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    How to apply conversational marketing to your business

    Why is conversational marketing on the rise? It’s simple: People find value in talking to other people.

    Customers want quick and responsive conversations with brands—and organizations want to satisfy their customers.

    Conversational marketing leads to enhanced customer experiences because it helps people feel heard. However, that’s not all. Advanced conversational marketing strategies use conversational AI, which enables brands to derive important business intelligence from customer conversations. The best part? Those valuable insights can deepen customer loyalty, improve lead generation and drive revenue.

    In this article, you’ll learn the ins and outs of conversational marketing. Plus, we’ll cover how it can delight your customers while providing your business with useful data. Let’s dive in.

    What is conversational marketing?

    Conversational marketing is a customer-centric approach that’s built on an ongoing dialogue between you and your customers.

    It’s an inbound strategy that connects channels like your website, social profiles and CRM, and uses tactics like chatbots, live messaging apps, social commerce tools and helpdesk integrations to improve the customer journey. Whether customers or prospects have a frequently asked question, want to complete a purchase or have a complication with their order, conversational marketing makes it easy to find a solution.

    A great example of conversational marketing is when brands use social media as a customer service tool. For example, if a customer with a product issue mentions your brand in a social post, you can respond to them promptly and connect them with your customer service reps if you need to escalate the issue. This type of engagement improves the customer journey, while giving your brand more insight into your customers’ pain points.

    How to apply conversational marketing to your business

    The difference between conversational marketing and traditional marketing

    Traditional marketing methods take a monologue approach, with the brand talking “at” the target audience, rather than “to” them. Conversational marketing, on the other hand, introduces a dialogue which is often initiated by the customer. It enables brands and customers to engage with each other in a more human and interactive way.

    Another key difference is that conversational marketing happens in real time. It’s not scheduled weeks or months in advance. Rather, it takes place when and where the customer requires it.

    As a result, conversational marketing is highly personalized for each customer interaction. There is no one-size-fits-all approach because it requires the brand to pivot based on the specific situation.

    Benefits of conversational marketing

    Conversational marketing has the power to set your business apart from your competitors. Plus, customers greatly appreciate the opportunity to talk to your brand. In a recent study, the number of times buyers expressed gratitude through chat nearly doubled from 2022 to 2023, creating a level of audience engagement that deepens loyalty and generates revenue. Here are some of the other ways conversational marketing can benefit your organization.

    Improve customer care

    A key characteristic of conversational marketing is that it’s personalized based on the needs of the customer. You can improve the level of customer care by tailoring engagements based on highly specific scenarios. For example, if a customer is having a technical issue with your product, conversational marketing can help them resolve their specific pain point in a quick and convenient way. All the customer has to do is reach out to your brand, such as through social media, where you can discuss the issue in order to resolve it. Zappos is a brand that frequently responds to customer issues on social media.

    Example of Zappos using social media to enhance customer care through conversational marketing.

    Conversational marketing enables brands to have a live feedback loop with their customers. This not only provides brands with valuable insights into what their customers think, but also enables brands to improve their products and services to better satisfy their customers. In the example above, Zappos now has more details about their customer pain points—and can enhance their user experience in order to improve their level of customer care.

    Similarly, some level of conversational marketing is typically available 24/7/365. Customers can choose to engage with a brand when it suits them best. They don’t have to follow specific office hours to reach a person or bot. Instead, customers can control their engagements with brands based on their own timelines. This enhances the level of care customers receive from organizations.

    Get brand insights

    Conversational marketing unearths valuable details about how customers perceive your brand. It also helps organizations understand what customers consider a priority because it is an inbound tactic. If something is really important to a customer, they are going to find a way to let the brand know.

    For example, if customers repeatedly mention a specific product issue, you can use that insight to improve your product. The result? Customers who feel heard and appreciated, and who feel a sense of loyalty to your brand.

    While you can learn what customers care about most through conversational marketing, Sprout Social’s Social Listening tool can help you understand the “why”. Going deeper into what makes your customers tick enables you to consider needs outside of a single brand interaction. It paints a bigger picture of your customers’ inner workings–details that are valuable to your brand.

