Zach and Chris talk about the Conversational Web and what it means to organizations. What are the nuanced changes you need to make to meet modern expectations? Find out in this episode.

Hosts

Zach Wilson

Partner

Chris Bonney

VP of Strategy

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Transcript

Chris Bonney:

Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Web Marketing Insights podcast from Gulo Solutions. With us, we have as usual, Zach Wilson, the cofounder of Gulo and myself, Chris Bonney, VP of strategy. And today, Zach, we are going to talk about the conversational web and what that means and how you can think about it as you build new websites. As you think about search engine optimization, as you think about how you get conversions on your site, that’s what we want to talk about today. It is a small mindset change that can yield huge results.

Zach Wilson:

Huge. yeah, well I’m excited to talk about it and it’s been a, it’s been a while. The lockdown has really pulled us away from podcasting in general. So, I’m happy to be back and happy to be talking and getting back in it in the rhythm of having these conversations with you.

Chris Bonney:

Yeah, I agreed. I agreed. So, and I’m really excited about today’s topic because it’s something that we talk about with prospective clients and existing clients. To say, not a lot has to change tactically or from an application or development perspective or executionally per se, other than just thinking about a new way to think about your imagery, a new way to think about how you engage with people online. A new way to write copy and even send emails. So, want to just kinda jump in real quick and start talking about sort of what is the conversational web. And really it’s just a sort of a new approach to help you rethink how to engage your customers, your members, your constituents, and to leverage some proven strategies sort of with a new focus.

There are, there have been countless articles written about this, about conversational marketing, conversational media, the conversational web. We’ll put up something on the screen that shows some of the headlines from some of those recently. How to actually build a conversational marketing strategy from HubSpot, et cetera. So it’s not as if we’re just sort of dreaming this up. This is a real thing. This is a big part of where the web is today. And I only really say that because when we talked to people about it, they don’t go, Oh yeah, I heard of that. But it does sort of set off, you know, sort of a light bulb moment when they think about the things they have seen recently, you know, on the web.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah. Yeah. And it is a budding space and it will be colloquialize and people will know what term is and what the term means within the next couple of years because the space in general from just a software perspective is really blowing up. It’s blowing a lot of brands, big brands are jumping on these different platforms that are helping them navigate these waters. Through different conversational mediums social, Chris mentioned newsletters on page SEO and there’s a couple of parts of it that get us really excited. I think anyway, one, the messaging aspect of it, which, how that cascades into your different channels, social, OnPage, organic and email as well.

Zach Wilson:

And even there, there are some, a whole ‘nother space with conversational advertising, which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax that we won’t get much into. But really there’s the messaging component and how that pertains to your brand. And then what we really get excited about is of course, converting, converting customers, engagement and finding tactics and mechanisms where your customers are doing more. Again, on page, email. We’ve been working internally, you’ve been heading it up a big shift in terms of how we’re communicating that in email. And yeah, four months, four or five months ago, we flipped into a more conversational email marketing campaigns. We’ve seen, [Chris] you can talk about this a little bit, but we’ve seen some really good results in certain channels. We’re experimenting with some different channels as well. So results do vary depending on who your audience is. But do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Chris Bonney:

Oh yeah, absolutely. And I think maybe a way to frame this up is to say what are the sort of the tenants of conversational web as far as we see them. And that can sort of lay the foundation for some of these examples. And we actually have a client who’s in the space as well that we can talk about, but generally there’s sort of five things that we talk about as the conversational web that things are a little more casual that can come across through imagery, copywriting especially naming conventions, button labels, all of those things that is personalized. Now, personalization is something that’s been going on for the web for a long time, but something as simple as putting a person’s first name into the subject line of an email increases open rates fairly dramatically.

I don’t have the data right off the top of my head to support that adding this is per MailChimp though. Also, even adding what an emoji of some kind into a subject line or the first few lines of an email helps generate open rates as well. Being interactive with the site user in whatever way that might be. We can put up on the screen something that we did for up4 probiotics, which was a quiz. And at the end of the short quiz it said, well, here’s the up4 probiotic that we recommend based on your lifestyle. So that’s a way to not just say, Hey, go visit this page to learn about it. Hey, let us learn about who you are as a person and then make a recommendation right online. That’s a great personalized sort of interactive approach on the conversational web and you need to be engaging.

