Regardless of industry, consumers today are faced with a tremendous number choices when shopping — more commonly becoming known as choice overload. Choice overload is what happens when we're faced with more possibilities than we can clearly or easily comprehend, clouding purchase judgement and often leading to overall frustration. When consumers find they're running into too many of the same options, they often freeze without making a purchase due to choice paralysis. For brands, this begs the question: How can they offer shoppers the variety of products they crave while also streamlining the path to purchase?
Time and time again, customer experience proves to be the differentiator for brands. However, most brands don't have the time, money or staff to cater to the individual needs of every consumer. However, one of the best and least costly strategies to providing a premier customer experience is through the use of artificial intelligence-powered digital assistants and conversational marketing tools such as chatbots and voice assistants. Conversational marketing is becoming very popular among marketers as an emerging customer engagement channel, and the return on investment from digital assistants is clear. Not only do they guide customers through the customer journey — thereby cutting down on the infamous choice overload — but they also lead to revenue spikes and increased conversion rates.
Consumers today want convenience and guidance from brands when they're shopping online. In an omnichannel world, they expect the same kind of personalized service online as they receive in-store. Brands risk losing sales by not providing personalized experiences. In fact, when consumers shop online, 54 percent abandon websites because it’s too difficult to find the right product. What’s more, 71 percent switch to competitors that provide an easier product-finding experience. By tailoring the experience with conversational marketing and digital assistant strategies, brands can be sure that potential customers are receiving the necessary guidance to actually end up making a purchase and avoid missing out on the final step: conversion.
Across verticals, digital assistants provide significant value to businesses. At the end of the day, retail operations can only meet its bottom line through sales, and therefore, increasing the likelihood of conversion should be of utmost importance to all businesses. Recent data shows 78 percent of marketers believe the most compelling reason to use a digital assistant is to spur an increase in conversion rates and better leads. Even when a sale isn't ultimately achieved, digital assistants provide sales and marketing teams with better leads and more customer data. An added benefit is that conversational marketing tools allow employees to spend more time on other tasks rather than solely focusing on customer service, increasing the ROI. And, on the flip side, it’s a win-win as customers will receive answers to their questions faster. Making the investment in conversational marketing tools ultimately has the ability to save an organization time and money.
Finally, it’s clear from both a consumer and marketing perspective that the demand for digital assistants is already there and growing. For consumers, 68 percent want their favorite brands or retailers to provide them with honest and personal advice. This statistic alone speaks volumes, but the demand goes far beyond. Marketers are also seeing the benefits of digital assistants. Eighty-six percent say they help consumers get what they want quickly, and nearly two-in-three say they further help them gain critical insight into what each individual customer wants.
The economy today is driven by unique and personal experiences; those brands that invest in customer experience tools will stand out. With the shopping landscape constantly evolving and innovating, brands are working to keep a competitive advantage over one another. Conversational marketing tools and AI-powered digital assistants are a key step in this mission.
Sarah Assous is senior vice president of marketing at Zoovu, an e-commerce solutions provider.