It sounds cliché if not absurd advising marketers to “talk” to their customers primarily because the notion of communication is the holy grail of marketing in this day and age. The definition and more broadly the field of marketing has experienced radical shifts following the advent of technology and social media. The prevalence of technology has inevitably brought speed, convenience and more capabilities in the marketer’s tool kit, however, it has also created a different consumer “intelligent, robust, impatient and demanding”. Social media, in my view, did not change the consumer but rather armed the latter with tools to be more outspoken and ubiquitously interface with brands.
The emergence of this consumer whose characteristics are not dissimilar across the different demographics has significantly altered the marketing fraternity. Resultantly, two main subject areas and discourses have emerged over the years; Personalization and Conversational Marketing. Personalization marketing has been defined as the ability to tailor marketing messages to individuals while Conversation marketing is according to Drift “the one-to-one approach to marketing that companies use to shorten their sales cycle, learn about their customers, and create a more human buying experience.” These twin marketing principles are interlinked and are both products of 21st century marketing anchored upon digital marketing. The journey to personalization and conversational marketing is rooted in data analytics where marketers are able to single out customers across their different consumer journeys, understand their unique characteristics and thus personalize and customize across product and communication messages. Personalization is not limited to marketing messages but creates an avenue for product customization.
Conversational marketing is not an end goal, but rather a never ending continuous journey of constantly looking out for changes in customer needs and expectations and adapting our communication mix to the same.
Key questions spring to mind;
How does one personalize the marketing communication messages?
How can we build meaningful conversations with customers?
Without a doubt companies need to consider investing in technical solutions that allows them to intimately understand customer journeys. In this, the quest is to understand the paths taken and actions along those paths in order to decipher opportunities for up or cross-sell and the appropriate messaging for each path. Real time automation of communication messages becomes absolutely crucial!
Secondly, customers go through different stages in the conversion funnel from being aware through marketing campaigns to advocacy and loyalty. As a customer moves through the different stages, it is critical that we in build communication messages that are tailored to each stage. From lead generation and nurturing, we have an opportunity to provide more information, create custom promotions based on one’s behaviour. A customer who has dropped out of a conversion path presents an opportunity for retargeting and remarketing to them with the option of customized offerings.
In this age, it is much easier to move from analog marketing approaches to more personalized and conversational brand experiences anchored upon digital channels. A conversational approach to marketing enables the organization to not only be at the pulse of the consumer but also helps anticipate future needs, be more relational and create unbreakable bonds with the brand and company. There are numerous benefits attached to conversational marketing, chief being an engaged, repeat customer who will evangelize about their positive brand experience.