Conversational marketing is about applying the two-way nature of age-old, face-to-face or telephone-based marketing conversations to the digital marketing mediums. After all, it’s two-way interaction that makes consumers feel heard and to engage them in meaningful ways, turning prospects that might otherwise merely be ‘marketed to’ into valued customers.
But what does it take, specifically, to carry out a successful conversational marketing campaign in the digital age? What tactics or key elements are essential for cultivating those two-way interactions that consumers crave, while still meeting their need for instant gratification and immediate service? To find out what elements today’s marketing leaders see as a must for implementing conversational marketing, we asked a panel of marketing thought leaders to answer this question:
“What’s the single most important ingredient for a successful conversational marketing campaign?”
Find out what our experts had to say below.
Meet Our Panel of Marketing Pros:
Jim is the CEO of Perceptive Selling Initiative, Inc. He helps businesses build sales and accelerate cash flow.
“The single most critical element in a successful conversation marketing campaign is to…”
Seek acceptance. The purpose of all communication is to obtain a response.
Have the objective of acceptance. Using a two-part (or more) ‘close,’ indicate acceptance. If rebuffed, return to the presentation, continue with added presentation, and again seek acceptance. A ‘good’ salesperson can master this concept.
Swapnil Bhagwat is a creative design and digital marketing professional with a global experience. He’s a strategic and results-driven leader with extensive experience in project, stakeholder and team management. An accomplished MBA graduate with strong management skills and working experience in the United States, United Kingdom & Europe, Bhagwat implements design, web & digital strategy and delivers high impact results for B2B and B2C enterprises.
“Building an interesting conversational with your audience to market your brand has always been a challenge…”
Conversation marketing, which leverages the proven principles of good communication, is an innovative strategy that addresses the traditional marketing challenges in a smart way.
In traditional forms of marketing, people may or may not react to marketing messages. But when they do, marketers get the opportunity to analyze them and then improve the subsequent communication. Through conversation marketing, marketers can do all this in real-time and also be sure of the response from their audience. However, building an interesting agenda that has the audience at its center is quite important, and without this crucial element, the entire effort would be futile. So, a sound agenda which can generate a healthy conversation is perhaps the most important ingredient for a successful conversation marketing campaign.
Alexander Grosu is a Digital Marketing Specialist at inSegment, one of the leading digital marketing and advertising agencies in Boston, MA.
“Although ‘conversational marketing’ has grown to be a buzzword only recently, the truth is that…”
It has been here for a while – even before the “Internet Era,” back when the local bakery owner knew how to create personal connections with his clients.
Considering the fact that the Internet is a two-way means of communication (unlike television, for example), it is more than suitable for conversion marketing. What’s more, establishing connections with your customers via the online media can be truly beneficial for your entire marketing campaign – especially since it will provide you with the chance to actually understand who your users are, what they want and what you can do to offer it to them.
If there was only one tip I would give for those trying to apply conversion marketing principles to their businesses, that would be: Take your time to genuinely connect to the users that come in contact with you and your business – whether they are potential clients or industry peers. Conversion marketing is mostly about content marketing (and many of the strategies used in the latter overlap with those used in the first) – so, the gold nugget to always keep in mind when applying these tactics is that patience is beneficial.
Surveys, emails, user-generated content, well-created and on-time responses on the Social Media – they can all help you have a real conversation with your customers and peers. However, if you do not take the time to understand these conversations in-depth, your efforts will not be as successful as you want them to be.
Brad is CEO and founder of RedPeg Marketing, a nationally respected experiential marketing agency. RedPeg’s team serves as counsel for brands like GEICO, Ubisoft, TD Bank, and Small Town Brewery, who are looking to create campaigns that drive a relationship with their consumers and produce high impact results.
“You can’t start a conversation without first…”
Piquing your counterpart’s interest. To do that, you need energy and excitement. As an experiential marketer, I need to deliver an experience that consumers can relate to and can get excited about. Experiences can consist of massive structures we build, unexpected stunts, or something as toned-down as a really outgoing brand ambassador to greet consumers. Whatever it is, it needs to turn heads and get their attention. Once you have their attention, you can worry about the next step of requesting a call to action.
Brock is the Co-Founder and COO at seoplus+, a Digital Marketing Agency.
