Conversational marketing or conversation marketing is a one-to-one approach to marketing that companies use to shorten their sales cycle, learn about their customers, and create a more human buying experience.

Instead of forcing people to go through lead capture forms and wait days for a response, conversational marketing uses targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage with leads in real-time (like when they’re live on your website). Making it easier for people to connect with your company will help you convert leads faster. It’s the rare move that will make you and your prospects happier.

How Conversational Marketing Is Changing the Way Your Customers Buy

There’s a problem with the way we’ve been taught to market and sell—it no longer matches how customers like to communicate.

Think about it—when you’re not talking to someone face-to-face, where do most of your conversations happen? For most people, the answer looks a lot like this:

conversational marketing supports the way people want to communicate

People love communicating with messaging because it’s fast, frictionless, and actually feels like a conversation. So it’s not surprising that 90% of consumers want to use it to communicate with businesses (and the majority prefer it over email) according to a recent survey from Twilio.

But most businesses are still forcing customers to jump through endless hoops before a conversation can ever take place:

B2B marketing

Customers don’t have time for this anymore, and the numbers show it:

  • Only 43% of people answer cold calls
  • The average email open rate has fallen to 20%
  • The average landing page conversion rate is only 2.35%

The B2B buying process has become cold, impersonal, and way more painful for the buyer than it needs to be. The fix? We need to make business actually feel personal again.Conversational marketing gives marketing and sales teams a way to finally have real-time, scalable conversations that close leads faster.

How Conversational Marketing Works

A Proven Methodology for Converting More Traffic into Qualified Leads

Implementing conversational marketing doesn’t force you to blow everything up and start from scratch. It’s more like turning on a new lead-gen channel that complements your existing marketing efforts. We boiled it down to a simple methodology called “Capture, Qualify, Connect.” It shows you step-by-step how to start using conversational marketing to convert more of your traffic into qualified leads.

Steps to conversational marketing

Let’s break down each step.

Step 1: Capture more leads with messaging instead of forms.

What happens when you let visitors instantly start conversations on your website instead of forcing them to fill out forms before they can talk to anyone? For most businesses, it means higher conversion rates, more opportunities, and a more personal experience with the customer. When visitors click to contact sales or book a demo, you can start a real-time conversation that automatically captures any contact info they enter. But it doesn’t have to end there—keep the conversation going and continue moving leads through your funnel instead of forcing them to wait for a follow-up email.

Scale conversations with intelligent chatbots

You can’t have someone operating chat on your website 24/7. That’s why we built intelligent chatbots that make conversational marketing scalable. They can capture leads, qualify them, and book meetings even when you’re offline.

Filter out noise so you can focus on your best buyers

You can also send targeted messages to the visitors who seem most likely to buy instead of waiting for them to initiate the conversation. Whether you want to offer assistance to people browsing your pricing page or check in on repeat visitors, now you can proactively reach the people who are serious about buying and filter out the ones who aren’t.

conversational marketing custom bot example

Step 2: Qualify leads in minutes instead of days.

The typical approach to qualifying leads takes days of marketing automation and nurturing emails. But according to a study from Harvard Business Review, companies need to respond within five minutes of initial contact to have the best chance of qualifying a lead. Wait any longer and your odds of qualifying them decrease by 400%. With conversational marketing, chatbots keep you available 24/7 to respond to new leads instantly. Chatbots can even qualify those leads for you in real-time instead of forcing them to wait on follow-up emails.

Let bots ask qualifying questions for you

Just give your bot the same questions you already ask on form fields or initial qualifying calls and it’ll do the rest. You’ll speed up response time and ensure your reps end up talking to people who fit your ideal customer profile.

conversational marketing qualifies prospects automatically Spend time with only the best leads

Bots can also disqualify visitors, saving your reps valuable time. Whether someone should be talking to support instead of sales or just isn’t a good fit for your product, they’ll make sure you’re only spending time with leads who are likely to buy.

Step 3: Connect leads with sales and book meetings instantly.

Bots are great at capturing and qualifying leads, but nothing beats human-to-human interaction once it’s time to close the sale. That’s why bots use intelligent routing to connect leads to your sales team and even book meetings for them automatically—so your reps can focus 100% on selling.

Route leads to reps based on sales territory

With intelligent routing, bots will always make sure the right leads go to the right reps. If you have multiple reps in the same territory, leads can be assigned on a rotating basis.

conversational marketing routes leads to sales reps Bots book meetings when your sales reps aren’t available

Once sales reps connect their calendars, bots can book meetings for qualified leads directly from conversations. Your sales team will appreciate waking up to calendars full of high-quality meetings.

conversational marketing schedules meetings for sales reps

The 5 Key Benefits of Conversational Marketing

You’ve already seen the positive results many different businesses have been able to achieve through conversational marketing, but those aren’t the only benefits you can expect. Here are the five biggest benefits of using conversations to capture and qualify leads:

  1. You create a more human buying experience: With conversational marketing, your website no longer feels like an empty store, where the only thing to greet shoppers were lead forms. Now you can actually say “hello” to the people taking time to visit your site, allowing them to start a conversation when it’s most convenient for them.
  2. You learn a ton about your customers: Lead forms can collect contact info, but they’re not great at providing context. Conversations can easily show you why customers came to your site in the first place, what their biggest pain points are, and which product features are most important to them.
  3. You add a net new source of leads: At Drift, we’ve added 15% more leads to the top of our funnel with conversational marketing. Those are leads that were never going to the trouble of filling out a form before we gave them an alternative.
  4. You shorten your sales cycle: Leads qualified through conversations (called CQLs, or conversation-qualified leads) tend to close faster than leads qualified through traditional methods. Digital marketing agency ThriveHive’s sales cycle for CQLs lasts four days on average, compared to 11 days on average for leads from other sources.
  5. You grow your sales pipeline: Since implementing conversational marketing, RapidMiner, a leading data science platform, has influenced 25% of their pipeline with conversations—an amount worth well over $1 million to them.

FAQs About Conversational Marketing

  • Do I have to completely remove all of my lead capture forms? Getting started with conversational marketing isn’t an “all or nothing” decision. Rather than ripping all the forms off their site, many companies start by simply adding real-time messaging as a second net, an alternative to forms for leads who are ready to talk to someone immediately. It’s like opening a fast lane for your prospects who are already close to buying.
  • How do I measure the effectiveness of conversational marketing? You can measure your conversational marketing efforts just like you would measure any other marketing channel. Platforms like Drift give you dashboards that show you how many leads you’ve captured and qualified with conversations, how much revenue and pipeline your conversations are driving, and even the total amount of sales opportunities they’re influencing.
  • What types of people are having conversations with businesses? When we analyzed the data from the 50,000+ businesses using Drift for conversational marketing, we found that people in key decision-making roles are often the ones choosing to connect with businesses via real-time messaging. In terms of seniority, 41% of the people having conversations were executives. CEOs made up 7.1%.
  • How do I scale conversational marketing? Chatbots allow you to offer fast responses to visitors 24/7, even while your team is sleeping. Since they can ask the same qualifying questions your sales reps normally would, they can figure out who’s qualified to talk to sales and connect them to the right person. Chatbots have become so effective at these types of conversations that they now manage 50% of all the conversations we have at Drift.

Learn More About Conversational Marketing with These Resources

To see how top marketing and sales teams are using conversational marketing to get closer to their customers, check out these resources:

It’s Time to Create a More Human Buying Experience

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