A guide to conversational marketing: how to get it right (+ the best examples)

Getting conversational marketing right

More leads, quicker sales and happier customers. These are just some of the benefits of implementing conversational marketing as part of your growth strategy.

Conversational marketing is one of the buzzwords in digital marketing. But even though it’s a marketing tactic that’s rapidly gaining ground, many companies are yet to understand and fully leverage it to its full potential.

Conversational marketing is all about putting the humans (although sometimes they turn out to be chatbots) back into the sales process. We’ve gone so far in our efforts to digitize and automate the marketing funnel that, somewhere along the way, many started forgetting what sales is all about.

It’s about communication. And there is always a person on the other end. A human being.

And human beings like conversations. It’s how we communicate. Email drips, gated content and retargeting all play an essential role in the marketing funnel, but if you’re not also implementing conversational marketing – bringing back that human touch – then you’re missing out.

In this post, we’ll have a look at what conversational marketing is and how it can benefit your business.

 


What is conversational marketing?

Gartner defines conversational marketing as technologies that enable interactions between companies and customers; mimicking social dialogue – and doing so at scale. It’s done by employing persistent, session-based, cross-channel exchanges in the form of natural language dialogue, using a mix of text and audio.

"This technology enables a more authentic and effective interaction with consumers, and makes it easier for marketers to implement real-time techniques." Gartner

Conversational marketing techniques employ web, mobile and social messaging to reduce friction, improve conversions and raise customer satisfaction. It’s the quickest way to move prospects through the marketing and sales funnel, leveraging the power of good old real-time convos.

Some of the best apps you can use to power your conversational marketing strategy include:

(P.S. All of these apps connect with PieSync! That means it's easy to seamlessly sync customer data in these tools with your CRM, customer support software and other apps.)

Here's an example of how you could create an automated chatflow with HubSpot:

HubSpot conversational marketing

 

Why is conversational marketing effective?

One of the earliest uses of conversational marketing was Ask Jenn, Alaska Air's virtual assistant introduced to the world back in 2008:

Ask Jenn early example of conversational marketing

 

Yeah, quite a lot has changed since then. But many of the goals for conversational marketing remain the same.

There are several reasons why these marketing methods brings such great results. It turns the sales funnel upside down, and can dramatically shorten your sales cycle.

Instead of a long buyer’s journey taking detours via forms, email drips and sales calls, conversational marketing provides an opportunity to engage in real-time conversation with your prospects immediately at a time of their choosing - in other words, with perfect timing.

 

It builds trust

One reason conversational marketing is so effective is that it helps build trust. It creates relationships, and as any seasoned salesperson knows, trust and relationships are what sales is all about. Digitalization hasn’t changed that fact. But it does enable us to scale our sales conversations, in an unprecedented way.

As part of Drift's Conversational Framework, they realize conversational marketing comes down to how we've always had conversations and built relationships: by engaging, understanding and recommending.

Drift conversational framework

 

It’s convenient

The fact that we prefer typing out a message instead of picking up the phone is nothing new. Back in 2016, a survey by Twilio showed that 9 out of 10 people prefer to be able to send text messages to companies instead of calling or emailing. And now, many of us are eager to find the "post immediately to live chat" button when we need support from a company.

 

It’s immediate

A live chat allows your team to solve problems, answer questions and respond to any objections or hesitations immediately as they arise. Reducing friction and "bumps" in the buyer’s journey can have a massive impact on online conversion rates.


Plan your conversational marketing strategy and goals

There are a wide range of use cases for conversational marketing solutions, including all stages of the funnel: customer acquisition, qualification and engagement. Depending on the goals for conversational marketing, the strategy will differ. You might choose to focus on:

 

Goal 1: deliver more scalable and efficient conversations

By complementing chat agents with chatbots, conversations can be optimized and streamlined without the human element getting lost. Being able to handle several conversations at the same time, just as a support agent with live chat or a chatbot can do, can also contribute to as much as a threefold increase in productivity.

Intercom's research has found that 74% of consumers expect a chatbot to be available to provide website assistance, but only 15% of consumers prefer chatbots to humans for a quick interaction with a company. In fact, 87% of consumers still prefer interacting with a human than a chatbot, if given a choice.

Here's Intercom's summary of where humans win and where chatbots win, which can help your company to find the right balance and scale your strategy with the best of both:

Where chatbots and humans win

 

Goal 2: offer a stronger customer experience

Conversational marketing in general and live chat in particular can help you improve customer satisfaction.

A survey by Zendesk shows how live chat has a staggering 92% customer satisfaction rate, placing it ahead of channels like phone (88%) and email (85%). 63% of the respondents also said they’re more likely to revisit a website that has live chat and that they will visit more frequently.

