"Conversational Marketing" is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly is it and how do you do it? That's what this article is for, welcome to everything you need to know about conversational marketing and how to start using it right away
Before we begin, let's define exactly what conversational marketing is. I define it as the thing that we used to do when we were presented with a potential new client before internet marketing messed everything up.
What I mean is that when a new customer came into your shop back in the brick and mortar days, you'd ask them questions to try and understand what their needs were, what they liked, what they didn't like, what their goals were, what they struggled with, and then based on all the information you'd recommend products or services you could offer to help them out.
That is what conversational marketing is, it's the art and science of asking your potential customers questions in order to figure out where they currently are so you can better serve them.
When done right this can be a crazy powerful method for getting new customers, and the best part is that it's really a simple queston and answer game. Below I've outlined two really practical examples of how to actually do conversational marketing, one from the B2B world (a software company) and one from the B2C world (a nutritional coach).
I put this one first because marketers find it far more difficult to strike up conversations with B2B buyers than with B2C. After seeing this over and over again I've come to realize that in the B2B world we often think of the buyer as a company rather than an individual, but you have to remember that companies don't buy products, a person does.
So then the challenge becomes, how do you strike up a meaningful conversation with a buyer at a B2B company? the type of conversation that will pull them away from whatever other important tasks they have going on and convince them to spend time engaging with you.
The answer is to make it about them
We like to talk about ourselves and we like to learn about ourselves, those are universal human things that I wrote about in-depth in this article, but the gist of it is that we really can't resist anything that has to do with ourselves. No matter how dry or technical you think a topic is, turn it around and make it about an individual and they'll jump right in.
How do you do this in a B2B environment where it seems like everything is about the products? You tie the two things together. Connect the person with the strategy or product so it's all one and the same. The example above titled "If Your IT Security Strategy Was A Fort, what would it look like?" is a great example of this, and based on the fact that people are sharing this quiz on Twitter a lot there's good reason to assume it is resonating with the target audience.
In that example the IT Security strategy is connected to the person who is responsible for it by the word "Your" which implies ownership. Then they connect it back to something we're all familiar, which is building forts, anothe personal connection to the individual.
That's the abbreviated version of how to come up with B2B quiz ideas, for more in-depth content on that you can see our B2B quiz guide.
Okay so once you get someone hooked into your conversational piece and they start answering questions you have to have content within your questions to actually ask.
Specifically with B2B examples it's super important to show that you know what you're talking about within the questions of your conversation.
What I mean is that you have to show you understand this person's world when you ask questions. We've all been there where we're having a conversation about work and the other person has no idea what we do and they ask questions that make zero sense. That's super frustrating, and if that person were to start giving you advice about your job then you'd likely just ignore it.
That's why you have to demonstrate expertise in the questions you ask.
The other really important thing to remember with questions you ask is that you have to remember this conversation is essentially the same as one you'd have in real life with a potential new client. With that in mind you want to ask questions that help you really determine where they are at in terms of your product or industry.
This also takes the difficulty out of knowing what to ask.
Instead of wondering to yourself, "How do I get people to answer my questions and take an interest in what I'm doing?" you can now ask "What should I know about this person if I'm going to help them find the best solution for where they're at right now?"
This is also great because you are becoming like a consultant to them, figuring out what their needs are and deciding on the best ways you can be of assistance. It stops becoming about selling or pitching and it turns into a conversation where you are genuinely attempting to get this person to a better place.
Those are just two of the principles of writing good questions, there's more on question strategy in our guide on how to write questions.
Within a quiz you can set up a lead collection "gate" that appears after the last question and before the results are revealed. If you choose to enable this it will integrate with your email marketing system or autoresponder.
The way this plays into conversational marketing is that in today's market with so much information accessible, people will often explore products and services for quite a long time before making a purchasing decision.
If they take your conversational quiz and opt-in, then you can follow up with appropriate, personalized resources to help them out in their work while they make a decision about which product or service they want to go with. (You can segment your audience based on quiz data).
The form can be customized so it's contextual to the conversation you're having "We will send your results along with recommendations to improve your security posture based on your answers."
Making the information capture relevant to what you're already talking about is the perfect way to keep the conversation going and it's not even like lead generation, it's more akin to being helpful in the long run by providing more information and everyone gets what they want.
After someone opts in, or if they just skip past that to see the results of your quiz, they'll be shown their outcome (in this case what kind of fort they are).
This is the part of the conversation where you gather your thoughts, think over what the person has told you about themselves, and provide your recommendations.
