Messaging has emerged as more than a way to communicate with friends and family. Today, people even use social media and messaging apps to connect, interact, and have a conversation with brands before purchasing a product. They expect the same level of experience even after they have purchased a product.
Hence, providing a world-class experience across messaging channels has become a solid differentiator for D2C brands. But how do you go about providing delightful experiences at scale across messaging channels? Will investing in these channels even bring any actual returns? How do you even measure the RoI for interactions on these messaging channels?
Before we move forward with personalized messaging and its impact, let's first unpack why messaging is important for Direct-to-Consumer brands.
Messaging is a daily habit
Last week I read a fantastic article by Nir Eyal explaining the psychology behind messaging and why we never get bored from it. He states four key elements that keep us hooked: Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, and Investment. This makes instant messaging 10 times more addictive than any previous form of communication.
The smartphone revolution of the past 15 years has put a smartphone in everyone's pocket and made the world more connected and instant. This has exponentially increased the prevalence of messaging platforms. The rapid growth of messaging apps, and their addictive nature, have made messaging the preferred medium of communication. Nowadays, people are increasingly using the same apps to connect with businesses as they use to communicate with their loved ones.
Why messaging matters in the world of online commerce?
Emails no more serve as the prime channel for instant business-customer communication. Instead, people and businesses have shifted to instant messaging channels that make 1:1 interaction more convenient.
Buyers feel strange when you provide forms and emails as a primary means to connect with your brand. In their daily life, they aren't used to such an experience. Instead, people are more inclined towards messaging. It's what they do every day.
This growing inclination towards messaging platforms has sparked an urge among brands to explore messaging apps as a new paradigm of interaction with their customers. Live Chat platforms that connect with website widgets and messaging apps have enabled brands to build a presence across messaging channels.
What Role can Messaging play in Scaling a Brand?
Most brands sell products that their buyers think are pretty similar to other products available in the market. In the initial days, brands either face little competition or differentiate themselves by highlighting a different USP through their marketing. However, after the first 1-2 years of operation, brands start running into competitors with the same products and USP, competing for the same ad space and the same set of buyers. You will start to witness a sharp increase in CAC if you try to employ the same strategies to expand your base beyond this.
The companies that successfully moved beyond this are those that established a strong brand in the buyer's mind that differentiates them from others. They were able to cement their brand identity and occupy a mind-share in their customer's mind. This helped them stand out from others even when directly compared against them. A brand with a strong identity and a strong connection with its users faces no challenges in its scaling journey.
Being a very personal touchpoint, messaging is a unique opportunity for brands to connect with their users and establish a strong brand identity in their minds. You can achieve this at scale by building a bot that mirrors your brand's personality. This bot can actually voice your brand's persona and promote hyper-personalized interaction to improve the buyer experience. As it's not just what you say, but how you say it. The same holds for bots as well.
How Live chat is a perfect messaging channel, but it isn't easily scalable
Brands have deployed live chat to build their presence on platforms that people are already familiar with, i.e. messaging apps like Messenger, WhatsApp etc. With the availability of live chat agents, it has become easier for buyers to explore and experience products while having two-way communication. Live chat enables brands to provide customers with a differentiating user experience that's personalized as per their preferences. At the same time, they can ensure that no buyers return empty-handed after putting up a query.
However, live chat is not easy to scale when you have to answer hundreds of questions simultaneously. It gets hectic for agents to answer queries that are repeated day after day. On the opposite side, buyers get struck as they have to wait in a queue to get answers to their questions.
It is abundantly clear that maintaining an army of live chat agents is not the way forward to deliver amazing customer experiences. Let's look beyond this to see what tools can be used to assist your customers at scale.
How Conversational AI comes into the play?
When a brand fails to attend buyers in real-time, it not only loses a customer to the competition. But also a grand opportunity that could have turned a single buyer into a lifetime customer.
As we know, Artificial Intelligence is the ability of machines to understand and perform various tasks which generally require human intelligence. Conversational AI can be defined as applying AI to the domain of conversations to understand, respond, and act upon text inputs.
It will be an incredible feat for any brand to provide instant human support round the clock. Conversational AI can help brands reach this ideal by automatically handling tedious support queries. This ensures that simple queries get responded to and resolved instantly. Conversational AI can help you move beyond customer support to actually engage users on chat through their buying journey. By always being present where your buyers are, you can achieve a deep synergy with your buyers. Conversational AI, if properly leveraged, can help you understand your users in-depth so that you can reach, market, interact and serve them better.
Does Conversational AI even work for E-Commerce?
We have all seen various versions of chatbots, and even 'AI bots', miserably fail to assist users. Far from being of any help, many of these bots actually frustrate and drive away consumers. To understand why they failed, let's get into a brief history of conversational AI.
