An overview of Conversational Marketing for the modern consumer; how Conversational Marketing works, how it benefits brands and how to implement it as a strategy.
What is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is a method of engaging with web visitors and converting leads via dialogue-driven activities. This style of marketing puts a focus on interactions with the consumer, not simply one-way transmission by the brand. Conversational Marketing aims to create relationships with the consumer by building trust through conversations and by making the buying experience as smooth and easy as possible.
This approach doesn’t mean stopping your PPC and converting everything – this is just a new tool available to marketers and a slightly different way of thinking about the objectives. Essentially, it is all about connecting your marketing activities directly with the sales team, ideally through one platform, so the user has a smooth journey down the funnel.
Conversational marketing is a method of engaging with web visitors and converting leads via dialogue-driven activities.
This smooth journey is achieved by using tools to understand and communicate with the user in the way they want. This can be done by using tools that integrate options like, WhatsApp, SMS, phone calls, and social media into one platform. This holistic approach means that the user and the sales team are seamlessly linked up, allowing for Conversational Marketing to take place.
How does a Conversational Marketing solution look like?
A conversational marketing approach is usually built around either one or multiple solutions that allow you to reach out to your web visitors and engage them. A typical solution is built up of the following elements:
This is the message that usually appears at the bottom right-hand corner of the website to encourage users to click and engage. The button appears together with a message that can be personalized to fit the exact action, landing page, or product.
Lead capture tools to qualify
After clicking the conversation starter, users then enter a short conversation with a lead capture tool, like a chatbot. This process is where the bot will ask a series of simple questions to understand if the user needs support, sales assistance or looking to make a transaction. The chatbot qualifies the leads and either completes the sales process (in the event of a simple purchase intent) or gets the user to the right person to deal with more complex questions and requests. The concept is to segment assisted and unassisted sales as quickly as possible, providing value for the user as they are able to either complete transactions quickly or they can reach a sales expert without changing their device or channel.
Qualified leads are then put in contact with a member of the sales team. The platform should provide the staff with notes on the user’s qualification and answers to questions. This is where the real value is added. Sales experts or call center agents should be able to guide users through the options, with a view to creating a customer.
Live streaming video
Arguably the most challenging aspects of a Conversational Marketing solution is capturing visitors and engaging them. Sophisticated solutions let your sales team broadcast live product demos or give Q&As in real-time. This means the conversation starter offers users to join the broadcast and engage with the presenters in real-time, which offers real added value.
Why do you need Conversational Marketing?
There are a number of issues with current marketing activities that have led to this new development but in short, people demand more. Most companies would agree that their customers want more from their service, product and more from the buying experience. A study by Forrester suggested that 87% of companies know that a traditional buying experience is no longer enough to satisfy their customers. Conversational Marketing is a response to this demand for a better experience in the digital age.
Conversational Marketing is more than just a buzzword
A recent report by Gartner into digital marketing and advertising highlights that Conversational Marketing is currently just entering the vocabulary of many marketers and will soon pique the interest of managers. The below graph shows that only early adopters are focusing on conversational marketing approaches at the moment. There will soon be a lot of hype and expectations around this concept. Companies who are seen as early adopters stand to benefit from this.
Conversational Marketing is particularly powerful for complex or high-involvement purchases, such as financial products, telecoms, cars, and even luxury travel.
Experience is as important as the product
The world of commerce has never been so competitive, the growth of the internet has brought with it a wave of cheaper alternative products and services to claw market share away from more established brands. This means that the consumer now has more choice and also that many products and services appear extremely similar, meaning buying experience now has a huge role in the purchase decision. From Netflix to Uber, these are businesses that sell convenience and great user experience as well as their product.
Whisbi’s own research shows this, that 67% of car buyers consumers would consider an alternative brand if the online buying experience was difficult, showing the ease of purchase is a major factor when deciding what product to buy. This means users will pick services and products where the process is easier, more fluid and quicker. Conversational Marketing helps produce as it allows the consumer to do what they want when they want.