    Map the customer journey

    The customer journey is unique to every organization, and conversational marketing helps your business map customer engagements along the journey. It also helps you better understand what your customers need at each stage.

    For example, during the pre-purchase stage of the customer journey, your customers may want to ask FAQs with a chatbot. After onboarding, however, they may need to use a helpdesk integration to get advice on how to optimize their use of your product.

    This information helps you delight your customers by anticipating their needs.

    Enhance the sales cycle and generate better leads

    Conversational marketing can enhance the sales cycle and move leads down the sales funnel. Without this marketing strategy, organizations don’t have as many insights into the customer psyche. By talking with customers, especially on social media, you can better understand how qualified a lead really is based on their consumer behavior. For example, do your customers like to use social media as a customer service tool or do they leave reviews on social media? This channel in particular can be a catalyst for conversational marketing engagements because it’s a space where brands and consumers already interact.

    For example, a Facebook chatbot can qualify leads into different categories based on the types of questions they ask. It can then automatically send certain leads to a sales representative to book a call and others to additional resources on your website. By having a dialogue with the customer at multiple stages in their journey, you can more accurately qualify them based on their needs.

    Lower costs

    Marketing teams are frequently asked to do more with less. Conversational messaging enables you to meet your business goals with limited resources. How? Enter conversational AI. AI-powered chatbots and virtual agents can understand customer queries and provide appropriate responses.

    According to The 2023 State of Social Media Report, a majority of business leaders plan to increase investment in AI and machine learning (ML) for marketing over the next three years. And it’s no wonder, because generative AI and other technologies could automate 60 to 70% of work activities. Businesses stand to save a considerable amount of money by incorporating this technology.

    Sprout Social's 2023 State of Social Media report statistic on the use of AI in marketing.

    Increase scalability

    Handling large volumes of personalized customer interactions is no problem with conversational marketing. Conversational AI enables you to scale conversations with your customers, even as the business grows.

    The best part? Conversational marketing is personalized at its core. This means that each customer participates in a dialogue that is customized to their needs. Even at scale, conversational marketing doesn’t involve broad, generic messaging. It’s specific to the situation the customer is in and their needs at the time.

    How to apply conversational marketing to your business

    The personalized nature of conversational marketing lends itself to a number of key areas within your business. According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect personalization. How can you give it to them with conversational marketing? Here are some tried and tested methods.

    Chatbots

    Chatbots enable your marketing, sales and customer service teams to dedicate their time to high-priority customer engagements. A chatbot can provide basic support, answer common questions and point customers to other resources.

    While they can’t solve complex issues, they can act as a first line of connection between customers and your brand. Chatbots help customers feel like they’re being heard.

    Pro Tip: Some customers can feel frustrated when dealing with a chatbot, especially when it’s for uncommon issues. When possible, provide an option for the customer to request talking to a human.

    Personalized customer care

    Customers expect quick responses and resolutions. They don’t want to wait for hours for a customer care representative to call them back. And they don’t want to use a separate app to get the responses they need. Conversational marketing is a great way to personalize and speed up customer care by engaging in dialogues via social media.

    Pro Tip: Looking for a way to personalize customer care in an easy and effective way? Social Customer Care by Sprout Social consolidates social media conversations for easier review. You can manage customer inquiries at scale, while using Engage by AI Assist for fast, highly tailored responses. Plus, the Salesforce Service cloud integration provides additional context for each situation, so customer care teams can resolve issues fast.

    The result? Customers see your brand listens to their concerns, which deepens loyalty and drives revenue.

    A product image of Social Customer Care by Sprout Social in action.

    Social listening

    If you don’t understand your community’s needs and pain points, you won’t be able to address them or improve your brand’s image. That’s where social media listening comes in.

    With Sprout’s Social Listening tool, you can build a deeper understanding of your audience.

    Listening allows you to conduct your own voice-of-the-customer research by tracking conversations about your brand and other relevant topics. You can hone-in on customer feedback to analyze brand sentiment and determine how to build and strengthen your conversational marketing strategy.

    Pro Tip: Sprout’s Social Listening tool does more than just tell you what your target audience is talking about. Brands also use it to conduct competitor research, manage high-stakes crises and analyze social media marketing campaigns.

    A product image of Sprout Social's Social Listening tool in action.

