When content marketing stormed into the digital space, it became all about the customers. Something that started off as just a mere way to explain product features and services better, became a medium to connect with consumers. The connect led to interactions and soon content marketing became all about the consumer conversations you could trigger. Simply put, content led to what we call conversational marketing today and here’s why it matters if you’re on the growth track.
What is conversation marketing?
Simply put, the marketing tactic is pretty much similar to you and me getting on a call to discuss how we can improve a social media strategy or to brainstorm on an idea.
By definition, conversational marketing is a one to one approach used by companies to strike an ‘actual conversation’ with prospects and customers. The tactic helps them shorten sales cycles, learn more about their target market and customers, and create a more human or personalized buying experience for them.
But when the buzzwords, social media, and content marketing are already about striking a conversation, what is so different about conversational marketing?
Traditional digital marketing tactics focus on running advertisements, sharing content on social platforms that drive traffic to a landing page and using similar tactics to generate leads. On the other hand, conversational marketing focuses on using highly targeted and real-time messages, with the help of chatbots to capture leads.
Basically, you as a consumer don’t end up filling endless forms on a landing page and you definitely don’t have to wait for the business to follow up with you. You engage with the business whenever you want. It’s pretty much similar to assuming I’d be waiting right on this blog post for a comment from you and replying in less than a minute of you posting it.
Because making a consumer wait, is like pushing him away.
How does conversational marketing work?
If you’re expecting to just be a little friendly and have customers converse with you on your website, that is not going to happen. You’re going to have to initiate the conversation. This is why conversational marketing actually goes beyond a single channel or platform. It involves you combining your inbound and marketing tactics to start a dialogue with the people you’re addressing.
Now, this may require you to go the extra mile and set up face to face meetings, get on individual calls, have a chat session on Telegram or maybe exchange emails for days to keep them engaged.
Basically, conversational marketing works around not using the push or broadcast tactic of sending your message to people. It works best when you answer the pressing questions of those that fall under your target audience, listen to their concerns and feedback, and then offer new solutions to them – all without expecting anything in return.
What makes conversational marketing work?
Don’t you also notice that meetings are sometimes more fruitful when you meet the person face-to-face, instead of the endless Skype calls you need to get on? The same logic actually applies to conversational marketing.
Here are the five elements that make conversational marketing work for all types of businesses:
1. It is real-time
You’re not making your consumers fill out static forms on your landing pages. You’re not sending them a message saying that you will reach out to them in 24 hours. You’re definitely not making them wait for a solution. With conversational marketing, everything is real time. Your responses are real time and no one has to wait or look for alternate sources of information, losing hope. And with technological advancements, this is possible.
For instance, you have your customer support reps monitoring the queries that come in on the live chat on your website. But when they are away, a friendly chatbot steps in to fill the role. The chatbot then becomes responsible for recording the query sent, offering solutions, scheduling a callback or suggesting resources to refer to.
So technically, you’re not replacing human interactions. You’re just making them more efficient and definitive, by ensuring this consumer that you’re always around and they don’t need to look any further for solutions – no matter what day or what time it is that they have a concern that needs to be addressed.
2. It is scalable
One of the reasons why most businesses simply have a ‘contact us’ page, is because they fear to have to allocate too many resources from their sales and marketing teams to have conversations with the leads they are generating.
Come to think of it, a typical marketer is running at least a few advertisements, creating two content pieces per week, syndicating them for maximum traffic, setting up email marketing campaigns and monitoring all the progress on a day to day basis. If you included having conversations with at least five people in their daily schedule, you’d actually see one of the tasks fall through the roof.
The same holds true for the sales teams.
That is where chatbots come handy. You get to have real-time conversations with your target audience and it is highly scalable. Think of how companies have been using Intercom for instance! There are thousands of people reaching their business website and leaving queries. They all get automatic responses from the bot, keeping them engaged with valuable information and if the need be, the bot schedules the way forward too!
3. It drives engagement
In traditional marketing, a typical marketer’s success metrics include the number of leads they are able to generate from various digital marketing campaigns. Come to think of it, you could generate a hundred leads from Facebook, but does that number really reflect in the total number of customers you eventually get out of the campaign?
Do all the leads that convert into your customers fall into your ideal user profile?
