Communication is a word that is used frequently with marketing. You must reach out to and communicate with consumers in order to market successfully. This means finding the best message and method of delivery. Of course you’re communicating with consumers—you’re posting on social media, writing blogs, and have your inbound methodology down—but are you really talking at your consumers or with them?
Talking with your consumers can be a tricky task, but it doesn’t have to be. Traditional advertising uses one-way communication to send messages and information out to consumers and requires very little to no interaction on the consumer side. Conversational marketing creates a two-way communication between you and your customers. It relies on first getting to know your consumers, building trust, and developing a relationship with them.
The idea of conversational marketing first came to light in Joseph Jaffe’s 2007 book, Join the Conversation. In it, Jaffe’s intent was to help businesses implement new smart marketing techniques that would re-engage consumers who are drowning in a sea of media’s heavily one-sided communication.
According to Spokal, an online marketing blog, instead of simply creating mass messages and sending them out to all of your consumers, you should take time to get to know your consumers first. This method moves beyond and builds upon traditional content marketing and inbound methodology, so your customers stay interested. So what exactly makes marketing conversational?
The main concept of conversational marketing lies in the methods of local, small-town businesses (think mom-and-pop shops) with reputations of high-quality service. What do these businesses do that set themselves apart? These businesses may be successful for superior product, but a big part of their success and reputation lies in the relationships with their customers. The most successful conversational marketing businesses do two main things:
- Listen to their consumers: by listening to consumers, businesses get to know them on an individual, more personal level, which allows the business to provide them with a higher quality of service
- Utilize information: after talking with consumers online, over the phone, or in person, they take the insight and information they’ve gathered and use it to improve their marketing initiatives
This is where two-way communication with consumers is vital. Rather than using in-your-face tactics or bombarding consumers with information, provide the basic information they need to know. Then, as consumers approach you, talk to them in a conversational manner, asking questions that you would ask a person when you first get to know them.
The best practice? Spokal suggests first getting to know your target audience, and then crafting a message specifically directed at them. Once you’ve observed their response, you can adjust your message and make further improvements.
Luckily, the Internet makes it extremely easy to initiate two-way conversations with consumers. With the boom of online and social media platforms, there are multiple vehicles to carry conversations:
- Social media
- Online chats
- Email marketing (opt-in only)
- Customer feedback surveys
- User-generated content, testimonials, and reviews
- Customer loyalty programs
The most important aspect of conversational marketing is to be accessible. By offering multiple modes of communication (e.g., online chats, phone, email, social media, etc.), your consumers can reach you more easily with their questions, comments and concerns. It also allows them to have a voice and interact more easily with your brand.
Finally, think of the way you speak in casual conversations and consider applying the same tone of informality in your communication online, especially on social media. Take note from brands like Pringles, Google, and Amazon.com in their communication with consumers. Use smart marketing, and instead of rehearsing your best sales pitch, start out the conversation with a simple “hello.” Oh, and use emojis, they’re all the rage now! 😀