People are much more likely to buy something from you when it’s not glaringly obvious that you're trying to sell them something. Sounds backwards, but that is the cornerstone to most inbound marketing strategies.
That’s what conversational marketing is all about. Instead of telling prospects how amazing you are, and why they need to invest in you, you're having a conversation. You're helping them, you're listening to them, you're understanding and empathizing with them.
Look at it this way, wouldn't you trust the opinion of a friend over a stranger when you're trying to make a purchase? Conversational marketing is about trying to be friends, or at least being friendly, with your prospects.
What is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is a marketing strategy used to engage with prospects and customers by having real-time conversations with them.
Conversational Marketing is in no way a new or innovative field of marketing. It can even be said as one of the oldest marketing strategies. Long before billboards and YouTube, products were advertised through word-of-mouth.
What is innovative is the latest advancements in conversational marketing. It is only recently that technology has made it possible to implement one-on-one conversational marketing on such a large scale.
The term conversational marketing includes everything from engaging with prospects on social media, providing customer support via phone calls, live chat on websites, as well as the newest player in the field, chatbots.
Chatbots are the invention that revolutionized conversational marketing. It is next to impossible to provide 24/7 support if you only rely on live chat with human personnel. Chatbots provided a cheaper and much simpler alternative to having to give live support to each and every prospect or website visitor.
But keep in mind that chatbots can never replace actual human support. When an issue becomes too complicated for automation, or when a customer is too far down the sales funnel of an important transaction, an option must be provided to transfer the customer to human support.
It is crucial to strike the optimum balance between using automation and personnel, to provide the best experience for both you and your customer.
How Conversational Content Can Boost Your Marketing Strategy?
So why do you need to incorporate conversational content into your marketing strategy?
According to reports, speed, convenience, helpful employees and friendly service are what matter most to customers, each hitting over 70% in importance.
In these times, customers not just expect, but take for granted, immediate, friendly, helpful, and accurate responses. So including efficient conversational content in your marketing strategy is not simply advisable, but necessary.
Reports say nearly half (46%) of the US population use digital voice assistants. People don’t want to have to navigate through options and controls anymore, they want to simply talk to their devices and get things done.
People don’t want to leave an email or message and get a reply hours later. They need answers to whatever they’re asking, then and there, regardless of whether it’s midnight or noon. Response within 5 seconds or less is expected by 46% of people when using a chatbot, 43% expect the same when conversing via online live chat, and 33% over a phone or video call.
So if you fail to help your customers with immediate responses, you have a high likelihood of losing them just like that. 59% of US consumers say they will walk away after several bad experiences, and 17% will do the same after just one.
Adapting new and innovative conversation marketing strategies can go a long way in engaging and converting your prospects.
What are the Advantages of Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is a boon to businesses that are looking for ways to create deeper, more real relations with their prospects and convince them that they're here to help. Here's a couple of ways that your brand can benefit from conversational marketing:
- You give the control to the customer. The customer can choose when to engage with you. Whenever they have a spare moment, whatever time zone they're in, you should be ready to help them.
- You can choose the channel your target audience is on to implement your conversational marketing strategy, thereby reaching them where they are.
- You can get a lot of data about your target audience from conversational marketing. People are more willing to give up details about themselves in a conversation as opposed to filling out a lead capture form.
- In this form of conversational marketing, you're not cold calling people who may or may not be interested in what you have to say and then saying buy our stuff. You're helping your customers, not just selling them something.
- You can qualify your leads quicker than if you used the painful and drawn out conventional processes.
- Your conversations have context. You can gather and store data from each individual so they don’t have to keep repeating themselves.
- Maintaining a customer base at a large scale without sacrificing efficiency in customer care is made possible using innovations in conversational marketing, like chatbots.
- You can build actual relationships with your customers with real-time conversations. Real conversations help build trust and loyalty to your brand.
- It is a lot easier for your prospects to have a conversation with a person or even a bot than to spend time searching your website for answers to some question they have.
All of these essentially translates into more engagement, quicker journeys down the sales funnel, and higher conversion rates.
Examples of Conversational Marketing
Now that you know the basics of conversational marketing, let's show you a few examples of brands that did this well. Here's the list:
1) Domino’s AnyWare
Domino’s pizza ordering service is one of the best examples of successful conversational marketing. Domino’s AnyWare lets you order pizza via Slack, Facebook Messenger, text, tweet, or through Alexa or Google Home. It’s as simple as texting them a pizza emoji. Really.
