Where do conversations fit into your inbound marketing strategy?

by Wendy Woodhead

Where do conversations fit into your inbound marketing strategy?

Do you want to grow your business? Do you want more customers and a better understanding of what they need? Then it’s time to start talking to them!

A common misconception is that inbound marketing is about how the content performs and not the people behind it. But without connecting with people, how will you get anywhere near your goal? A conversation is an interaction, or a dialogue between two people. But in the age of content marketing, where do conversations fit into your inbound marketing strategy? Keep reading to find out.

Do conversations still matter with inbound marketing?

Yes! Conversations do still matter in the age of automation and inbound marketing. Not only should you be thinking of the goal of your content marketing as leading to a sales conversation that seals the deal, but really everything you put out into the world about your business should be part of a conversation between you and your customer.

If you are a traditional business that is trying to build a presence online, your content should be leading a point at which your customer’s path converges with your sales team. That’s why traditional sales conversations are still instrumental in the digital era. They just happen slightly later in the sales funnel than a customer walking into your brick and mortar store.

You’ll notice I said for ‘traditional businesses’. For those e-commerce or professional services offered online, it’s likely you offer a self-service model without those typical interactions (unless your customer encounters a problem). Instead, you should be thinking of your content as a constant conversation with your customer. Though this also applies to all businesses.

When it comes to the actual touchpoints between you and your customer, it doesn’t matter if that conversation takes place over the phone, via a virtual consultation, a chatbot enquiry, or over email or social media. All these conversations place your customer one step closer to making a purchase. Or not, depending on how well you execute them.

Why are conversations important in an inbound marketing strategy?

The goal of an inbound marketing strategy is to drive traffic to your website and convert those visitors into customers through relevant content.

Conversations between your customer and your brand can be mutually beneficial because they help build relationships with potential and current customers. Here’s how they can help:

– Conversations provide more information to help your customer make a decision
– Conversations can help you seal a deal
– Conversations can encourage trust and loyalty if customers feel heard and understood
– Conversations allow you to upsell a specific product or service once you understand your customer’s needs

Where do conversations fit into your inbound marketing strategy?

Now that you know why conversations are important, how should you implement them?

First, understand your customer journey

In any solid inbound marketing strategy, you should know where the touchpoints are in your sales funnel which might trigger a conversation. These will have different values depending on whether your customer is brand new or repeat.

Make content shareable

If you create content that is engaging and beautifully targeted to your audience and the channels they use, then you can encourage conversations on your social platforms. These will be more akin to relationship-building conversations rather than sales-based, but you may be able to signpost customers to specific pages to capture their information where relevant.

Create engaging, well-written content

This means having a content marketing strategy that is based around blog content and static landing pages (as well as your social content) that will generate interest and then have a clear call to action. You should create CTAs that are relevant to your customers’ needs at the point in their journey they’re on when they land on one of your web pages or click through from social media.

For businesses in the service industry, the most obvious page you want to direct them to is your contact page or quote page. For ecommerce, it might be a product page, online shop or order form.

Use data capture tools

If your content has done its job of delivering more traffic to your site, then you need to have a means to record the enquiry and data about your customers (such as name, location, contact details). Ensure customers who click through from an email, social media post, blog post or Google Ad find it easy to leave their details. If you use a contact form, make sure sign-up fields are easily visible.

With Facebook citing that 53% of customers are more likely to choose a business they can message, chatbots are an excellent tool when paired with inbound marketing, particularly for customers at the awareness stage of the funnel. They can field answers to basic enquiries, signpost to information or log their contact details. If you prefer a more personalised route, web chat support means customers can get help in real-time.

How to conduct sales conversations

Remember what I said earlier about executing sales conversations well? There’s no point your marketing team putting their all into their content strategy if your sales team is letting them down. Here are a few quick wins:

Find out what their needs are

They may come to you with questions but you should be curious about how you can help and ask them more. You want to know what are their pain points? What are their goals? What are their must-haves? Have they been let down previously by a competitor? What is their budget?

Offer the best solution for them

Once you know more about their needs, you should aim to offer them the best product or service for them, rather than just the one that earns the most profit.

Don’t pressure

The days of the hard sell are long gone. Give your customer all the information they need, present the facts, speak honestly, answer all their questions and let them make up their own mind. If they need to think about it, log their details in your CRM (customer relationship management software) for future.

That doesn’t mean you can’t give them a nudge

If you’ve not heard from them after they made an enquiry or had a free trial, it’s perfectly acceptable to initiate a conversation. Ask them to let you know when is a convenient time to call so that they don’t feel you are intruding.

Learning from your conversations

The whole point about converations is they inform you as much as the customer. You will learn what works, what price points sell, and whether there are questions customers have that need answering before they get to the conversation stage (such as via an FAQ page, in your ad content or in the landing page copy itself).

As you’re probably realising, delivering potential customers to a conversation isn’t necessarily a linear process. It’s a case of starting small and then tracking customer behaviour to know the optimum and cost-effective points in your funnel to initiate conversations. For instance, you can set up Google Analytics to track your visitors’ actions on your site, what content they’re viewing and at what point they leave. This will help you improve the content you produce and understand how effective it is at converting traffic into leads.

You should also make sure you have a robust CRM to log all enquiries and prompt you to reach out to those lapsed customers or those stuck in the funnel who may benefit from a conversation with your sales personnel.

The good news is marketing automation can do the lion’s share of this for you. You can automate emails to be sent to those who have set up an account and not bought, have abandoned their carts, or lapsed customers who haven’t visited recently. Persuasive copywriting is at the heart of these templated responses, and personalisation can make it even more like to convert customers.

Whatever your business, conversations still play an important role in most sales transactions, even more so in the age of content marketing where you’re not just competing with other businesses in your area but across the globe. Take some time to liaise with your marketing department or copywriter and understand where these should take place to improve both the success of your content marketing and your conversations.

Header image: Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Embedded images: Chris Liverani on UnsplashJESHOOTS.COM on UnsplashMyriam Jessier on Unsplash

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Wendy Woodhead

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.