One of the most significant transitions in the world of marketing over the past few decades has been the switch from broadcasting to engagement. In the 20th century, the goal was to broadcast your message to as many people as possible, from billboard advertisements to Super Bowl spots. However, the rise of social media and the Internet as a whole created an opportunity for brands to have direct conversations with customers and open up a two-way street of communication. These conversations led to higher levels of engagement and merged the worlds of marketing and sales.
Today, conversational marketing is one of the hottest trends in the digital space. Brands are trying harder than ever to engage with buyers rather than just talking to them. Learn more about this concept and use this guide to implement conversational marketing into your strategy.
What Is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is the process of having a real-time dialogue with a potential buyer throughout their journey. Instead of relying on broadcasted content (social media posts, paid ads, blog posts, FAQ pages, and product copy) to turn audiences into customers, brands implement conversational marketing practices to connect with buyers and move them deeper into the sales funnel.
Conversational marketing can occur throughout the purchase process. You can use it on social media to answer buyers’ questions, and it is an integral part of your customer service best practices for helping buyers. Conversational marketing is not a marketing strategy on its own but a significant part of your inbound efforts.
One unique thing to point out is that conversational marketing doesn’t need to be time-consuming. You don’t necessarily need to keep a team of human marketers on hand to engage with potential buyers every hour of every day. There are multiple AI tools that allow teams to implement conversational best practices to increase buyer engagement. The right balance between AI and human customer support can increase the number of discussions related to your brand online while improving the quality of these conversations.
The best way to learn about conversational marketing is to see it in action. Here are several ways to implement conversational marketing across your sales funnel to grow your business.
Start With Top-Funnel Channels
A conversation is a dialogue between two or more people. This means both parties must contribute ideas, questions, and answers in a back-and-forth style. One of the biggest challenges that brands face is starting these dialogues online. It is easy to publish social media posts and launch paid search campaigns, but that doesn’t mean you are developing a web presence where people want to speak with you.
Here are a few ways to embrace conversation marketing through top-funnel channels like social media, video marketing, and blogging. Notice how each of these efforts requires you to develop a community or immerse yourself in an existing one.
- Host live Q&A sessions on Facebook Live, TikTok, or YouTube, where customers can ask questions and get honest answers.
- Create Facebook pages where people can ask questions and support each other.
- Regularly listen and respond to internet comments, whether good or bad.
- Join various subreddits and contribute answers to these communities.
- Create blog content based on frequently asked questions and reference these posts when you engage with people online.
Using a car dealership as an example, a company could host a Live specifically discussing tire lights. An expert mechanic can answer questions about when they come on, how cold weather impacts tire pressure, and why people should check their tire pressure before leaving for a road trip. The information from this live can then be used to create a blog post, which can be shared when someone else asks about tire lights.
Not everyone who engages in these conversations online will become a customer. However, this process will give you a more authentic online presence that can grow your reputation and drive potential buyers deeper into the sales funnel.
Keep the Conversation Going Through the Sales Process
Conversational marketing is omnichannel, which means the discussion continues from one digital marketing platform to the next. It is in direct contrast to multichannel marketing, where brands try to reach as many different people as possible across various platforms.
Omnichannel marketing acknowledges that customers rarely engage with brands on a single platform and then decide to buy. Instead, they might receive reminders about your business across multiple channels and several days (and weeks) until they make a purchase. They might even move up and down the sales funnel at different intervals.
Your goal in brand management is to make the transitions from one channel to the next seamless by continuing conversations with potential buyers. Here are a few ways you can recognize the omnichannel experience through your conversational marketing efforts.
- Use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to identify potential buyers and track conversations.
- Create content specifically for different platforms. This way, consumers won’t find the same posts on each platform, making them more likely to follow you on other channels.
- Remember customers who have already engaged with your brand and purchased from your business.
- Bring customers from top-funnel Facebook pages to private groups and more niche communities based on their needs.
