Conversation marketing. Who’s talking? Who’s listening?


by Max Russell

November 27, 2017

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Today, when people talk about conversation marketing, it takes me back to college days and the summer I spent selling a series of children’s storybooks door to door in rural North Carolina. If nothing else, that experience taught me the power of two-way conversation, especially the listening part, to close the sale.

As a door-to-door salesman, I gathered intelligence about my next prospect by asking one neighbor about another or talking to local business people about their customers. The more I listened, the more I learned about the community and its individuals, and the more closely I could tailor my pitch to each customer’s situation.

Big data enables a similar kind of listening and learning today. With an abundance of readily available customer and prospect data— structured and unstructured, from owned, earned, and paid media channels—marketers can access insights about audience members’ sentiments, propensities, and preferences at the click of a mouse. They can also keep their ears open to social conversations where consumers express aspirations, issues, and wants.

In combination, all that marketplace intelligence can inspire almost limitless ways to delight the customer in real time. Take, for example, the case of Jack who’s been showing interest in Facebook content about the latest hi-tech TVs. Combining this social data with their own data for Jack (his purchase date, warranty period), the brand from which Jack purchased his current TV five years ago could recognize this as the perfect time to re-engage Jack with an exclusive email offer to upgrade his old TV at a significant discount.

Taking it even more personally

Selling door to door, I recognized my prospects by face, greeted them by name, and knew enough in advance to strike up a relevant conversation. With the right framework and processes in place, big data empowers brands to do essentially the same thing across points. As attractive as that may sound, there are challenges to overcome and pitfalls to avoid before the full value of big data can be realized.

Big data projects should ideally be viewed as mid to long-term initiatives, that require a thorough planning, phased approach and measured implementation. If this balance is jeopardized through time and resource constraints or lack of alignment with business objectives, risks take over. From a customer data standpoint, this can result in multiple identities and conflicting data for the same individual. This translates to missed opportunities in creating new customer experiences, or conversely delivering unsatisfactory services by picking up the wrong conversational thread at the wrong point in the conversion cycle and having to deal with the backlash.

Challenges like this may explain in part why a third of the respondents in Resulticks recent survey of CMOs and marketing managers thought big data was more fantasy than reality. One in five had given up on it entirely. That’s the digital equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Often the culprit for disenchantment with big data stems from trying to do too much too fast. The promised benefits of big data can and will materialize if marketers will only take a more pragmatic and steady approach as outlined in the Resulticks’ Marketing Flab to Fab Big Data Fitness Plan , Done right, big data enables a high level of agility and unprecedented real-time responsiveness to user journeys.

Almost all the elements that make face-to-face conversation marketing so effective, can be enhanced and amplified with big data and the right mix of marketing automation capabilities and advanced analytics. If you want to know more about how all this can work together to keep your two-way conversations alive, relevant, and top-line focused, contact Resulticks today.