5 Minutes With Marie Sagarzazu, Head of UK, iAdvize

Customers spend a lot of time on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, being able to connect them via real-time messaging is the best way to interact and increase key conversion metrics. We spoke to iAdvize's Marie Sagarzazu about why conversational marketing is the way forward.

Tell us a bit about the iAdvize story

It all started in 2010 with Julien Hervouët and Jonathan Gueron.

They used to work together at Zlio, a startup that provided Internet users with the possibility to create and open an online store in only five minutes. While Zlio’s turnover was dropping, they were looking for a solution to convert more online visitors into customers. Their answer? Adding a human touch to the Customer Journey in Online-Shops.

They decided to combine their skills and built a tool that allows brands to assist their customers with their online purchases.

In 2016, iAdvize concludes that websites are missing out on more than 70% of contact opportunities, which represents 5 to 10% of their turnover as 60% of online purchases take place when the customer service teams are ‘offline’ during evenings and weekends.

In addition to the technology we have created ibbü, an on-demand pool of experts who are selected based on their experience and skills and paid to advise customers in real-time. This community solves the missed opportunity problem and helps our customers to achieve the best results possible.

In 2017, we raised €32 million euros of Series C funding to grow the ibbü service, reinforce our European leader status and expand our international footprint to the United States.

Today, there are 230 employees and we all have the same mission: to make customer experience authentic.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What were your career highlights before iAdvize?

I always worked in a BTB startup environment. Facebook was launched when I was in Business School and I have always  been intrigued by the impact of social media, influencers and digital conversations on purchase decisions. Looking back, the 4 companies I’ve worked for were linked to this idea. I worked on the launch of the first Volkswagen blog in Canada (huge step at the time!), joined Teads that initially relied on an influencer network to display advertising and I was the Head of Development of one the most successful influencer agencies in Canada : Made In.

To me iAdvize brings peer-to-peer customer experience to a next level and enables retailers to become the go-to-destination by giving consumers the opportunity to have a valuable and enriched conversation.

What is Conversational Marketing?

We describe Conversational Marketing as the “The smartest and most efficient way to engage your customers”

Conversational Marketing enables brands to evangelise in order to stand out from the crowd by providing a unique customer experience. Hyper connected consumers are now consulting blogs, forums and seeking advice from friends and infuencers during the consideration stage in the buyer journey. Therefore emotion, authenticity and peer to peer conversations are becoming increasingly important for online visitors.

By utilising Independent Experts to provide authentic advice brands now have a unique opportunity to own the conversation, in effect increasing CLTV by connecting online visitors to independent experts 24/7.

iAdvize has a network of experts across the world to answer product specific questions from consumers. Users nowadays are a lot more savvy and informed. They want to have conversations of a deeper nature. They aren’t asking how big the hammer is. They are asking if it’s suitable to use to put up new photo-frames in their flat. The type of questions they might think they need to visit a Hardware store to find out.

This requires more from retailers. Customers want comparisons, product specific advice that relates directly to them (are these straighteners suitable for curly hair?), advice about complementary items (what’s the best bag to carry this yoga mat), peer to peer advice. Everything they expect to get in-store from a beauty counter assistant. This isn’t covered in your usual FAQ.       

Are there any examples of retailers who have implemented it very successfully?                                          

Depending on your business objectives, Conversational Marketing can be used to achieve a number of KPIs from Customer Lifetime Value, Satisfaction Rate, Brand Authenticity.

We are working with 1,500 brands in 60 countries today: TUI, Decathlon, Matches Fashion,  Interflora, L’Oréal, The Kooples, Vodafone.

The Human touch that iAdvize brings generates significant value for all these businesses.

TUI generates around half a millions euros using our platform every month.

On average the satisfaction rate after a conversation with a brand experts is 5 points better than a conversation with a customer service agent.

We are also working with one of the top 3 Online-Shops in Europe. 250 Million Euros are generated for this customer each year. This eCommerce site sees an increase of 5 pts in Satisfaction when visitors are assisted by an independent expert in comparison to professional agent.

What are the main challenges and benefits of Conversational Marketing?

Well as the modern day consumer is better equipped and more demanding, it is essential to engage, convert and retain them and given six out of ten most used apps are messaging apps, it is essential brands are reaching their customers on their true channel of choice.

Once a brand has connected to an online visitor or customer it is then important to provide them with the most authentic advice possible, through the use of savvy, independent experts, 24/7.

In an age when it’s hard to beat Amazon on price, the key to differentiation is providing a special customer experience, replicating everything people love about shopping in store, online. Retailers are facing constant competition from big players like Amazon and Asos and struggling to remain relevant amidst difficult trading conditions. They know that to differentiate they need to offer a superior quality of service and be the true destination of choice. Personalisation has been seen as holding the key by many but nothing beats speaking to a human.

What’s the benefit for retailers?

Through sophisticated business rules allocation, you can identify your most valuable customers, those most likely to buy and displaying buying signals – so you can ensure you don’t lose the sale. Providing authentic conversations improves brand identity. Meaningful, conversational approaches are crucial to developing relationships with customers and increasing CLTV.

Tell us about the research you recently conducted

In this research we address the ‘here and now’ as well as looking at retail trends and predictions for the coming years – including why customer centricity should be at the heart of any business.We look closely at the concept of Conversational Marketing – how to deliver it and where it is already starting to generate results for some of the top retailers.

The report, titled “The Human Touch: Unlocking the power of conversational marketing”, goes on to explain how to find the best blend of process, algorithm and human to suit individual customer enquiries. We look at how closely conversational marketing ties in with customer acquisition, engagement and retention.

The report revealed that just over one fifth (22%) of retailers believe that their customer service levels are distinctive and valued, with 40% of online retailers missing out on sales by not targeting customers’ buying intent. Information and advice is in fact the main driver of customer service, highlighting the misplaced assumption that the customer’s online purchasing journey is finished once you get them to your website.

Can retailers really offer the same experience online as they do in store?

The online experience still cannot compare with the physical store experience as it remains somehow impersonal – 2% Conversion online VS 40% In-store. Retailers spend massive marketing budget to acquire traffic as the acquisition is increasing while the average CTR now rarely exceeds 0.05%. What happens when visitors are finally arriving on a website? Well, nothing. This is a real paradox.

However retailers can now look to offer something different online: the opportunity to provide a unique customer experience as a true differentiator. Authenticity and peer to peer conversations are becoming increasingly important for online visitors as James McQuivey, VP. Principal Analyst, Forrester highlights, “Consumers decide what to pay attention to based on emotions and conversation” Therefore retailers need to ensure they are focusing on personalised, authentic conversations provided by passionate experts. The emotion behind these types of conversations is what makes a consumer feel something for a brand and keeps them coming back!

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