For quite some time now, agencies have been advising clients to spend money on producing ‘creative’ and ‘engaging’ content to convince consumers and customers to buy their products. Brands and marketers alike walk around digital conferences preaching the gospel of ‘content is king’.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. But as we start to shift from the Content Era to the Relationship Era, the mindset of many brands is still lacking far behind.
Published content and mass media give a brand reach (that is impressions, or the number of times that people see your advert). However, most marketers forget that reach is only at the top part of the customer journey funnel, and further interactions with consumers are critical for bringing them closer to conversion. Consumers who actually take time out to ask a question, request basic products and service information, raise a complaint or even have a compliment deserve the brand’s full attention.
We did a scan in Vietnam of the six top local brand pages regarding what consumers looked for from those brands on social media, and how the brands responded:
Conversation Management is the necessary evolution of traditional community management work; and it is being underutilized by a majority of brands. They underestimate the importance of further engaging in purposeful conversations with their customers because they fail to envision the impact and scalability of these actions.
We identified four typical brand behaviors that don’t cut it when relationship-building opportunities arise:
- Totally ignore:
Offering literally no response, letting fans talk among themselves
- Cut and Paste:
Using a boilerplate, like: “Please go to our website to check the store near you or find out more information on our official brand page”
- Get rid of customers fast:
Offering a general answer:
Q: What type of credit cards does your bank have?
A: We have 4 types, they are Standard Card, Visa, Visa Platinum, MasterCard
- Dump me all the info:
The opposite of the above; long winded and fully scripted responses in hopes the customer won’t have any further questions; an example: “Dear [insert name], thank you for choosing our products/service, at [insert brand], as the best local retail brand of 2014 we do have the shower gel in 5 different variants suited for your entire family needs and have been certified as the most organic product line by FDA. Your requested product is not available right now but we do have the lemongrass version, very fresh and light on the skin as if you have just walked out of the rainforest. Please swing by our nearest store [insert link] to try it on or for any consultation on product usage please feel free to call our hotline at this number [insert number], we operate from 9am – 5pm Monday through Friday. Thank you for reaching out to us and have nice day.”
To successfully bring consumers, and potential customers, closer to the purchase stage we have to take Conversation Management seriously. Starting with the 3 fundamental actions:
- Develop a Dialogue Strategy:
Every consumer conversation should be seen as an opportunity to build stronger customer relationships. Whether it’s increasing brand relevance or lead generation, this requires envisioning and engineering key talking points (into a scalable script) to gradually nurture consumers to take the desired action.
- Infuse Brand Voice in Messaging:
Consumers don’t relate to brands that sound scripted like a monotone robot. They resonate to brands that speak empathetically and with personality. Crafting a brand voice that fully embodies your brand essence is an excellent way for consumers to experience and bond with what your brand stands for.
- Conversation Analytics:
Having a systematic approach to tracking and tagging all consumer conversations provides a wealth of both quantitative and qualitative data on what your customers’ needs and gaps are. It also enables measuring the effectiveness of your Dialogue Strategy towards achieving hard business KPIs, and how to optimize for even better results.
Content is not enough. Building meaningful conversations through great stories and experiences is the new competitive advantage. Getting started today doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with a small pilot program, focused on a specific type of consumer, comment or query and test how it can help improve a specific business KPI.
Test. Analyze. Adapt. Repeat.
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