What It Really Means to Be A Conversational Marketer

Conversational marketing is the future.

Not only because prospects are tired of the way we traditionally market and sell to them, but because old school tactics are actually becoming ineffective.

Just stop and think about it for a second: Do your email opens, reply rates, or landing page conversions seem… low?

Well, that’s because they are.

And it’s not because you don’t have the right call to action or the most compelling headline–it’s due to the fact that we’re experiencing a massive case of traditional marketing fatigue.

We marketers see the effects of this every single day: on average, only 20% of people open our emails, and only 2.35% convert from landing pages.

Ouch.

Despite their decline in performance, marketers still regularly execute on these tactics.

You might say it’s the definition of insanity: We know they don’t work, but because we’re so risk-averse, we keep hammering on the same old strategies anyway, hoping for a different outcome.

So, what’s holding us back from going conversational?

Figuring out how to make it scale. When people hear something like conversational marketing, they immediately think, “So, who’s going to staff that?” Or, “How will this impact my other demand gen efforts?”

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As a marketer, I completely understand that perspective. After all, we’re drowning in metrics and requests from other departments.

But there are a lot of misconceptions about what it takes to make conversational marketing work. In reality, a few changes up-front can drive huge results with only a small investment of time.

Practice Marketing At The Speed of Conversation

At Drift, we’re obsessed with putting customers first. But before someone can become a customer, they’re a prospect. Which means they’re going to do all the things that prospects do when they’re considering a purchase, like visit your website, spend time on various landing pages, read posts, and maybe even subscribe to your blog.

At this point in time, you’ve got two options:

  1. Force your prospect to fill out a form on your site. Then immediately start sending them a series of irrelevant and impersonal emails, or let their contact info languish in a database somewhere, to be “nurtured” later.
  2. Start a conversation with your prospect while they’re on your website. Make it about the prospect, and not your sales objective. Capitalize on the opportunity to show genuine interest in their business right now, not later.

So, which one sounds better to you?

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say option number two.

That’s because in the history of B2B marketing, no one has ever really liked B2B marketing–it’s friction-filled, impersonal, and it puts the buyer’s needs last.

Conversations, on the other hand, are timely and personal.

They address what a customer wants or needs right now, which may be something as simple as more information, or to talk to someone who can help them buy. It all depends on where they’re at in the buyer’s journey.

That’s why it’s so important for us to market at the speed of conversation.

By making it possible for your prospects to talk to you when they land on your site, you’ll do three awesome things for your demand gen efforts:

Capitalize on the high intent of a visitor to your website.
As a marketer, you’re doing all that you can to get people to notice your brand. When people make it to your site, it’s a sign that something is working.

But it doesn’t mean anything unless you can engage those visitors and get them to buy, right? Right. So don’t send them to a page with a form–talk to them right now with chat.

Maybe that means splitting up chat duties between marketing team members, or maybe you’ve got some BDRs (or learning development reps, LDRs) that can jump in and answer questions. You could also use a bot to handle responses automatically. Any way you slice it, if you’re not talking to people who land on your site, you’re missing out on the momentum and insight that comes from that conversation.

Remove all the unnecessary “steps” involved in getting someone to see the value of your product.
Let’s say you have a complex product or you’re in a crowded market with lots of competitors. You’ve noticed that people need a lot of content to understand the value of what you sell, so you think it might be a good idea to send them through an email drip campaign. It’s educational, right? And maybe they’ll eventually decide to buy or talk to a rep?

Maybe. But probably not.

Studies show that lead response times have a massive impact on whether or not you close someone. So set up that first line of defense by letting people talk to you on your website. If you don’t convert them with that effort the first time, you can still drop them into a smart marketing email campaign that continues the conversation later.

Simplify your metrics.
Sales and marketing teams have seen their share of misalignment. And a lot of that is due to the fact that as marketers, we’ve made it really hard to understand the impact of our activities on what the rest of the company cares about: revenue.By embracing conversational marketing and getting chat on your site, you’ll start to simplify your areas of focus: driving qualified traffic to your site, having conversations with prospects, and closing them to drive more revenue.

