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What is Conversational Marketing and Why is it Important for Sales Growth?

By Dave Scilabro on May 29, 2019 12:36:45 PM |

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Conversational Marketing probably isn't a term you're familiar with but you should be. It's probably the fastest growing marketing or sales technology segment at the moment and for good reason. Conversational Marketing helps companies meet potential customers where they are in their buyer's journey, quickly engages them in helpful, two-way conversations, and moves them through the sales funnel with lightning fast speed!

Selling Has Become Less Conversational

Selling via conversations isn't an original idea. It's the way a business traditionally sold their products and services. Conversations with customers helped to educate, assess need, qualify, and inevitably close deals.

That dynamic shifted when companies started printing product catalogs, sending direct mail, and producing print ads to capture people’s attention. This helped consumers and businesses make seemingly informed buying decisions without being harassed by salespeople eager to make their sales quota.

With the evolution of the internet in the 1990's, catalogs went online, forms and emails replaced real conversations, and the customer's experience continued to become less personal and contextual.

Without real conversations buyers don’t get the information they really need or the experience they really want. They don't like all the walls we’ve put up and have countered by opting-out of emails campaigns and screening calls.

As a result, sellers aren’t getting the leads they want, customer acquisition costs keep going up and conversion rates go down.

The Rise of Messaging

Over the last decade, messaging has revolutionized the way people communicate. People are more comfortable with texting on their mobile devices as their preferred method of communication. Messaging provides a simple, two-way communication between people and has evolved from texting, to instant messaging, to live chat, and now automated chatbots.

As a result, live chat and more so, chatbots, are rapidly becoming the preferred method for buyers and consumers to engage with businesses. Thanks to technology, we're all busier than we've ever been ever and have come to expect real-time responses or answers to our questions instantly.

This means that when people interact with businesses they often opt for the live chat or chatbot option online when available. It keeps them at a safe distance from sellers while quickly satisfying their need for information.

What are Chatbots?

The best way to think about chatbots are essentially as AI-powered digital sales assistants. Utilizing chatbots with a conversational marketing blueprint can essentially eliminate the endless cycle of emails, unanswered phone calls, and voicemail messages for consumers and the businesses they interact with.

“By 2020 consumers will handle 85% of engagements with businesses without ever interacting with another human being.” - Gartner Research

Think about that for a moment... chatbots work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to quickly engage, educate, qualify, and delight your prospects and customers through a "chat" interface. This allows for a highly-personalized and scalable marketing and sales effort, not to mention a great customer experience.

It's not surprising that chatbots have quickly become the must-have weapon in the arsenal of most progressive sales and marketing teams.

Why? Simply, because they work.

Live Chat versus Chatbots

When was the last time you talked to someone via live chat? Did you get the immediate answer to your question or were you asked for your email address so they can get back to you "as soon as possible"? More than likely, you were asked for your email address or just left hanging for what seemed like an eternity before a live rep responded to your chat.

It’s a terrible customer experience when you want a quick answer to your question and can’t get it. It’s more than frustrating. If you gave them your email address you might have waited several days before getting a response. More likely, you went to a competitors website to see if you could satisfy you need for information there instead.

Live chat is great tool for businesses if properly implemented and monitored. It can even help you move your prospects from where they are in the buyer's journey to the bottom of the sales funnel faster. Unfortunately, more often than not, companies don't give enough attention to live chat, don't have anyone logged in, or their sales reps just treat it as a nuisance. Either way, it inevitably leads to customer dissatisfaction.

The other major issue with live chat is that it's just not feasible to staff live chat reps to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Most qualified buyers don't have the time during "business hours" to reach out and engage. Most of their research is done during off hours, when live chat reps aren't available.

This does nothing but create a longer than necessary sales cycle where buyers tend to lose interest.

The Rise of Conversational Marketing

When customers have questions, they want answers and they usually want those answers immediately. People have lost faith in filling out online forms only to have a salesperson call or email them hours or even days later. By that time, they've already moved on. They've reached out to another company to find the answers they were looking for.

