Conversational Marketing: A Quick Guide

Are you talking at your target customers or are you talking with them? If you're only advertising your brand and its products, then you're shouting at prospects with a bullhorn. That's a seriously outdated approach.

Today, it's all about conversational marketing. One study shows that 90 percent of consumers prefer messaging with brands over all other forms of communication.

This is because today's prospects are savvy, and they're always looking to educate themselves. What better way to do that than by speaking directly to the business in real-time?

If you're not already implementing methods to communicate with your audience one-on-one, then it's time to start.

Let's review what conversational marketing is and how you can use it to drive more sales for your business.

Person using their phone to contact customer service.

What Is Conversational Marketing?

Conversational marketing isn't just another fad to attract new customers. Marketing is all about meeting the needs of your audience to offer an experience they'll find valuable and memorable. Since today's consumers are looking to talk in real-time with businesses, it makes sense to take a conversational approach to your marketing.

This includes the use of tools like text messages, chatbots, messengers, email, social media, and other forms of live chat. For instance, you can find many brands offering chatbots on their website. This pops up for new visitors and allows them to ask questions, schedule consultations, or receive help navigating the site.

In most companies, customer support, sales, and marketing are separate departments. What live chat does is combine all three to cater to prospects and customers alike. Now, it's important to note that merely adding a chatbot to your site or offering a user group on Slack isn't enough. It's about having conversations on all the platforms your brand uses.

It's critical to be available at each stage of the buyer's journey. The more helpful you are, the higher the chance of you converting more leads into customers.

How Are Marketers Using Conversational Marketing?

Your goal as a marketing leader isn't just to drive more leads to the company but to drive better and more qualified leads to the business.

We find this to be possible using chatbots. One study finds chatbots are 4 to 5 times more likely to convert leads compared to other lead sources. This is one of the top reasons brands are moving to conversational marketing by the droves.

When's the last time you visited a website that didn't have a chatbot? It's pretty rare nowadays.

What makes chatbots work is that they cater to the folks who are most interested in your product or service. The individuals who use them are looking to learn more. They're engaging with the chatbot on their own and using it to move on to the next step in the buyer's journey.

The study also finds that those who connect with businesses using real-time communications are normally in decision-making roles. Roughly 41 percent of the conversations were with executives and CEOs made up 7 percent.

Using Conversational Marketing as Extension of Inbound Marketing

Person typing on their phone.

It's no secret that outbound marketing is lagging. In its place is inbound marketing, which allows businesses to focus on providing value that attracts hot leads to their business. Inbound marketing consists of creating content that educates your audience about their problems and how to resolve them using your solutions.

What happens after the prospect is educated and ready to make a decision? At this stage, they may want to speak with a representative online vs. on the phone. Or what if prospects have questions along the way that your content doesn't address?

In both scenarios, chatbots and messengers come to the rescue. If you're close with your sales teams, then you know response time is the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity.

The data shows that if you engage with leads within five minutes of showing interest, they're 100x more likely to speak to a representative (compared to waiting 30 minutes). The odds of converting the lead are also 21x higher. So imagine how well your salespeople will close deals if they can speak with interested prospects within seconds.

Using Conversational Marketing to Enhance Customer Support

Marketers and brands know that retaining customers is just as important as driving in new leads. Focusing on customer support, in the fashion your customers desire it, is key.

If you look on the web, you'll find the majority of customers are using mediums like social media, comment sections, and forums to reach out to brands when they have questions or concerns. People lead busy lives and hate the concept of calling a company and waiting on hold for long periods. This is what makes live chat appealing.

"The idea isn't to replace human marketers and salespeople, it's to supplement their efforts. And when it comes to responding to new leads as quickly as possible, 24/ 7, there's no denying the effectiveness of intelligent chatbots."
― David Cancel, Conversational Marketing: How the World's Fastest Growing Companies Use Chatbots to Generate Leads 24/7/365

How Conversational Marketing Caters to Customers Today

People love to communicate using instant messengers because it's convenient. It's also the best substitute for talking in person or over the phone.

Yet, you'll find many companies still using traditional methods that require customers to jump through many hoops. For example, you give a URL to your website, require users to sign up using a form, schedule a call, confirm their email for future communications, and so on.

Instead, you can skip the majority of these steps and go right to collecting data via a form and chatting with them in real time (or over the phone, if they prefer). Giving them the option to speak via telephone is vital for attracting older groups of prospects and those who like talking over typing.

At the end of the day, it's about adding a human touch to your marketing and sales strategies. This is an issue with B2B marketers who still use methods that are cold and impersonal.

If you're paying attention to what consumers want, then you know why this is an issue -- lack of personalization. People want to feel human to a brand, which is why you now find personalization included in all aspects of inbound marketing.

It's no surprise that consumers are taking it a step further with real-time interactions with brands. If you take heed to this, you can build relationships and great experiences for your customers.

How Conversational Marketing Works

The beauty of conversational marketing is that it's not (and shouldn't be) an isolated tool. You can use it in conjunction with the strategies you already have in place.

Plus, it can significantly improve the engagement you receive on the channels you're using. You can implement live chat features into your website and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You can use the tools other platforms come with, such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and SnapChat. You can engage directly with users in real-time using the comments section and DM capabilities.

How do you go about creating a seamless conversational experience everywhere you interact with prospects and customers? It takes three simple steps:

1. Engage Your Audience

Starting conversations is the best way to get users to engage with your brand. You can do this by either having a chatbot pop up asking a question, or you can post a question on social media.

The conversation shouldn't end here. You have to get them on your website to view a blog post, product page, or sign-up form, depending on the customer's needs, which brings us to the next step.

2. Understand Your Audience

You can sit back and look at all the stats you have and play the guessing game about what your audience wants, or you can talk to them and find out definitively.

With conversational marketing, you can understand what your leads want and need within minutes instead of days (like with email marketing). What's more, is that you waste fewer man-hours trying to convert leads who aren't ready. This is what makes chatbots worthy of use; they engage and pre-qualify leads in real-time.

You can set up your chatbots to predetermine their needs by asking multiple choice questions. Your chatbot can understand who's ready for a sales conversation and who isn't, saving your salespeople valuable time.

There's a lot you can learn about your audience by collecting data from your forms, chatbots, and social media interactions.  

3. Convert Prospects

Customer service representatives sitting at their desks with headsets.

Now, you don't want to ask people outright to buy a product or service. Instead, you want them to make the decision themselves. The best way to pull this off is to make recommendations based on what you understand about them. This is where the conversation ends with the chatbot or social media expert and crosses over to the sales team.

At this point, the lead is ready to move on to the decision stage. You can use intelligent routing to direct leads to a sales call with the right reps. This can be an automated system, such as online booking. Of course, there are other ways to convert leads, such as by sending them to a specific piece of content that answers their questions, case studies to prove your product/service works, etc.

Clean Data Is Vital to Conversational Marketing

Every marketing strategy you implement -- inbound, outbound, conversational, experiential -- all require reliable data to make it a success.

How do you ensure the data you're using is valid? It all goes back to the collection. When you're obtaining data from your prospects, you need to ensure that the emails, names, and other details are accurate.

With SmartForms and SmartSuite, you can check data instantaneously and over time to ensure your CRM is always up-to-date.

This way, when it comes time to convert leads, you have the information you need to market to prospects and close more deals.

Businesses with high-quality data management get 66 percent more revenue than those who don't.

Want to see how it all works? Get the demo today!

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