This just in: communicating with potential customers openly, honestly and as quickly as possible is beneficial to both parties. Who would have thought?

Jesting aside, conversational marketing, or more generally –– engaging with customers via live chat, community forums and more –– is on the rise and I think it’s a boon for everyone involved.

CallRail has been working on ways to improve our conversational marketing for a while now and the true value didn’t hit me until I started using the new live chat feature on Reddit. I post consistently on the /r/ppc subreddit (shout out fam), and regularly mention I work for CallRail. As a result, a new customer reached out to me on Reddit to inquire about best practices, how to get started, etc. We engaged in a normal conversation, I gave them tips, and I think we both left with some value. I started to better appreciate how this sort of customer interaction can drive value for customers, revenue for businesses, and brand equity, while the new customer got to interact with a (charming) employee, and now has some tips and tricks on how best to use CallRail getting started.

It’s also worth noting that users with higher feature adoption rates early on usually carry greater lifetime revenue for the business ––all the more reason to encourage best practices and feature adoption earlier rather than later (in addition to the bonus of helping the customer produce results).

Now, live chat isn’t something new for websites (as it is with Reddit), but more and more businesses seem interested in greater interaction with customers in order to drive sales. With Larry Kim leaving Wordstream to start MobileMonkey, a chatbot company for Facebook messenger, and Drift defining the term late last year, the space is growing faster than most companies can handle (as evidenced by someone of prominence like Larry Kim starting a chatbot company).

While Drift, MobileMonkey, and the Reddit live chat feature all function somewhat similarly, what stood out to me about the new Reddit feature was that it was essentially just streamlining communication that could have already taken place. The same interaction could have been had via private messages, but the nature of the “chat” made it seem more colloquial and less formal, something that should be more and more welcome when it comes to business interactions with potential customers.

Chat features and community forums give customers and potential customers alike the opportunity to casually interact with current users and employees. Unbounce started their community forum years ago and it’s seeing incredible engagement still today, with veteran users helping new ones and employees stepping in to handle feature requests and bug complaints.

So what does all of this mean?

Well, I think marketing is moving in the right direction. Search advertising has consistently gained clout over the years because it connects businesses with users already looking for their product. This was, and still is, progress as we spend less of our budget on mailers, billboards, and radio ads. Conversational marketing is the next logical step. Now that we’ve driven genuinely interested parties to our site, let’s not just focus on different headlines and page layouts in order to drive conversions, let’s engage in conversations.

We may be far more convincing in person, but when that’s not an option, let’s opt for the next best thing.

link to callrail community forum, where data-driven marketers gather to share insights

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