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What is a Conversational Growth Strategy?

Find out why conversational messaging is better than your current SMS strategy. Read the content here, or take it to go in a downloadable PDF.

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What is Conversational Texting?

An Alternate Approach That Makes All the Difference

Texting isn’t all-inclusive, and SMS means different things to different brands. One company might consider an impactful texting strategy to send one-way push notifications, which might work for them. But other brands that want to engage with customers at pivotal moments need more.

To choose a successful SMS strategy, companies first need to decide which approach is appropriate. There are five different SMS methodologies (but one clear winner) for brands that want to engage with their audience to drive outcomes: Conversational Texting®.

While most of the SMS strategies focus on providing some sort of customer service, Conversational Texting® focuses on customer engagement, and this alternate approach makes all the difference. Conversational Texting® allows brands to engage their audience in a way that builds trust and over time, a long-term relationship. But more than that, Conversational Texting® also scales depending on your needs.

Blast Messaging

SMS Blasts (also known as push messaging) are used as one-time, one-way messages to a segment of your audience. This can be anything from specials to sales and reminders.

Short Code

Short code texts are one-way SMS messages used to provide alerts, information on specials, or promotional codes. They’re usually a few lines long with no interaction between the audience and the brand.

Chatbot

Chatbots are AI-powered bots meant to provide customer service by answering simple questions through an automated process. They operate on a script and usually act as an enablement tool to allow consumers to do the most basic self-services.

Two-Way Agent-Enabled

On the other side of the customer service spectrum, we have two-way agent-enabled messaging. Where chatbot automates the conversational process, two-way human enablement depends on having staff available to text your audience.

Conversational Texting®

Conversational Texting® gives you all the benefits of two-way human enablement and AI machine-learning technology without the limitations of paying for around-the-clock staffing or subjecting your audience to robotic messaging.

The Challenge With One-Way Messaging

When brands send out one-way messages the outcome is binary; they either get a response or they don’t. They don’t know why they’re not getting any feedback or responses. On average, Drips' clients experience less than 30% engagement rates on the campaigns they run through traditional channels like email, outbound dialing, direct mail, and even one-way push SMS. That means 70% of their consumers give them no response, which leaves them in the dark when it comes to intent, interest, or anything else for that matter.

That’s where Drips comes in with a solution that sheds light on that intent gap.

Why Conversational Texting® Matters

Conversational Texting® allows brands to illuminate user intent which drives engagement and puts consumers in the driver's seat. And just like that, people can engage with brands on their own terms by responding to two-way messaging that’s designed to help drive conversations and conversions.

Wondering how something powered by AI can give you information about your audience’s intent? Surprisingly, it’s the ability to talk like a human that makes Conversational Messaging® so effective.

Talking Like A Human

How does an AI powered SMS platform keep things humanized?

Although the human-driven, two-way agent-enabled strategy is often seen as a desirable SMS strategy, it breaks when you try to scale. There are high costs associated with adding full-time employees, as well as other issues like added quality assurance, compliance risks, lack of persistence, and more. Fortunately, AI powered Conversational Texting® is built to scale the unscalable.

But how does it work? How does an AI powered SMS platform keep things humanized? After all, handling ~500M live conversations and more than 3.2B touchpoints is a huge challenge. And let’s be real, there’s nothing more frustrating for a consumer than getting stuck in a never-ending loop with a bot that doesn’t understand what you need.

“Reply MORE for more information?” No thanks.

People want to talk to humans, so it’s important to deliver that experience – especially over SMS.

The good news? The Drips Conversational Texting platform can manage this with ease. We have a robust testing process that makes our advanced AI seem human, and the secret ingredient is our human quality assurance layer that we’ve had since the beginning.

Let’s be clear, talking like a human should involve, wait for it, humans! When the AI can’t catch something (which means we aren’t at 98.5% certainty), Drips’ QA team steps in to read and synthesize intent. For example, “I’m stuck in traffic on the way to the office”, really means “I’m driving”. This very important QA layer creates training opportunities that help our AI and NLP model become even stronger with every message. In fact, we’ve had ~ 50M human QA actions since inception.

In June 2020, we had 850,000 unique monthly responses to questions like "When's a good time to talk?" That shows just how diverse responses can be! (BTW, did you know we recognize over 1,800 ways to say: “I’m driving”? And that number grows daily!)

