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What is Conversation Design and Why Should You Care?

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What exactly is a conversation design, and should you make the shift to it? Here’s some food for thought.

What is Conversation Design?

Conversation design is a method of modeling interactions with systems based on how humans communicate, i.e., by conversing with one another. In other words, it’s a way of creating human-centered systems, or as  Google notes, it’s a design language based on human conversation. 

Conversation design encompasses a multitude of principles, including voice user interface design, interaction design, visual design, motion design, audio design, and UX writing. Margaret Jabczynski, Conversational Intelligence Manager at Twyla, notes that conversation design derives from UX and copywriting. It lets us use software without interacting with it in traditional methods (GUI, mouse, keyboard, touch, etc.). The interaction with the device in conversation design is via language or voice—by communicating and interacting with it.

Human-Centered Design Visualization, Erika Hall | Conversational Design

That's a lot to take in. But we use conversation design all the time. 

Google Assistant is a perfect example of a conversation design where you communicate with a device as naturally as you do with a human. Here, the interface is all verbal. Interactions occur on a smartphone without the user touching the device. If you have ever used a voice assistant, or chatbot, you know what it means to communicate with your device as you would with a human being.

Conversational Positioning

Conversational positioning improves customer experience, engagement, and revenue for all types of businesses irrespective of their industry. That's possible because conversational design mirrors content-dependent human activity. It may be oral, visual, or text-based, but seeks to create a meaningful exchange.

Gartner predicted that conversational marketing would be a recognized channel for customer engagement by this year and used extensively in marketing and sales. It’s research was correct—since conversational marketing is pretty much everywhere today.

The Conversational Framework

Conversational positioning is a great approach to implement, but it takes planning and effort. A conversational framework, like the one shown below, is what your business needs to practically implement conversation design.

This framework will guide you toward what your conversational design strategy should be, but not specifically how to do it. Your how may be different than your competitors’—since it should reflect the unique attributes of your brand and target audience. 

You must be aware that over the past few years, consumers’ behavior and expectations have changed, and so has how businesses interact with their audience. Your strategy needs to revolve around conversational marketing and it should be focused on implementing the three-step process described below.

1. Educate

The first step is to provide your ideal customers the opportunity to connect by creating helpful information. To do this, you’ll want to define your audience.

What exactly does "define your audience" mean?

A one-word answer is data. Start collecting data from day one—and use it to create buyer personas and keep them updated. 

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It informs the type of content they like, what channels they use to find businesses, what social networks they use, what websites they visit, and other information you add.

You can create accurate buyer personas by collecting the data noted above from your ideal customers, with an emphasis on identifying the channels they use to connect with your business. This will help you identify all the mediums where having a business presence gives you the best chance of connecting and engaging with potential customers.

Also, don’t forget about harvesting the wealth of data available via your website: how visitors landed there, what the traffic source was, what visitors did and how much time they spent on the site, etc. This input, along with what you’ve learned from your customer data, can help you produce content that answers your audience's questions—and distribute it via the channels they use, such as: 

Audio

  •  Podcasts
  •  Spotify
  •  Radio

Video

  •  Playbooks
  •  Vlogs
  •  Brand stories 

Written

  •  Blogs
  •  Webcopy
  •  Press
  •  Social posts

Never forget that people do like to be informed, not sold to. And when you can pinpoint what it is they want to know, you are ahead of the game.

2. Engage

Once you have created the content that interests your audience, the next step is to provide your ideal customers the opportunity to engage with your business on all the leading channels. Your target audience can choose to interact with your business anywhere. It could be a social network, a niche forum, a review website, or a search engine.

Your job is to ensure you have a presence across all available channels, so you don’t lose an opportunity to connect and engage with a potential customer. And don’t forget that your website is the most crucial channel where you can engage with your target audience. Be sure it’s user-friendly and conversational; the idea is to provide ideal customers with an experience they expect, and this is where conversational design, i.e., personalization, comes in.

Landbot is an excellent tool to help build a conversational website to engage with visitors. You may consider incorporating one or more of the following tactics to make your website conversational and personalized:

1.    Use live chat

2.   Use dynamic text

3.   Use IP addresses to redirect visitors to appropriate landing pages

4.   Use multiple landing pages to make the experience personalized

3. Transform

Finally, it’s time to recommend the right product to the right person at the right time on the right channel. People love getting personalized recommendations from brands. As many as 38% of consumers say they won’t buy from a company that makes poor product recommendations. 

Product recommendations, in general, boost engagement even if consumers don’t purchase, but it also makes it more likely they will. Buyers who click a recommendation are 4.5x more likely to add the product to their cart and 4.5x more likely to complete the purchase.

Conversion should be your top priority as soon as visitors engage with your brand. You need to collect their email addresses so you can add their details to your CRM tool and contact them later. This also lets you segment visitors and track them on your website.

Don’t forget to collect feedback from visitors when they complete a specific action on your website (e.g., adding a product in the cart). This information will help you identify issues that ruin the customer experience. 

Never lose sight of the fact that the whole point of following the conversational framework to understand your audience is to amp up your conversational IQ. When you’re proactive in using all the data you collect, you’ll be able to create a website and marketing collateral your audience will love interacting with. 

Plus, personalized product recommendations increase the average order value by 369%:

Interesting, right?

This is the output you should expect at this stage. When you understand and engage your audience, you can send them personalized product recommendations they can’t say no to. This is the beauty of conversational design. You communicate with the customers at an individual level; you don’t send a single product to everyone—you send product information based on visitors’ interaction history with your company.

Here’s an example from Belk that reminds its customers to restock their K-cups based on their purchase cycle:

Do be aware that conversational design isn’t all about product recommendations; you can also recommend content based on what customers have read or liked in the past. Once you have the data and you know your customers individually, the sky’s the limit.

Final Thoughts

The way you engage and interact with your ideal customers will define your company’s future. You have to understand that you are living in an era where personalization is the key to success. And delivering a personalized, memorable experience is at the heart of positioning conversationally.

It’s time to follow this simple rule: engage, inform, transform, and repeat. Consider what set of words, inputs, outputs, and information bring people into a conversation with your brand—and then give them what they want.


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