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Digital Transformation

Conversational Marketing: Old School Meets New School

Why Is Everyone Talking about Conversational Marketing?

Conversational Marketing, a term originally coined by the company Drift, has taken on many forms and definitions over the past few years. If you ask five professional marketers the definition and what ‘makes up’ conversational marketing, you may get five different understandings. Is it a variation of personalization? Is it just another term for AI? Is it the use of automated bots, live chat function, actual live conversations (go figure), etc…?

It’s actually all of the above, leveraged properly together to create great user experiences and garner consumer insights, thus enhancing lead generation activity and customer loyalty. Conversational marketing is typically done with the goal of shortening the sales cycle, but there’s a lot more to it.

As mentioned, most marketers immediately think of AI and technology tools including live chat, chatbots, and social monitoring. Yes, those tools are great at enabling conversational marketing to help foster interactions between companies and consumers that mimic human dialogue and do so at scale. However, conversational marketing isn’t just about new technology and the use of that technology alone to nurture genuine conversations. It is the return to businesses communicating organically in 1:1, personalized conversations with consumers. It’s crossing (and in some cases blurring) the lines between technology and human interaction. It’s an Old School concept that meets New School technology.

An example of a conversational marketing flow is utilizing technology, such as live chat, to first engage the consumer on the website via an event trigger, then utilize bots for initial conversations to learn more about the consumer and understand need/intent (qualifying them as a lead in real-time), then use the bots’ intelligent routing to shift the ‘conversation’ to a representative for human interactions. Thus allowing the rep to focus on getting the consumer to the next step and spend their time selling, not qualifying.

Through a better informed personalized conversation, you’re able to establish a deeper connection with consumers. When someone lands on your site, it is an opportunity for you to engage with them and begin those consumer relationships. Utilizing technology to engage and learn more about the visitor allows the human representative to make more informed recommendations to the visitor, creating a more personalized and better user experience.

The goal of conversational marketing should always revolve around enhancing your user’s experience while minimizing friction.

An effective conversational marketing strategy can:

  • Create a more authentic human experience with your brand
  • Deepen consumer engagement, confidence, and loyalty
  • Quantify the impact of marketing and sales campaigns
  • Inform you about your customers’ intentions and interactions
  • Improve user satisfaction via a more personalized experience
  • Shorten your sales cycle

How to Get the Conversation Started

Conversational marketing is the most successful when you can make an experience more delightful for the end user, not threatening or intrusive. Conversations should happen naturally and organically, and not feel forced. Ease into it and add to what you are already doing by augmenting your marketing strategy, not replacing it. Steps you can take now include:

  • Map the current customer journey and audit the experience.
  • Identify the communication silos across marketing, sales, and support.
  • Look for interactions in your business that are popular, predictable, and impactful.
  • Create a dialog map and role-play the interactions and trigger questions to create user stories in a conversational manner.
  • Identify conversation flows that can be automated. Again, conversation role-play and testing are critical to uncovering repeatable obstacles in a dialog.
  • Uncover event triggers and create branches of the conversation for hand-off from automated interaction to human interactions to continue the human-centric experience.

Remember, personalization is key in conversational marketing. A personalized solution takes user data into account when drafting responses to questions your users may have about your brand. These interactions can help strengthen the consumer’s relationship to your brand by fostering a one-on-one connection.

One of the best times to leverage conversational interactions is when consumers are researching products to purchase and would like help deciding which item to buy. Allowing the customer to initiate a conversation or allowing an employee to assist the prospective customer with their pre-sales research process will dramatically increase the probability of conversion.

Conversational marketing has matured greatly with the evolution of AI technology and is ready for prime consideration in your company’s marketing strategy. Done correctly, the authentic, personalized, human-centric experience will create better user experiences with your brand while creating a stronger lead generation program to shorten your sales-cycles.

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Kevin Colletti, Director, Digital Strategy & Innovation

Kevin Colletti is Director of Digital Strategy at Perficient. He has extensive experience working with client senior management teams to develop innovative digital strategies driven by measurable results. Creating simplified digital solutions out of complex client problems is where he thrives the most.

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