There’s a universal truth behind the rise of conversational marketing: People miss talking to other people.
And that includes your customers.
They long for the days when a person was available to answer questions and solve issues in real-time. Some 70 percent of people agree they expect conversational experiences from brands.
Relying on one-way communication channels like lead capture forms won’t cut it. Neither will outdated 1-800 numbers with long wait times. And lacklustre customer service experiences lead 50 percent of consumers to switch to a competitor.
To provide the best customer experience possible, invest in conversational marketing.
Let’s dive into what conversational marketing is and how it will help your social media strategy evolve.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing is an ongoing dialogue between you and your customers when and where it’s most convenient for them.
The inbound marketing strategy connects channels like your website, social profiles and CRM. It uses tactics like chatbots, live messaging apps, social commerce tools and helpdesk integrations.
The purpose is 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.
For example, a strong conversational marketing plan might seamlessly connect a concerned customer in your live video chat to their designated sales rep. Or help a customer with technical issues who mentioned you in a Tweet find the resources they need.
Conversational marketing and social media: How to adapt your strategy
More than two-thirds (68 percent ) of people agree social empowers them to interact with brands and companies. Your customers, present and future, expect you to be available on social media. And for your profile(s) to be sophisticated touchpoints.
But many brands don’t have the bandwidth to monitor all their social channels 24/7. And investing in new social tools can seem like a huge lift.
So, how can you rise to meet consumers’ expectations without burning out your team? These conversational tactics make it possible.
Your social profiles are the premier destination for customer support—which might make you feel like your inbox is getting out of control. Chatbots are here to help.
Chatbots aren’t a substitute for human connection. Instead, they help expedite common questions and provide basic support.
This frees up your team to spend time on more nuanced and complex customer issues.
But that doesn’t mean chatbots are completely impersonal. When building chatbots, you should use your brand’s voice and add emojis to make the exchange seem less robotic.
Pro tip: Chatbots are wonderful tools, but they can’t solve every issue. Make sure you always give your customers the option to connect with a human.
Private messaging and live video
There are some conversations only your support team can handle. But consumers don’t want to bother emailing or calling to get in touch.
They’d rather send a private message on social messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram DMs. These channels are fast, straightforward and just personal enough.
Customers use them to ask questions about products, provide feedback and give compliments.
Or they might bring their questions and feedback to another conversational channel—live video.
By streaming product demos and Q&A sessions in real-time, you recreate the in-person experience. Use video chats as a chance to poll your community, answer common questions and show your product or service in action.
Conversational commerce is where tools like chatbots, messaging apps and live videos come together to help consumers purchase goods. By using conversational marketing techniques for social commerce, you create direct revenue that’s attributed to social.
Whether it’s an automated message about an upcoming promotion or a personalised consultation with a sales rep, conversational commerce tactics transform your social profiles into your digital storefront.
As your social media channels become the new points of sale, be sure those handling your live channels are ready to be the face of your brand online. They should be as prepared to talk about your products as sales associates in stores—it’s critical for converting leads into sales.
How social data can fuel your conversational marketing strategy
Although employing the conversational marketing tactics mentioned above are a great place to start, the specific approach your brand should take depends on your customers.
How do they feel about your brand and your products? What do they think is missing from the experience you offer? Turn to social data to find out.
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.
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 relevant topics. You can hone-in on sentiment and customer feedback to determine how you can build—or strengthen—your conversational marketing strategy.
It’s also crucial to gather data about customers on an individual basis. In the Sprout platform, you have a global view of people reaching out to you.
When you view a contact’s history, you can see all their past interactions with your brand via our helpdesk integrations. Integrations with Zendesk, HubSpot, Salesforce and more allow you to see a customer’s order history, contact information and overall relationship to your brand.
These integrations make it possible to deliver a stellar and consistent customer experience with infrastructure that enables a smooth handoff process between teams and different tools.
Use this data to create more conversational experiences at scale.
Conversational marketing examples in the wild
To inspire your strategy, we found six examples of brands who use conversational marketing techniques on social.
Amtrak is doing everything they can to make customers feel supported while they travel. The passenger railroad service’s customer support is available 24/7 on their Twitter account.
They are quick to respond to private messages and @mentions. Passengers can get help finding a reservation, accessing their Amtrak Guest Rewards, learning about policies and more.
When you begin a direct message conversation with Amtrak, you automatically get a message letting you know someone will be with you shortly. This reassuring gesture is something your brand should adapt. Even if you aren’t available 24/7, let people know when they should expect a response.
2. World Health Organization
In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched automated WhatsApp chatbots dedicated to sharing COVID-19 information. The United Nations’ agency created this service to answer individual questions on a global scale.
The chatbots, called the WHO Health Alert, give people several prompts to pick from for more information on the disease, vaccines and more.
When creating your chatbots, take a cue from the WHO and use emojis and friendly language to make your exchange feel personal.
Adidas wants to be where their superfans are. For the German sportswear company, that means on WhatsApp. Adidas first launched their WhatsApp marketing strategy back in 2015.
Over the years, they’ve launched a variety of campaigns on the messaging platform to create exclusive experiences for their consumers. Whether it’s early access to merchandise or the chance to meet Adidas-sponsored athletes, they want to keep their community’s attention.
If you’re contemplating incorporating WhatsApp into your social media lineup, partner with influencers in your industry to help spark conversation and promote premier events.
Walmart is the undisputed leader of live shopping events on social. The big box retailer was the first to bring live TikTok shopping to the US in December 2020. By November 2021, they were the first brand to test Twitter’s livestream shopping platform.
Today, live social e-commerce events are a mainstay in Walmart’s conversational marketing strategy.
They frequently partner with celebrities and creators to host their live videos. During the events, the hosts showcase their favourite items while links to purchase the products appear on-screen.
These events have helped Walmart expand their social communities and significantly increase their video views. If you’re ready to take your social commerce to the next level, try hosting a live event for your followers.
5. Sprout Social
At Sprout Social, we use chatbots in our customer care strategies on Facebook and Twitter.
When someone prepares to send us a message, our customer care bot welcomes them and offers a few options for how they can assist. We have a rule set up so customers always have the option to request human assistance.
Programming your bot to greet people right away is an excellent way to start your conversation on the right foot. Feel free to try it out for yourself and get hands-on experience with the bot by shooting us a DM on Twitter or Facebook.
6. American Red Cross
The American Red Cross demonstrates how live video strengthens your brand education and recruitment efforts. The nonprofit humanitarian organisation hosts live video events on LinkedIn geared towards people interested in joining the Red Cross.
While Red Cross team members discuss their organization’s unique culture and tips for success, potential candidates have a chance to interact with them and ask real-time questions. Their videos include a special emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the company.
If your company is hiring and looking for ways to broaden your talent pool, host your own live LinkedIn event.
Get the conversation started
A strong conversational marketing strategy is the key to meeting—and surpassing—consumers’ mounting expectations for brands on social media.
Use the tools mentioned in this article to build the foundation for customer experience tactics that will set you apart in your industry.
Want to learn more about the future of conversational marketing? Watch our on-demand webinar Omnichannel Marketing: 8 Ways to Leverage Social & Conversational Experiences.