Conversational Marketing Through Social Media – The Way Forward

Conversational Marketing  The Why

Generating a sale is the holy grail for all businesses. A business entity, irrespective of size, location, sector or industry, will only survive if it manages to sell its goods or services. Deep within every sale, lies a conversation that started the entire sales process. This is an age-old truth that transcends time, space and type.

Conversations have always been central to the sales process. In earlier times, small retail stores used to strike a conversation with a customer. This would lead to a relationship being built and a possible sale being closed. Over time however, businesses have moved away from having a conversation with the customer. They are now more focused on casting a wider net by letting customers know what the business can sell and hoping that these outbound messages attract the customer to their products.

Companies bombard potential customers with messages through various channels  think automated emails, cold calls, mobile messages etc. and patiently wait for customers to ask for more information. These customers are usually called leads. And once a customer shows interest, he/she is expected to fill out lengthy details in the way of a lead capture form. This form is then used to analyse if the lead is qualified or not. The decision to connect with the lead is based on its qualification. And the next outreach is often a function of when its convenient for the business to reach out to the qualified leads. This approach might not be the best in modern times. This is not because businesses have changed over time. On the contrary. It is the customer who has changed over time. And his/her expectations have undergone a sea change!

Customers today expect real-time experience. Instead of filling out lengthy lead capture forms and waiting for a business to contact them, customers want to engage in a conversation from the very beginning. Research shows that over 80% of customers who come across an automated lead capture form do not fill it out and instead, go elsewhere to buy. Furthermore, customers expect a swift and nimble response from businesses. Simply put, todays customers do not want to wait to discuss their needs with a potential seller.

Research shows that responding to a lead within the first 5 minutes is imperative to a seller. Any longer, and the probability of qualifying that lead decreases by 10 times. And the longer a business sits on a lead, the worse are the chances of the lead leading to an eventual sale.

So, the challenges are two-fold:

  1. How does a business avoid a lengthy lead capture form whilst ensuring the potential customer does not shop elsewhere?
  2. How does the business respond to a lead within the short window of attention that todays customers have?

Conversational Marketing  The What

This is where conversational marketing steps in. The standard definition of conversational marketing is:

The process of having real-time, one-to-one conversations with customers in order to capture, qualify, and connect with leads.

Conversational marketing uses targeted messaging and intelligent chat robots (chatbots) instead of lead capture forms. This solves both challenges of traditional marketing in that:

  1. The conversational chatbot asks real time questions to interested customers, instead of offering a lead capture form. The same details, as what would be collect through a lead capture form, are collected via a conversational, two-way communication portal.
  2. The chatbot also functions as a real time responder who answers customer questions as soon as they are asked. Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is built into chatbots, allowing the bot to interpret customer queries, search for the most appropriate response and quickly put forward that response while the customer is online and still interested. The conversational AI also manages to qualify the lead in real time, based on the responses during the conversation.

Conversational marketing provides a real-time communication channel on a businesss website, providing potential customers a direct line to the business.

Conversational Marketing  The How

In order to take conversational marketing to its logical conclusion, businesses can follow a 3-step process to turn visitors into leads, leads into opportunities and opportunities into customers:

  1. Capture – replace lead capture forms with messaging or chat robots, creating the opportunity to capture leads even when the business (and sales representatives) are offline.
  2. Qualify – substitute traditional outbound broadcast messaging with conversational AI, allowing for qualifying questions to be asked during the conversation. In the event of further interest being shown by the lead, the chatbot can create appointments and demonstrations with sales representatives.
  3. Connect – integrate chatbots with an AI based backend to route leads intelligently, connecting leads to the right people within the business based on what the leads wants, where the lead is based and who can answer further questions best.

Conversational Marketing  The Where

Having established that conversational marketing can solve the challenges of traditional marketing, it is pertinent for businesses to understand where to implement it to reap the maximum benefit. The one obvious place to have chatbots converse with customers is on the businesss website. After all, that is where most potential customers visit to seek information about the companys goods and services. As such, chatbots on websites are becoming increasingly popular and are now seen on most corporate websites.

Apart from corporate websites however, one other platform that is fast gaining momentum as the primary medium of communication with customers is social media. More and more customers now log on to a businesss social media pages to find product information. In fact, it is expected that customer traffic to social media pages will far exceed traffic to a businesss website in the very near future. This only means one thing – engaging with customers who visit a businesss social media pages is now imperative to the marketing and sales success of companies. And conversational AI plays a role here too. Chatbots integrated within social media platforms are the way forward for businesses to engage with potential customers. Capturing, qualifying and connecting leads could all begin on a companys Facebook page. There are ways to use chatbots that converse with customers through native social media messengers (e.g. Facebook Messenger). And this could be made further intelligent by utilising customer responses to inform future interactions. In other words, the chatbot could save user responses in the form of a variable, which can then be reused at any later point in the chatbots responses. Once conversational marketing takes over from traditional marketing, the possibilities are endless!

Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they

realize it themselves.  Steve Jobs

And conversational marketing through social media is just the way to do that!

If you are interested in discovering how you can implement conversational marketing into your business, contact our team at Chrysalis for more information

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