Will authentic online conversations dominate the next wave of marketing?

30 October 2020. Thoughts in Industry by
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The way that we communicate online is constantly shifting, and every round of new technology changes acceptable response rates. Today’s consumer wants honest help – instantly- not another generic and overused marketing message. Companies must aim to provide the right information, at the right time, to the right person, on the right channel – every time. And that is where conversational marketing comes in because it is all about building relationships through customised, one-on-one content. 

Conversational marketing is a unique aspect of inbound marketing and can help to create a personalised approach to doing business online. It is a powerful tool that can improve the user experience as well as lead to more sales because it promptly moves buyers through the marketing and sales funnels by simply asking one question at a time, similar to conversations in real life. 

Simply put, conversational marketing is when you enable consumers to have an automated conversation with your website. It is about treating people like people and using all the information you have on them to create a tailor-made experience. Some people might associate conversational marketing with live chat, which has been around for a while, but it is not about using one tool; conversational marketing is about efficiently addressing the dynamic communication choices of consumers.

Marketing is a two-way street

Brands can no longer pour their messages into the void and just wish for the best. Nowadays, it is all about sparking relationships with consumers through the experience of a conversation, rather than asking people to go through a lead capture form and wait for an answer. When it is easy for people to engage with your brand, you can convert better quality leads faster. 

Information overload has always been a challenge and can take effect pretty quickly – especially when you have to complete long and tedious forms. But conversational marketing is helping to reduce form abandonment; companies who are automating lead management have seen a 10% increase in revenue after six to nine months.

Another company that increased its revenue, with the power of conversational marketing, is Marketo. When Marketo’s marketing team took a closer look at the way their sales team was spending their time, they uncovered that the sales agents were wasting a lot of valuable time engaging with unqualified leads. They found that the chat system they had in place wasn’t qualifying leads before sending them on to the sales agent. 

The Marketo team solved this problem with a conversation marketing tool called Drift. And by spending more time on the right efforts, like building relationships, Marketo created a bigger pipeline with increased revenue generation – and without acquiring more staff. Over a year, the Marketo team saw its pipeline increased by 10%.

Marketo knew that speed, personalisation and ease-of-use are important to their clients, so to create a modern buying experience, the team also incorporated live chat. This ensures that website visitors can talk to someone and get real-time feedback.

Conversational marketing technology is ideal to engage, qualify, and convert prospects that are keen on unassisted sales, but you need to ensure that the conversation doesn’t end after qualification. The Marketo team’s results prove that a great marketing strategy must bring together the advantages of automated chatbots and the benefits that human chat agents offer, to create a holistic and authentic experience.

Looking ahead

The trend reports for 2021 highlight that businesses need to unleash the full potential of conversational marketing if they want to survive. Michael Stelzner, CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner, echoes this sentiment and he urges brands to reveal their human side because people connect with people. Stelzner says “(s)mart businesses will understand that being transparent, authentic, and even vulnerable is smart marketing in 2021”.

People are spending more and more time on their mobiles, and more customers are shopping online; so people want content that is mobile friendly. Sotirios Seridis, founder and head of product marketing at XYZ Lab, uncovered that“time spent on messaging (is) growing exponentially; 68% of users (are) choosing texting as their preferred way of communication…brands should seriously start building their conversational funnels online”.

Visitors to your website should ideally be able to get in touch with you on every page of your website, in the same way, you would expect assistance from the sales staff, everywhere on the sales floor of a brick and mortar store. Customers want to navigate your site effortlessly and without any support, and they want immediate feedback that matches in-person interactions.   

There is a renewed interest in conversational marketing, even though tools like chatbots have been around for a few years, this is due to changes in consumer behaviour and the technology that allows conversational marketing to happen at scale. But what works for one business might not work for another. The best approach is to start solving one problem at a time. And if conversational marketing is the solution – that is great! As it can also help you to figure out exactly what your customers’ pain points are, and allows you to alter your messaging quickly, for different circumstances and consumers.

In the next couple of years, conversational marketing will substitute a blend of activities in marketing, sales and customer services – but there will always have to be a human element, as well as an automated element.

List of references: 

Conversational Marketing Course [online] Available at: 

https://www.hubspot.com/conversational-marketing# [Accessed 28 October 2020].

101 Unbelievable Online Form Statistics & Facts for 2020 [online] Available at: https://wpforms.com/online-form-statistics-facts/ [Accessed 28 October 2020].

Marketo Case Study [online] Available at: https://www.drift.com/case-studies/marketo/ [Accessed 28 October 2020].

HubSpot Social Media Trends Report (2021) [online] Available at: https://offers.hubspot.com/social-media-trends-report-2021 [Accessed 28 October 2020].

US Mobile Time Spent 2020 [online] Available at: https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-mobile-time-spent-2020[Accessed 28 October 2020].

More Customers Are Shopping Online Now Than At the Height Of Pandemic Fueling Need For Digital Transformation [online] Available at: 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/07/27/more-customers-are-shopping-online-now-than-at-height-of-pandemic-fueling-need-for-digital-transformation/#4ce4af5a6bb9 [Accessed 28 October 2020].

Here’s why Conversational Marketing is key to accelerating revenue [online] Available at: https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/423/209664.html [Accessed 28 October 2020].

Conversational Marketing Trends: Chatbots Are Still Missing the Human Element of Conversation [online] Available at: https://martechseries.com/predictive-ai/intelligent-assistants/chatbots-still-missing-human-element-conversation-finds-strategy-analytics/ [Accessed 28 October 2020].

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