Best Practices for Integrating Conversational Commerce into Retail

by Monica Eaton-Cardone on Nov 16, 2016 2:00:00 PM Retail

Conversational commerce—it’s one of the hottest marketing topics of 2016, and to be honest, there is a lot here to be excited about.

Technologies such as chat and messaging apps are especially valuable to marketers when it comes to reaching out to highly-coveted Millennial and Gen-Z consumers. In response, app developers are sending signals that conversational commerce will only grow more promising, with the makers of Snapchat, Facebook, and others adding such features as mobile wallets, in-app payments, and more.

However, simply deploying bots is not enough to convince consumers to complete a purchase; that process will need to be optimized in order to be effective.

By adopting the following best practices, businesses can ensure that they make the most of these new opportunities. 


Recognize the Nature of Conversational Commerce

First, it’s essential to understand that conversational commerce is not one distinct trend. What we call conversational commerce is actually several simultaneous marketing trends.

While they overlap in many regards, each trend is ultimately distinct and calls for a unique approach to maximize your efforts. These include SMS and push messages, which proactively reach out to consumers, as well as chatbots and old-fashioned human-based chats.

You can’t simply rely on A.I. and bots or automated advance notifications for all of your interactions. Trying to understand conversational commerce as one consistent idea will lead to most of your efforts being wasted.

Know Your Customer

Conversational commerce is a great way to expand into new markets and reach consumers who may not be responsive to traditional advertising. In order to achieve this goal it’s necessary to have some insight into your consumer demographics, as not all consumers utilize the same apps for communication. If you’re trying to reach a specific segment of the population—whether that’s based on location, age, or interest—demographic data can offer some valuable insight on the matter.

For example, while Facebook messenger is widely-used in the U.S., WeChat is the overwhelming favorite for Chinese consumers. Of course, if you’re looking to reach out to younger consumers, then Snapchat or Kik would be the best method. Identify who you’re trying to reach, then select the platform which best reflects that consumer.

Know Your Content

Once you’ve identified your consumer, as well as the platform on which you will be most effective at reaching those individuals, it’s time to identify the brand of content which will best engage them.

If you’re trying to reach Gen-Z consumers, you should recognize that these people engage most with video content; in contrast, professionals typically prefer written articles. It doesn’t really matter how hard you push your content—you will not be effective at reaching the desired audience if you’re pushing a kind of content they don’t care to see.

Teach Your Technologies Well

You cannot set these technologies loose on the public without first preparing them to act accordingly and to make the right recommendations and responses to best represent your company.

When you deploy bots or other A.I. technologies, it’s essential to remember that they are only capable of mimicking what they see. Bots are tools capable of imitating intelligence but not actually developing it without guidance. Therefore, you want to ensure that the voice and tone these applications present is an accurate and positive representation of your brand.

Incorporate Content Marketing to Meet Micro-Moments

Mobile marketing is dominated by micro-moments—the reactive and instantaneous effort on the part of a consumer to fulfill a need. Whether that need is for information or for a product, being able to satisfy the customer’s need at the moment it develops is what matters.

In a successfully-leveraged micro-moment, a customer moves through several different phases:

  • “I want to know.”
  • “I want to do.”
  • “I want to buy.”

The key here is to provide the stellar level of content which draws in the customer, then backing that content with well-developed conversational technologies to further engage the consumer. The content draws the consumer’s interest and then the engagement converts them.

Improve the Process

Of course, because bots and other automated technologies depend on machine learning, these technologies can only grow smarter through use. Once you’ve begun to deploy tools for conversational commerce, it’s essential that you keep tabs on them to ensure that they function properly and that they reflect well on your brand. Constantly examine customer feedback and use it to make adjustments as you go along in order to better address customers’ expectations.

Conversational Commerce: Still the Early Stages

As mobile grows more dominant and A.I. technology becomes more sophisticated, you can expect to see much more of conversational commerce in coming years. By leveraging the technology effectively now, you can prepare your business for greater long-term success.

Monica Eaton-Cardone is Co-founder and COO of

Monica Eaton-Cardone's blog
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