Have you ever visited a site that greeted you with a chat bubble asking if you need any help? If you have, then you’re one of many who’ve experienced conversational marketing. And if you’ve also interacted with such a chat bubble, then the site’s objective of increasing customer engagement worked.
More and more websites are turning to conversational marketing to boost engagement and close more sales. If you haven’t considered doing this yet, maybe it’s time you did. Let’s dive deeper into this topic.
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What is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is a strategy that uses real-time conversation as a means of getting site visitors more involved. It’s a personalized approach that aims to make people feel that they are being taken care of, and eventually, converting them from leads to customers.
This method of marketing works because people love to communicate via messaging. They love doing this for a number of reasons. One, it’s fast. Two, it’s easy. And three, it makes people feel like they’re actually talking to someone.
In conversational marketing, you have two choices: chatbots and live chat. So before using this tool for your business, you first have to understand what each one does.
What are Chatbots?
The term chatbot is basically “chat” and “robot” combined. This means that when you’re conversing with a chatbot, you’re talking to a robot programmed specifically for chatting.
Chatbots use AI, which helps determine what responses they should give after a person submits a query. These automatic responses usually cover simple requests, questions, or instructions. For more complex queries, you will need live chat.
What is Live Chat?
Live chat is when your chat agents respond to questions or requests that AI chatbots cannot handle. For it to work, it must be facilitated by people who have in-depth knowledge of a company’s products or services.
Live chat agents usually work with a script. There are times, however, when agents have enough knowledge to guide a person through their queries and concerns without needing one.
You may not know it, but it’s highly likely that you’ve already interacted with a chatbot or a live chat agent fairly recently. If you’ve inquired about something on a company’s Facebook page or complained about something you bought via Messenger, you may have been talking to a chatbot. And yes, conversational marketing in social media is also a thing!
Traditional Versus Conversational Marketing
If you aren’t well acquainted with conversational marketing yet, then you may be wondering what makes it different from its traditional counterpart. The answer is pretty simple.
For one, traditional methods put heavy emphasis on lead generation via opt-in forms while conversational marketing makes use of automated or personalized messaging to qualify and convert leads. This is why conversational marketing requires fewer steps towards fulfillment.
To illustrate, outlined are the following steps that each type of marketing entails:
- Visitor arrives on a website
- Visitor signs opt-in form
- Visitor receives an email from the site
- Visitor answers email
- Site qualifies lead
- Qualification and conversion can take days or weeks
- Visitor arrives on a website
- Visitor chats with a chatbot or live chat
- Lead is qualified
- Qualification and conversion can take minutes
Not only does conversational marketing answer the needs of your customers right then and there, but it also gives you revenues faster. You should remember, however, that not everyone will engage with your bots or agents. This is why having a two-pronged approach—using both traditional and conversational marketing tactics—is recommended.
Basic Framework of an Effective Conversational Marketing Plan
Before you can start implementing a conversational marketing strategy, it’s important that you first map out what to do. Here’s a blueprint, made with three core steps, that you can use:
The first step to creating an effective conversational marketing plan is to engage with your audience. You can use artificial intelligence chatbots for this. Your chatbot can welcome your site visitors and ask them a general question, such as “How can I help?” or “Is there anything I can do for you?”
You may also use a chat icon that your visitors can easily locate and click on whenever they need assistance. This is a less intrusive way to connect with your customers, allowing them to find their way around your site and click on the chat function at any stage of their visit.
After engaging with your audience, your next move is to recognize what it is that they’re there for. Using the traditional marketing method, this usually requires a few emails back and forth. But with conversational marketing, you can find out what they need in a matter of minutes.
Understanding their need or why they’re looking through your site will help you convert them from visitors to customers.
Once you know what your visitor is looking for, you can then make suggestions and recommendations. This is where you ultimately qualify a visitor and where you can possibly earn revenues. Whether you’re aiming to sell immediately or simply want your site visitors to know you have what they need, this step shows that you understand them enough to show them the way.
This step usually involves live chat agents, but you may also utilize chatbots if the usual queries and needed responses aren’t too complicated.
Why You Need Conversational Marketing
There’s more to conversational marketing than just answering queries or troubleshooting issues. Read on to discover some of the benefits.
