This post is the first in a three-part series on Conversational Marketing.
You’ve likely heard the phrase conversational marketing before. Andy Peart, CMO at Artifical Solutions, defines it to Forbes as: “a term that describes a feedback-oriented approach to driving customer engagement, building brand loyalty and, of course, positively impacting the bottom line.” While that’s the macro overview, on a micro level, conversation marketing is using different channels of communication to lead customers through your sales funnel, mostly with messaging via chatbots, live chats, or social media engagement.
Holistically, conversational marketing is taking a more collaborative approach to communication with your target audience, one that they crave. To help you understand how you can implement this strategy, why you need to, and most importantly—the ROI, we’re doing a deep dive into Conversational Marketing. In our three-part blog series, we’ll cover the nuts and bolts, why this change is necessary, implementation tips for any business, what tools to use, and the dos and don’ts.
The Shift to Conversational Marketing
In traditional sales and marketing, the customer journey and sales funnel is a highly documented and discussed topic. Recently, there’s a shift in the overall discussion to include conversational strategies that offer new ways to get customers aware of your brand, into your funnel, or engaging with your business. These new strategies can be as simple as responses on social media to general inquiries or a chat feature on your website.
Think of the sales funnel as a conversation with customers rather than a journey
You can use your marketing to start that dialogue. Instead of the traditional sales calls, emails, or capture forms, you use targeted messaging to engage with site visitors (both on your website and external social networks). With conversational marketing, you meet them where and when they want.
It mirrors how we now communicate.
The ability to get instant answers matches the way our current digital society best communicates—via messaging. A recent survey by West Corporation found that 77 percent of customers prioritize speed to resolution when contacting a business, and 55 percent prefer convenience. Think about how many message platforms you use on a daily basis (Slack for work, Whatsapp, Messenger, social media DMs, texts, iMessage, etc).
What’s more, the customer journey is not linear for every business. Some consumers or clients want to research or need support, and the funnel doesn’t allow for that. Crazy Egg describes this in their guide; The Traditional Sales Funnel is Broken. “Modern consumers are incredibly smart, 81 percent complete as much research as possible before making any decisions, and they’ll find the information they need from as many sources as possible.” So why not offer those resources and solutions that modern consumers and clients crave?
Complement your Existing Marketing Efforts
Don’t worry, you don’t need to turn your marketing/sales department on its head and completely ditch your current efforts. There’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on sophisticated chatbots, or even delete your landing pages and lead forms. The beauty of conversational marketing is that you can easily integrate it into your current plan.
Where to Start
Begin by adding a chat functionality on your website as an alternative to your lead forms, geared toward site visitors who want an immediate connection. If you opt for a chat program that has a chatbot (uses AI to answer basic questions before routing to a live chat), you can use your lead forms as a guide to setting up the program. Then, take stock of your social presence and ensure quick responses to any inquiries. (Note: we’ll touch on more specifics in Part 2 of this series).
Increased Communication (Not a Bot Replacement)
A common complaint or fear with digital automation is that the customer loses the human-to-human interaction. Instead, view your foray into conversational marketing as a new channel for lead gen, not a replacement. Whether you use a chatbot to qualify leads or respond when there’s no one in the office, the end goal is still always human interaction (when needed). However, with increased conversation, you’ll touch a lot more prospects in the discovery phase.
Tom Wentworth, CMO at RapidMiner, explains to Harvard Business Review how AI-powered chatbot service Drift exists within his company’s workflow. “Drift conducts about a thousand chats per month, resolves two-thirds of customer inquiries; those that it cannot, it routes to humans.” Wentworth also explains some unexpected benefits of conversational marketing: “I’ve learned things about my visitors that no other analytics system would show. We’ve learned about new use cases and product problems.”
All Marketing Should be Conversational
Every touchpoint your business has (with a lead, customer, client, or site visitor) should be conversational. Your content, whether its web copy, email, social media, or blog posts, should start a dialogue or answer a question. With that in mind, remember that modern digital consumers and buyers want information and communication on their time and terms. Implementing messaging that allows for even more interactivity and engagement is the next customer-centric, logical step.
By now, hopefully, you’re convinced about the benefits of conversational marketing. In Part 2, we’ll get into the details of building a successful strategy, with some all-star examples for inspiration.