5 Trends All CMOs Must Know About the Future of Conversational Marketing

By Max Koziolek, CEO and co-founder of Spectrm.io

Consumers don’t want your traditional marketing anymore.

And why should they? In a world where communication centers around messaging friends and colleagues, commenting, DMing, and other direct means of connection, why would they gravitate towards passive display ads or static sponsored posts? In a time where customers are seeking out personalized, real connections to the brands they love, why would they respond to ads or emails talking at them as if they’re just one of the crowd?

If your marketing efforts aren’t working, or aren’t what they used to be, look to what customers really want: a conversation with you.

Conversational marketing gives customers the personalization that they desire and will help guide them to products that will actually fit their needs. But conversational marketing efforts have been limited by chatbots on a website, which means waiting around for customers to visit before the engagement even begins. The best conversational marketing efforts go beyond the website to meet customers and start the conversation where they actually are: in the apps they use every day.

If you’re a marketer wanting to better connect with your audience, pay attention to these trends shaping conversational marketing. 

Five Trends Shaping the Future of Conversational Marketing

Imagine drawing your customer into a chat as soon as they see your ad on the platforms they interact with every day, and having that conversation directly in Messenger, WhatsApp, or their DMs on Instagram. Your chatbot gives them options to choose from to guide and personalize their experience, then serves up products that fit their needs. For companies looking to leverage conversational marketing, here are some of the trends that you can use to push your marketing efforts forward. 

Messaging-First Mobile Consumers

Mobile has quickly become the dominant method of how we live our lives. 65% of traffic to ecommerce sites and 53% of sales online happen on mobile. We interact with friends on our phones, conduct business, shop, watch entertainment, and find out what’s going on around us. You don’t need to look at smartphone penetration and cellular connectivity statistics to know we now live in a mobile-centric world. All you have to do is look around you in your everyday life. People’s attention is on their phones.

What are they doing on their phones? They’re on social media. They’re searching on Google and YouTube. But most of all, they’re messaging.

So it doesn’t make sense then for businesses to choose marketing strategies that don’t include messaging . It’s not enough to have a mobile-first strategy. It must be a messaging-first strategy. Messaging is the most natural way to communicate on a phone. It’s convenient. You can engage on your own time. You can get distracted, but you can always come back to the conversation. Marketers now have the ability to use messaging channels to interact with their customers, meaning that your brand could appear next to all of a customer’s closest friends in their messaging inbox. Think about how many unread emails you have lurking in your inbox. Now think about how many unread messages you have. If you’re anything like me, message notifications are what grab your attention most.

Privacy-First Digital Marketing

Every marketer is aware that privacy restrictions have been steadily and swiftly creeping into their marketing efforts. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework on iOS is having major impacts on marketing campaign attribution and performance. Third-party cookies are being deprecated on all major browsers in the near future. Laws like GDPR and CCPA make what can actually be collected more restrictive. Customers are also wary about privacy and what information of theirs is being tracked across the internet.

The internet is quickly shifting towards privacy-first practices. Marketers that don’t adapt will lose visibility and control of their customer journey.

Conversational marketing efforts via one-to-one messaging are privacy-first. They happen in private messaging threads, which is where consumers increasingly want to interact with brands. They collect data volunteered by the customer. Not only can this personalized data give you better insights into your customers and allow you to tailor your marketing going forward, customers chatting directly with you feel more comfortable sharing their information, as they know you’re using it to create a tailored experience for them. 

Customer-First Personalization Expectations

With so many companies, products, and choices in the marketplace, consumers are looking for brands to do the work to stand out from the pack. That differentiator is personalization. From customized products to concierge-like service, personalization not only makes a customer feel seen but connects to them in ways passive, one-size-fits-all approaches don’t.

In our recent report on the State of Social Conversational Commerce, we found that customers want personalization, and will gladly give personal information to get it. Consumers are generally positive about offering their data for personalized marketing efforts, as long as they give permission. They also want personalization to be based on data they provide, as opposed to tracking or cookies. Customers also want brands to use messaging to provide personalized offers and coupons, and to help customers find products based on their unique preferences or needs.

Today, your customer may see your banner or social ad, click on it, and be taken to a site where they still have to navigate to find the products they want. Or, your customer could see your ad that asks them what they’re looking for today, and with a few interactions, your chatbot could serve up a product that fits their needs and budget. That positive, highly personalized brand experience can happen before they even hit your website. Without tracking them using cookies, and without any prior data on their preferences. 

Rise of Social Commerce

Social media has transformed into a place where businesses showcase products and facilitate consumer purchases immediately through in-app ecommerce integration. 55% of consumers say they find out about new brands from social media, and 43% of consumers said they’ve increased their social media usage in order to discover new products. Additionally, 83% of consumers say that Instagram helps them discover new products or services, and 80% say the app helps them decide whether to buy a product or service.

Discovery doesn’t inherently lead to a purchase, so brands need to still nudge customers along their journey. What if, after seeing a product they liked, your customer could find out more from your chatbot right in the app? Their discovery has not only turned into a personalized experience, but they’ve connected in a new and unique way with your brand — all without leaving the social media app they’re on. This opens a direct line of communication with your customers, and a powerful new owned channel to reach them on.

Evolution of Conversational AI

Conversational marketing relies on the efficacy of your chatbots, and with the evolution of conversational AI, your chatbot can offer context-specific responses, learn to ask the right questions to guide your customers to what they need, and get smarter with each interaction.

As you scale those conversations, new machine learning methods will allow you to turn that unstructured conversational data into actionable insights that you can then turn into an even more personalized experience for your customer. Additionally, with the right marketing chatbot platform, anyone on your team can train and optimize your conversational AI without needing to code. This helps you develop conversational AI that is unique to your brand and your customer intent. That kind of conversational AI is what drives actions that support your marketing goals. 

Start the Conversation Today

Look to what customers really want from you: a conversation, a personalized experience, and something different from the same old marketing techniques. Tackle the biggest challenges in marketing today head on with a privacy-first, customer-first, messaging-first, and social-first strategy. Engage your customers in the messaging platforms where they spend their time, and see how it’s the change you’ve been looking for to better engage customers going forward.

 

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