The personal experience has always been central to buying and selling. Technology has helped open up possibilities for companies looking to reach more people, but in the process, so much of the ultra-personalized, buyer-facing approach was streamlined away in search of higher efficiency.
Sensing the shifting winds, some companies are pivoting to social media, where more people are having buying conversations with friends, family, and trusted strangers on ratings-based portals like Yelp. Others are going to the next level and experimenting with conversational marketing.
What is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing exists to make the buying experience human-oriented, and centered around the needs of the user. Conversational marketing uses technology that was developed to replicate human interaction to give a potential customer the experience they want, when they want it — and, importantly, it treats them as an equal partner in the process. All fully automated and infinitely scalable to meet demand.
Not surprisingly, we’ve reached a point in the development of technical marketing strategies where it’s become apparent that closely replicating human interaction and experience is now paramount to success.
A good part of this is born of necessity — even the best lead forms and cold callers don’t yield particularly great results.
In other words, conversational marketing orchestrates the one-on-one, person-to-person interactions that have driven sales since the dawn of commerce, by re-training focus on the personal, buyer-focused approach to selling. It’s both instant and more patient in approach than forms of selling today.
Today, one of the most common applications of conversational marketing technology is the chatbot.
How Do Chatbots Work?
Chatbots are built upon a simple AI that can replicate human conversation. So, in context, a chatbot reaches out to engage with visitors on your website or social media profiles. It’s a digital version of the salesperson who asks “Hi! — how can I help you?” at your local cafe or retail store.
Chatbots come in a variety of forms for different platforms. There are on-site chatbots, which pop up when someone visits your website or a landing page. One of the more common and easy-to-setup chatbot options is available on Facebook Messenger. Famously, Twitter is overrun with chatbots designed to do everything — promote content, fight racism, spread disinformation, and more.
Chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) to parse through text presented to them by the user. The bot cross-references key segments in the text against a knowledge base/CMS, then uses a complex set of algorithms to produce a reply.
Chatbots are programmed to deliver follow up questions tailored to deliver responses based on keywords in what your visitor says.
Check out an example from DriftBot to the left. Drift is just one of the companies now offering conversational marketing tools.
Those follow up questions direct the user to give more detailed information on their needs, which the AI uses to automatically qualify them as a lead.
They can also be used to schedule demos and in-person phone calls with sales reps — all done automatically.
Routing connects leads with the right reps based on territory, expertise, etc. These demos and chats can be auto-scheduled by the bot as well.
What Can Chatbots Do?
- Available to Customers 24/7 — Unlike human salespeople and customer service reps,
T H E B O T S N E V E R S L E E P . That means you always have someone online, ready to provide assistance, field questions and help secure leads.
- Effortless Scaling — Human led chats are 1-to-1, which makes scaling very difficult. If 100 people ask you unique questions on Facebook Messenger at once, you’re stuck answering each individually, which takes time. On the other hand, AI is infinitely scalable — 10 questions, 100 questions, 500 questions, it’s all the same.
- Drive Interaction — Active real-time messaging takes website visitors from passive mode and drives them to be active participants in the investigative process.
- Big Data — Conversations between chatbots and users generate feedback that you can use to refine branding, messaging, and conversational marketing tactics themselves.
Above all, chatbots reintroduce the human empathy that a lot of customer service has lost in the digital age.
Research shows that conversational marketing adds more leads at the top of funnel. It can shorten the sales cycle by qualifying leads faster, and put them into the hands of the right sales people for the job while the lead is still red hot.
Do I Need A Chatbot?
It's important to note that not everyone needs a chatbot — yet.
Many organizations don’t have time and resources to keep a fleet of sales people online, ready to field potential leads whenever they come across a website or social media profile. Plus, most sales people are motivated by commission and need sales — the more, the better — and fast. They aren’t looking to ease top-of-funnel awareness stage people into the sales flow.
This is where chatbots come in. Most companies will benefit by introducing conversational marketing to their online presence — but the communication strategy and execution that goes into dev will contribute to its success in a big way. Companies can boost incoming leads by up to 15 percent, and decrease sales turnaround time considerably in the process.
What Do I Need to Know Before Getting a Chatbot?
Launching a conversational marketing campaign involves asking a number of important questions about your objectives. Some important things to consider include:
- Who are your users?
- What type of conversational interface will they like the best?
- Which platforms will you build on?
- What conversation flow will you use?
Obviously, deciding to utilize and build a chatbot is a considerable undertaking for businesses. BUT - the team at Salted Stone is here to help during every step of the process.
So let's get conversational together.
Let's make like the bots and chat. Contact us today and we'll see where conversational marketing fits into your strategy.