People love to talk, it’s the basis of common society, how we communicate and how we build relationships. Throw in mobile apps with voice and text and there you have today’s communications standard. In this post, we talk about how to use conversational marketing in business.
So why use voice in our human interactions and yet strive to avoid it in business?
Fundamentally industry has been seeking ever more familiar ways to humanise the digital communications strategy. From customer-centricity, brand intimacy and human first to personalisation, which is ultimately the same thing. So why does business work so hard to provide reasons that chatbots and/or conversational marketing won’t work?
Over the past few years, we have seen bots based on chat tree, Ai, machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). All having varying levels of success of which I am sure gives a negative bias towards the chatbot industry. But surely we cannot keep glossing over this obvious channel for B2B, B2C and D2C marketing and sales?
Why you use chat and what we recommend
Conversational commerce is no longer nice to have but a must-have. Your website prospects and customers are seeking real-time responses to the questions they ask.
They are not happy to have to go and find them in your frequently asked questions. Or wait 24 hours for a response when your live chat is unmanned. They don’t want to call you and an email is no longer an option at an average 24-72 hour response time. This is where chatbots come into their own.
Chatbots are no longer the sole domain of customer services or to facilitate passing contact information. 64% of baby boomers and millennials expect a chatbot to be present on a website. Answering simple questions about your product or service.
That's exactly why you need a solution that is both a marketing and sales platform to increase your conversion rates.
Beyond the conversation
Let’s discuss how you can quantify the need for a marketing and sales platform based on conversational principles.
Currently, we are seeing lots of examples of badly constructed chatbots. Some are too impersonal and direct. Others are too cheesy to warrant taking seriously, which is a shame if that is your brand's tone of voice. However, there are plenty of great examples to learn from to create a better personal experience.
Things to consider
Firstly you have to accept that conversational commerce is here and is here to stay. Any business utilising a digital marketing strategy for lead generation to benefit their sales reps must take note. Qualified leads are potential customers and your business must be available in the heat of the buying process. Chatbots drastically reduce sales cycles not by solely being present but by being clear in the qualifying of website visitors intent.
Secondly, as with inbound marketing, have your sales and marketing teams help to clearly define your conversational marketing strategy. Sales teams are the ultimate beneficiaries of being able to instantly engage with hot prospects. So they are key to the design of your chatbot's conversations.
And lastly, remember that converting website prospects is about customer experience. It’s about being there when the prospect demands it. Making it as easy as possible to connect with your business and have their questions answered.
5 industries that can crush it with chat
So let’s look at some industries that could use chat marketing and how they can implement it.
Conversational Marketing in Property and Real Estate
The real estate industry can make a lot of use of a great conversational marketing platform. We recently helped a local estate agent implement Drift, our favourite chat marketing platform.
The UK based Real Estate Agents offer two defined services. The buying and selling of property and the letting of property on behalf of landlords. Some specialise in one or the other, but this is the typical service provided.
However, both require real estate leads. For a comprehensive real estate marketing strategy you include blogging, email nurturing, social media, SEO, paid search marketing and voice. This is in addition to registering your properties on Rightmove, Zoopla et al.
But how do estate agents and letting agents do this?
Accept that Rightmove, Zoopla and their competitors are only good if you are a sole agent on a property. If you and your local rival agency are marketing the same property then leaving it solely to luck isn’t an option. Don’t wait to be the choice, make yourself the choice. Customers listing their property with you just want to know you do everything humanly possible to maximise the sale or rent.
Some agencies are getting into bad practice. Such as leaving properties on as available that are sold, they no longer have or that are currently let. Any agent worth their salt wouldn’t condone this type of behaviour. It also ruins the customer experience and destroys any chance of building trust with your prospective customers.
Our research back in 2016 showed property companies were typically getting around 64% of their website traffic from Rightmove. This shows b2c real estate businesses have to optimise for 36% of digital traffic not referred from a major property platform.
Assuming that you have your digital strategy in place and you are getting website traffic, you need to implement voice. This is where we found Drift an amazing solution to the campaigns.
Not only does the platform allow multiple chat conversations to occur you can silo conversations to individual pages. This means a lot of personalization can take place maximising the best user experience for your opportunity.
Drift also syncs with your sales teams email calendars enabling website visitors to book appointments to suit their own schedules.
