Conversational marketing is the third chapter in our Small Business Marketing Guide. Access all the chapters from the main page of the guide. Conversational marketing is precisely what it sounds like, having conversations from your customers and potential customers and applying that feedback going forward. Keeping the lines of communication flowing improves customer loyalty and highlights problematic areas before they become serious issues that result in a loss of customers.
About 96 percent of people indicate customer service is one of the most important elements in their loyalty to a brand. The only way to provide excellent customer service is by listening to the needs of your customers and adapting your business methods.
Conversational marketing occurs on a variety of levels. Gather the most data possible by trying these eight tips for reaching out to customers and gathering their input.
1. Add Live Chat
Data is a vital part of marketing. However, don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you fail to consider the needs of the real people. Consumers are busy with dozens of other things, so they’re unlikely to spend time filling out a lengthy form. However, if they can get an immediate response or give feedback in real time, them reaching out becomes much more likely.
A live chat gives users an opportunity to reach out immediately with questions, feedback and immediate problem-solving.
2. Set Up a Booth at Events
Since conversational marketing is about engaging the user — even if just one at a time — setting up a booth at a trade show or local event is an excellent way of reaching out. Trade shows are a powerful business-to-business opportunity, creating around $12.8 billion per year.
Make sure those staffing the booth and representing your brand understand the goal is to engage the handful of leads who are genuinely interested in your product rather than trying to reach as many people as possible. In-depth conversations are the goal because they show the person you care about them as an individual and they also give you specific information about what each lead needs.
3. Take Careful Notes
Current trends are toward more and more personalized marketing. People don’t want to feel they are just another face in the crowd but that your company cares about them as an individual.
Keep notes on each customer for each conversation, and you’ll better be able to tailor future marketing efforts to that individual with offers that speak specifically to their needs.
4. Scale One-on-One Conversations
Conversational marketing means talking one-on-one with each customer, but the idea of reaching out to each customer seems overwhelming, especially if you have a small sales staff. Fortunately, chatbots make it possible to scale online communications and even telephone conversations.
The chatbot asks a series of questions that route the customer to the appropriate agent and get some of the preliminary questions out of the way. Filtering customers to the right representative speeds up the conversation process.
5. Embrace New Technology
Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise and becoming more prevalent than ever before. Advances in the technology, where computers have the ability both recall facts and reason through responses mean the future of marketing could be AI assistants answering customers based on past interactions while drawing from the vast repository of ideas in the global cloud.
For now, utilize AI technology by pulling up responses in a second while conversing one-on-one with customers. You’ll always have an answer and a solution for any problem by tapping into virtual assistants and using the data already out there. Your customer service reps must still be highly trained, but technology is a helper that makes your company stand out from competitors.
6. Learn to Listen
You might think conversational marketing means talking to your customers, but the top salespeople know that the conversation with a customer should mostly be about listening. If you truly listen to what customers say, you’ll figure out how to solve any pain points for them and keep them loyal to your brand.
When you’re listening, you’re gathering feedback, which helps you do your job better. More than just listening, though, make sure you also jot down insights, so you can revisit issues unsolvable today once you’ve come up with a viable solution.
7. Create a Feedback Loop
The feedback loop is one where every marketing plan circles back to either positive or negative feedback from customers. Rather than just sitting in a room with co-workers and trying to figure out what customers want, you run your ideas through the filter of the feedback you’ve already received from your target audience.
Your feedback should fall into two categories: positive and negative. You may want to break down those categories even more into customer service issues, logistics, quality issues, etc. Prioritize your feedback by the complaints received most often, so you can first solve major problems for customers.
8. Reach Out First
Do you wait for contact from a customer before worrying about issues and trying to fix things? If so, make a change so you’re the first one to reach out to customers. Start with your biggest account and work your way down, reaching out to even the smallest spend on your list.
Ask questions such as:
- Are you happy with your last order?
- How can we improve the experience for you?
- Is there anything else we can do?
Spend time truly listening to what the customer says. If you hit all the points perfectly, then great — you have a loyal customer. However, even if one of the complaints seems small or petty, pay attention. Fix the issue, then phone the customer again and let them know how you responded to their concern and that you’re available if they have any other needs.
Conversational marketing is a customer-first approach that considers the needs of the consumer through every point of contact with your company. You should also craft a marketing strategy that pulls in those who have stopped interacting with your brand through a special offer or going above and beyond. Every current customer is worth far more in revenue than a new customer. Your return on investment (ROI) is naturally higher for current customers than new ones. It costs more to attract than work on retention.
A customer-centered approach takes the time to reach out and talk to customers. So you’re never left wondering why someone stopped doing business with you. Learn from your mistakes, improve your processes every day and strive to know your customers and what they need.