Why Conversational Marketing Needs ABM to Succeed

For companies that align marketing and sales well, the use of a conversational marketing strategy makes a lot of sense. For those of us in growth, we are constantly thinking about conversion rather than brand, and the use of chatbots in the bridge between marketing and sales is a perfect example of getting back to revenue.

Personally, I think a website’s only job is to act as a conduit to the sales team or the sale. Establish if the visitor is buying or researching, and if it’s the latter, move them into a nurturing sequence or toward a more suitable resource to support their inquiry.

And whilst we talk about this specific scenario, it amazes me how many companies do not do this well. Imagine: you get onto a website of a product or service you’re researching, and you see the chatbot asking if you need some help. You use this service and choose “not buying right now”, if indeed that’s even a choice. 

Imagine how poor the experience would be if at that point the bot said “Here’s a link to our blog, we’ve got a lot of great content you can read”. No personalization or afterthought about diving deeper into the challenge you face, and sometimes you don’t even get this type of message.

No further thought of how they can delve into your specific need, or further understand how this platform may best help you. This is why conversational marketing is so hit and miss; it’s the seeming lack of purpose in chat flows and personalization in messaging that has a negative impact on chat performance.

Another common problem I see, especially with HubSpot users, is companies using the default message, “Got any questions? I’m here to help”. Are you expecting a conversion on that message play? You have to do better, so let me help you out.

For conversational marketing, you need data & segmentation

Firstly, to use a platform like Drift, the leading conversational marketing platform (even if you have HubSpot or Salesforce), you have to already have high volumes of website traffic. However, whilst you can run paid marketing activities like PPC and paid social to ramp traffic up, unless you’ve nailed your personas, positioning, messaging, and targeting, this can still be a fruitless exercise.

For early-stage, fast-growth SaaS companies, this may not be an option, so how do you get around this?

Data Points you can look for are:

  • Job Title

  • Industry

  • Business Email

  • Personal Email

  • LinkedIn Profile

  • Telephone Business

  • Telephone Mobile

  • Company Size

  • Annual Revenue

  • Annual Headcount Growth

These of course are not an exhaustive list and you can certainly further customize your choices according to your requirements. The other option for your ABM strategy is to use RollWorks. With over 90 million contacts in the database, finding the right personas and running your ad strategy in one place can be an even shrewder move on your part.

By driving higher numbers of new, good fit prospects back to your website you increase the viability of your pipeline increasing. Using chat as a personalization tool on the back of that traffic will only increase conversion opportunities.

Personalization in account-based marketing

In a recent Forrester report, 56% of marketers declared that personalized content is a major factor in achieving ABM success and another 46% said advanced data management was the other key factor.

Considering a CRM is a key weapon in the sales reps arsenal, connecting a platform like Drift to either Salesforce or HubSpot is a win-win move. By activating two-way feeds between the platforms, you build clear pictures of your prospects’ journeys across your channels; even more importantly, you can use personalization in the messaging to recognize visitors by their name if known or at least by their company if not.

If you’ve built your website on HubSpot CMS, you can use their smart content features to back up and add further personalization in web page content, ramping your ABM results further. Ultimately, higher quality targeted traffic, run into your website pages or even chat pages, will improve your conversion rates when you add deep levels of personalization.

Buyer personas are not hypothetical stories of your ideal buyer

Someone once said a persona is a semi-hypothetical representation of your ideal buyer. I have to disagree.

As an expert in this area, personas are not in fact ICPs. For some reason many companies, even the largest I’ve dealt with, call a persona something that looks like this:

  • Job Title

  • Industry

  • Demographic Data

  • Story

The story always leads to the reason why this persona wants to only buy your product. It’s absolutely the wrong approach. When building your persona, start with your CRM. Look at your closed deals and identify who was in your customers’ buying committee and start there. Review your email communications and/or call recordings to find out how they influenced the deal.

Run win/loss interviews to find out even more detail with a strategic list of questions. Try to discover what was going on when they identified the reason to buy and what their research process was. Everything you know about your persona should be real and your approach should be what you don’t know you need to learn, not imagine.

Finally and most importantly, you need to interview your personas and discover how they run their business and what a day in the life looks like. You want to find out if they listen to Spotify or a particular podcast on a daily basis. Do they have a favorite coffee shop and when do they go there? Whilst there, are they reading newspapers, magazines, checking emails, podcasts, vlogs, YouTube, etc? Where do they research or up-skill in their own job? 

You have to get under the skin of your persona to really drive results.

You can ask all of these questions and more to highly define when and where you can get in front of your persona from the research. Do better: don’t make up stories and expect success. Do the work. 

Measure your performance with playbooks

Playbooks are commonplace in marketing these days. Successful growth marketers and CMOs have this trait in common. They hypothesize, segment, experiment, review, and repeat successful plays, which enable them to build continual growth cycles. They then carry these playbooks forward with them into future roles.

So what do great conversational playbooks look like? 

  1. The second net bot: Used to help move visitors from forms to bots. This also enables a smoother transition to sales from the site without email nurturing.
  2. The conversation starter: For low-traffic websites, use this bot to help identify highly engaged visitors from your highest traffic pages.
  3. Pricing page bot: Put answers to your most requested questions in this conversation, but only enough to kick them into a sales conversation with a team member
  4. The retargeting bot: You have to upgrade your personalization game and this bot helps you identify returning visitors from other campaigns.
  5. The ABM bot: Identify the top 100-1000 target accounts and build out custom playbooks that help move these website visitors further down the funnel. An ideal combination for your NextRoll platform and CRM tech stack.
  6. Paid-ad converter: You can get super granular and personalize the messages based on the campaign, keyword, or source the visitors are coming from.
  7. Lead magnet bot: You want a way to connect people who download content to your sales team when their intent is highest.
  8. The demo bot: If your demo CTA isn’t converting well or if you are doing better with a second net bot on your demo booking page. Use a chatbot to qualify or disqualify potential leads with short sharp questions.
  9. Email list supercharger: proactively reach out to the traffic you’re driving to your blog to add more subscribers.
  10. Fast lane bot: Use targeting conditions to omit qualification questions. If you don’t have firmographic targeting, ask your most important qualification question first, and then give those leads a fast lane to sales.

For working examples of these playbooks, visit this conversational marketing playbook blog article.

Key takeaway

That was rapid fire and should pique your interest in building a conversational marketing strategy for your business. But understand that the key takeaway here is that you need this in addition to your account-based marketing strategy. Notice that only one of the 10 playbooks listed can work with low traffic, and the facts given support ABM driving the highest return on your marketing investment.

My personal opinion is that if you start your account-based marketing strategy from scratch then definitely use a dedicated platform that has enough of your target audience within its data sets. If they don’t cover all of your requirements like North America vs. Europe then choose a data provider that does cover that region and upload that to your ABM platform.

Don’t wait until you start your programmatic advertising to invest in conversational marketing as you will need to test and iterate on your playbooks and you don’t want to lose an opportunity because your prospects don’t want to fill out a form. And any CROs reading this that disagree, swathes of people fully expect an unwanted sales approach from a form fill and it's not a desired outcome.

About the Author

Paul Sullivan, Founder and MD at Digital BIAS

Paul Sullivan is the Founder and Managing Director of Digital BIAS

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