Personal experience has always been central to buying and selling. Digital has helped open up possibilities for companies looking to reach more people, but in the process, a lot of the personal touch was streamlined away in the name of efficiency.
Sensing the shifting winds, some companies are pivoting to social media, where more people are having buying conversations with friends, family, and strangers. But how do you deliver personal experience at scale when your audience is already on the doorstep of your website? The answer is conversational marketing.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing exists to make the buying experience human-oriented and centered around the needs of the user. The primary tool in the conversational marketer’s arsenal is dialogue — either in the form of live chat with a human operator or an AI-driven chatbot.
What separates it from other digital channels is the immediacy of the two-way flow of information. More than ever, audiences expect quick, personalized attention that helps them achieve their goals, so this speed is important for creating unmatched engagement with your audience.
Conversational tools and the immediacy they offer deliver value beyond marketing as well — sales, onboarding, and customer success all can be enhanced with chat. Whether it’s via live chat, a chatbot, or some combination of both, the ability to be there with your audience and listen empowers your team to offer personalized communication that connects in the moment.
How do chatbots work?
One of the most common applications of conversational marketing is the chatbot. 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 or CMS, then uses a complex set of algorithms to produce a reply.
These bots can be deployed on key website pages to help accelerate lead capture by creating an immediate point of interaction with your business. They can also be used to accelerate the sales pipeline, or to help a new user onboard by offering an ever-present conversational companion to answer questions as they arise.
Current customers may prefer to interact with a customer success chatbot to open tickets, search your knowledge base, or more. The uses of chat extend to any area where immediacy and two-way communication will lead to more satisfying user outcomes.
Many chatbots are programmed to offer follow-up questions tailored to deliver responses based on keywords. Those follow-up questions prompt the user to provide more detailed information about their needs, which the AI uses to automatically route them to a personalized solution.
What about live chat?
In some cases, that solution might be a live chat with a member of your team, who can take the conversation into deeper waters and deliver more satisfying responses on complex topics. Live chat can’t replicate the efficiency of a bot, but what you give up in endless scalability, you gain in impact — sometimes tenfold. Chatbots can create a wholly satisfying approximation of a conversation, but live chat offers the real thing.
The secret to making the most of both chatbots and live chat is knowing how to blend the two strategically. By offering both, you ensure that those who will derive significant benefit from a real conversation are able to access one, while those who are content with a bot don’t eat up your team’s time unnecessarily.
Sophisticated conversational tools like Intercom can create a seamless experience for your audience, transitioning them from bot to live operator in response to conversational cues. The result is a smart distribution of resources that balances investment against outcomes.
Use Intercom's custom bots to connect website visitors with active sales reps.
Should I invest in conversational tools?
While it’s true that not everyone needs a chatbot, almost every organization can benefit from conversational marketing tools in some capacity. As with many technology-based solutions, a good plan is to start with a concrete, focused project with clearly defined goals.
For example, perhaps you’d like to add a chat option to a conversion-focused page to supplement a form, in order to improve your overall conversion rate. Or maybe you’d like to create a bot to help new users onboard to your SaaS platform to ensure strong adoption and maximize the lifetime value of your customers.
There is no one “right” way to start with conversational tools. Even if you’ve tried in the past and haven’t seen the success you hoped for, new technologies may be able to reinvigorate your initiative and deliver results. Now is the perfect time to invest in tools like these that bring you closer to your audience and help you open a true dialogue.
Let's make like the bots and chat. Contact us today and we'll see where conversational marketing fits into your strategy.