Conversational Marketing 101: Why You Need It (and How to Get Started)
Today's customers want to be in the driver's seat. They want to buy (not be sold to), and they want to go through the buyer's journey on their own terms. This new sales dynamic makes conversational marketing an effective and essential strategy for success.
Conversational marketing enables brands to create authentic experiences for people, fostering trust and encouraging prospects to move through marketing and sales funnels.
Hubspot reports that 77% of customers would recommend a brand to their friends after just one positive experience. This approach to marketing in a more relatable way is the gateway to stronger customer relationships, shorter sales cycles, and greater brand credibility.
This article will explore conversational marketing, explore why it's so effective, and show you how to implement it to grow your business.
Conversational marketing is a type of inbound marketing that focuses on creating two-way conversations with your prospects. Also known as conversational advertising, this open, two-way communication form is better aligned with how people want to interact with brands today.
Marketing in a conversational manner is all about creating dialogues between you and your prospects. By doing this, you can build deeper relationships and nurture trust, which helps increase conversions.
Instead of feeling like you are interrupting your customers, you will facilitate smooth, seamless interactions with your brand. This strategy makes the process of learning about your product and buying from you easier and more enjoyable.
By initiating more conversations, you can learn about what your visitors truly want and how to give it to them. Ultimately, this customer-centric approach enables you to guide people (instead of forcing them) along your sales funnel.
Now that you know the definition of conversational marketing let's see how it works in practice. Conversational marketing typically involves one or more solutions that allow you to engage your website visitors. These solutions comprise several elements:
- Conversation Generator - Often in the form of a chatbot or live chat feature located in your website's bottom-right corner. This tool allows visitors to engage your brand right away, and it leverages personalized messaging according to the current page the user is viewing.
- Lead Capture - Once your visitor gets the conversation started, a tool such as a chatbot asks several questions to diagnose what the user needs — customer support, an informative article, or sales help. By providing this tailored service, it increases the chance that you can capture the lead.
- Live Messaging - If appropriate, you can put qualified leads in touch with members of your sales team. Ideally, your tool will provide sales agents with the answers to the user's questions, enabling them to add value during the conversation and guide the user more effectively.
We have entered a new reality where consumers have the power to control when, how, and where they interact with brands. A study by Forrester showed that 87% of businesses agree that traditional buying experiences are no longer sufficient to meet their customers’ needs.
Conversational marketing is a crucial part of this shift in focus towards meeting consumer expectations. This form of marketing allows people to receive information faster, communicate with brands in their preferred way, and ultimately experience a more personalized process when making purchases.
Put yourself in your customer's shoes—you weigh up two competitors, with very different buying experiences:
- Option A (the traditional method) looks something like this: You visit a landing page, fill out a generic form, wait for a follow-up email three days later. After that, you can schedule a call through the email link before finally speaking with a real person about your needs.
- Option B (the new conversational style) looks like this: You visit a landing page and find the options to proceed directly with a purchase or have questions answered by an intelligent chatbot. The chatbot can direct you to the appropriate page or a live agent so that you can get quick answers to your questions.
When you look at these two options, it becomes clear why consumers choose to do business with brands that embrace dialogue-based marketing.
There are many benefits of embracing conversational-based marketing. And because your business does not exist in a vacuum, keep in mind that your competitors will take advantage of the following benefits if you do not:
Personalized buying experiences have been shown to boost business success. HubSpot found that you can increase your conversion rates by 8% just by personalizing your consumer experience.
By personalizing the buying experience with real-time conversations (even if they are automated), you can improve your customer’s perception of your company.
People would rather make a purchase when they feel that the company listens to them and understands their needs. You can present your brand as one that cares by taking the time to craft your messaging based on each customer's needs.
There is only so much you can know about your buyer when doing one-way marketing. With this approach, you need to make calculated guesses using your industry knowledge, analytics, and keyword research.
However, to truly tap into the mind of your buyer and what their needs are, you need a conversational approach. Conversational marketing allows you to hear what your customers need in their own words.
Furthermore, you can serve their needs in real-time. This strategy allows you to direct them to the proper person, webpage, or product based on their feedback.