In the early days of AI, conversational bots were very rudimentary. They were simple systems that allowed the user to only choose from a given set of buttons at each stage and navigate through a pre-defined workflow. Its use was restricted to collecting user information. The rise of deep learning around 2014 led to the birth of the second level of conversational AI. 'Level 2 AI' could answer simple one-step user queries written in free text, such as "Where do I find my account balance?". This ability was a boon for banks and telecom companies, where it helped automate more than 30% of incoming queries. However, Level 2 AI was restricted to handling single-step queries and could not use information from previous steps to carry out multi-step conversations. This was a huge limitation in handling e-commerce pre-sales queries, such as 'Do you have something to help with my acne?', followed by 'Will this really work for me?'. Hence, until now, AI assistants have seemed 'dumb' when trying to understand the queries of e-commerce users.
The rise of transformers in 2019 revolutionized the world of NLP and conversational AI. For the first time, bots could leverage context, or information not present in the user query, to craft a response. The new generation of AI bots that can leverage context is called Level 3 AI bots. When a user asks, "Will this really work for me?" a Level 3 AI bot can understand that 'this' refers to the previous anti-acne product shown, and 'me' is this user who has oily skin. The bot leverages all this information to craft a perfectly tailored response to the user query. More generally, Level 3 AI has made it possible to carry out a multi-step human-like interaction with a user. For the first time, this has made it possible for the entire buying journey to be carried out on a messaging platform. Level 3 AI can engage and convert your users coming onto a messaging channel into buyers. Moreover, it can give a hyper-personalized experience to those buyers after purchasing - from order tracking to assisting in product usage to re-purchasing. This kind of personalized experience at scale can help you convert one-time buyers into loyal customers and strong advocates of your brand.
5 Steps to Setup Personalized Messaging to Scale Your Brand
Now that we have established that messaging can be an important pillar in your brand's scaling journey, let's see how you can set up personalized messaging at scale to take your brand to the next level.
1 Turn your Messaging Platforms into a Revenue Stream
Social selling is different from other ways of eCommerce. In an e-commerce marketplace, the platform creates trust for the buyers. However, to sell products on social sites, a brand needs to have a good brand image and following to enable trust in the buyers.
Buying is no longer just shopping. People follow brands on social media and engage with their content to learn about their story and their products. They engage with posts, share them on their timeline, and some times even comment their opinion as a way to tell other people about your products. Having said that, engaging with each potential buyer generally requires large marketing, sales, and support teams. Hence, it's not feasible for most direct-to-consumer brands.
Integrating Conversational AI with your messaging platforms can prove to be the highest RoI way of connecting with your existing customers and building trust. You can be present 24x7 across messaging channels to capture their buying intent whenever and wherever it occurs. You can aggregate all queries at a single destination - where your bot can assist these high-intent buyers and close the sale right there.
Hence, you can turn your messaging channels into a steady stream of revenue.
2 Personalize Engagement to Optimize the Sales Funnel on Chat
80% of buyers are more likely to complete the purchase if provided with a personalised experience.
Irrespective of the web and mobile platforms that a D2C brand prefers to sell the products, it's crucial to address buyers as they ask a query. Level 3 Conversational AI can help you effectively address queries, whether they are related to product discovery, gaining confidence, or completing the checkout.
A Level 3 AI bot will also give you the tools to build a hyper-personalized experience on chat. But no one knows your brands and your users better than you. You can continuously monitor user queries to understand their underlying pain points and refine your responses. You can think of additional user info, interests or preferences that can be leveraged to further personalize the interaction. Constant iterations in content and personalization improve sales conversions by as much as 2x.
Understanding reasons for drop-offs at various part of the buying journey and re-engaging these drop-offs can also play a crucial role in driving up your sales conversions. Improving responses to frequent product queries can reduce the drop-off rate by more than 25%. Personalizing re-engagement messages and tailoring them perfectly to drop-off reasons can improve re-engagement conversions by as much as 300%.
In summary, you can combine your brand insights with the power of Level 3 AI to supercharge your sales funnel.
3 Retain Customers by Reflecting your Core Brand Values
It's not an easy task to convince buyers to shop from your online brand. You promise them good quality products, fast and free delivery, easy returns and refunds, great post-sales support, etc., to convince them to place their trust in you. Brands typically spend a lot of time improving the quality of their product and their delivery times. But very few brands are actively focused on delivering great customer service experiences. Losing customers on which you have spent so much time and energy is extremely painful and not worth it. Delivering a bad customer service experience is a sure-shot way of losing your hard-earned customers. On the flip side, delivering great experiences repeatedly and consistently is a sure-shot way of developing an extremely loyal customer base.
Level 3 Conversational AI can help Direct-to-Consumer brands stay customer-focused and consistently deliver great customer experiences. It can act as a personification of your brand so that it stays true to your brand values. With personalized instant support, it gets super easy for customers to find the solution to their problem. If this is done repeatedly, they feel that they are talking to the brand itself. This cements the brand identity in their mind.
