1. Domino's Pizza
Domino's recent Domino's AnyWare initiative allows customers to order pizza from, well, literally anywhere. This includes conversational channels like Slack, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and text message — by simply texting the pizza emoji.
Customers must first enable text ordering and set up an "Easy Order" on their Domino's profile, which is what they'll order when texting 🍕. Beyond that, however, ordering a pizza doesn't get much simpler.
HubSpot allowed people to register for its Four Days of Facebook Campaign through multiple channels, including Facebook Messenger. Users loved the conversational UI and were quick to encourage their friends and coworkers to sign up as well.
And success wasn’t just about getting people to register for the live event. Facebook Messenger was the highest converting source of new product users to HubSpot Marketing Free via the campaign.
3. London & Company
London & Company walks prospective mortgage customers through their Mortgage Finder form. But instead of a lengthy form with multiple fields, London & Company displays a chatbot/ messenger format with one question at a time.
This conversational format is user-friendly and easy to navigate, which likely helps London & Company collect information from and convert potential new leads.
HelloFresh, a subscription meal service, launched their Freddy Freshbot chatbot in 2017. Customers can chat with Freddy through Facebook Messenger.
Freddy provides customer service, recipe ideas, answers to frequently asked questions, and meal reminders. With Freddy Freshbot, HelloFresh does a great job providing support well beyond the order and delivery process, ensuring its customers feel comfortable cooking its meals and eventually renewing their subscriptions.
Sephora used Kik messenger to learn more about their target market by asking them if they wanted to participate in a quick, social-like quiz about their beauty habits. Once users accepted, they answered questions about their age, makeup preferences, and favorite products. From there, the app was able to deliver relevant content such as how-to videos and product reviews based on the individual’s answers.
A chatbot makes it easier for customers to find and purchase products they like and frees up human employees for other tasks.
Conversational Marketing and Inbound Marketing
At this point, you've probably noticed the similarities between the core ideas behind conversational marketing and inbound marketing. That’s because conversational marketing is a piece of inbound marketing, just like email marketing or blogging. Inbound Marketing is all about creating value where your target customer is spending their time — that could mean writing a blog, interacting on social media, or sharing a video on YouTube. Now that technology has made conversational marketing a possibility, it’s a key part of inbound marketing.
HubSpot Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah states,
"Conversation marketing is not new. Not only have we long been having conversations with customers — even the term itself has been around for at least a decade. The reason for the renewed interest in conversational marketing is that because of advances in technology and shifts in consumer behavior, conversational marketing can now happen at scale. We can have direct, one-to-one conversations with individual customers on their timeline — not ours."
Although conversations are nothing new, our ability to have 1:1 conversations at this scale and across multiple channels is. With inbound marketing, you can first attract potential customers to your brand. You can then use conversational marketing to allow people to initiate conversations when they want, where they want, and how they want – giving your audience the control.
How do conversations fit into the inbound methodology? Well, we see conversations taking place throughout the entire customer lifecycle, though there’s not a strong case to be made for it in the attract stage as the discovery of brands on messaging platforms is still immature.
Facebook Messenger’s Discover tab, which launched mid-2017, is one attempt at solving this. But conversations can be used in place of forms to attract and capture leads, by sales teams to convert those leads into customers, and by customer success teams to delight customers with quick and convenient support. For example, using live chat during the sales process could help convert more leads because it allows prospects to interact in a way they already prefer to buy.
How Conversational Marketing Will Grow Your Business
Okay, we know conversational marketing is all about improving 1:1 relationships, but how can businesses actually start to build out a strategy for success? Cirillo recommends starting with one goal and then working backward.
"Know what you want to get out of the conversation and what data you need to make that happen. Every conversation should add value to your business."
Analyze your answers and work to create the best possible experience for your customers. While there are many things you can do to help optimize your conversations, here are a few essentials:
Your CRM and Conversational Marketing
When you have a conversation with a friend, you don't expect to have to remind them of things like your name or where you live — the same holds true when customers have conversations with a business. That's why using a CRM is so important. A CRM is like a digital memory that allows you to have conversations with customers like you know them.
A successful conversational marketing strategy is dependent on fast and reliable access to a shared knowledge base that includes data such as communication history and necessary customer information. Companies who want to do conversational marketing will need a way to store and organize that data in order to have more seamless interactions with customers. With the help of a CRM, you can organically promote events and products, distribute content, and provide support all through chat.
So, what data should marketers collect? You don't need to know everything about them, but you should know the basics and details of past conversations. Cirillo encourages marketers to think first about why they're using chat:
"Success with conversational marketing will look different depending on the use case. There's not an overarching metric for this world. Track the 'time to solution' or conversion rate if you're solving for utility. If your experience is less about a particular action, then retention might make more sense.”