Consumers want to message you
Blaming social media for a lot of issues is popular at the moment, however, we all as cellphone users have become accustomed to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other types of social media. This habit change means we expect to be able to send a message and receive a response, in real-time. Traditional web forms stand in direct contrast to this, hence why their abandonment rates are so high and the industry average is 2.3%. A lead capture form alone is like Netflix’s DVD delivery service compared to its current online streaming – Now it just feels out of date. In fact, a recent study found that most consumers actually want to message companies.
Customer interaction means opportunity
When deciding on a new cellphone bundle, a new car or financial product, despite having all the information online, how many customers still like going to the store and chatting face-to-face? Granted, this footfall is decreasing over time but it is this gap between what people miss about face-to-face experiences and what’s currently available to them on websites were Conversational Marketing steps in. Using this approach provides companies with a huge opportunity to make the most out of their new store-front, their website.
Conversational Marketing is particularly powerful for complex or high-involvement purchases, such as financial products, telecoms, cars, and even luxury travel. While it is unlikely to be appropriate for smaller purchases like earphones, it has a lot of potential for bigger investments – like cars and smartphones.
What are the benefits of Conversational Marketing?
Conversational Marketing means we are able to interact with customers online but as if they were standing in front of us. The main benefits are the ones usually associated with a great face-to-face service:
Become a market leader in digital experience
As mentioned previously, Conversational Marketing is still within its infancy. Not only do those companies who implement these techniques stand to establish themselves as innovators in their industry, but they also stand to raise the bar for customer experience. Companies who improve the online buying experience through conversational marketing solutions will become the reference point for customers in their sector. Companies can not only improve this by offering a better experience, but also by implementing conversational tech that gathers feedback. This can allow companies to know their customers in more detail and then be used to further improve the experience.
Maximizing call center and retail staff
Conversational Marketing allows companies to harness their existing offline assets and integrate them with online channels. It neatly combines the benefits of in-store experience and knowledgeable call center staff with the benefits of online marketing technologies. It will allow you to smoothly integrate digital lead management structures, by allowing you to easily qualify leads and use technology to connect them with the staff who are in charge of closing deals and helping customers with conversational tools.
Increased conversion rates
Simply put, talking to consumers means it’s more likely they will buy from you. This approach is likely to increase conversion rates from web visits, turning all that organic web traffic you’ve fought so hard to create customers. A submission form alone will likely have a high abandonment rate, conversational marketing tools help consumers jump that barrier and dive into a conversation. Chatbots do not ask buyers to wait on a callback, they put them in a direct chat with a member of the sales team, improving the experience and conversions.
Conversational Marketing is proven to increase conversion rates from web visits, turning all that web traffic you’ve fought so hard to create customers. It also helps increase cross-selling and up-selling and improves customer experience, driving up the NPS.
Increased cross-sell and up-sell opportunities
By engaging with buyers, you are able to get the root of their needs. This information, combined with the expert knowledge of staff, is essential in identifying upselling and cross-selling opportunities that have high-value to the consumer. This is especially useful in the case of telecoms bundles, where a buyer’s preferences can change what will be better for them in the long run.
Improved customer satisfaction
In many cases, it is the buying experience, not the product or service that leaves a lasting impression. By ensuring consumers are able to engage with your company in a manner that is convenient for them (e.g. using methods of communication they use in their day-to-day like chatbots or video calls) and not asking them to wait for callbacks or go to a FAQs page, it naturally follows that their experience will be better. Think about the comparison of going to Taxi’s website, finding the number, ordering the cab and then receiving a call when it arrives, compared to opening up a taxi app, inputting your destination and using the live chat if there is a change of plan – in the end, product is the same (the taxi journey), but one tends to lead to much more satisfied customers than the other.
Customer satisfaction, not just with the product but with the buying experience is one of the major factors in determining referrals. While this is one of the more difficult elements to measure accurately, it’s good to bear in mind.
Decrease the sales cycle
Needless to say, the more interaction you have with a qualified lead in one session, the quicker the lead conversion time will be. By having a dynamic, conversation-driven approach via a chat or phone in real-time, you are avoiding the waiting time of forms, emailing back and forth or arranging a call time that suits both parties. Apart from the trust element, you are simply communicating more information in a smaller amount of time.
