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The Ins and Outs of Conversational Marketing

Traditional buying experiences are no longer enough to drive sales and generate new leads. According to research, 87% of companies acknowledge that modern customers are becoming harder to convert through a traditional buying experience.

Therefore, you must learn and adopt new techniques, such as conversational marketing. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, worry not. According to Gartner, many marketers are still getting to grips with conversational marketing, with managers joining the wave. This piece will help break down and digest the most significant parts of this chat-driven marketing technique.

Here’s all you need to know about conversational marketing.

What is Conversational Marketing?

Conversational marketing is a method of engaging visitors on your website and converting leads using activities driven by dialogue. It’s a style of inbound marketing focused on customer interactions instead of a simple one-way transmission of marketing content and material by the brand. 
 
The goal of conversational marketing is to create relationships with the customer by building trust through conversations. Your aim should also be to make the buying experience as easy and smooth as possible. 
 
Conversational marketing doesn’t replace the conventional forms of marketing your team may be accustomed to, such as PPC. Instead, it’s a new tool that presents a new way of thinking about marketing and your objectives in a marketing campaign.
 
Conversational marketing connects your marketing activities directly with the sales team, ideally through the same platform. Therefore, the customer has a smoother journey down the funnel, making it easier and faster to convert them.
 
Most of the tools used to offer conversational marketing integrate messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, phone calls, SMS, and other social media apps to facilitate quick and easy link-up between the customer and the sales team.
 

Live chats and chatbots are an integral part of conversational marketing. Most live chats and chatbots initiate informal dialogue with the customer that mimics a casual, relaxing conversation.

The Difference Between Conversational Marketing and Inbound Marketing

Conversational marketing and inbound marketing share a few similarities and differences. 
 
Inherently, conversational marketing is considered part of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing strategies attract customers through the channels they prefer. Conversational marketing involves conversing with customers through these preferred channels.
 
Conversational marketing gives customers the power to dictate where, when, and how these conversations happen. Therefore, inbound marketing and conversational marketing are by nature customer-centric and thus go hand-in-hand. 
 

The Four Key Elements of Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing has four key components that distinguish it from a simple multichannel marketing strategy where you have conversations with your client. These are:

Conversations Happen in Customer-Time

The relationship between the brand and the consumer in conversational marketing is asynchronous. Therefore, conversations only occur when the customer prefers. This may be in real-time, late in the night when they have a spare moment, or after finishing their meeting.

Handling conversations in real-time is important for businesses if they want to clear the sales funnel with a customer faster. However, with conversational marketing, you have to take them at their pace. That means a conversation that started at 9 am might conclude at 9 pm that evening.

Conversational marketing allows customers to pick up the conversation with a brand or business wherever they left it and when it’s convenient for them. Therefore, the customer’s needs are put before the needs of the business.

Conversations are Scalable

With conversations happening on the customer’s timeline, they need to be scalable. That means they should not feel a difference in response time from your business even if you’re handling 50, 500, or 50,000 other customers. 

Therefore, in human-to-human interaction, conversational marketing puts a heavy demand on human resources.

That’s where chatbots come in. Chatbots make it seamless and scalable to have 24/7 active support on your website or business by providing quick answers to common questions. These answers are based on existing data.

However, businesses should not entirely remove the human factor from conversational marketing. Chatbots should only offer quick access to information with a human in line for more complicated questions and feedback that need human-to-human interaction.

Conversations Have Context

Conversations thrive on context. Therefore, your conversational marketing tools should get smarter the more you collect information and stay relevant to the topic. Establishing context in conversations serves two key purposes.

First, it satisfies the customer’s expectations. For instance, a customer would expect that since they called a company the previous day to complain about a defect in a product they had ordered, when the company starts a chat with them about the return instructions, the person on the other end of the conversation should be aware of the product or order in question.

Secondly, having context makes messaging convenient. Context eliminates the need for support reps or chatbots to ask the same qualifying questions every time you interact with them. Such questions test the customer’s patience and waste their time. 

For instance, customers get easily frustrated when they have to repeat their account number every time they call customer support or have been transferred in the conversation to a different department.

To maintain context, most businesses integrate CRM with their conversational marketing tools. Therefore, it is quicker and easier to retrieve customer information and be more helpful compared to sourcing all these data within the conversation.

Conversations Meet the Customer Where They’re Located

As a part of inbound marketing, conversational marketing also involves meeting your audience and providing them with value right where they are. This is possible thanks to the wide adoption of new tools and technologies for messaging.

To meet your customer where they are, conversational marketing should occur in the customer’s preferred channel. This might be over the phone, via Facebook Messenger, a bot, or a human. 

For instance, some people might want to avoid the cost and inconvenience of calling a phone number while they can simply send a chat message online and receive a link to an elaborate help article from a bot. 

The goal of your business should be to always deliver the right message to the right person at the right time on the right channel with the right information all the time. 

How a Conversational Marketing Solution Looks Like

It’s rather easy implementing a conversational marketing solution in your marketing workflow. Since it’s a complementary solution to your current marketing efforts, you can use the Conversational Framework to set up a conversational marketing channel quickly.

A typical solution will consist of three steps. These are:

  • Engage
  • Understand
  • Recommend

These steps don’t define a new marketing and sales funnel. Rather, they describe how to have conversations, build relationships, and move customers through existing funnels using a conversational marketing solution.

