"Conversational marketing" means two-way
Listening is underrated
Think small when it comes to social networks and online communities
Use the "lurk factor" to measure engagement
It's about the social glue, and not necessarily your products
Marketing has fast been moving from a monologue, talking one-way to customers, to a dialogue. In the words of Jim Stengel, global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble, marketing is no longer about “telling and selling.”
In this brave new world of conversational marketing and social networking, there are five “next practices” that make the difference between success and mediocrity. Read on to learn some counterintuitive lessons.
Next: "Conversational marketing" means two-way
Conversational marketing isn’t about consumer-generated ads, as good as many of them are. Nor is it about blogging, which is basically a monologue with a few people commenting.
Conversational marketing is engaging people in ongoing dialogue.
Why is this so important? Customers today expect to have a say about their products and services: how they should fit into their lives, how they’re designed and packaged, where they can buy them, and yes, even how they should be advertised.
They’re often passionate about being able to help companies make decisions, not just ads.
Next: Listening is underrated
Previous: "Conversational marketing" means two-way
When you shut up and listen, you find amazing customer insights, which is how Dove created the most admired marketing campaign of this young century.
Dove’s "Campaign for Real Beauty," celebrating women’s curves, sags, wrinkles and inner beauty, started by really listening to how women feel about their bodies and how they define beauty. In fact, many recent marketing innovations -- from companies like Kraft, GlaxoSmithKline, and Starwood Hotels -- have all started by listening to consumers in new ways.
In addition, research has shown that listening can increase customer loyalty, trust, and even willingness to recommend a company to friends. Our research has found that when participants felt heard within the community, 82 percent of those members said that they were more likely to recommend the company's products and services than before they joined. Likewise, 52 percent of the members said that they were more inclined to make a purchase.
With markets and consumer trends changing so fast, marketers need to be hardwired into the voices of their customers all the time so that they can turn on a dime.
Previous: Listening is underrated
One of the most effective ways to make it easy for customers to have a say -- and create a true conversational marketing platform -- is by using online communities.
But think small when creating a customer community.
Although some social networks thrive on large numbers, our research has found that a 400-person community can be far more vibrant and engaging than many large online communities.
The more intimate and exclusive the community, the greater the participation, and this is largely because people feel special, that their voices are heard, and that they are valued company insiders.
You can’t create a website for 100,000 anonymous people, throw up a message board, add a few surveys and call it “conversation.”
The way to measure conversational marketing isn’t to look at how many people logged on to the blog or website. Rather, it’s analyzing how actively people participate.
Just one percent of the people who log on to the big social networks go on to create original content, while only another 10 percent comment on or respond to that content. The other 89 percent lurk.
The more engaged people are, however, the more they will contribute original content.
In a recent study of 38,515 members of 66 by-invitation, branded communities we found participation rates of up to 86 percent, with just 14 percent lurking.
People want to talk about common interests and passions -- their social glue -- and not solely your products.
So when engaging with them in a community or through other conversational marketing techniques, focus the conversation around what they care most about.
Dove didn’t just research what women liked in skin products. They opened up the conversation to what women really cared about: self-esteem, their bodies, frustrations with the beauty industry.
Through listening to passionate conversations around issues related to your products, you will find invaluable new ideas on how to more quickly develop innovative products, campaigns, and ways to build loyal customers and advocates.