The sales funnel of most b2b companies is focussed on driving traffic (acquisition) to a website. Then persuading the visitor with small bits of content so that they will end up downloading a large piece of content (activation) in return for their contact information. According to IAB in the US alone b2b companies have spent 6 billion dollars on digital advertising.

Figure 1: Marketing vs growth marketing
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A disbalance between acquisition and activation.

In the last 10 years I’ve been working in the advertising space and know first hand that both b2b and b2c companies are inclined to spend a lot of time and dollars on advertising but forget putting the same amount of time or money in the activation phase of the funnel. In an attempt to drive quality traffic to our websites we create media strategies generating billions of dollars in programmatic, search and social ads. However, we forget to put the same amount of time and energy in activating these (expensive) visitors. And that’s creating a leak in your funnel… actually there are multiple leaks. 

1) We ignore the way our visitors communicate and forget to say hello.

In today’s era the consumer (b2b & b2c) uses one communication channel thoroughly and that is instant messaging. Whatsapp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Slack are granted a big part of time. Instant messaging is our most efficient communication channel. We share files, flirt with dates, book meetings and order pizza using these channels. We can do this one-on-one or in groups (like whatsapp groups).  Communicating via these channels is so natural to most consumers (b2b and b2c). I would even argue it’s sometimes more effective than face-to-face conversations because we can easily express ourselves. However, when we look at our websites we tend to focus on static experiences. In my opinion in b2c your website is your physical store and in b2b your website is your lobby. 

Orange Business Service Office - Picture gallery                                                                                                                                                                                 More
Figure 2: Lobby (without a human would feel inpersonal)
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In your lobby you share attributes that contribute to your brand identity. You share your logo, printed brochures, flyers, etc. You also have an employee (often a sales employee) who listens to the needs of (potential) customers, however who is also trained to ask the right questions (because that’s what great salespeople do).

Although the use of conversational marketing is growing, according to gartner (hype cycle) still only 1 in 100 b2b companies is using chatbots/agents effectively. This means there is a big opportunity at hand. With a chatbot you can greet your visitors easily, real-time and 24/7. Like a sales rep who is trained to ask the right questions you can train your bot to ask the right questions too.

2) We let visitors fill out (very long) lead forms because we are transactional .

In the age of the internet, where there is an overload of information b2b shoppers expect a website to be seamless and helpful. This means that the content should be easily accessible and not gated behind a leadform. The problem is that we tend to be very transactional when it comes to our content. This behaviour was effective during the early days of the internet. 

Figure 3: Transactional thinking (content vs to much information).

However due to the overload on content most b2b customers will skip the hassle of filling out a lead form and go back to the library of capital G (read: Google)  and find their information elsewhere. The idea is actually pretty feasible,  however we are thinking from our own perspective and not from the preferences and options of our customers. As stated earlier our customers are used to communicating through instant messaging. So why aren’t we doubling down on their favourite communiation tool . Replace your lead and contact forms with conversational forms. Literally do that and you’ll be surprised with what happens. This means replacing the form with a conversation? Is this possible? Yes it is and it won’t cost you (or your Dev) more time than creating a lead form. 

At WeConnect.Chat we are a big proponent of giving away content for free (due to the content overload the www has to offer) and creating conversations with your customers instead. This can be with a live chat (only working hours), but can also be a bot (availible 24/7). Remember that great sales people ask the right questions. You can train a bot to ask the right questions and make sure your customers are guided through mulitple conversation paths. 

A more practical advantage of conversations over leadforms is that the answers a customer gives are saved in real-time. If you set up your bots effectively it means you’ll gather quality information at every stage of the conversation. This quality information will result in your business qualifying leads more effectively.

3) We forget to follow up effectively.

Let’s go back to the example of the website as a digital lobby. In a lobby besides someone welcoming you, you also expect a person to answer your questions in real-time. In real life you might get away with a short waiting que. However online the attention span of most people is so short that when they ask you a question you need to respond FAST. Why? Because our monkey brain is designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. So when someone is waiting for an immediate answer  (Pain) the chances are that this person goes back to capital G to find a place where his/her needs are met faster (pleasure).

Give users the option to talk with a live agent, this will make sure there is an engagement from the start. Also have a bot that can guide & qualify a lead and make sure there is a lead to sales cycle:

  1. Make sure you get notified (through instant notification, e-mail or text) when the bot gathers a lead
  2. Integrate your chatbot technology with your CRM using webhooks or zapier.

Start conversational marketing today by implementing the above suggestions and you’ll utilize the adspend and acquisition efforts you made. Activating customers through conversational marketing is a MUST in today’s era of permission based marketing. Good luck!

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