3 Key Elements to a Successful Conversational Marketing Strategy

Over the last few years, marketers have become increasingly obsessed with data. From click-through-rates and retargeting stats to open rates and session duration, ironically, many marketers subsequently overlook what their customers want and need.

Traditional marketing and sales practices often result in cold, detached experiences for customers as a result of this emphasis on hard numbers. Poorly executed automation practices make interactions with brands feel robotic and inauthentic.

A study from Accenture reveals that a whopping “91 percent of consumers are more inclined to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.”

By focusing solely on data and not on what their customers are interested in, companies are losing out.

Now, I’m not suggesting that companies should delete their tracking codes and swear off Google Analytics, because that would be utterly ridiculous. I’m merely pointing out that the companies who fail to act like the humans they are and think of their customers as likes, clicks, and views, can come up short.

However, there’s a way to fix this problem, and it’s a lot easier than many think.

Conversational marketing is an interaction-driven approach to marketing that increases engagement, grows brand loyalty, and helps identify areas of improvement based on feedback. This type of approach puts customers first. Interactions are two-way conversations instead of one-sided.

But why is this important?

According to Gartner, AI will be an integral part of the customer experience investment in the coming years. They claim that 47 percent of companies will use chatbots for customer care and 40 percent will employ virtual assistants.

So, where do we go from here? Updating your existing practices to have a conversational component will add a human element that your existing customers will appreciate and your new customers will love.

Make it personalized

These days, consumers expect just about everything personalized in some way. This craving for customization can be attributed to a desire for connection, so many customers expect this when interacting with a brand.

Seen throughout marketing strategies in many ways, personalization is integrated most often in chatbots. Chatbots can provide this level of customization while being timely and efficient.

According to Customer Think, satisfaction ratings for live chat are often higher than other support channels, probably due to the accessibility, speed and conversational nature. It’s no surprise that live chat is the preferred support channel of Millennials.

Potential customers can get the exact information they need about a product, and existing customers can check on the status of an order all within one feature.

For example, Amazon does an excellent job with executing this conversational marketing tactic. From suggested smart responses to quick links, Amazon makes checking an order, changing an address or requesting a refund as easy as texting a friend.

Chatbot technology has come a long way since the Alice and SmarterChild days. The addition of quirks and other human elements make today’s chatbots feel more conversational than ever before.

This rings true for every interaction you have with your existing and potential customers. Whether you’re sending an email about a new product launch or delighting customers with a “thank you for being a customer” gift, taking steps to establish those personal connections can mean a world of difference.

Listen to your customers’ feedback

Don’t get me wrong -- have access to customer data whether it’s information on their shopping behavior, interests or income is extremely valuable. But don’t overlook the value in raw customer feedback. That’s where you’ll find the gold.

It’s important to listen to what your customers are saying so you can not only help solve the problem at hand but identify pain points that might be impacting other customers.

If your customers tell you in detail about what a terrible experience they had with your product, it’s worth investigating. If multiple customers have reported a similar experience, there may be a more significant issue at hand.

Pro Tip: Make it easy for your customers to leave feedback. Any feedback from your customers is a direct insight into their experience with your product or service -- even if it seems unfair or invalid.

You can use this feedback to make improvements to your business in whatever capacity that may be, from how you handle customer service inquiries to product launches.

Have conversations per the customer’s availability

A critical part of effective conversational marketing is timeliness -- and by that, I mean being on the customer’s time. Conversations should take place per the availability of the customer, whether that’s now, after work or tomorrow morning.

According to Harris Interactive & RightNow Technologies, 77 percent of customers think it takes too long to reach a live agent on the phone and will wait an average of 11 minutes before hanging up.

So what does this mean?

It means that being able to have conversations on the customer’s watch makes a considerable difference in the success of those conversations. This gives the customer the power to dictate when they’d like to engage with a brand, which usually means a successful outcome.

It is vital for companies to reply to customers promptly, but what’s more important is to continue the discussion on their time. Having a robust customer service process will help you ensure nothing slips through the cracks, even hours after the chat has idled.

This may seem like an entirely separate component of your business, but any interaction you have with your customers is a chance to establish a connection, even if they are contacting you about a negative experience.

It also provides an opportunity for your brand to stand out. Being both timely and conversational is the name of the game.

Wrap up

This isn’t a new approach to marketing; businesses have always been able to have conversations with potential and existing customers, just not at this level.

This approach paired with continual improvements in marketing technology, forging real connections with customers has never been more tangible.

WritingKat Ambrose