Conversational Marketing: What It Is and Why You Need It
Lately, it seems like all anyone’s talking about in the inbound marketing world is conversational marketing. If you’re new to conversational marketing or are thinking about doing more with chatbots, live chat, or SMS marketing at your company, this blog is going to cover what you need to know to get started.
From what conversational marketing is, to why you should care about it, we’re going to cover it all. Plus, if you stick around, I’ll even give you two easy ways to get started with conversational marketing right now.
Let’s jump in:
What is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is a marketing strategy that prioritizes one-to-one interactions between a company and a lead. The kicker is that conversational marketing should always happen on the lead’s schedule. It’s a way of connecting with your leads and prospects in the most frictionless way possible — on their schedule and in the medium that is most comfortable for them.
If you think of chatbots when you think of conversational marketing, you’re right. But conversational marketing is also a whole lot more than just chatbots.
What Apps, Platforms, and Features are Considered Conversational Marketing Tools?
Any marketing tool or messaging platform that allows you to connect with a lead or customer one-on-one is conversational marketing. The proof is in the name — conversation. That means that yes, chatbots are certainly one form of conversational marketing, but they’re not the only tool. Other forms of conversational marketing might include:
- SMS marketing — directly connecting with leads and clients via text.
- Social media messaging — another way to connect directly with leads and prospects.
- Slack channels — allowing promoters and visitors to share their questions, concerns, and positive interactions together in one spot.
Conversational marketing is a broad term. It encompasses any type of marketing that is a direct one-on-one conversation between you and a client or lead. For this article, we’re going to focus on pretty obvious examples of conversational marketing, like live chat, chatbots, and SMS messaging, but it’s good to know that the term can encompass much more.
3 Reasons to Care About Conversational Marketing
Now that we know what conversational marketing is and what it looks like, why would you use it? Do you actually need conversational marketing?
Well, let’s think of it this way — do you want more leads?
Do you want to shorten your sales cycle?
Yup. Thought so.
While conversational marketing shouldn’t take the place of your other marketing strategies — your content marketing, social media marketing, or email marketing — it’s an amazing supplemental tool that enables you to speak directly with your leads and solve their pain points at exactly the right time for them. Let’s take a look at three reasons you should care about conversational marketing.
01. Connect with your customers on their schedule
We know that the most effective marketing is marketing that delivers the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
Conversational marketing is a tool that puts you directly in front of your leads and prospects whenever they’re most engaged, whether that’s at 7 am over their first cup of coffee, or 10 pm when they’re clicking around while watching TV.
We’re so glad you asked. We’re proud to say that our company has grown more than 60% year over year for the past few years. And we did it using our own marketing strategies. Since we know how to make growth happen, and we’ve done it, both for our clients and for ourselves, we think it’s time to take that info on the road.
When automated chatbots can answer commonly asked questions or provide more information on a topic the lead is already searching, conversational marketing is a way to nurture leads 24/7.
02. You gain insight into your customer’s wants and needs
Yes, conversational marketing is an exceptional tool for nurturing leads. It can help cut downtime in the sales cycle and supports your sales team even when they’re off the clock.
But, conversational marketing is also a great tool for your marketing strategy.
Conversational marketing tactics, from chatbots to SMS messaging tell you quite a lot about who your customers are, and what they want from you.
There’s a wealth of data to be gained from any conversational marketing campaign, including:
- Where your customers are. SMS marketing means you have your customer’s phone numbers. For companies that serve large regions, this can tell you in what areas you’re seeing the most engagement.
- When your customers are most engaged. By implementing conversational marketing, you can see when the best time is to engage with your customers. Maybe you get the most chatbot submissions late at night. Or you get a lot of Facebook Messenger inquiries around noon. That’s useful information you can use to better tailor your email marketing delivery times, and even when your sales team makes outreach calls.
- What your customers want to know. When your customers are asking their questions in chatbots and through messaging apps, you have documentation of the questions they’re asking most often. You can use this data to inform a more successful content strategy.
- Common problems or pain points your customers are experiencing. Conversational marketing can help you identify the areas where leads or prospects are running into problems with your product or service, or what problems they’re looking to solve.
03. Build relationships with reliable positive interactions
There’s a classic marketing statistic that says it takes anywhere from 6-10 touches with your company for a lead to make a purchasing decision.