    Social commerce live-streaming interactions

    If you’re looking to create direct revenue from your social channels, conversational marketing can help. Try streaming product demos on YouTube, conducting Q&A sessions on Facebook or offering live polls on Instagram. These are different ways to have dialogues with your customers while bringing them closer to a sale.

    Pro Tip: Remember to personalize each interaction as much as possible. While you’ll be talking to multiple customers at a time, it’s still important to consider how you can resonate with each customer on a personal level. For example, try speaking to their most common pain points.

    5 conversational marketing examples to inspire your next campaign

    Looking for innovative ideas? Here are five brands that use conversational marketing effectively to engage their customers.

    1. 1-800-Flowers.com

    1-800-Flowers.com is taking convenience to another level. Using a chatbot in Facebook Messenger, the company lets customers order flowers or talk to a customer support representative without ever leaving the app.

    Customers don’t have to fuss with going to the company’s website or making a phone call. They can interact with the brand on their terms, in a platform where they’re already active. This approach is an excellent way to harness social media to drive revenue and make a business impact.

    1-800-Flowers.com uses conversational marketing in its Facebook Messenger chatbot.

    2. ClassPass

    ClassPass addresses customer pain points with conversational marketing. Customers reach out to the brand on X (formerly known as Twitter) to ask questions, address concerns or suggest improvements. The brand responds quickly and politely every time.

    The result is a lot of happy customers who appreciate the brand’s level of customer service and its ability to address any concerns. This tactic is a great way to deepen customer loyalty and get referrals for your brand.

    ClassPass uses conversational marketing on X to provide helpful information to their customers, earning loyalty.

    3. Domino’s Pizza

    Domino’s Pizza is going where its customers are to make ordering food as easy as possible. In its AnyWare conversational marketing campaign, customers can order their favorite pizza through Apple CarPlay, Alexa, text and Apple Watch.

    For example, if customers use text, they can set up their favorite order on their Domino’s profile, and when hungry, text 🍕 to Domino’s—and that’s it. Their order is accepted and processed.

    You may be thinking that’s not really a conversation. However, for their target audience, sending a pizza emoji works better than typing out their order through text. This is a great example of a brand meeting its audience’s needs where they are.

    Domino's lets customers order a meal by simply texting a pizza emoji to the company.

    4. Sprout Social

    When it comes to social media engagement, we understand how important it is to provide friendly, helpful and quick service. That’s why we use conversational marketing on Facebook and X with chatbots for direct messages.

    Sprout Social uses conversational marketing on X to respond to customer concerns and questions.

    On X, users can reach out and choose from a number of options for discussion, such as features or issues. On Facebook, we also offer several pathways for discussion. A key difference is that we also offer an option to talk to a human. This way, users decide if the chatbot can meet their needs. If not, they can go a step further and talk to one of our customer service representatives to discuss something more complex.

    On Facebook Messenger, Sprout Social gives users the option to talk to a human or a bot.

    We strengthen our market position with actionable intelligence we gather from the chatbot conversations. For example, if we notice a certain product question come up on the regular, we know it’s a product area we need to address.

    5. Pfizer

    Live events on LinkedIn are a great way to humanize the brand, answer people’s questions in real time and build authentic relationships. That’s exactly what Pfizer does on its LinkedIn channel, hosting a variety of LinkedIn Live events. Their topics range from healthcare trends and innovations to diversity and inclusion.

    Pfizer uses conversational marketing on LinkedIn through its live events.

    With this type of conversational marketing, Pfizer makes it easy for their followers to connect with real people at the company. Their audience can ask questions, bring up concerns and learn more about the organization. The events help deepen customer loyalty and increase brand awareness.

    Ready to launch your conversational marketing strategy?

    Customers want to have conversations with your brand. Conversational marketing helps you build on these conversations to personalize your relationships, so you can learn more about their pain points and needs in order to deepen customer loyalty.

    To make your conversational marketing strategy a success and drive revenue, track conversational analytics with Sprout Social. We’ll help you better understand what tactics work and which ones need improvement. The result?  By analyzing your customer conversations, you’ll uncover brand insights and strengthen your market position.

    The post How to apply conversational marketing to your business appeared first on Sprout Social.

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