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Conversational Marketing: Ads with Instant Results

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Digital advertising, a nearly $5 billion market in 2018, has typically been about driving potential customers to web pages, where they were presented with forms to fill out so that someone from the company could get back to them later. With today’s on-demand consumers, later is already too late.

Marketing in 2019 is quickly becoming all about now; consumers will not put up with waiting days, or even hours, to get a response when they are looking to make a purchase or get more information about a product or service. That’s why conversational advertising is quickly becoming so popular: It takes potential customers directly from an ad to a conversation in one click.

Conversational advertising has been available for several years, but until recently, it was limited mostly to messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. Only within the past few months have conversational ads become generally available for more mainstream campaigns.

Drift first started the trend in September with its launch of Conversational Advertising.

“The last decade in B2B sales and marketing was all about the business following up later,” said David Cancel, Drift’s founder and CEO, in a statement at the time. “But today, B2B sales and marketing has to be about now. The internet has changed everything and put customers in control of the buying process, not the business. As a result, people won’t put up with waiting days and weeks to get a response. They want answers now. So, at Drift, everything we’re doing is about removing friction, shortening the sales cycle, and connecting businesses with the customers who are interested right now.”

Shortly after the Drift launch, Google launched its own AdLingo conversational marketing platform, which provides a display ad-like framework into which conversational ads can be placed. Among Google’s launch partners were marketing intelligence firm Valassis Digital, conversational commerce provider LivePerson, and chatbot provider Take.

Then, building on its early success, Drift just this past March extended its Conversational Advertising platform with the launch of Conversational ABM for Marketo Engage, bringing live chat to Marketo’s Engage account-based solution.

By connecting target account lists with Drift, Marketo Engage users can now target each website visitor with a chatbot, relevant account-based content, or a fast lane to connect directly to sales representatives. They can schedule meetings with top accounts; connect qualified people tied to key accounts with the right sales reps; create personalized experiences for each customer that matches his path-to-purchase status; and prove conversational marketing impact by tracking all chats and attributing them back to revenue. And each of these activities can be done in real time, while the customer is still fresh on the website.

BEYOND BASIC MESSAGING

Conversational marketing is very similar to text messaging, a means of communications that most consumers enjoy because of its speed, ease of use, and conversational nature, but it goes a lot farther. Conversational advertising is a feedback-oriented approach that is helping marketers drive engagement, develop customer loyalty, grow their customer bases, and, ultimately, grow revenue. The key behind it is to listen to customers to better understand their needs and respond to those needs more quickly.

With their rising popularity, conversational landing pages can now be used for just about everything in marketing, from growing email lists or sharing on social media to boosting subscriptions for online content. Companies can use conversational landing pages just like they would traditional landing pages.

Beyond offering up ads that allow customers to click on a link that opens a chat window with a company representative or automated chatbot, companies can also embed chat links in emails that customers and prospects can click on to initiate live chat sessions.

“There are many ways to use conversational advertising, marketing, and service, and businesses are beginning to deploy them,” says Michael Lamb, CEO and founder of nativeMsg, one of a growing number of companies providing a conversational artificial intelligence and chatbot platform. “For instance, many businesses are finding that customer service is a great place to apply conversational applications with customers. You not only problem-solve or answer questions about products and services, but you get to know the customer firsthand and the customer sees that you care about his success.”

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