In order to make sure this is a positive and satisfactory experience for the person you are talking to, make sure you provide a detailed-enough explanation of your assessment and also provide more thorough informtion by the click of a button.
A good rule of thumb is to provide 2-3 sentences right here inside the result and then have a button for a longer detailed breakdown of what you have to say.
This follows the skimming rule of online content, which says that you should have a quick version of your content with just the abbreviated version and then also have a long version of your content with all the information anyone might want to know.
In the conversational marketing quiz we're following they link to a PDF of a full report on data breaches that applies specifically to each outcome of the quiz.
That's the full breakdown of everything this person should know about the subject and since they've already indicated an interest it makes sense to go further.
If you think about a regular conversation it's super similar, you don't just jump straight into a full on detailed breakdown of Cheetahs unless you already know the other person is really interested in Cheetahs.
It's the same thing with the topic of your conversation in marketing, once someone shows they are interested you can expand and provide more details, but until then you keep it very back and forth.
Then in your follow-up emails you continue to expand on the topic and sprinkle in ways your products or services can help even further-that's how you make a sale.
To Recap: Conversational marketing in the B2B world means starting a conversation with the buyer who will actually make a purchase about things they care about and are important to them as an individual. It starts by making everything about that person and asking them about themselves, then you provide your recommendations and talk about how you can help them work on things that are important to them and tie that back into your products or services to make a sale.
Marketers tend to find B2C conversational marketing much easier to understand because you're only going after one person at a time.
Instead of trying to figure out who the buyer is and what they want you know who the buyer is and what they want.
For example, if you run a nutrition company people are coming to you because they want to be healthier and it's just one person so everything you talk about can be about just them.
Conversational marketing with consumers shares some traits with B2B use-cases in that everything must be about the person who is answering your questions in your conversation.
The word "your" makes sure people know it's about them.
Once you jump into the question and answer portion of your conversational quiz you don't ever want to lose sight of the need to focus all the attention on the person answering your questions.
One really smart way to ask questions is to understand your audience well enough to know the things they already ask themselves and then present those questions.
That's abstract, but take a look at the question to the right here, it says "Are you mysteriously unable to lose weight despite your best efforts?" which is 100% something you ask yourself when you're trying to lose weight (been there).
If you can pull this off then the conversation becomes way more natural because people feel comfortable knowing that you understand what's going on in their world.
Another really strong strategy is to ask about values and core beliefs. Not everyone likes to be serious but we all think about these things.
With an online conversation there's a level of anonymity that comes with answering the questions and when people joke around saying that they're more honest with internet quizzes then they are with their best friends they're probably not lying.
People like to self-reveal, there's a cathartic feeling that comes with talking about our viewpoints, and a conversation can bring that out.
You can also ask people about their concerns, and don't limit them on how many answers they can choose.
Fear is prevalant in everyone, and while we don't want to exploit it there's a certain connection that comes when we share our fears and have a voice to talk about them.
Giving your quiz takers the opportunity to explain what concerns them shows that you care and that you understand what's going on with them.
Once you've had your back and forth Q&A and taken the opportunity to calculate everything on your end, it's time to provide your read on the person you are trying to help with your conversation.
The most important thing to remember here is that the only goal is to help.
Everything you say in the results of your conversational quiz should lead to strategies and advice that can be useful.
And just like a real conversation it's important to show empathy and tell people that you understand their struggles and that it's difficult to improve.
Once you've given a brief overview of your recommendations provide a button that links to a further breakdown of the results with more suggestions for how this person can improve based on what they told you.
Behind that button you can really go in-depth on what you have to say, providing all the details of what you have to say about what this person can do to get better in whatever area you're having a conversation about.
By the time someone has come this far they're definitely "raising their hand" and saying that they want to know about what you're talking about. This is where you get the opportunity to really provide value.
However, you have to always make it about the other person. Don't forget to apply it to them and work their answers to your questions back into the recommendations you provide. This will show that you were paying attention and that you care.
To Recap: Conversational marketing in a B2C world is exactly the same as talking to someone about how you can help in real life. If you've been in your industry for any amount of time you have probably chatted with people and figured out the best way you can be of assistance, and that's what conversational marketing is.
Hopefully "Conversational Marketing" is no longer just a buzzword for you and you've now got some actionable steps to begin the process of working conversation into your strategy. Overall, if you could walk away with one thing today, just remember that the more you ask people about themselves and the more you make your marketing messages about the person who is consuming them, the better off you'll be.
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