Let’s be clear about something. Shortcuts or a quick fix to generating leads and boosting sales don’t exist! For me, that’s OK. As a marketer, all I need to know is that my efforts and expertise are not being wasted. That means that all the interest I generate through content marketing and all the time I spend fixing the user experience of my site is pushing in the right direction. Usually, that means higher traffic. The problem is, traffic is going up but the conversion rate is flatlining. So what do I do? Start a conversation! Conversations are the natural evolution of marketing In the dark ages, before the discovery of the internet, we were stuck with basic advertising – expensive and easy to ignore. Then when the world went digital, sure we could still advertise but these traditional ads increasingly get viewed in a negative light (or ignored altogether with adblockers). The invention of content marketing gave prospects a reason to click a link or pay attention to our brands by providing value to our prospects. However, content marketing actually did even more than this – it started to pull us into a relationship with the consumer. Conversational marketing is the natural next step – a marketing evolution by creating an even more bespoke experience. Customer service is the classic example and where this all kicked off. Live chat is a way for brands to be there whilst the customer is browsing our websites. We’re there to offer that personal touch and help solve problems, all the time building trust and a positive brand experience. The stats are there to back this up as well, with 65% of consumers reporting a positive outlook on conversational marketing. So, there’s the argument and the statistics back it up – how can we use it more? The problem is resources. One-to one interactions just can’t be scaled and the smaller the business the less that could be achieved. But technology has turned all that on its head. Chatbots to the rescue Chatbots can be deployed anywhere on your site. Put them on a landing page, product page, offer page… basically anywhere you think might be engaging and effective. And delivering customer support is only one function – now the technology is being used with massive success in powering lead generation. Obviously, we’re not talking about one-to-one human conversations here. Chatbots either leverage AI technology or use conversation dialogues designed by human experts (more on that in a moment). The benefits of chatbots are cost (it’s a much cheaper approach than a 24/7 team operating a chat system) and scalability (as you grow, so does your chatbot solution, meeting the needs of your growing audience). So when you consider the cost savings, the bigger your company gets the more of your marketing budget a chatbot can save. Now the key to being effective lead generators is the ability to analyse interactions. Coming back to the AI vs human debate, all chatbots are looking to assess historical data on effective and ineffective conversations to create the most engaging triggers and the most relevant conversations. The difference with a human expert, is that not only can you optimise based on previous iterations, you can also use creativity in language, including a style more representative of your brand. AI is powerful but it can’t do that. Nonetheless, there’s a certain design process behind a great chatbot and it is fairly simple. Quality vs quantity – better leads impact conversion So here’s why conversational marketing brings such dramatic improvements in conversion rates. Personalised communications bring more accurate data, and accurate information in turn means better qualified leads – simple! And chatbots can actually be more human than we could even imagine. Chatbots can determine what stage in the sales cycle the prospect may be while building a relationship through that personal interaction. As we have already established, prospects also find conversational marketing enjoyable, and that adds to the trust and engagement with the brand. When you combine more accurate, extensive data and a lead who has had a positive experience with the brand, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that this results in leads that convert more often. Conclusion Effective marketing is built on creating strategies that maximise performance at every stage. It’s very easy to get caught up with trends or the performance of vanity metrics. Content marketing is still your bread and butter, but every customer likes a different filling in their sandwich. You’ll see a much-improved campaign performance if you keep personalising the process all the way down the funnel. A four-fold increase (or better) in terms of conversion is a fact you really can’t ignore. Let’s be clear, you need to do the hard yards and really understand your customer’s needs. But once you’ve done the work there shouldn’t be anything that interferes with that relationship you’ve created. Now you might be thinking whether this chatbot stuff is something for you. Well, you can always read this thorough article to find out if you should bother.