Before we dive in, let’s level-set to understand the principles of Conversational Marketing & Sales. It’s useful for us to think about this in terms of a framework: The new (or customer-centric) approach vs. the old (or business-centric) approach.
Conversational marketing always puts the buyer and customer first.
Principles of Conversational Marketing & Sales
Having a website today without Drift is like having a catalogue in the 1970s without a 1-800 number. When something from the catalogue captured the buyer’s interest, they got their answer in real-time simply by calling in.
In today’s digital landscape, the emphasis on now is even more important. As new channels emerge, every single channel you use to get attention is getting more crowded and noisy. The opportunity to drive more traffic at the top of your funnel has diminished. The opportunity now is to use the traffic you’re getting in smart ways to move buyers through the buying journey faster and with a better experience.
Sources: $5.12B – US B2B Digital Ad Spending – eMarketer; 2.3% average landing page conversion rate from Search Engine Land; 81% of tech buyers don’t convert – LinkedIn survey; 58% of companies never follow up with website leads – 2018 Lead; 10x decrease in contact rate after first 5 minutes – InsideSales.com & HBR study
We’re not going to ask you to change the way you do marketing and force you to start thinking in this new way immediately.
Conversational marketing can be used as a second net for your visitors who don’t want to jump through hoops and wait for their question to be answered, or who are ready to book a demo right now.
That’s where the Conversational Marketing Blueprint comes in.
The purpose of a Conversational Marketing Blueprint is to map the what, who, where, why, and when of your buyer’s journey. In other words, the goal of the blueprint is to map the conversations your customers want to have with your business.
Every business is different and so are their customers. While the the Conversational Framework is a helpful starting point, the blueprint is where the rubber meets the road. It’s the tactical – and visual – roadmap for layering your go-to-market strategy with conversational marketing.
You chose to do conversational marketing for a reason. This guide will help you use conversational marketing to drive more leads, book more meetings, generate more pipeline. Create a better buying experience for your buyers and customers.
It will show you how to answer five key questions to assess how to build your conversational marketing strategy.
- What? What are visitors looking at now? What web page or piece of content are they on?
- Who? Who is visiting your website? What do we know about them, if anything?
- Where? Where did they come from? Was it a particular ad, nurture campaign, or a specific source that drove them to you?
- Why? Why are they here with you now? Do they have a question? Do they need guidance? Are they ready to speak with sales or do they need support?
- When? This is a trick question. The right time to engage with a buyer is always now – when the prospective buyer is showing intent or interest.
We’ll dive deeper into each question so you can build a blueprint specific to your business and buyers.
A Visual Representation
This is what the 5 Ws look like when you start thinking about your conversational marketing Strategy. The first thing you think about is what page that person is on. From there you can get more granular and think about all the different conversations you can have with your buyers.
Consider this: A return unknown visitor comes to the website from a specific ad and navigates to a specific web page about a relevant feature. Clearly, why they are there is very different than a target account visiting a blog page.
And yet, today, our marketing and sales funnels don’t personalize that experience.
The calls-to-action we provide our buyers are all the same: “Join our email list,” or “Schedule a call,” without acknowledging the 5 Ws that brought them to your site in the first place.
Essentially, we’ve been giving everyone who visits our websites the same message and experience, over and over, no matter who they are.
That’s the difference with conversational Marketing – we can, and should, engage with the buyer based on who they are, where they came from, what page they are on, and why they are there in the first place.
We’ll dive deeper in the what, who, where, and why in the following sections, but remember, the when is always now.
What web page a visitor is on is one of the most common ways to personalize your conversational marketing. The concept is simple enough: Engage the website visitor in a conversation based on the page they’re currently on.
Deciding what web pages to personalize for conversational marketing is an exercise you should undertake before building your Drift playbooks.
To help, we can break down your website into the most common use cases for conversational marketing based on the types of pages you have.
- Home: Simple enough, your company’s home page. This is your storefront, where people can get an overview of what your company does without getting too deep into the nitty gritty.
- Educational: Web pages that dive into the product, value propositions, and solutions that a specific product, feature, or service offers. These pages educate your buyers specifically on what your business sells. Ungated white papers or ebooks can also serve as educational content and pages.
- High Intent: In simplest terms, these are pages where people are most likely to identify themselves as a lead. Common examples include: Contact us, Pricing, Request a Demo, Landing pages, Case studies.