When a prospect finds a property on your website that they like, they can book a viewing immediately. First, they can view or download a pdf of the property from the website. They then book a viewing using Drift which sends reminders to the prospect and the salesperson. Managing the appointment even outside of hours.
However, unlike other marketing automation platforms, Drift is customisable. And whilst we didn’t get to implement this idea, here is an idea that is possible. A letting agent can fully automate the lettings process, see our ebook to learn how to do this. This is the first of five businesses that can learn how to use conversational marketing in business.
Conversational marketing for real estate businesses works! The realtors, estate agents and letting agents should all adopt conversational marketing. Not only are they completely sales-focused industries, but they also require constant conversation for a number of reasons.
The process of either buying or renting a property involves a number of touchpoints by agency staff and therefore having a lead bot in place works perfectly. Using your lead bot to supplement the workload enables small teams to work exceptionally well.
Tenants and landlords often have numerous questions, as do vendors and purchasers of property, that your help bot can be critical in pushing them to the right pages of your website or serving the right content.
Why do estate agents need to use conversational marketing?
Firstly, to establish why conversational marketing for real estate businesses actually works you have to look at their buyer personas:
- The Vendor, or person selling the property
- The Buyer, person(s) purchasing the property
- The Landlord, person letting properties but also a potential property portfolio holder
- The Tenant, person(s) who are renting properties
These personas are typical of nearly all estate agents and letting agents. Therefore we will look at each one in succession and break down why and how you would employ conversational marketing per persona.
The Vendor or Seller
The vendor or seller has a number of things that they need to do in order to help the property agent sell the property. Quite often, in addition to the visit of a realtor or estate agent to explain the process the client still asks repetitive questions.
By installing a lead bot with a help bot playbook, you can let vendors ask questions in their own time often outside of the standard working hours of your agency online.
You can also implement a lead bot to close presale inquiries looking at preempting questions around your fees, your services, awards, testimonials even presenting a service pack. All of this can take place before you ask the prospect for their contact details and to book an appointment in your sales or letting agents linked diary. It’s these types of manual administrative style tasks that can really be facilitated in a fun conversational way, any time of day or night.
With added benefits like recognising a return visitor, each trip back will show the previous conversation enabling your vendor to pick up right where they left off. Therefore you now have a 360-degree service available 24 hours a day.
The buyer needs lots of help. From initial inquiries about the property for sale to asking for your salesperson to contact them for an appointment. Why not immediately spin that on its head and enable the client to book an appointment that suits them in your sales agents diary?
If you have the internal capacity, why not use video of properties for sale and serve them up in property-specific conversational marketing playbooks? Target the properties on your website with specific references and use those as keywords in your playbook to produce a better customer experience! Platforms like Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market are a pretty flat experience so make yours pop!
Other things to consider are that as buyers, we really do not want to be pushed to some portal to manage our purchase. We are paying you for your time in our fees, not for some soulless interface that interrupts our day to use. As such, spend time mapping out the typical customer journey and then assess where your customer could be supported by conversational marketing.
These guys could really use a lead bot on your website. They are often needy, inquisitive and a good source of your income. Often landlords own multiple properties so your agency ambition is to onboard the portfolio, not one or two properties at a time.
Yes, some of the reasons above also suit this persona, such as inquiring about your suitability as a management agent. Finding out about your service agreements, being able to register online and of course book an appointment or requesting a call back in an agents diary.
These are fundamentals, but worth mentioning.
How about adding giveaway content to a landlord chat playbook, things like downloadable PDFs on tips for getting your property ready to let. Or the advantages of Airbnb over traditional letting.
Utilising a lead bot allows so much scope for improvement and if your competitors don’t have one….
The tenant will benefit massively from your company website having a lead bot in place. There are numerous questions ongoing that you can pre-empt being asked of your business, from fees, insurances, processes, referencing, lodging complaints.
Some estate agents have payment pages set up on their websites in case a tenant has problems paying the rent and needs to use a card. When the tenant accesses the tenant area on your website to search for what they need to do, your bot can suggest helpful links or content based on keywords or a playbook.
As the lead bots are used to close inquiries, serve content and provide help, they can become a one-stop-shop solution when your business is struggling with hiring, getting much better website traffic and support admin and sales.
