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Episode 7: How to Make Your Conversational Marketing More Human

What makes conversational marketing great is when it’s super relevant to any given problem and gets visitors to where they want to go. The more contextual you make it, the better the experience.

HubSpot’s resident bots guru Connor Cirillo joins Anni to talk about why bots are more than just a marketing priority, how to optimize for human behavior, and why advanced targeting helps put the customer first.


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Episode Transcription

Hi. I’m Anni Kim from HubSpot, and this is Skill Up, the show where you’ll learn how to take your sales, marketing, and service skills to the next level.

Mmm. Drink it in. That faint wisp of audio chill. Our days, well, they’ve been numbered from the start. And like the canary, caged too long inside the coal mine…

 Really? This dramatic? It’s the end of the season. There’s gonna be another one in like three weeks. And are you saying I’m a canary?

Recover, recover, recover. You got this, Anni. You’re a lioness.

This season, we’ve covered a number of advanced marketing tactics. Multi-touch attribution, A/B testing, even some customer marketing.

And for this season’s final episode, I’ve brought in HubSpot’s resident bots guru.

CONNOR: Hi, my name’s Connor Cirillo and I’m the senior conversational marketing manager at HubSpot.

ANNI: That’s right. Final episode of the season. Bringing in a guest host. Wow. So gracious of you, Anni. So selfless.

Connor’s worked on a number of big updates involving conversational marketing here at HubSpot. And he’s brought with him some of our latest learnings. So, hit that synth button, and let’s hand it off to Connor.

CONNOR: What makes chat and conversational marketing great is, when they’re super relevant to the person that's coming to your page, with whatever problem it is they have, and you help them get where they want to go. The more contextual you make it, the better the experience. 

Well, no shit. Right? Did you listen to the episode on Personalization? 101 stuff at this point.

So before we get movin’, before we start shakin’, let’s knock out some definitions real quick.

There’s gonna three types of terms I’ll be throwing out in this episode -- chatbots, conversational marketing, and advanced targeting.

First up: chatbots. No need to overcomplicate things here. A bot is nothing more than a computer program that automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface.

When we’re talking about conversational marketing, we mean building relationships with your audience in ways and places that feel natural. And conversational marketing does that either through humans -- hello, hi, me, human -- or bots across messaging channels like live chat, Facebook Messenger, SMS, WhatsApp, and more.

Which takes us to advanced targeting, which is where the magic happens. We know consumers like when we tailor experiences to them — who they are, what they're doing now, and more. That's powered through Advanced Targeting (or personalization). It's where you'll decide which chatbots display in which places and to whom. Did I use 'whom' on a podcast? Yes. Deal with it. 

Some of the more advanced ways marketers can bring in conversational marketing is to make it an extension of the other campaigns or work you’re already doing. Let's imagine you have an email -- I know, wild thought -- and you send that email to someone, linking out to your pricing page, or product page, whatever you’re imagination wants to fill in here. 

You have probably heard the word omnichannel thrown around a lot in the last year. That’s a glorified way of saying “use your marketing channels together”, like charcuterie is a glorified way of saying “snack plate”.

By building a bot, you can think about how best to empathize with customers. So back to the email example. If someone lands on the imaginary page based on the email, you should think about ‘what are the next questions they're probably going to have?’ And what are the few things they might need to know to do the next thing that they want to do?

Now, you’re not Zoltar. You’re not even some cleverly-folded paper you flip through back and forth through in your hand. But in a lot of cases, anticipating those responses is super contextual to that page, and it extends and deepens the overall experience.

We’ve seen this work out really well at HubSpot by using advanced targeting in our conversational marketing. Here’s how it works.

Based on specific parameters, we can see the specific place a prospect is coming from. Right? So with that insight, we can make the next thing we show them crazy contextual to where they just came from. We see that experience as a really natural part of the relationship.

Let’s walk back in time a bit. Nervous? It’s ok, we’re not really going anywhere. The shoes you have on are just fine.

