‘Conversation’ and ‘Commerce’, throughout history, have gone together really well, almost hand in hand.
Most of us, visiting a local shopping center, have been surrounded by friendly sales assistants ready to answer out queries, provide us with more options to chose from and generally help us with the purchase.
This is something you see your grocer doing. So does the guy selling merchandise across the street. And it is the reason why that good old bakery around the corner has been running strong since the past 10 years.
What keeps them going?
It is conversational marketing.
At its most simple, it is the act of talking with and listening to your customers, leading you to forge genuine connections with them and make your marketing decision accordingly.
At its most complex, conversational marketing has become synonymous with cutting-edge technologies for AI or computer-based dialog processing.
Although, we’ve witnessed drastic changes with the soaring popularity of online shopping that has to lead to businesses adopting the brick and mortar stores to online catalogs. In the most recent years that is where they cater to the various consumer desires providing them with a quick, efficient and mobile-friendly shopping experience. This has brands racing to develop engaging websites with intuitive and easy-to-use features.
David Weinberger in his Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) puts it something like this—“Markets are nothing more than conversations”, which stands truer than ever especially today.
Businesses have always been aware of the fact of how one-on-one conversations with clients are immensely valuable. But up until the recent years it wasn’t possible to personalize these conversations on a large scale and in real-time.
According to Statista, m-commerce sales are predicted to make up 44.7% of total US e-commerce sales in 2019, making it go up from 39.6% in 2018.
Further, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30% of our interactions with technology will be using “conversation” with smart machines.Conversational Commerce: A Beginner’s Guide in 2019Click To Tweet
What is Conversational Commerce?
According to Hubspot, conversational commerce has become a term for the business being done using natural language, linked with technology to provide personalized help, context-aware recommendations, and concierge-like assistance for everything from shopping to traveling to scheduling.
‘Conversational Commerce’ is a term coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in a 2015 piece published on Medium.
Basically referring to that intersection of messaging app and shopping, it is the trend of interacting with businesses using messaging and chat apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. or using voice technology such as Amazon Echo (using voice commands).
Conversational marketing facilitates consumers’ chat with company representatives, help them get customer support, ask questions, get personalized recommendations, and be able to purchase even from within the messaging apps. This is an interaction either with a human representative, chatbot, or a mix of both.
A successful strategy for conversational marketing would pare the spark of authenticity from real conversation with the emerging technologies of the future.
Why Use Conversational Commerce?
Imagine logging onto an e-commerce site for the first time. There you are greeted with a friendly message welcoming you to the store.
You begin browsing through the e-store. But you are not entirely sure about what to buy for your friend’s birthday coming up soon. Your search for that perfect gift for a few minutes and you are again alerted with a pop-up asking you if any help is needed.
You reply with your query which gets answered immediately with a message directing to opt for help if needed. You agree. Then a few questions about your friend’s personality are thrown in and voila you are then shown gift ideas suiting your purpose—perfect for your friend. All of this taking place on the chat screen itself without you having to leave it to visit a website.
Now, this wonderful shopping experience is conversational commerce optimally used, making it more than just something to use to keep up with the trend.
- It becomes a direct line to your audience: Establishing your brand presence on messaging platforms is the need of the hour for marketers—to be where your customers are.
In early 2017, the global monthly active users of the top four messaging apps surpassed users of the top four social networks. Additionally, in 2017 it was estimated that more than 40 million people already own a smart speaker (e.g. Google home, Alexa). The numbers just doubled in the very next year.
Being where they are and further using chatbots for the purpose provides you with a direct line to your audience, at the same time providing them a direct line to you.
- It helps you with lead generation: You cannot be restricting conversational marketing to merely make sales, at least not directly.
A great example of using conversational marketing would be Insomnobot-3000, created by Casper Mattresses. This particular chatbot is designed for you to text with when you cannot sleep.
Casper Mattresses have actually excellently incorporated chatbots that help with lead generation. With this, they not only get potential customers’ contact numbers but are also able to get immense psychographic data through text messages.
With such information at a company’s disposal, one can come up with more targeted marketing campaigns that include high-converting personalization techniques.
Stores using conversational commerce, in the right way, have witnessed annual revenue growth by 7-25%.
