Your inbox is full of emails you never signed up for. Your favorite music is interrupted with ads that aren’t relevant. While perusing Facebook, you receive ads for a product you merely thought about 2.5 seconds ago. And now, a company is texting you—on your personal phone no less—about a new sale. As consumers, we are inundated with messages we didn’t ask for. It can be frustrating, and can even draw us away from the brand trying to do the exact opposite.
Luckily for today’s marketers, there’s still a way to capture our audiences’ most valuable resource—their attention.
Conversational marketing is the new way to do business. It’s a new way to connect with people. And it’s a new way to engage with prospects. Today, conversations are the new leads.
What is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is the practice of bringing conversations back into the sales and marketing process. It’s about creating two-way conversations with our prospects and audience to deliver the content and answers they need at the moment they need it.
Today’s consumer has all the power. With the tap of their finger, they can get the answers they need precisely when they need them. Today’s brands must meet consumers when they’re ready, not when the brand is ready.
Conversational marketing is about having real-time, one-on-one conversations to capture, qualify and convert leads. Conversational marketing implements a feedback loop for customer engagement. We can now listen to what consumers are saying, and respond appropriately, rather than feeding messages that may not be relevant. In our on-demand, instant gratification-seeking world, consumers expect a more personalized, real-time interaction with brands. These conversations are today’s fastest way to move consumers through to conversions.
How to Implement a Conversational Growth Strategy
Having one-on-one conversations with your target audience may seem like a daunting or even impossible task.
To streamline the process, it is crucial to identify:
- What kinds of conversations you’re hoping to achieve with your audience before taking action. Are you looking to provide answers to FAQs, assist with transactions, or offer discounts? Evaluating your audience across platforms will help narrow down what kind of conversational marketing efforts should be implemented.
- The right medium of communication. This is also key to facilitating productive conversations with consumers. Are your customers likely to respond to an email? Instagram poll? It is essential to think about how to best deliver support and information in a manner that will resonate with your audience. After all, there is no benefit to conversational marketing if no one is engaging with it.
Where to Implement Conversational Marketing
When we think about conversational marketing, we often think social media. While social is definitely a tool to implement a conversational growth strategy for your brand, there are other channels we can utilize as well. You can implement a conversation with most of today’s digital channels, with the ultimate goal of reducing the friction between the consumer wanting answers, and the brand supplying solutions.
Here some additional digital channels to consider:
Email is not dead. However, the way marketers have historically used it is. Conversation-driven email marketing is about segmenting your database based on similar psychographics or demographics, and solving pain points for them. Companies like Uber use email marketing campaigns to encourage customers to ride with Uber by offering promotions and discounts in a straight-forward format. By sending these emails according to a rider’s usual pattern, Uber makes sure their brand is at top of mind when a consumer is planning to order a ride.
“Live” Customer Support:
Customer support is an inherent part of conversational marketing strategies. Show you value your customers through things like Twitter support accounts, in-app chats, live help functionality and chat bots. Websites that offer onboarding for new customers help close the gap with step-by-step instruction for purchase and use of the site. Take this example from Betterment, an online investment tool.
Customer Loyalty Programs:
Further the engagement and conversation with your brand by introducing loyalty programs that reward consumers for repeat purchase and engagement. Brands like DSW do a great job rewarding their customers with dollar-per-points systems that allow customers to earn higher discounts and certificates the more they shop.
This channel is all about two-way conversations. You create more conversations by sourcing our audience for their opinions via polls and surveys, engaging them in contests, or even just monitoring the community and engaging with comments and fans. Domino’s does an excellent job monitoring social media to ensure customers have pizza assurance. The company even implements ways on social media for customers to let them know if something was not right with their order, for example through their pizza chat bot.
Implementing a conversational growth strategy isn’t just about meeting consumer demand and preference. It is also a powerful tool for brands to gain new, valuable insight about their target audience. We can gain insight into what our audience is asking, what their biggest barriers are, and what they are trying to solve with our product or service. We can gather this data at scale to enable relationship building at scale.
What’s Next for Conversational Marketing
A conversational marketing plan for a company looking to chat with everyone who visits their site will look very different than that of a company targeting only high quality leads. If you’re having difficulty picturing how your brand is going to successfully facilitate both the type and quantity of conversations desired, here are some great conversational marketing examples to get you started.
Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular conversational marketing platforms today. Whether you use it to personally live chat with people or simply house a chatbot on the page, Facebook Messenger is a great way to reach your audience in an organic way. Since consumers are already spending time on Facebook, using Messenger to spark conversation is convenient, natural, and effective. Provide answers to questions, general information, and promotional deals to consumers over Facebook Messenger and your audience is likely to see it – and respond.
Another way to engage consumers in conversation is through text message and similar platforms like Whatsapp and Kik. Domino’s launched a highly successful campaign by offering pizza any time, any where, in response to a simple pizza emoji text message. Sephora used Kik to facilitate social-like quizzes to their target market, delivering personalized tips and product suggestions based on consumers’ preferences. Additionally, the data collected from these targeted campaigns (like most popular pizza combo or eyeshadow color) provided information for Domino’s and Sephora alike to better tailor their future marketing efforts.
Today’s brands are tasked with the challenge to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person, on the right channel with the right context. Luckily, conversational marketing is helping marketers get there.