First published under NoCMO.com on January 2016.
When people think of Conversation Marketing, they may come up with a few definitions. For me, Conversation Marketing is when brands are joining in the conversation about their own brand and their industry, helping clients make a purchase decision providing them with the right information at the right time.
It sounds a lot like content marketing, and indeed, conversation marketing is part of content marketing, but it actually happens in real-time.
Benefits of conversation marketing:
- Build your brand name and raise brand awareness as a source for high-quality information on your industry or the needs of your target audience.
- Learn what your clients are really looking for. That could be an amazing advantage when you’re trying to figure out how to target clients in different parts of the sales cycle.
- Understand what content you can create in order to attract potential clients.
- Having your brand mentioned around the web will also help your SEO efforts as Google and other search engines track the brand name mentions volume rather than the ones that are linking to your site.
- Build your personal brand as an expert in your field. If you’re a marketer or the CEO of your startup, your name should be out there. It can help you open some important doors when you find the need and bring you valuable leads and connections.
- Grow your relationship with influencers in your niche.
- One of the least expensive marketing channels.
Examples of conversation marketing:
- Jumping into the conversation when someone asks for a recommendation about a certain product (either yours or your competitors’)
- Give someone from your target audience a tip or a link to relevant information when they ask for it.
- When someone is asking how to solve a problem that your product solves.
- When someone publishes a blog post about various solutions in your niche, jump in the conversation and mention your product if it’s not already mentioned. Say ‘thanks’ if it is mentioned.
In real life, it’s hard to jump in any relevant conversation about your product but that’s one of the great things about the online world. All you need to do is use one of the web monitoring tools like Mention, IFTTT etc and track the right keywords.
Which keywords you should monitor:
- Your brand name
- Your competitors’ brand names
- Your industry (try to be accurate – tracking “mobile apps” can be a tough thing to do)
- Questions your product is the answer to (for example, ‘how to create a website?’)
- The need your product solves (for example, “finding a good freelancer online”)
Tracking through these keywords is also a great way for business intelligence and to keep an eye on your competitor’s work and what their clients think about them.
If you’re quick enough, you could provide the first answer to a potential client’s question. Keep answering questions and it will be a great way to stand out.
If you want to use Quora, you will need to search for the topics that are relevant to your niche, follow them, and add them to your profile as expertise. In Yahoo there’s another way to track the right questions, below are the instructions I sent to one of my clients on how to join the conversation on Quora and Yahoo. He was a precious metals dealer, hence the topic choice 🙂
1) Sign up to quora.
2) follow these topics:
3) Check daily and find questions you can answer or provide information on. Example:
1) Follow these categories in Yahoo answers:
2) You can also create an IFTTT recipe that will send you an email whenever a new user submits a question:
(The above IFTTT is set to send emails whenever someone asks about gold in Yahoo Answers, you can obviously modify it to fit your field)\
Join the conversation using your own name
Most of the time, it’s best if you join the conversation with your own name as it will also help you establish a position as an expert and grow both your personal brand and your company’s at the same time.
Also, keep in mind that most people rather communicate with real people, not brands or mike 54609 type aliases. Using your real name and showing a profile on these sites makes your answers much more valuable and trustworthy.
When you’re recommending your own product, or when linking to your own content, try to be honest about it. Let the audience in these Q&A websites know that you are the owner of the content you are sending them to, and try to explain what made you write it.
If possible, add a few personal notes about the person who is making the specific request or asking for solution to their problem. Personalizing your answer can make a huge difference and usually works a lot better than just pasting a link to one of your blog posts.
Join the conversation with a fake name
Some people won’t like it but in certain cases, it’s more efficient to reply to people with a fake name that has nothing to do with your brand. You can decide not to take this approach, and I totally respect that, but let me just mention this – almost everyone is doing it, and if you’re just starting your business, you’ll find that you sometimes need to get “dirty”.
Objective recommendations are at times more trustworthy than subjective ones.
If you don’t feel comfortable actually doing it yourself, you can hire someone to do it for you.
Here are some tips when taking this approach:
- When commenting, think of ways to make it organic, so it won’t look like you did it and just trying to fool people. That can bring a lot of heat on you and the brand. Do this by mentioning competitors’ brands as well as yours, or telling the story in a way that shows you use the brand.
- When signing up for different forums, don’t use the same name everywhere.
- If you’re new to a forum, answer a few questions before answering the one you actually want to answer. This is again a way to increase your trustworthiness in the forum.
- Make sure you understand what it takes to get your comment approved (sometimes you can’t add links to the first couple comments)
Squeezing more out of the process – the next steps
Conversation marketing is an amazing marketing tool that can help grow your business for a relatively small investment of money.
But commenting in real-time is just one thing you can do if you already track the right sites and keywords.
Create more content
While following the process of conversation marketing, you will actually learn what your target audience is looking for, which problems they are trying to solve, and what information is currently not available to them.
That’s a huge opportunity for you to create new content that will answer their questions, so next time when someone asks for it you can simply refer to that content on your website. You can sometimes also go back to the initial question and edit your response to reflect the new content.
Get to know the influencers
Following influencers and connecting with them is always a good thing. Having one of them retweet your post after you develop a relationship can lead to a whole new audience. When someone writes a blog post or article about a topic that is relevant to your target audience, you should add them to your growing list of influencers.
These are people you want to talk to and make sure they are familiar with your brand. Follow them on social media, comment on their posts, and offer them to work with you. You never know how this can turn out.
Here’s a Google Spreadsheet I use with my clients in which you can add new content ideas and influencers to. You can later share it with your content writer or content marketer as using it as your main worksheet.
As a founder of a new startup, using conversation marketing is a must. It’s a great and free tool to get your name out there and also learn a lot about your potential clients and industry.
If you don’t have a marketing budget, I highly recommend using this method. Let us know in the comments how it goes.