What is Conversational Marketing?

TL;DR

For more than a decade, B2B sales and marketing teams have been operating the same way. CMOs spend tons of money to drive qualified traffic to their company website, and if a prospect wants to talk to sales, they have to fill out lead capture form that always ends with "Thanks, someone will get back to you shortly." The problem? Buyers move onto other things and sales reps struggle to engage buyers and start the selling process. Simply put, the process that marketing teams use to pass leads to sales is broken.

A new category of software has emerged, Conversational Marketing. The concept is simple. When qualified prospects land on your site, we'll alert your reps in real-time and allow both parties to start a conversation instantly via chat, voice calls, and screen sharing. And when your reps are too busy or the inbound leads don’t meet your qualification criteria, automated chat bots collect information and book meetings for your sales team.  Change the game on how you interact and engage with qualified prospects and your business will feel the impact to the metrics that matter most, pipeline and revenue.

What is Conversational Marketing?

Conversational Marketing is a simple concept.  If your company could know, instantly when a qualified buyer arrives on your site, why not greet them personally and start a conversation?  

After all, that’s what buyers expect in the real world.

Imagine you were buying an expensive car.  You might do some homework ahead of time, read the blogs and research reports, and then finally head on over to the dealership at a time that was convenient for you, the buyer.  But what if when you arrived to take the car for a test drive, no one was there to greet you. Instead you had to fill out a 10 question form, drop it in a box, leave the dealership, and wait for a sales rep to get back to you later.

Sounds crazy right?  Well that’s exactly what B2B companies have been doing for more than a decade.

B2B Corporate Websites: A Decade of Lead Capture Forms

Over the past decade, B2B companies have been trained that the best way to generate pipeline for sales is to spend money creating and launching highly targeted online campaigns.  And after all of the hard work getting those campaigns into market, when our target buyers click through and arrive on our site, we present them with a dizzying array of “lead capture forms.”

Want to talk to sales?  Fill out a form.  
Want to talk about pricing? Fill out a form.  
Have product questions? Fill out a form.

In fact so much of the content on our websites today are blocked by forms that it’s almost impossible to learn about the company without filling out a form.

Problem 1: Most Prospects Never Fill Out Forms

Here’s the first problem, 95% of targeted buyers who come to a site never fill out a form.  That means for every 1 visitor you’ve enticed to learn more about your company by filling out a form, 14 more just bounce or enter bogus data in your form fields.

Will you ever know who they were? Maybe, if they decide to come back later.  

Unfortunately the reality is that the vast majority of your demand gen budget never converts.

Who loses? The Marketing Team.

Problem 2: Thanks! We’ll Get Back To You Shortly...

Now let’s focus on that 5%, the 1 out of every 15 inbound prospects that does fill out a form with their real name and business information.  

The next question is, did they meet the definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?... which can generally be determined by the info collected in the form.  

Even if the prospect completes the form and meets all of your qualification criteria to talk to your sales team, they still get sent away with a generic message, “Thanks, we’ll get back to you shortly.”

Who loses?  The buyer.

Problem 3: Painfully Slow Sales Response Time

Our sales teams feel the pain of this approach.  Working through queues of leads and doing their best to respond to qualified leads as fast as possible.  But the data doesn’t lie.  Every sales rep knows that the longer it takes to respond to a qualified lead, the more difficulty they have getting that prospect to re-engage.

A study by LeadResponseManagement.org found something remarkable. Since coined as “The Five Minute Rule,” the study showed that when B2B sales teams respond to leads in under 5 minutes, you are 100X more likely to make initial contact with that prospect compared to waiting just one hour.

Another study from Harvard Business Review showed that the average time it took a sales team to respond to an inbound B2B lead was 42 hours. Whoa!  And when you wait that long, the study showed that more than 38% of qualified leads that your sales team responds to never reply, they just ghost you completely.

Who Loses? Sales.

What happens after qualified leads fill out a form and leave your website?

Enter Conversational Marketing

Conversational Marketing is a new approach that uses real-time data to connect your qualified prospects together with your sales team in real time, right on your website.

So Instead of making your prospects fill out forms, start having conversations.

How does it work? It’s pretty simple, actually.  

You define a set of qualification rules, which tells your website to be on the lookout for inbound website visitors who meet your criteria.  Those rules typically include a combination of campaign tracking data (how did they arrive), website data (what they’re doing on your site), demographic data (what you know about the person), firmographic data (what you know about the company they work for), and corporate data (eg, info you have in Salesforce).

Example qualification rules for conversational marketing
Example qualification rules for conversational marketing

When these qualification rules are triggered, your sales team is alerted and a magic door opens on your website, connecting your prospect and your sales team instantly in a real-time conversation.

More importantly, your sales team has the full-stack of online meeting tools that they need to engage in a sales conversation.  They can see in real time what the prospect is doing on the site, engage in a conversation with live chat, and upgrade that conversation to a voice call with one click.  Let the selling begin!

Real-time website conversation with a qualified prospect

Humans + Bots: The Perfect Combination

There’s one problem here though, you might be thinking that this approach means that your sales team needs to be online and ready 24x7 to field incoming conversations.  

To the contrary, a conversational marketing strategy employs both humans and chat bots to effectively handle your inbound traffic in an automated fashion.  Your highest quality inbound prospects are routed intelligently to your sales team, but your other visitors can start conversations with chat bots on your site, which aim to collect information through an automated series of questions. And when a visitor is qualified to talk to your sales team but they are away from the office or on another call, a chat bot can step in to automatically book a meeting on their calendar.

Together, humans and bots deliver the perfect combination.  

Your sales team is connected with your highest quality inbound prospects for maximum conversion to pipeline, while chat bots are collecting more leads and booking meetings with your sales team around the clock.

Conversational Marketing: The Proof Is In the ROI

Conversational marketing is the rare opportunity for your company to completely change the game on how you interact and engage with qualified prospects.  Your buyers will be thrilled about the new experience and your business will feel the impact on the metrics that matter most.

On average, companies that deploy a conversational marketing strategy see a +34% increase in Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) capture, and an overall +62% increase in pipeline creation for sales.  That’s HUGE!

Conversational Marketing example ROI dashboard

To see exactly how conversational marketing can impact your business, take our ROI calculator for a spin, or talk to one of our conversational marketing experts here.

Posted on
June 17, 2019
by
Kraig Swensrud

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