How to get even better results
Did you know that in the UK, the average estate agent has around 60-65% of all its online traffic directed from Rightmove?
With that being said, if you are solely focused on that as your lead generation and hoping that if a landlord wants to find a management agency he or she will somehow find your company, ask yourself how?
Optimising your sales funnel, means focusing as much energy and strategy to acquiring your website traffic from other means, such as searches on search engines like
“Best property management company in …..”
“Cheapest property management rates in…..”
“Estate agents in….”
“Best letting agent for landlords”
All of these types of queries are sent into the search engines on a daily basis. Your job is to optimise your website for them or to write content onto your blog and answer them there.
We’ve been in and around estate agents and realtors for a number of years advising on strategy, helping set up new departments and internal processes. Our clients have won awards and taken new departments from £0 to six figures in under a year.
The reason I say this is because we rarely get in the wrong in this space and we’re here to tell you that conversational marketing for real estate businesses is here to stay and will only get widely adopted.
Conversational Marketing in Education and Training and Development
Colleges, universities and higher education institutions could and should maximise the use of a platform like Drift. Not only will the platform facilitate the sales conversations for courses and suchlike. The fact that it can connect to your customer relationship management (CRM) software provides an opportunity to streamline certain processes. Such as the ability to allow students to register for absence through the chatbot.
Educational businesses are often targeted at the young and in this case millennials (Gen Y) and Gen Z. All of whom are extremely proficient in the use of smartphones and chat apps. Think Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram and Viber to name but a few. You never see any of these age groups without their faces on their mobile for too long.
But prospective students would be looking at online chatbots answering questions about campus life on a university website. Colleges could be building chatbots that provide campus guides as well as answer questions on courses but they could go further.
There are a number of admin tasks that Drift could facilitate for a college or university. Drift can administer tasks that wouldn’t typically be administered by a standard chatbot platform. If you are researching chatbots for colleges, universities or for training centres, read our ebook for more ways to implement chat. This is the second of five businesses that can learn how to use conversational marketing in business.
Conversational Marketing for Saas Platforms
Conversational marketing for saas startups looks at how and why a relatively new company or business would use the lead bot strategy in their marketing and sales funnel.
Often viewed as a solution for much larger medium to enterprise-level organisations, many startups dismiss conversational marketing out of hand. Or are simply uneducated around the potential benefits.
The Theory around conversational marketing for saas start-ups
The theory I have applied to this business scenario comes from an understanding of the start-up business needs. As well as the start-up entrepreneurs mindset.
In 2018, and I mention the date to give context, business owners and entrepreneurs know your lead generation will be by referral or by online activities such as social media and content marketing.
Ultimately your success will be defined by the strategy you put into your online marketing efforts. This will raise both your profile and educate website visitors about what you do.
Startup problems conversational marketing solves
Carrying on with my theoretical analysis of why conversational marketing for startups would work. I want to look at several issues faced on a day to day basis by businesses of this type.
Many small businesses and startups face the recruitment problem, not enough capital or cash flow to have both marketing and salesperson in the team. It’s usually one or the other and often you go with the salesperson, who typically is you.
If you are tasked with running the business, promoting and marketing the business, as well as selling the products or services, that's a hard task to say the least.
Think about adding a lead bot to take care of the online enquiries and lead qualification. This will allow you to concentrate on driving the website traffic and monitoring the “live view” our lead bot platform offers.
Couple this with the ability to use our platform like live chat service too and you’re onto a winner. You can effectively substitute a salesperson with the lead bot.
Understanding that the lead bot is specifically designed to qualify prospects on your website and landing pages, helps you plan your conversational marketing playbooks.
You should set up your playbook to really drill down and discover exactly what your prospect is looking for. Once you have the information, you can take details transfer to an agent or book an appointment in your calendar. A perfect sales support tool.
This is a big thing for any small business. Customer services can make or break a business in the early days. Typically if a customer cannot obtain you on the telephone or via email services, they will seek answers on your website.
Introducing a help or customer service bot to push customers to help pages or content articles could pay much-needed dividends during the startup period and beyond.
The more helpful content you write and produce, the better the impression you create and that in itself attracts customers.
