As I’ve tracked the birth and rise of conversational marketing, largely by watching Drift, I’ve repeatedly tried to ascertain whether or not my brand could successfully employ a conversational marketing strategy.
I was dubious at the prospects since I’m a one-person shop and I was born before the digital revolution, 1/13/74.
Which means that I’ve always felt as if I was playing catch up to those for whom digital came naturally.
So is conversational marketing a realistic option for non-digital natives?
Yes, it is.
Against my will, I was taught the key lesson unlocking my brand’s ability to successfully conduct it’s own customer conversation, over the course of three distinct phases from my first forty-four years.
- (1996 to 2005) Phase 1: I spent the majority of a decade going door-to-door and business-to-business, making commission only, by selling $20 and $50 promotions for local businesses such as local golf courses, restaurants, pizza delivery places and the like.
- (2005 to 2018) Phase 2: I spent my next decade plus teaching myself how to use a computer (still suck at typing), how to use computer software, what the internet was, why and how to go online, how to build a website, how to get traffic to the website, how to convert marketing goals on the website, how to operate as a media company (DIY production of written, video, and/or audio content), along with too much other stuff to list.
- (April + May, 2018) Phase 3: I spent two months on a product management project for a hosting company.
The lesson connecting those three phases for me?
The importance of listening, for successful sales and marketing.
However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Let’s adopt a shared definition of the term conversation before we go too far (ie, my definition).
I define a conversation as:
A two-way communication between two equal points-of-view.
I view the equality of the two points-of-view to be the key to success; because when we don’t respect the source, we won’t listen.
Which necessitates that successful brands talk WITH people.
Not talk AT people.
The fundamental difference between the concept of talking with versus talking at people, brings us back to my learned lesson over those experiences I mentioned above.
Listening. The difference is listening.
Taking the time to actually pay attention to people when they speak. Making sure to hear and understand what they’re saying.
Respect forms the foundation for our decision to pay any of our precious attention to other people.
And that truth applies regardless of the message relevance too.
If the alleged listener lacks respect for the communicator, then they’re not going to pay attention, rather they’ll just turn their attention inward, to their internal dialogue, as they await their turn to speak. Or they’ll break off communication.
Genuine two-way conversations are the shortest legitimate path I’ve found for people, whom I don’t know, to decide to get to know, like, and trust my one-person brand.
Actively listening to people every time they deign to speak to me. And allowing my actions to prove/disprove my acumen.
A genuine conversation with another person, is the best way I’ve found to properly educate their decision whether or not they want to learn more about my brand.
And, more specifically, if they are prepared to move evaluation of my brand to being based solely on it’s actions toward them as a customer.
You’re likely thinking, “Yeah, yeah Jason, but talking to every person via video call or face-to-face is not scalable. Never work for my specific situation, total non-starter.”
And before something like April of 2018, I’d have agreed with you, and both of us would’ve been wrong.
But that’s just because, back then, I’d yet to fully comprehend the tools included within Drift’s conversational marketing platform.
Blending the live chat with the bots, with email, and with a knowledgebase comprises a conversational marketing platform in 2018.
Drift makes it possible for any one of us to conduct successful conversations between our brand and it’s customers. And accomplish it at scale, as well.
Conversational marketing requires your unique combination of bots and live chat.
I’ve come to explain customer conversations as being comprised of some combination of both, controlled and uncontrolled communications.
- Controlled communications are when you reach out to your customers.
- Uncontrolled communications are when your customer pays attention to your brand of their own accord.
Your customer’s POV consists of their conversation with your brand, period.
From your customer’s point-of-view, there isn’t a lead phase where they’re happily hunted by sales.
They certainly don’t quantify a purchase as a conversion, they bought something, they weren’t converted.
And speaking for myself here, if I look back at any transaction with the perception I was talked into something, that is NEVER a good thing.
That is when I tell way more than the 15 people about how your brand betrayed my trust as a consumer.
From people’s POV, what we call marketing for our brands, is merely the product of their decision to pay attention to your brand (or not).
Then those that purchase your solution, evaluate it based on how it delivered for them and the problem they bought it to address. Did your solution magically remove their pain on contact?
Or was it a pain the whole way and they just wrote off your brand as a loss, and moved on?
People may disqualify your brand or themselves from your brand and leave instantaneously, to never return.
And other people will decide to strike up a conversation that continues uninterrupted for decades.
