People like to talk. People especially like to talk about themselves. They like to be asked questions and they like to know you're listening. It's one of the many things that makes us human, and a leading reason for the growing popularity of conversational marketing.
At the beginning of 2015, the big four messenger apps (Whatsapp, Messenger, WeChat and Viber) had surpassed the monthly active users of the big four social apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn).
So where are we at 5 years later?
There are now 4.1 billion users on messaging apps. Messaging is now the main communication channels not just for Millennials and their understudies, Generation Z, but all the way up to the Boomers, too.
Excitingly, conversations are now just as important in B2B as they are in B2C. There's a real preference for real-time communications with clients, team members and prospects. And it's growing...
Conversational marketing platform Drift describes it as: "The process of having real-time, one-to-one conversations in order to capture, qualify and connect with your best leads."
We'd like to go further than that; chatbots are another arm to your sales team. They are front-of-house for anybody and everybody who visits your website, a personal concierge that gets things done to a high standard at all times. A good chatbot is not only your new best friend, it's your customers' best friend, too.
Again, to be truly successful in conversational marketing, wider factors such as strong search authority are crucial to you being the first voice people hear when they ask their technology a question. With the market set to explode over the coming years, building strong foundations with a conversational strategy now could reap huge rewards both now and long into the future.
For us at Six & Flow, Chatbots remain one of the most exciting things in marketing. They take conversational marketing and give you scope for growth.
It all stems from everyday life. In the same way that we're more likely to reply to a text message whilst ignoring an email, chat is inherently part of our modern psyche. It forces us to take notice and has changed the psychology of our communication habits as a whole.
When email first came to be, days, weeks and probably months could quite easily pass without the expectation that a reply was imminent.
Then came the influx of SMS messaging, and so expectations increased. After all, this was, in theory, a message directly into someone's pocket. But, for the most part, an instant reply still wasn't expected.
Chat is different. We've learnt to appreciate the speed, the conversation, the ability to combine groups of people into one conversation, and it's raised the bar for our expectations yet again.
With the shift to instant conversations, comes the same expectations. We want our conversations when we want them, not when you're ready to reply. Whether they're looking for sales, support or general information, people want 24/7 replies.
Your potential customers have questions and they want you to answer them, now. Chat - especially real-time chat - has fast become the centre of the mobile universe. Communication habits are changing, and so are our buying habits.
Over 50% of customers expect a business to be available 24/7.
There's a lot of use cases for chat and whilst it'll depend on your industry, company and target audience, here's where we've seen it work best:
It's not enough to just set up a chatbot and watch leads and sales increase. It's essential to make sure it's aligned with the rest of your inbound marketing strategy to create a solid flow of high-quality leads that convert.
A chatbot marketing philosophy should be as organic as your overall marketing strategy. Scripting is essential to make sure your bot is able to solve problems, direct traffic and be as personal and human as possible to replicate the nuances of the language used by your target market.
90% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that answer enquiries immediately.
So what's stopping your brand from replacing long, complicated forms and follow-ups with real-time conversation, using a chatbot designed to be as personal as possible with your audience?
As part of a wider inbound marketing strategy, chatbots can also be used throughout different parts of your campaign to qualify certain leads you're targeting and tighten up your sales cycle. For instance, you could target personas and previously researched customers further along the buying cycle with biddable media, sending them to specific pages on your site where a chatbot will work to nurture and convert that lead on your behalf.
Which is really the whole point of conversational marketing.
We can't overstate just how important a holistic inbound marketing strategy and philosophy is to the success of any conversational marketing strategy. Some of your customers may be more in-tune with social media as their online platform of choice, for instance.
74% of consumers rely on social networks to help with their purchasing decisions. If that's where your audience spends the majority of its time, then it's essential to marry your social media marketing and biddable strategies with your chatbot to either build that initial conversation and drive traffic or instantly target people who are ready to buy.
There are some common features and flows that feature in most conversational marketing frameworks, including:
1. Capturing better leads
2. Qualifying those leads
3. Connecting brands and customers
If you've made it this far then it's fair to assume you're interested in implementing a chatbot strategy into your inbound marketing model, whether you're interested in growth, are a business looking for better-quality leads or are interested in conversational marketing to refine and perfect your sales strategy.
If you're still not 100% sure and need a little bit more convincing, allow us to simplify everything and tell you the benefits of our own experiences when implementing chatbot strategies for ourselves and our clients.
1. Create a more human buying experience
The chatbots we've implemented for some of our clients have gone a long way to handling all of the monotonous stu? for them and solving numerous small customer problems, meaning sales reps and marketing teams can focus 100% on their tasks and concentrate on those that require a human touch.
2. Improve their customer insight
Conversations are, naturally, two-way. Having a chatbot constantly participating in numerous conversations has allowed clients to ethically collect information about the people that matter to them most in transparent ways. When you're having conversations non-stop, you're learning non-stop.
3. Discover new sources of leads
Conversational marketing platform Drift claims it has added 15% more new leads to the top of its sales funnel simply by having conversations with potential customers through chatbots. Conversational marketing is incredibly engaging; instead of seeing people visit and leave your site, chatbots can begin meaningful conversations with potential leads and encourage them to explore.
4. Decrease the length of their sales cycles
Instantaneous chat and replies inevitably speed up your sales cycle as response time is lowered. Not only have we seen this result with ourselves and our clients, but chatbots have also gone a long way to aligning sales and marketing departments overall, streamlining the lead generation and nurturing process.
5. Grow their sales pipelines
With the right knowledge, scripting abilities and customer insight, chatbots and other conversational marketing methods can better round and perfect your sales pipeline, giving potential customers immediate access to your company's expertise at all times for their needs.
If you still have questions about creating your own conversational marketing strategy - don't panic. Get in touch with Six & Flow! We've implemented chatbots for numerous clients (and ourselves) and seen some amazing results.