[Update] What is Conversational Marketing?

Whether you’re a marketer or a marketing-savvy business-owner, you’ve probably heard the term 'conversational marketing' bandied about. Consumer expectations are rising at a rapid pace, so, creating relevant and contextual conversations is a must... This is where conversational marketing comes in.

What is conversational marketing? 

Conversational marketing is the process of using instant messaging (via a mix of live chat, chatbots and messaging apps) in order to engage prospects with your brand. The goal is to actively engage users in real-time rather than delaying responses via lead capture forms. The big idea of conversational marketing is to empower business owners to respond to new customer enquiries in the moment.

Conversational marketing tools, such as HubSpot's chatflows tool, are used to create pop-up instant messages which appear as you browse a website, answering your questions in real-time. You can set up customised chatbots for multiple pages of your website, programmed to ask the right questions and give relevant responses according to the page a visitor is viewing. This completely removes the need for contact forms - where potential customers have to wait for an email response or a call-back. Instead, their burning questions are answered instantly.  

Conversational Marketing is powerful because it taps into the way customers want to communicate. Martech Advisor's research shows that 85% of consumers would rather have a one-on-one conversation than fill out a form on a website. And in eliminating the need for forms, prospects are also far less likely to fall through the cracks. In short, conversational marketing tightens up the sales process:

"Conversational marketing is the fastest way to move buyers through your marketing and sales funnels through the power of real-time conversations. It builds relationships and creates authentic experiences with customers and buyers... Instead of forcing people to go through lead-capture forms and wait days for a response, conversational marketing uses targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage with people when they’re on your website."

Back in 2011, the Harvard Business Review found that firms who contacted customers within an hour of receiving a query were seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision-maker than those who waited longer. In fact, they were 60 times more likely to end up with a qualified lead than companies who waited 24 hours or longer. Fast forward ten years, and an hour now feels too long. According to HubSpot, 82% of consumers rate an immediate response as important or very important when they have a marketing or sales question. 

Chatbots give the feel of instant messaging, and the work of an experienced receptionist - with the added bonus of filtering out time-wasters and those who are likely to be a bad fit for your business. 

Benefits of conversational marketing

So, what are the benefits of conversational marketing?

1. It allows you to learn more about your customers

Having conversations with your visitors not only creates a more human experience, but helps you to learn more about them, and collect the information you need to qualify them further. Through the use of questions, you are able to gather data about their needs and pain points, resulting in a better understanding that you can use for further strategy.

2. It shortens the sales cycle

Conversational marketing cuts out the middle man. There's no form filling out and waiting around for someone to contact you for the next steps - conversations are instant, and using conversational marketing tools, such as chatbots, allow you to direct leads to the most suitable next steps, all in one conversation.

3. Around-the-clock availability 

Convenience is key nowadays, so being available 24/7 is a huge benefit to customers. Using chatbots, messaging apps and voice-messaging platforms allows conversations to happen quickly and easily, and when you offer that kind of convenience, you’re sure to keep them coming back for more. 

4. It creates a more human buying experience

One of the major benefits of conversational marketing is that it allows you to build relationships with your customers by delivering them an excellent, personalised customer experience. Through real-time conversations, customers can receive the one thing that buying online often lacks: human interaction.