This is why engagement is a better metric for success. Real-time conversations hook a lead’s interest with valuable information and a personalized path to conversion that is based on what they are looking for. The tactic hence focuses on engaging and winning the consumer’s trust, before nudging them to convert into a customer.
So you’re using inbound tactics to drive traffic to your website and then a bot converses with this visitor while they are still interested in what your business has to offer. Pretty much similar to how Gary Vaynerchuk puts it in his book, Jab Jab Right Hook.
4. It is personalized
In a typical scenario, I come to your website and fill up a form to show my interest in your product. It is after that, that you reach out to me asking for more specifics around how much I know about the technology you use, what my pressing challenges are and what solutions I am currently making use of. So basically, even though I have provided plenty of information to you through the form, we’re starting a conversation from absolute scratch.
For a salesperson or a customer success rep, that is wasting a whole ten minutes. For a customer, that is wasting the action of filling up a form.
Now with conversational marketing, you can personalize the consumer’s experience even before the actual conversation. Recording what they are looking for and personalizing your messages thereafter, is like a quick introduction between them and the business. And then the sales rep or customer success rep can step in to take the conversation from where it was last left off!
5. It leverages feedback
This one is a biggie.
The only way for a business to scale faster is to understand what their customers think of them. Knowing how much of an impact their product or service has made in the consumer’s life, is a direct way of knowing its market stickiness and gauging how many more such customers they can pull in.
With conversational marketing, you’re not just asking a customer to rate your business offering on a scale of one to ten. You’re asking them to share what they think about you, how you can better your services or product for them, and what expectations do they have of you in the coming future.
Simply put, it is like me getting on a call with a friend and asking them for an opinion on a quote I wrote. They are straight off going to tell me if it sounds too unrealistic, too philosophical and even suggest a few changes that would make it better.
Conversational marketing has a built-in feedback loop that helps businesses get better with their offerings, and teams get better at their jobs.
Hence, when working with conversational marketing, you need to strategize to implement all of the five key features while capturing, qualifying and connecting with your consumers.
What does conversational marketing look like?
We see chatbots everywhere. We see them on business websites and we see them on social media. But how does it all work and does it even work?
Here are some examples of businesses from different industries, making the most out of conversational marketing to generate more leads and turn most of them into their loyal customers.
I am big on ordering flowers for my friends and family on different occasions. Let’s just say it is my way of showing love. Now they are not all in the same city or country, and that’s why I need to order from different websites. I love how 1-800 flowers make use of conversational marketing to guide a buyer in picking the right bouquet from their site.
If you know me, you’ll also know that I don’t just buy flowers online. Most of my wardrobe is purchased online because I absolutely hate waiting in lines at trial rooms and sometimes, I just don’t feel like moving out on my day off. Now while online shopping sure makes it convenient, it does make things a little overwhelming sometimes – for instance, just how do you know what size jeans would fit you when you’re considering a new brand? This is why I absolutely loved Spring’s conversational bot. It is almost like a personal online shopping assistant.
They have a Facebook messenger bot as well as one on the live chat – always happy to assist you!
Now if you thought conversational marketing could only be applied to eCommerce businesses, you’re wrong. We see bots and interact with them on an almost daily basis in the finance industry too. They’re constantly helping us keep track of our spends, suggesting plans that will help us save more month on month.
Even in the B2B space! In fact, the one business that you probably look up to when seeking marketing and sales related tips that actually work – HubSpot. Nudging a user to subscribe to a paid plan couldn’t get any smoother. Right?
To give you another perspective on how effective conversational marketing is, here’s an example from the healthcare industry. HealthTap aims at making healthcare more accessible. Their chatbot on the Facebook messenger, takes their services directly to the user, making it easier for them to ask for help at any given point of time.
Need I show more? I don’t think so.
Conversational marketing is clearly making use of technology and content and making them work together to strike a dialogue with consumers. After all, you couldn’t endlessly have a chatbot saying ‘hello’ to a consumer without anything to share!
If marketing is moving more and more towards being consumer-oriented, I think it is pretty to safe to say that conversational marketing is the way forward. The day you stop having a two-way conversation with your consumers, that is the day you start losing out on insights that give you a competitive edge to sustain in any market.
Does your growth strategy include content marketing? Well, it is time for you to step up the game and leverage conversational marketing now.
Oh, and here’s a parting advice..