Along with every other available option between those extremes.
Each customer’s conversation with your brand plays out over the timeline of their relationship with your brand.
My 7 best tips for becoming a more conversational brand
1. Focus on talking with your customers.
This is a mindset. An attitude.
Think about it this way, if each interaction from customers via live chat is viewed as an inconvenience/interruption, then don’t deploy the live chat because it will just hurt business.
If the customer is offered this enhanced level of contact with your brand and they come away feeling like a bother, that is bad for the brand. Because once they’re offended, they’re much less likely to listen and far more likely to look for a replacement brand.
2. Support both controlled and uncontrolled communication with customers.
Remember it’s a conversation, a two-way conversation. Be prepared for and then accommodating to both controlled and uncontrolled communication. This can sound more much troublesome than it actually is for brands.
Customers have long ago wrested control of the buying experience from brands. Embrace that truth and then cater to the needs of customers. That’s my approach for my business, and for my customers.
3. Install the live chat on your website right now.
So Remington and the team over at Impulse Creative have over sixty videos to help us use and setup Drift. Here is how to install the Drift tracking and widget code.
Installing the app and then setting up the welcome message for success are a huge first step in making your brand more conversational.
How To Implement Conversational Support.
4. Connect the live chat to the free knowledgebase product, aka Drift Help.
View the live chat as an open line of conversation for your brand’s customers. Setting clear expectations up front makes it much easier for all parties involved.
The thing I love about this setup is that with the knowledgebase, you can start building out answers to questions for folks to access on their own.
And you get to couple that power with the bot’s ability to surface answers from the knowledgebase as customers ask them in the chat window.
If the answer isn’t covered yet, the bot helpfully connects the customer to one of the bot’s humans.
5. Accept your bot as part of your team, today.
Your bot should be the workhorse for your brand, as long as you let your bot learn and grow the amount of tasks moved from your plate onto your bot’s plate.
Depends on your specific business. But with that said, here are some options at your disposal right out of the proverbial box with Drift.
- Let people sign up for specific email lists. Don’t try to have one list handle all your brand’s email. Rather create specific lists for better tuned messages.
6. Email ain’t dead, so don’t act like it.
Email is a part of the conversation, what email is NOT, is your equivalent to a bombing sequence set on autopilot.
When you check the mailbox and you pull the handful(s) of stuff out, what’s the first thing you do instinctively?
I sort my mail, throwing away the A pile and keeping the B pile. What’s the difference between the two piles?
One pile is thrown away and the other pile is processed/appreciated. I initially heard this explanation, I believe, on the best Webinar I’ve ever attended. In that webinar, they designated the difference as being plain text versus HTML emails.
I see the difference between pile A and pile B, as one of intent.
From the perspective of that explanation, the intent is to sift through the ever present noise for those communications to which we wish to pay attention. We do this automatically once we learn the behavior.
For instance, when you get your first mailing address in your name, over time you teach yourself to deal with your mail to suit your preference.
So the key to successful email is to make it relevant to the recipient. Not merely letting off another example of spraying your list with emails, while praying for sales.
7. Set goals and keep track. Test and iterate upon learnings.
This is a biggie. This is not one that is the easiest to discuss for most.
But from what I’ve seen and experienced myself over the past thirteen years, it bears repeating.
Set goals for your marketing spend. All of it. Including your hosting bill each month. The core of your brand’s online presence must move your business toward it’s goals. Definition of business.
I can only sheepishly share this lesson because I finally forced myself to set up Databox for my business.
I’m still on the free plan until I’m able to invest in the premium, but it is coming. And that is largely due to Databox enabling me to set and track goals for my brand. And for my clients.
To answer the question, yes. Conversational marketing is a realistic option for non-digital natives. Even those non-digital natives running 1-10 person organizations.
For example, I’ve just started making my business more conversational. With that in mind, here are my goals as I launch Jason Hobbs Digital’s new weekly media schedule.
- My first goal is fifty (50) chat conversations in a week.
- My second goal is to pass one-hundred (100) subscribers to my YouTube channel.
I posted the new schedule in the welcome post, which kicks off on June 25, 2018.
My Weekly Conversational Marketing Minute(s)
Each Tuesday at 2:00PM Eastern, I’ll publish My Conversational Marketing Minute(s) for the week.
If you’d like me to email you a link to each show, click here to get notified of new episode’s. (First episode notification on Tuesday, June 26, 2018)