Start with what you want your customers to be able to accomplish via chat and then build out processes for acquiring the necessary information.
In addition, you can’t implement a conversational marketing strategy without a process for tracking performance, moments of confusion or drop-off, and new questions. You should always be gathering data and optimizing the experience.
Adding Automation with Chatbots
Once your CRM is set up, it's time to think to think about how you can scale your conversations. This is where chatbots can help.
Business isn’t just happening in one city, in one state, or in one timezone — it’s happening all around the world, every minute of every day. As I mentioned earlier, adding automation with chatbots is crucial in keeping up with a volume of conversations and to have a fighting chance at 24/7 support. Bots allow SMBs to compete with enterprise-sized businesses.
Customers expect to be able to connect with businesses whenever they need to. According to research from Aspect Software, 65% of consumers feel good about themselves and the company when they can handle an issue without talking to a live person, and 61% think that chatbots allow for faster answers.
Here are few ways chatbots can help:
- Answer FAQs or customer-specific questions where data is already available
- Qualify Leads
- Promote events, products, and content
- Schedule meetings
- Get feedback from customers and prospects
Keep in mind that while chatbots can do many things, they should never be used as a barrier between customers and a human. 86% of consumers want the option to transfer to a representative if their request is too complicated for a bot to handle. Bots can't replace human talent, but they can help augment teams during off-hours or when conversation volume is too much for a small group to handle.
An Inbound Approach to ConversationsDeveloping a conversational marketing strategy can take time – it's not easy to think about
When speaking with a customer or prospect, conversations should be personalized with relevant shared knowledge. Shared knowledge is the foundation of good conversations. Think about it: If you’ve already given a business you’re phone number, do you really want to waste time
Conversations that have context not only improve the end-user experience, they also help minimize misunderstandings and get straight to the heart of the issue. Because you don’t have to waste time collecting information you already have access to, you’re able to provide immediate value. Context is necessary to help answer the right question, at the right time, in the best way possible.
Conversations that aim to answer the most important question first will provide the best user experience. Even though it's a conversation, this isn't like a conversation with friends. When customers interact with your business, chances are they don't want to spend time talking about cat videos or their weekend plans. They want to solve their most immediate need in the fastest and easiest way possible. Spend time analyzing your interactions to determine what data will help improve your customer relationships.
However, it's important not to get too caught up in personalizing your messages. While personalization and contextualization are important, standardizing elements of conversations helps bring a level of professionalism and consistency to your business. Conversations should be repeatable and predictable.
Figure out your customer's most frequently asked questions and draft approved answers for bots and marketers to use. Repeating conversations will help automate, optimize, and improve future interactions. Predictable conversations help to users have a natural dialog with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Standardization is crucial to delivering clear, consistent answers, across conversations and users.
When involved in a conversation, we often have to deliver the right answer before correcting the problem. For example: Let’s say you receive an email with a coupon code from one of your favorite stores. You spend a half hour scrolling through their products trying to decide what to buy, but when you finally enter the code to make your purchase, it doesn’t work.
You’re understandably annoyed that you wasted all that time when you weren’t even planning on buying something without that code. The business should emphasize with your issue and assure you that they understand the problem before the can move forward with providing a solution. Emphasizing helps customers feel valued and heard.
Finally, it's crucial to optimize. Learn from your past conversations so you can improve them in the future. Optimize for the strengths of the channel and for the answer – aim to provide answers that people would receive in a real, one-to-one conversation.
For example, live chat or phone might be better for providing support, while Facebook Messenger could be a better choice for content delivery. Listen to your customers and observe their behavior as you build out your strategy and make changes where needed. Conversational marketing is an iterative process — what you thought might work may not always provide the best experience. Take time to ask your customers for feedback. Their advice will help you delight your next customer. Remember, every conversation should be impactful and help add value to your business.
Moving Forward: Why Conversations Are the Future
Phew, you made it to the end. Good convo guys.
We've come a long way from letters and telegrams. For the first time, people are having meaningful conversations with businesses on a massive scale thanks to automation with bots, a CRM, and new channels. Conversational marketing is changing the way companies talk with their customers by making interactions seamless and faster than ever before. Your customers are having conversations. Why not join in?
The most important things to focus on are the channel, the conversation, and how the strategy fits in with your overall inbound marketing strategy. Channels should be simple for businesses and consumers to use, conversations should follow a clear process and serve a purpose, and your inbound marketing strategy should inform your conversational marketing strategy.
Remember, humans have been having conversations since the beginning of time. Technology is only making it easier and more productive for businesses and their customers to connect. While the days of communicating by the Pony Express may be over, thoughtful, friendly conversations (and gossip) will continue to stand the test of time and technology.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.