Traditional marketing tries to funnel everyone into the same content in the same way, with a one-size-fits-all approach. It doesn't have the right tools to qualify leads and convert them efficiently.
On the other hand, using conversations to drive your marketing funnel allows you to qualify visitors easily. You can find out if they are potential buyers, partners, or just people looking for basic information.
This strategy allows you to convert leads at a higher rate. Instead of wasting time and money on low-interest visitors, you can focus your team’s efforts on visitors who are most likely to buy.
The longer your sales cycle, the less revenue your company will generate over time. This dynamic puts you at a disadvantage to competitors who have shorter sales cycles.
Thanks to chatbot technology, sales cycles don’t need to be as long as they used to be. A customer doesn't need to jump through multiple hoops, like submitting a form, waiting for an email, then scheduling a follow-up call, before they can finally speak with someone.
The probability of upselling to a new customer is as low as 5%, whereas the probability of upselling to existing customers is as high as 70%. This difference comes down to a simple truth:
Customers would prefer to buy from companies they already trust — companies who understand their wants and needs.
When you use conversational marketing, you can collect valuable information over to your sales staff with their expert understanding of your products and services. They can then recommend more relevant upsells to prospects.
Using conversational marketing means you are catering to your customers’ needs to offer them a better experience. They can talk with you, buy from you, and follow up when it is convenient for them using the platforms they prefer.
And there are considerable downsides to not offering personalization. In a survey by SmarterHQ, 72% of customers said they only interact with marketing messages customized to them.
Now that you have a good understanding of what conversation marketing is and how it can benefit your business, it's time to learn how to use it. Here's how you can implement this strategy step by step:
You need to understand what stage of the journey your buyer is at when they engage your business. This insight allows you to offer relevant content and guide leads through your sales funnel based on what they are most likely to respond to at that stage.
Be sure to create content for these three stages:
- The awareness stage is when the prospect may only be aware that they have a need, but not necessarily the severity of the need or how to solve it. You could create a blog post that targets the prospect's pain points by discussing the benefits of a potential solution (e.g., # Benefits of Live Chatbots).
- The consideration stage is when the prospect compares the various types of products that would best serve their needs. You could provide an in-depth comparison of available solutions (e.g., The Best # Live Chatbot Solutions).
- The decision stage is when the prospect has decided the type of product or service to use, but they haven't selected the vendor to purchase from yet. For example, display an infographic showing the advantages of your company versus the competitors. (e.g., JivoChat vs. Drift)
To execute conversation-based marketing, you need to have the right tools in the right places, such as live chat and chatbots. You also need to understand how different tools can be used for integrating conversations from various platforms.
Like email, you can use chat program triggers to send messages to prospects based on specific information or behaviors. Your engagement strategy can include triggers for a myriad of different actions, such as:
- Pages Visited
- Pages Viewed
- Session Duration
- Device type
- Past behaviors
- Products Purchased
- Keywords Typed
Image: Configuring proactive triggers in JivoChat.
By defining a clear strategy for engagement with automated triggers, you can create a brand that is more responsive and relevant with its communications. Through automation, your brand will be more personable and helpful, which is sure to increase conversions.
An important aspect of conversational advertising is deciding the dialogue that you will have with people. If you are too wordy, you may turn people away. If you are too brief, on the other hand, you might not get your message across.
Start by defining how you will open the conversation, and then map out scripts of qualifying questions and secondary questions based on potential customer responses. The more detailed and segmented your flow is, the more effective it will be in guiding prospects through your funnel.
You shouldn’t view your on-site marketing as a stand-alone asset. Instead, you can maximize its efficacy by integrating it with your email marketing and social media marketing.
For instance, social media can drive traffic to your marketing site. And based on the information you collect from visitors, you can send automated email sequences at the right times to encourage purchases.
The final step in your marketing plan should include a thorough evaluation of key metrics. This data analysis allows you to identify weak points that need to be improved.
Some metrics to track include:
- In-messages: conversations started by the visitor.
- Missed messages: conversations that a chatbot cannot process.
- Goal completion rates: successful engagements - providing product information - through the chatbot.
