What Is Conversational Commerce and Why Is It Essential For Your Business?
Consumers exchange over 2 billion messengers every month with businesses on Facebook Messenger, and even though Facebook is the current king when it comes to social media marketing, that number becomes unbelievably high when you consider all the other messenger services and chat apps that are used throughout the Internet. It’s all a part of conversational commerce, a relatively new term that is important for any business that maintains an active social media presence. In fact, one could easily argue that a business needs conversational commerce to thrive in the era of social media and online marketing. Here are just a few reasons why.
What is Conversational Commerce?
The term “conversational commerce” was coined back in 2015 by ex-Google employee Chris Messina and refers to the communication between businesses and consumers online. In many respects, it really is nothing new; business representatives have been communicating with clients for as long as businesses have been around. What sets conversational commerce apart from more traditional forms of business-client communication is how the interactions take place. When people communicate online via messenger services, chat apps, or even via chat bots, it is done in real time in a way that feels much more casual than what has happened on sales floors and business offices in the past.
Any kind of online communication that can lead to a purchase counts as conversational commerce, from taking a question from a potential customer on your website’s chat app to having a curious would-be client click on a link sent to them by a chat bot. These things might not immediately lead to a sale, but they do spread the word about your business to interested parties in ways that are more effective than any other advertising campaign.
Why Your Business Needs Conversational Commerce
All businesses need to reach out to their consumer base if they are to be successful. No transaction can occur unless one party can reach out to the other. In the past, this has been potentially challenging. Businesses needed consumers to walk into a brick-and-mortar location it makes a purchase, and phone calls had to reach the right people at the right times. Businesses obviously thrived this way, but the Internet in general and social media in particular has completely changed how we communicate with one another. In a sense, it has made it easier for people to reach out to one another and communicate in real time, but it also meant that the old methods of communicating with potential clients were falling by the wayside. For example, millennials have shown that they would rather communicate through text messages and chat apps than make a phone call. Trying to reach a young person between the ages of 18 and 35 on the phone or expecting them to call you is practically out of the question. Communicating via texts and social media feels far more natural and comfortable to them, so businesses need to rely on these methods of communication if they are to reach a younger client base.
The convenience factor for young people is a huge reason why conversational commerce is so important, but it also has another perk that should not be overlooked. Since communication online happens more or less in real time, you can engage with consumers at any time no matter where they may be located. You can answer their questions as soon as they are asked, and essentially work towards a sale while they are in the comfort of their own homes. Being able to address consumers directly in the amount of time it takes to type a sentence on a keyboard can also help to gain their trust. You can build a personal connection with a potential client, even if you’ve never actually interacted with them face-to-face.
Increasing Website Traffic
Conversational commerce is particularly vital for businesses that do business through the Internet. Companies with brick-and-mortar locations obviously still exist, but many modern businesses sink or swim based on the strength of their websites. They need traffic going to their home pages, and communicating via social media and instant messenger services can help with that. Yes, you can (and should) answer any questions a consumer might ask over Facebook Messenger, but directing them to your business’s website to make a final purchase or to gather information about a particular product is just as useful. Think of it as a way to cover all of your bases; young people tend to do more shopping online than in person these days, so directing them to a place where they can make a purchase from you is crucial.
What conversational commerce represents is bringing the salesperson-client relationship that has always existed into the 21st Century. It makes communication that much easier and even more casual than it has ever been before. This doesn’t mean that all you need is to install a reliable messenger service; it still takes effort to effectively market a business. You should by all means keep the lines of communication between your business and your clients open, but you also need to keep up with your other marketing efforts. Keep updating your website, advertise your business on Facebook and other social media platforms, and keep your existing clients abreast of any changes that are happening with your company. Conversational commerce may be an important part of running a business in the social media age, but it is still only one part.
Since keeping up with your clientele over online messages and chat apps might be a challenge for larger businesses, don’t hesitate to reach out to those who specialize in marketing if you’re afraid of spreading yourself too thin. There are plenty of digital marketing firms who will be glad to offer their expertise to you if you need it. They will work closely with you to make sure that you are all on the same page, and they will help improve traffic to your site and increase your sales.
In the meantime, keep in touch with your existing clients, and don’t stop trying to gain new ones.