Conversational Marketing: Where Content & Automation Breed Conversions

Published: September 13, 2010

There’s more than one acceptable definition of this method, but let’s go with the following: conversational marketing is the opening of a bona fide bi-directional dialogue between prospect and vendor — in that order — enabled by the right combination of content, technology and process.

The core elements of a good conversational marketing strategy are a focus on the buyer; effective use of technology to automate aspects of the exchange; and bringing sales into the dialogue in a timely and relevant manner. Advanced web 2.0 search and social media have put buyers firmly in control of the business discourse for the first time in the history of sales and marketing. That single revolutionary fact is forcing vendors into a genuine, transparent, two-way dialogue with prospects that many suppliers are struggling to adopt.

The key components of this dialogue include:
•    Analyzing your past successful conversations to replicate those results;
•    Creating “personas” to generate profiles of unique buyer attitudes and behaviors;
•    Developing a content marketing plan to address buyer needs and wants at various points in the buying cycle.

As marketers move to automate this dialogue with prospects, they must understand that these tools don’t robotically solve marketing problems. Marketing automation does enable organizations to feed targeted, relevant content to prospects and track behaviors, upping their lead activity scores until they’re ready for engagement with sales.

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To use automation effectively and facilitate this engagement, marketers must:
•    Load systems with relevant content, mapped to funnel phases and personas
•    Sync CRM and MA, creating data and workflow rules for maximum efficiency

The final miles of this journey is decisive alignment of sales and marketing. Sales and marketing must work together as never before to convey and deliver value as they interact with clients and prospects. Central to this discussion is the quality, frequency and relevance of nurturing and reengagement efforts. Much depends on how this is handled.

Some of the key components to integrating a conversational strategy with an organization’s sales process include:
•    Fostering an infrastructure that encourages lead prioritization;
•    Reconfiguring the sales mindset from “seller controlled” to “buyer controlled;”
•    Facilitating internal cooperation for optimal lead lifecycle management.

DCS’ sister brand, DemandGen Report, recently published a white paper on the topic of Conversation Marketing. That white paper — presented in conjunction with marketing consultancy LeadMD — examines each of these core areas, offering guidance on how BtoB organizations can optimize process to establish a real dialogue with their prospects. DemandGen Report and LeadMD are hosting a webinar on this important topic on September 23. The contet caters to marketers wishing to evolve from “talking at” prospects to engaging in a two-way conversation can utilize both these forums. Register now for the webinar “3 Phases of Conversational Marketing: Focus on the Buyer.”

Owen McDonald is Vice President of Client Strategy for Demand Creation Specialists (DCS), an interactive content marketing firm and part of the G3 Communications group that includes DemandGen Report and Retail TouchPoints. Owen has a background in business journalism, and has been involved in custom publishing and content marketing since 1999. He can be emailed at

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