What is Conversational Marketing?

For SMBs on the cutting edge of the latest technological trends, there’s a new kid on the block in the fast-moving world of marketing and it’s designed to help you build real connections with your customers. Conversational marketing is making big waves, and for good reason. If you’ve been looking for a better way to engage customers and grow sales, then conversational marketing might be just the thing you’re looking for!

From email lists to engaging chat

Over the past 20 years, email marketing has been the de-facto method of reaching out to both new and returning customers. Its advantages are clear; it is fast, cheap and allows companies to share information across multimedia formats using large mailing lists. Today, however, the landscape is beginning to shift, with customers increasingly seeing email marketing as intrusive, distracting, and ultimately, annoying.

Whether or not email marketing has had its day is still up for debate, but as our world has become increasingly tech-oriented, the competition for our attention has grown exponentially. If email marketing’s blanket style approach to customer engagement is no longer working for you, then perhaps a more direct and personal approach is answer.

A better way to engage through new tech

Loosely speaking, conversational marketing aims to create a more human buying and selling experience by connecting you directly with your customers. Crucially, it centres around engaging customers on a one-to-one basis, stepping away from mass mailing lists and non-targeted email campaigns in favour of real-time conversations with individuals. The underlying concept is to reduce the scattergun approach of email marketing and replace it with a tailored approach that nurtures only the best leads. In turn, this tends to result in greater conversion rates and happier customers.

The growth of conversational marketing is intrinsically linked to the development of new technologies that allow more responsive online communication. Businesses can benefit from these technologies thanks to the low adoption costs and intuitive functionality. Most recently, the advent of conversational email has given both businesses and individuals the chance to engage customers more responsively, promising new and dynamic ways to communicate by combining the best parts of email and instant messaging.

For instance, the email address listed on your website no longer needs to be a silo of forgotten customer queries. With conversational email technologies, it becomes a real-time messaging link to would-be customers, encouraging greater engagement and deeper connections. Not only are customer response times improved, but the conversational nature of email messaging also helps you speak more directly with the best leads.

Let’s say you offer a service or product that is pushing new and innovative features. Sometimes, your potential customers may not understand how those features will integrate with existing workflows or operational set ups. However, by taking a more conversational approach, your team is on hand to not only answer questions, but also tailor those answers to the customer’s specific requirements.

Bots and Big Data

Of course, this type of customer engagement requires a level of human interaction that smaller companies and start-ups may struggle to provide. In order to keep response times down and engagement up, there needs to be a voice at the end of the line, someone to answer queries and sales questions instantly. However, as counterintuitive as it may sound, that voice doesn’t necessarily need to be human, the rise of chatbots is helping to make conversational marketing a possibility for businesses of any size.

Chatbots act as an automatic lead qualifier, providing instant answers to the most common questions 24/7. If a customer has a question or query that the bot cannot answer, they are automatically connected with a sales rep. In many cases, the customer may not even be aware that they are speaking to a bot and as this type of technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, chatbots will be able to answer even more customer queries and guide individuals through the entire sales process.

Finally, the development of chatbots and the rise of Big Data arecreating a perfect storm of customer engagement. Unlike a human sales rep, chatbots will be able to instantly retrieve huge amounts of data relating to individual customers, from the way in which they browse your site initially to previous behaviours relating to orders, returns and other more sophisticated queries. As chatbots develop, this type of data will become invaluable, allowing instant personalisation of responses designed to refine marketing efforts and drive customer engagement.

The new technologies of today are designed to bring us closer, to bridge the gaps created by a truly global world. From mobile phones to social media, savvy marketing executives have always looked to the latest devices and platforms to provide an advantage over the competition. By combining these two core concepts, conversational marketing aims to fulfil the need for greater engagement by speaking directly to those customers that already show some interest in a company’s business or service. Put simply, a more human approach to marketing offering contextual and timely conversation with customers is the answer to information overload. Whether through humans or bots, conversational marketing offers businesses the opportunity to adopt this approach. 

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