Top 5 Channel Marketing Trends: Conversational User Interfaces

BrandMuscle | September 9, 2019

Earlier this year, we hosted Jay McBain from Forrester and Jason Tabeling, Executive Vice President of Product Management at BrandMuscle. They discussed 5 emerging trends impacting channel marketing and how channel marketers can prepare for these changes. This is the second in a 5-part series, which covers conversational user interfaces.

1 How closed-loop analytics will unlock business knowledge, and the ways technology and learning will accelerate measurement across the channel.

2 The ways conversational user interfaces (i.e. chatbots) will be applied across the channel and the benefit to partners and brands.

3 The impact increased marketing knowledge can have on channel partner revenue growth.

4 The ways digital is evolving traditional marketing channels and creating new opportunities for targeting, personalization, and optimization.

5 How historical data and trends will empower intelligent marketing fund allocation and improve channel partner participation.

Defining Conversational User Interfaces

Jason: So let’s move let’s move to trend number two – Conversational User Interfaces. At a base minimum when we talk about conversational interfaces we’re talking about Facebook Messenger, chat, smart speakers: the types of things where people are not necessarily typing or interacting with software but leveraging text or voice and so these things are expanding quickly.

About 3,000 chat bots are built per week with Microsoft. Millennials prefer and 60% prefer text or chat is their most common way to engage with businesses, so people are changing the way that they interact with software and how they interact with businesses; their preferences are evolving as well.

Predictions for Ambient Tech

Jason: I spend some of my spare time as part of the World Future Society and basically people are making the bet now that what replaces smartphones is exactly this tech. This ambient computing whether it’s chat hostile or voice style, this is the Star Trek vision of the future where we’re going to move away from bricks in our pockets and in our hands to more of an ambience style where conversations really drive education, it drives collaboration and most of all it drives commerce.

So that’s on the consumer side, I think the same trend is true, Jay, whether be consumers or these channel partners so we know that these people are spending a majority of their day still on administrative tasks versus being out in front of customers engaging, selling, quoting customer service, whatever. So they’re looking for ways to simplify their day and get back to truly engaging the customers and driving revenue. We think this trend can help impact that significantly.

Working on the Business Versus in the Business

Jay: Yeah and I know this is a huge frustration. I used to work for a company that actually was the administrative software for many of these partners and we could see the level of frustration with just running the business and working in the business and instead of on the business and stuff so this is something that for decades now that we’ve been trying to new to move past and I’m really excited with some of the technology and wrapped around automation and Artificial Intelligence and other things that can really get our partners back to doing what they do best is working with customers and selling and really providing value.

And it is and we’re watching this really closely at Forrester. We look at the different capabilities, we look at these different platforms as you mentioned earlier we’re trying to see the level of adoption. We also break it up by industry, so we’re really interested in the 27 industries. We’re interested again in B2C consumer versus B2B, where partners play in the middle, and which industries are really leaning in. You can see here some retail, e-commerce, hotels up high in terms of the B2C play but as we’re moving into more use cases and looking at this problem differently we can see a lot of work being done now. I’m basically changing everything and 75% of world trade goes in directly so even in some of these industries have to expand and include the partners and the agencies and the retailers and everyone in the middle to make this a better experience for the customer.

Jason: Absolutely. So for this one just to summarize we’re seeing a lot of digital voice conversations exploding from both the consumer and a business standpoint. We want to help get channel partners focus on doing some of the right tasks and it’s still early there’s a lot of first-mover advantage opportunity in conversational interfaces and we’ll talk more about that later in the webinar as we discuss but there’s a lot of opportunity to get in early on this space.

Want to Hear the Whole Conversation?

Check out our June 2019 on-demand webinar with Jay McBain from Forrester.

About the Presenters

Jay McBain, Principal Analyst, Forrester

Jay leads Forrester’s research and advisory for global channels, alliances, and partnerships. He focuses on B2B marketing in the age of the customer; understanding and navigating the complexity of multiple routes to market; ensuring contextual and relevant content to accelerate the indirect sales process and describing the technology infrastructure to build and support channel relationships.

Jay provides research, advisory, and consulting to companies ranging from Fortune 100 vendors to startups on the entire scope of their channel and alliance strategies. He is a contributing author and has been cited in numerous channel media publications, including Channel Reseller News (CRN), ChannelPro, ChannelE2E, The VAR Guy, MSPMentor, Channelnomics, Computer Dealer News (CDN), Australia Reseller News (ARN), eChannelNews, Business Solutions Magazine, ChannelLine, ChannelInsider, SearchITChannel, Redmond Channel Magazine, Vertical Systems Reseller, Channel Buzz, and SMB Nation. He also maintains a popular blog on channel trends.

Jason Tabeling, EVP Product Marketing, BrandMuscle

As EVP of Product Management, Jason Tabeling creates a unified strategic roadmap for the organization across its full suite of products. Jason joined BrandMuscle as Senior Vice President of Digital in 2016. Shortly after, he led strategic efforts to combine the digital, traditional, social media and event marketing teams at BrandMuscle into a single department and center of excellence for BrandMuscle’s clients. Today that team totals 95 and counting. Under his leadership, client demand and satisfaction has grown and employees have thrived.

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