There has always been immense marketing potential in eCommerce and online retail businesses thanks to the amount of data these platforms generate. Unfortunately, typical marketing channels like email and SMS haven’t been able to fully capitalize on this information. But there’s a new technology here and it’s ready to revolutionize the way eCommerce and retail businesses communicate with consumers – we’re talking about the rise of conversational AI.
Conversational AI in Marketing
Conversational AI is an umbrella term covering technologies such as natural-language-understanding (NLU) and machine learning (ML) that substitute human speech with AI-enabled computer speech. The most popular implementation of conversational AI by far is virtual agents, more commonly known as, AI chatbots.
AI chatbots have exploded in popularity in the last 3-5 years due to the leaps made in conversational tech, especially in NLP and ML. As a result, AI chatbots can be found in almost every major industry, from banking and healthcare to retail and education. The business function it substitutes also varies. In some industries, conversational AI is being used to offer better customer service while in others, it has become an indispensable tool for marketing and business messaging. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the latter. Find out more about Conversational AI in eCommerce here.
A New Era of Business Messaging
A lot of business tactics that worked well traditionally aren’t as effective for eCommerce businesses and modern retail. The traditional channels of business messaging are one of them and to fight the falling ROI, businesses are integrating conversational AI into their business messaging strategies. Conversational AI has already been deployed on most popular messaging platforms including the two biggest, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – revolutionizing marketing efforts with two-way communication channels.
Additionally, there are numerous projects in the works that are ushering in a new era of business messaging. One such global project is Google RCS, which enables businesses to reach customers with interactive and rich-media messages, and conversational AI is playing an active role in its implementation. Big names including Subway are already experimenting with Google RCS and with great success.
When it comes to effective marketing, there is perhaps nothing more important than staying on top of recent consumer trends and behaviors. And one of the latest and most important consumer trends in recent history has been the rise of instant gratification and speedy online interactions. As a result, lead conversion is all but guaranteed to fail if the business cannot reply instantly and this is where conversational AI absolutely shines.
Conversational AI enables businesses to begin the process of lead conversion at the convenience of the user, that is, as soon as the customer interacts. Since instant gratification is a powerful impetus, potential customers become much more likely to convert.
Even though conversational AI significantly reduces the cost of business messaging thanks to clever AI and automation, any form of outreach costs money and an effective marketing strategy must include a process for identifying bad leads from cold leads early on. Conversational AI provides a solution to this by asking a series of questions to the leads that help identify where the potential customer currently is in the sales funnel.
Based on the responses, the chatbot can take the necessary steps including removing bad leads from the pool and seamlessly transitioning the most qualified leads to a human salesperson to seal the deal.
Effectively Retargeting Potential Customers
Even warmed-up leads can enter the sales funnel, only to leave it (sometimes at the last stage) before completing the conversion. In such cases, all is far from lost and a different form of marketing begins – retargeting.
Retargeting is a massive sub-field of marketing that focuses on bringing lost leads back into the sales funnel and ensuring they make the purchase this time. Lost leads can include potential customers that:
- browsed through the catalog
- those who signed up for a newsletter
- those who set up reminders for Out of Stock goods
- those who added products to the cart but did not complete the purchase
In all of these cases, conversational AI can once again get in touch with the potential customer but this time offers additional incentives. Today, conversational AI is capable of identifying the intent of the user as well as the context of the conversation, and it uses this to choose an incentive that is most likely to result in a conversion. Here you can check more detailed AI statistics on the four main areas of AI performance to quantify how Artificial Intelligence is being incorporated into businesses.
Automating Marketing Processes
Even though we’ve mostly focused on AI chatbots, the utility of conversational AI in marketing extends far beyond that. For instance, marketing departments today are constantly collecting data for hundreds of metrics but there are limited ways to utilize the insights derived from that data.
Since conversational AI already makes use of a powerful AI engine, marketers have the option to feed additional data into that engine to increase its scope. For instance, it can:
- reply automatically to emails
- reply to messages on social media
- identify trigger phrases on a company’s social media (such as negative reviews)
- and even flag fake reviews using the advanced Natural Language Understanding capabilities.
Additionally, conversational AI is great for taking over mundane and repetitive tasks that aren’t a great use of marketing personnel. For instance, long-term lead management is very common in luxury markets where the conversion cycle can last up to months and conversational AI becomes a much more reliable alternative at that scale.
Conversational AI can bring significant cost benefits along with new capabilities to the marketing department of any eCommerce or modern retail business. In essence, conversational AI is set to change the way marketers operate and the revolution has already begun, and the only real question is if you’re a part of it.