How to Use Conversational Marketing to Engage Prospects and Generate Better Leads

August 15, 2019 | Elizabeth Rivelli

B2B marketers need to adopt a customer-centric approach with their content and campaigns in order to succeed in today’s competitive business market. When shopping for new products or services, consumers expect a personalized experience that makes them feel heard, supported, and valued. According to data from Accenture, 81 percent of consumers want brands to understand them better, and know when (and when not) to approach them. To offer the level of personalization consumers are looking for, marketers are adopting conversational marketing tactics to engage with prospects in their content, and learn more about their needs, challenges, and goals.

How Marketers Can Use Conversational Marketing to Find Qualified Leads

When it comes to lead generation, marketers rely on a wide array of channels and programs to find prospects with the potential to convert. But gated content and static email campaigns aren’t an effective way to help guide your prospect’s buyer journey. Your resource center might be a goldmine of great content, but how do you know that visitors are downloading your content and actually reading it? There’s no way for marketers to determine if prospects are interacting with the content and campaigns they invest time and marketing dollars to create.  

But just as content marketing focuses on enabling and empowering prospects through information, conversational marketing leverages the power of interaction to offer a more responsive and personalized approach to attracting, engaging, and converting customers. And it works—leads from conversational marketing convert at rates five times higher than traditional sources. Many marketers are revamping their demand generation strategies to include conversational marketing tactics that create more opportunities for active engagement with prospects. By making content more conversational, marketers can gather key insights about their prospects, and prospects get the personalized experience they’re looking for. 

Keep reading to learn how marketers can use conversational marketing tactics in their top lead generation channels—like blogs, PDF content, and lead forms—to create a two-way value exchange that increases engagement, uncovers key insights about prospects, and improves the buyer experience.

1. Blog Posts

A good blog is often the hub of a successful content strategy, and it’s a great way to demonstrate thought leadership, grow your audience, and reap major SEO gains over time. But when it comes to resource investment and time to value, a blog can also be a frustratingly low source for actual conversions. Readers who find a blog through organic search might quickly skim one post and immediately bounce from the site, without taking the time to check out other resources. By transforming your blog from a one-way broadcast into an open communication channel, marketers can nudge visitors towards the right next step while they engage with your content, so they can move through the sales funnel more quickly.

Try this: Embed questions and other opportunities for interaction into the body of your blog posts, and reward the visitor’s interaction with relevant content—maybe a related blog, or another long form asset.

2. PDF Content

Like your blog, ebooks, white papers, case studies, and reports are essential assets in a robust content marketing strategy, which fuel many successful demand generation and nurture campaigns. But all too often, marketers place valuable content behind a gate, and hope for the best. But the problem with this approach is that conversions are generally very low. If a reader stumbles upon a gated PDF, they might decide to search for an ungated resource, if they’re not ready to submit their information. Even when prospects go on download sprees, marketers have no way of knowing whether a prospect has actually consumed any of that content. Not to mention, gated content doesn’t reveal anything about your readers, and as a result, marketers can’t accurately score and qualify those leads.

Try this: Rather than placing your PDF content behind a gate, allow visitors to read the first half of your content, and present them with a lead form later on, after trust has been established and they’re already invested in your content.

3. Contact Forms

You might not think of lead forms as content, but they’re a critical point of conversion, and the perfect opportunity to start a conversation with prospects. Most websites have a ‘Contact Us’ form at the very least, and possibly a demo or consultation request form. And if you’re running SEO or paid campaigns that lead visitors to landing pages, you’re essentially sending them to a lead form. But forms are where marketers struggle to see real conversions. A lead that completes a form might be qualified, but they might also be an existing customer looking for product support, or someone looking for more information about your company. Marketers need a more reliable way to find out who their leads are, and determine if they’re a good fit for your product or service. 

Try This: Follow up a demo or contact form with 2-3 qualifying questions to help segment the submissions, identify the real hand raisers, and disqualify leads looking for help in the wrong place.

Final Thoughts

Conversational marketing presents an opportunity for marketers to improve the buyer experience, while also proving their impact on the bottom line. By swapping tired B2B best practices for a conversational marketing strategy, marketers can transform the buyer journey, enable sales with prospect intelligence, and close deals faster.

But like any “new” marketing methodology (Inbound! Content marketing! ABM!), conversational marketing comes with a few caveats: there isn’t a single silver bullet, and it shouldn’t distract you from tried and true marketing principles. Make sure you’re tracking the right KPIs to demonstrate success, focus on attaining real results, and keep experimenting with different content types that create a value exchange with prospects. Check out our conversational content guide for even more tips on creating a dialogue in your content that allows marketers to qualify leads based on intent. 

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