Conversational Marketing is definitely heating up and here to stay. Lubomira Rochet, Chief Digital Officer at L’Oreal, has said she believes “AI is as big a revolution as the internet itself. It’s going to power more of our interactions with our consumers … All those compartments of marketing will be transformed by AI. It’s a great way to get more personalized than we’ve ever been.” In fact, in a recent eMarketer report, 78% of B2C marketing technology decision-makers were plan to implement or expand their use of AI.
What? So what? Now what?
If you’ve been following our blog, you know from my colleague Andy what Conversational Marketing is and why it’s the next big thing in digital marketing. From Greg, you know how powerful it is to truly know your customer rather than making assumptions about them. And, from Erdem, you’re now up to speed on why AI is so crucial to making those personalized experiences possible.
But, if you’re anything like the marketers that I work with on a daily basis, you’re probably wondering “now what?”. It all sounds great in principle but where do you begin and how should you approach this at a more tactical level? As a strategist here at Automat who has worked with a number of customers across a range of projects, let me share with you the top four things that marketers ask me most often about Conversational Marketing and AI.
#1. How can I incorporate AI into my skillset and not get left behind?
As Vlad Moldavskiy, partner and chief growth officer at Mabbly, said recently, “Ultimately, it will be the early adopters who redefine digital marketing in the next decade. Just like the first users and investors of Google pioneered a more searchable web, marketers using artificial intelligence today set themselves up for a successful future.” We couldn’t agree more. Just as we’ve seen in previous digital revolutions over the past 25 years (web, apps, social), those who jump in first and start experimenting to find what works are the ones who end up setting the rules that all other companies follow. With AI, this dynamic is even stronger – the sooner you get started, the greater your chance at establishing a competitive moat.
However, if you’re a brand marketer at a larger organization, you may be waiting for your company’s IT or innovation departments to lead the way and tell you what’s available or possible. After all, AI requires access to large datasets, infrastructure investments, and foundational changes to your CRM schema and digital touchpoints, right? Not necessarily. One of the best opportunities in AI that is accessible directly to brand marketers is the emerging field of Conversational Marketing. Leveraging offerings from companies such as Automat, brand marketers can get started and run lightweight experiments to see the benefits and test+learn without needing to change their current marketing efforts or IT infrastructure.
#2. What does a good chatbot conversation look like and where do I begin?
Of course there’s no universal recipe to the perfect conversational marketing experience. But after two years building chatbots for leading brands, we noticed that the best-performing conversations have a few things in common:
They begin with what we call a “Conversation Starter”
A Conversation Starter is an upfront “hook” that entices the user to engage with the bot. These starter experiences need to offer three things:
- A compelling “Messaging-First” value proposition that comes through clearly in the short-form and conversational nature of messaging
- A targeted acquisition campaign to get your audience to start chatting
- A fun interactive experience that uses data collection to deliver an instant payoff for the user
Then keep the conversation going with personalized follow-ups
The Conversation Starter is only the beginning. Where Conversational Marketing really shines is in its ability to re-engage consumers over time – the more the user invests time and emotion, the more the experience gets personal and the greater the engagement. It’s a virtuous cycle.
#3. Wait, why would I interrupt my customers with annoying push notifications?
You may be wary of annoying your consumers with interruptive push notifications. We’ve heard this concern from some marketers – especially those who are accustomed to sending a lot of email (which, let’s be honest, tends to be pretty annoying).
Of course, no one likes the feeling of being interrupted with irrelevant or poorly-timed push notifications, whether they’re from apps, websites, social channels or messenger experiences. Believe me: as (heavy) mobile users, this is a concern that we take seriously and why we’re so focused on treating consumers as individuals.
To avoid alienating your users, you’ll need to keep the following principles in mind:
- Every time you send a message, make sure you are offering users something new and interesting. Something that is entertaining, useful, or informative. And something that they couldn’t enjoy the same way on other channels (“Messaging-First”). The first follow-up has to be extra valuable, as it directly impacts your users’ trust.
- Use every opportunity you have to get to know the user better and expand your understanding of their preferences. It’s crucial that you understand the types of content they’re most interested in, their preferred frequency, etc. For example, if you learn in a first interaction that the user is interested in a bold makeup look, you could send them a relevant tutorial video a few days later. If they like the tutorial, you can then follow up with a promotion for complementary products featured in the video.
- Only reach out to re-engage users who engaged deeply in the past – deeply enough for you to learn something of substance about them and tailor content to them as individuals.
When we respect the above principles and use personalization to deliver content that is relevant and timely, we see unprecedented open and engagement rates.
#4. Don’t I need an army of data scientists to deliver personalized content?
No, you don’t. This is where AI comes in particularly handy. As our head of research recently explained, driving personalization at scale is a problem for AI to solve. In a chatbot, each interaction represents an opportunity to learn something new and adapt the experience to the user. We refer to these as “dialogue dimensions”. These dimensions and their application to personalization add up crazy-fast. But here’s the good news. Platform features such as smart segmentation and smart scheduling does a lot of the heavy-lifting on your behalf and lets you focus on what you do best – deciding what messages and experiences are most appropriate for different types of users – and then letting the machine to the rest.
Also, remember, you don’t have to use everything you know about customers every time you communicate with them. We’ve found that even simple follow-ups that vary along one dimension can perform great as long as the content is still highly relevant to your users. Based on initial testing with a subset of users, you can then decide whether it’s worth adding extra paths and more-tailored assets.
There’s so much more to talk about
Those are the top four questions I often hear from marketers but there’s probably much more on your mind and we could get into a lot more depth even with these four topics. As someone who has spent her career at the intersection of strategy, design, marketing, and conversational systems, I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for AI and Conversational Marketing and the benefits it will provide to marketers (and the companies they work for) if they get in early. And, for the first time, the power to create these AI-driven experiences is directly in our hands rather than having to rely our technical colleagues to enable us to get started. It really couldn’t be a better time to be a marketer so let’s chat and you can ask me anything.