How Conversational Marketing is Changing the Way Consumers Buy
If you want to develop a strong relationship with somebody you have to communicate well. It’s critical to be a great listener, ask good questions, and give well-thought-out answers at the right time and place. And most of all you have to truly value what other people say. It’s those same principles that are driving the growth of conversational marketing and changing how people buy.
Conversational marketing is just how it sounds; it engages consumers in dialogue, offering personalized, one-to-one experiences that enable marketers to both provide greater value to customers and gain greater insights into their behavior. It’s based entirely on what the consumer wants and needs, when they want it and need it.
Unfortunately, marketers have often been limited to one-way communication, using market research to sharpen the tips of darts to throw at consumer buying behavior. Often that’s been in the form of mass advertising or annoying electronic direct mail or some similar tactic in the traditional marketing mix. And through that approach 10% open rates and 2% conversion rates for email, for example, were something to be celebrated.
Social media, instant messaging and omnichannel communications (LINK) approaches, however, allow greater opportunities for meaningful user interactions with consumers. And the open rates and conversion rates are blowing away previous expectations. WhatsApp, for example, boasts 98% open rates and conversion rates upward of 20% or better.
Conversational marketing takes into account the opportunities for true dialogue with consumers. And through a set of memorable multi-way interactions that are important to them, it’s changing the ways consumers buy. The trick is getting them to open the door and invite your organization into dialogue.
Consider the consumer shopping for a new suit online, for example. They may browse several retail websites, or see something on social media they like and want to explore further. But even though they're interested, just like a customer walking around a retail store, they may not want a sales person breathing down their neck barking a sales pitch. Giving them the opportunity to connect and converse, either through a QR code, buttons, embedded links or a chat function, for example, lets them connect on their own terms and instantly establishes them as a bone fide lead.
Once that critical, willing connection is established it is a gamechanger for marketers. And through the use of technology such as a dedicated chatbot, the consumer can engage in a meaningful conversation, get the information they’re after, and buy that suit anywhere, anytime. Most importantly, they have the opportunity for a memorable, meaningful brand experience.
It's impossible for businesses to spend too much time with every single client. An employee’s time is far too valuable and you want to make sure that you're using that time and expertise in the most productive way. That doesn't necessarily mean holding hands all the way through the easiest steps of the customer journey. And with a dedicated, intelligent approach to deploying a chatbot, those early stage conversations can be simplified and more satisfying and productive for all involved. In fact, 67% of consumers report having had interaction with a chatbot over the last year and 40% prefer that interaction to interaction with a live agent.
Further, personalization is paramount in conversational marketing. That means buyers want information that is specific to them and their needs. So a new shirt to go with that new suit everybody is commenting on might just be exactly what they want. And they may be far more open to and willing to act on a direct message from the retailer on WhatsApp, for example, offering a discount or a sneak peek at new inventory.
With the kind of customer experience that is developed through quality conversational marketing all types of possibilities open up. If you do a good job consumers should want to talk to you, just like they want to talk to a good friend or a trusted colleague. They’ll know that when they engage with your channels they’re going to be getting what they need and not some generalized pitch that doesn't have anything to do with them.
Conversational marketing helps with the understanding of how people behave, and to increase those open and conversion rates even further. Once consumers trust you and are more open to the conversation, you can start gathering information and tailoring experiences that will help accomplish your organizational goals.