Monday March 20th is the Vernal Equinox, the point in time and space that marks a transition in our planet’s annual journey around the sun. Or at least that’s how scientific clever clogs describe the onset of Spring.

With the increased sunshine, warmth and change in season we’re seeing a change in Marketing best practice. Rather than just thinking about campaigns, progressive Marketers are focused more on using campaigns to make customers aware of their brands and invite them into an ongoing conversation. The main Marketing effort is shifting to that ongoing conversation, towards engaging individuals in a progressively more personal, valuable relationship. Marketing is becoming warmer, more intimate, more Human.

The definition of ‘conversation’ is a ‘talk’ between two or more people, where news and ideas are swapped. Conversations are the basis of human relationships. We get to know each other, we start to recognise each other, and as the relationship grows we start to give back more and more to each other. Polite small talk grows to playful banter and eventually develops into meaningful heart-to-hearts. For brands it’s no different, it’s just this conversation can be verbal, or digital, or in person, depending on the context of the customer the brand is talking to.

As this happens Marketers will become accountable for the end-to-end customer experience. This means again Marketing is moving beyond traditional campaigns as Marketers increasingly become measured more on longer-term metrics like customer retention and Lifetime Customer Value, in fact any customer metric, not just leads and sales.

The Opportunity of More Meaningful Customer Conversations

So, what’s the opportunity that more meaningful conversations offer you and your brand? Thunderhead ran some research and this is what we found:

  • Opportunity Fact: 81% of customers are impressed by an ongoing flow of useful contact. *

Building a relationship through meaningful conversations means there needs to be a win-win, mutually beneficial basis for that relationship. (The Boffins call this a ‘value-exchange’…) As you get to know and understand individuals better, you’ll be better able to meet their needs at the right time and in the right place given someone’s context.

  • Opportunity Fact: This will make 82% of customers feel happier about your brand. *

In return, customers are willing to share gradually more personal information for access to more of what they define as being relevant and valuable, 46% will give you demographic information, 39% their email and 38% their home address. *

  • Opportunity Fact: If in the conversation with them you demonstrate that you’re putting that customer information and knowledge to good use, you’re in turn offering them something more relevant or valuable, 83% of customers will feel happier about you. *

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. They don’t want to hear you talking about yourself. They want to hear what you’ve got that’s going to help them or make their life better. What your customers define as valuable might be different to what you assume.

  • Opportunity Fact: 1/3 of people will share their personal details if this saves them time in the future. *

Forget-me-not. Ever been at a party and thought you’d just met someone for the first time, only for them to remind you that you’d only met them the week before? Cringe. It’s the same with brands and customers.

  • Opportunity Fact: if you remember what’s been said before, and don’t make people repeat themselves, or do something again, then 89% will feel happier about you. *

7 Ways How to Have Better Customer Conversations

How to have more meaningful conversations with existing and potential customers, the kinds of conversation which power deeper relationships and more value:

  1. Place the customer at the centre of the relationship. Yeah, yea, you’ve heard that before. But it’s like any good relationships, it can’t be all Me, Me, Me as far as your brand is concerned. You might love your brand, but unless you want your brand to come across as a narcissist to your customers then you’ll only have eyes for your customers.
  2. “Coz you won’t stop talkin, Why don’t you give it a rest? You got more rabbit than Sainsbury’s. With your incessant talkin’, You’re becoming a pest. Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit….” Chaz and Dave were right, you don’t want to end up talking to your customer’s hand, or even their back. If you’re focused on them, and you’re listening, you’ll know when to stop talking.
  3. Focus on the customer’s journey, it’s the customer’s journey, not yours. When you meet their needs along their journey and have conversations based on their needs, you and your customers will come closer together, and move in the same direction. If you connect customer insight, context and real-time journey behaviour across all customer touchpoints and journeys, you’ll enter into a wonderful dance with customers. It’s the difference between freestyle silent-disco dancing on your own, to leading someone on a beautiful Waltz.
  4. Listen to your customers as they move across your brand’s digital and physical channels, build a clearer picture of every person as well as identify previously anonymous customers by stitching together their interaction history. Join up their journeys across channels and touchpoints and learn from what they say, do, and don’t do.
  5. Based on what you know about an individual’s journey context, tailor every conversation, for example personalising emails, in-branch, website or what a call-centre agent says on the phone. If you do this in real-time this immediately starts to drive every conversation and more personal and valuable relationships with your customers and prospects.
  6. Unify and empower your brand’s different departments and channels with an omni-channel view of the customer. The shared insights about customers will help you to join you departmental and technical silos into one brand talking to your customers with one voice.
  7. “A little less conversation, a little more action?” To quote The King, a good conversation is knowing when to listen and to understand when your customers want you to stop talking about doing something and just actually do it.

Spring is coming. Cast off the Winter cold, things are warming up. Don’t be shy, don’t miss out on those precious, valuable customer conversations.

Spring from Marketing Campaigns to Customer Conversations

Sources:

  1. *Thunderhead’s Engagement 3.0 research report
  2. We’ve been saying it for a while, our CEO Glen Manchester wrote ‘long live the conversation’ back in 2015.

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