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I was actually reading a Contently article called “10 Content Marketing Buzzwords You’re Going to Hear Way Too Much Th...” when I first saw the term “conversation marketing” -- and after some research, I think it might be the buzzword of 2015.
Conversation marketing is when you observe your audience’s interactions on your website, and “respond” to those actions by making changes to your website to drive more interactions.
Say you’ve added a “$500 off a 2015 Chevy Volt” coupon to pop-up on all of your web pages. A month goes by, and 2 people have filled out that coupon form. Based on your observations, you decide to deploy the pop-up only on 2015 Chevy Volt VDP pages. Then you sit back and observe.
If shoppers fill out more lead forms while on the Volt VDP pages, then you would change your website’s coupon marketing so that it’s more targeted to individuals looking for a particular car.
There it is -- conversation marketing in a nutshell!
I know, I know…the concept of conversation marketing isn’t exactly a novelty. But the fact that the word is gaining traction shows that it’s time to shift the focus from 2014’s Big Data back to improving the consumer experience with the knowledge you’ve learned from the data you’ve accumulated.
According to Ian Lurie’s eBook, “Conversation Marketing”, there are 6 key features necessary to effectively implement a conversation marketing strategy:
Or, know your audience. This is where measuring your website, social media, and digital ad performance come in handy. Apply what you’ve gathered and learned from the data about your website visitors to:
Create buyer personas (fictional representations of your ideal customers) to align your content with your web visitors’ goals
Build customer journey maps to ensure shoppers are effectively navigating your website
Find possible engagement opportunities that could help increase online conversion
Consumer insights you can gain from integrated analytics tools will help you understand who your audience is and what they want from your website. Then you can proceed to adjust your web content.
You wouldn’t go to a fancy dinner party in ripped jeans and a t-shirt. The same goes for your website -- make it helpful for your shoppers.
The elements of your website (forms, layout, calls-to-action, live chat, etc.) should be designed for your audience. If your shoppers want immediate access to information that answers their questions -- giving them that will ensure you leave a good impression of your digital showroom.
Take live chat service, for example. What’s more conversational than real-time communications tools, right? Actually, not all chat providers will give you the same quality of service or produce the same results. Choosing the right chat team will make all the difference in consumer perception, lead conversion, follow-up processes, and ROI.
When online shoppers click to chat, a professional chat team will:
Pick up chats in 6 seconds or less because immediacy is one of the main reasons why shoppers love using live chat.
Be knowledgeable about your website, your dealership, and the auto industry so they can provide valuable assistance that helps shoppers make decisions
Avoid scripts at all costs, and opt instead for personalized conversations that will convert casual shoppers into qualified leads.
Remember, the conversations had on your behalf will leave a lasting impression. Make sure your chat team is “dressed appropriately” when they meet your prospective customers!
Think about the last time you had a robust conversation with someone. Did they speak clearly and concisely? Did that person have something relevant to say?
Let’s go back to the example about the $500 vehicle special pop-up coupon. Having it deploy on your service specials page isn’t relevant to someone who already has a car. It would be much more relevant to offer a coupon for an oil change, right?
One way to sound smart is to use behavioral targeting tools to send relevant messages based on shoppers’ actions like time spent on a page, and number and type of pages viewed. That way, when a shopper navigates to your tires page, they’ll see a coupon for tires!
It’s important to show your online shoppers that you know AND have what they want while they are on your website. This way, they’ll be more likely to stay, continue their research, and buy from you!
Every shopper is different. They’re all real people -- so it’s important to produce content that is both informational AND personal. For example, you can:
Make a video that’s personable, but also teaches shoppers the importance of tire pressure during the winter, like Volkswagen of Puyallup did.
Have an expert live chat team on your website that is emotionally intelligent and adapts to the different kinds of shoppers clicking to chat.
Produce content that’s written for a specific person like your Uncle Jesse or your recently graduated niece Sarah.
Once you have appealed to them, be sure to always include calls-to-action that add value to your shoppers. Let’s use the video I mentioned for some examples:
“Follow our YouTube page for more helpful tips on how to winterize your vehicle!”
“Know someone who could use this tire tip? Share our video by using the link below!”
“In the market for new tires? Join our emailing list to receive an exclusive coupon!”
Remember, you want the conversation to continue. Don’t just hope they come back to your site when they’re ready to buy -- invite them to keep in touch.
Think back to a social event where someone introduced you as, “This is that guy I told you about. You HAVE to talk to him!” Now, apply that to your website.
Testimonials, review pages, and social media pages are all ideal places for online shoppers to see your PR efforts and why other people think your dealership is great. Use them on your dealership website to highlight your company values and let the online community give you props!
When other customers speak well of you, rather than you just telling shoppers why you are awesome, it can positively improve your reputation (and increase your business opportunities through referrals).
Note: Make sure not to use social buttons that link out of your dealership’s website! Instead, use tools, like ActivEngage’s social toolbar, that allow shoppers to see your review pages and social pages without ever leaving your website.
In his eBook, Lurie describes conversations as “a million near-instant observations and adjustments”.
Dealers now have access to all kinds of website data, and even eye tracking technology, to help you test and refocus your online marketing strategy continuously. That’s what conversation marketing is all about.
Conversations are a constant back and forth -- and in order to have online conversations that convert, you have to make adjustments that align with consumers’ goals on your website.
The Internet is not just a platform -- automotive marketers need to stop using it as a one-way street. The Web is a table for two at a cafe -- a place where people go to share experiences, learn from others, and have conversations.
The goal of conversational marketing is to bring back the dialogue into your marketing by analyzing consumer actions, reactions, and interactions - and adjusting your dealership website accordingly so that shoppers have the most positive and helpful experience.
As with all buzzwords, this one will probably end up on a headstone in the buzzword graveyard. But let's hope the idea of conversation marketing survives, because the need for more dialogue in our industry is too important to ignore.
Have you considered adding live chat to your conversational strategy, and are looking for the right team to represent your dealership? Look no further.