Marketing is how your business’s personality is presented to the outside world. It basically serves as an expression of your business’ soul, therefore it has a fundamental role in its success. With the rise of the Internet, the scope of marketing is getting wider and new strategies to target potential customers have evolved.
However, marketing trends are constantly changing as new technologies and discoveries become public. Currently, two major trends are on the rise and making a big impact on businesses of all kinds: Conversational Marketing and Virtualization. Let’s explore what these trends are and how they can benefit your business.
What is Conversational Marketing?
As the name suggests, this marketing approach is based on establishing a conversation with your prospects. Many companies are already using Conversational Marketing to provide a better customer experience, engage prospects sooner, cultivate customer loyalty, and expand their customer base. By using this method companies seek to speed up the sales funnel process. Consequently, this increases your conversions if you plan your strategy well. Research shows that around 53% of consumers prefer to buy from a business that answers quickly to their queries.
Conversational marketing can be done through Social Media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook by having a representative promoting products, answering people’s inquiries, creating a conversation with them, and finally helping them place orders.
However, the most common way is to include chatbots or live chat agents on your website, your business WhatsApp account, and any apps you’ve developed. These tools allow you to have real-time conversations with prospects, who might be interested in purchasing at that moment. As you can see, the benefits that Conversational Marketing brings to your conversion rates are clear. Plus, it’s a cost-effective strategy.
Trends in Conversational Marketing
Now let’s have a look at what are the most important Conversational Marketing trends.
1. Chatbots Will be Everywhere
Chatbots provide instant responses to people’s inquiries and therefore they increase your chances when guiding a prospect to make a purchase. From immediate access to banking information to contacting a live medical professional, businesses and consumers are enjoying the benefits of chatbots, making them a critical piece of their communication pipelines.
In 2021, 85% of businesses are expected to have implemented a chatbot and 30% of customer service experiences will be handled by these automated responders. Another advantage of chatbots is that they can access a wealth of knowledge to respond faster and more accurately than a human agent for basic requests.
2. Customer Experience will be a Major Focus
A positive customer experience matters a lot in sales. Due to increased competition and virtualization (the latter accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic), there’s been a shift in how you make your customers happy online.
For example, improving your website’s UX, loading speed, and response times have become a priority for any online business. Actually, 32% of CMOs rate customer experience as a top 3 priority. Brands are increasingly competing based on customer experience, while expectations and urgency are rising faster as time passes by.
3. Instant Messaging, the New Go-To Channel
The traditional strategy of placing banners and ads on other websites is now insufficient, and instant messaging platforms are becoming the new default marketing channel. Consumers are no longer interested in being advertised to form a pedestal. They want brands to get down from their high horses and talk to them one-on-one.
For example, you can publish your catalog through Social Media automated stories and promote individual products through personalized messages. Engage your audience so they can ask you questions about registration, fees, etc. At the same time, these platforms are adapting to allow such interactions, and other features such as product browsing, payment collection, and complaints/ticket management.
4. Artificial Intelligence: The next revolution
Artificial Intelligence is nowhere near reaching its full potential. And despite the dystopic myths, we have already accepted a certain degree of AI in our day-to-day lives: face recognition, autocorrect, digital assistants, Search Engines, and even elevators, and traffic lights use AI to function.
In 2021 AI will become an essential tool for many businesses. It will contribute to streamlining processes, organizing information, and providing other great advantages in the online market. Additionally, it will help you understand your consumer’s behaviors, their search patterns, and provide them with the most relevant answers on time.
5. Data-Driven Marketing
One major benefit of digital interactions is that everything we do gets stored as data. This information can give your business a better view of your audience’s motivations, preferences, and behaviors.
Data-driven marketing is a method that uses this data, acquired through customer interactions and third parties, to improve future communications and strategies. As you can imagine, this type of approach is proving to be of very high effectiveness.
6. Voice User Interfaces and Voice Marketing
Voice search is rapidly growing:
- 55% of users do voice searches to ask questions on a smartphone according to Perficient.
