As marketers, we have a habit of getting obsessed with metrics.
How many clicks did this article get? How many leads did we capture with that form? Which headline A/B tested better?
In our drive to track everything, we’ve lost sight of what really matters–real people and real conversations.
But, that is changing. Marketing is changing.
Why? Because people are tired of being sold to. They are tired of being told what they “just have to have.”
They are looking for solutions to their problems, not smooth talkers who say one thing and deliver another.
Enter conversational marketing.
Conversational marketing, a feedback-based approach to marketing, provides consumers with a better user experience while making it easier than ever for businesses to capture leads, offer support, and facilitate sales.
The future of marketing lies in conversations; is your business ready?
Here is everything you need to know about conversational marketing and how to include it in your 2019 marketing strategy.
Reduce Your Sales Funnel Length With A Website Chatbot
Ah, sales funnels.
Those pesky maps for moving your clients from a stranger to a brand ambassador often seem set in stone.
Take a look at this standard sales funnel, from Venngage’s The State of Lead Gen in 2019.
It is a long process, right?
You write blog content, get a few visitors to your site, use lead magnets to get even fewer people on your list, hope a few of those people buy something, and, then—maybe, one day— start promoting your products to others.
It is a tale as old as marketing itself. But, there’s a better way.
Chatbots are nifty little programs that have real, live conversations with your customers. Chatbots are available at 2 am on Sunday, 4:45 pm on Friday, or any other day of the week. They answer questions, share information, and can even tell jokes.
Take a look at this bot on Landbot’s site.
The conversation flows naturally, the bot even adds GIFs and emoticons. Answer options guide the discussion, but it doesn’t feel stilted or awkward. The user feels in control of the conversation.
And there isno need to fill out a 13 question lead form and wait to hear back.
Here is another example, from Walls.io, a program that lets you curate and display content from multiple social media platforms in one space.
Walter, their bot, guides you through options, then offers to connect you with a real person.
Website chatbots help reduce the time between sales funnel steps by figuring out where they are in your funnel, and guiding them to the next step–while letting the customer feel in control.
Chatbots can also eliminate the need for lead forms and deliver more qualified leads.
The best thing about chatbots?You can create one in less than two minutes, with no coding skills needed.
Answer Customer Questions in Real Time With Live Chat
Is terrible customer service costing you? Probably.
According to HelpScout, US companies lose more than 62 billion dollars a year in revenue due to poor customer support.
That is $62 billion inentirely preventable losses. The kicker? People are more than willing to spend more for better service. In the US, consumers are willing to spend 17% more on brands with excellent customer service. Consumers are also more than willing to take their business elsewhere if your support is lacking. In fact, 66% of consumers who switch brands do so because of poor service.
Another bonus? It is much easier to sell to an existing, happy customer than it is to find and convert a new customer.
If you are not focusing on customer service, you could be losing out on thousands of dollars in sales.
So, what are your options?
You can hire live customer service reps to answer calls. At an average hourly rate of $13.63 an hour, that will run you around $30,000 a year per employee, plus benefits.
You could outsource your customer service. But the cost can still be prohibitive and the quality of your customer service may suffer due to lack of training and language barriers.
Or, you could use live chat software to tap into your knowledge base software, like so:
But, will customers use live chats? Wouldn’t they rather talk to a live person?
Here’s the thing: 53% of customers prefer to use online chat over talking to a support agent on the phone. Thirty percent of shoppers expect sites to offer live chat. Plus, by tapping into your knowledge base software, you can offer customers better service than a chatbot alone.
Incorporate live chat and multiple calls to action to improve your customer service:
It is time to get onboard: live chat is quickly becoming a must-have feature.
Create More Personal Conversations
Poorly designed chatbots and live chats end up creating stilted, lifeless conversations that reek of marketing.
To get the most out of conversational marketing, you need to use more personalized language.
Nearly 70% of companies report using marketing personalization in some form, mostly in email marketing.
Plus, 88% of marketers see improvements in performance when they use personalized content.
With all of the customized emails, podcast episodes, and A/B testing tools out there, the personalization trend isn’t new–but conversational marketing is.
How do you combine the two?
Start by asking more natural questions. Pretend you are at a networking event and striking up a conversation with a stranger.
For example, instead of “How can I help?” get a bit more personal, such as “Where do you work?” or “What industry are you in?”
You might also ask, “What is your biggest hurdle in X industry?” or “How many people are on your team?”
These questions will help qualify your responses and offer a more personal experience, whether you use live chat or chatbots.