This strong association with the brand can be capitalized by sending your existing users re-engagement messages on the right channels or by reaching out on social media through re-engagement campaigns. These messages can be about re-ordering products after being exhausted, cross-selling related products, or promotions about new products. You can re-engage existing users through the chat medium of choice, where they will be guided by the bot to seamlessly complete the purchase.
4 Improve Customer Service by being Instant and Present Always
Scaling your marketing and sales effort places huge pressure on maintaining the level of customer service experience as you scale. Maintaining a team of agents to handle this quickly becomes infeasible, both from a cost and a management perspective.
You can employ Level 3 Conversational AI to assist customers across multiple channels at any hour of the day. They can respond to queries instantly, making them feel that someone is always there for their needs. They can quickly resolve repetitive FAQs and order tracking queries which make up more than 50% of the customer support workload. They can also understand the nature of complex queries and redirect them to the relevant team of agents. In this way, your customer support agents will become specialists focusing on ensuring a great experience even when the customer is peeved, because that is when it matters the most. The bot will act as a perfect partner to your support team to resolve the simple stuff so that they can focus on the high-impact interactions.
This can help cut the First Response Times and Resolution Times by more than 10x, drastically increasing customer satisfaction, retention and NPS.
5 Strengthen your Marketing Strategy with Conversational Marketing
With conversational marketing, D2C brands can achieve as much as 15% increase in conversions and 200% increase in revenue.
Once you have set up a reliable revenue channel on chat, optimized your sales funnel, and ensured that your customer support is scalable, it will be time to ramp it up. Chat channels have the potential to become a significant revenue stream for your company, comparable to your main website. You can drive users directly to messaging channels from ads, where your bot will then convert them into buyers.
Like all things in marketing, this should be approached as an experiment. You can start with the same audiences and creatives you use in all your campaigns and redirect a small percentage of users directly to chat instead of the website. As you run this experiment for different segments of users, you will get varying results, depending on which kind of audiences prefer buying through chat. The results from these experiments will help you better segment your users and refine your audiences for future campaigns. This will give you the confidence to put extra resources towards making separate audiences, creatives and campaigns specifically for conversational marketing.
At scale, You can have several different user segments that yield better conversion on chat compared to the website. Your automated sales assistant can seamlessly guide these users throughout the buying journey and close the sale right there. It can identify dropped-off users and re-engage them to bring them back and convert them as well. Your support assistant can cement your brand in their mind by delivering outstanding hyper-personalized experiences. In this way, your conversational marketing channel can quickly scale up to rival and even surpass your website.
Effectively leveraging conversational channels in the 5 ways outlined above will be the most significant change you can make to take your brand to a world-class level.
Is your Business Ready for Level 3 Conversational AI?
It is more than evident that today's customers expect a personalized and interactive experience while buying. Level 3 Conversational AI is uniquely suited to provide this kind of compelling buying experience across messaging channels. But is this the right time for your business to start experimenting with chat?
At first, it's crucial to understand the capability of contextual AI chatbots and how they can add value specifically for your business. What do your customers want to talk about while buying? When in their buying journey, can you engage them in a conversation? How much will a personalized experience help in discovering the right products or enhancing confidence?
The next step depends on which stage you are in a brand's life cycle. If you are a budding brand still figuring out your product and marketing, it is best to master those fundamentals before exploring another revenue source. But if you are a fast-growing brand looking to scale beyond a few million in revenue, then Level 3 AI can be instrumental in strengthening your brand identity and helping scale your operations. Moving further ahead, if you are an enterprise brand always looking to explore new channels and delight your customers, then Level 3 AI is perfectly suited for you. It can help you establish chat as a major revenue source and get an edge over the competition.
Take your Brand to New Heights with Limechat's Level 3 AI
At Limechat, we have a deep focus on enabling e-commerce brands to deliver the best possible experiences at scale. We have been the market leaders in developing Level 3 AI bots for e-commerce. Our complete focus on e-commerce right from day one has ensured that we are always ahead of the curve in designing personalized and engaging interactions.
We facilitate more than 10,000 products purchases per month through chat for more than 20 medium and large e-commerce brands. With seamless API integrations throughout the D2C value chain, we make sure that setup is quick and hassle-free from the brand's side. We have built the best in-depth analytics stack for chat to make sure that you can always stay on top of your key metrics. Our dedicated account managers keep on giving you insights from the buying journey so you can constantly improve your personalization and tailor your responses.
As a result, we have achieved 9% conversion rates on chat, enabling brands to boost their sales by as much as 3x. We automate 70% of all incoming queries while cutting resolution times by 10x and improving NPS. In summary, we can help you leverage chat in the best way possible to deliver great personalized customer experiences, cement your brand identity, scale your brand, and stay ahead of the competition. We would love to partner with you to create an exceptional shopping experience that surpasses your buyers' expectations.