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How to use conversational marketing in B2B

conversational-marketingConversational marketing is a strategy born out of the evolution of live chat tools and techniques. The idea is to create conversation-like interactions that allow your customer to connect with you how, when, and, where they want. Here’s how B2B companies can make the most of this approach.

What is conversational marketing?

Conversational marketing is based on the idea that advances in technology and shifts in consumer behaviour allow us to have conversations with prospects at scale.

People always have and always will expect conversations with businesses to be helpful, personal, and empathetic. Conversational marketing is a tactic that can help you use technology to move away from generic mass communication to a unique customer experience. The technology that makes this work includes:

  • Live chat
  • Chatbots
  • Apps such as Slack or WhatsApp

Conversational marketing gives you the ability to have one-on-one conversations at scale across multiple channels seamlessly. This allows you to engage and delight customers at a personal level.

But B2B marketing is different from B2C. We don’t have storefronts. Decision-making periods are naturally longer in B2B sales, so people are less likely to want to start a conversation right away. In this context, chatbots and live chat can be as disruptive to the customer journey as a pop-up.

How can B2B companies use conversational marketing successfully?

1. Help prospects understand your offering

For example, B2B companies with complex offerings can use a chatbot to engage website visitors on their service pages to help them find out more. The chatbot allows the visitor to “choose their own adventure” and explore your content in a way that’s contextual and personal to them.

2. Provide better support for products and services

Conversational marketing is particularly effective on websites with high volumes of customers seeking support. In the past, a website might only have been able to provide support in the form of an FAQ. But by using live chat, customers get faster, more personalised resolutions to problems. 

3. Clarify complex pricing models

Many B2B companies struggle to articulate their pricing models on their websites. This is particularly true of companies with a consultative element to their offering. A live chat or chatbot on a pricing page allows you to provide personalised responses to complex pricing queries.

4. Increase lead generation

Conversational marketing can also be used in bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) interactions to increase lead generation. Instead of asking people to go through lead capture forms and wait for a response, they can book a meeting or demo call with a rep right away.

But be wary. When you bypass forms you can increase volume but not necessarily lead quality. Make sure you don't lower the barrier to entry so much that leads aren't qualified and you end up wasting time on low-quality leads.

These are just a few examples of how to use conversational marketing in B2B. But the thing they all share is that they’re contextual, personalised, and available at the customer’s convenience.

Read our Introduction to B2B Inbound Marketing to understand what inbound is,  what it means to you, and the opportunities it offers.

To make the most of your conversational marketing, HubSpot recommends that it has S.C.O.P.E.

  • Standardise. Conversations should be predictable and repeatable. This is key to enabling scalability in your conversational marketing. Know what your customers ask most and provide answers for bots and live chat teams to use. This makes optimisation and iterative testing much easier.
  • Contextualise. We know that context improves user experience. Customers feel seen and understood when chatbots use information you already have to get right to the heart of their query.
  • Optimise. Standardisation helps you optimise. Learn from your past conversations so you can improve them in the future and remember that conversational marketing isn’t a cure-all to leapfrog from marketing to sales. It’s another tool that needs testing and optimising.
  • Personalise. This is the whole point of getting back to one-on-one interactions. Context provides a shared understanding, then personalisation demonstrates empathy. And empathy is key to a positive conversation.
  • Empathise. Using a chatbot to show empathy sounds callous and cynical, but simply acknowledging a customer’s feelings and understanding the problem can go a long way to building a rapport and a positive interaction.

Chatflows, live chat & chatbots

The HubSpot CRM provides tools to talk directly to customers. These are known as Chatflows and they come in 2 types: live chat and chatbot.

hub-bot-exampleImage Source: HubSpot

Live chat

Live chat allows you to connect a prospect directly to a member of your team, which can be sales or support depending on your setup. The team member receives a notification and can start a conversation.

Live chat can be set to specific opening hours to manage expectations so your team doesn’t have to be manning the site 24/7. When managing your live chat teams, remember the SCOPE framework. Provide standardised answers to common queries and encourage your team to empathise with the prospect wherever possible.

Chatbot

Chatbot uses automation similar to workflows to build the “choose your own adventure” experience to help the customer find what they need. They can be set to hand over to live chat when required, allowing you to optimise your team’s productivity.

For conversational marketing to work well with chatbots, the responses need to be well-written. If it sounds too human, savvy customers will hit the uncanny valley, feel duped, and have a worse experience. If it’s too generic and process-driven, you’ll lose the all-important context, personalisation, and empathy that makes a good conversation.

When is it right to use conversational marketing?

“Conversational marketing should be designed around the needs of the customer — not the needs of the business.”

Dharmesh Shah – HubSpot Co-Founder

To know when it’s right to use conversational marketing, you need to know your buyer and how they use your website. Audit your site to see how people are moving around it. Are they often looking for more information? Are they bouncing because they have nothing else to engage with?

In places where people need help, you can use chatbots or live chat to improve their experience by giving them contextual and personalised points of engagement.

If your FAQ or API integration section is getting a lot of traffic, having a live chat support team on hand on those pages allow you to give people the support they need when they need it.

But always remember the context...

B2B companies generally see worse results when they have a generic chatbot on every page. Many marketers say that “your website is your storefront” and as such, you should have a member of staff greet people when they enter. But remember that context means more than the web environment — it's the mindset of the customer too.

... and keep testing and iterating

How you approach your conversational marketing strategies depends so much on your company and your customers, so it's important to measure your results and test regularly.

You can measure chatbot interactions and usage just like your website traffic to see how people are using it. For live chat, consider sending out a feedback survey to your customers after they've used it to see if they're having a positive experience. If you're not getting the results you want, try different approaches and keep refining your strategy until you and your prospects are having the conversations you really want to have.

Having a conversation has never been easier

B2B companies need to deliver better customer experiences across the entire customer journey. You have the technology to connect with people personally and at scale. All you need now is an effective conversational marketing strategy to maximise this opportunity and deliver better experiences than your competitors.

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