The Rise of Conversational Marketing

Engaging customers in real time

The Rise of Conversational Marketing

We live in an age of instant gratification. With the rise of smartphones and messaging apps, customers expect to get what they want immediately, with just a few taps or clicks. This shift in consumer behavior requires brands to provide quick, personalized and contextual interactions to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty. Enter conversational marketing the use of chatbots, messaging apps and voice assistants to deliver individualized conversations that feel less like traditional marketing and more like a friendly chat with a trusted advisor.

Understanding Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing leverages conversational interfaces like chatbots, messaging apps and voice assistants to deliver customized and context-aware brand experiences in real time. The goal is to engage customers in a natural, dialogue-driven way that mimics human-to-human conversations. Key elements of conversational marketing include:

Automated conversations powered by artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine learning. This allows for natural, free-flowing dialogues.

Personalization at scale. Chatbots can greet customers by name, remember preferences and context, and tailor interactions accordingly.

Instant gratification. Conversational interfaces deliver 24/7 availability and micro-moment engagement.

Seamless experiences across devices. Messaging channels allow continuous conversations across smartphones, computers, IoT devices, and more.

Rich media integration. Chatbots can share images, videos, audio clips and other multimedia within conversations.

Conversational marketing opens new ways for brands to engage audiences and drives business impact through increased customer satisfaction, deeper brand affinity, lower acquisition costs and boosted revenue.

The Rise of Messaging Apps

A key driver of conversational marketing’s growth is the explosive popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and others. These platforms are rapidly replacing SMS and phone calls as the dominant communication method for billions of consumers worldwide.

Some compelling stats:

  • WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger each have over 1 billion monthly active users.
  • WeChat, the leading Chinese messaging app, has 1.2 billion monthly active users.
  • On average, American smartphone owners use messaging apps like WhatsApp 30 times per month.
  • Messaging apps see 60 billion messages sent each day globally.

The widespread consumer adoption of messaging apps can be attributed to their simplicity, convenience and versatility as communication channels. With their ubiquity and real-time nature, messaging platforms provide fertile ground for conversational experiences that allow brands to engage audiences in more human, personalized ways.

Chatbots Power Conversational Engagement

At the core of many conversational marketing initiatives are chatbots – software programs designed to simulate human conversation using natural language processing. Chatbots enable brands to automate conversations at scale and deliver 24/7 support and engagement.

Here are some of the ways chatbots are transforming digital marketing and customer experience:

Conversational commerce – Chatbots provide frictionless buying experiences via conversational interfaces. Forrester predicts that by 2022, chatbots will account for $142 billion in retail sales annually.

Hyper-personalization – Advanced NLP allows chatbots to understand context and tailor interactions to individual customers. Chatbots can engage known users with personalized messages and recommendations.

Instant customer support – Brands are using chatbots to provide always-on customer service. 1-800-Flowers uses IBM Watson Assistant to resolve 90% of its customer inquiries completely via chatbot.

Lead generation – Chatbots make it easy for prospects to start sales conversations on their own time. SnapTravel’s chatbot books over $1M per month in hotel rooms by engaging and qualifying leads 24/7.

Market research – Rather than relying on surveys and focus groups, brands are using chatbots to gather on-demand customer feedback through conversational interfaces.

Employee support – HR chatbots like PhenomPeople and’s Amy Ingram provide HR support and improve productivity by booking meetings and managing calendars.

The appeal of chatbots stems from their ability to make conversations scalable while retaining personalized interactions. As AI and NLP continue to evolve, expect chatbots to become even more conversational and deliver next-generation customer experiences.

Voice Assistants Enable Hands-Free Engagement

Another growing conversational interface is voice assistants, enabled by smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home. ComScore predicts there will be over 100 million homes with smart speakers in the U.S. by the end of 2022. With voice search also gaining ground, voice assistants present a new hands-free channel for conversational marketing.

Brands are exploring opportunities such as:

Voice commerce – Customers can use voice commands to conveniently reorder frequent purchases like groceries and household items. According to Satista, 25% of smart speaker owners have used their devices to purchase something.

Proactive suggestions – Based on conversational context and customer data, voice assistants can proactively suggest relevant products and services without direct customer prompts.

Personalized promotions – Voice assistants allow for location-based offers and real-time promotions based on individual customer data and preferences.

Customer support – Asking questions out loud feels more natural. Well-designed voice assistants can resolve common support queries or instantly connect customers to human agents for more complex issues.Voice Ads Alexa, Google Assistant and others provide services like sponsored suggestions and voice ads. Purina used sponsored suggestions ads on Alexa to increase product sampling signups by 2.5X.

As consumers grow more comfortable engaging with technology through conversational speech, voice assistants offer new opportunities to deliver convenient, personalized and contextually-relevant experiences.

Best Practices for Conversational Marketing

Here are some best practices for brands exploring conversational marketing:

Think conversationally – Focus on creating dialogue-driven experiences vs. traditional marketing campaigns. Guide users through conversations without overtly promoting products.

Keep it short and smart – Leverage quick replies with concise options to move conversations forward efficiently. Use natural language understanding to provide contextual answers vs. keywords and rigid scripts.

Make it visual – Incorporate images, GIFs and videos to make conversations visually engaging, especially on channels like Facebook Messenger.

Build in value upfront – Offer utility like calculators, local search or weather lookup before pivoting to affiliate marketing strategies. Use lead nurturing tactics to build relationships over time.

Design for quick onboarding – Minimize friction by only asking for essential info like name, number, and email to initiate conversations. Personalize interactions using these details.

Test and optimize – Continuously gather customer feedback through surveys and reviews. Monitor metrics to identify areas for improvement. Test new conversational components frequently.

With a thoughtful design focused on user experience over sales, conversational marketing provides a new means for brands to deliver the personal, instant and relevant experiences today’s consumers expect.

The Future of Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing has immense potential to reshape digital experiences across industries. Here are some emerging trends to watch:

  • Even more human-like chatbots with empathetic conversations and personality-driven interactions. Humanization of chatbot conversations while retaining scalability.
  • Evolution of chatbots into digital assistants that proactively look out for the customer vs. just responding to customer requests.
  • Rise of voice commerce as consumers grow comfortable shopping via voice assistants.
  • Integration of chatbots with virtual and augmented reality to enable immersive conversational experiences.
  • Expansion of conversational ads leveraging chatbots and voice search.
  • Growth of conversational analytics using AI to optimize conversational experiences. Analysis of conversational data to gain behavioral insights.
  • Platform innovations such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple compete on conversational capabilities and developer tools.

We are in the early innings of a massive shift towards conversational interfaces. As conversational AI and user experience continue to mature, marketing leaders have an opportunity to reinvent brand-customer interactions and usher in the next generation of digital experiences. The time to start experimenting is now.


  • Kara Wilson

    Kara Wilson is an accomplished editor with a passion for curating engaging and insightful content at With a keen eye for industry trends and a knack for storytelling, Kara ensures that readers stay informed and inspired. Her editorial expertise extends across various topics, including digital marketing, e-commerce, and the ever-evolving landscape of consumer trends.

    View all posts

Get our newsletter and digital focus reports

Stay current on learning and development trends, best practices, research, new products and technologies, case studies and much more.