1. Adds a Human Touch
When you add conversations to your marketing strategy, you set people at ease with the knowledge that someone is helping them out. Regardless of whether it’s a bot or a human chat agent, having some help when it’s needed adds a human touch to your site and can make your customers’ experience more memorable and satisfying.
2. Gives You Loads of Visitor Insights
If you want information on your site visitors and customers, integrating conversational marketing into your site can help. You can gain insights on query patterns, trends, consumer interests, and consumer behavior among others. Then, you can use the information you’ve generated to optimize your marketing campaigns, your site’s UX, and even the questions that your chatbots ask.
3. Creates Lasting Customer Relationships
It’s a widely understood fact that customer acquisition costs are higher than customer retention. This is why you should take advantage of every new customer you gain—something that conversational marketing can help you with.
With the interaction that this strategy offers, you can give your customers the help that they need. And if you’re already giving them what they need, why will they want to look elsewhere?
Use conversational marketing to initiate and build customer relationships. Help your visitors the best way you can, and give them a reason to keep coming back for your service.
Recommended Reading: Create a Customer Acquisition Strategy for Your Dropshipping Business
4. Shortens the Sales Funnel
Another benefit that can be gained from conversational marketing is it helps you reduce the number of steps it takes to make a sale. Instead of looking for a product using a search term or by using drop-down menus, a site visitor can simply ask a chatbot or a live customer service person for help. Then, the bot or your personnel can give them the link to the particular item they’re looking for.
If an item is unavailable, you can still use conversational marketing to suggest an alternative or something even better. It can help with upselling and cross-selling, which helps increase revenues. It can also lead to a customer buying everything they need in one go, thereby increasing your customer’s value.
5. Helps Visitors Make Decisions Faster
Another conundrum that online shoppers face is choosing the right product from a lineup of similar products. This can be easily remedied with the help of a guide that can give them suggestions based on what they need.
With a chatbot or a designated customer service rep, you can initiate a conversation, ask your visitors what they’re looking for, and then point them in the right direction.
How to Make Conversational Marketing Work for Your Business
Now that you know what conversational marketing is and what stages it involves, it’s time to dive into creating a strategy that works. Use the following six steps to put together a strategy that brings in revenues and helps create loyal customers.
1. Visualize Your Customer’s Thought Process
To truly understand your audience and to properly map out a plan, you first need to get into their head. What are they thinking when they arrive on your website? What do they do when they get there?
Anticipating their thought process will help you map out a probable path, starting from their arrival to your site to their exit. It can also aid you in creating scripts, formulating answers, and even streamlining your site’s design to improve your UX and conversion rate.
2. Create Audience Categories
Not all audiences think alike. This is why you have to create a few different personas to drive your conversations. What kind of visitors is your chatbot currently talking to? Why are they on your site? What do they need?
You need to write down all of the personas that your site will probably encounter. Doing so will allow you to create scripts that are geared towards their particular need and demographic information. To create personas, you can start with a Who-What-Why argument:
- Who are they?
- What do they want?
- Why are they on your site?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can craft different customer personalities that will give you many different audience categories. These audience types will then help you formulate the conversations you need to drive your conversational marketing plans.
3. Write Down Possible Conversations
As mentioned, you have to come up with conversations and scripts that your bots or agents will use with the various personas your site encounters. Here’s a three-step plan to help you out:
- List down branches of questions and answers – Hash out with your team the possible questions site visitors will ask based on their demographic details. List down the paths each question may take, with a few different answers and follow-up questions for each.
- Create a script or conversation flow – For each question, create a script that an agent or a bot can follow. Anticipate possible follow-up questions to the responses you give, and then write scripts for those too.
- Create alternative routes for conversations to follow – Since your bots and chat agents are likely to meet different personas having different concerns, creating alternative routes is a must. This is a refinement of the question and answer branches you created in the beginning. In this step, pay closer attention to possible but perhaps unusual follow-up questions, and then create scripts for those.
Your scripts are something you can keep on improving throughout the lifespan of your business. With that, it’s okay if you don’t have them perfected the first time. Plan the conversations, but also keep in mind that you can still optimize them later on.
4. Decide Which One to Use – Chatbots or Live Chat
Deciding between chatbots and live chat depends heavily on the types of inquiries you anticipate as well as the resources you have. If you choose to use both, you’ll need to craft a plan that includes when one steps in and when the other steps out.