Consider your goal, and monitor the metrics that best relate to those targets. For instance, if you want to use conversational marketing to increase brand awareness, you can gauge performance by tracking likes and shares. Alternatively, if you want to increase engagement, you could track bounce rate and on-page session times.
Conversational marketing can be applied in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look at real examples of companies using it today:
Casper is a mattress company that disrupted its industry by offering direct-to-consumer shipping and cutting out the sleazy salesman from the equation. But that's not the only thing they do to make a better customer experience.
According to Lindsay Kaplan, VP of Comms at Casper, "The broad goal of the Casper site is to "own the conversation around sleep."
Casper has created an "insomnobot" that people can text message with if they’re having trouble sleeping. While this isn’t directly related to mattresses, it is related to the broad concept of improving sleep. This tool helps Casper generate leads at the top of the funnel (awareness stage) and gradually educate them on the importance of a great mattress.
Source: Business Insider
1-800-Flowers puts its USP (Unique Selling Proposition) right in its company name—you call the number and order flowers for delivery. Why would a company whose entire reputation is based on calling a phone number decide to use a Facebook chatbot to talk with customers?
As it turns out, 70% of their orders now come through the chatbot. Customers can go through the entire sales cycle, entering their address and payment information in one easy-to-use fashion—convenience trumps tradition.
Sephora, the popular makeup company, has most of its locations in malls. However, wandering through a mall can be an inconvenience for many people. There is always a chance the makeup specialists are already occupied with another customer.
Using ZIP codes and other geographical information, Sephora employs a chatbot to schedule appointments with customers, which increases revenue on autopilot and ensures nobody is left waiting at the back of a long queue.
With conversational marketing at play, Sephora saw an 11% increase in conversion rates.
One of the things you'll notice about Databox is that they do an excellent job getting the conversation started right away. The company went beyond a small pop-up to build an entire sidebar dedicated to the chatbot.
This feature helps to engage visitors and create qualified leads quickly. Visitors can instantly engage the brand and start getting answers right away through automated questions and quick response times.
Getting help fast is crucial for companies selling technical or otherwise complex solutions, and Databox knows this. It's no wonder 15,000 businesses are already using this software.
Health companies can sometimes come off as a little dated. However, HealthTap decided to use Facebook Messenger to build a relatable brand identity that was more engaging for prospects and helpful to current patients.
Using a popular social media platform, the company uses conversational marketing to guide people to resources such as articles or even connected with on-call health professionals.
32% of those surveyed by PWC said they experienced depression or anxiety due to the pandemic. If you are in the health industry, now is the time to think about having more personable conversations with people.
Traditional sales tactics like door-to-door canvassing and cold calling are fading fast because people don't want to interact with companies like that anymore. In the customer-centric age, there are many more casual and convenient ways to engage your audience. Here are a few conversational marketing tools you can try:
Source: JivoChat Chatbot Chatbots allow you to interact in real-time with users. You can personalize and even add humor to make the chatbot seem more human.
The chatbot can guide potential customers along the right path based on their input. You can even allow them to purchase the product directly from the chatbot without needing to talk with anyone (as some customers may prefer).
JivoChat also provides omnichannel live chat messenger capabilities. You can maintain conversations with engaged customers across all the platforms you need, from social media to your various websites.
The software integrates with popular CRMs so that you can keep track of communications with the same customer. This compatibility allows your sales team to avoid repeating information and ensures you give customers the most relevant guidance at every stage of the buyer's journey.
Source: Social Media Examiner
With over 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook today, it’s a good idea to use Facebook Messenger as part of your marketing strategy.
People want to feel that they are speaking with a brand that hears them and is willing to provide custom feedback. Messenger allows you to personalize your brand and have conversations for free.
Conversational marketing is not just a fad. Today's customers aren't receptive to old-school methods, as they don't want to deal with pushy sales tactics. If you want to succeed, you must engage people in relatable, personable ways, with real conversation.
If you do this, you can get to know prospects as real people with individual needs. Over time, this approach is sure to create happy, loyal customers who help grow your brand.
Are you ready to start using conversational marketing? Get a free trial of JivoChat to start chatting with your customers today.
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