Conversational marketing is a term that was born long before digital marketing. Just think about your favorite neighborhood grocery shop, that you still visit regularly despite it offering fewer products than the larger, newer supermarket down the road. Most likely, you continue going to the same grocery store because you’ve known the owner for years, enjoy being greeted by the staff when walking in and having a light conversation with the same butcher that has been there since it opened.
These genuine, pleasant interactions are what build brand loyalty, the kind of commitment that major global brands seek. Difficult for them, you may say. However, digital marketing has made it feasible.
What is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is all about engaging with the consumer through a feedback-oriented approach. It focuses on listening to your customers’ needs and speaking to them directly through various online tools.
With the explosive growth of the internet, social media, and messaging apps, new channels of communication were born that made it much easier for brands to reach their customers. Conversational marketing is mostly about genuine interaction, but with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), we now have chatbots that have created a new twist on automated messaging. There are many ways to integrate conversational marketing into your digital marketing strategy, but for now, I will stick to the ones that have worked best for my business.
Chatbots may sound a bit impersonal to you, but AI has surpassed the norms of automated messaging that makes up such a big part of web interaction. You can integrate them into various portals such as:
You may think that live chat falls under the umbrella of customer service, and you are right, but excellent customer service plays an active role in building your brand. Conversational marketing is impossible without this critical method. Some businesses use chatbots that seem so ‘human,’ it is hard to detect that they are robots!
Chatbots usually come into play at the beginning of the conversation, and then a customer support agent takes over. Consumers interact better with businesses that they reach easily without needing to write an email or make a tedious call. After all, customers facing an issue with whatever they ordered or purchased from you will most probably be looking for an instant solution to their problem. Live chat can be used to support your customers on a 24-hour basis, or perhaps a 12-hour or even 8-hour basis depending of course on the capacity and size of your business.
It would be unwise to ignore one of the most powerful channels of communication between businesses and consumers. Facebook has over 60 billion active business pages, and every day there are millions of conversations between brands and their clients. Facebook Messenger offers the future to businesses at a low cost – it provides automated messaging software that depends on artificial intelligence to interact with consumers. With Facebook Messenger, you can install greeting texts that initiate conversations with your visitors, as well as instant replies that tell the customer how long it will take for you to get back to them.
Using Facebook Messenger is a lot simpler and cheaper than developing a dedicated mobile app. Nobody wants to install multiple apps for different businesses – it is much easier to combine all your chats into the one portal. But what if your clients aren’t on Facebook?
WhatsApp marketing is stealing plenty of thunder from its parent company, Facebook, as well as other social media platforms. WhatsApp built a separate app for ‘WhatsApp Business’ to help smaller-scale businesses connect with their customers. For privacy reasons, you can only be reached by other users if you give your explicit consent. The application allows you to create an official business profile that includes details about your business, such as its address, phone number, email, and more. You can even use cool features like setting up automated greeting messages, save frequently used texts and reuse them as quick replies, and set up ‘Away’ messages. Being a very new platform, WhatsApp Business is still a work in process, understandably.
Conversations need to take place at the customer’s time: a customer may message you at 9 pm when a query pops in their head and send a second response a day or two later. And it doesn’t matter if you have another 10,000 clients talking to you simultaneously. If you offer live chat support, make sure you can handle it – provide relevant answers promptly.
Feedback = Improvement
As much as I enjoy using artificial intelligence, conversational marketing is not just live chats and bots. A great method of interacting with your customers is by posting questions on your social media. You’ve seen brands like Starbucks ask questions on Instagram or Facebook like, “What’s your favorite Christmas Starbuck drink?” Fans of Starbucks will answer this question happily, and the company will be able to scale the success of its best-selling beverage. Great social media marketing is all about engagement.
And if you are not afraid of criticism, reviews or surveys are another tactic I love implementing. Fearing criticism is pointless – you might have the best product out there, loved by 10 million people, and then there will be that one person who hates it. Why? Well, maybe it didn’t suit them, maybe their local postal service delayed delivering it, perhaps they didn’t think your packaging was quirky enough.
By adding a review section to your website or Facebook business page, you allow your customers to tell you what you need to fix about your product or service but also what they love about it. You might consider some of the feedback irrelevant, dumb, or impossible to implement even, but at least now, you know. And if that doesn’t fit your needs, there is a slightly softer method of receiving feedback – through a survey. Surveys are an easy, dependable way to get opinions on your business overall without them becoming public information on your website.
Talking and listening to your customers helps you build relationships. What makes a strong brand is not the packaging, logo, or even the product itself – it is the method of converting just customers into loyal followers. And without conversational marketing, it just doesn’t work.