16 Feb Let’s Chat: A Guide to Conversational Marketing
The way we engage with our customers is always changing. As customers choose the convenience of online shopping over the physical limitations imposed by brick & mortar stores, businesses have had to adapt. Part of that adaptation involves growing the possibilities for online engagements. How do we replace the personal, face-to-face interactions we’ve traditionally employed now that a lot of shoppers have moved online?
The transition online was already moving at a steady clip by the time the pandemic happened, but the pandemic greatly accelerated the need for concrete methods of personalized online shopping experiences. Today, we’re going to introduce you to Conversational Marketing, explain why it is more important than ever before, and suggest some easy ways to start incorporating it into your online business strategy.
What is Conversational Marketing?
Traditionally, when someone enters a brick & mortar store, an employee will greet them, ask them if they need any assistance, and then offer their expertise to help them find exactly what they want. Conversational marketing takes this in-person interaction and moves it online via innovations like chatbot technology and live chat platforms.
The likelihood is you’ve already interacted via conversational marketing. If you’ve visited a website before and clicked a messaging pop up or submitted a question via a website’s chatbot, you’ve engaged with conversational marketing.
Conversational marketing takes the empathetic, one-on-one customer interactions we utilize in person and transitions them to an online platform.
Why is Conversational Marketing important?
Any opportunity to further engage with customers is important for growing and keeping your customer base. Conversational marketing creates space for personal engagements that ensure customers find exactly what they need from your business. Conversational marketing also preserves the in-person interaction that usually occurs in a brick & mortar store, just in an online format.
And recent global events have shown it is important to retain that in-person interaction while online. According to U.S. Census Bureau Data, e-commerce sales rose nearly 32% in 2020 compared to the previous year. E-commerce sales in the U.S. are predicted to exceed $1 trillion for the first time in 2022 (Insider Intelligence). The pandemic is driving sales online at a rapid rate.
Conversational marketing also provides a speedy, convenient method for interacting with your customers. Messaging via live chat or a chat bot is easy and immediate—no need to wait for an answer via email, or to sit on hold on the telephone.
Conversational marketing is also mobile friendly, with most chat bot and live chat systems compatible with both desktop and mobile applications. M-commerce, or mobile commerce, is on the rise. In 2021, 79% of smartphone owners used their device to make a purchase, and m-commerce market share now comprises 73% of total e-commerce. (Zippia)
In the long term, conversational marketing can provide a lot of insights about your customers, and insights about the information or services you may be missing on your website. Once you’ve employed conversational marketing via chatbots or live chats, you can begin to analyze the types of queries consumers submit to strengthen your online store and service offerings. If several customers ask the same questions or search for the same services, you know which areas may be lacking. Chatbots and live chats can collect consumer data that informs how to optimize your website.
How can you implement Conversational Marketing?
First, evaluate your website and ask yourself: how can I personalize shopping on this site for my customer? Think about the ways in which you might engage with the customer if they were walking into a brick & mortar store. What questions would you ask them? How would you tailor their shopping experience based on their answers? This will give you insight into the types of information to feed into a chatbot system. The questions you might ask a customer entering a store are the same questions a chatbot should ask. Another good starting point is looking at your FAQ page and feeding that information into the system first.
Remember, too, that there will always be customers who prefer to speak or chat with a live person. When setting up a chatbot platform, remember to include an option to chat with someone directly (if your business is set up to handle live chat), or to phone or email their question.
E-commerce platforms like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, BigCommerce and others all offer chat bot and live chat integrations, but these are not the only options. Facebook Messenger also offers a live chat plugin for websites, and applications like ManyChat integrate with Instagram Messenger to provide chatbots for conversational marketing. You can read more about additional, high-rated chatbot systems here.
Facebook’s Autoresponder feature provides a nice starting point for those interested in testing out chat bots. It’s easy to set up and simple to use (you can find instructions here). Also, because Facebook and Instagram have integrated, you can set the autoresponder to reply to queries received on both apps.
Facebook has suggested presets that include FAQs, Location, Hours, and more. You can also create your own custom responses related to specific keywords. If you don’t check your Facebook inbox often, you can also use the autoresponder to direct customers to your preferred mode of contact.
Would you like more help on integrating conversational marketing into your business strategy? Contact us today!