Marketing has always been about a company selling a product to the masses. Think of billboards seen by millions of travelers. Think of TV ads playing in the background of millions of homes. Think of magazine ads sitting in millions of doctors’ offices.
Marketing, for a long time, has been about casting the net as wide as possible, hoping to reach a few people and turn them into customers.
But thanks to messaging apps and conversational marketing, this is about to change.
A personalized experience through conversational marketing
“2016 will be the year of conversational commerce,” states Chris Messina in his recent Medium article.
What Chris rightly, in my opinion, anticipates is a new age of marketing.
In this conversational marketing age, brands will no longer shout their product pitches to the masses, hoping to reach a few people. Consumers will no longer be blasted by millions of ads irrelevant to their situation or needs.
Through messaging applications, brands will be able to reach their customers on a one-to-one level via a channel that allows for conversations, deep learning, and extreme targeting.
A messaging app encourages discussion. When we see an ad in a magazine, on TV, or on a billboard, we typically don’t engage with it. We see it, acknowledge it (whether consciously or subconsciously), and move on. Marketing through messaging apps, however, allows the consumer to react, interact, ask questions, and engage with the brand.
Each interaction between the brand sending the messages and the consumer receiving them allows for learning. Has the customer opened the message? Have they replied? What questions did they ask? Did they purchase the product instantly? Were they annoyed by this particular message? Why?
From these interactions, the company can continuously improve its general strategy but also adapt, on a granular level, by sending product offers that are more relevant to each individual.
3. Extreme targeting
Finally, thanks to the conversations and constant learning, brands are able to perform extreme targeting.
Each conversation between the consumer and the brand is a step toward knowing exactly what that consumer wants, needs, and will react to.
Accurate targeting is not only good for the brand, it’s also great for the consumer, who will eventually only be exposed to offers that are relevant to his or her particular situation.
The consumers are ready
Adopting a new marketing strategy isn’t always easy. It requires time, effort, knowledge, and money. Although marketing and providing support through messaging applications sounds amazing, some may still be reluctant to take the leap — perhaps thinking that their customers are not ready for it.
In a recent survey, however, 63.9 percent of consumers agreed with the statement: “Businesses should be available and contactable via messaging applications.”
This shows a strong interest on the consumer side for brands to use this new channel of communication, not only to market to consumers but also to be there for them. It’s fair to say that messaging applications will not only be a great marketing medium but also an amazing way to provide help and support to both customers and potential customers.
In the same survey, 49.4 percent of the people said they would rather use a messaging application than a phone call to communicate with a business.
This further proves that consumers are ready for the conversational marketing revolution predicted by Messina.
To profit from it, brands will have to integrate mobile messaging as a part of their current marketing plan. Very few have, at the moment, which creates an amazing opportunity for the brands that do decide to take the first step and be among the early adopters of the conversational marketing movement.
Chatbots, automation, and 24/7 service
The predicted conversational marketing trend also raises the question of chatbots. They’re starting to pop up everywhere, from banks to personalized online resumes. What role will chatbots play in conversational marketing? They’re more than likely going to be a complementary tool.
Chatbots will offer a way for brands to stay alert and responsive, virtually 24/7. If coded well, a chatbot could potentially handle most of the queries consumers throw at them. The trick will be for companies to build a bot that is knowledgeable and programmed to respond to questions their customers typically ask but that is also conversational enough to appear seamless.
Companies will get the opportunity to set up entirely automated processes through chatbots and messaging applications. As an example, new subscribers could get a series of messages over a few weeks that informs them about all the features of a product and entices them to use it.
A combination of automation, chatbots, and a conversational mindset will be the most powerful form of marketing through messaging applications.