Social media strategy has grown beyond advertising and engagement, as B2C brands seek to drive revenue, provide support, and build customer relationships on social platforms. But these ambitious goals require equally powerful tools if brands are to reap the full benefits of their investment in social media.
At the same time, the rise of conversational commerce is changing how people shop online by enabling easy, one-on-one communication with chatbots, voice assistants, or human agents. This new style of ecommerce is becoming more effective and easier to implement thanks to improvements in AI and social customer experience (CX) platforms with advanced chatbot technology.
When integrated with social media, conversational commerce can enhance the interactive, personalized experiences that today’s consumers expect and improve outcomes at every step in the customer journey. Let’s look at how this works and how to put it into practice for your brand.
Why is conversational commerce important for your social media strategy?
The role of social media in B2C marketing is growing and changing. While spending more on social ads than ever, most brands are also looking to drive in-platform sales and revenue through social commerce. That is, through their social media shops. Soon, brands’ social commerce campaigns and strategies will evolve to focus more on long-term customer relationships and improving social customer care, according to a recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Emplifi. As part of this transformation, more and more brands will try to engage customers with interactive, personalized formats such as one-to-one livestream shopping.
Conversational commerce fits perfectly with this strategic shift. Through one-on-one conversations on social media, B2C brands can achieve multiple goals:
Deliver more interactive, personalized, frictionless experiences.
Increase conversion rates, reduce shopping cart abandonment, and boost order value for brands’ social shops.
Improve social care throughout the customer journey, from product discovery to post-purchase support.
In short, conversational commerce can play a versatile role in improving CX, growing revenue, and building customer relationships. As conversational technologies improve and become more accessible, its role is only likely to increase further as brands work to make the most of their social media investments.
How does conversational commerce fit into the social customer journey?
On social platforms, conversational commerce usually involves direct messaging (DM) with either a chatbot or a human agent. Brands can integrate such interactions into multiple social media touchpoints, from their Instagram or Facebook pages to social shops and live events. As a result, conversational commerce can play a key role throughout the buying journey, helping you provide more seamless experiences and move customers from one stage to the next.
Discovery and evaluation
Social media plays an essential role in how consumers learn about brands and products online. By integrating conversation into social media touchpoints (for example, through a chat button on social media ads or livestream videos), brands can provide consumers with an easy and convenient way to conduct research about products. During these conversations, a chatbot or human agent can move consumers closer to purchase by answering questions, narrowing down their choices, offering promotions, and making recommendations that align with their wants and needs.
Through social shops, a growing number of consumers are buying products directly within social media apps. A conversation with a chatbot or human agent can make purchasing easier and faster—for instance, by answering any final questions before checkout, or by helping the customer place an order. Such conversations also offer a chance to increase the value of orders by suggesting upgrades or add-ons and the opportunity to provide more convenient updates about shipping and delivery.
Customer service and support
If customers have questions or issues during or after a purchase, social chatbots and messaging can help brands provide faster, more convenient responses and resolve problems as quickly as possible. This is critical in today’s climate as more and more customers treat social media channels as their go-to option when they need assistance.
Over time, social chatbots and messaging can help you engage existing customers more effectively to build relationships and encourage repeat sales. This could include serving interactive content such as surveys or polls, or offering personalized promotions via DM. Such tactics can help you keep recent customers engaged and renew contact with people who haven’t interacted with your brand in a while.
The role of automation and AI
Automation and AI are essential tools for B2C brands looking to provide one-on-one interactions at scale. Brands can field far more queries and provide 24/7 service, at higher speed and lower cost, by employing chatbots to handle routine conversations. The most advanced social chatbots can fill versatile roles and enhance experiences at every step along a customer’s path.
Emplifi Shop Clerk, for example, uses AI and natural language processing (NLP) to assist customers in brands’ social media shops. Shop Clerk can answer questions about products, make personalized recommendations, place product orders, carry out surveys, and learn from past interactions to improve its performance over time. It can also recognize problems that require human intervention and escalate them to a live agent if necessary.
Social chatbots like these can integrate into multiple touchpoints to provide users with instant access to help at any time. For example, let’s consider the journeys of several different hypothetical consumers on social media.
Jane, an eco-conscious consumer, sees an eye-catching product in a fashion brand’s Instagram shop, but has a question about sustainability. She clicks on the DM button and talks with a chatbot. The bot responds by providing content about the manufacturer’s environmental standards. Satisfied, Jane returns to the product page to place her order and then posts about her new purchase on her Instagram page.
Donna is watching an influencer demonstrate a new makeup product via a livestream. She clicks on the embedded link to learn more, wondering if it contains an ingredient that irritates her skin. She taps DM and poses her question to the chatbot, which verifies that the makeup is free of that ingredient. Donna then returns to the livestream, buys the product, and shares news of her purchase in the live session.
While browsing a company’s social shop, Sylvia, an existing customer taps DM for help narrowing down his choices. The chatbot recommends a product with all the features Sylvia wants and asks if she would like to order it. Since her credit card and shipping information are already on file, the chatbot sends her to a prefilled checkout page ready for her to review and submit.
To perform such complex tasks, AI-powered chatbots rely on sophisticated data gathering and analysis. By ingesting data from a brand’s CRM, a social chatbot can take personalized actions based on Sylvia's customer profile, history, and past behavior. At the same time, chatbot conversations can provide useful data on metrics such as question topics, engagement rates, product trends, promotion efficiency, and duration of conversations. Such data helps chatbots improve their own performance and provides brands with actionable insights to improve CX.
Enhancing the human touch
Some conversations still require a person on the other end of the line. Chatbots, no matter how advanced, are bound to encounter queries too complex for them to resolve. Meanwhile, social media users expect easy, natural-feeling interactions at every step, and they are likely to become frustrated if a brand fails to meet this expectation.
Intelligent escalation to a human agent provides the solution to this challenge. AI-based chatbots such as Emplifi Shop Clerk can quickly detect when an issue is beyond their capabilities and instantly pass the conversation on to a customer care representative. In addition, users should be able to request a live agent if they want one, at any point in the conversation.
To ensure a seamless experience, the conversation needs to pick up where the bot left off. A unified social media CX platform can provide the agent with a single view of all previous interactions, along with other relevant data about the customer and in-context recommendations for action. That means customers can receive speedy, personalized resolutions to their problems, without having to repeat their questions and start conversations over from scratch.
AI and humans, in other words, work together to deliver successful conversational experiences. Advanced chatbots can handle most routine conversations, while learning from past interactions and optimizing their responses over time. Live agents, meanwhile, can devote more time and attention to the queries that require a human touch.
Technology plays a vital role in making conversational interactions scalable and cost-effective. Nonetheless, brands still need to invest in their human resources if they plan to integrate conversational commerce into their social media strategies.
Know how to talk with your customers
Conversational commerce can help you meet customer expectations in an era of interactive social shopping and social customer care. By engaging your customers in a one-to-one conversation, your B2C brand can increase revenues from social commerce while also building long-term relationships and elevating the experiences you provide on social media.
Your ROI will grow if you invest in a sophisticated AI-driven chatbot platform, capable of natural, consultative conversations and intelligent escalation to human agents. But technology alone can’t assure your success. Above all, your brand needs to understand what kinds of conversational interactions are useful and desirable for your target consumers, and integrate them into a seamless experience that puts the customer first.
Learn how Emplifi can help you elevate your social media ROI with conversational commerce solutions. Book a demo today with an Emplifi expert.