Conversational marketing is the future of direct, real-time engagement with customers. As conversational AI becomes more advanced and available to all marketers, we’re starting to see its importance in building relationships with potential customers through personal and dynamic interactions.
At first glance, this may seem a little odd: why would conversational marketing be more effective than a model that has been around for decades? The answer lies in the fact that digital channels have created an environment where people are constantly looking for new ways to interact with brands and products. Brands want to create better leads, build relationships, and increase loyalty. Consumers want their time spent online to feel more personal—and this can only happen when conversations occur between two parties instead of the normal one-to-many marketing communication style.
This article will explain why conversational marketing beats MQLs in 2022 and beyond, and how you can start your journey towards conversational customer engagement today.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing is a revolutionary brand communication channel that uses automation to drive sales. It is an approach to marketing where you talk directly with consumers through live chat, messaging applications, and voice assistants (such as Alexa or Siri). You can imagine it as the digital equivalent of having an actual conversation at the counter in your local store with someone who knows everything about you and what you like (and doesn’t try to sell anything).
Conversational marketing has been around for quite some time now, and its popularity has been growing thanks to its ability to help businesses build relationships with their customers while improving customer service at the same time. The key to conversational marketing is that it gives brands a forum to communicate with their audience in a one-on-one fashion, answering questions, giving recommendations, and helping customers and prospects make decisions. Conversational marketing allows companies to reach people across all platforms without having them jump through hoops first.
By using conversational messages like chatbots on websites or messaging apps (i.e., Facebook Messenger), companies have found that they can engage with potential buyers more effectively and make more sales than they would through traditional advertising methods such as email marketing campaigns or cold calling.
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Conversational Marketing vs. MQLs
MQL—marketing-qualified leads—is a marketing term for someone who matches your targeted buyer persona. Essentially, MQLs are identified as having a high likelihood of buying your product or service based on your understanding of your target audience.
MQLs are usually based on web pages visited, content offers downloaded, CTAs clicked, content interacted with, etc. For instance, if you’re running an email campaign and send out a series of emails to people who have shown interest in your product or service—and they respond to at least one of those emails—you might consider these leads as “marketing qualified.” The problem with MQLs? All of the data used to determine if someone is an MQL is gathered through passive observation and the assumption that your buyer personas are accurate.
But buyer personas aren’t 100% accurate because no two people are the same, even if they look the same on paper. And passive observation leaves a lot of room for error—for instance, data gathered passively is gathered under the assumption that the behavior tracked is that of a single user. Once more than one person is using the same device (like a spouse or child, borrowing your computer, tablet, or smartphone), things get more complicated. On top of that, humans are curious creatures. We might click on links or peruse websites with no real intent to purchase—but merely out of curiosity, meaning that we might behave like MQLs, but that doesn’t mean we are MQLs.
The difference between conversational marketing and MQLs is like night and day. Rather than identifying a qualified prospect through external observation and assumption, conversational marketing aims to anticipate, understand, and respond to customers’ and prospects’ individualized needs throughout their purchase journey. It is proactive and precise rather than reactive and vague.
With conversational marketing, those who fall within your buyer persona may still be targeted, but whether or not someone is a qualified lead is determined based on the actual conversations and engagement your brand has with each individual. When a customer or prospect indicates that they are interested in buying through conversational marketing—they become a CQL—a conversation-qualified lead. These leads have much higher odds of converting and since we’ve had direct contact with them, we have a better and more exact understanding of exactly what they are looking for—which means we can make our marketing efforts even more targeted and relevant.
The Benefits of Conversational Marketing
The data shows that consumers want and expect brands to expand and adapt to the changing digital landscape quickly—and 54% of consumers say this should include new ways for consumers to engage with brands. The answer for brands to meet these expectations is in conversational marketing.
Related reading: 4 Steps To Building Trust in Your B2B Brand in 2022
The benefits of conversational marketing include better lead gen, faster customer acquisition, and improved customer experience. With consumer mistrust of brands growing alongside their reliance on trustability, companies will have difficulty engaging customers. Trust takes time to build; the only way to do so is by listening to and addressing consumer needs in real time.
Thank goodness for AI.
Better Lead Generation
Conversational messaging allows you to target specific personas more effectively than MQLs because it enables you to build trust through messaging and conversations over time, resulting in better conversion rates on your sales page or landing page.
Understanding your customer base through direct contact or information provided directly by the customer (aka zero-party data) builds trust, ultimately creating better leads and a loyal customer base.
It’s easier for many people to engage with brands via chatbots than through emails or phone calls. Conversations are more personal and engaging than other forms of communication because they require interaction that listens and responds—rather than just an automated response from an email inbox that may not even be relevant anymore. B2Bs can also use these conversations as opportunities for follow-up questions or action items that help build rapport with your leads so you can convert them into real customers later on down the line.
Faster Customer Acquisition
We all remember the multitude of touch points necessary to guide your lead down the sales funnel. And we know that the faster we make quality touch points, the faster the lead moves forward—thereby shortening the sales cycle.
Data from IBM Watson Advertising Conversations, a conversational marketing tool, says their service delivers a 54% greater impact when compared to traditional rich media. When you can reach your audience wherever they are—digital ads, your website, mobile apps, and even in-store kiosks—you make quality, valuable touch points and move them toward a purchase decision more quickly.
Conversational marketing unfolds in real-time, capturing the buyer’s attention at the exact moment they interact with your brand. This ensures that their needs are met immediately—and ultimately drives more sales or leads than MQLs ever could.
Improved Customer Experience
Conversational marketing improves and personalizes the customer experience because these types of interactions feel like they’re between humans, even though they’re automated. This means you can make it easier for people to get help when they need it.
In today’s world of two-day shipping (think Amazon) and three-second attention spans, it is imperative that your brand maintains a presence in the customer’s mind at all times. With conversational marketing, you can simply craft messages that resonate with your audience when they interact with your brand.
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Conversational marketing is a better way to build leads, increase loyalty and customer satisfaction, and grow your business. It is more personal than mass media communications because it’s one-to-one communication with the customer. As a result, the customer feels like they are in control of their experience by taking action on their terms instead of just passively receiving messages from you via email or SMS.
Conversational marketing is not just about being more engaging; it’s also about building trust and relationships with your customers, making it stand out from other forms of digital marketing today. If you want to learn more about how we can help you reach even higher levels of success with your conversational marketing campaign, reach out!