- Blog & Content: For businesses today their blog is typically less about educating customers about their product or service and instead offers value to their target personas. Blogs are often used to build email distribution lists for other content and to create a company’s brand. log pages are also often used to build domain authority and boost organic traffic.
- Informational: Common informational pages include: About us, Careers, Press, People. Informational pages are typically about the company and less about a specific product, topic, or educational piece of information.
The next step in personalizing the buying experience is recognizing who the site visitor is. Break down the “who” is visiting your website into the most basic terms.
To do so, we bucket types of traffic based on commonalities and what we know about the visitor.
Of course, not every business has the same types of web traffic, so you will need to adjust for your own business accordingly.
In a B2B company, the types of traffic often fall into one of the following 7 categories:
- Target Accounts
- Ideal Customer Profile
- Sales Engagement
- Anonymous Traffic: The majority of the traffic that visits your web properties is likely anonymous. People are discovering your brand or company from one of many different sources. There is no cookie on the visitor to identify who they are and no meaningful IP address to associate the visitor with a specific account. In most cases, this will be the first time this person has come to your website. When an anonymous user visits your website, Drift will cookie the visitor to understand how they engage with your website. If they return, we can treat them differently.
- Return Traffic: Return traffic is traffic that has been cookied by Drift but has not yet converted to a known person or account. You know this is not the first time they’ve visited your website but you don’t know personal information about them like email or name.
- Known Traffic: This includes visitors who have already become a lead from a lead capture form, newsletter sign up, or from a conversation/chat. This traffic is known traffic because the contact already exists in your Marketing Automation platform like Marketo or CRM like Salesforce and was captured by Drift.
- Target Account Traffic: Customers using Drift Intel have the added power of leveraging Reverse IP lookup to see if the visitor’s IP address matches the millions of known company IP addresses. With Drift Intel, you can upload your list of Target Accounts or sync your Target Accounts from your CRM. Drift Intel will automatically associate those account lists with their appropriate and known IP addresses. Because you know the visitor is from a Target Account you can personalize your conversational marketing engagement and treat this visitor like the VIP they are. *Note: We will know what company that person is from but if they have not identified themselves we will not know their email/name/other personal information.
- Ideal Customer Profile Traffic: Not only does Drift Intel match IP addresses of visitors to companies, it also enriches data points for specific targeting you can use to match against your Ideal Customer Profile. For example, a visitor may hit your website from the company “Acme Industrial.” Drift Intel will enrich specific company attributes such as “number of employees,” “company industry,” “company revenue,” and more. Let’s say your ICP is companies with over 1,000 employees, greater than $50M in revenue, and are in the industry of manufacturing. Using Drift Intel, you can specifically target companies that match your ICP to personalize your conversational marketing engagement. Furthermore, when the visitor decides to chat in, you can use these attributes to route the conversation or meeting to the appropriate Conversation Development Representative or Account Executive based on the routing rules you have in your CRM or Drift.
- Sales Engaged Traffic: Conversational marketing isn’t just for your top of funnel. If a website visitor is already sales engaged, their intent is different than a first time web visitor. The sales engaged visitor is likely looking for something specific or trying to answer a question. Because we know the visitor is sales engaged we can personalize the conversational engagement to deliver more relevant messaging and even deliver the conversational message from the person who owns that sales engaged account. Drift can also alert the salesperson that their account is on the website now providing them an opportunity to jump directly into a conversation.
- Customer Traffic: Existing customers may visit your site looking for support or may be considering additional products/services to purchase. When you identify an existing customer on your site you can provide an experience that matches what customers typically want versus other types of web traffic. For example, if a Drift playbook targeting existing customers engages a customer with a support issue, Drift can automatically create a support ticket in popular systems like Zendesk. Conversely, if the customer is inquiring about new products or services, Drift can connect the visitor with their Account Manager for a live conversation or book a meeting on their behalf.
When you’re thinking about what kinds of conversations you want to have, and with whom you want to have them think of this dial:
If you keep your targeting super restrictive, you’ll have higher quality conversations but at a way lower volume.
Conversely, if you open up your conversations to everyone on your site, you’ll have a ton of conversations but at a lower quality.
It all depends on what sort of strategy you want to have. You can always have a more open strategy to start with, so you know what kinds of conversations you want to have and what kinds of conversations you don’t want to have, and progressively get more targeted.