In each of those 6-10 touches with a lead, they need to have a positive experience. Every time they encounter your company, from your messaging to your marketing and sales interactions, your email marketing, and even your content marketing, the message you deliver should provide a positive experience and some sort of value for the lead.
Conversational marketing is an exceptional way to build customer relationships by delivering reliable, value-added positive interactions. Basically, you need to make those leads like you.
And you do that by delivering the information they want or that is helpful to them.
If you’re implementing conversational marketing in a way that is enhancing your customer’s experience with your company — rather than being disruptive — you’re helping move that lead towards a sale.
Conversational marketing is inherently nurturing if you’re doing it right.
You are connecting with each customer on a one-to-one level which is very much a relationship-building interaction. When you’re solving each lead’s specific and personal pain points with great content and helpful service, you’re building those positive relationships that will not just lead to a sale, but that can also convert that customer into a promoter for your brand.
2 Easy Ways to Implement Conversational Marketing Right Now
So we’ve talked a little bit about what conversational marketing is, and why it’s useful. If you’re interested in implementing conversational marketing, but aren’t sure where to start, here are two easy ways you can get started now.
A Welcome Chatbot
Live chat can feel a little intimidating if you’re just starting your conversational marketing campaign. Take it down a notch by just building a “welcome” or “sign up for our newsletter” chatbot that can go anywhere on your site.
First, choose a chatbot you like. No surprise, we like HubSpot’s chatbot options. You can also implement Facebook Messenger for free on your site, and there are a host of free options available online.
Next, build out a little bit of content.
Make it clear that your users are talking to a bot.
(There’s a misconception that people don’t like talking to bots. The truth is that people don’t like talking to bots that are trying to pretend they’re people. Just be honest.)
“Hi, I’m Evenbot! Welcome to the Evenbound Website.”
Create an Action
If this is a welcome bot or a newsletter bot, that’s pretty simple.
“Would you like kick-ass marketing tips delivered right to your inbox once a month?”
Then hit them with Yes and No button options.
If They Click No
Your response should pleasantly end the conversation.
“Sounds good! I’m here for you if you run into any questions. Just type “Hey” to start a new conversation.”
If They Click Yes
Now is your time for a soft conversion.
“Great! I just need to know where to send your monthly marketing tips. What’s a good email address for you?”
Tada! Chatbot created and visitor converted.
Put this chatbot on a few of your highly-trafficked pages — your homepage, your blog, or your services page — and see how it performs.
As you get more comfortable with your chatbot, you might consider implementing more personalized chatbots, or even a live chat.
SMS marketing sounds scary, but it’s actually pretty simple. If you look at SMS marketing as a way to provide better service to your customers, you’re already starting on the right foot.
For example, let’s say someone makes a purchase. When you collect their phone number as they make the purchase, ask if they’d like text updates on the status of their order.
When they opt-in, they’ll get texts about their order, like when it’s shipped, what the tracking number is, and when their order is out for delivery. That’s an awesome value-add that many people would love to have.
Then, down the road a few months, you can send them a text with an exclusive promotional order for a complementary product or service.
SMS Marketing Opt-In Example
This is a great example of SMS marketing done well. After I opted in to get text messages with this swimsuit company, see what they sent.
A free shipping promo, and a promise that they’d only send texts with big news or deals. That’s a level of interruption most consumers can handle.
Allowing clients to schedule meetings or appointments by text is another great way to remove some of the friction in your customer’s sales cycle.
SMS Marketing Appointment Booking Example
This is another cool one. I needed new skates. The local pro shop had a quick click-to-text feature on their site. I sent a message about what I was looking for, and the manager got right back to me.
Rather than having to stop in when the shop was busy or closed, I set up a time to come in and visit that was convenient for me. I’m happy and they got a new customer.
The best ways to implement SMS marketing are ways that make your lead’s life easier. If they don’t want to talk on the phone, or if they don’t like searching for your message in a messy inbox, a text message gets them the information they need in a very accessible way.
Just make sure you’re not using text marketing to blow up a customer’s phone or to engage in disruptive marketing. If you’re constantly sending promotions or trying to make the hard sale through an SMS message, you won’t see results.
Use SMS marketing as a complement to your sales team’s efforts, and put the responsibility on the customer to decide that SMS is the better method of communication for them.
Whether you decide to build out your first chatbot or start encouraging leads to book their appointments by text message, conversational marketing is a powerful tool in any company’s marketing and sales toolbox. If you’re not sure how to implement things like chatbots or instant messenger features, Evenbound would be happy to help.