Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home just finished an insightful post about the evolution towards marketing conversations. One point that really struck home with me is the resilience that good conversation-focused marketing can really bring your brand. Amen!
Wendy also sent me a few follow-up questions:
What are some of the success stories of companies who market through conversations?
Dell is a great example. They outsourced their customer support, then listened to their customers when it didn’t work. Their changes back have revitalized their customer base and given them a new reputation for great service.
Another example is one of my clients: ShoppingStand refocused their entire online strategy on better service, better analytics and quicker response to those analytics. Their monthly sales have now doubled two years in a row.
How should a company get started conversing with their customers? Should they draft a procedure / policy? What can they do alone and when should they hire an expert?
Ahem. Of course they should hire an expert! Just kidding. The first step, in my opinion, is to tear up the marketing plan. Conversation Marketing, and any marketing that succeeds today, has to be nimble. Traditional long-term marketing plans become a crutch. Instead, focus on near-term goals: â€œThis month we’ll get ten other web sites to talk about us.â€ or â€œThis month we’ll increase our ROI from paid search marketing by 10% by changing X and Y.â€
Then analyze what happened and adjust accordingly.
If you want to write a procedure/policy, develop guidelines around which kind of mistakes and failures are OK and expected. For example, what if you change your search marketing strategy and your ROI drops 10%. Should you quit? No. You just learned something – what you need is a procedure for applying that learning.
How is conversation marketing affecting the bottom line for your clients?
I think you hit it on the head when you mentioned that even companies who have negative PR emerge better if they’re engaging in a conversation marketing strategy.
Our clients definitely see a better return. But anyone who hires an internet marketing agency should. The real difference is the resilience. Coming back to ShoppingStand: They slipped 3 spots on Google for a very important search phrase. But their sales are still going up. Why? Because our strategy focused on general relevance and a better shopping experience, not on twisting their site around a single phrase.
That’s really the heart of a healthy marketing conversation: A holistic focus on all of the elements of making your customers really happy.