Imagine if e-commerce and social marketing met, and had a baby. What would the end result be? In all likelihood, the outcome of this pairing would look something like conversational marketing.
This marketing tool has grown in popularity over the past decade and inspires mixed reactions from users. Some enjoy the informal manner of contacting a business in the same way they’d message a friend. Others much prefer speaking to a staff member over the telephone, or in person, to get answers or solve a problem with greater speed. Regardless of your preference for in-person interactions or digital ones, one thing is for sure: conversational marketing is here to stay.
In this piece, the DGT team will be exploring the importance of conversational marketing in 2023 and what the future holds for this savvy marketing tool.
But first, what exactly is conversational marketing? Conversational marketing constitutes the interaction of a business with their existing or prospective customers in a two-way dialogue that takes place in real time. If you’ve ever interacted with a brand on social media chats, digital personal shoppers or chatbots, you’ve engaged in conversational marketing. These tools are exceptionally useful for chasing delivery information, gathering product recommendations, scheduling appointments, raising concerns, and much more.
The most common forms of conversational marketing are live chat functions and chatbots. These can be enabled by artificial intelligence systems, or by members of staff who receive message notifications. You’ve likely interacted with these marketing tools at some point in your life – whether you’re trying to contact your bank to raise a concern or open a new account, have chased a business for delivery updates, or have messaged a brand out-of-hours requesting information on their services.
80% of basic queries can be solved by automated chatbots, but are typically referred to team members who have to spend their time answering the same simple questions rather than addressing more substantial tasks that could move the broader business forward. By streamlining your business’ workflow by removing more menial tasks and referring them to your conversational marketing bot, your business could save a significant amount of money. Similarly, the speed at which chatbots can answer queries could be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful deal – research suggests that following up with a lead within 5 minutes could boost your chances of sales success by 9 times.
36% of companies now use conversational marketing techniques on their websites. In order to stay competitive with other businesses in your industry, it is important to offer these premium features. After all, 90% of customers have stated that they would like to at least have the option to interact with a business via a chat function, and if your business is unable to offer this, your prospective customers may begin to look elsewhere.
Businesses can benefit from having active conversational marketing chatbot features available 24/7, meaning that customers needn’t wait until a business’ working hours to ask questions. If using an automated response, or AI, customers can receive answers immediately and make the relevant next choice in their buyer journey as soon as possible – all outside of business hours! Ultimately, this tool gently nudges your prospective customers through the sales funnel by removing possible obstacles throughout their journey. Should they need information or advice, they needn’t wait or delay their purchase: just a few taps on their keyboard will alert a bot or member of staff to their query to speed up the process.
When using chat functions on a website, businesses are able to review a customer’s purchasing habits in order to make more relevant recommendations for future purchases. This is usually more information than is available via a telephone or in-person consultation, with both customers and businesses benefitting from the availability or prior purchasing activity. When it comes to B2C interactions that utilise human staff responses as opposed to AI, there is even greater scope for personalisation. Staff can give product recommendations based on their own personal experiences, walk customers through their options, and speak to them in a way that does not come across as impersonal or ‘robotic’.
As technology has made interactions with friends, relatives, colleagues and businesses so streamlined, as a nation we have all become acclimated to the ease of simply messaging. Research shows that 69% of people across all generations prefer text interactions to telephone calls with unfamiliar brands. As such, it is advisable that businesses utilise a range of contact methods in order to capture as many potential leads and enquiries as possible, including conversational marketing.
Conversational marketing tools provide a degree of immediacy to B2C interactions which improves your customer’s perception of your brand whilst also alleviating frustration. A recent study by KPMG unveiled that 56% of customers feel loyal to brands with good customer service, and 55% are loyal to brands that promote easy shopping – both of these factors can be achieved with the help of conversational marketing.
There’s no need for your customers to schedule a phone call, wait on hold, or waste their lunch break trying to get through to a member of the correct team. With conversational marketing tools, they can talk to a team member at their convenience, and reply when they’re ready. The same goes for staff responding to these queries – they can respond when they are available, and when they have the relevant answers and information to provide the customer.
Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly prominent part of B2C interactions and it is likely that the majority of conversational marketing will be automated in years to come. In fact, studies suggest that the size of the global conversational AI market is expected to grow to $32.62 billion by 2030.
This isn’t to say that AI will take over and put real humans out of marketing and customer service jobs. However, we do anticipate that conversational marketing will form a more significant part of the buying journey as artificial intelligence becomes more advanced. Rather than being able to simply arrange appointments, state opening and closing hours, and obtain information on product availability, chatbots may be able to make more thorough recommendations to customers.
This future of advanced chatbots is not a farfetched theory. In fact, H&M are already utilising advanced chatbot features to recommend outfits based on previous purchases and preferences. Similar tools have been utilised by fashion retailer Nordstrom. Conversational marketing tools for product recommendations presents endless opportunities for recommending music, cosmetics, investments, properties, restaurants… in fact, any business selling goods and services could benefit from advanced artificial intelligence to provide high-quality conversational marketing tools to their customers.
If our Marketing For The Future series has shown us anything, it’s that the future of our industry is bright. With the rise of artificial intelligence, the growth of the Metaverse, and the development of voice search, it is evident that those in the marketing industry need to be alert and aware to new changes.
Every month, we’ll be doing a deep-dive into the latest advancements in marketing. We’ll cover everything from influencer marketing to video marketing and the evolution of Martech. Want to stay in the loop with all things DGT? Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!
Posted by Jenna C on Thursday 21st September 2023