Digital Marketing

The rise in conversational search is changing digital customer engagement

Conversational customer engagement

Users are changing the way they search. They're increasingly using natural language and asking questions. Digital customer engagement is not the same as it once was.

In the past, we’ve always expected to be served the same content and information that would be seen by other users. Another user may live across the world and have a completely different set of needs and interests to you, and you’d both be seeing the same content on every website and digital platform you’d visit. But times and technology have changed.

Personalized digital customer engagement

Users want to see the information that has been personalized to their needs and interests. They want their previous interaction with the site to be remembered and to inform the way in which the website is currently being displayed.

The digital marketing industry must also embrace this change in search to inform online marketing strategies. What would appeal to one customer likely won’t appeal to all. It’s no longer acceptable to send the same messages to all customers. In fact, that’s a pretty effective way to frustrate them, leading to them unsubscribing, unliking, and unfollowing.

An option that digital marketing professionals have long used to their great advantage is location marketing. By understanding where a customer is based, using their GPS-enabled mobile phone to pick up their location, you're able to push adverts from their closest store. This ensures they aren't arriving at a store only to find out that specific promotion is only available in another town, two hours away. That’s an effective way to personalize your online marketing strategies, without feeling too intrusive but rather offering helpful information.

Increase in voice search

One of the reasons why search is changing so significantly is due to the increase in voice search. Previously, you would have typed “sushi New York” into a search engine. Now, you’re more likely to ask your smart device to help you find “the best and most affordable sushi restaurant in New York’s Greenwich area that’s open tonight”. By asking such a specific question, you’re making your intention and desire to purchase obviously.

According to Think with Google, during the past two years:

  • Mobile searches for “do I need” have grown by more than 65%. Do I need a new mobile phone?

  • Mobile searches for “should I” have grown by more than 65%. Should I buy a new mobile phone?

  • Mobile searches asking “can I” questions have increased by 85%. Can I get a new mobile phone on my current phone contract?

In the past, people used more simple searches. Just by typing in simple keywords, they were able to find the information they were looking for. Now, though, searchers have become more specific and so have their questions. This means that marketers need to meet these specific customer queries. Customers are becoming more comfortable with using technology. They’re using natural language while looking for answers to their questions and exporting intuitive experiences.

“In search, after locking down the keywords and phrases typically associated with your business, think beyond those to consider more conversational phrases that customers might be using to find you,” says Sara Kleinberg, Head of Ads Research and Insights at Google.

Google has become really effective at understanding search intent. It knows what users are really saying when they ask a question. Search queries which start with "I want", “how”, “why”, “when”, and “where”, trigger algorithmic outcomes which work to bring relevant answers to searchers.

If you’d like to learn more about how mobile has changed search intent and its impact on digital customer engagement, read our recent article. It highlights how digital marketers must use mobile to build more vibrant experiences for their consumers.

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