4 Key Takeaways from the State of Conversational Marketing 2019 Report



Shifting chatbot perceptions, strengths and weaknesses of various communication channels, the growth of email, and more, this report breaks down all the important conversational marketing trends and themes you need to know.


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“Today’s buyers expect to find what they’re looking for now, not later. As we prepare for the future, it will be more important than ever for businesses to be available across a broad spectrum of channels, and to make sure you’re communicating the way people prefer to communicate,” said David Cancel, founder and CEO of Drift in a press release announcing the 2019 State of Conversational Marketing report.

Based on a survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, the research comes as a follow-up to the 2018 State of Chatbots report and highlights key conversational marketing trends and benchmarks marketers will need to pocket as they develop their strategies.

In partnership with Survey Monkey the findings are into five main sections that explore the problems with traditional online experiences, how people are communicating with businesses today, the strengths and weaknesses of various communication channels, and how attitudes towards chatbots are shifting.

Before we get to the insights, let’s break down what conversational marketing is and the opportunities it brings to the industry.

Conversational marketing offers marketers the ability to connect with customers 1:1 in real-time. Compared to traditional marketing strategies, conversational marketing relies on multiple channels meeting customers how, when and where they want. This mostly entails live chat, bots, and social chat apps but can be more broadly applied to email or even phone calls.

Ultimately, the goal of conversational marketing is to enhance the experience through a feedback-driven approach that translates into enhanced engagement and greater loyalty. Sounds straight forward, however, questions regarding customer expectations around chatbot perceptions and response times still pose obstacles for those looking to harness its power.

If you’re looking to bring some conversational marketing ideas and best practices into your toolkit, below are a few key highlights from the report:

A tangible opportunity for greater customer-centricity

Image via Drift

The three leading frustrations people face online today include getting answers to simple questions (34%), dealing with websites that are difficult to navigate (30%) and finding basic details (25%) about a business such as their hours of operations or their phone number. Numbers aside, there is a very visible opportunity to help fill this gap and ensure customers can find what they need without the headaches.

The flaws with chatbot perception

Image via Drift

Per the research findings, buyers are still 2x more likely to say that chatting with a live human through channels like online chat, provides an overall better customer experience. This comes despite respondents acknowledging the benefits that chatbots can provide such as answering questions (34%), getting detailed answers or explanations (29%) and resolving a complaint or issue (27%).

This trend is further reinforced by the fact that 70 percent of all consumers are using chatbots more or the same over the course of the past year. What this essentially tells us is that approximately one-third of all U.S. consumers have tried chatbots at one point, and then consciously decided to use them less based on their experience.

Online chat vs. chatbots

Image via Drift

When measured up to other potential ways to interact including a smartphone app, phone call, email, social media, video messaging and video call, consumers ranked online chat as best for overall convenience. Chatbots, on the other hand, took the top spot as a good and reliable source of 24×7 support.

Over the course of the past year, the percentage of consumers saying they’re using online chat more or the same is slightly higher (31% vs. 24%). Findings also show that the ratio of individuals claiming they’re using chat less is not as high when compared to the ratio for chatbots.

As far as which group is reaping the greatest benefits from chatbots, retailers currently have the edge with 40 percent of consumers stating they’ve used a chatbot within the past 12 months to interact with them. This figure far outpaced that of other categories of business that include healthcare (22%), utilities (21%) and entertainment (20%).

“Email isn’t just sticking around, it’s growing”

Image via Drift

It isn’t farfetched to logically assume as new channels emerge their older counterparts would take a stumble. What this survey points to, is quite the opposite. Email usage continues to grow and has done so more than any other customer communication channel. In fact, one-third of survey respondents reported they used it more frequently over the last year.

Growth YoY may have only been 5 percentage points, but this trajectory shines a light on an important industry: in order to increase customer engagement meaningfully, put the time and effort against a deep understanding of audience preferences and values and then tailor outreach accordingly. Strive to bring a more human element to marketing that goes beyond the pressure to prioritize reach, scale and vanity metrics.

“Marketing and sales have always revolved around conversations between buyers and sellers. But somewhere along the line, marketers and salespeople lost their way,” the report concludes.

We’ll continue this discussion around bringing humanity back into marketing, specifically through an experience-driven approach, during 2020 as part of our global theme HUMAN.X.

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