Conversational Content Marketing: Branded Storytelling On Messaging Apps
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” — Seth Godin
Content marketing is largely defined as brands creating and publishing their own stories — devoid of promotional content — to attract and retain customers. Rather than paying to be sandwiched between a media publication’s content — brands now create their own. It is easy to see how brands have leveraged content marketing; from Whole Foods’ 4,000 strong recipe selection, through to beauty empire Glossier — which launched due to the success of their editorial platform Into The Gloss.
What I see as the biggest potential for brands, is using branded storytelling as a strategy through conversational interfaces.
Yes, you can monetize chatbots — functionality that allows e-commerce, booking, and browsing products is widely available for brands to build out. Customer service bots save time and money (when done well) and have brands salivating at the thought of automating their customer service in a fun way that is native to users. However, providing valuable content through conversation is a better alternative. More so, if a brand has a clearly defined voice, with a mission statement, strong values, and evidence of well-rounded campaigns already executed — building a branded bot is a natural progression. Content marketing requires finding a unique, human voice for a brand. Bot’s have the ability to embody that voice.
Storytelling in the world of messaging apps
You can either push marketing messages out, or pull customers in with a story. Since customers ultimately care about themselves — not a brand’s products or services — it makes sense to tailor content to their specific wants or needs, through storytelling. Word of mouth builds brands. A bot can simulate a brand advocate and bring your brand message to customers at scale. Whether a brand is sarcastic, serious, solemn, or childish — a bot is designed with language, and replicates the nuances of brand voice into conversation.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” — Andrew Davis
Bots are reshaping storytelling, making static stories interactive, moving us back to a time where narratives were told and shared through open conversation. Bots have one-on-one conversations with thousands and thousands of people at once. And when well designed — these conversations are not identical — each user provides different intents to guide the conversation and their needs. Bots provide personalization at scale.
The rise of on demand content platforms like Netflix has shown one thing: audiences want control over how and when they are delivered content. How do bots serve this need? Think of designing a chatbot flow like writing a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. Depending on user input and preferences, the story takes a different direction. Users lead the story in the direction that satisfies their wants and needs the most, to a personalized ending. Conversational bots give users control, and deliver content customized exactly to individual user preferences and desires. Netflix has even announced they will be trialling branch narratives in upcoming series, allowing users to interact and change storylines.
Effective user experience design for conversational flows can also help build relationships, by providing personalized ‘hero moments’ that win over customers and make their journey through a brand’s content more enjoyable. Think Asana Unicorn for rewarding users on how they drive a conversation forward.
What about ROI?
There are many tactics for evaluating the ROI of conversational content marketing. Depending on your conversation design, users may have to engage for a certain period of time or number of interactions to receive something. This could be anything; discount codes, downloadable resources, or behind the scenes content. Using this tactic — successful engagement can be tracked by how many users get to this ‘end point’.
There are also plenty of effective analytics solutions like Botanalytics, Dashbot, and Facebook’s own Messenger analytics dashboard to measure engagement, find bottlenecks in the conversation, and even broadcast messages. These analytics are rich with data about funnel analysis, user drop off, and even sentiment analysis. Marketers have plenty of options when deciding on their conversion and reporting metrics.
Bots, AI, and voice platforms are still in their infancy in regards to truly successful conversational marketing by brands. But these technologies are already in the hands of consumers. Content marketing through conversation is a natural progression from social media, which already strives to build an audience through shared values and trust.
Start small, talk to your customers, and learn through engagement how to tell them even better stories.
Jess Thoms is the co-founder of Xandra, a conversation design agency crafting brand experiences for Facebook Messenger & Amazon Alexa.