Automat powers conversational marketing bot for L’Oreal

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It’s a data, data, data, data world

Mauro admitted conversational marketing isn’t for every industry. Insurance, for example, may not be the best fit. But opportunities exist for companies in retail, consumer packaged goods, fashion and luxury, he said.

And competitors and venture capitalists are also taking notice. In the last couple of weeks, HubSpot, a marketing and software company, acquired, a small chatbot platform company. And Drift, a conversational marketing startup, announced a $32 million round of funding that will go toward building a presence on the West Coast.

CIOs interested in helping their marketing departments pursue a conversational marketing strategy will need to start with the customer data they already have. Mauro said one of the mistakes companies make with chatbots — especially in the early days — is to go narrow and shallow. “I think the point is you want to go narrow, but relatively deep on a specific problem and do full integrations,” he said.

Companies will need to build out an enterprise-grade marketing stack with purpose-built artificial intelligence technology related to marketing — and not something companies can procure from a chatbot builder alone. “The [customer relationship management] integration, card-to-payment integration, inventory integration planning — we had to start that early,” Mauro said.

Plus, if the conversational marketing bot is going to be successful, customers have to be able to find it. Marketing practices, such as paid advertising campaigns and other optimization practices, as well as getting featured on something like a Facebook Discover — Facebook’s chatbot marketplace — and, yes, even stodgy email marketing campaigns still apply to conversational marketing.

The reward for companies that successfully digitize and automate conversational marketing? That would be more — and richer — customer data. “There are types of data you can learn in conversations with someone that you cannot get through a search, through a like or through the traditional digital monitoring means,” Mauro said.