Let’s Talk: So What’s Conversational Marketing and Why Should You Care?

Conversation is the highest form of communication. When you need to feel understood, you talk. And when you want to build a relationship, you listen. Two-way discourse is absolutely necessary for building healthy relationships, both with people and with businesses.

But when you communicate with your customers through your marketing campaigns, are you listening to your customers or just talking at them?

Most of the marketing channels you probably use work in one direction. If you send emails or advertise, you are simply pushing your message at your target audience. Such channels do not allow your prospects and customers to communicate back to you. In a sense, you are doing all the talking. Truly effective marketing should involve listening, and conversational marketing is making that possible.

Conversational Marketing Drives Higher Conversions

Conversational marketing is an emerging marketing channel that uses personalized 1-on-1 automated conversations to learn about and remember customers’ interests.

Think of the last time you asked a sales clerk for help in a store. Did he or she ignore your question and instead tell you about their current sale? Hopefully not. A good sales clerk will listen to your questions and give you thoughtful assistance – and perhaps remember your preferences the next time you walk through the door. Not only does this type of customer service build brand loyalty, it helps drive sales because it is meeting your needs. Conversational marketing mimics such age-old customer interactions in the digital world and at scale.

At eRelevance, we have run conversational marketing for our customers since 2013 using our proprietary TalkWithMe automated conversation channel. TalkWithMe finds out what customers would like to talk about whether it be products, services, or even hobbies and engages them on those topics, responding appropriately throughout the conversation. These automated conversations progressively become more personalized as TalkWithMe gathers and remembers customer interests from prior interactions.

We have found that our automated conversations are a powerful tool for nurturing leads and building brand loyalty. Leads from our conversational channel tend to convert at higher rates than any other digital channel, usually around 40%, because it is the truest form of permission based marketing. Consumers chose to engage in bi-directional interaction where they essentially tell us and our customers what products and services they are interested in buying. Just as important, conversational marketing builds long term value for a business as it helps build relationships with customers. In the end, conversational marketing allows you to listen to all of your customers and responds to their needs and desires.

A Multi-Channel Approach

Conversional marketing cannot, however, replace other marketing channels. No single channel can ever reach all of your audience. Rather, conversational marketing should supplement and reinforce your other digital marketing efforts.

At eRelevance, we run conversational marketing in two mobile channels: TalkWithMe SMS and TalkWithMe app. Yet we still run integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns that use other channels like email, targeted social, and others to mine value from our customers’ existing customers. We systematically nurture leads with each campaign over multiple cycles and digital channels, repeatedly and regularly without over communicating. The result is that we build our customers’ relationships with their customers while also consistently driving sales.

The beauty of conversational marketing is that it fits well into a traditional multi-channel digital marketing campaign while also serving as a line of communication that is always open to customers. With each of our campaign cycles, we invite customers into a conversation by stimulating with emails, texts and push notifications; however, a customer can also begin a conversation with TalkWithMe any time.

The promise of conversational marketing is huge. We see conversations becoming a part of almost every marketing channel as customers come to expect brands to listen to them and remember their preferences. The future of marketing will involve much more listening than talking.