We talk a lot about customer relationships and how to build those relationships with email and SMS. But too often, email and SMS marketing is one way, meaning the marketer does all the talking.
One person doing all the talking doesn’t sound like a great way to build a relationship, does it?
Instead, it’s time to embrace conversational messaging.
Conversational messaging is a one-on-one conversation between a business and a customer, usually through text messages.
Unlike traditional advertising methods like display ads or email blasts, conversational messaging is a two-way marketing channel.
In this article, we will outline the benefits of conversational messaging, how conversational messaging fits perfectly with lifecycle marketing, and how online stores can scale their one-on-one marketing conversations.
Benefits of Conversational Messaging
The most significant benefit of conversational messaging is that it treats customers like humans. With that comes a slew of economic benefits for online stores.
First, conversational messaging improves the customer experience. Think about a time that a store, restaurant, hotel or any other business provided you with an exceptional customer experience. Why was that experience special? More often than not, exceptional customer experience comes when a business actively listens and responds to customers uniquely and helpfully. If your store only uses one-way communication, it is impossible to listen and respond!
Providing a better customer experience also leads to more customer loyalty, and customer loyalty is the best way to improve customer lifetime value—a key lifecycle marketing metric.
Besides encouraging previous customers to return to your store, conversational messaging also increases conversion rates for first-time buyers. That’s because conversational messaging can help overcome common obstacles that prevent someone from making a purchase. For example, if a customer leaves an item in their cart, a store can message them and ask if they have any questions about the item. Perhaps a simple explanation of one of the item’s key benefits will be enough to get them to convert.
How Conversational Messaging Fits with Lifecycle Marketing
In case you haven’t read our blog before, we’re huge fans of lifecycle marketing. Lifecycle marketing is a marketing process focused on engaging with customers throughout their entire journey.
The keyword in that definition when it comes to conversational messaging is “engaging.”
What exactly does it mean to engage with a customer?
Merriam-Webster has many definitions of “engage,” but the one that we think is most appropriate when talking about marketing is: to induce to participate. After all, the entire goal of marketing is to get someone to participate with your brand—whether that means visiting your website, signing up for your email list, or making a purchase.
While one-way marketing can induce participation, two-way marketing lives for participation. Let’s look at the stages of lifecycle marketing and how conversational marketing first into each stage:
- Acquisition. The acquisition stage is all about getting people to your store and starting the conversation. With conversational messaging, this could mean a chat function in your store that connects the customer with a real person.
- Nurture. Nurturing is all about building trust and authority. One of the best ways to build trust and authority is to answer customer questions about your products, brand, policies, etc.
- Convert. Remember our abandoned cart scenario from before? That’s the perfect example of converting customers with conversational messaging.
- Retain. Retention is all about providing an exceptional customer experience. And the key to an exceptional customer experience is thoughtfulness and personalization—two things made easier with two-way conversations.
- Winback. Winback campaigns often mean asking a customer what went wrong and coming up with a solution. Having a one-on-one conversation will help your store uncover your shortcomings, so you can address them.
How to Scale Conversational Messaging
I know what you are probably thinking “I barely have enough time to send out a weekly newsletter. How am I supposed to have one-on-one conversations with dozens or even hundreds of customers!?”
Thanks to emerging conversational messaging technologies from companies like Emotive, online store owners can scale their one-on-one conversations without losing that personal touch.
Start with creating basic inbound messaging flows that cover the most commonly asked questions. This will help you avoid typing the same response every time someone asks about your return policy, for example.
Next, you can start with outbound messaging flows like welcome series, abandoned cart, re-orders, subscriptions, etc.
You can become even more advanced by creating product recommendation quizzes. Here’s how it works: You ask a series of questions about what a customer is looking for (size, color preferences, required features) and, based on their answers, you recommend a product.
The goal of setting up all of these automations is to answer as many questions as possible upfront. Eventually, a customer will ask a question that you haven’t created an automated response for. When that happens, you can set up alerts so you can jump into the conversation and provide a personalized response.