Conversational commerce: what it is and why it matters

Sep 23, 2020

We take a deep dive into what changed and how businesses can adapt.



Conversations are nothing new, so why is everyone talking about “conversational” marketing? Haven’t conversations always been a part of the sales process? Is this a new marketing fad or has something really changed?

Although the answers to all these questions are simple, they contain some key details that businesses should take note of. First of all, no, conversational marketing isn’t new, the term has been around for a while and conversations have been part of selling since time immemorial. However, as businesses became bigger and moved online, it became impractical to hire enough staff to keep conversations going and transactions became increasingly impersonal.

How conversations changed

In most industries, the experience of buying something went from classic stores where the owner knew everyone, to websites where you can shop with a click and never speak to a human being. Goods became cheaper as businesses were able to scale operations, but conversations were lost because they were inherently un-scalable.

Paradoxically the same technological advances, like the internet, that made businesses abandon conversational commerce, also made conversations easier. We went from writing letters to talk to faraway friends, to telephones, mobile phones, and, today, instant messages.

Gradually, we reached a situation where people became increasingly accustomed to the ability to talk to anyone at any time. Always-connected smartphones, social media, and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat created a world where instant communication via text messages is expected.

How mismatched expectations caused a revolution

For most businesses, the first wake-up call came around 10 years ago, when social media platforms like Facebook became mainstream. People loved them, and where consumers went, businesses followed. Companies started to open pages and gain followers but were caught a bit off guard when these followers started using messages and posts to solve customer service issues and ask questions.

Companies started to hire social media managers and, as the volume of messages kept growing, added social customer service teams, social marketing teams and poured more resources into the new medium. Slowly but steadily conversations re-appeared on the business map and when modern messaging apps became prevalent, businesses started looking for ways to make conversations scalable.

The answer they found was called chatbots and, when used well, they transformed the way companies did business. Next week we’ll explore how conversational marketing blurred the line between marketing, customer service, and sales, and dive deeper into how data obtained by chatbots can drive change in an organization.

In the meantime, if you’d like to discover how chatbots can help your business you can get in touch with our team by using the contact link below.