Here’s a breakdown of each step.

Engage

The engage step involves relying more on chats than forms to interact with leads and grab their attention. It starts by giving the customer an instant way of starting conversations with your business on the website instead of filling out forms. 

For most businesses, better engagement leads to higher lead generation, better conversion rates, and a more personalised shopping experience for the customer. 

Ideally, you want to jumpstart the conversation when the customer clicks on a CTA, such as a “download” or “book a demo” button, and carry the conversation from there. This initial engagement introduces them to the funnel, where you can move them down to conversion or sales.

Advanced tools allow you to send automated targeted messages to customers who seem most likely to buy based on their usage patterns on the website. Such proactive messages may assist users browsing your pricing page or repeat visitors. 

Understand

This step involves understanding what the lead wants and fulfilling their desires as quickly as possible. In a typical process, understanding a lead’s needs and qualifying them can take days. With conversational marketing, you can do this within minutes. 

Such a quick response is necessary to get the best chance of qualifying a lead. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies only have about five minutes to qualify a lead or lose business. Any delay can cost you up to 400% lost odds to capture the lead.

Bots do the fastest job at understanding and qualifying a lead. Advanced chatbot platforms can quickly understand who the site visitors are and understand their needs in real time.

Typically, these bots will rely on questions similar to the ones you ask during qualifying calls or on forms. The bot will build a conversation with the lead to understand their needs better and recommend the best course of action. 

Therefore, you’ll have much-improved customer response times and deliver the best leads to your sales rep to continue taking them through the other stages in the marketing and sales funnel.

Advanced bots can also disqualify users who’re not yet ready for a sales conversation. Therefore, your sales team saves precious time working only with highly prospective leads. 

Recommend

Bots might be resourceful for understanding and qualifying your leads. However, if you want to close the sale, human-to-human interaction will be the deal breaker. Bots can route your qualified leads to your sales team, who’ll proceed to recommend solutions to the customer and close a deal.

With intelligent routing, your qualified lead will be routed to the qualified rep to handle their case. If you have multiple sales reps within the same territory, they’ll be assigned leads on a rotational basis. The bots will schedule a meeting for your customers with a sales rep directly from the chat, so you can pick up the conversation from where they’d left it.

However, bots can still be useful at this stage, providing additional resources to answer the customer’s questions and suggesting personalised solutions. 

This continued nurturing of the customer or lead through the chat is one of the key differences between conversational marketing and traditional inbound marketing. It also allows the bots to qualify the lead further if they’re yet fully convinced about your products or services.

The Benefits of Conversational Marketing

Why would you spend time and resources improving how your business and the customer converse? Here are a few benefits of conversational marketing.

It Offers a More Delightful Way for Customers to Get Answers

Mobile is one of the largest channels for customers to shop and make purchases. Therefore, there’s an increasing demand for mobile-friendly content that would reach customers easily. Over time, consumers who primarily use mobile devices have leaned toward social content, video content, and messaging-based interactions.

Research shows that, on average, customers spend five hours on their phones daily. Most conversational marketing channels, such as email and messaging apps, are innately mobile-friendly. 

Therefore, it is much easier for the customer to chat with a bot or sales rep and get an answer to their question instead of searching through the company’s website.

You Gain New, Valuable Insights About Your Customer

An advertisement or website doesn’t give you the luxury of hearing directly from the customer what they want to learn, do, or change in their interactions with your business. These are one of the unique perks of using conversational marketing.

The feedback you get from these channels is honest and authentic. Moreover, you don’t have to do any inferring or guesswork like you would with web traffic. 

Conversational marketing also allows you to gather data and insights at scale. Chat interfaces and messaging channels allow you to record data that can be used to improve products and customer interactions and provide more useful content in the future. 

It Creates a More Human Buying Experience

Despite the shopping experience turning digital, customers are still craving real-time interactions for a more human buying experience. With conversational marketing, you can create this atmosphere and make your website feel like a lively store.

You can start a conversation with a buyer when it’s most convenient for them and offer a positive shopping experience that’ll build trust with your buyers and make them regular customers.

You Convert More Leads and Get Better Leads

Having conversations with customers can help them fill out a lead form or understand why they should spend their money on a service or product. It improves their understanding of your business, its offerings, and how it fulfills their needs and wants. 

Chatbots also help your sales team pinpoint potential leads with high intent of purchasing and direct your sales team’s efforts and time to converting them into paying customers. 

Buyers Move Through the Sales Funnel Faster

Since conversational marketing connects your marketing activities with your sales team, the customer moves faster and more effectively through your sales and marketing funnel. 

Bots move leads through the funnel faster and easier by directly sending qualified leads on live chat to sales reps or booking meetings with them in real-time.

Get the Help of a Professional to Set Up a Great Conversational Marketing Solution

Conversational marketing is a complementary solution that will significantly increase sales for your business. Like any other human conversation, you’ll have to ensure that the chats are natural, time controlled by the client, and always within context.

But how can you keep things flowing nicely, especially when working with bots? Get the help of a professional who’ll provide the best script and conversation flow for your chatbots and sales reps to use to keep your customers engaged and satisfied with their chat with your business. 

Over to You…

Do you agree with The Ins and Outs of Conversational Marketing? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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