How does Conversational Commerce Work?
So, as we’ve discovered, conversational marketing is basically everything that encompasses each dialogue-driven tactic ranging from opt-in email marketing to customer feedback.
But recently what has provided a power-boost to it would be Artificial Intelligence—representing the new era of conversational marketing which is scalable, personalized, data-driven and real-time.
Chatbots are highly unlikely to replicate human interactions. In fact, they are meant to enhance certain aspects of the interaction with the audience.
To understand how conversational commerce will apply to your business consider the following type of experiences:
- Proactive/Automated: This is something like sending a nice message thanking a customer for shopping post their first purchase made on a store.
- Reactive/Automated: This happens when a customer buys a new product and faces difficulty using it. So he/she messages the store asking for assistance. Further, the store automatically recognizes the question and sends them with appropriate guidance.
- Manual/One to Many: This one, for example, happens when a store has come up with more branches that they want to notify people located around about. What they do is that they send a custom message to a target segment of customers that live close to a particular location.
- Manual/One to One: This is when a store sends a thank you message with a coupon to customers who were kind enough to share a positive review with a picture on a social media platform.
So, AI first uses the first-person data in order to learn more about each customer and then helps deliver a hyper-personalized experience. Reps and bots then join forces to manage the conversations further.
Conversational Commerce Examples
This type of marketing enables users to get a piece of information that they need instantly on a product or a brand, without having to pick up the phone or having to engage in talking with a customer care representative.
The inventor of the hashtags, Chris Messina further states—“Innovative brands are realizing that messaging offers the kind of convenience that drives engagement—and the kind of intimacy that inspires deep customer loyalty”.
Following are mentioned some ways that you can use conversational commerce to engage with the audience:
1. Connect with customers on Facebook Messenger
The first thing you are probably wondering is, “How the heck do I message my customers on Facebook?”, the answer is quite simple: You need to implement the Facebook Messenger Checkbox.
What does the checkbox do? Here is the high-level explanation:
- The checkbox automatically detects a customer’s Facebook profile when they view your store, even if it is the first time they have ever been there.
- Stores place the checkbox next to the “Add to cart” buttons on product pages or during the checkout confirmation screen.
- Customers who go through a flow involving the checkbox are able to give the store permission to send them future messages on Facebook.
- Once the store has permission to send messages to the customer on Facebook, the store can start to send conversational experiences when they are triggered during the customer journey (like sending a message when a customer doesn’t complete an order).
2. Chat with the customers from the online store
Now automate all your responses to the questions from customers regarding anything on any step in the customer journey. Implement it on your website in a way that enables customers to connect with a human if the need is in case of a more complex issue.
3. Recover Abandoned Cart
Abandoned cart recovery emails and messages have been providing an appropriate response. What you can do is that you can give the people with an additional button that directs them back to the checkout page they left or maybe give them an option to check-out in the chat-screen itself.
4. Confirming the Order
This is also a good idea because by sending messages on Messenger can also help keep them further updates or at least lets customers request for them. Otherwise, this sort of information is mostly left unread in the spam folder of their emails. They are expecting a confirmation from your end on their purchase. Provide that.
5. Create a Great User Experience
Generate goodwill by providing customers with positive user experience. Chatbots allow you to get a bit more personal and informal in comparison with email communication. Don’t forget that although emojis have recently found their way into subject lines so people almost expect stickers, emojis, GIFs to be incorporated in the messenger app messages.
6. Ask for Product Review
In order to increase social proof of your products further leading to conversions, product reviews are a must. A conversational commerce platform can easily be used to get more reviews.
The Future with Conversational Commerce
The way brands and users interact is undergoing a monumental change. Customers are smarter and better-informed than ever before. They already expect transparency and personalization from brands they associate with as a prerequisite. This makes them feel empowered by having many options.
It is hard to fool them and even harder to acquire their loyalty.
So building a bot simply to be right with the trends is not going to be enough; bots need to be a part of a larger strategy where each conversation that takes place has a purpose. What you need to keep in mind is that this strategy needs to be spearheaded towards a long-term goal.
An effective conversational marketing has to be an intersection of brand values, valuable dialogues, and user engagement. It is actually about building your audience first and selling to post that.