So why are you in my DMs, again?
Updated: Apr 13
April 4, 2023
By: Krystal Wu
Got random messages from a business? There’s a larger marketing context to tell.
Courtesy of Clipchamp
Hello! We’re excited to announce the latest promotion on our new jewelry collection. Don’t miss out on this limited-time offer! BUY NOW at insufferablelink.pain
Yeah, you rolled your eyes and swiped to delete that message. (Not to mention that they likely weren’t the worst ones you’ve gotten. Yikes.) But the first time you received messages such as these, have you wondered why they were–and still are–being sent?
You may have gone back to scrolling through your Instagram feed, but understanding why these annoying occurrences exist in your life can certainly make it more bearable. These messages lie under the umbrella of conversational commerce, a method of marketing products and services directly to the consumer through chat, conversational AI, and voice dialogue.
Here are a few basic examples of conversational commerce you may have encountered:
Yes, those DMs and SMS messages. The sensible and appropriate ones, at least.
Messages can be sent to reach out to potential customers or follow up with customers who have already opted to receive messages from a business. This is a good hub for advertising special discounts and promotions, making recommendations, and even asking a customer to join a loyalty program or try a sample of a product or service.
Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, etc.
An astonishing proportion of online consumers actually use voice assistants to ask questions and place orders. In fact, one study has found that nearly half of the online shoppers who shopped online frequently had used a virtual assistant to make online purchases at least once.
Chatbots on business websites
You may have noticed a message bubble pop up on the bottom right corner when you visit an online shopping site, asking if you need help with navigating the site or placing an order. This is likely a Chatbot, a computer program that uses AI to simulate human conversations. They can answer FAQs, redirect customers to a specific page of the site, and much more. The alternative to using chatbots would be to use live chat software, in which a human agent actually interacts with customers through chat services.
Courtesy of Quiq
Some Advantages of Conversational Commerce
It feels more personal. For one, conversational commerce reaches out to consumers directly, giving it a higher potential to feel more personal when compared to other marketing tactics that have a wider bandwidth. Additionally, when integrated into a business’s online shopping website, conversational commerce can make up for the impersonal touch of a site. There are so many sites living on the Internet, and no matter how aesthetic or well-made a webpage is, at times, it just won’t speak to you.
Of course, there’s also the fact that conversational commerce taps into the act of chatting, an act that is already done by consumers for personal purposes day to day. The personal nature of this act can easily carry over when it is enacted by a business, making the consumer feel more at ease. (Plenty of psychology studies to be done on this subject!)
It can feel mutually beneficial. Conversational commerce can cater to a consumer’s personal needs by answering specific questions they may have about a product or service. This applies whether the chat is taking place with a business agent or even a chatbot–either way, a better interpersonal relationship between the business and consumer is forged.
The key turnout of mutual benefit is that it fosters brand confidence and customer loyalty on a much higher level. When a customer feels serviced by a business, they are more willing to be serviced more by trying out their products or services.
But you still ignored that DM…
…and it’s important to talk about why.
BUY NOW! SHOP NOW! FLASH SALE! These sorts of messages are one-directional. It’s a constant barrage of advertisements that consumers have to face in their everyday lives, and when an impersonal message appears in your personal inbox, why on earth should you read instead of delete?
Courtesy of Postscript
Yes, conversational commerce can open up dialogue and a potential customer journey. Yes, it could also do the opposite if it comes across as pushy, aggressive, and overbearing. If conversational commerce is to be utilized effectively, there are two improvements that could be made:
Quality > Quantity.
Instead of mass-sending generic messages to customers, a business that tailors messages to specific customer segments will be successful. Examples include offering special discounts to customers who left items in their cart, sending messages which request customer replies, and generally trying to sound human. Dialogue is created by humans, after all, and businesses are only trying to transfer this human action unto a digital setting. That should not reflect negatively in their conversational tone.
Pay attention to generational preference.
Should a business use more casual or professional language? What should be their first message? This all depends on their target audience, specifically which generations make up that audience. According to an Intercom study, younger generations are twice as likely as older generations to want companies to use emojis and GIFs in support conversations. Businesses could also factor in the latest trends on the internet and social media, and incorporate references to those in their messaging. Personally, I find this big on keeping me engaged.
“The future is private,” Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg once declared, and marketers are seeing the truth of his phrase come more and more into fruition. Chat and messaging features have seen rapid growth in the past digital decade–modern life is nearly impossible without the ability to text your friends and family, and a growing proportion of consumers’ online activity is spent in private chats instead of public feeds. You know that. The market knows that, too, which is why businesses are using chat apps and bots to meet consumers where they already are.
Courtesy of Business Insider
As of late, Zuckerberg’s statement rings louder amidst growing data privacy concerns on social media platforms. With this in mind, the fate of conversational commerce will undoubtedly be intriguing to observe.
Krystal Wu is a freshman studying Economics at NYU. She holds a passion for digital marketing, social media, music, and food that makes her happy. Find her rambles on cafes and bakeries at loafhub.org!