Chris Bonney:

That’s another one that’s super important. Of course, we always want engagement on the web that’s not new. And you know, social media is all about engagement and how they do that. But I think the folks that coined the term conversational marketing, that’s drift, drift.com. They’re the ones that do the AI chat bot where you see the little sort of chat box in the lower right hand corner of many websites that you go to now asking you a question or seeing if you need help. A lot of times there’s not a person behind that, but it’s an AI mechanism that allows you to ask questions and answered questions and put your answers in and then it directs accordingly without a human on the other side. So that’s really a lot of engagement there. And then timeliness, which just means we need to be current, we need to be modern, we need to be, wherever the news is right now, that’s a good place to start in the conversational web. Let’s make sure that we’re not dated in, in what we do. So those are sort of the five tenants that we’ve worked with. Zach, is there anything in there you want to expound on or comment on.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, I think one of the things from my perspective that I’ve seen you play around with again and specifically in the email channel is engagement not just open but click-through. What have you done tactically to increase some of those click-throughs in emails? What are the changes that you’ve made from style to length to number of engagement points, to, you already said the subject line, emojis, things like that. But what else?

Chris Bonney:

Yo, yeah, I mean, it’s such a dramatic shift with great results. I mean, going from the days of having sort of the HTML based, you open the email and it looks like a webpage and there’s pictures and there’s headlines and there’s multiple topics and there’s multiple buttons to click through. It’s not saying there isn’t a place for that, but it’s a very noisy inbox these days and our heads are filled with a lot of, you know, a lot of, lot of noise. And really at the end of the day, we’re looking for someone’s attention. And the best way to get it is not by flashing imagery at them, but by just trying to be conversational, just to break through in a very simple, what we do now is text-based email. Okay. It’s casual, it’s conversational, literally, it isn’t formal.

Chris Bonney:

And well how do you do that? What does that exactly mean? Well, the easiest way to sort of say from a copywriting perspective to just keep in your mind as a marketer is to say, am I writing this sentence with a massive people in mind or my writing this sentence with one person in mind? And you always want to do the one person in mind, Y-O-U use that word instead of us or whatever the words might be that sort of implies a group. You want to just pick that person, you know you’re talking to that sit there reading your email and talk to them directly. That’s the easiest way to get into a conversational mode quickly. You want to double space your lines and some of the shifts we made is, I mean our emails are maybe 150 words, maybe, maybe 200, probably not.

Chris Bonney:

And not inundate the words with anything like links or, sometimes you could do an animated GIF in there if it’s topical or if it’s humorous. But at the end of the day, this one email is asking for one call to action, not multiple, one. And that link is at the bottom of the copy. The copy sure can be conversational, but it also needs to be compelling, right? If you’re not familiar with how to copyright for marketing or the flow of how something like that, a sales letter, so to speak, needs to be, you know, the formula of that. That’s something to look into and then ask for that call to action at the bottom. And then the other thing we want to do Zach and think about is where in the funnel do we want this email to lie, right? Is it at the top of the sales funnel where we’re just building awareness and we want them to click through to a blog post and sort of gain their trust as an authority? Or are we asking for a sale? Right? And sometimes you can have a campaign of these emails that might sort of walk people through the funnel right through their inbox. It also could walk them through the funnel on your website. So those are some of the things, just anecdotally that, that we’re doing and seeing other people doing, recommending that people do in their emails.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean it’s all. I think too, I don’t know, from my perspective marketing should really be about high burden versus low burden. But the burden of putting together well-formed emails that look, look right on every single device and all that. I mean, a lot of the software takes care of that now. But you still end up running through all these tests and you know, making sure all your spacing, all that. I mean now I feel like it’s just like kind of write a couple paragraphs, send out some sort of content like you said or message and, and go. I know our frequency of email marketing has increased over the last few months as a result of that. So, that’s also, that’s also one upside is there’s less, hopefully less time invested in having to do that email marketing as well.

Chris Bonney:

That’s a very good point. No, it’s a legitimate point too. And if you are only asking for one call, I think what the mentality can be is we’re going to send out this big blast. Let’s accumulate all this stuff. Let’s get every department accounted for in every box and we’re going to send this one big email. Let’s see what people click. So yeah, I mean just send 4 emails, but just keep them short and brief and compelling. So that’s a shift. I mean that’s something to get used to and try to get used to. And that’s hard for people, I think.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah. Big time. Big time. How, so? Where are the areas that we’re seeing this play out with our clients?