In the world of car dealerships, a company might have a private group specifically for people who bought certain models and years. This creates a community of like-minded car fans and a hub for addressing service questions. The goal of this group is to bring existing customers back to the dealership through maintenance appointments and the potential to upgrade.
Make Your Customer Support More Conversational
Conversational marketing allows for a smoother transition between the initial introduction to the brand and the sales process. It blends marketing, sales, and customer service into one. Keep this in mind as you consider how customers engage with your business.
One way that brands are bringing customers into the sales process earlier on is through live chat. Younger buyers, in particular, enjoy using live chat to connect with customer service teams. Specifically, 23% of 25- to 34-year-olds enjoy using live chat functionalities.
Additionally, live chat is catching up with other forms of customer service to address issues. While phone calls remain the primary way to reach out to a company’s customer service team (with 57% of customers using it), email and live chat are close behind at 37% and 26%, respectively. This means that if you develop a live chat function on your website, your customers will already feel comfortable using this tool.
If you already have a chat box that pops up on your website, consider auditing its effectiveness. Some companies use these pop-ups as glorified contact forms. They ask for the customer’s name, phone number, and email and then promise to contact them within 24 hours with support. However, customers expect these chats to be live. They want immediate answers to their questions and expect to have a conversation. Even implementing an AI bot to answer common questions is more effective than promising your customer a phone call in the future.
When customers use these live chat systems, they actively start a conversation with your business. It’s up to you to continue this conversation and turn it into a sale.
AI Can Be Conversational
While many companies want to embrace conversational marketing, very few have the resources to pay someone to proactively talk to customers all day. Even customer service teams that respond to live chats can get overwhelmed if the volume of chat requests suddenly increases. This has led some people to use artificial intelligence to support their marketing efforts.
You can use AI to further your conversational efforts; however, you must have a quality system in place. Traditional chatbots simply respond to a few keywords and have a limited number of prompts. However, advanced conversational AI tools have natural language processing (NLP) capabilities and can discuss openly with users.
AI tools can help customers get the answers they need while providing resources for more information. You can use them in the middle of the sales funnel to answer questions and assist with customer service when customers are ready to buy.
Consider how you can use AI in your digital marketing efforts and how they can make your engagement more conversational. Ensure any tool you are interested in is thoroughly tested and can handle natural discussions. No one wants to feel like they are speaking to a robot.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up After the Sale
Almost everyone has a friend who only reaches out when they need something. As soon as they call, you know they want something from you. Most people don’t want this friend in their personal lives, and they definitely don’t want that relationship from brands. As you embrace a more conversational relationship with your customers, consider how you can continue talking with them after they make a purchase.
One study found that 77% of customers favor brands that ask for and accept feedback on how they can improve. Conversational marketing challenges companies to look beyond customer satisfaction surveys with leading questions and adopt personalized phone calls and open-ended feedback requests instead.
A conversation isn’t one-sided. As much as you want to talk about your brand, you need to listen. Making your customers feel heard will also make them feel valued, especially if you act on their feedback. Listening to problems and concerns can also turn a poor experience into a better one, as the customer will have an outlet to address their issues. This is so much better than letting a frustrated customer spread negative comments about your business online and to their friends and family.
Evaluate your current after-sale processes and see how they can become more conversational. On top of follow-up calls, you can also ask customers to leave online reviews and testimonials, boosting your online exposure and driving more customers into your conversations.
Improve Your Conversational Engagement With Our Services
You have a set budget and a limited number of opportunities to win over potential customers. If you want to convert more people into buyers, you need an effective marketing strategy. Our team at J&L Marketing can evaluate your digital marketing efforts and develop a plan to make them more effective. We can also take a big-picture approach to involve your sales and customer support teams in the process. Through the power of conversational marketing, you can develop genuine connections that convert.
Contact our team today and tell us about your conversational marketing challenges. We are here to solve your problems.