Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Brands, bots and conversations

Updated 28 Jul, 2021 04:48pm
Today’s brands must be their customer’s assistant, guide and friend – and conversational marketing aims to achieve just that.

Conversation is a core psychological need of humans – irrespective of how technologically advanced or evolved they are. Conversational marketing taps into the innate human need to interact, collaborate, discuss and arrive at a decision. It is a method to engage people and convert leads by using various types of bots (enabled via AI technologies such as Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing) and online dialogue-driven activities.

Incorporating conversational marketing as part of a business’ overall digital marketing strategy helps to boost sales, reduce customer support timelines, reduce costs, ensure business continuity, decrease customer churn, and most importantly, offer a personalised experience to customers. And in the hyper-digital, post-Covid-19 world, conversational marketing has seen a further surge in adoption across industries; from retail and real estate, to healthcare and banking (Sources: Hyro Hub, Innominds).

Here are five ways to use conversational marketing in business:

1. Smart chatbots for 24/7 service: Chatbots are the most effective and popular example of conversational marketing. A report by Drift, a B2B platform, charted a 92% year-on-year growth in chatbot usage compared to more modest increases in other types of conversational marketing, including online live chat (which grew by 35%) and social media (31%). Chatbots are available 24/7 and use AI software programmes which use natural language, pre-programmed responses, and conditional logic to automatically engage with site visitors in real-time. They answer questions by ‘reading’ the content on a website and serving it up when it is relevant. Smart chatbots can even schedule meetings at the right time once they determine a conversation has progressed to a suitable handoff point. And if the chatbot is ‘having difficulty’ handling a situation, it can put the customer in touch with a human rep. A good chatbot example is TechCrunch, a popular tech publication that uses chatbots to send content to people according to their reading preferences, when they want it how they want it.

2. AI email assistants for initial conversations: Conversational AI is also used to conduct email conversations with prospects. Referred to as “AI sales assistants”, these sophisticated AI-powered bots ‘understand’ what is being said and determine the right response. They enable companies to engage cold leads, pursue less qualified or low priority leads, execute consistent follow-ups with prospects, and even pass hot leads to human sales reps. AI assistants alone are reported to create a 15 to 25% boost in engagement rates with prospects, mainly due to more consistent follow-ups (Source: MarketingAIInstitute). Without a doubt, AI sales assistants cannot replace the work of a sales team, but they can amplify capabilities and create opportunities from leads that would have otherwise remained dormant.

3. AI messenger assistants for a more human and personal touch: Businesses can deploy AI messengers (for their Facebook or WhatsApp accounts) to engage with consumers one-on-one about specific products, explain details and even offer recommendations on what to do or buy next – hence creating value for the consumer by knowing more about them. For example, Domino’ ‘Dom’ messenger helps customers decide, place and track orders right from the messaging app of choice. Another awesome example is by National Geographic; their 'NatGeo Genius' messenger bot was launched to promote their new TV show Genius. The Facebook bot conversed with users about the genius programmed to be featured. Before the show on Albert Einstein aired, page visitors who clicked 'Send Message' were connected with 'Einstein'. The cheeky bot followed the user’s conversation, replying with information about the show and quips about relativity and other topics Einstein worked on. In short, if designed well, these messengers feel like a human conversation, thereby creating empathy and a bond and are offered at a capacity that would otherwise require a massive team (if done without AI).

4. Live streaming videos: Although not an AI-based use-case, live videos are a highly effective, yet relatively untapped, avenue of conversational marketing. Live Streams combine two popular activities; watching videos and shopping online. Businesses can let their sales team broadcast live product demos on social channels, conduct live Q&A sessions, share experiences and essentially create a bond with potential customers. Statistics in favour of live streams are astounding; 82% of audiences prefer to watch a live video over standard social media posts; live broadcasts get 24 times as many comments on LinkedIn and account for one in five Facebook videos (Source: Hubspot). The best part is that every business has a social media presence and hence a platform to leverage for live videos.

5. What to take care of: Conversational marketing has huge potential for a business, only if it’s authentic, actionable and precise. A conversational marketing strategy should effectively leverage cognitive AI to showcase a brand’s voice authentically and create a sense of human connection. It must quantify the impact of marketing campaigns through real-time consumer feedback, deliver purposeful experiences at each digital touchpoint, and optimise future ‘conversational’ strategies by evaluating how messages are resonating with the audience.

If done correctly, conversational marketing is not just a fad. It’s the evolution of customer conversation into a more customer-centric philosophy that combines thoughtful communication with technology to offer a human, personalised, and empathetic journey. To conclude, it’s about a business not appearing to be “business-like.”

Amber Arshad is Assistant Manager, Content & Digital, 10Pearls.