, standardizing elements of conversations helps bring a level of professionalism and consistency to your business. Conversations should be repeatable and predictable.

Standardization is crucial to delivering clear, consistent answers, across conversations and users.

  • Empathize

When involved in a conversation, you often have to deliver the right answer before correcting the problem.

The business should emphasize with your issue and assure you that they understand the problem before the can move forward with providing a solution. Emphasizing helps customers feel valued and heard.

  • Optimize

Learn from your past conversations so you can improve them in the future. Optimize for the strengths of the channel and for the answer — aim to provide answers that people would receive in a real, one-to-one conversation.

Listen to your customers and observe their behavior as you build out your strategy and make changes where needed. Conversational marketing is an iterative process — what you thought might work may not always provide the best experience. Take time to ask your customers for feedback.

Their advice will help you delight your next customer. Remember, every conversation should be impactful and help add value to your business.

Conversational marketing means creating customer-centric brands and products, treating users as humans, and engaging in a consistent dialog.

Benefits of Conversational Marketing

  • You create a more human buying experience.

Customers often find themselves missing the one thing that the online buying experience lacks: human interaction. However, conversational marketing is able to offer this — through intelligent programming and routing, chatbots are able to assist inquiries through real-time conversations. It works the same way shop assistants, in the sense that they’re there ready and waiting for a customer to approach them as and when they want to.

Bots handle all of the tedious stuff, so reps can focus 100% on tasks that require a human touch.

  • You learn a TON about your customers.

Naturally, conversations allow you to learn more and gain an insight into the person you’re talking too, enabling you to gather information honestly and openly. Conversational tools, such as chatbots, are also able to monitor users and learn what times of day people prefer to message and what types of questions people prefer to ask.

When you’re having conversations non-stop, you’re learning non-stop.

  • You add a net new source of leads.

Remember, conversational marketing is engaging and uses chatbots to start conversations with potential leads. Through human-like interaction, you can begin to build lasting relationships with these leads and encourage them to talk to sales reps. Chatbots are great for picking out your best leads and directing them where necessary. Through asking a range of questions, chatbots can determine which leads are most valuable and act accordingly.

  • You shorten your sales cycle.

Implementing conversational marketing into your sales strategy will shorten your sales cycle. Previous methods use lead capture forms, which require the sales rep having to go and reach out to the lead. If there is a delay during this time, the lead may have lost interest and therefore, you’ve lost a lead. Conversations are instant and enable you to respond in real-time. Chatbots are also able to direct leads to the most suitable sales rep and schedule demos all in one conversation.

  • 24/7

Being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a major benefit for customers. With the majority of customers being busy themselves during the typical 9–5 working hours, the option to contact a company at the weekend or later in the evening is extremely convenient for them. Think about it, how many time have you needed to ring an insurance company or a customer service helpline and you get stopped at their voicemail explaining they’re now closed for the day? It’s understandably frustrating. Conversational tools such as chatbots allow you to be available every hour of the day, picking up inquiries after working hours have finished.

Conclusion

Conversational marketing is the New Sexy even if its a bot. And it’s on rapidly growing pace.

But here’s the thing…

Some people approach conversational marketing as a separate channel.

That’s a huge mistake.

Because conversational marketing works best when it’s integrated with your entire marketing mix- and your whole business.

It’s a simple, sensible addition to the inbound marketing you’re already doing.

Regardless of the medium, with conversational marketing, you’re not just blasting your messaging outward, or forcing people to take an action: You’re answering people’s questions, and listening to their feedback, and then uncovering new ways to help them. In other words, you’re having an actual conversation.

Don’t forget to give us your 👏 !

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Let’s Talk About Conversational Marketing was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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