5. Go Live
Once you’ve laid out the groundwork for your conversational marketing strategy, you can now execute your plan. You can inform people of this development via your social media pages, a press release, or an announcement banner on your site. You can even add a call to action in your announcement and invite people to try engaging with your chatbot or live chat.
6. Track and Refine
Much like everything else in life, you can’t possibly expect to get things right the first time around. This is where tracking and refining come in.
Track the movement of your efforts and measure their success. If you find that your leads, engagement, and revenues are increasing, then continue with your current plan. If you notice that you aren’t getting the results you want, you can tweak your strategies until you see your site’s metrics move towards your goal.
Conversational Marketing Platforms
You will need a few tools for your conversational marketing strategy to work. Whether you’re aiming to have conversations on your site or wish to connect with customers via social media, there is a tool for you to use to make things easier. Check out these five examples.
This is a plugin that you can use with Facebook Messenger. It helps you interact better with people who comment on your Facebook posts by sending them a personal message.
By design, Chatfuel is an intuitive tool that can help you build chatbots that can initiate conversations, respond to queries, make recommendations, and even qualify leads.
Recommended Reading: Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy for Your Dropshipping Site
This is a platform that helps you connect with qualified leads or those people who are ready to make a purchase. It uses what are called “playbooks” to help you create conversational branches, which your bot uses to drive engagement with your site visitor. Depending on your visitor’s reply, another question or suggestion will be triggered to continue the conversation.
This is another platform that works like Drift but has more than just a chat function for you to use. ActiveCampaign allows you not only to create chatbots and scripts, but it also helps you with automating your email marketing efforts and even in creating landing pages, email nurturing campaigns, and tracking the success of all your marketing efforts.
Considered one of the top chat marketing platforms around, ManyChat helps you connect with your audience via Facebook Messenger bots, SMS, and email. You can automate all of these as well to help you reach your customers with less effort.
Reaching your customers and talking to them to make a sale is now easier with a platform like ChatFunnels. This platform uses both live chat and chatbots to enable your brand to engage in conversations. It also has a built-in analytics tool to help you make optimization decisions.
Recommended Reading: What is UX Design?
Conversational Marketing Myths
While conversational marketing is already being used by many companies, and they’ve succeeded in reeling in more revenues by doing so, there are some people who remain skeptical about this strategy. They have this mistaken belief that not only will it fail at generating more traffic, but it will just be an added expense that wouldn’t achieve the goal of getting people to come to their website.
This isn’t the only myth that surrounds this particular marketing tactic. There are few more myths that make people think twice about engaging in such a strategy. Here are some of the more common ones:
1. It takes too much time to set up.
This statement may have held water in the past. But today, this is an excuse that won’t cut it anymore. With all the apps and platforms that can be used to help create chatbots, conversational scripts, and entire strategies, adopting conversational marketing is no longer a task that takes weeks. Instead, you can have a strategy up and running in a matter of hours.
2. Lead generation is still your best option for getting revenues.
There’s nothing wrong with using lead generation tactics. However, we can’t deny that it isn’t the fastest or the best option for bringing in revenue.
As you have seen earlier, the lead generation tactic takes customers on a long path before they can get the answers to their queries and arrive at a buying decision. Meanwhile, conversational marketing can give responses in an instant and possibly convert visitors into paying customers faster.
3. Chatbots won’t improve customer service efficiency.
This is another myth that keeps people from using a conversational marketing chatbot. While a lot of people would prefer to talk with real agents when they need help, for concerns that are pretty common and simple, a chatbot will actually do. Common queries and simple tasks can be handled by chatbots, which can improve customer service efficiency as well as reduce overhead costs.
4. My small company can’t afford these conversational marketing technologies.
This myth can be easily debunked by the low cost of some of the conversational chatbot apps and engagement platforms that a lot of companies use these days. For example, Chatfuel, which is one of the apps that can be used with Facebook and Facebook Messenger, can actually be used for free. Their pro plan costs a mere $15 a month. ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, has a plan for as low as $9 per year.
Conversational Marketing is Here to Stay
Conversational marketing is a great way to interact with your target market and increase engagement. It is a way to gather information on your audience and to get firsthand information on what they need. It’s also a way to help your brand increase revenues and to create lasting relationships with customers.
It’s a strategy that isn’t disappearing anytime soon because companies everywhere have seen the merits of such a tool. If you don’t have conversational marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy yet, maybe it’s time you considered adding it in.