Saas businesses are becoming ever more popular. But despite their dominance of technology space, they are still subject to the same market forces as other technology firms. However, the demand for instant access, which the platforms facilitate, matches perfectly with the strategic use of a platform like Drift.
Let’s assume that a website prospect has researched their need for finding themselves on your company website. On your landing page, you have your typical “This is who we are and what we do”. But that often doesn’t create the engagement you want. Most prospects are so learned about the systems in your space that they are looking for answers to very specific questions.
Asking human agents qualifying questions isn’t a sustainable solution for a large number of platforms as they accelerate through growth. Therefore a conversational interface chatbot would provide a suitable solution. Studying the questions that your sales teams deal with you can pre-empt how chatbot conversations may flow. Then be ready to provide answers with your chatbot.
Post-qualifying your prospect, they may need to understand how your product works in relation to their specific business use case. This is where you slide the conversation into your salesperson and keep that sales lead live and hot. Allowing your chatbot and your human to manage the process effectively.
But why discuss this?
Chabot's and user experience
The global status quo is that you have around 3-5 seconds to engage your website visitor including loading your website. Then not only is the quality of your UX and your copy massively important but your website communications too.
With millennials as previously mentioned becoming ever more reliant on chat communications apps, you need saas chatbots. Chatbots are the business version of Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and Instagram messenger. You have to be how your customers expect, remember this.
50.3% of global search traffic in 2017 was on a mobile device. That was up just under 7% from 2016 at 43.6% (smartinsights.com). The trend has been growing at a similar pace since 2015.
Data from Drift.com "State of Chatbots 2018" Report
Also, that ebook that you created to add value to the sales process. Did you know that instead of gating that with a form, you can gate it with a chatbot? Install a chatbot into the reading pane of the pdf and stay engaged during the education process of your prospect.
There are a whole host of reasons why technology companies need to use chatbots in their marketing armoury. The main reason is that they ENABLE an easy transition through the marketing funnel.
Sure they provide customer service opportunities, but the opportunity presented by a chatbot on your website or landing page for marketing and sales are surprisingly bountiful.
Typical “live chat” features can be useless when they aren’t manned 24 hours a day, it’s being available in the moment that gives chatbots the edge and enables a website visitor to interact and get answers immediately. Proven to increase conversions between 35% and 100%
Chatbots can also use machine learning to understand your customers' behaviour and when AI really integrates chatbots will deliver even more.
Maybe you are wondering what the use cases are for B2B chatbots and there are 5 case studies you can review here.
What are the immediate issues?
After seeing Zuck (Mark Zuckerberg) on the hill recently and the admission that Facebook listens to and monitors conversations in its messenger app, do you want to continue using Facebook messenger apps for your business?
Also, how does that work under GDPR?
The next issue is that chatbots aren’t actually using real AI, they are using machine learning and that is a different reality. It can present options to a user based on the information you feed it, but it isn’t completely autonomous just yet.
That being said there are obvious positives, such as the fact they are widely adopted in B2C companies and that ensures public adoption, to clarify, those industries are:
- Online Shopping
- Buying Event Tickets
- Fighting Parking Tickets
- Ordering Food
- Finance and Financial Advisory
And the list goes on. Chatbots are here and they will stay and only get more intelligent as time goes on.
How will technology companies put them to good use?
The answer is this, by using simple yes/no questions, they can ease the transition through education and sales within the chatbot box on the website. A cleverly designed conversation enables the chatbot to know when to offer pdf’s, services and ultimately convert them into a real conversation.
They also enable 24/7/365 online communication, something we humans couldn’t do unless it was at a great expense. The chatbot will perform with 1 100 or 1000 users at any time, humans simply cannot.
And the future?
Well according to a recent Forrester report, the general adoption of AI across the board, not just chatbots is only measured at around 20%, but Oracle published a report that vastly countered that figure at around 80% of brands stating they would adopt chatbots. This was also backed up by Business Insider.
My issue is that there is a lot of talk about chatbots not being quite there in answering questions - localised phrasing not being picked up for example and causing problems in response. So it looks like more simplified chatbots are more successful presently and that is exactly why technology companies need to use chatbots.
Having your marketing agency or robot development agency build a simple chatbot that is specifically designed to deliver responses that nurture your website prospect through the funnel is all that is needed.
