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Conversational MarketingMay 24, 2017Written by Alex Debecker

Conversational Marketing 101: Past, Present, Future

conversational marketing 101

Conversational marketing was one of the first topics I tackled when we started this blog. You can find my introduction to conversational marketing article right here.

I also wrote a few posts about the application of this concept and why I believe it works. For example, here you can find two different situations in which a conversational marketing approach could save a business.

So, what is different in this article? Why am I writing about this topic once again?

Simply put, all of the content I initially wrote on this is now about one year old. Things have changed - we have changed.

This article will serve both as an introduction to conversational marketing, an update for those who have been following the topic, and a quick look at what I believe we can expect from the future.

Let's tackle some marketing, conversation style.

Conversational marketing vs. conversational commerce

Before moving any further, let's quickly cover this.

Are we talking about conversational marketing or conversational commerce? What is the different (if there is one)? Why pick one and not the other.

As you may have guessed from the article I linked above, we initially went for conversational marketing. The reason was simple: we want our content to be relevant to the majority of businesses.

To me, conversational commerce has a connotation of, well, commerce. It sounds like it is about sales, selling products or services, turning visitors into customers.

Conversational marketing, on the other hand, is encompassing all of the interactions a business or any other entity has with interested parties. As an example, a charity could have a conversational marketing approach to making people aware of their cause without trying to get them to spend cash on anything.

A school could have a conversational marketing approach to making their curriculum the more sought after in its area.

You get my point.

My personal opinion notwithstanding, it seems the market had another idea.

conversational commerce conversational marketing Google Trends

The graph above is a Google Trend search for both terms over the same period of time. It is pretty obvious conversational commerce (in red) has consistently overshadowed conversational marketing (in blue) over the last twelve months.

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, for this article I will try to focus on what I believe the marketing aspect of this topic should be about. Who knows, maybe I'll bring that blue line up?

The origin of conversational marketing

Like we often say, conversational marketing is nothing new.

We, humans, have been selling (or trading) things since the dawn of time. Whilst back then it may have been categorised as 'grunt marketing' (get it?), we have been communicating about products and services since forever.

Conversational marketing is the act of communicating to market a product or service. See? Nothing new.

So why we talkin' about it now?

Good question, Timmy.

The big Earth-shaking events happened a couple years ago.

First, messaging apps overtook social media in the number of monthly active users.

Then, some of the biggest messaging apps opened up their API allowing anyone in the world to use their platform and code conversational interfaces.

The result? Conversational marketing, the thing that happened only in stores and lemonade stands, went global just like that.

All the sudden, every business, government or charity in the world had access to all their fans' cell phone (arguably a medium more private than actually stepping into their houses) to chat, interact, and converse.

Earth-shaking is right.

Conversational marketing today

What is happening today in the conversational marketing since both events presented above?

Last year, I wrote an article about conversational marketing that included a lot of 'I believe' and 'we will see that', or even 'in the near future, I think'.

Today, things have evolved to confirm our intuition.

We launched ubisend in the hope to facilitate a conversational marketing approach for businesses all around the world. We have done well in doing so, proudly services businesses of all sizes with our conversational interfaces.

At a macro, though, we have seen a major shift in consumer behaviour. While we mostly theorised last year, we now have proof consumers are becoming aware of the conversational marketing opportunities that brands have access to.

In our recent research, we have found the majority of UK consumers (57%) know what a chatbot, the number one conversational marketing tool out there at the moment, is.

Not only that, 21% see a chatbot as the easiest way to interact with a brand, and 35% want more companies using chatbots.

A year ago we could not have found any information on consumer behaviour regarding conversational marketing through messaging apps (chatbot or not). Today, we see the world has evolved towards our vision.

The future of conversational marketing

Well, Timmy, I believe the future of conversational marketing is bright.

First, we have seen the statistics above. They truly show the consumer's interest for chatbots, automation, and a conversational marketing approach from businesses.

As long as businesses continue to delight their customers using conversational marketing through this new channel, consumers will keep wanting more. It transpired in our research that 69% of consumers want an instant answer whenever they interact with a business. What better way to offer this than through a conversational chatbot?

Second, we cannot underestimate the business' pull on the conversational marketing side.

Like we've seen, most businesses have always engaged in conversations with their customers, clients, or prospects. The opportunity to now do this at scale and at the same time give their customers exactly what they want (see our research) is one few will pass on.

Why is the future of conversational marketing bright? Because customers want to ask questions, businesses want to give answers, and the technology is now here to perform this exchange at super-high speed across multiple channels, 24/7, without blinking an eye.

What do you think, Timmy? Do we have a winner here?