“With Conversational Marketing sales cycles get shortened through conversations that answer questions in real time. Conversational Marketing is working when you get real time interaction for your answers, not just another way of trying to schedule a meeting to answer questions later (even a short time later). That’s where the chatbot is really important because it begins the conversation with zero latency and can transition it smoothly from unassisted conversation to assisted where necessary.”
Kuan Foo, Product Director at Whisbi
How does a Conversational Marketing strategy look like?
So, this all sounds good but how do you go about implementing it? Depending on your needs, a conversational marketing strategy means offering something engaging and appropriate for each element of your online marketing plan. We will focus on how to bake Conversational Marketing into a website and how to harness it for your web traffic.
Step 1 – You will need an engagement tool
At the most basic level, this is a simple chat tool, however, in order for a conversational marketing strategy to be a success, companies should have a more complete tool with a chatbot, broadcast, and live chat features.
This tool should be able to be embedded in your site, offer chat or call conversation starters – these are the little messages that invite you to engage with the chatbot. In addition, Conversational Marketing solutions like Whisbi’s, offer video broadcasting to engage viewers.
Step 2 – Classify & segment your audience and message
Next, it is appropriate to look at the traffic to the site, the pages they are on, their engagement level and decide what is appropriate for each audience. This requires considering what the landing page is designed for, how long they have been on the page, and how people have arrived there. Traffic from a “Buy Now” ad, will require different chat conversation starters than those from an educational blog. Some examples of things to consider are if they are:
- On a product page and would be interested in a live-streamed demo
- How long the user has been active on the page for
- A new visitor who has completed multiple stages of the buyer journey
- Arrived via a specific product advert or campaign
Step 3 – Plan the convo needed to capture leads for each audience
Once you have a clear idea about the groups of people you are going to be engaging with, it’s time to qualify them. While it would be great to send each person directly to a member of staff, that’s simply not scalable. So, you should consider the following three elements for each audience type.
Trigger – What action will start the conversation?
Conversation starter – What message or video will invite them to engage?
Script – What questions should the lead capture tool ask to qualify them correctly?
Step 4 – Wow your audience
Offer your audience video, product demonstrations, screen shares and multiple ways of engaging with them. Harnessing a variety of tools you’ll be able to guide customers from product page to purchase. Make sure your sales experts are properly trained and equipped to jump on a video call if necessary or show qualified leads the product.
Getting started with Conversational Marketing for your site
So, here’s a good example of a simple play for your site. Obviously, this will depend on your market and product, but you can edit and fill in the blanks as you go. For this example, let’s say you are selling cars. You generate a high amount of traffic to your site and you even get them to the product configurator page (those tools that let people build cars to their own specifications) and you’ve got a bunch of tools in place but your form submission rate is poor.
Start with goal setting
In this case, the goal will be for visitors to complete submissions for test drive requests, which you want to increase. Currently, you have a CTA on your product page that drives traffic to this form. You will measure this effectiveness of this particular plan on this KPI. However, for a more holistic view, other metrics should be considered.
Decide on your audience
For this we will keep it simple, the audience depends on the product. If you set up a specific landing page that you promote on social media or with an email campaign, then you can set up the Conversational Marketing platform on this landing page to increase conversion.
Set the trigger
For users matching this audience specification, it’s time to decide what action will create the conversation starter. For this case let’s say it’s when the user has arrived to product configurator, edited more than one option and/or spent more than 15 seconds on the page.
Define your conversation starter
Consider the message you think will work best for this audience with this action. In this case, it could be something like “Hey, do you want me to talk you through some of the options on the configurator”.
Qualify & filter the lead
The objective of this stage is engagement. So, the chatbot text should be quick and to-the-point as possible. Think, what is the absolute minimum you need to know in order to put them in touch with a member of the sales team. So, in this case, it might be:
Q1 – “Hey, who would you like to talk to the Sales team or support team?”
