Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Drift Partner New Breed. Interested in contributing content to the Drift blog? Email Gail Axelrod at email@example.com.
In a world where data rules and automation powers the majority of modern businesses’ internal processes, conversational marketing is turning the customer experience on its head.
By now, you probably know that conversational marketing is a unique and engaging way to put the human element back into your marketing and sales process and establish more genuine connections with your customers. Though conversational marketing encompasses an entire philosophy — it’s about treating your buyers and customers like human beings, not metrics or dollar signs — the most popular vehicle for conversational marketing is a bot.
If you’re ready to jump on the bot train but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips for dipping your toes into conversational marketing the right way.
First, Ask Yourself “Why?”
Before you dive into conversational marketing, you need to be able to articulate why you’re doing it, what you hope to get out of it and how you’ll measure your successes or failures.
For most, the obvious goal for hosting a bot on their website is to drive better engagement and, ultimately, revenue. That’s because the whole point behind a bot is to remove as much friction as possible for web visitors by meeting them where they are, NOW.
But conversational marketing success may look slightly different depending on your company, your goals and your prospects, so think about the direction you want to take with your strategy and investment.
Next, Get to Know Your Buyer
Because bots are all about creating an engaging marketing and sales experience for the customer, you need to understand the path your customers take through the buyer journey and where points of friction can be alleviated with a bot.
For example, say someone visits your website and becomes interested in your product. In order to request a demo, they probably need to perform a number of actions, including:
- Finding and clicking on a call-to-action.
- Filling out a landing page form.
- Waiting several hours or days for a salesperson to follow up via email or phone.
- Receiving and responding positively to that follow-up.
- Scheduling an official demo with the salesperson.
- Remembering and showing up to the demo on time.
Obviously, this path will look different for different buyers of different types of products, but the idea is the same: There is quite a bit of friction the buyer needs to move through in order to get to what they’re looking for.
By mapping out these conversion paths as they are without conversational marketing, you can figure out where to strategically place your bot to intercept and smooth over those points of friction, shorten the buyer’s journey and provide more value right away. This will give prospects less time to second-guess their decision, forget about their original request, lose interest or move on to a competitor.
Then, Target High-Intent Pages for Quick Wins
Once you have a firm understanding of the points of friction, start small and target your high-intent pages first.
High-intent pages are the pages that customers usually visit before converting on a key performance indicator. In other words, analyze your web metrics to understand which actions are most consistently leading to a KPI conversion. For example, maybe users who visit your product details pages are consistently requesting a demo two to three days later.
Finally, Beat ‘Em to the Punch
Why make your prospects wait? By placing a bot on high-intent pages and offering the conversion opportunity that they’re probably looking for right then and there, you remove the unnecessary friction from the process and increase the user’s likelihood of following through with a sale.
Think of it this way: If you’re shopping for a pair of pants, you’re not going to go into the store, look at the pants, leave the store, come back a few days later and schedule a time to try on your pants. Instead, a sales rep usually asks to start a fitting room for you, you try on the pants right away and then you buy them.
Of course, that’s a B2C example, and the B2B buying process is a little more complicated, but you should still strive to get as close as possible to a natural, streamlined buying experience as you can.
That’s why it’s called conversational marketing – when your bot pops up in the corner of a webpage, it should look, sound and feel to the customer as close to a human conversation as it possibly can.
Configuring a Natural Bot Conversation
You might be thinking: How can I program a bot – a machine z- to have a natural, humanlike conversation with web visitors?
Sure, it sounds counter-intuitive. But you’re a human, so it’s not too difficult to figure out. Let’s go back to the B2C example to help demonstrate this.
When a customer walks into a store to buy a pair of pants, their conversation with the sales rep might go something like this:
Sales Rep: Hi, I’m Amanda. Let me know if there’s anything I can help you find!
Customer: I’m looking for a pair of pants.
Sales Rep: Okay, I can definitely help you with that. What kind of pants are you looking for? Denim, khaki, sweatpants…?
Sales Rep: Sure, our jeans are upstairs. I’ll walk you to them.
In this example, the sales rep begins with a friendly greeting and a polite offer to help. When the customer says what they’re looking for, the sales rep responds positively and asks for some qualifying information to ensure they’re pointing the customer in the right direction. Finally, rather than pointing out the location of the jeans and letting the customer search for them on their own, the sales rep walks the customer to the right section to make the process as seamless as possible.
In short, your bot should act like the kind of friendly, polite and eager-to-help sales rep you’d want to run into in a store. Rather than bombarding web visitors with a barrage of cold, impersonal questions – “Name? Email? Company? Company size?” – your bot should collect information with a conversational tone.
For example, a good bot conversation might look like this:
bot: Hi! I’m Driftbot. Thanks for stopping by our website. Can I help you find anything?
Web Visitor: I’d like more information about conversational marketing.
bot: Okay, I can definitely help you with that. Give me a moment to find our most popular blog posts on conversational marketing. While you’re waiting, could I have your email in case we get disconnected?
Web Visitor: firstname.lastname@example.org
bot: Thanks! Here’s a link to our most popular blog post..
See how pleasant that is compared to a traditional form?
You can configure your bot to respond to just about anything a web visitor might be looking for on your website. If they ask for more information about a specific topic, serve them a handful of resources about that topic. If they ask for a sales rep, have your bot connect them immediately.
Moreover, instead of sending visitors a link about a certain topic, you could streamline the conversation even further by responding directly in the chat. For example, if you asked a sales rep in-store for more information about the company, they would tell you in person, rather than pointing you to a pamphlet to read about it yourself.
The point is, if you configure your bot to speak like a human, web visitors will feel better about the engagement and be more likely to respond.
One Last Note…
One final tip about configuring your bot: Your bot should only ask for necessary information. If you’re not using a data enrichment tool, you’re wasting your time.
In other words, don’t introduce more friction into the conversation by asking users for public data or information that they’ve already given you. Data enrichment tools can collect certain information, such as company size or industry, for you so don’t make your prospect put in the extra work.
If a visitor has provided information through a form on your website previously, don’t ask them for that information again either. How would you feel if you were a repeat customer at your favorite clothing store and none of the sales reps there even recognized your face? It’s the same deal with a bot. Streamline the checkout by using auto-fill and data enrichment tools to prevent redundant interactions.
The Moral of the Story? Treat People Like Humans.
Nobody wants to be treated like a robot, a metric, a number or a dollar sign – so don’t treat them that way. Conversational marketing gives you the ability to inject personality, warmth and genuine helpfulness into every engagement you have with your customers and prospects.
Once you have these things nailed down, you can start building out more complex interactions with more detail and personalization – but optimizing bots on high-intent pages is a great jumping-off point for those who are new to the world of conversational marketing.