Conversational Marketing: Ads with Instant Results

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The upselling opportunity presents itself because the retailer already knows about the customer’s primary purchasing goal. This then opens the door to secondary offerings that can complement the items purchased in the initial sale.

Both Adams and Lamb report that their clients are seeing shortened sales cycles, more engagement with customers, and improvements in service and problem resolution cycles because of conversational technologies.

“Service has been a really good application for companies’ live interaction with customers because companies can dialogue with their customers on problems and issues and get them solved faster,” Lamb says.

Understanding when a customer is having problems with a product is also helpful for sales, which might look to just touch base with that customer before presenting the next big offer.

Another benefit to using conversational advertising is that chat is a relatively inexpensive technology to implement. It does still require some budgeting, though.

“This is one of the first hurdles that marketing managers face,” Adams says. “They must find the budget dollars to fund conversational advertising and marketing as a strategy. What I advise them to do is to look at how they are managing their sales pipelines and their lead generation. What is working and what isn’t? In other words, can you move dollars around?”

Adams adds that the goal should be “to target your core accounts and to deliver as personalized and interactive an experience as you can to these customers to ensure their continued loyalty.”

Experts agree, too, that adding conversational elements shouldn’t mean abandoning the other types of outreach that companies are already using with their customers. Rather, the goal is to take these newer conversational methodologies and to integrate them with elements of what is already working.

On the systems level, companies will want to integrate conversational chats and the information that they produce with their CRM and sales systems to produce a 360-degree view of everything that has happened between the company and the customer. 

Mary Shacklett is a freelance writer and president of Transworld Data, a technology analytics, market research, and consulting firm. She can be reached at mshacklett@twdtransworld.com.

5 Keys to Implementing Conversational Marketing

For companies interested in implementing conversational marketing, experts recommend the following five best practices to ensure a successful launch:

  1. Develop a business case. 
    “You should develop a business case that you think would be a good place to pilot conversational marketing, advertising, or service,” advises Michael Lamb, CEO and founder of nativeMsg. “Then, test it. By keeping your test relatively small, you can see if it is delivering the results and outcomes that you expected.”
  2. Focus on timeliness.
    If the conversational projects you pilot aren’t reducing time to sale, time to problem resolution, or other key metrics, projects either need to be revised or reimagined. You should be able to test for these results against your historical baselines.
  3. Integrate your systems.
    Conversational marketing can provide details about customers, but these mechanisms are strengthened if they can leverage existing customer information from other systems, such as CRM, that are already being used. It is important to tie together all of the information available about each customer, regardless of the channel or application. In this way, everyone throughout the organization has a complete and consistent picture of the customer.
  4. Use analytics.
    It is essential to have a sound analytics program behind all of the customer data being gathered through chat and other channels. Analytics can help identify at-risk customers or customers most likely to purchase a product within the next six months. They can also identify trends affecting customers and new marketing opportunities and business cases.
  5. Know when enough is enough.
    With information coming at them from so many physical and virtual contact points, customers are getting weary. Conversational marketing potentially adds another piece to this, so companies need to be aware of the need to limit their interactions.

“With conversational marketing or advertising, there is an influx of contact, as there is in other types of advertising,” Lamb says. “To a degree, marketers have to develop a feel for how much contact their customers want and how much is too much.”

At the same time, though, Lamb points out that with conversational marketing, “the customer must opt in and decide to communicate before a conversation is started. It is never a one-way street.”

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