I’m often asked about what my go-to marketing strategy is. My answer usually varies depending on things like the product, budget and other resources. However, there is one core message that I always convey.
Have a conversation with your customers.
Regardless of the product or business, customers want to feel good about their decision to purchase. Customer satisfaction is typically derived from a combined sense of perceived value and inclusion. It’s possible to generate these feelings through various psychological marketing tactics like testimonials, bandwagon strategies or even stimulating a sense of FOMO. These strategies often result in short-term gains at best. If you want to create a true fan base, give your customers a sense of ownership in the product by listening to their needs and responding with content and collateral that satisfies their concerns and desires.
When I started my career in marketing, this was a lot harder to do than it is today. The platforms we had access to were mostly broadcast-based, and getting feedback from customers was much harder to come by. Today, there are a multitude of ways that businesses can generate true conversations with customers. Social media, content and messaging platforms provide a plethora of tools that automate processes and enable marketers to converse with their customers―saving time and resources.
Implementing some kind of messaging solution into the marketing mix is a surefire way for a business to start generating conversational marketing. The key to this solution is in finding the right amount of automation that supports a conversation but doesn’t make the user feel like they are talking to a robot.
Often businesses are sold messaging solutions that promise to automate everything. The truth is, natural language processing (the ability for an AI to understand a human’s intent regardless of the specific words used) or NLP, isn’t sophisticated enough to simply automate all incoming requests. Some things can be easily automated like frequently asked questions or general information, but before long a human needs to step in and take over so that the customer isn’t left feeling like they are talking to a machine―a feeling no consumer appreciates.
Over-automation in messaging is about as frustrating as shouting at an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) when calling a customer service department on the phone to resolve an issue. Usually the problem goes unsolved and everyone walks away from the experience feeling more irritated than they should. It’s important, therefore, to find a solution that employs automation that can deftly, seamlessly default to a human agent when necessary.
It’s also crucial to find a messaging solution that can filter and organize your customers into specific groups using highly-relevant criteria. This allows marketers to send personalized content to the right customers and helps prevent fatigue that’s generated from sending broadcasts like universal email newsletters. No one wants to wade through content that is mostly irrelevant in the hopes of finding one tidbit that matters.
In the era of machine learning and anticipatory algorithms, customers have become accustomed to (for better or worse) receiving content and marketing collateral that’s in sync with their personalities and buying behaviors. This does have its advantages. Think of how special you feel as a customer when you receive offers that are actually of use to you. If nothing else, it saves you the hassle of having to search high and low for a bargain. Personalized marketing is an effective way to get customers to fall in love with your brand, and it’s easy to do with the right conversational messaging platform.
As a marketer, if you use these tools to listen to and engage with your fan base in place of broadcasting to them, you’ll find that you are doing more than simply acquiring new customers. Instead, you’ll begin to build a community of brand advocates that will evangelize your product.
In the business world, far too often our instincts tell us to be self-promoting, sales-forward and to drive users to adoption. But when was the last time that worked in your personal life? We humans are a social species and thrive on relationships founded in cooperation and trust, none of which is possible without open communication. Provide your customers with a conversational atmosphere in which it’s possible to cooperate and build trust and it’ll pay off in spades.