“The most important part of a successful conversational marketing campaign is to…”
Set realistic expectations for results. Some industries and subject matter are just better aligned to spark wide consumer/public debate and conversation, while other industries and subjects are very niche and will only spark conversation within a small, targeted audience, no matter how well-aligned your content is. For example, a client in the professional sports industry is much better aligned to spark wide conversation and engagement than a client in the mining industry. Thus, in order to be successful in any conversation marketing campaign, you must first understand your subject and its audience, and gauge your strategy and goals according to these factors. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
David Everett Strickler
David Everett Strickler is a Marketing and Branding consultant and writer with over 8 years of experience in marketing and advertising. A self-proclaimed Millennial Marketer, David has successfully launched brands, personalities, and small businesses through professional marketing and identity services. He regularly speaks to students and professionals alike about marketing, careers, and life experiences in the New York Metro area.
“Unequivocally, the most important ingredient for a successful conversational marketing campaign is…”
Personalized brand messaging. Consumers are more and more becoming desensitized to the rampant one-size-fits-all brand messaging. To break through the clutter, brands must make their campaigns personalized. Doing so requires more time, energy, and research, but the return on investment is undoubtedly worth it for major brands and small businesses alike. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including loyalty programs, e-mail marketing, and newsletters, as well as customer service representatives – whether online or via phone.
Renee Tarnutzer is a Product Marketing Specialist for Understory Weather. She has an extensive background in digital marketing including email, ecommerce, paid search, search engine optimization, affiliate marketing, user experience and engagement, and landing page optimization. She is the consummate digital marketer and has a long and successful career transforming digital marketing strategies into profitable realities.
“The single most important ingredient for a conversation marketing strategy is…”
The data that you have for your customers. It’s impossible to have any conversation with a customer without
knowing what makes them tick. Once you know their geographic and psychographic data, you can create campaigns that are relevant, personal, and most importantly, conversational.
Shel Horowitz is a profitability/marketing consultant, speaker, and copywriter specializing in green and social-change businesses as well as authors. His 10th book is Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. Previous books include the long-running category best-seller Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green.
“As an advocate of conversation-based marketing for three decades, the most important thing is…”
Listening carefully and changing your responses to reflect what the prospect has told you. Otherwise, they feel talked at rather than part of a conversation, and your marketing efforts will backfire. When you do this, your prospects feel heard AND listened to, treated as individuals and not as numbers on a tally.
Beth Carter is the Chief Strategist at Clariant Creative Agency, an inbound marketing firm that specializes in creating content that customers can’t live without.
“The single most important ingredient in conversational marketing is…”
Having the right analytics set up so that you can effectively listen to your customer’s end of the conversation. If you can’t track and quantify what they’re saying, you can’t optimize what you’re saying.
The specific analytics tool(s) you use will depend on where your conversations are taking place – for example, you might need to install a Facebook pixel for your social media conversations, or you might need to set up the right events in your Google Analytics account to track website conversions. Many marketing automation platforms incorporate one or more of these ingredients as well, such as HubSpot (which makes it easy to track specific conversion pathways), or tools like Buffer or Hootsuite (which make it easy to monitor multiple social conversations and track how your audience engages with you).
Clint Evans, CEO of StandOut Authority, is a #1 Amazon best-selling author, speaker, and coach to decisive and growth-minded entrepreneurs. He has a column with Entrepreneur.com and Business.com. He’s been Featured on Forbes, Huffington Post, ReadWrite, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and more. He was one of the first to be accepted to publish on LinkedIn’s publishing platform (Feb 2014) and has been read by 151,781 LinkedIn members and counting. He’s taught workshops for the Small Business Administration and CreativeLive. He loves spending time with his two nieces in Texas, snowboarding, and other high-speed adventures around the globe.
“The single most important ingredient for a successful conversation marketing campaign is…”
To know what’s compelling to your ideal audience. This assumes you know who your ideal audience is (you’ve done your research and looked at the data). And you know their single biggest pain point or problem they’d pay to solve.
Once you know the compelling topic, then put yourself in the shoes of a blogger. Model the headline styles you see on Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Buzzsumo, and Upworthy. These guys create compelling headlines that get shared and start conversations. They have the method down to a science. If you model their style, structure, and word length, you “stack the odds ever in your favor” to entice comments from your ideal audience.
You hit the conversation tennis ball across the net. They took enough interest to hit the tennis ball back. Now you engage in a conversation to see if and how your company can ease their pain or solve their problem.
Billie Jean Bateson
Billie Jean is a fashionista and love fashion marketing. Her career started in 2011 as an online marketing analyst, blogger, and fashion expert, and she was later promoted as a Manager at Amazing Wristbands, a leading online seller of custom silicone products. She works on promoting new trends along with NGOs, fundraisers, charities, schools, and so on.
