The era of conversational marketing has officially begun. We are entering an age where consumer brands have influence over consumers that cannot be compared to any other time in the history of digital marketing.
This is because Artificial Intelligence, or AI, can be used to generate unique experiences for users in everyday use cases in many different industries. AI is the new must-have technology that will change the way we live, work and play.
Conversational marketing has so much potential to revolutionize the ways in which a digital marketing company and marketers, in general, interact with their most valuable asset: their customers.
Conversational Marketing is the Next Step in Digital Marketing
When consumers and businesses began to shift from traditional brick-and-mortar locations towards the web, digital marketers discovered they had a major new outlet to market their products and services.
One of the main reasons for this shift was that e-commerce allows companies to sell products at any time of day or night, something that was not possible in a retail store. However, the web only offered marketers one way to connect with their customers: through content and ads. While this was simple enough, it also meant that digital marketers could only interact with their customers one way: by pushing information.
For many years, traditional forms of marketing like banner ads and email blasts continued to be the main tools for every digital marketing company and marketer. However, as consumers became more and more wary of Amazon product recommendations and other ads that were not relevant to them, they continued to look for ways to avoid these “spammy” experiences.
As a result, many marketers turned towards content marketing: one of the fastest-growing forms of digital marketing today that is based on giving customers valuable, informative content on a consistent basis. This has led to the first stage of conversational marketing: analytics and algorithms.
A great example of this first stage is Amazon Alexa and other voice-powered virtual assistants that can help users order products online more easily by simply talking to them. Companies like Netflix have also used this form of analysis to give their viewers an experience that predicts what movies they will enjoy watching based on past viewing history.
Other important forms of conversational marketing include chatbots and AI assistants. While these two terms are not identical, they share many characteristics with one another. Chatbots are automated messaging programs enterprises can use to answer simple customer questions without needing human resources. For example, a travel company could use a chatbot to answer questions about available flights or hotels.
On the other hand, AI assistants are automated programs that can respond to more complex inquiries and learn from user interactions to create personalized experiences for each individual customer. The most famous of these is Amazon Alexa, but there are many others, including Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana.
This leads to the era of conversational marketing: a time when businesses can truly interact with consumers personally, leading to more relevant customer experiences that are more likely to lead to conversions. According to Gartner, “The next decade will be defined by people’s complicated relationship with intelligent assistants.”
Conversational Marketing Can Change How Digital Marketers Interact with their Customers
While many marketers are aware of the rise of conversational marketing, not all have realized its full potential.
Today English-language consumers interact with businesses using multiple channels, most notably mobile apps, websites and social media. However, many of these interactions are still based on a straightforward push-and-pull model, with marketers pushing out content and sales messages to consumers. And as we have seen earlier, this is not always the best approach.
The push-and-pull model emphasizes closed-loop marketing: an approach that teaches customer service representatives how to use pre-written scripts to answer common customer questions.
While this is valuable for dealing with basic inquiries, it has become clear that users want more personal interactions and a conversation-based model offers better results compared to closed-loop marketing (and even open loop marketing).
Advantages of Conversational Marketing
The main advantage of conversational marketing is the ability to create highly personalized experiences for each individual customer. For example, by acting on the knowledge gained from every interaction, an intelligent assistant will be able to develop a unique user profile that can determine what information it provides when asked for.
Other advantages of conversational marketing include:
Conversational marketing can lead to a more efficient, effective sales team. In fact, according to the same Gartner report, By enabling employees to spend more time on complex interactions and less time on simple ones, intelligent assistants will free up staff resources for other activities. At the same time, customers will be more satisfied because they are able to have more complex conversations with the brand.
It can be used to drive new innovative ideas for business expansion. Rather than simply trying to gain new customers, companies can also use different types of conversational experiences to drive engagement and additional revenue from current users. For instance, an online retailer could provide a better experience for repeat customers.
Conversational marketing can make companies more accessible to their audiences, especially on mobile devices. Today, there are billions of smartphone users worldwide, but only one-third of them have made a purchase using a mobile device. This means that two-thirds of the population has never even interacted with a business via a mobile device.
Conversational Marketing is the Future of Digital Marketing
Social media, email marketing, SEO/SEM, website design are all important digital marketing techniques in the past, but conversational marketing will likely replace them in the future. While Google search results are still based on an open-loop model that requires marketers to write quality, relevant content, chatbots will likely replace websites in the future.
By 2022, most businesses will rely on conversational solutions to answer customers’ basic questions about products/services, recommend solutions and handle basic transactions. At the same time, artificial intelligence will help businesses deliver more personalized experiences to each customer based on their unique needs.
Customer service is only the beginning of what AI assistants can do. Providing personalized recommendations, matching the right offer to the right customer, conducting intelligent conversations— these are just a few of the ways that marketers will take advantage of conversational AI assistants.