What is conversational marketing? More buzzword bull$hit?

by Kirsty, on 8 April, 2019

According to Google here are around 22 million results, or, ahem, “conversations”, around conversational marketing, although Wikipedia confuses it with conversion marketing. Sigh.

But what exactly is conversational marketing?


Source: Wikipedia

Well, if you think about it, it’s been around since the beginning of time…we’ve gone from delivering messages by horseback rider, carrier pigeon, telegrams, telephones (actual conversations…WTF?!), to the bleep bleep of the fax machine, right through to the digital age we now live in.

So now we’re talking email, SMS, live chat, chatbots and social media - essentially any channel on which your customers want to communicate with you. In the age of live chat, customers expect conversations to happen how, when, and where they want.

So basically, NOW, and EVERYWHERE! We are no longer willing to wait for the proverbial pigeon to arrive; we demand your immediate attention.


Messaging, better than sex?

According to Twilio, a huge 89% of consumers want to communicate with brands via messaging, though somewhat surprisingly, their research suggests that email is the preferred method in the UK, with messaging coming in second.

Mobiles are the primary device used worldwide, which really backs up the theory that as consumers, we want to be able to communicate with brands at our convenience.

Digging a little deeper into Twilio’s research produced some interesting results… Some people would give up phone calls to continue using messaging, others their morning coffee, and some… well, some would apparently even give up sex!

What would you sacrifice for messaging

Source: Twilio

Check out more about conversational marketing from Dave Gerhardt and Drift CEO David Cancel: 'Conversational Marketing: How the World's Fastest Growing Companies Use Chatbots to Generate Leads 24/7/365 (and How You Can Too)'

Love marketing and tech books as much as we do? Join in on our Marketing & Tech Book Club

You can learn a lot about your customers

We’re not saying you need to do away with lead forms, which can collect contact info, but conversations are better for providing context. Conversations can show you why a person visited your website in the first place, what they’re looking for, what products or services are important to them and what their biggest pain points are.

This extra info will help you effectively measure your marketing efforts and can be used to inform and refine the onward customer journey.

To Bot or not to Bot?

Chatbots allow you to answer queries in your sleep… well, kind of! Setting up bots to answer FAQs and any qualifying questions your team would ask at the start of a call, say, means you can provide round the clock customer service. This also provides the opportunity to expand your audience and access the global market. Boom! Your conversational marketing is totally scalable!


How can your business use it?

Conversational marketing can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Live chat for leads - implementing a live chat function on your website is an easy way to provide a quick method of contact for prospective and existing customers alike. It’s as simple as picking up the phone but cuts out any background noise and means the answering agent can easily search for answers without any audible awkwardness or dreaded hold music!
  • Universal inboxes - we’ve established that customers want to be able to communicate with brands whenever, wherever, so using a universal inbox will keep that conversation fluid, even if it starts on email, continues on Twitter and ends on Snapchat. It also means your sales, marketing and customer service teams have a single place to view, manage and reply to every conversation, without any info being lost along the way.
  • Chatbots for product search - ecommerce sites can harness the power of chatbots to narrows down customers’ search. Many eCommerce sites have huge product catalogues that can leave buyers searching for hours (I’ve spent many an evening trawling through ASOS!) but creating a bot can shrink the search time for customers and get them to the all-important checkout quicker.
  • Voice search integration - this can make it even easier for the consumer and make the experience more like a ‘real’ conversation. With the increase in voice activated gadgets this area is going to continue to grow so is a viable consideration for brands. “Alexa, please help me spend my money already!”

YOU MIGHT LIKE: Growth hacking is here to stay

Essential takeaways

  • Conversational marketing is NOT conversion marketing.
  • Be available on all the channels your customers use.
  • Chatbots can be there when you can’t.
Topics:Must seeMade Simple Series