“Sorry, I Didn’t Understand That, Human”

There’s nothing more isolating and frustrating than the realization that you’ve been talking to a bot that has limited responses. This is why having human assistance is of the utmost importance. Asking a question and getting the appropriate answer provides credibility. Getting an "I didn't understand that. Please rephrase" answer alienates your audience and will cause an abrupt end to the “conversation,” (if you could call it that).

It’s no wonder 71% of people report that a bot couldn't answer a question or help them. In addition to being alienating, it’s also a frustrating user experience.

More often than not, once a user realizes they are speaking to an automated machine, they'll try to talk to a real person as soon as possible, and if they can’t reach a human, they will eventually give up.

Training an AI to Act More Human

Though we can’t tell you how our platform does it, we can show you an example of how it can deliver different permutations. Here’s a simple sample of the different ways our AI can say “hello.”

Even though each of these greetings is similar, the permutations truly change the fingerprint of the message, creating custom experiences that feel human and get human responses. It’s only human to have randomization—no one says the same thing the same way all the time. Just like you need to handle natural language coming back, you should challenge yourself and your vendors to offer it going out. The more human and thoughtful, the better.

We Speak Emoji

If you can’t speak emoji, you are cutting off half of your texting audience. According to Emogi, 92% of people use emojis to add more color and context to their messages. And many of them often use emojis instead of a “text” message altogether.

Text language is ever evolving, and messages aren’t just going to include grammatically correct text responses. That’s why we made sure our AI knew how to reply to all sorts of inputs, from shorthand like TTYL to gifs. After all, there’s a huge difference between 😀 and 😠.

At the end of the day, most service industries (home services, insurance agencies, financial services, healthcare, etc.) will still need a human at some point in their funnel to help their audiences. The entire sales process is decades away from being 100% automated for these industries, as they are high touch, nuanced, often private, conversations that need to happen between an enterprise and their members. But we believe what can be automated, should be automated. So, at Drips we focus on helping large pockets of a brands audience get “unstuck,” who would otherwise churn out, lose their insurance, or lose their healthcare. This automation allows brands to focus on the inbound calls and conversations that have the highest intent and have been warmed up by Drips.

Creating Moments of Engagement

Explore some other options that you can apply to your SMS strategy

Encouraging engagement doesn’t only happen from creating unique permutations. Drips uses additional methods to create moments of engagement, including:

  • Reaching out at different times of the day
  • Being thoughtful of business hours, weekends, and holidays
  • Avoiding callbacks during primetime when hold times are the longest
  • Adding rich nuanced context “Glad you found us on Google” to the conversation

But that’s not the only way to create these opportunities. Let’s explore some other options that can apply to your SMS strategy.

To get the conversation going, the best practice is to end your messages with a question mark or proposition. After all, if you ask a relevant question in a conversational way, you get a human response. Right? People are more likely to respond to a message that ends in a question.

Putting the “Conversation” in Conversational Texting

Empathy is a big thing. If you’re trying to sell someone something and their response is “I just lost my job,” that’s completely different than “Not right now.” It’s not a buying question. That’s why the Drips platform understands these nuances and disqualifies people appropriately.

Leading with Empathy

Every conversation isn’t going to go the same way. If someone pivots the conversation in a different direction, we pivot with them. Conversations can zig and zag in different directions, and our platform keeps up because we know who the audience is and where the brand wants them to go.

Branching

Anyone who’s ever had a conversation can tell you that you shouldn’t talk with women under the age of 25 the same way you speak with men over 60 years old—they’re a completely different audience. Someone who searched for you on Google is very different than someone who saw your brand on Facebook or a commercial. That’s why Drips segments our conversations and adjusts the way we speak to different audiences and/or channels.

Audience Segmentation

If someone requests a call back at 5 p.m. tomorrow, we don’t just schedule the call and exit the conversation. We send a priming message as a reminder that also sets the tone for the call. For example, we might say, "We're looking forward to talking with you at 5 p.m.! If you need to reschedule, let us know.”

Priming

Persistence is critical, especially in today’s society. Everyone is busy with jobs, side hustles, spending time with their families, or binging the fifth season of their favorite show. That’s why Drips keeps reaching out. Our average conversation lasts for about nine days, but we’ve had some that persist over weeks or even months.

Persistence

Don’t Do the Robot

Let’s leave the robot on the dance floor and stick with Conversational Texting®. It’s the best part of artificial intelligence mixed with the right amount of human interaction, but it can be applied at scale without worrying about staffing.

Let Drips help you to connect with your audience during moments that matter. By leveraging two-way text and scheduled calling, our unique AI approach puts the consumer in the driver’s seat of every interaction. The result? Personalized conversations at scale driving action.

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