Bots for Business, Conversational Marketing

How Chatbots Use Conversational Marketing

Chatbots are learning from billions of customer interactions to help companies and brands develop conversational marketing strategies.

October 16, 2018

Consumers exchange more than 2 billion chat messages with businesses every month via company websites, texts, and messaging platforms. These conversations give modern businesses the opportunity to build personal and ongoing relationships with their customers—a daunting yet rewarding endeavor. To this end, chatbots, or bots, are being utilized to glean information from these interactions to help companies and brands develop conversational marketing strategies.

What Conversational Marketing is about

Conversational marketing is a strategy that uses personalized, one-on-one conversations to study what users are interested in and to adapt marketing messaging toward those findings. This trend evolves how brands interact with customers, by transitioning away from traditional, stilted marketing language and tactics.

Decades of outbound and inbound marketing strategies have created a customer expectation that brands will fill multiple roles, including those of assistant, friend, advisor, and guide. Conversational marketing meets these needs, while improving brand loyalty among consumers. Its strength comes from asking what value your brand can bring to an individual customer and then focusing on how to deliver that personalized help. Unlike outbound and inbound marketing, conversational marketing forces brands to remember prior conversations so that users don’t have to waste time repeating information in future conversations.

Why Conversational Marketing is used

A well-designed marketing bot uses conversational language to engage with users, allowing brands to build and maintain personal, consistent, and authentic connections with their customers. After that connection is established, savvy brands empower their bots to micro-target users with special discounts or offers on their products or services.

Conversational bots work exceedingly well in the hospitality, beauty, and travel industries. They often focus on education and can answer frequently asked questions, like:

  • What ingredients are in this lipstick?
  • What’s the cheapest flight from New York to Paris in July?
  • Which hotels are near Wembley Stadium?

Ideally, the answers are personal, voice-and-tone appropriate, and take the user’s relationship with the brand into account.

HubSpot’s Conversational Marketing Manager, Connor Cirillo, told Stream Creative that the use of conversational marketing techniques has empowered brands to earn consumers’ trust in an entirely new way.

Cirillo said that getting an email from a company, like a newsletter or promotion, makes him feel distanced from that organization, because the interaction is impersonal. However, a direct message from a bot feels personal, like hearing from a friend or family member.

Cirillo commented that, over time, bots can outperform human customer service representatives on simple tasks because the bots are continuously learning from their customers. Every new conversation offers more data to fine-tune the bot’s personality and features.

A bot needs four attributes to achieve this performance:

1. Personalization

Bots give brands an always-available, one-on-one relationship with users. And the more that users talk with the bot, the more personalized and authentic those conversations become.

2. Instant replies

Because bots are live 24/7, users can talk with them at any time, eliminating the need to fill out contact forms and wait for an emailed response. On the other hand, the answers that bots can give are sometimes limited. It is important that bots are programmed to automatically offer users the option to get more in-depth assistance, by sending their question and their contact information via email.

3. Immediate feedback

If users know that they are interacting with a bot, they’re less likely to withhold critical feedback for fear of hurting a person’s feelings. As the relationship between the bot and the users develops, each new interaction opens up opportunities for users to share their opinions.

4. Captured leads

Bots can record every conversation they have, enabling brands to capture user information that's of interest to them. For example, if a customer is looking for more information, a bot can be prompted to ask for their email address. This information could then be passed on to a sales representative.

When Conversational Marketing should be used

The time and place where users encounter bots using conversational marketing also matter. This interaction should occur at moments and situations of high intent or impact.

High intent

Web pages categorized as high intent are those that users search to determine whether a brand can solve their problems. These pages are crucial to the user’s next steps—converting or moving further along the sales funnel. Pricing pages and services pages are also considered high intent. Conversational marketing works well on high intent pages because the users typically have specific and personal questions about a service or solution. These are exactly the kinds of questions that bots excel at answering.

Negative high intent

Much like a high-intent conversion page, negative high-intent pages, such as an email unsubscribe page, a complaint form, or even a product forum, are excellent places to use conversational marketing. Users typically visit these pages when something is wrong. If users engage with the bot on the page, the conversation can let brands know why users are taking negative actions. A bot can even let users vent their dislikes and frustrations.

High traffic

Conversational marketing with bots only works if the bot has enough conversations to learn what does and doesn’t work. And for that, it needs people. Placing the bot in high-traffic areas of a website, like the homepage, blog, or specific resource pages, gives the bot the opportunity to encounter users and to learn from those interactions.

Marketing is dominated by conversations. These talks began on billboards, with radio jingles, and in magazines. Today, they continue through personal text messages and private chats on messaging apps. Modern brands will continue using bots to constantly push the boundaries of how they can reach consumers, and conversational marketing is the newest step in that critical process.