Are you using enough conversational marketing for your e-commerce store?
A direct conversation with a customer is bound to be more personalized and specific to their needs than a Facebook ad or email, and when used correctly it can transform the way you do business.
In this article I’m going to explain what conversational marketing is and how the state of marketing is evolving to real-time conversations.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing is the process of a business having a one-on-one conversation with their audience in real time.
These conversations can happen at any time but are usually limited to the following:
Shopping bots/chat bots – This is programmed software that replies in real time to your audience on your online store. A basic chat bot will supply the user with a list of options to choose from and replies with a set of pre-programmed answers (just look at the right hand corner of your desktop or mobile, we have our very own chat bot).
Then there are chat bots that are a bit more advanced and, based on the keywords, relay the most relevant information possible.
Live chat – This is similar to chat bots, but this time there is a real human being on the other side to answer questions in real time.
For example, Paleo Robbie has a live chat feature on their grocery store to help users who would like to know more information about a food product that they could not find on their website:
If you’re seeking an answer to a specific question on a website, how many times do you search for the company’s email address and send them that question?
Chances are, unless it’s something you REALLY want, almost never because it’s a time-consuming process and you don’t want to wait 3-4 days for an answer.
In real life – Having conversations with your customers face to face is also conversational marketing; although, it’s not scalable and is less effective unless you have a bricks and mortar store.
Where is e-commerce marketing heading?
If you are old enough to remember the late '80s or early '90s, the way businesses talked to consumers was primarily through direct mail.
That worked well until the medium became saturated and you had to shovel dozens of letters each week from your letterbox.
When every home had a TV set, marketing moved to video advertisements.
Remember when you actually had to be home at a certain time of day to watch a new episode of Friends?
Buying ad spots between the most popular TV shows used to receive millions of eyes on your business. Smartphones didn’t exist back then and there was little else to do during TV breaks than watch the ads.
Then the Internet happened and it changed everything.
Online streaming has now replaced regular TV shows and podcasts have pretty much killed off most of radio.
Buying ad spots between TV shows or radio airtime has become less valuable thanks to streaming services like Netflix and smartphones.
TV and radio budgets are currently being reallocated into content marketing, social media ads, influencer marketing, podcasts, and online video.
If you want to know where the closest dentist in your area is or what that red spot under your eye means for your health, you typically turn to Google.
Is the evolution of marketing going to stop just there?
I don’t think so.
The world's biggest tech companies are all refining how they use artificial intelligence.
Amazon has Alexa, Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana, and Google Home has come out with their own conversational UI.
A conversational UI is a device that lets users have a real-time verbal conversation using natural language. The device's goal is to understand users' requests rather than focus on specific keywords.
When the biggest brands in tech are investing in voice, it’s a sign of where marketing is going next, which is voice and real-time conversations.
Benefits of conversational marketing
There are several benefits to conversational marketing that other forms of marketing aren’t able to provide. They include the following:
Real-time interactions – Consumers today are impatient people and they don’t want to wait days for an answer. Being able to interact with customers on your site and answer their questions means they won't click the 'back' button to find their answer on Google instead.
Become a human – It’s much easier to get people to buy from you when you’re not trying to sell.
While marketing funnels are important to business growth, there are so many parts and flows that consumers must go through from receiving abandoned cart emails or retargeting ads based on items they have viewed.
To dilute the heavy selling pressure, conversational marketing switches the roles so you can now listen to the customer rather than the customer listening to how you can solve their problem with your product.
This role reversal will move customers through your funnel quicker and build deeper connections, which leads to my next point.
Added personalization – Eight years ago, addressing a person by their first name and talking in the first person was considered good personalization for emails.
As marketing evolves, the definition of personalization will become more granular.
Can you remember the last time you used a chat bot or live chat service? Chances are you had a problem that you could not find the answer to on a website. If the chat bot solved your issue, you probably either went on to buy the product or left with a positive impression of the business.
Conversational marketing solves user problems at the micro level that a user document or FAQ page cannot solve.
Consumers spend less time in your funnel – Again, funnels are great for automation and allow you to interact with the customer along the entire journey, but they are slow and most people who enter the funnel aren’t ready to buy.
Anyone reaching out to your live chat feature will be further down the customer journey than someone browsing your site and ignoring the feature.
Through live chat, customers can bypass many stages of your funnel by getting their questions answered right there and then, and it’s a great filter to qualify quality leads from weak leads.
Will conversational marketing take over?
Forget about marketing for a second and take a look at how you communicate with your friends and family and businesses.
If you’re not talking to someone face to face, chances are your next most popular method of communication will be from your phone using some type of app.
Most people spend more time communicating on apps in a week than they do making phone calls in a month.The adults of tomorrow are being brought up on smartphones and tablets. When they are older and ready to buy products, do you think they are going to use email or opt in to your newsletter to get information?