For inspiration, use the tool Answer the Public, which uses provides dozens of questions that real people are asking online.
The example below shows the results for “chatbots.”
There are hundreds of questions real people are asking!
In live chat, it can also be challenging to spell check or edit grammar, which can leave a poor impression on customers.
Consider using a grammar tool to check spelling and grammar on the fly:
Remember, the goal of conversational marketing is to step away from the marketing-speak and have a real conversation. So, aim for a natural tone.
Grammarly’s Goal function can help you adjust your writing to your audience. When you plug in your content, the goals feature will pop up.
Click the options to tell Grammarly a bit about who your audience is and describe your goals.
Then, Grammarly will make suggestions to help you customize your content to your audience, resulting in a more relaxed, natural tone.
Take It To Mobile With SMS Messaging
What if website chatbots aren’t the right fit for your company? What if you want friction in your lead forms to keep out the tire-kickers?
The truth is, live chat isn’t right for every brand.
Sometimes long lead forms are long on purpose, to ensure your leads are qualified.
So, how can you get the benefits of conversational marketing without the live chat?
We’ve already mentioned website chatbots to replace those long lead forms, but there are other options.
If only there were an item, a device if you will, that people spent hours a day staring at.
The average person spends between three and five hours a day on their mobile phone.
In fact, most of us spend more time browsing the internet on our phone than our laptops, as you can see in the HubSpot chart below.
As an added bonus, text messages have the highest open rate in the industry. Consider this: typical open rates for text messages come in at around 98%, versus email’s paltry 25% open rate.
Engagement rates are higher for text messages, as well. Up to eight times higher than email.
In addition to a chatbot, they also used text messaging to send customers links to pay and purchase, creating a concierge-like experience.
The 1-1 connection created by text messaging allows you to customize messages and provide value instead of badgering customers with ads or content they don’t care about.
Conversational eCommerce? Yep, That’s A Thing
Chatbots can replace lead forms. Live chat can replace customer support.
But can conversational marketing help you make ecommerce sales? Totally. Here’s how.
Do you struggle to find the perfect gift at the holidays? It is a familiar struggle for plenty of people.
Nordstrom decided to offer a solution. The high-end brand is known for its generous return policy and delivering top-notch, personalized customer service.
For the holidays, they took their personalized service step further by helping customers find the perfect gift.
The conversation starts by asking questions such as “Where would you find this person on the weekends?” and “What emoji relates to this person?” Then, it offers suggestions for gifts based on your answers.
Want to talk to a live person? The bot can do that, too.
Domino’s created every college student’s dream in a chatbot that lets you order pizza without ever talking to a real person.
Dom, the friendly chat bot gets right down to the business.
A lot of conversational marketing is focused on improving ecommerce SEO, sharing information, or qualifying leads; but there are massive opportunities for actual sales as well.
You can move users down the funnel with chatbots, then implement other advanced ecommerce tools like recommended products, faceted site search, cart-level discounts, and signature collection to close deals:
But, there is a tiny problem with online shopping that most ecommerce sites fail to address.
When you shop online, you lose part of the shopping experience. You can’t pick up a shirt to feel the fabric, try on jeans to see if they fit just right, or swipe a lipstick on your hand to see how the shade looks on your skin.
Which is why beauty and fashion bots have grown in popularity in the last few years.
Levi’s, for example, helps customers sort through hundreds of different jean options with Indigo, their bot who suggests jeans based on your preferences.
Tell Indigo what type of leg you want, the length, and the rise, and it will suggest several pairs of jeans. If you don’t like any of those options, choose your favorite and click, “More like this.”
Indigo is the perfect solution for reducing option overload on a website with literally hundreds of jean options.
Sephora’s Facebook chatbot lets you ‘try’ on different styles via your camera, shop for related products, and even schedule an appointment.
According to Chatbot Guide, the beauty brand’s bot has an 11% higher conversion rate over other channels for booking makeover appointments.
Does this work outside of the beauty and fashion industry?
You don’t have to sell jeans or makeup to help customers navigate your product options. Chatbots can also help consumers find the right item on eBay.
You can also use a chatbot to find the right hotel, or discover new music.
Conversational marketing is taking the digital world by storm, and it is easy to see why.
More than ever, people want to talk to other people, rather than fill out a generic lead form and wait for a call back. They want support now, not just between 9 and 5 Eastern.
Customers want to talk to businesses on their own terms, and conversational marketing makes that happen. If you want to succeed, it is time to stop obsessing over metrics and start creating personal experiences.
Have you implemented conversational marketing in your business? What challenges have you faced?