In an increasingly digital era, the greatest customer experiences will always be the ones that feel the most personal. That’s why more and more brands are using technology to deliver that ‘human’ touch.
Chatbots are one exciting emerging channel, but in 2020, marketers should be looking beyond automation, towards more human-centric experiences.
Today, we want to explore the ins and outs of the new phenomenon that is conversational marketing - including what it can do for your business, the many forms it comes in, and how to give your conversational marketing strategy a truly personal touch.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing is all about talking to customers in a way that’s personal, convenient and clearly prioritises their needs. It’s a form of marketing which allows brands to connect with buyers far more meaningfully; helping them build rapport with buyers, improve customer retention and boost customer loyalty.
At its heart, conversational marketing is about talking to a customer one-on-one in a way that feels direct, personal and ‘just for them’, as opposed to speaking to them as if they were part of a larger audience.
According to Nicole Bojic, SVP of strategy at InVision Communications:
“Conversational marketing is about leveraging the power of real-time conversations and two-way dialogue to engage customers and seamlessly move them through your marketing and sales funnels. This could be online chats, social media channels, or a live brand experiences, but the end goal is the same — engaging with customers one-on-one to stand out from the competition and humanize your brand.”
What are the benefits of conversational marketing?
We could go on for days about the benefits of taking a stand-out, personal, ‘human’ approach to marketing, but here are three of the biggest:
#1 Build trust and rapport with your customers
The major benefit of conversational marketing is that it allows you to build relationships with your customers by delivering them an excellent customer experience. Acquia recently reported that 85% of marketers say “a human touch is always needed, in addition to technology, for a positive customer experience”, and this kind of positive customer experience is exactly what drives sales and customer loyalty for your brand.
In a world where you can buy almost anything at the click of a button, customers today are increasingly driven by high-quality experiences. In fact, according to Walker, customer experience is so important these days that it’s actually overtaking price and product as the key differentiator between stores.
#2 Understand your customers
Naturally, conversations allow you to learn more and gain insights into the person you’re talking to, enabling you to gather information honestly and openly. Using a variety of conversational tools - from chatbots to voice messaging software - businesses are also able to monitor users and learn what times of day people prefer to message, as well as what types of questions people prefer to ask.
The insights you gain into how your customers think, what they like (and don’t like!) about your brand and when - and where - they are most active will benefit all of your efforts across marketing, customer support and sales.
#3 It’s convenient for both you and your customers
Using chatbots, messaging apps and voice messaging platforms allows conversation to happen quickly and easily. This means you can market to your customers effectively - and help them get the most out of your product or service - in the most convenient way for them.
In particular, asynchronous methods of communication (such as exchanging voice notes with customers) allow customers to get back in touch with you, pick up where they left off and continue the conversation whenever is convenient for them. When you offer that kind of convenience - along with a human touch - to your customers, you’re sure to keep them coming back for more.
The different kinds of conversational marketing
As we touched on earlier, chatbots were one of the first kinds of tools to take the world of conversational marketing by storm. They’re not without their limitations, but in many ways, chatbots have come as a real gift to both businesses and customers.
They can be used to create one-on-one conversation, personalise on-site experiences and (when programmed right) can inject a lot of your brand’s personality into a Marketing conversation.
Plus, chatbots are cost-effective, much faster than email exchanges, and far more convenient than waiting on hold on the phone.
As the title of this article might suggest, we’re huge advocates of looking beyond the chatbot when it comes to making business feel really personal. In particular, voice is one of the most effective conversational marketing tools of all.
Voice is humans’ most powerful relationship-building tool - and has been for millennia. Talking is our fastest, easiest and most natural method of communication - and sometimes typing simply doesn’t cut it. When you bring the subtle nuances of tone, tempo and emotion into your business’ marketing strategy through voice, you’ll start building stronger relationships with your customers than ever.
What’s more, as exchanging voice notes via a business’ website is a relatively new concept, you’ll build a reputation as a far more innovative (and more human!) brand than the rest.
- Social media
Where existing customers are concerned, the conversation doesn’t end once they’ve made a purchase. Social media is the ideal platform to add value to your products by providing ongoing service and advice.
Because it’s social by nature, social media is also one of the most natural ways you can start building your conversational marketing strategy.
We recently interviewed Daniel Clayton, Digital Marketing Manager at Logitech, who highlighted that “responding to and engaging with your followers is hugely important. You’d be surprised how many brands won’t reply to a single comment out of the hundred that they get on their Instagram page. People forget that social media is meant to be social. You wouldn’t start a conversation with someone and then just walk out of the room!”
- SMS and messaging apps
More brands than ever are offering customers the opportunity to message them via Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs, Instagram messages or even on WhatsApp.
And it isn’t hard to see why, as that’s where customers can be found throughout a good portion of the day.
