Why Conversational Transactions Are A Huge Opportunity To Grow And Leverage Your Audience.

How do most people communicate today? All text. All chat. All day. There isn’t even generational nuance the way it used to be a few years back. The ubiquity of emoji brought emotion, physicality and three-dimensionality to chat which at one point was considered a somewhat veiled and ambiguous mode of communication.

Once text and chat became where most people were, it was only a matter of time before monetization became a focal point.

I recently read about this idea of conversational transactions. I immediately thought: so simple and obvious. But as the Reed Hastings, Reid Hoffmans, Sam Altmans, and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world always tell us, simple and obvious is incredibly hard to execute.

Patagonia did (and probably still does) a version of this years ago. I was browsing their site to replace an old jacket. I wanted the same exact jacket but couldn’t find it or one similar. Magically — well not magically but thanks to some insights and algorithms — a customer rep pinged me on the site. It was subtle, unobtrusive and seemingly descended like a star from the sky (to reference a line from Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix special). In a matter of minutes I was able to get the exact jacket I wanted, at the same price I paid years ago, all through chat. This was almost five years ago now but the concept of it is still mind-blowing. Kind of like how fax machines are able to do what they do.

I’ve been playing around on FB messenger lately and have noticed more and more brands building presences on the platform. If you opt in, they will push content and products directly to you. At that point you are free to engage (or not) with them in a chat like manner. Most response times are instantaneous. Whether that’s bot-driven or not is beside the point.

You are engaging with the brand in a sticky and intentional manner. They are top of mind. They won, whether or not you click buy. That’s the point.

Artists, startups and companies that are building a long game strategy can leverage this utility and be successful. Technology is creating low hanging fruit opportunities to engage meaningfully and directly with your audience. But you’ve got to be on your game. You have to give value.

Even the perception of a real, authentic one-on-one engagement with a fan can pay long term dividends. The interaction is evergreen because you’ve been invited to exchange direct dialogue with a potential sale. The opt in factor is key. You have permission to engage.

What you do with that permission is key. The context for the relationship isn’t necessarily transactional at first but if you give value on top of value on top of value, you might be at a place where you can make your ask. And getting to places, safe places, noiseless places, where you can make your ask are increasingly rare and precious.