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 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
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.
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?
That’s a great question and we covered it in an earlier blog post here. In this post, we discuss insurers, lenders and banks. But if you want my opinion, you mix conversational marketing with Inbound Marketing for maximum results. This is the last of five businesses that can learn how to use conversational marketing in business.