DIGITAL INTERACTIVE SERVICES
Conversational marketing: Gateway to your customers’ hearts
A superior customer experience (CX) influences a consumer’s purchasing decision to a very large extent. Studies indicate that 73 percent of buyers consider CX to be a key factor in their purchasing decision. When the pandemic drove people to digital spaces, millions across the world experienced online shopping for the first time. A positive CX for such consumers is especially important. To build brand loyalty, businesses must deliver a seamless CX that not only meets customer needs, but also supports the customer’s journey in an engaging and personalised manner.
Personalised marketing works best when it is conversational. Customers often look for more information about a product before buying and, quite frequently, the static FAQ sections do not provide satisfactory answers. This is where conversational marketing makes a difference. It is an inbound marketing technique that can be used to enhance customer experience and engagement. It involves one-on-one communication through many channels. It removes any bumps in the buying process and provides the right help through the right channel at the right time.
Conversational marketing channels
Clearly, marketing can no longer remain a one-way street, and marketing technology today can deliver conversational marketing at scale in an engaging and enriching manner. As consumers shop and learn about a brand or seller, the seller gathers information about the consumer too. All this data is then used to build artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools and techniques. AI-driven chatbots deployed through SMS/MMS, personalised emails and videos, live chats, online surveys, messaging apps and voice assistants, such as Siri and Echo, are all routes to engage customers directly.
The pandemic forced online businesses to quickly find digital solutions to meet the huge increase in customer support needs. Customers needed answers during the buying process, not later. Chatbots and AI were quickly adopted, and millions of customers began conversing with chatbots to get their issues resolved without any human intervention. The practice is continuing and chatbots are getting more and more sophisticated.
There are many reasons to adopt conversational marketing as part of a brand’s marketing campaign. Let’s look at a few.
Retain customers and gain new ones:
It is easier to retain satisfied existing customers than it is to acquire new ones, so maintaining strong relationships with customers is an integral part of any successful brand. By deploying conversational marketing tools and techniques, brands can communicate with existing customers and reach prospective ones in more personalised ways. Customers can analyse and question offers and other product attributes in real time without continuously being told what to buy, which is the norm in traditional marketing campaigns. For example, information about shipping, an out-of-stock product, and a new product can all be obtained during a single conversation instead of the consumer needing to have three different discussions with possibly three customer service representatives.
Offer quick and efficient customer service:
Back in 2017, a Gartner report stated that by 2022, over 70 percent of interactions with customers would involve machine learning (ML) applications, mobile messaging and chatbots. Prophetic words indeed! Activating the FAQ section through an automated chatbot is perhaps one of the simplest ways to incorporate conversational marketing. However, slow and vague is not acceptable, so businesses must invest in developing more and more intuitive chatbots. AI-driven tools can now connect marketing platforms to popular messaging apps and reach customers quickly. More sophisticated versions of chatbots can be more human-centric and drive higher engagement. Businesses with AI-powered chat sessions can offer personalised conversations and that can lead to higher sales since customers would feel involved.
Conversations are quick and in real time:
Quick service is a steppingstone to customer satisfaction and loyalty. And conversational marketing can offer that. It throws lengthy emails and complaint forms out the digital window. Conversational forms are interactive, and customers can get their answers quickly and clearly in real time. No more waiting ‘48 hours’ for a reply or being put on hold for unending minutes. Conversational marketing offers an always-on channel and customers do not have to wait for business hours to find an answer. Of course, live agents can step in, if needed. It also allows customer service teams to focus on critical issues that require human intervention.
Customers feel safe and important:
Traditional customer service responses are more like sales pitches than real solutions. In conversational marketing, the focus is on the customer. A friendly and casual conversation about a product makes customers feel welcome and understood. They feel they are receiving the attention they deserve, and their problem is as important to the seller as it is to them. Such an approach benefits both the customer and the business.
Three tips for businesses on the threshold:
Businesses that are on the threshold of implementing conversational marketing should keep a few pointers in mind.
- Choose the most appropriate channels: Businesses that have customers who are active on social media should use social platforms and ensure that the chat window, form or landing page is easily visible and accessible.
- Choose appropriate conversation tools: Live chat plugins, conversational forms fitted with conditional questions, and landing pages with smart logic are a few options to choose from.
- Personalise the messages: Care must be taken to ensure that the language of the conversation is personable and friendly while also maintaining the brand’s voice and style. Customers do not feel comfortable when faced with unnecessary questions or a stiff formal style of conversation.
A well-designed conversational marketing strategy is key to increasing consumer outreach and converting conversations to sales. The technology has arrived, and it is up to businesses to adopt the most appropriate conversational tools and techniques to make a positive impact on their customers. There may be a few pain points initially, but it will all be worth it in the end.
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