In many cases, you can anticipate what questions would be asked by taking control of the conversation and presenting options that enable the technology company to drive interaction and increase conversions by up to 100%.
Right now, that’s reason enough, AI seems to be too infantile to deliver perfect experiences, so that gives an opportunity to deliver the perfect experience at this stage of development.
Make no mistake, humans realise when they have a bot presenting answers and therefore don’t try and be too clever to hide the chatbot, let it be seen for what it is and when the technology develops, redevelop your chatbot.
By building chatbots for Saas websites, Saas platforms will crush it with conversational sales. This is the third of five businesses that can learn how to use conversational marketing in business.
Conversational Marketing in E-commerce
Conversational e-commerce chatbots are nothing new. There are scores of them available and many suit the smaller business. Those with the business owner running the platform or with an extra salesperson. However, Drift is another prospect altogether.
Many of us forget that e-commerce is not solely the domain of the b2c or d2c consumer market and is in fact very much b2b. Due to this, the combination of chatbot and human interface works really well. In fact, customer interactions when Drift has been found on site have increased as much as 400%.
But let’s be honest, there aren’t a huge number of high-ticket items sold in the b2b e-commerce space. Quite often the items are of low value but high volume, but that isn’t the norm. Think life sciences for example, where medical disposables can be a few pounds, or equipment in the hundreds or thousands. Laboratories often place high volume orders for droplets and medical utensils as well as for high spec equipment on websites like medisave.co.uk.
The downside in this space is that the websites are basically online catalogues and have hundreds if not thousands of products too.
Imagine a bot that can field questions based on structured parameters that when the answers get too tough, a human intervenes. A seamless experience that can be handled by your sales teams at home, in the office or on the move. Customer support issues could dwindle, support tickets can be raised from within a chat conversation. Customers based in any location using your eCommerce store would soon fill their shopping carts.
Non-Standard E-commerce industries
In other industries like the construction industry, for example, messenger bots can play a huge part. A lot of system orders have multiple parts to complete them. In the roofing industry, a roofing system may require six or seven individual components.
Your bot could spring in if a customer adds only a few items from a system to the basket. Suggesting the missing components and potentially producing a link to an installation manual. Vastly improving the customer experience.
If this type of automated service doesn’t provide all of the necessary answers, you can again have the human support jump in and conclude the sale. Just the type of experience shoppers have been seeking. This is the fourth of five businesses that can learn how to use conversational marketing in business.
Conversational Marketing in Financial Services
The financial services industry in the UK is focused on not breaking any laws in terms of marketing and promotion. Therefore traditional banks have been slow to adopt newer forms of technology. They prefer to invest in or buy out newer Fintech solutions. Those that are designed to test boundaries and are far more fluent in growth hacking and digital marketing.
But they aren’t so slow in adopting chatbots. Tue, they are focused on using AI and machine learning, such as IBM’s Watson to deliver their results. But are they missing a trick with conversational interface bots that are chat tree operated?
Chat tree operated chatbots are often seen as the poorer cousin of the Ai and NLP bots. But they can be so much more in the right hands. For use in sales and education around products, you can be in the market in 7-10 days from purchasing a platform licence. The customer journey is well mapped within financial services, but the call centre experience often leaves you lacking.
With digital banking becoming more and more prevalent, the opportunity to use bots in sales marketing and customer services is there to be exploited.
However, it’s not just banks, building societies and credit unions that make up the mix of financial services. Credit companies, insurers and payment providers also make up the mix. So is conversational banking something we will see in the near future?
I’m sure as I mentioned IBM’s Watson will enable ai powered banking, but that could well be years away from a bank-wide launch. Call centre experiences are mixed unless they are localised and financial institutions should be more flexible to work with other short term options.
My problem with finance is that they generally try and force people to act how they feel they should act rather than how customers expect them to act. The financial brand is still labouring to become customer-centric, even though it is where they seek to be. So how can financial services use conversational marketing?
In the financial services industry, customers expect service and support 24 hours per day across a number of different timelines. This alone is a perfect use case to implement conversational marketing for financial services. But don’t stop there, be bold. Think about which financial services industries can benefit from a lead bot and why.
Conversational Marketing for Banks
Banks. A staple part of our daily existence. Quite unable to operate a decent lifestyle without one. Needed for salary and deposit payments but not alone in that, because Fintech picks up the slack.