“Nothing sums up this question better than a quote by one of my favorites, Maya Angelou…”
She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” To take it a step further, with instant communication today everyone wants to ‘feel’ as if they are being heard. Want to build your brand? Start a conversation. A customer posts a negative comment? Start a conversation. Let your customer feel as if they are being heard, they will then remember how your brand made them feel.
To start conversational marketing, use the social media and marketing tools around you to involve and engage with your customers. The catch is that this requires you to be able to speak their language. As in ‘real life,’ conversations are a two-way street. When you talk about your company, your products, or your services with your customers and prospective audience, are you respecting them? If you don’t treat your customers with respect and listen, then you will lose in the age of conversational marketing. The benefit to your brand from truly listening on social and even within your company is that you’ll create customers for life. Marketing is a conversation; remember this and you build brand confidence. All from starting the right conversation … are you listening?
A partner at Rebuild Group, Steve’s primary role is to ensure that all projects are rooted in sound strategy and aligned with client objectives. Data that he aggregates serves as the bedrock of our strategy and ensures that every marketing dollar is used efficiently throughout the life of a campaign.
“While there are many parts contributing to a successful conversation marketing campaign, such as the tool or the Boolean logic used, we firmly believe the most important is…”
Human intellect. There is no greater tool than the human mind when it comes to conducting digital ethnography. A number of individual posts being monitored might be interesting, but studying thousands of conversations to uncover common themes and stories provides invaluable insight. These stories can seed the right message within brand marketing assets. So instead of a brand being viewed as merely talking at their consumer, they can be seen as being relatable and understanding.
Hannah spent nearly a decade in the music industry before venturing into the startup world. She now heads up Digital Marketing and Growth at the fee-free ticketing and music discovery app, DICE.
“When marketing face to face, the most important thing to do is to understand…”
Who you’re talking to. The crucial part of talking to anyone is the first few seconds; if you approach and engage them correctly, then you’ll have them hooked. Listen to what they say, learn quickly from their responses, and involve them in what you’re doing. Your actions should mirror their reactions, so be friendly and inclusive.
If you’re selling anything physical, involve them with what you’re selling. Do you have a CD? Give it to them to look at the artwork. Do you have a golf club? Hand it over and indicate that its weight means a powerful swing, and then tell them to have a go. A physical action is partly a commitment.
Lisa owns and operates Black N Bianco, which provides affordable formal wear for children.
“The single most important ingredient to a successful conversational marketing campaign is…”
Listening and engaging with your customers. Make a connection with your audience so they are more accepting of your marketing initiatives. Engage your target audience’s attention by distributing valuable and relevant content. Reach out to your audience and demonstrate that you genuinely want to answer any questions they may have. Listen to the response of your audience, as it will be critical to improving the conversion rate of your conversation marketing campaign. Remember to adjust your business ideas according to the audience and their needs. Conversation marketing campaigns can be more than just a tool to increase your revenue. These campaigns can also be used as a marketing strategy to enhance the users’ experience and provide the best service to your customers. In return, it will increase your sales and customer loyalty.
Emmanuel De Ryker
Emmanuel De Ryker is Chairman and Founder of Promotional Space, a company specializing in supplying pop-up marketing and promotions locations all across the UK.
“I’d say the single most important ingredient is to…”
Be in the right place. Your product or service could be the best in the world, and you may have the most approachable, gregarious and charismatic sales team, but if you’re not talking to the right people you just won’t sell. It sounds simple, but it’s all too easy to overlook. You might get caught up in the glamour of holding a promotion at a high-end shopping mall. Sure it’ll make you feel great, but say you’re selling something that targets families, home-tutoring, or package holidays for instance. You’d be much better placed in the foyer of a busy supermarket on a Saturday morning.
Dave is the founder of content marketing subscription service, ContentBacon. They help companies create new conversations and opportunities through remarkable content.
“When I hear ‘conversation marketing,’ I think ‘content marketing,’ and in my experience, there are a couple key factors…”
First, be helpful; truly helpful in getting your targets to know, like, and trust you as an expert in your field. Or more specifically, the expert source for their answer. All buyer journeys begin as a quest for answers. And second, don’t be promotional; be authentic, have a voice, and sound like a human. A helpful human.
Sacha is the founder of Source Capital Funding, Inc.
“No matter what materials you are marketing and no matter what industry you are in, a piece of content, an email campaign, or a PR campaign cannot be a successful conversion tool without…”
A good prospect list. These lists take time to build and should be extremely focused on your industry or the industry you are trying to market to.
Outreach, on the other hand, should be individually tailored to each recipient. Many times this is not the case as automatic marketing tools are used to send a large volume of emails. However, the best outreach is always personable and creates a VIP atmosphere. The days of email blasts are pretty much over as users know what is spam and what is a solid opportunity.
