Conversational Commerce Strategy (Optimization)
Commerce
Nov 11, 2022

Conversational Commerce Strategy (Optimization)

Erika Carmichael

Let this not be a manifesto about how Brand Marketers are always looking for new ways to acquire new customers and retain existing customers. We’re aware that it’s increasingly difficult to acquire new customers, gather data about your customers, execute on segmentation and personalization; connecting the dots in a really cohesive and seamless way can seem like a mountain to climb.

One thing that has been illuminated as a result of increasing CAC costs, and the sunsetting of third party data is that one of the easiest territories to optimize are the channels that are owned. 

Owned ecommerce websites, owned content channels, owned experiences are where brands can control the landscape, the narrative, and can ultimately win or lose brand affinity. The new focus has now become how do we leverage the owned channels we have, and do more with them? 

Video chat, SMS strategies, Product Recommendations, Reviews, Refer-a-friend, “Thank You” Page optimizations, Shipping and Tracking optimizations, Loyalty and Reward programs. Marketers are taking a look at every single element in their shopping experience, optimizing, and squeezing every ounce of conversion from them.

Cue the entrance of conversational commerce

…closing that gap by finding the sweet spot–where technology complements the human element of customer experience without creating new frustrations – is the opportunity right in front of you” - David Clarke, CEO PWC

Customer experience enhancing technology enables retailers to connect product experts with online shoppers through scalable, 1:1 human-led conversations via SMS.

There are plenty of shades of conversational commerce, but where Humankind differs is the ability to truly connect brand experts with prospective shoppers in a concierge, personal-shopper way. If you want to learn more about Conversational Commerce - check out this blog with a few examples.

What we want to do here, with this article, is share all the different levers for strategy and optimization along the chronological customer journey with conversational commerce:

Main points of optimization:

  1. Program Promotion
  2. Survey
  3. Conversations
  4. Personalized Recommendations
  5. Check Out
  6. Follow Up

Program Promotion

As with all on-site programs, promotion of the program is critical for success. The two primary ways we see brands promote their conversation commerce programs are through email, and on-site placements. Email is a great way to grab the attention of your existing customers or even prospects (if they yet to make a purchase with you). Directing from the email to a customized landing page that intros the program can help generate awareness of the program. The second way we promote the program is through onsite placements. The most widely used are the FAB (floating action button) icon, and in either top navigation or banner placement real estate. The more potential impressions you can have to the program, the more engagement that will ensue. 

Dovetailed with the idea of onsite promotion is understanding the hierarchy of other onsite promotions. Brands should be aware that competing offers onsite can cannibalize results from one area to the other. 

For example, if you decide to make a 10% discount for engaging with the experts to help customize your order, but directly above that offer is a 40% discount off all orders with the code “XYZ” do you think that customers will really want to engage with the experts and concierge? One might suggest yes, if they really need the assistance, but then, if they really need the assistance, then are you just giving away the “10%”? Intentionally placing offers and thinking through the why behind each incentive is critical for program optimization. 

Survey

After a shopper opens our invite page, or the FAB icon, they’ll be directed to a customized online survey that looks and feels native to your brand. This is where we do all of the information gathering so the experts can put together a comprehensive, thoughtful consultation. 

We’ve tested skipping the survey and trying to gather information through pure SMS and the experience is both fatiguing for the customer and the expert. We highly suggest a survey that “gets to the good stuff” and uncovers the information needed to make a highly personalized recommendation. 

There are countless articles on how to optimize and strategize survey creation but our recommendations are short and sweet:

Conversation Optimization

The art of conversation for the experts is a craft that Humankind can help to perfect. 

Chart of conversational marketing steps

When building a conversation, many of these elements occur naturally, but when you’re creating a new relationship or conversation with a stranger, we should be intentional about how we build the conversation. There is a special art form to conversational commerce that Humankind has perfected over many years, and millions of interactions. This is not your standard customer service chat - this is going to supercharge your conversions.

Key elements in building that first conversation:

Intro

Introduce yourself to the customer and make this a personable experience.  Right now, you are just a 10 digit phone # to them, not a real person. Customers at this stage are trying to sniff out if you’re a bot, or a real person. So make it fun, personal and casual. Explain that your goal is to make some personalized and detailed recommendations for them to point them in the right direction.

Empathy

Ask probing questions and unpack what they’re looking for.  Remember that you have access to their survey results, so try not to be repetitive unless there is a probing angle that you’re after.

Look to clarify one or two of their answers from the quiz on each new customer chat.  This is a great opportunity to build rapport with your customer.

Showing you are listening = empathy

Show Expertise

Time to show your expertise!  This is a great time for experts to unpack the data from the survey, knowing that consumers sometimes may misinterpret questions, or not share the full story; it's important for the expert to confirm the known information before recommending products. 

Remember: You can use pre-written templates for each item/ recommendation, but by adding a personalized flare to the recommendation, you’re able to establish credibility. 

Drive to Recommendation

Explain that a custom recommendations report is coming as they may not know that’s part of the process. Be transparent that you are going offline to create some thoughtful recommendations and that you will share them by text and email when the recommendation is ready. You can buy yourself some time by telling them you are going offline to work on this and follow back up.

Check Out 

The check-out experience will be different based on the provider that you use to power your conversational commerce program. With Humankind, the purchase experience happens right in your existing shopping cart experience. This creates an experience that is easy and familiar to your customers. With that being said, we also have a few recommendations for this part of the experience:

Keep the least amount of clicks in between recommendation and shopping cart and optimize your ‘thank you’ page for:

Successful check out on a standard ecommerce website is 2%. For those who engage with a conversational commerce program, led by Humankind, we’re seeing upwards of 50% conversion to purchase. Now that’s a feather in your cap!

Follow Up

Follow up is key post purchase. A text check-in can go a long way to see how their purchase went. Asking a follow-up question, or for a review, or photo of the results, further establishes the relationship you’re building. You might even stubble across another opportunity to make a recommendation! Win-win! 

Now, imagine a place where the text check-in is automated, and perfectly timed for a high response rate. Imagine that subsequent response being fully managed by your expert. The future lies within this automation. Time-based, repeatable tasks that are done through automation (which today is an achilles heel for humans) and responses as cared-for, detail focused, and personalized as their last interaction. Brilliant!

All of this goes to say that there are loads of areas for optimization along the buyer's journey in a conversational commerce flow. Conversational commerce acts as a great way to reduce CAC, increase brand loyalty and affinity, and create an unparalleled experience that your competitors haven’t discovered yet. 

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