Conversational Marketing – What You Need to Know

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Conversational marketing (or conversation marketing) is the new kid on the block.

Conversational marketing is the thing everyone is staring to talk about in the internet marketing world, but…

It is NOT new at all!

Let me explain.

Some are saying it’s a BIG shift for marketers. They say it could make an impact as big as the internet itself and change the way we communicate forever.

Conversational marketing is being described as a “feedback-oriented approach to driving customer engagement”.

But what does conversational marketing mean in simple terms?

It means you need to spend less time shouting ‘buy my stuff’ and more time LISTENING to your customers.

See, I told you it’s nothing new. Conversational marketing is something all good sales people have been practising for years.

The best sales people know the importance of asking questions. They ask and then shut up and listen to the answer.

Often the difference between winning or losing a deal is not the product or service on offer. It is the quality of the questions asked and the level of attention paid to the answers.

Conversational Marketing

Conversational Marketing is common sense

Think about it. Who would you prefer to do business with? Someone that listens to what you want, or someone who wants to sell you what they have?

Conversational marketing is about respecting your customer. It is about treating them like a human being instead of a number on a spreadsheet. It is about solving problems and helping people achieve their goals.
So what is all the fuss about?

The ‘new’ thing is not the conversation, it is the delivery mechanism.

Sales and marketing (done well) has always been conversational.

The big change on the horizon is how we have those conversations.

Rise of the Messaging App

Messaging apps are changing the mechanics of communication.

And it’s not a fad or a trend. It is a shift.

There is now a generation that prefers messaging on their phone over making phone calls.

The top 4 messaging apps now have a combined user base that is greater than the top 4 social networks.

To successfully grow your audience, you need to think about how to meet them where they are.

If people are spending most of their time in messaging apps, your business needs to be there too.

Embrace messaging apps, because people always gravitate to what is easiest.

But how do you embrace messaging?

Conversational Marketing Bots

The Rise of Messaging Bots

Full transparency… I am skeptical about bots.

I see so many marketers trying to automate EVERYTHING. Whilst I too make use of automation, there has to be a blend between what software can do and when you need a real person.

Have you ever called a business on the phone, only to have a machine answer?

Isn’t it frustrating when you listen to a list of options and then have to dial a number for the one you want?

Or, more frustrating is when the option you want is NOT ON THE LIST!

Messaging bots can have a similar feel.

They ask you a question and you have to choose from a predefined list of answers.

But, what if the answer you want to give is not on the list?

What if all you want is to have your voice heard by a real person?

Is it true conversational marketing, when you are talking to artificial intelligence software?

Having a conversation

Conversational marketing is not about blasting your message outward. Nobody likes being sold to.

But, people do like buying solutions to their problems.

Conversational marketing is about answering people’s questions. It is about listening to their feedback. And, when you understand your audience, it is about discovering new ways to help them.

And bots can play a role in this…

The Intelligent Call Centre

Let’s look at what we can learn from software support teams.

The most efficient teams I’ve seen in over 20 years working in the IT industry all have one thing in common… they have clear roles defined.

The people who answer incoming calls are NOT tasked with solving the problems. Their role is to assign the call to the most appropriate person.

What if artificial intelligence could take over this role?

Many frontline support teams follow a script to qualify the calls they receive. Could a well crafted messaging bot follow the same script?

In other words, could messaging bots qualify a conversation and pass it to a team member to complete?

Chatbots mimic human conversations. In the future you may even communicate with a bot without realising that it is software and not a real human.

We are not there yet (and I think it is a mistake to pretend we are).

Why not be upfront about the fact someone is talking to a bot? Give the bot a personality of its own and let your audience know it is helping to get them to the best team member.

Conversational Marketing isn’t only about prospecting

A conversation is (at least) a two-way exchange of information. You talk, I listen and respond, you talk again…

This continues until the conversation ends.

But, in a relationship does the conversation ever end completely?

Conversational marketing isn’t only about acquiring new business. It is also about listening to existing customers to understand their ongoing needs.

Your brand needs to be your customer’s friend

Friends listen. Friends respect each others’ opinion. Friends are honest and sincere.

Friends have to deliver bad news sometimes, but they do it from a place of love.

Friends call on each other for advice.

It is a two-way relationship. It has both give and take.

It is about the long term.

So is brand loyalty.

And the future of brand loyalty is conversation.