Daisy Jing is 27 years old and founded and bootstrapped a now multi-million dollar beauty product line called Banish. Five years ago, she started her business from just her laptop! She had bad acne and tried everything to help clear it up. She tried hundreds of different beauty products and decided to review those products to help others suffering with the same problem. In turn, she developed a following of over 50M views in YouTube and became a trusted source of information in the realm of skin problems. During that time, she launched her natural skin care line focused on combating skin blemishes. Now her company is a team of 14+ women, inspiring confidence in others.
“The single most important ingredient for a successful conversational marketing campaign is…”
To be in the customers’ shoes. Everything can be done – survey, email marketing, social media comments, and calling them one by one to hear their take on the product and our service. But without the ability to really listen and be in their shoes, all these campaigns won’t be any good. Once the business knows the target market, their needs, and what it feels like to be in their situation, helping them out and targeting their needs/wants is easier.
All the efforts and ways to market products are easy to do, but the passion to take care of the customers and assist them is the main key for a successful marketing campaign. That’s why through our YouTube account, we do TMI videos every Tuesday and Saturday to deal with our customers’ questions, concerns, and requests. In this way, we can communicate well to others who need help and to others who don’t know they actually need help. This video isn’t just limited for YouTube viewers; we spread all details to our social media accounts and website so all our followers online would learn from it.
Jordan is the Digital Marketing Manager for Majux Marketing.
“At least in the SEO world, great conversation marketing strategies are…”
Link earning strategies, and a favorite of mine is creating content assets. Google wants to rank sites that provide a great user experience. Creating content assets that people want to link to gives writers, searchers, and Google’s algorithm what they want – and, unlike some less-reputable marketing tricks, will hold up in the long term. Links to great content from reputable sites creates a feedback loop that leads to more and more organic links. Finally, this type of link earning through conversations and real, personal relationships will lead to more opportunities in the future.
As CEO of Weal Media, Kristoffer helps Fortune 500 companies, celebrities, and music artists establish and communicate their personal and professional brand.
“The single most important ingredient for a successful conversation marketing campaign is…”
Active listening. Listening involves more than just hearing/reading words. Even in digital environments, listening is an active process that helps us make sense of, assess, and appropriately respond to the conversations we are exposed to.
Businesses/brands must listen carefully to uncover a deeper understanding of what the audience is trying to communicate. Be careful to distinguish proven facts from opinions and personal interpretations. Doing so will
improve relationships, reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, strengthen cooperation, and foster a deeper understanding between marketers and the audience.
Steve Goodall has been creating and selling business for over 25 years. He left school at 16 with no qualifications, and subsequently built and sold four 7-figure businesses. He now helps turn around businesses who are in trouble while enjoying his passion for traveling the world.
“The most important factor in a successful conversational marketing campaign is…”
Understanding your target customer. When you can define your customer to fit your product or service, that is the key, even if the customer doesn’t know they need you. Case in point: Someone needing to really start saving money may never have considered starting a small online business with little ( 1-2 hrs per week) involvement, then channeling those profits into a savings account. The marketing campaign would be aimed at how to build your savings right now without cutting back. That speaks to their pain, then provides a solution they many have never considered.
Thus, defining your product to fit as narrow as a niche as possible. My final point would be to create multiple campaigns if you product can appeal to various niches.
Jess Chua is a social media strategist and certified career coach with an interest in branding and business strategy.
“The most successful conversation marketing campaigns…”
Focus on making a human connection through marketing. Don’t list dry stats and information about what you do. Shift the focus onto how you/your company can help or benefit the person you’re talking to. This builds trust, as you clearly and sincerely communicate how you are able to provide the best solution for your customer.
AJ Saleem is the Director of Suprex Home Tutoring, a leading private tutoring and test prep company based in Houston. AJ has created a big dent in the private tutoring market by offering well-trained, highly qualified teachers who are also dynamic instructors. The company also operates in New York and Chicago.
“The single most important ingredient for a successful conversational marketing campaign is to…”
Contact people based on their demographics. If you can find out a person’s goals are and what their interests are, your campaign will be a lot more successful.
Maneesh Sharma is the Co-Founder & Owner of a Gadget Blog, TDS – Top Drones for Sale.
“What distinguishes the very idea of conversation marketing is that…”
It works on observations and customer behavior. Unlike other forms of media marketing, it lets us have a two-way conversation with our targeted focus group, and what’s better than that? As per the responses recorded from the audience, you can change your strategy and bring out better offers to serve them. This, I feel, differentiates it all the way from others.
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