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How Content Supports a Conversational Commerce Experience

What is conversational commerce?

In January of 2015, Chris Messina, a former technologist of companies like Uber and Google, coined the term in his Medium post – Conversational Commerce: Messaging apps bring the point of sale to you. He saw an emerging trend, as others may have at the time as well. Andrew Bilak of RoyalWood says in his article about conversational commerce strategy that, “Conversational commerce allows businesses and brands to interact and nurture customers during their buying journey by offering them personalized assistance and recommendations while establishing long-term relationships.”
There is a growing concept of helping customers through purposeful digital experiences. The experience can be transactional, task-based, or meant to be more for discovery of information. They all have something in common – a human isn’t required on the other end of the screen.
Conversational commerce experiences are now coming into their own. Pankaj Malviya summarized his observations on the trend in 5 Predictions About the Future of Conversational Commerce from MarTech: “Once the territory of a few niche companies, ‘conversational commerce’ is trending with some of the biggest brands in the world — and it’s working better than anyone could have hoped.”
Malviya explains how brands like Walmart, Amazon, and 1-800-Flowers are enabling more personal conversations to happen for customers in the shopping moment. Ultimately, customers are having conversations with systems that are fed information about them, so it responds purposefully for these customers.

Prep and Plan to Ensure Engagement

Let’s take a step back. We see that customers are receiving a more personalized way to explore and shop for products. What we don’t see is the prep and planning that digital product and experience teams conduct to make sure that customers engage with a highly useful experience.
Content strategy helps to identify and account for all the key information that needs to align to achieve the conversational commerce experience goals and objectives. But as various sources of information are pulled in to support your experience, getting your content in order may take time. A content strategy output that helps with this is a roadmap to get content in a good place to intentionally serve customers in their shopping moment.
Imagine how content facilitates responses for customers going down their conversational rabbit hole.

  • When does content come into play?
  • How does it support cohesive responses?
  • What assets, information, and next steps need to be accounted for in order to make this a reality?

Keep questions like these in mind and imagine the following scenario:

An auto shopper is looking for a new vehicle. They’re considering a new sedan offered by their choice brand. They’re open to a small or mid-size sedan. They’re familiar with the trim levels available, though not an expert on standard versus optional features. But they’re most interested in getting a few key options.

In this case, how would content enable a purposeful conversational commerce experience? Let’s break it down.
A scenario describing how to implement conversational commerce using existing content and and content inventory.
This list helps us begin to gather the content necessary to facilitate a purposeful response. So, when a customer asks, “Which [small and/or mid-size sedans] does the panoramic sunroof come standard on?” they can receive a response such as, “A panoramic sunroof comes standard on these [small and/or mid-size sedans] [trims]. Take a look!”
As there will be many ways content can facilitate an answer, it should also help facilitate next steps. So, consider the intentions that content can help facilitate when things are indirectly related. These responses help the user understand that their question is accepted, but is apart from this specific experience. It’s the difference between having a 404-page-not-found and an explore-one-of-these-things response.

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