But let's look at the banking requirements for support.
Applying for accounts online
You can apply online for most types of accounts, so you don’t need a lead bot or conversational marketing for that process. In fact, most facilities can be initially applied online. Therefore, you don't need a lead bot, or do you?
Where there are online applications made, further support is often required. Using your lead bot to support this process for your applicants solves the need for late-night call centres. Oh wait a minute, you don’t get late-night call centres.
Therefore your lead bot can fill in after hours.
I for one hate hearing
“Sorry we are currently closed and lines reopen at 8 am”
I need help. Or at the bare minimum, reassurance that someone can provide me with the answers I need and lead bots can do just that.
When creating your conversational marketing playbook for financial services you must consider all enquiries. To be honest, your internal data will let you know the most common query types received out of hours and you can facilitate this quite easily. This makes mapping the conversation a data-based exercise.
Customer service means ensuring every single transaction or touchpoint with your brand, should always provide answers and not more questions. We’re not talking about lost cards, but more facilitating those that work long hours and get to the phone post 7:30 or 8 pm at night.
I mean let’s be frank, most financial service institutions are quite adept at calling us for missed payments and overdue balances at all times of day and night, weekends.
So where is the quid pro quo?
The movement within the banking industry globally is being disrupted by the more experience focused Fintech banks. The demand for more from our traditional banks is being leveraged from our needs and wants.
We work longer hours and typically want some privacy when we talk to our banks from prying eyes and ears. Therefore the demand for out of hours services will simply increase. Facilitate this demand digitally and your lead bot will pay dividends in more ways than one.
Conversational Marketing for Lenders
Conversational marketing for lenders works. It should be a strategic demand to apply a lead bot in your marketing and sales funnel.
Credit card companies, bridging financiers, car finance, mortgage companies, payday lenders. They can all benefit from having a lead bot on the company website to help qualify a prospect before transferring them to a salesperson and also to push website visitors to useful content or contact details.
As there are a number of legal requirements around what a prospect should know when entering into credit agreements. Having a lead bot serve documents in conversation pre-sales person getting involved can also help deter timewasters.
Conversational Marketing Playbooks for Lenders
Conversational marketing playbooks for lenders should focus on showing:
- Video Content
- Legal Notices
- Support Details
As well as segmenting your web traffic if your company offers a number of products. You don’t operate a one lead bot fits all approach. You segment your traffic and drive them into playbooks geared up to qualify your leads.
Conversational Marketing for Insurance
Finally, conversational marketing for insurance companies. Well, how does that work? It’s not an industry known for its clamour for digital. Well not past the company website or online enquiry. But this industry should be clamouring for lead bots.
When applying for insurance you have so much to consider where there is so much you don’t know.
For example, trying to claim and finding out you are not covered isn’t the fault of the insurer, it’s your fault for not asking the right questions when you took the policy out.
Questions for an Insurer to ask
An ethical insurer would use the lead bot to help qualify the prospect but ask the questions that really help that individual establish what he or she needs. Questions could be:
- What is your business (keyword led)
- What type of insurance are you looking for (button led)
- Do you need additional coverage for (button led)
- When is your renewal date
This is really simplified by the way. I could get into a more in-depth workflow but I started writing it out on a piece of paper and quickly realised you could get at least 6 options for buttons.
- Public Liability
- Public Indemnity
- General Business Policy
And that list could go on depending on what your insurance company offers. Then each button would have its own playbook. Potentially offering things to consider when starting your quote. This would cover things like contents, ensuring that if employees take equipment off-site they are covered under the policy and things of that nature.
The obvious customer service or help bot scenario is there for all to see, so utilise this in your strategy too.
Conversational Marketing for Financial Services
So I took a brief look at how conversational marketing for financial services could be implemented on a sector by sector approach.
Sure, there are many similarities in the applications for lead bots, but the conversational marketing playbooks would be far different for each product and the desired outcome.
Looking at how you can service your customers during and out of hours is one aspect of this approach. Supporting your internal or external sales teams is another. Ultimately, the adoption of conversational marketing for financial services companies makes sense.
So who’s going first?
We are experienced with helping financial services companies with both inbound marketing and conversational marketing and would be happy to discuss in further detail how you can implement both strategies in your business.