Let’s Talk: What Is Conversational Marketing and Why Does It Matter?

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If your marketing campaigns still rely exclusively on one-way channels like email, you’re missing opportunities to grow your business.

Two-way communication is necessary for building any healthy relationship.

For business owners, open conversation is vital to understand customer needs and provide services and recommendations that solidify trust and confidence. 

It’s this understanding and intelligence that make good business owners even better and make customer relationships strong.

These important conversations are probably commonplace in most in-person customer interactions, but when it comes to your marketing communications, does the conversation stop?

Often, when marketing to their contacts, business owners rely exclusively on less effective, one-way communication channels like email. But some successful businesses have begun to leverage conversational marketing to more deeply engage clients, improve loyalty and increase revenue. 

Conversational marketing is an emerging marketing channel that uses personalized, one-on-one conversations to learn about and remember client interests through automated technology. The result is better targeted messaging that drives higher response and conversion rates. 

If your marketing campaigns still rely exclusively on one-way channels like email, you’re missing opportunities to grow your business. 

Related Article: Start Today: Why You Need a Mobile Marketing Strategy

How the Conversation Flows

Traditional marketing channels flow in one direction. If you only send emails, mail postcards, or buy online or print ads, you’re doing all the talking and learning very little. One-way communication wouldn’t work in a client consultation, and it isn’t effective marketing. 

Conversational marketing uses personalized, two-way communication to identify and remember clients’ interests and deliver the information and special offers most relevant to and desired by them. When you know what your clients want, you can offer discounts, special events, and information in your marketing campaigns that resonate, are more likely to convert and generate more business.  

Conversational marketing is a channel especially well suited for businesses where trust is paramount and strong relationships already exist. It’s about listening not just talking to secure lasting connections. 

An App for That 

Conversational apps, or ChatBots, effectively bring the latest two-way communication channel to digital marketing. They create interactions that feel like personal, uninterrupted, real conversations. The apps can identify clients’ interests in products and services even glean their hobbies and personal interests to deepen connections and engage them on topics of their choice, with appropriate responses throughout the conversation.

These automated conversations can progressively become more personalized, and they remember and cue interests or other information from prior interactions. The personalized client data collected can be used to enhance in-person interactions or to segment communications through other marketing channels.

Conversations Deliver Conversions

Leads from conversational channels tend to convert at higher rates than other digital marketing because it is the truest permission-based marketing.  People are choosing to engage in bi-directional interaction. These interactions build long-term value and stronger, longer, more loyal relationships. 

Personalized information collected through conversations also enables businesses to remain above the consumer marketing noise. When fighting for consumer mindshare, it’s easy for messages to get lost in the shuffle. A key to breaking through the clutter is by delivering personalization and relevance. In fact, 90 percent of marketers see individualization as the future of marketing moving beyond segmentation to true one-to-one personalization in a real-time context (Teradata). 

Related Article:5 Effective Marketing Tips to Increase E-Commerce Sales

Dr. Jeffry and Selena Rocker own and run Skinology, an Orlando-area medical spa. Earlier this year, the Rockers began leveraging data collected from a conversational smartphone app to generate more business from clients during office appointments. In less than 100 days after using the app as part of a multi-channel marketing approach, the practice grew revenue by 15 percent. “If we see (from the app) that they wanted to know more about Latisse, for example, we can use the time we have with them during a Botox appointment to answer their questions about Latisse,” Rocker says. “We’ve seen this result in more business.”

A Multi-Channel Approach Is Still Necessary

The addition of a conversational channel should be part of a fully integrated marketing program, not stand on its own. No single channel can reach everyone in this online, offline and digital world. Consumers expect choices and want to communicate on their terms Conversational marketing through smartphone apps effectively supplements and reinforces other digital marketing efforts, including email, the web and social. The beauty of conversational marketing is that it fits well into a multi-channel approach while delivering benefits other channels cannot.

Remember, people have communication preferences, so you’ll reach the most targets at the most opportune times when you’re not dependent on a single channel. For Hurricane, West Virginia-based Paul A. Blair Facial Plastic Surgery and Alex Alexa Medispa, a multi-channel approach is fueling growth by capturing the attention and wallets of its patients. Since early 2016, the practice has been executing integrated campaigns through six digital marketing channels: branded email, text messages, push notifications, targeted Facebook ads, web landing pages and automated conversational content on a smartphone app. 

By the end of the first month, the multi-channel campaigns generated 29 appointment requests. In the second month, it generated 60 more. “We received calls and got responses from patients we hadn’t seen in years,” says Marlena Denning, the practice’s patient care coordinator. “We got so many calls even Dr. Blair was on the phone.”

Because the practice previously used only email, the multi-channel campaigns are reaching far more people. About 40 percent of the total appointment requests from the multi-channel campaigns have come from a mobile app, targeted Facebook ads and SMS texting, and the other 60 percent from phone and email. “We’re absolutely seeing that multi-channel is key,” Denning says.

To read more about how Paul A. Blair Facial Plastic Surgery/Alex Alexa Medispa is getting multi-channel marketing right and showing a return on marketing investment, click here.

Related Article:5 Ways Video Can Make Your Content Marketing Strategy More Effective

When to Seek Help

If you want to grow your business through conversational and multi-channel marketing, you have to first determine if you have the internal resources and expertise to do it on your own. Marketing automation tools are an option, but do you and your staff have the time and expertise to implement them effectively?

While an initial investment is necessary if you choose to outsource, the most cost-effective path may be to hire an expert. An expert familiar with marketing best practices and executing the work for you will likely yield results much more quickly than an overburdened and inexperienced staff member’s trial and error. With outside help, those internal resources can remain focused on other vital business operations for your business.

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