The next step in creating personalized conversations is to map out the specific channels of where visitors come from to get to your website.
Although your company’s sources may differ, the following are some of the most common traffic sources for B2B companies today:
- Webinar / Event
- Blog / Content
- Direct: When someone visits your website directly, they are typically aware of your brand. They heard, saw, or read something that drove them to type in your URL to learn more.
- Ad: You may be running dozens of different ad campaigns. The context of those ads and the pages they direct to are fundamental in understanding what interest or intent the visitor has. The basics here are pretty simple to understand. In these scenarios we know exactly what message captured their attention.
- Nurture: Nurture campaigns provide additional and powerful context to understand what drove the person back to your website. Not only do we know who the person is, we also know the content that interested them to engage with the nurture email and click through back to the website. Using the specifics of the email that captured the buyer’s interest, you can personalize your conversational engagement.
- Organic: While traffic from organic sources varies widely based on your content and SEO strategies, you can use the specific referrer keywords to infer what specifically the visitor may be searching for.
- Event: Whether in person or online, you may have a specific call-to-action following an event to engage with your attendees and registrants. Events have a natural specificity and messaging surrounding them. As a result, you can create a Bot that targets event attendees and registrants in a whole new, personalized way.
- Content: If you use third party content to drive awareness, you have the opportunity to engage in a personalized conversation based on the content that drove the visitor to your website. For example, if someone writes a review of your business on their blog and it starts generating traffic, you can greet visitors that came from that content with a message like “Thanks for reading our review on AcmeCo’s site. What was it about the article that caught your attention?” In this scenario, you can see how we use the Conversational Framework to engage in a whole new and personalized way. Furthermore, you can move to immediately understand what it was that captured their attention before moving onto a recommendation.
We’ve been using the Conversational Framework of Engage, Understand, Recommend to better personalize the experience of our buyers.
A very important step in building your Conversational Marketing Blueprint is to answer the question of why someone is on your website.
Once we’ve engaged with website visitors based on what page they’re on, who they are, and where they came from, we can move to understand why they’re on your site in the first place.
The types of questions you ask to understand a buyer’s intent are typically more informed when you know the answers to who, where, and what.
Now that you have engaged a visitor and understand their intent, you should recommend next steps for the visitor by asking why they are on your site.
Understanding the tension between buyers and sellers.
The thing about why is that there are two answers to this question. There’s what you want out of prospective buyers and there is what they want out of their engagement with your company.
It’s no wonder that conversion rates have continually declined for lead capture in B2B over the last decade. We’ve been prioritizing our why with little ability to prioritize the buyer’s why.
But, there is good news.
The typical landing page today has only one call-to-action. The beauty of conversational marketing is that we can use Bot workflows in Drift’s playbook builder to offer the buyer choices.
With conversational marketing, you can recommend different calls-to-action.
In short, a golden rule of building Drift playbooks is that you should offer choices in your Playbook Goals. Not only do choices optimize the buyer experience, choices also create more opportunities for conversions in your funnel.
Let’s take a closer look at how we accomplish offering buyers choices and making different recommendations based on why they are here.
- Question: The visitor who has engaged in a chat is seeking an answer to a specific question. The conversation can be routed to a Conversation Development Representative (CDR) where the rep can answer their question and secure next steps to help the buyer.
- Evaluation: The visitor is interested in learning more about using your product. The visitor can book a meeting or meet now with an Account Executive (AE) or CDR if they need further qualification.
- Education: The visitor is looking for more information about a particular topic you specialize in or how your business operates in general.
- Direction: The visitor is trying to “find their way,” on your website. Drift Playbooks can also be used as a conversational way to help users better navigate your website. Using a combination of button responses or keyword groups, Drift bots can act as an online concierge to create a better self-help buying experience.
- Support: The visitor is a known customer (or has indicated they are a customer in the event they are anonymous) and is seeking the answer to a support question. While Drift’s primary purpose is to provide a better buying experience, we certainly do not want to ignore existing customers especially when they have a support question. In the event a customer engages with your Drift Bot on your website with a support question you can route the chat to a dedicated support representative. The good news is that sales can stay focused on helping buyers and Drift can keep sales and support chats separate. Conversely, if you do not want to offer support chat inside of Drift, the Drift Bot can navigate the visitor to your dedicated support solution so they get the help they need now.