If you haven't heard of conversational marketing by now, that would be because most of us are focused on some form
of marketing automation for our online and digital lead generation. Using automation platforms like Hubspot, salesforce marketing cloud, infusionsoft and platforms such like, enables a business or a brand to deliver content marketing, social media marketing and email marketing campaigns on a scheduled basis.
This ensures that your marketing teams are consistently busy optimising those campaigns in a data led fashion to increase traffic and marketing qualified leads (MQLs) facilitating your sales teams need to close more business in a
shorter space of time.
However, is there another form of marketing that compliments your inbound marketing and sales activity perfectly?
I say there is.
Conversational marketing focuses on delivering you Conversation Qualified Leads (CQLs) which are gathered by the use of chatbots on your website and landing pages.
"No! not chatbots" I hear time and again. "They're too immature in their readiness to talk effectively with website
prospects, and machine learning isn't always capable of answering the questions posed to it."
This is a massively valid point and as artificial intelligence develops, so will the capacity to deal with spurious and
non-standard or unexpected questions concisely.
That isn't to say that you should forget about the use of chatbots altogether in the meantime. I mean, Facebook seems to be doing well with them in their messenger app and companies like ManyChat and Drift for example, are working in different ways, offering variation in the marketplace.
ManyChat is a chat bot platform that works with your chat bot within Facebook messenger, perfect for those that want to engage their public in a space that is both familiar and acceptable. But is that the only space in the market?
Drift on the other hand, is a conversational marketing platform that syncs with your marketing automation platforms like Hubspot and salesforce and indeed your CRM, directly or via a zap. This platform gives you the opportunity to develop chatbots that can take your website viewers from visitors to CQL's in around 2 minutes.
The typical aim of your chat bot is to get your website visitor caught in a sales conversation whilst the "iron is hot", and get them to tell you what they need, where they are and confirm an opted in position for an immediate connection with sales or with your calendar requesting a sales call.
A typical conversational marketing playbook could have between 5 and 10 questions depending on what you are seeking to achieve. Those that have more during an initial interaction often see higher conversation abandonment rates than those who stick to the point. My advice is be short, be concise and be direct.
Don't try and be too clever or ask too many questions. Sticking to a version of questions that can qualify the value of a lead in a yes/no fashion, removes the opportunity for spurious questions and simplifies and expedites the conclusion and clarification on what your prospect wants to achieve.
Also don't try and pretend that your bot is actually a person. That's infuriating and should not be entertained. We know when we are communicating with a robot, so why try and hide the fact. Poignantly, we should embrace the fact we are employing a robot to manage this part of our marketing and sales funnel as typically when interacting we will relax knowing that it's simply a machine.
Let's look at our chatbot, PS Bot.
We're not hiding it behind some humanised alter ego that should enable it to be emotionally and visually accepted by website visitors.
If I do that and it cannot answer a question posed to it, or a pre-programmed response doesn't fit the question posed then I am setting my business up for a fall by way of bad customer experience. You can be damned sure that somebody seeking an alternative outcome other than what's presented will have a lot to say to other people. So I keep it brief, try to identify the wants/needs early and enable my prospect to qualify themselves or leave the conversation.
This doesn't mean that I can't scale it or indeed have further playbooks that take visitors off on vertical journeys - such as a visitor who indicates they need web design services going into a web design CQL funnel and a visitor that seeks marketing support into a marketing CQL funnel either. In fact, it's the logical progression and application to simply have one bot that sits within each category on the blog.
That way, my bots have clear ambition, no ambiguity and I can assign the conversation at the point of conversion to a team member specifically suited to that outcome.
As marketers and sales personnel, our job is to take our prospects to the point of sale via an education based content strategy, that being the most widely accepted strategy outside of PPC.
As conversational marketing experts, our aim is to speed up the process of conversion by enabling your website visitors to choose to buy immediately if the impulse is there, removing the need for constant lead nurturing.
Sure you can move prospects from your CQL funnel into an email nurturing funnel as you can using traditional inbound methods, but inbound typically is a longer process. The ambition, is for your bot to quickly qualify your prospect into a lead and get a call, meeting or even an online sale for a SAAS company.
So in closing, I fully support inbound marketing and marketing automation, but I absolutely support it with chatbots and the art of conversational marketing.