Sephora’s first used chatbots way back in 2016. It launched a messaging bot on the platfrom Kik. The Sephora Assistant had several features. It enabled booking of makeup appointments using Messenger, in a few short steps.
The Drift bot provides basic details about their services and then customers can schedule meetings with human personnel. The customer feels more engaged and feels as if they are being shown better consideration.
How to use Conversational Content
The typical conversational marketing process can be mapped as something like this:
- Engage with your visitors and prospects
- Understand what they need
- Recommend a solution to their problem
- Follow-up to ensure conversion and then loyalty
All these steps can only come together if you understand a few basic principles of conversational marketing. We've added in some tips you need to keep in mind when venturing out to create your own conversational content:
When planning how, where, and what of using conversational content, there are two things to keep in mind.
- What do you need from your prospects?
- What do they need from you?
Sounds simple enough, but it is easy to slip into one-sided conversations. You need to plan your conversations in such a way that you give the customers what they are looking for, while also trying to steer them in the direction that you want them to go. Create the best experience for your customers while also adding value to your business.
Both you and your customer’s needs vary depending on where they are in the sales funnel, what platform you're communicating on, as well as the nature of your business.
2) The Right Platforms
When having one-on-one conversations with your customers, be it live or automated, you need to be where they are. There are different channels you can use- Facebook Messenger, Slack, SMS, email, and so on. You need to be where your target audience hangs out.
3) Be Human
Be friendly, empathic. People want to have a conversation, not listen to a commercial. Listen, understand, and talk to them. You need to have a standardized script, but empathy is just as important.
Having a human connection with your prospects and customers is what will ultimately result in building lasting relationships with them. And it’s not just humans that can be human.
A great thing about chatbots is that you can make them really quirky and fun. It gives conversations the added bonus of being entertaining. Try to make your bots sound as human as possible. You're not trying to fool your customers. That is not possible. Well, not yet anyway. But you can do your best to make them feel comfortable.
4) The Balance Between Human & Machine
It might be tempting to make your entire sales funnel automated and leave it all to the machines. But even the best chatbots have their limitations. Chatbots have limited understanding of language, cannot deal with questions that they havent been programmed to answer, cannot empthasize with visitors, and most importantly, cannot give consumers the feel of human interaction.
64% of feel companies don’t have enough of the human element of customer experience. 71% of US population would rather interact with a human than a chatbot.
If you're a small business, and your website doesn’t have that much traffic, you might be able to directly connect visitors to a human customer care professional and engage via live chat. But in most cases, that might not be practical.
So you need the help of chatbots or other kinds of automation. Chatbots are highly efficient for simple conversations and transactions, and can be personalized to a great extent.
But it is not advisable to rely on chatbots throughout your prospect’s sales journey. The key is to figure out the right combination of automated messaging and connecting to actual human personnel.
Once you've hit that point bots can automatically schedule meetings or calls or immediately redirect to human authority.
With both chatbots and live chat, personalization is key. Use what information you already have and prompt for more. Use a CRM software to manage your customer data so you can easily automate conversations. There’s nothing more annoying than having to repeat the same information twice, so don’t make your customers do that. If you have access to data about them it is easier to put conversations into context.
6) Don’t Throw Out The Conventional
Investing in conversational marketing does not mean you discard the conventional alternatives. Lead capture forms are not obsolete and still have value.
It’s not about replacing, it’s about adding. Keep all your channels open so prospects have options.
There is no way to optimize your strategies without testing. You need practical testing to properly understand what channels and what tactics work best for what you're trying to do.
For example, for solving a problem with a product or service, live chat or customer support over phone might be best. Chatbots do well for engaging with new website visitors and answering FAQs. You need to pin down what you need to do and what works for you.
8) Experiment With New Methods
Don’t be afraid of innovation. Chatbots are a fairly new invention, and they've now skyrocketed in popularity. There are several different innovations in the field of conversational marketing popping up so often.
Using VideoForm to Create Conversational Content
VideoForm is the latest innovative tool you can make use of in the field of conversational marketing.
It combines the ease of use of chatbots with the more human experience of live chat, and with the added touch of creating the feel of real face-to-face conversations.
VideoForm replaces the conventional mechanized interface of conventional chatbots with human videos. You can record your own videos or choose from a wide range of templates to create your own personalized experience. And users can respond any way they want - via video, audio, or text.
It’s a win-win situation for you and your customer. The customer gets the satisfaction of human interaction, while you don’t have to expend the time and personnel required for live human conversations.