Conversational Marketing is a rapidly growing industry that enables retailers to engage with customers in real-time and provide personalized solutions to their needs. Retailers want interactive, personal one-on-one conversations with their customers across their buying journey to learn what they are looking for, and develop a stronger, long-term relationship.
With 50.7% of retailers say they can respond quicker with conversational marketing and 48% of consumers that left a business to shop with a competitor due to a lack of personalization. The growth is also driven by advances in natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI), like ChatGPT. Research shows the global conversational AI market size is expected to grow to $32.62 billion by 2030.
Conversational marketing has its roots in the early days of the internet, when businesses began experimenting with chatbots and other conversational interfaces as a way to engage with customers in real-time. However, it wasn’t until the rise of social media and messaging apps that conversational marketing truly began to take off. With the growing popularity of platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, businesses began to see the potential of using chatbots and other conversational interfaces to provide personalized customer support, offer product recommendations and even complete transactions. Today, conversational marketing is a rapidly growing industry (25% per year) that is transforming the way businesses engage with customers, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
What is Conversational Marketing?
It is a personalized, feedback-based marketing approach that utilizes two-way communication to understand the interests of potential customers and communicate with them through relevant information and offers. It enables retailers to interact with customers in real-time through chatbots, messaging apps, and other conversational interfaces. It differs from traditional marketing methods, such as demographic studies and usage tracking, by directly asking customers what they want from the brand. The goal is to build stronger, long-term relationships with customers, making conversions faster and easier while increasing brand loyalty.
Why is it important?
Firstly, it enables retailers to provide a more engaging and personalized customer experience. Customers today expect retailers to understand their needs and provide personalized solutions. Conversational marketing enables retailers to do just that.
Secondly, cit has been shown to increase customer engagement and loyalty. By providing a more personalized and interactive experience, retailers can build stronger relationships with their customers, leading to higher retention rates and repeat purchases;
Finally, conversational marketing has the potential to drive significant cost savings for retailers. Gartner projects that by 2026 one in 10 agent interactions will be automated. By automating customer service and support tasks, retailers can reduce their reliance on human agents, leading to lower operational costs and improved efficiency.
Brands that leverage Conversational Marketing
Several brands are already using conversational marketing to engage with their customers.
- Beauty retail giant SEPHORA has implemented a chatbot called “Sephora Virtual Artist” that allows customers to try on makeup virtually using their smartphone’s camera. This not only provides customers with a personalized experience but also helps them make informed purchasing decisions;
- Fashion brand H&M uses a Facebook Messenger chatbot to provide personalized recommendations to customers based on their preferences and previous purchases. The chatbot asks customers questions about their style, size, and preferences to provide them with the most relevant product recommendations;
- The Pizza Hut has implemented a chatbot called “Pizza Hut Assistant” that allows customers to order pizza directly through Facebook Messenger. The chatbot can also answer customer queries and provide them with information about their orders.
Conversational marketing can be applied to various aspects of your business, including sales, customer support/service, chatbots, and social media, among others. New applications of conversational marketing are being developed every day, expanding its potential uses. Here are some examples of conversational marketing types that demonstrate the diverse ways in which it can be utilized: personalization, chatbots, lead generation, social media chat, sales, information and customer service. Combine that with AI, and you get AI-enabled conversational marketing. A strategy that utilizes artificial intelligence to facilitate conversations between businesses and customers. Let’s look at an example:
- User sees an online advertorial, clicks on it and lands on the bot;
- Bot responds instantly with context of the online advertorial clicked;
- User continues the interaction on chat.
In case the user chooses not to proceed with the conversation, the chatbot can still pursue the interaction by providing relevant information and, in some cases, customized offers, if the user has given permission. This approach of nurturing can increase conversion rates and strengthen the bond between the user and the brand.
Tools for Conversational Marketing
Several tools are available for retailers that want to implement conversational marketing strategies. Some of the most popular tools include:
- The comprehensive ‘Microsoft Bot Framework’ enables retailers to build, deploy and manage chatbots and conversational interfaces across multiple channels using AI and NLP. Create chatbots that can provide personalized and natural responses to customer inquiries, improving engagement and the overall customer experience;
- Google-owned platform Dialogflow for NLP and chatbot creation, integrating with various chat and voice interfaces;
- Chatbot platform Manychat for creating bots on Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps with templates, automation tools, and analytics;
- Messaging platform Intercom for real-time customer communication through chat, email, and other channels, with personalization and automation tools;
- Customer service platform Zendesk for managing tickets, emails, and live chats with automation, performance measurement, and personalized support;
- Conversational marketing platform Drift is a platform for real-time customer engagement through chatbots and messaging platforms;
- Chatbot building platform BotStar is for sophisticated bots that handle complex tasks and provide personalized solutions.
These are just a few examples of the many conversational marketing tools available today, each with its unique features and capabilities. Choosing the right tool for your business will depend on your specific needs and goals.
The conversational marketing industry is constantly evolving, driven by advances in AI and NLP technologies and changing customer expectations. Some of the current trends in conversational marketing include:
- Omnichannel Conversations: Customers expect to be able to interact with retailers on their preferred channels, whether it’s through social media, messaging apps, or voice assistants. This trend is driving the development of omni-channel conversational marketing strategies that enable businesses to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across all channels;
- Personalization: Dese days customers expect retailers to provide personalized solutions that cater to their individual needs and preferences. Conversational marketing enables retailers to leverage customer data to provide personalized recommendations, offers, and solutions, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty;
- Chatbots for Customer Service: Chatbots are increasingly being used for customer service tasks, such as answering queries, providing information, and resolving issues. This trend is driving the development of more sophisticated chatbots that can handle more complex tasks and provide a more personalized experience;
- Voice Assistants: The rise of voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, is driving innovation in conversational marketing. retailers are developing voice-activated chatbots and other conversational interfaces that enable customers to interact with businesses through voice commands.
5 tips to leverage Conversational Marketing successfully
If you are a retailer looking to leverage conversational marketing, there are several key pieces of advice to keep in mind:
- Start small: Begin by identifying a few key use cases for conversational marketing, such as providing customer support, offering product recommendations, or completing transactions. Focus on perfecting these use cases before expanding to other areas.
- Personalize your approach: One of the key benefits of conversational marketing is the ability to provide personalized solutions to your customers’ needs and preferences. Leverage data and analytics to understand your customers better and tailor your approach accordingly.
- Invest in the right tools: There are many conversational marketing tools available, ranging from chatbots and voice assistants to messaging apps and social media platforms. Choose the tools that best fit your business needs and goals.
- Train your staff: While conversational marketing relies heavily on technology, it’s still important to ensure your staff is well-trained and equipped to handle customer interactions. Provide them with the necessary training and resources to succeed.
- Continuously monitor and optimize: Like any marketing strategy, conversational marketing requires continuous monitoring and optimization. Use analytics and customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.
In conclusion, conversational marketing is an innovative approach that is transforming the way retailers engage with their customers. By leveraging conversational interfaces, retailers can provide personalized solutions to their customers’ needs and preferences in real-time. With the latest advances in AI and NLP technologies, and changing customer expectations, the future of conversational marketing looks bright.