If the customer selects the “sales team”
Q2 -¨Great, just to help me, are you looking for an electric car, SUV or sports car?¨
Q3 Assisted – ¨Thanks, finally how would you like to be connected, via voice or chat?¨
Q3 Unassisted – ¨Would you like to book a test drive at the next dealer? Select a dealer from the dropdown menu and select a time and date.¨
This process gives the users who know what they want a direct line to the test drive and those who are unsure the contact with the salesperson they need.
In this case, the member of the sales team, once answering relevant questions, will direct the qualified leads to the series of questions required to set them up with a test drive. This final part can be automated through the chatbot or simply deliver them to the existing form, but guided by the sales staff. The objective is to make the process as personal as possible, while automating what can be automated, in order to ensure this is scalable and you are not wasting your sales team’s time.
This is just one example, there are hundreds of configurations and options for each page, audience, and goal. There’s a certain level of testing required in order to see what works best for your audience and goals.
How to measure the effectiveness of Conversational Marketing?
It all sounds good but if you can’t prove it, then what’s the point? Measuring the effectiveness of a conversational marketing solution is arguably as important as executing it. To do this, users should look for tools that provide centralized data collection, or tools that have the capacity to integrate, as opposed to using a mix of tools and their respective metrics.
The metrics that are important will depend largely on your business goals. But consider the page and intent of each audience group. For example, on a product-specification page where you run a live streaming broadcast, it would be good to look at the ratio of views to lead captures, given that this is still an educational/research point for the buyer. However, a lead capture tool running on a pricing or product configurator page could be measured in the ratio of views to sales or, test drives (in the case of automotive) booked.
Shortened sales cycle
You should measure the length of your sales cycle for qualified leads that arrive via the Conversational Marketing solution and those that arrive via forms or car configurator without buying assistance. This will provide a good indicator of dollar value and a key benefit for your bottom line at the end of the month.
Improved NPS score
Customer satisfaction should not be discounted. NPS is a good indicator of the likelihood of referral. What makes a good NPS score can vary depending on the industry and region, however, if you are scoring a negative your customer experience should be a priority. Although there are industry benchmarks, it’s good to measure the general trend of your NPS. Implementing a conversational marketing solution should increase it over time. As this is one of the key outcomes of Conversation Marketing, you should look for solutions that offer this capability within the platform.
Increased lead engagement
Engagement may seem like a vanity metric, however, it has a knock-on effect and while it’s always good to take this metric with a pinch of salt, they shouldn’t be discounted entirely either. Consider your visitor to engagement ratio. This will not only help indicate whether your conversation starter is working but also give you an idea of how many users are interested in talking with your staff.
Lower customer acquisition cost
A combination of the above elements means that customer acquisition cost should be reduced over time, all other things being equal. A conversational marketing solution automates the qualification process and allows those leads who simply want to buy, to do just that. By segmenting assisted and unassisted sales to maximizing your sales staff’s time and output.
The image used here shows the transition cost and sales overtime for a telecoms provider. We can see that after an initial spike in cost during the onboarding process for the new Conversational Marketing platform, gradually the costs fall due to the decreasing costs needed for agents with unassisted sales. Over time, this will produce a much lower Customer Acquisition Cost, while continuing to increase sales.
Some examples of Conversational Marketing
So you’ve seen the theory, now you’d like to know what that looks like in practice. Obviously conversational marketing solutions are not appropriate for every industry, however, they are offering traditional industries the chance to move their marketing and sales operations to the digital sphere, without compromising the quality of the support they offer. But for many industries, Conversational Marketing offers not just new and innovative ways to interact with audiences but also the chance to explain their complex or jargon-heavy products and services.
Conversational Marketing for car manufacturers
There’s a growing need for more efficient lead conversion and lead capture tools for the automotive industry, The industry itself is late to the challenge in some respects, but by 2022 nearly 90% of all car buyers will begin their buyer journey online. Purchasing a car online poses a number of problems, there are quite a lot of technical aspects that most consumers are not able to navigate without the advice and there are obvious visual elements that are difficult to transmit through photos and pre-recorded video alone.
