A Call for Imaginary Marketing Conversations

Posted on Nov 7, 2016
Reading time: 4 minutes Tags: Writing

Think of a catchy song.

Now grab a friend, sit them down and tap the song’s rhythm on the table.

Think they can tell you’re tapping Pharrel’s Happy? They can’t.

In Elizabeth Newton’s PhD dissertation, groups were split into pairs of Tappers and Listeners. Before tapping the song, Tappers guessed whether their Listener would manage to guess the song they were tapping.

50% guessed they would. Only 2.5% did.

Because successful communication is complicated.

There’s a universe of nuance when we communicate. We tweak words, tone and content to fit context. We intuitively pick up on the subtext and tweak how we’re speaking to that we generate a conversation.

But in digital marketing, we tend to forget about two-way communication. Which is why *good websites may create good experiences but great websites create great conversations.

The Imaginary Marketing Conversation

Good marketing is data-driven. Dashboards parade through my dreams, Mixpanel is my North Star and Google Analytics is my compass. Undefined events are the stuff of nightmares and Direct Traffic makes me cry.

But data isn’t the holy grail.

As a matter of fact, in a world where data-driven marketing is proliferating, the two sexiest trends today are…chatbots and voice-systems like Google Home and Alexa.

Because they create a natural conversation.

This isn’t an argument for dumping quantitative marketing. Au contraire , my marketing friend. Online data is the perfect indicator of whether the conversation is going well. But to make it actionable, imagine the perfect conversation; it’s where the real marketing optimization happens.

Here’s three examples of internet heroes nailing great marketing conversations.

1. Conversational Marketing Makes for Better Copy.

This isn’t fluff – Joanna Wiebe (the brains behind Copyhackers, who I also interviewed on creativity in marketing) used this method to increase revenue on a landing page by 108%. When critiquing the page, Joanna found a total lack of messaging structure. So she used seven questions that the reader would be asking themselves to structure the page as a conversation:

  1. What do you do?
  2. Okay. Why should I care?
  3. Am I alone in caring – or do others (preferably others like me) care?
  4. You’re starting to win me over. But I’m skeptical. So show me: how do you do what you say you do?
  5. And if I believe you and your process / solution, how will my life improve?
  6. I’d like to believe you, but first tell me: why is it safe for me to believe you?
  7. Okay, let’s say I believe you. Now what?

Check these questions out in action on Copyhackers.

By anticipating the conversation, Joanna was able to foster a dialogue. And nail a 108% increase in revenue from the landing page.

2. Conversational Marketing Makes for Great CRO.

Signup forms are hard. An inside sales team can pick up pain points, desires and dreams…and then tap into them to get the prospect to sign on the dotted line. A website can’t.

What it can do is get that signature in a more natural manner.

MixPanel‘s homepage, presumably its best convertor, speaks loudly about why in-depth engagement analytics are important. If that speaks to the reader, they fill out their email and click “get started”. But the signup form has three parts, each which ask a question.

Hitting “Get Started”, initiates a dialogue that takes the reader through a back-and-forth.

Yes, this leverages Cialdini’s commitment principle to keep people in the funnel – you filled out one field so you’re likely going to keep filling out more.

But to me, it feels like I’m going back and forth with Mixpanel. Once I do finish out the signup form fields, the onboarding experience continues feel like a conversation, not a one-way interaction.

3. Conversational Marketing Makes for Great Conversations.

Because I’m a fan of conversions and data, SumoMe has been a pretty great fit for us at Freightos. Noah Kagan’s blog is written in an incredibly conversational tone so it’s no surprise that the tone keeps coming during the SumoMe onboarding.

Conversation marketing email from Noah Kagan

I did not think for one second that this is a personalized email.

But it feels like one. It’s plain-text, has lower caps in the subject line, is short to the point..My friends would email me like this. SumoMe even address the automation-elephant in the room by promising a personal response. This is a tech-augmented conversation, not blind email automation.

And it worked.

I actually reached out to Noah afterwards to ask him if SumoMe intentionally keep their tone conversational.

His answer? “Yea, it’s fun”.

It’s so much more than fun, though. Answering the imaginary questions and speaking in the tone that matches your readers’ state of mind is what transforms a website into a web experience.

How do you keep a conversation going?