My colleague, Dan, breaks this down further:

Where This Fits In With the Rest of Your Marketing

Paid search and programmatic. Content marketing and syndication. Webinars. Social. Email nurturing. Marketers are doing a ton to drive growth and awareness.

So why am I asking you to think about conversational marketing?

Because it has the power to super-charge everything you’re already doing, as well as create even more opportunities for marketers with a highly performant funnel.

How?

By shortening the distance between these efforts, and getting at what people are really thinking with a conversation.

For example, if you’ve got a bunch of landing pages and you’re using AdWords to drive people to them in the hopes that they’ll book a demo, experiment with a page that has Drift chat on it instead of a form. Whether it’s staffed by a human or a bot, you’ll engage with traffic to your landing page on a 1:1 basis, and remove the friction of having to fill out a form field first.

You can even leverage content offer pages in much the same way: Instead of directing people to a landing page with gated content and a form, you can (and should) send them to a landing page with the content entirely accessible. Then you can engage with the prospect about that content using Drift. Ask them questions that are related to the topic at hand to kick things off, or if they want to chat with a sales rep then, they can book a meeting with a bot.

Even if you use forms and it’s working for you (congratulations, that’s hard to do these days), you can set up a second net with chat functionality that engages with visitors that might not complete a form. This will deliver an extra boost to your already performant process.

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So, in terms of what’s actually required to get started with conversational marketing, here’s a list:

  1. You’ve got a website or landing page(s). Most modern marketing is focused on activities that raise awareness and drive traffic to your website or landing pages. If you’ve got either of these things, you can get started with conversational marketing–specifically, chat–in a few minutes.Best thing is, you don’t have to worry about how it fits in with the rest of your tech stack–tools like Drift, which are designed for conversational marketing, play nice with Salesforce, Slack, and all the other tools you use on a regular basis.
  2. You’ve got the ability to test chat out initially on maybe 1-2 pages. Get going in a few minutes by testing chat on high intent pages at first–perhaps your pricing page, or a landing page that highlights your most popular feature.
  3. You’re able to provide responses to chats either by a human, or a bot. A lot of marketers worry about being able to staff chat. But there are so many ways to manage this easily. By experimenting with Drift on one or two pages to start out, you’ll load test the amount of conversations that happen on your site and see how to handle it internally. In most cases, a Learning Development Rep (LDR) or Sales Development Rep (SDR) can handle most of the volume. If not, you can alternate between using the Driftbot and a human.

You’ve Got To Remember Three Things

As a marketer, your job is to drive leads to your sales team. You could do that the same way you’ve been doing it for years–and get the same results–or you could experiment with conversations to really drive and hit those objectives. And, it’s worth noting that with the right conversational marketing tool, it’s not a huge lift, either.

Just have to keep a few things in mind:

✔ Conversations are like mini funnels. Chat gives marketers the ability to create mini-funnels anywhere they want using conversations. And those conversations are more efficient because they’re happening in real-time and contextualized by what’s on a page.

It’s not something you have to do alone. We’re experiencing a transformational shift in the way we market. For B2B marketers who want to remain relevant, evolution is crucial in order to meet the needs of buyers. Leverage your marketing team, BDRs, and your whole org to get ahead of this trend. At Drift, everyone talks to prospects and customers–not just the marketing and sales teams, so see if there’s a way to share responsibilities.

Chats are what prospects actually want. 90% of buyers would prefer to message a business to get what they want instead of getting a hard sell. Embrace this, and use chat to get closer to them. If someone visits a landing page about pricing, capitalize on high intent with a conversation. If they make repeated visits to pages about your product, use chat to ask them if they want some help.

With a small investment of time up-front and the right tool, it’s easy to make conversational marketing a part of your regular practice.

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