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Conversational marketing is the word

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Before making a purchase, talk. Marketers who do that will be ahead of the game. That’s the premise of what Paul Ince, better known as Biz Paul, defines as conversational marketing. 

Interactions might be people to people, people to chatbot, or – in a brave new world – bot to bot.

“Conversational marketing is simply the idea that people like to have some kind of interaction with business before taking the decision to purchase something,” Biz Paul said. “This type of marketing is two-way and interactive.”

In his own chat with internet marketer and entrepreneur Madalyn Sklar, Biz Paul considered what type of businesses can use chatbots and the best time to apply one.

“Any type of business can use a chatbot, but understanding the purpose of a chatbot for your business is the crucial part,” he said. “It could be to field inquiries, guide people to a relevant part of a website or to actually buy something.

“Chatbots are easily accessible and can really help small businesses that may struggle with human resources,” Biz Paul said. “You just have to get it right and not overcomplicate.”

Rather than be a distraction, chatbots can be sales-savers.

“When I am buying something on a site and I need help and there is a live, well-implemented chat or chatbot, it really helps push my sale over the line,” Biz Paul said.

Apart from fast response times, chatbots have other benefits.

“They are the next best thing to being human,” Biz Paul said. “The danger is getting too reliant on them and losing the personal touch altogether.

“The ability to answer a standard or simple question is immense,” he said. “Yet, the potential to free up human resources to focus on more urgent, serious issues that need a real person is the biggest benefit.”

Using chatbots for customer support does entail risks.

“There’s the obvious never-ending-loop scenario,” Biz Paul said. “That’s really frustrating for the customer and does huge damage for bot reputations.

“Chatbot design is critical,” he said. “You need to design exit points so real people handle the support when it’s serious. Also, there’s no empathy.”

The more personality a business can program into a chatbot, the better chance customers will want to interact with it.

“Yes, and you can have fun with it, too,” Biz Paul said. “In fact, that adds to the user experience.

“Like any process, you have to train your customers,” he said. “What is it for? What can it do? What are its limitations? Explain it clearly, and people will have a decent expectation.”

The best conversational marketing tools are closer than you think.

“I love Chatfuel slightly more than ManyChat, but both are terrific ways of getting into bots,” Biz Paul said. “Also look at Landbot.io if you don’t want a social-based bot. All are easy to use. The best conversational marketing tool, though, is you.”

A savvy business can scale conversational marketing.

“Try not to jump right into the deep end with conversational marketing,” Biz Paul said. “Get good at it and improve on your creation. Remember to keep in charge of the chatbot rather than the other way around.

“I’d start small and grow,” he said. “Don’t try and build an incredibly complex bot from the start. Get it to do simple things well.”

Biz Paul and Sklar continued their chatbot talk in a Facebook Live conversation.

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Jim Katzaman
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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