Conversational Marketing reduces the friction. It eliminates any reason for prospect or customer to move on to another company to help them solve their problem.

Conversational Marketing

"By 2020, conversational marketing will be a recognized channel of B2B and B2C customer engagement and revenue, displacing a combination of marketing, sales and service activities." - Gartner Research

Making it Personal and Contextual

Using chatbots with a conversational marketing playbook allows for a personalized and contextual conversation every time they come to your site, helping them move further down the sales funnel.

For example, a prospect who had been on your site before and downloaded an e-book returns and lands on your pricing page. You don't want to greet them with the same welcome message they received the last time they visited. That would be awkward and impersonal. Instead of just welcoming them to the website all over again, you can add personalization and context to your chatbot conversation, like this:

"Hey, Jenn! It looks like we're starting to get serious. Which product did you have pricing questions on?"

More Leads and a Shorter Sales Cycle

The bottom line is simple. Conversational marketing works because it helps companies get more leads from the marketing dollars they've already spent by engaging those visitors quickly, qualifying them as leads, and moving them to the bottom of your sales funnel in minutes rather than weeks. This shorter sales cycle with more qualified leads works simply by creating more opportunities for your sales team to close in a single conversation.

Most companies consistently lose more opportunities they didn't even know they had or bothered to measure. The number one cause of that "lost opportunity" is simply "speed to lead".

Think about it how you interact with businesses...

You can fill out a form and wait... and wait some more. By the time they get back to you (if they respond at all) you might have solved the problem elsewhere or lost interest in solving the problem, but one thing is for sure... you've definitely lost interest in that company.

"If you engage with a lead within five minutes of them indicating interest in your offer, you’re 100 times more likely to actually speak with them than if you wait even 30 minutes. The odds of qualifying that lead are also 21 times higher." - InsideSales

Additional Features and Benefits of Conversational Marketing

If that's not enough to consider, here's a few more reasons why you should consider a conversational marketing strategy for your organization:

  • Quickly Engage Prospects - Capture a prospects attention when they visit your web properties and start a conversation.
  • Monitor Engagement in Real-Time - With a dedicated desktop and mobile apps, your reps can monitor bot interactions in real-time as they happen and jump in at any point to take over the conversation from the bot.
  • Generate and Qualify More Leads Faster - Turn over 20% more website visitors into actual leads by guiding engaged prospects through lead qualifying conversations not forms.
  • Intelligent Routing - Get new leads and current customers to the right reps on your team instantly for unprecedented "speed to lead" and customer service.
  • Book More Demos & Meetings- Fill your calendar with qualified leads by scheduling straight from your sales reps calendars in the chatbot window without any of the usual back and forth.
  • Account Based Marketing - Ensure named accounts get special attention the moment they engage on your website and immediately notify their account reps.
  • Anonymous Visitor Intelligence - Give your sales team instant insights into visitors company names, location, size, and more with using natively integrated third party data.
  • Instantly Sync with Your CRM - Every conversation and every response is mapped to your CRM to gather actionable intelligence for sales and marketing.
  • Triggered Automation - Connect bots and chat to automatically trigger workflows and sequences from your CRM and marketing automation platforms.
  • Automated Help Center - Answer customer questions while you sleep with knowledge-based bots that trigger a library of answers through keywords.
  • Give Your Brand an Actual Voice - Engage customers with consistent words, phrases, and tone to create a consistent brand voice that won't surprise you.
  • Bots are Always Working - Chatbots are virtual 24/7/365 Sales Dev Rep & Demand Generation teams that never sleep or take personal time.

Still have questions about Conversational Marketing?

You can chat with ALBot (the HarvestROI chatbot) and book some time to talk with us!

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Conversational Marketing

Dave Scilabro

Written by Dave Scilabro

A veteran sales and marketing executive, brand builder, and entrepreneur who believes in authenticity, transparency, and creating an innovative customer experience that turns your prospects into customers and evangelists of your brand.
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