Hyundai Mexico recognized these challenged and implemented a Conversational Marketing solution to improve lead capture from their site. They used the Whisbi One-to-Many solution, a live video streaming service that allowed them to qualify and generate more leads.
Using one of their dealerships, they broadcast car demonstrations, where visitors could join the steam, ask questions to the presenter, and were qualified by the chatbot. The result was a 16% conversion rate and a massive spike in their user satisfaction.
Conversational Marketing for telecoms
The telecoms industry has been digitally-orientated for some years now. However, there has been an increase in competition, with lots of new, dynamic providers offering either simpler or cheaper bundles. This meant there was an opportunity for companies who were able to innovate and offer their customers something that a product catalog online.
Vodafone Spain, being one of the largest providers did not have an issue with generating traffic to their site, but rather converting visitors from product pages. To solve this they implemented a Conversational Marketing solution.
Users on their site were invited to interact with a chatbot, qualified as good leads, and then connected with a salesperson in real-time. What made this solution more dynamic, was that the messaging option not simply text, but video as well. This provided users with the chance to see cellphones in a live broadcast and ask questions about bundles to a person.
By repurposing areas in their existing call centers and training staff on video-call interactions, they were able to leverage their existing staff knowledge and talent and bring them better quality leads, with more info on what that buyer was looking for.
The result was that 30% of all customer interactions came via the Conversational Marketing solution. Which added up to an additional 400,000 leads per month! Read more about Vodafone’s implementation of Conversational Marketing for telecoms.
Conversational Marketing for financial services
Much like the telecom industry, the financial products have come under increased pressure from new competition in recent years. While most customers research online, actual conversion on websites tends to below. This is due to a number of factors, but the trust element, complexity, and jargon involved in financial products is the primary barrier to online conversion.
Fénix Directo, a well-known insurance provider, decided to implement a Conversational Marketing solution to help convert their web traffic into qualified leads and deals.
Users browsing financial products were prompted to join a live messaging conversation with a representative. Once qualified, the user was able to video call with the staff member, co-browse and get a real face-to-face customer experience. Members of the sales team were then able to complete the sale on the chat, sharing with them the necessary forms, creating a frictionless, smooth experience from lead to deal.
The result was a 16% increase in sales from the website and a massive increase in customer satisfaction, no mean feat for a financial service provider. Read more about Fénix Directo’s use of Conversational Marketing for financial services.
Conversational Marketing for luxury travel
The growth of online travel booking has disrupted the travel industry more than many others. While the agent used to hold all the information and contacts, now the customer has access to a wide variety of tools and services to book it themselves. The challenge remains, how to convert a user at the point where they have input their details.
Bahia Principe, a leading travel and hospitality company, realized that their online experience had to improve in order to improve customer experience. While customers were able to effectively self-book the majority of their trip, abandonment rates remained high. Bahia Principe decided that offering more support to address doubts, questions and generally build the trust factor would help alleviate this. They implemented a Conversational Marketing solution. This provided users with a conversation starter, where a member of staff could answer their questions, suggest alternatives, and provide a real agency experience online,
The results were that Bahia Principe increased their online sales conversions by 16%. In addition, they are able to position themselves as experts in the world of luxury travel. Read more about Bahia Principe’s use of Conversational Sales for luxury travel.
Conversation Marketing leads to Conversational Sales
Conversational Marketing is the platform and technology used to engage, qualify and convert leads that want unassisted sales. It is basically the way in which you can work out exactly what users want and offer them the appropriate service or marketing. For those leads that need more assistance or have queries, they are put in touch with a member of staff. In order for Conversational Marketing to work, the concept of dialogue must not stop after qualification, it must be implemented also in the sales team and across relevant stakeholders.
Conversational Sales is what happens within the platform between the lead and the member of staff:
In many ways, a conversational approach comes more naturally to sales staff than it does to marketers. This means getting your sales team on board and trained upon presenting and video calls. This will prevent a disconnect between the online marketing experience and that which a lead may have while in the and of the sales team. If linked up well, this will create a smooth buying experience and help you create customers, faster and at a lower lead-gen cost.