Let’s talk about the digital marketing channel I’m most excited in 2021: conversational marketing.
Conversational Marketing includes SMS, Messenger, Slack, Whatsapp, or any platform where you can have an instant one on one conversation.
Conversational marketing is at its very infancy right now. But what is conversational marketing?
Your Customers Expect Dialogue
The old "one-way" marketing tactics are a thing of the past. Today, two-way conversations allow brands to listen to their customers' wants, needs and questions like never before. That means they can respond with personalized answers.
Some people think conversational marketing is the same as live chat, which has been around for years. The truth is it's much more than that. It uses tools such as SMS, text, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and (yes) live chat. These are all forms of conversational marketing.
Benefits of Conversational Marketing
Conversational marketing creates brand awareness, customer loyalty, engagement, and (eventually) more sales through, well, conversations.
Unfortunately, it usually takes our salespeople a while to respond after an initial web form is submitted or email is sent. During that time, a lot of potential customers will go with one of your competitors.
In fact, studies show that 50 percent of sales go to the business that responds first.
The problem? A lot of us work in the typical 9–5 working, Monday through Friday, and this includes our support representatives or whoever else is answering the phone. However, our customers are used to contacting support at late hours or weekends. With chatbots and other conversational marketing tools on our side, we earn a significant competitive advantage.
Conversational marketing also helps qualify leads. Businesses are able to double down on the qualified leads and if someone’s not there to answer questions, then you can have a bot assist.
Our Favorite Conversational Marketing Tools
AI conversational chat experiences are at their very infancy and will be HUGE for marketing going forward.
Last year we saw the potential of conversational marketing with Facebook Messenger the potential it had for small and medium sized businesses. Unfortunately, Facebook changes its rules a lot when it comes to the eCommerce market, so it's been hard to leverage effectively at scale.
That's why the most exciting conversational marketing tools are SMS and conversational live chat. With those methods, your business has the benefit of using a bot to support a live person handling customer service for you.
Example: SMS, allows customers to initiate conversations on their own schedule. Your sales reps can use those conversations to follow up with customers (via SMS or live chat) with updates on products they might want in and even send pictures of merchandise they think customers would like.
To that point: I don’t think conversational marketing will be 100 percent automated. You’ll have instances where you can close deals, you can win leads, or you can recommend a product to a user at scale.
At the same time, for the very specific questions, people expect to hear a response that is more "human." I don’t think that will ever go away. But conversational marketing tools are getting better and better at assisting you with your human customer service. You’ll also have reporting tools to give you metrics about where your strengths and weaknesses are.
That's right—these tools give you marketing automation data to optimize your lead funnels identify valuable website visitors. For instance, you can segment visitors who have a certain prospect score or grade, or have engaged with one of your marketing campaigns or forms.
Make sure you store every conversation you have with a customer in your CRM (customer relationship management system).
Determine buying intent by evaluating factors such as campaign attribution and browsing behavior, as well as demographic data from your CRM. You can also leverage bots to ask qualifying questions and help identify sales-ready visitors.
No matter who is responding on whatever channel, they should have the information they need from past interactions with the customer to provide a great future experience.
Remember: Conversational marketing doesn’t replace traditional marketing—it supplements and supports it.
It's really a revolution in the way consumers communicate. And if you don't respond the right way, you're going to lose out. If you haven't updated the way you view one-to-one conversations, you have work to do.