Ronn Levine, writing for the Specialized Information Publishers Association, recently reported on the astounding success quizzes have demonstrated in increasing engagement and in lead and revenue generation.
This story wasn’t news to CredSpark, not just because one of our clients was featured in the article (disclosure: We are members of SIPA but had no involvement in the development of that story), but it was news to many readers. This concept is often new to publishers and associations, and at CredSpark, we start by helping them think about the power of conversation. Let’s take a look at why you should be in conversation with your audience and how you can get that conversation started.
Break Down the Walls
Though the times they are a-changing, many organizations still have a division of labor between marketing and sales: Marketing produces content for discussion with clients, and sales has those client discussions. Marketing generates ideas and sales pursues conversations around those ideas.
More evolved companies have broken down those silos and found ways to create feedback loops and conversations between marketing and sales, but the most evolved organizations have had a really radical idea: involve the customer, the end-user, in those conversations. Those organizations don’t make hearing from customers a game of telephone with the sales team or wait for the Big Annual Survey; they build ongoing consumer research right into the content and campaign work they’re already doing, just by treating that work as a conversation.
What if, instead of ceding client dialogue to the sales team, you made conversations with your customers, members, readers, etc., a part of your marketing and content strategies? What if, instead of saving all your questions up for that Big Annual Survey, you could build ongoing consumer research right into the content and campaign work you’re already doing?
The Do’s and Dont’s of Conversation as Strategy.
CredSpark has a lot of experience helping companies change to this approach and here’s the good news: it’s relatively easy once you start thinking about conducting a conversation with your audience as a strategy you can layer on top of the various touch points you already have. Put differently, conversation with your audience doesn’t have to be Yet Another Thing you have to do. Rather, it can be baked into your current communications strategy with relatively little additional effort.
Here are the top 3 dos and don’ts you need to be mindful of when you start down this path. (I say “when,” not “if,” because this is a ship that will sail without you—you can’t afford NOT to be in constant touch with your audience, because everyone else is.)
- Think about conversation as a strategy that you layer on top of existing touch points. Instead of just pushing information out, look at each of those “push” moments and think about how you could “pull” back. Have editorial on a hot topic? Ask your readers to weigh in via a poll. Have amazing content your readers can’t find? Use a series of questions to guide them there.
- Remember how important a click is: a click is an action being taken by a user. A click tells you something. Scrolling doesn’t. If you put a question in front of a person, and they choose to click to answer, you have now engaged that person, brought them one step closer to you, your brand, your content.
- Be open to new approaches! A conversation is conducted differently from a lecture: imagine you have the chance to speak with someone 1:1. What questions would you ask? How would you respond and adjust based on their answers? Then picture this conversation at scale—you don’t have to target your message at specific personas or demographics when you can calibrate it for individuals.
- Forget to personalize. The beauty of conversation is that it is between two people: you and your customer. If you can’t give that specific person a reason to connect with you, then she’s not your customer. Ask yourself the hard questions: do I have what this person needs? How can find out? Ask her.
- Try to get too fancy. Conversations involve back-and-forth dialog, each question and answer building on the last. When you’re starting a conversation, you can start with just a simple question and build the conversation from there. Trying to do too much, too soon, shows that you’re pushing at your audience instead of respectfully pulling from them.
- Neglect the data. A strong content engagement strategy can provide valuable data and insights in myriad ways. Polls can tell you what your readers are thinking; quizzes can tell you what they do—and don’t—know. These insights can help drive your content strategy, your marketing strategy, provide additional value to your sponsors, and SO much more. Have a plan not just for asking the questions, but for what you’ll do with the answers.
Starting a conversation might feel awkward at first, but just like talking to IRL human beings, talking to your virtual audience quickly becomes not just easy but informative, interesting, and even fun. Examples of our how our clients have done this are in our experience gallery: reach out to us to learn more.