Posted: Sat 1st Jun 2019
Marketing is changing and there is nothing you can do about it. Technology and social media has completely changed the way in which businesses market to their customers.
Now, businesses that interact more directly and conversationally with their customers see significant growth and the creation of loyal fans. Technology also means that customers want a personal, immediate and conversational response. The businesses that embrace this will win out.
In this blog, digital marketing consultant and coach Caroline Sumners shares her top tips for why small business should embrace conversational marketing.
What is conversational marketing and why should you care about it?
Understanding conversational marketing is about understanding that the way consumers interact with brands has changed fundamentally as the web has opened up. Businesses are no longer solely sending one-sided messages.
Social media, on-site chat clients, and business blogs have opened the dialogue into a duologue. When you message the customer, the customer messages back.
Conversational marketing is all about embracing the back-and-forth of this new age of communication. It's an approach based on reacting to and implementing feedback. As such, the topic can shift and turn at the desire of the customer, from marketing to sales to support.
Following the context of the conversation with the customer allows you to break down the barriers that might stop them from engaging with your brand as much as they would like.
It meets customers where they are, whether they come to your site for live support chat or get in touch through social media and happens at their pace. Most importantly, it gives your customers the opportunity to be heard, not just to be on the receiving end of communications.
Benefits of conversational marketing
What are the benefits?
Providing a more accessible, consistent approach to marketing means that customers engage more regularly with it, especially since many of the tools of conversational marketing, such as social media, are mobile-friendly.
Furthermore, the perception that a brand is listening, reacting and simply sharing the same communal space with customers creates relationships.
These relationships build loyalty and turn customers into brand ambassadors. This allows businesses to guide them seamlessly and speedily through the lead nurturing process, from marketing to commerce to support.
What's more, it opens up much more opportunities for customers to share positive interactions, for cross-selling, and soliciting valuable input. There's a lot of insight to be gained from conversational marketing, which can also improve its effectiveness, which is what we'll go into next.
How big data is changing the way we communicate with customers – even if you're a small business
Big data might sound like it's the kind of thing that only applies to big, enterprise-scale businesses, but that's not true at all.
It's the collection of data from across a wide range of channels that we can parse to gather insights about our business and, vital to marketing, our customers and clients.
Through social media, conversational email marketing campaigns, and customer success programs, we have a unique opportunity to hear what our customers want, like and dislike, as well as the challenges they face relevant to our services and products. Even better, it comes directly from them.
Big data allows us to gather these answers from across all the different channels from which we gather feedback. They can record data, which is centralised and sorted to gather all the relevant pieces of data from across those different channels.
This centralised collection of information is what big data is all about. Through it, we can learn more about customer demographics, product preferences, how they prefer to engage with marketing content, and any issues they might have had when engaging with our brand in the past.
As a result, we can learn and adopt all manner of optimisations, including the following:
Previously missed key target demographics to target with more specific marketing content.
The most effective and attractive mediums through which to share marketing content.
More helpful content geared to solve common conversion barriers.
Which products and services could benefit from a bigger slice of the marketing budget.
Improved website and online service navigation to help customers address common issues more clearly.
Big data does more than offer us a way to improve our customer interaction approach. It also allows us to automate more of our marketing.
Chatbots are a great example of this. They gather data mid-conversation, as well as through browser cookies and analytics, to more efficiently answer customer questions and guide them towards they solutions that they're looking for.
You don't need a team of a dozen big data analysts to benefit from the automation and optimisation that big data allows for.
Top tips to get started
You want to get your finger on the pulse of your market, to get involved with your community, to foster positive relationships and get to know your customers.
You might already be using platforms like email marketing, social media, and community forums to foster a more organic relationship. But what makes marketing on these channels conversational and valuable?
Conversations happen at the pace of the customer. In most cases, they need to be quick indeed. Spotify's support channel @SpotifyCares is one of the leaders in this regard, often managing a response time of minutes to address individual queries.
It's easy to add a little personalization to your marketing, especially with email marketing. However, one needs to go a little further than adding the <FIRSTNAME> data field to the opening line.
Netflix has some excellent personalised emails, offering show recommendations based on the previous viewing habits of the customer, for instance.
Conversational marketing can get to the point quickly, with the help of the customers. A good example of this is 1-800-Flowers.
With a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, the business enabled customers to quickly define what products they wanted from the options provided, give a delivery dress, and progress speedily to the payment page.
Community-driven content has become a huge part of conversational marketing, especially for lifestyle brands. Rather than making it feel like a marketing message from a company to a consumer, it shifts the conversation to consumers sharing their own stories and interests.
The ASOS #AsSeenOnMe campaign on Instagram is a fantastic example of this, getting followers to use the hashtag when wearing their fashions, offering exposure to both parties.
Conversational marketing is changing the way that brands interact with customers and, thus, the relationship between both of them. Hopefully, the tips above help you lay the groundwork of a campaign that will foster more loyalty, more organic lead building, and a smoother conversion process than ever before.