With this goal in mind, you can reach out at exactly the right moment with valuable information and a quick way to route conversations to real people. A great example of a company that does this beautifully is Copper CRM:

Copper conversational marketing example


Conversational marketing best practices

Conversational marketing mistakes can be costly, so planning your strategy carefully and monitoring your results as go is crucial. Here are five pointers to get you started.

 

1. Don’t be slow

We’ve all grown accustomed to speed. At the click of a button, customers expect instant responses, support and value. Our patience in the digital world is continuously shrinking and is now very close to non-existent.

What does that mean in terms of sales and marketing? It means that if you let your customers wait, they’ll simply go elsewhere. In other words: long response times equals lost leads.

In a survey by Zendesk, 44% of participants stated that access to instant help through live chat is one of the most important features a company can offer. And in a survey by Drift measuring and comparing response times among 433 sales teams, the results were crystal clear: there’s a 10X decrease in your odds of making contact with a lead after the first 5 minutes.

 

2. Pay attention

Whether you have an actual agent responding in your live chat or a preprogrammed chatbot to kick things off, you need to make sure you pay attention to what the person on the other end is saying.

When conversational marketing is not calibrated well, it can severely damage your customer relationships. Chatbots may be robots, but that’s no excuse for them to sound robotic.

 

3. Use positive language

Train agents and program chatbots to frame things in a way the moves focus from problems to solutions. A positive language will have a calming and reassuring effect and convey a sense of professionalism. Never answer "no" or "that’s not possible" without providing an alternative solution. Positive language highlights what can be done, not what can’t be done.

 

4. Mirror your customer’s tone of voice

Many companies struggle with creating tone of voice guidelines for their chat agents. Of course, you want their tone to work with your overall identity. But it’s also often a good idea to pay attention to the level of formality your customer is using. If they are using emojis and abbreviations, so can you. But if they’re more on the formal side of things, try to stay there with them.

Digital conversations lack the cues we get from body language and facial expressions, which means that it’s easy to be misunderstood. Mirroring your customer will help you avoid that.

Yoga clothing brand Lululemon knows to use emoji, GIFs, and keep it conversational with their Facebook chatbot:

Conversational marketing example from Lululemon

 

5. Don’t be overly salesy

You know that annoying salesperson in the store who just won’t leave you alone, when all you want to do is browse a little and then go home; perhaps to return another day? Don’t be that person online.

Nobody responds well to feeling pressured into buying, and while that tactic may sometimes work in real life, it most definitely does not work in a digital situation.

The goal of conversational marketing is to be perceived as a trustworthy advisor, always available to answer any questions. That’s how prosperous customer relations are built.


Some of the best examples of conversational marketing in 2020

While many companies are implementing conversational marketing successfully, some do it a little bit better than most. Here are three examples of that:

 

Domino’s - making ordering pizza easy on your favorite channel

Domino’s let you order your pizzas and receive tracking information through Facebook Messenger, Slack, text messages, Amazon Alexa or your car as just a few examples. You can even order through a tweet!

This ambitious investment in conversational marketing has given Domino’s a strong competitive edge, and the former Domino’s CEO J. Patrick Doyle has even said: "We are as much a tech company as we are a pizza company".

Domino's conversational marketing with Slack

 

UBank’s RoboChat - an AI chatbot with a sense of humor

RoboChat is UBank’s virtual assistant, helping potential home buyers and refinancers complete their online loan applications. This chatbot is built with IBM’s super-smart AI, Watson, and continues to learn from customer engagements to become smarter and even more helpful with time.

RoboChat leans into the fact that it's a robot, but this chatbot excels in giving customers tailor-made help in a human-like way. Robochat even has a sense of humor! If you ask "How much does a hipster weigh?", Robochat answers "an insta-gram".

Robochat conversational marketing example

 

HelloFresh – chat with Freddy Freshbot on Facebook

HelloFresh, a well-known forerunner in the meal kit industry, has had great success with their chatbot Freddy Freshbot. Freddy interacts with customers through Facebook Messenger, making it super easy for users to explore the offer, and Freddy supports them all the way through their meal prep experience.

HelloFresh conversational marketing example


How will your business use conversational marketing?

Conversational marketing is here to stay. The sooner you learn to leverage it for your business, the sooner you will get to enjoy the positive results it can bring.

With modern technologies for conversational marketing, you can scale real-time customer conversations and shorten your sales cycle. These are conversations that build trust and reduce friction in the buying process, helping you serve your customers better while at the same time increasing your profits. Happier customers, happier company!

For the best results in your conversational marketing strategy, make sure to connect data across your apps. With PieSync, you can automatically sync data between your conversational marketing apps such as HubSpot, Intercom, Drift, and Zendesk and enrich your data everywhere else in your stack. Get started now with a free trial.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.