In fact, in RescueTime's recent study, researchers looked at the data from 11,000 users who actively used their app. They found that the majority of people, on average, spent a whopping 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day!
This makes messaging a highly convenient marketing channel, both for consumers and brands. Customers are likely to check messages frequently, and can choose to respond at their own convenience. There’s no obligation to engage in a full-on conversation then and there.
To find out more, head to our article on the types of conversational marketing that you might have missed.
Should conversational marketing be asynchronous or synchronous?
Often, when we think of personal conversations between customers and businesses, we think of a direct, back-and-forth dialogue that happens in real-time. Chatbots and phone calls, in particular, spring to mind.
But with conversational marketing, it's actually more beneficial to the customer to offer them an asynchronous - but still personal - relationship with your brand.
Basically, conversations should occur whenever the customer prefers — whether that's in real-time, after finishing their meeting, or later that night when they have a spare moment. As the conversation revolves around the customer’s availability, your staff might start talking with a customer at 7 in the morning over their first cup of coffee, get on with the rest of their day and then finish the conversation at 9pm, after they've put their kids to bed.
In the words of HubSpot’s Co-Founder, Dharmesh Shah:
"Customers should be able to pick up things right where they left off whenever it is convenient for them to continue. The key is to remember that conversational marketing should be designed around the needs of the customer — not the needs of the business."
For this reason, you should be looking away from solely relying on ‘traditional’ conversational tools - such as chatbots and messenger apps - and towards more innovative, asynchronous forms of communication - such as voice notes for business.
How to get started with conversational marketing
Now that we’ve covered what conversational marketing is and why it’s so important, let’s take a closer look at how you can start having meaningful marketing conversations with your own customers.
- When it comes to customer communication channels, think outside the box
This tip is all about considering your opportunities to stand out and shine. Start by thinking about where your audience are. Do they engage with you on Facebook? Or are they more active with their likes on your Instagram page?
If most customers get in touch with you through your website, why not engage them with voice messaging for websites, rather than simply using a chatbot to get the job done?
- Take a conversational approach to your entire marketing strategy
A good conversational marketing strategy should be omnichannel.
Rather than simply relying on chatbots to talk to customers for you, ensure that all of the marketing content you develop gives your audience something to react to, respond to, or act on, and ensure that when they do react, respond, or act, they know you're paying attention.
Using these insights, you can tailor potential conversations to your target market more effectively, and your responses will keep your brand high in your followers’ estimations.
- Personalisation is the way forward
Personalisation means leveraging customer data (using data collection tools) to deliver relevant content to consumers, at the right time, on the channels that matter most to them.
Customers tend to ignore irrelevant advertising and promotional content, but by offering customers the most relevant experiences and personalised content, you’ll be able to earn the trust and loyalty of your customers.
In fact, Instapage recently reported that 80% of shoppers say they are more likely to buy from a company that offers them a personalised experience, while 44% of consumers say they will likely become repeat buyers after having a personalised experience with a brand. For this reason, it’s important to weave personalisation into your conversational marketing strategy.
Again, more personal forms of marketing communication (such as voice messaging) work well to improve your on-site personalisation for customers. So, anywhere you can use a customer’s name in conversation, or reach out to ask them about a product they’ve recently purchased, don’t let the opportunity pass you by!
- Bring offline customers online
Offline and online marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. Each channel feeds into the other as we move through the buying journey. Whether it’s a tweet to customer services, or a hashtag on Instagram, the conversation isn’t over when we make a purchase.
Using social media, QR codes and other digital communication tools, marketers can - and should - use physical experiences to drive online engagement.
Let’s take a look at an example of a marketing team bringing customers’ offline experiences online:
Cosmetics brand Glossier is a firm favourite among millennials thanks to its digital roots and engaging content. It’s also renowned for its Instagrammable packaging, in which it encourages customers to share their unboxing experience online.
This is a brand that knows the value of offline-to-online marketing. Product designers learn from two-way conversations with fans who, in turn, get a customer experience worth sharing.
Luckily, you don’t need the world’s most beautiful packaging to get customers talking. A strategically placed QR code can proactively nudge customers to share their thoughts. This could be in the form of anonymous feedback, or user generated content to share with your community. It’s entirely up to you and your audience!
In today’s digital world, it’s easy to get caught up in trends and statistics and forget about the human element of business. But consumers in the digital age want a great customer experience, and this means they want a ‘real’ and human experience that they’re sure to remember. Customers want to feel like they’re an important part of your business and that they’ve made a good choice in picking you over your competitors.
Conversational marketing is the key to adding this human touch to your customers’ experiences; boosting customer loyalty, retention and helping you create a brand that truly gets people talking.
To find out more about how our voice recording and messaging platform can help supercharge your business’ conversational marketing strategy, get in touch with the team at telbee today. We’d love to hear from you!