The way people interact is changing today. Think about how you connect with your friends today: Instagram stories, Facebook Messenger, etc
Technology like this has helped us become accustomed to an instant exchange of information — our connections with the people in our lives and our broader world now happen in real time.
But most of the B2B marketing world hasn’t caught up to how humans live their lives now — and it’s no shocker that those who haven’t are struggling to connect with audiences and deliver on lofty revenue-based goals. But today, B2B marketers resting on outdated “best practices” like gated PDFs followed up promptly by cold calls, are committing a cardinal marketing sin: they’re forgetting that as marketers we are always talking to people. And the communication patterns and preferences of the people we spend our days working to connect with are dynamic and evolving rapidly alongside technology.
So how do savvy marketers respond to these changes, and drive real results today? A new way of conceptualizing the marketing you’re already doing: conversational marketing.
And it works — leads from conversational marketing convert at rates five times higher than traditional sources.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing is an intimate, personal approach to marketing that drives faster sales cycles and a better customer experiences by humanizing marketing through one-to-one interactions.
Drift explains conversational marketing in a three-part framework: Capture, Qualify and Connect.
Conversational marketing flips the script on slow, impersonal marketing that is “best practice” for many B2B companies today where marketing looks a lot like this:
Whereas conversational marketing relies on experiences that treat people like people, employing personal connection and a question and answer framework that is still results driven, like the example below from Drift:
It isn’t hard to imagine how this immediate, personal, and efficient marketing strategy can transform both your customers’ experience, as well as have a huge impact on your bottom line. But conversational marketing doesn’t start and end with live chat on your website.
For conversational marketing to be effective, you have to meet your prospects where they are — and that means creating opportunities for conversation across your marketing.
A successful conversational marketing program includes three pillars that allow you to engage your prospects in qualifying conversations across channels and programs…
The three pillars of conversational marketing:
B2B marketers have historically struggled with how social media fits into their marketing, citing the need for a professional tone and longer sales cycles as reasons to not engage with prospects and customers directly on social.
But conversational marketing blows those old arguments out of the water, and makes clear the value social media can have for B2B brands. Instead of thinking about social media as scary, uncertain terrain, B2B marketers looking to see real results from conversational marketing should instead think of it as an opportunity for connection, and integrate it with their current marketing activities.
Here you can see an example from Hubspot about how Facebook Messenger can be utilized by brands to create a human experience that is also incredibly effective marketing.
B2B marketers could imagine this conversation happening between a Facebook Messenger bot and a prospect where instead of real estate listings, the awesome content you have already created to support your traditional marketing efforts are shared.
The same approach can be taken on other platforms like Twitter and Instagram by keeping a friendly and open tone, and engaging with your followers in strategic ways, like through Twitter Chats.
Remember that qualify step we talked about before (capture, qualify, connect)? This is where strategic interactive content becomes the powerhouse of your conversational marketing program.
Interactive content, like assessments and interactive PDFs, flips the script on traditional activity-based lead scoring and instead opens a conversation. Making your content interactive allows you to treat your prospects like people and simply ask them what they are looking for, or even collect qualifying data on prospects.
Transforming your existing content by making it interactive opens the door to conversation earlier than ever before. And that’s what conversational marketing is really about: swapping bad assumptions about your prospects based on what they click for actually asking them what they actually want via questions and answers.
Live chat is often what people think of first when they imagine conversational marketing. These are the chat windows that used to only be common to online shopping companies but have been adopted by B2B marketers to turn a static CTA into a dynamic conversation.
Live chat uses what you know about someone to help move a conversation forward. Here you can see how companies like G2 Crowd are using what they can deduce about a site visitor’s intentions to capture information and start a conversation that will drive real value for the user.
Live chat tools like Drift and Hubspot allow both human and chatbot experiences to help direct prospects to either the next step in your marketing funnel with content like a guide or ebook, or even book a sales conversation, all by leveraging the power of question and answer driven dialogue.
Conversational marketing presents an opportunity for marketers to improve the experience of their prospects and customers, while also seeing real impact on their bottom lines. By swapping tired B2B best practices for a conversational marketing strategy based on the three pillars we talked about today, marketers can transform the buying experience, retain customers, and win in today’s market.
Not sure where to start on building the interactive pillar of your content marketing strategy? Learn about the easiest way to put the content you already have to work for you in generating conversations in our webinar.