Conversational Commerce is any way you can talk directly to a brand through voice or text. In 2015 Facebook’s Messenger allowed people to talk directly with brand representatives through text. Uber was one of the first brands to take advantage allowing you to request a car through text.
By the middle of 2016 Facebook had released it’s Bot platform so brands could text with users at scale. The Bots could now take orders and process payments. 1-800 Flowers was an early adopter.
Chris McCann the President of 1-800 Flowers said that within the first two months of launching their Messenger bot they attracted tens of thousands of users, with 70% of the ChatBot orders coming from new customers. Interesting side note - ChatBot orders came from a much younger audience than their usual customer base. Developing a relationship with younger users will always pay off.
Chris views his company as an innovation company that’s in the gifting business. I really wish more businesses would view themselves this way. This mindset will lead to long-term strategic thinking that can protect a company from disruption. Consumers shop on their terms, and if you’re not meeting them there, your competition gladly will.
Conversational Commerce is a much more in tune with the way humans operate. Speech is the most natural form of communication. Not searching an ecomm site, putting items in a virtual shopping cart and going through the checkout process.
I want you to pause for a minute and think about how the infrastructure for this has snuck up on us. Our phones, smart speakers, and even smart watches have virtual assistants built in you can talk and text with. Think about that, you can order something by talking to your wrist if you have a smartwatch running android Wear OS.
Let’s talk about Voice Search. In 2015 Google introduced it’s RankBrain algorithm. RankBrain is a form of predictive intelligence that can understand what your intent is when searching.
See, now that we have voice search, using keywords and traditional search results wasn’t an effective means of delivering what you were looking for. Smart Speakers can’t display a website or list results. So in 2016 Google released Rich Cards alongside the Google Assistant.
Rich Cards make it possible for Google to find answers to questions without you having to visit the website the answer came from. This way voice devices can find you an answer
"Google, when is Black Panther playing?"
Many marketers are upset fearing that this will hurt traffic to their site, but it’s quite the opposite. In order to optimize for voice search, businesses need to answer questions customers are asking.
I see a lot of talk on marketing chat groups where marketing managers fear a drop in traffic to their site. The truth is, this can only help in one of two ways. First it’s a land grab. Go and claim the top search result for relevant questions being asked, and if it’s a simple enough question like what time does my bank close, they don’t need your website. They’re going to their bank, win.
The other way it helps, is that if it’s a more complex question, they’re going to need to visit your website. Answer those questions and dominate your competition. Be helpful and traffic will follow. Write blog articles answering the questions most commonly asked, or start an FAQ page.
Content is King.