In the past, marketers were limited in their ability to personalize the experiences they were driving. They could basically say, if someone lands on this specific page, and are part of this specific list, I can show them this specific thing.

It was really more property-based. Not so much behavior based. A little too rigid for us marketers with big imaginations.

Whereas before, if someone came to your pricing page one time or a thousand times, you’d probably be treating them exactly the same way with the bot they’d see. Not great.

Now, you can look at the amount of times someone has come to this page, in a specific amount of time, or the amount of depth that they scrolled through the page. It becomes way more behavioral-based and contextual to what someone’s doing in real-time.

Building a bot today is more about using the context available to you to ask, “what are folks doing? What were they doing elsewhere, and now that they’re here, what’s the right thing to say or the right conversation that they need.

So we just went through some examples that were pretty marketing focused. But I’m gonna offer up a hot take. Mid-episode, why not? 

I don't see chatbots or conversational marketing as a true marketing channel. 

Now before you get after me on Twitter, Hear me out. I think most folks categorize that way because, well, marketing’s in the name. But it’s really just a more human extension of your brand.

We’re creatures of comfort, right? We love to message, we love to text. So chatbots and conversational marketing gives us a more natural way to interact with businesses that’s normal for us. For me, it's the most basic but beautiful way to build a relationship with a brand.

Too philosophic?

How’s this: You can drive more, better human conversations with your prospects through onsite chat, in-app chat, and even messaging channels.

One of the things marketers don’t do enough of is take a 30,000 foot view -- too high? 20,000 foot view of the whole customer experience. 

For instance, you can have customer service reps pickup where bots start. At that point, it’s not really marketing. It's just a better way to extend the capabilities and the reach of the business and the humans inside it.

Conversational is kind of marketing, kind of sales, kind of service, right?  It’s a tactic. So investing in bots and conversational marketing applies to all parts of your company’s flywheel.

Marketers are probably the folks who’re most comfortable in building this out to start, but ultimately, it helps your business (and prospects) as a whole.

Which takes us to the final piece. Unless you want more? [off mic] Can we bump this thing out for another hour? We can? That’s what you said?]

One thing I'm jazzed about with advanced targeting is what's called Visitor Information and Behavior. 

So basically saying like, if someone's coming from a smartphone, I do or don't want to show them this thing. If they're in a specific country, I do or don't want to show them this thing. There's all these kinds of cool behavior-based rules that really make the experience much more targeted.

An example of how we're doing this at HubSpot is rooted in the age old desktop vs mobile device argument. 

On your desktop, you’re riding luxury. You got the entire screen all open range and the chat hanging down there in the corner. Alllll the space and more. We probably don't need to over explain things in a conversation, because you can still see the actual page we’re referencing.

But that all changes with mobile.

When you’re on your mobile device, the conversation really becomes the screen. And so there’s cases where you actually need to explain a little bit more because people can't easily see those beautiful product screenshots and descriptions you mocked up. 

Same’s true for response times. Thirty seconds on desktop? Not ideal, but not too bad. Thirty second on mobile? Might as well be an eternity. So even for the same result, the experience you’re giving someone is night and day. And that’s now something you can do with advanced targeting.

You can create totally unique conversation experiences for desktop and mobile devices. People might be coming to the same page, but through a different screen. And you might want them to end up in the same spot or do the same thing. But everything between the start and finish is really designed with ‘where the customer is’ in mind.

ANNI: And with that, comes the end of our cycle. Advanced marketing. Ya made it. We made it. What a pair. 

You’re ready to start implementing these new strategies at your own company. And if you hit any roadblocks along the way, we got you covered.

You can always find more resources and certifications at HubSpot.com.

We’ll be back with another all new season of Skill Up soon. So be sure to subscribe to the show now. That way, you’ll be the first to get all new episodes as soon as they come out.

CONNOR: Anything left to say before that final ride into the audio sunset?

Yeah. I know the ones who love me, will miss me. [whispers] love you, Keanu.