For too many companies, their buying process has become cold, impersonal, and way more painful for the buyer than it needs to be. The fix? Make business actually feel personal again. And while modernizing your video marketing can help you do this, a more fundamental and widespread change is also needed. As marketers, we need to reimagine how businesses and customers communicate.
That’s where conversational marketing comes into play. Instead of forcing people to fill out lead capture forms and wait days for a response, conversational marketing uses targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage with leads in real-time.
The global research firm Gartner recently acknowledged that conversational marketing will be “a recognized channel of B2B and B2C customer engagement and revenue by 2020, displacing a combination of marketing, sales and service activities.” Meanwhile, the crowdsourced software review site G2 Crowd added conversational marketing as a category, noting that conversational marketing platforms “provide a higher standard of customer service at scale and simplify the overall buying process for potential customers around the world at any time of day.”
Experts quoted in this section:
The consumer is in control. They have connected devices, mobile technology in their hands at all times, they’re throwing off a lot of data, they expect their experiences are going to be relevant and frictionless, and so forth. People aren’t willing to wait even a second right now.
…most B2B marketers measure success in terms of the number of leads generated. This gives them a false sense of accomplishment. Why? Because the number of leads has nothing to do with lead quality or pipeline velocity.
Sales people need to engage with qualified accounts and have meaningful conversations with buyers, prospects, and influencers. Marketing should be enabling and facilitating those conversations. In the end, salespeople don’t close leads; they close accounts.
As a CMO, you are responsible for customer experience (end-to-end) and that extends well beyond the buyer’s journey. That means you can’t just focus on the product or your marketing collateral or whatever. You need to focus on the customer – What will get them interested? What will get them to buy? And, most of all, what will get them to stay with you?
If we build great products our objective should be to get users to use our great products and to then support them in that journey. And that is not a marketing journey that starts with a form on a website that leads to a content download that leads to a barrage of emails. As a marketer, my job isn’t as much about marketing as it is about teaching and enabling.
If somebody comes to our site, and somebody’s coming there with a question that we can answer, it’s our duty, it’s my duty as a brandbuilder, to think about how I build this long-term relationship with them. Traditional marketing tactics encourage short-term thinking over long-term brand-building.
So my mandate to the team is: Treat every one of these conversations as if it’s somebody who’s going to spend a lot of money with us over their lifetime. And that’s why the bot is so important to us, because it lets us touch everyone in a meaningful way, and then really focus where it makes the most sense.
Because so many businesses now leverage the convenience and speed of on-site live chat to help customers, adding a chatbot to enhance that personalized experience is often a no-brainer. Website chatbots can carry out a lot of different functions:
Giving customers a burdenless experience to start a conversation can help maximize your website visitors’ potential value.
Imagine a 24/7 customer service agent that is ready to greet and answer basic questions, and it’s highly scalable and an easy way to educate customers and foster new relationships through conversational marketing.
With the [conversational marketing] now, you have the ability to set appointments with people. You can have the bot. It becomes a bot. My bot, for example, might say, ‘Hey! Are you spending money on paid advertising?’ So Neil gave me that idea. They click yes, then it might say, ‘How much are you spending in a month?’ Then we give them like five bubbles and it talks about the budget. If their budget is less than let’s say $10,000 a month, it filters them over and it says okay, they’re not a fit for single grain but it might push over to one of our referral partners. Then anybody that is qualified, the counter automatically shows up for the account executive. It shows the calendar, and you can book a meeting directly within there. That way, you basically have an inbound sales development representative for you, qualifying these leads for you. It starts to become a revenue generating kind of tool for you.
We have a little Drift button that asks them if they have any questions about the tool. Now, people started asking questions, and then I decided to hop in and start answering those questions. It took me probably 10-15 minutes each time. I think on the chats that I got on, maybe I got on like four chats, I think I converted 50%.
The B2B marketing paradigm that we all grew up with was built for quantity, not quality and speed. It was built in a world where vendors have all the control, not buyers. The common B2B buying experience was defined by gates, forms and slow hand-offs between funnel stages. We already know that this approach leads to a slow (and crappy) experience for both buyers and sellers. And it only makes sense that marketing automation providers push this paradigm because they use the number of contacts in a customer’s database as their economic engine.
But now, buyers are in control. They don’t like to wait. The new paradigm, led by Conversational Marketing, is about engaging your best buyers, on their terms, with the best experience.
It’s account-based, personalized around intent and engagement, contextual, human, and real-time. It’s NOW. It gets the buyer to the next step in minutes rather than weeks. It allows your sales team to spend time with the best leads – the people who are a good fit and who want to talk. The result?
Traditional B2B marketing and sales tools were built for a world that no longer exists. They were designed with companies in mind, not customers. The focus was on capturing as many leads as possible, not providing people with the best experience possible.
And we all know that time kills all deals. When you look at the old marketing and sales playbook, it’s easy to see the fatal flaw: Waiting is baked into every step. As a buyer, you have to wait for a marketing team to qualify you before a sales rep will talk to you. And if it turns out you are qualified, you have to wait for that sales rep to email you or call you. And if the process keeps moving forward, you’ll likely still need to set up a time a demo which means even more waiting.
That’s a terrible experience to inflict on people — especially people who are coming to your website. People who are ready to buy NOW.
Back in 2016, we went all-in on the idea that just like with B2C buyers, B2B buyers would soon be expecting that “now” buying experience by default. After all, when you’re selling to other businesses, you’re really selling to the people at those businesses. And at Drift, we saw early on that those people were getting sick of filling out forms and waiting around for follow-ups.
So we decided to build something new. Something designed specifically with that “now” experience in mind. What we ended up with was not just a new product, but an entirely new methodology: Conversational marketing.
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