What Is Conversational Marketing and Why Do Brands Need It Now?

What Is Conversational Marketing and Why Do Brands Need It Now?

Consumers expect brands to listen, and quarantine isolation has intensified their desires for meaningful personal connections and immediate responses from brands. Meanwhile, marketers are challenged with recalibrating their strategies and messaging to meet new consumer behaviors and demands without a clear roadmap or precedent.

In response to the new reality brought on by Covid-19, brands are striving to find a balance between leaning into empathetic, user-centric practices and safeguarding economic stability. But the ways in which marketers determine what consumers think about brands must change as well. Traditional methods such as in-person focus groups are likely on hold for the foreseeable future. Similarly, social listening tools may skew toward the context of current conversations.

As a result, marketers need new tools to help them rapidly and confidently engage consumers and uncover how behaviors and brand perceptions have shifted. Enter: conversational marketing. Let’s break down what conversational marketing is, and how marketers can use it.

Conversational marketing is a method that engages consumers in dialogue-driven, personalized experiences at a one-to-one level, while supporting privacy expectations. This enables brands to listen, gain insights and provide value to the user. This unique experience can extend throughout the consumer journey, with deployment across various channels such as digital advertisements, owned and operated sites, a mobile app and more.

The biggest difference between conversational marketing and other traditional approaches is that conversational marketing is designed to engage consumers with natural dialog on a human level, enabling brands to connect with them in ways they may never have experienced before. This can make users feel more comfortable, and marketers may be able to gain key consumer insights and understand leads.

For many businesses, engaging in these types of conversations with consumers to gain actionable insights requires scalable technologies, such as chatbots or other digital solutions. These tools can be thought of as a new set of ears for marketers and may be embedded in virtually any place brands connect with consumers, whether that’s on websites, mobile apps or interactive advertisements.

An effective conversational marketing strategy should be designed to:

For example, consider Behr Paint Company. When the company wanted to drive sales by promoting the Color Finder—a new recommendation tool that streamlines the paint selection process—Behr wasn’t sure where to start. To help distribute its message in a personalized way, the company launched an IBM Watson Advertising Conversations campaign on weather.com to facilitate near real-time dialogue with consumers. The tool offers personalized paint recommendations to users while gaining insight into color trends based on their responses.

These dynamic ad experiences generated over 15,000 conversations with consumers, driving a 17% increase in purchase considerations among the target audience and an 8.5% incremental lift in store foot traffic. The interactions also helped shape future production strategies by giving Behr deeper insight into the types of color choices their customers preferred.

Conversational marketing can be a great tool for marketers due to its impact on sales and leads. When someone lands on a website, there is an opportunity to engage with them and begin that relationship. Response time must be quick and the answers the AI crafts should be individualized.

Not being able to respond in a timely manner can negate the efforts put into a conversational marketing strategy. If a user is looking for answers they aren’t receiving due to an impersonal chatbot or submitting a generic Contact Us form, they’ll leave. That’s why it’s a smart move to implement a real, live chat on a brand’s website.

When doing this, marketers need to choose the right technology to leverage the right insights and data for a seamless experience. When Facebook launched Messenger, most people considered it to be a way to message friends and family. Soon, businesses realized they could use Messenger as a direct line of communication with consumers. In fact, Facebook found conversations between users and companies that took place inside Messenger have a 30% better ROI than retargeting ads on the web.

By implementing an AI advertising tool on a website, direct lines of communication can be fostered without users having to leave the site. And to achieve these results, brands should seek out experienced, trusted partners to assist in developing and deploying a conversational marketing strategy. IBM Watson Advertising’s Conversations solution is designed to drive deeper engagement, awareness, action and affinity by creating one-to-one connections between brands and consumers at scale and can be deployed on virtually any digital property, acting as a massive virtual focus group for brands.

The result is a solution that helps enhance the user experience, drive revenue, and improve future business practices by uncovering valuable insights and emerging trends. Employing a conversational marketing strategy can help strengthen the consumer’s relationship to a brand by fostering a one-on-one connection while making them feel heard and supported.