- 39.4% of U.S. internet users operate a voice assistant at least once a month, according to eMarketer.
In the upcoming years, we will likely see an accelerated increase in the use of Voice-driven technologies and voice searches. Especially after COVID-19, people want hands-free technology that would limit touching or contamination. Imagine going to a restaurant and being able to pay your bill just by saying the words to a device. Very useful to avoid pandemics, just to mention one advantage.
What is Virtualization?
Virtualization is the process of creating virtual or software-based versions of physical objects and technologies. Examples include virtual offices, computing servers, data storage, etc. Virtualization is becoming increasingly popular, especially after COVID-19.
Virtualization has many benefits for businesses, therefore it’s easy to forecast its increasing importance for many processes, including marketing. Virtualized technologies help you reduce costs, and increase efficiency at the same time.
Thanks to virtualization you can store your data securely and access it from anywhere, without having to pay any storage fees. Similarly, you don’t need a physical phone anymore to make calls, you can use virtual tools. You can also create and send virtual images, hire and manage your workforce, etc.
Trends in Virtualization
Let’s break down some of the most important trends in virtualization that will impact how organizations do Marketing:
1. Virtual and Smart Offices
A virtual office operates by not having a physical location, but rather a set of tools accessible online that allow your business not only to continue operating but also to provide all the regular services that a traditional office does: email handling, phone answering, meeting rooms, videoconferencing, team management, etc. The best part is that everyone can work remotely.
A smart office, on the other hand, is usually referred to as a physical location or a preexisting traditional office that implements a series of technology and software upgrades to automate their processes as much as possible, which results in everyone being able to fully focus on their specific tasks.
Using a virtual or smart office to run your marketing campaigns will help you reduce costs while giving you everything you need to upscale your business.
2. Rise of Cloud-based Apps and Storage
Virtualization will be a major goal for many companies in 2021 and the upcoming years; especially for those that require a lot of storage space like accounting and law firms or healthcare facilities.
Moving to the cloud is easy, money-saving, and reliable as long as you can have access to the internet. Some organizations are not only virtualizing their servers and storage but also their telecommunications, CRM, app development, invoicing, etc. By 2021 75% of enterprises expect to use application virtualization and this percentage will keep growing.
3. Security will become a key aspect
Cloud security is the protection of data stored online to prevent it from being accessed and used illegally or without the owner’s consent. It is and should be a key concern for any cloud-software provider.
Cloud-based technologies need to show trustworthiness by having several methods for data protection, user authentication, and encryption. Be sure that when you decide to make the switch you find out about all the security features that each provider offers. No system is impenetrable, but the more locked doors you can place, the harder it’ll be to get through all of them.
4. Virtualization of Marketing
2020 showed us how fast human interactions can change in a short period of time. Working remotely, keeping social distance, and videoconferencing became incredibly popular in just one year, changing perhaps forever the way people do business online.
It’s no surprise that customer interactions will continue to be online-initiated through a virtual platform. Buying, selling, exhibitions, training programs, and conferences will all continue to be carried out online even after COVID, so it’s every marketer’s responsibility to take advantage of technologies and digital marketing trends.
5. Always Make Room for Improving
Automation and virtualization are not the panacea for marketing; performance issues are not going to disappear overnight just by adapting your business to these trends. You need to have a clear strategy with measurable goals to make the most out of any changes you implement.
Your mentality should not be that you’ll get everything solved by automating or virtualizing. Instead, figure out ways in which these tools can provide you with valuable data that allow you to test different options and come up with the best possible results.
Virtualization and conversational marketing are major trends right now, and they will continue to evolve over the next few years. Artificial Intelligence is here to stay and your business should not miss out on the opportunity to take full advantage of it.
Delivering fast responses and moving operations to the cloud will definitely give your business a boost in the future. However, these tools must be used strategically, balancing cost-benefit and staying loyal to your business’ marketing goals. Consider your options and don’t get left behind, ‘cause your competitors might want to try this out too.