Conversational marketing enables marketers to build brand equity and improve campaign performance by transforming the customer experience through a combination of strategy, approach and technology. Consumers are clear about how they want to connect with brands: they want access 24/7 and to be able to explore on their own terms — Facebook & Boston Consulting recently reported that two-thirds of global consumers attempted to message a brand about their goods or services during the 2020 holiday season.
Despite the demand, there remains an opportunity gap for retail brands to adopt two-way channels and a conversational mindset. More than 80% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase when a brand offers a personalized experience; however, retail brands continue to rely on high-frequency, one-way communications.
Over the last few years, consumers have come to expect personalization from the retail brands that they love. According to Gartner, 87% of brands expect to compete on customer experience in 2021. The best way for brands to be more proactive and engage with their customers on a more personal level is utilizing conversational marketing to enable two-way dialogue.
Conversational marketing is the transition from “pushing” messages to inviting customers to have a conversation, ask questions or express their preferences in order to individualize an offer. Fortunately, the tools needed to accomplish this exist today, enabling brands to “meet” their customers where they are, every time.
Building Trust by Giving Consumers More Control
While conversational marketing can help customers understand their product options and gain the insights needed to make an informed purchase decision, there’s still one aspect customers want more: control.
Customers are seeking control — in retail, this means the ability to customize an offer and explore alternative products or services. In fact, nearly half of consumers say they have lost trust in a brand over the past year, with many citing that they would like to have deeper relationships with the brands they love. As consumer behavior continues to shift, giving more power to your customer will need to be a top priority for brands — especially if they want to build trust and deepen their relationships with their consumers.
But where do you begin to strengthen customer relationships and create a more personalized experience with customers while also giving them more control over their shopping journey?
Anything brands can do to make people feel as if the messages they receive were crafted specifically for them, will transform overall customer experience. This can be as simple as using a customer’s name in a message, or it can go much deeper by incorporating their purchase behavior, preferences or any other key insight or signals that can be obtained by the brand.
Through conversational marketing, brands can customize their messages via artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots especially tuned for mobile messaging channels, enabling customers to engage in the channels that they prefer. What does this look like? A good example is asking a customer if they’d like an offer or special promotion. This would prompt the customer to engage in a conversation, allowing them to explore what options are available.
This approach shifts the power balance to the consumer, who uses the conversation to customize their experience and define their interests, ultimately triggering a unique offer and conversion to a sale while at the same time extracting important preference information for remarketing at a future date.
Chatbots can not only meet those requests in 1-to-1 conversations at scale 24/7/365, but they can do so in a highly personalized way. Instead of every person receiving the same information, brands can now create unique offers and content tailored to each individual customer, enabling them to efficiently scale and improve their customer satisfaction initiatives.
Leveraging Conversational Marketing
Conversational marketing is the next evolution of direct marketing. It drives higher engagement by creating conversations between brands and consumers that otherwise might not have taken place. Rather than price or product, consumers award their loyalty according to the experience they receive.
To reach this level of true conversational marketing, there needs to be a profound change in how marketing campaigns are designed and how customers are targeted, with a sharper focus on personal preference. If brands want to build trust with their customers, then it will take some risk on the brand side as customers wield more power and enable a quicker conversion from tailored offer to completed sale. Although brands have been reluctant to prioritize adoption, now is the time to invest in the marketing technology that exists to support the customer experience.
When customers feel empowered, brands are rewarded with their trust and loyalty. A conversational marketing approach enables brands to deliver great experiences while strengthening the customer relationship. As a result, they’ll experience better engagement and sustained loyalty among their customers, setting them apart from their competitors and positioning them for long-term success.
Matt Ramerman is President of Sinch for Marketing, a mobile engagement consultancy and personalized mobile messaging platform. Sinch for Marketing, part of Sinch, a global leader in cloud communications for mobile customer engagement, helps brands build, deploy and support an omnichannel strategy in order to strengthen their relationships with their customers. Previously, Ramerman was CEO and Co-founder of Vehicle, which was acquired by Sinch in 2018.