Chris Bonney:

Yeah, no, that’s a, that’s a great question. You know, the American marketing association, the Chicago chapter, who, you know, we do a lot of work with and they’re pretty big and they’re marketers, so they know what they’re doing. And we’ll put up on the screen right now a screenshot of one of their pages. That’s the call to action is to join the organization. Okay. So what you’ll hear as I read this is they’re making the allure we know Chicago and you know, Chicago, right? And let’s just, you know, we should probably bring our unique perspective and our history together and what we know into this heritage of what it means to be a Chicagoan and they’re going to say things that only someone from Chicago knows. And that’s a perfect example of what this conversational thing, this approach looks like.

Chris Bonney:

So, we’ll put it up on the screen right now and let me read it to you. As we look at it for those that are just listening it says in a big bold headline, join the Chicago marketing community. Then the sub headline, the city of big shoulders, the second city, the windy city, and then in the text beneath it says from Sub-Saharan summers to Sub-Zero winters, from the magnificent mile to the bustling burbs steeped in creativity and tenacity. Our complex history brings a unique perspective to marketers in the great city of Chicago. And then it has a joint AMA Chicago button for the single call to action on that pledge just below it. It’s not talking about member benefits, right? It’s not talking about, Hey, you get a discount if you join. It’s emotionally connecting with you in a casual way and saying, Hey, we’re brothers and sisters in the city of Chicago. Let’s come together as marketers and be a part of our tribe. That’s how I, that’s how I read that copy at least.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chris Bonney:

So, I really love that. As an example, you know that’s a, that’s a big one.

Chris Bonney:

Our other client who are in the conversational media space, who is NativeMsg, and we’ll make sure we put their link in the comments below in YouTube, in anywhere else we post this. You know what we propose to them, which is a unique perspective as well, as opposed to having five, six, seven nav buttons on their website.

We knew there were kind of two visitors to their site. At the end of the day, there were people that wanted to learn and there were people that wanted to buy basically. So, you want to learn about this new conversational media world, great. Go to this realm. There’s one button and it opens up to a mega nav and learn about it. Now you’re ready to buy. Okay, well why should you buy from native message? That’s the other button. And it opens up to a mega nav to all those sorts of selling and buying kind of conversations. So they know right where in the funnel they are on their nav bar. Right? and they know where in the process someone is trying to maybe convert with them and they can track that through analytics. And we did that by just keeping it very simple and understanding. At the end of the day, there’s two people, not people, two intentions of the people coming into your site, really at the end of the day. They know all about it and they’re ready to buy or they don’t really know when they want to learn.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s some there’s been some really interesting things happen, excuse me, happening on their site specifically with that, you know, they’re yeah just as an example there to expound on that, their session duration since making some of those IA changes and those things are up 83% they’re page number of pages visitors are visiting per session up 50%. The sessions in general, this is not a testament to conversational elements, but the sessions are up over 15%. So, you know, some of those behavioral change that are cascading from the messaging perspective to like you said, the site structure and how people journey through the site and those can have a big impact because ultimately the longer somebody’s, you know, ideally what we want to do is we want to try and get somebody to the exact page through marketing or a search that we want them to go to.

Zach Wilson:

And that answers their question. Obviously that isn’t always the case, but we beyond that, we want to provide them easy ways to extend their journey and navigate to other places of the site. So, you know, those are great things. Just to expand on that, the bounce rate is down almost 20% as well since the new site. So, a lot of these things in terms of, you know, people getting to the site, the messaging the conversation that’s happening on the site, that style of design, the style of conversation, style, messaging, those all add up. They add up in, in big ways. So, so yeah, so that’s a, that’s super super exciting I think.

Chris Bonney:

Yeah. Yeah. Agreed. Agreed. And they also have a blog and we’ve also created landing pages for them. So, Zach, what’s your 30 sec take on I have a topic I want to tell the world about how do I decide if it’s a blog post or it’s a landing page? What helps me distinguish what I’m trying to do there between the two?

Zach Wilson:

Yeah, that’s a good question. So, I think the landing pages are better geared towards specific segments. That’s, a way that we sort of separate them out. You know, if there’s a segment or if there’s a story of sorts that you’re trying to flush out whether with visuals or whatnot. The landing page just in general, can short less copy, more visuals. Big, big, big bullet points as you journey down the page. Blog little bit more editorial, informational, it’s always good to have visual aids with that or video aids with that and things like that. But, you know, you’ve got, you’ve got something that’s, I mean, it’s almost like writing a book, right? Like, you’ve got a thesis, you’ve got a topic that becomes very topical. I’m sure it can be editorial. I mean, for people that are in like the B2B, B2C space like us and a lot of our clients it’s gotta be typically if you’re doing content marketing, it’s gotta be pretty long tail.

Zach Wilson:

So, we usually go from a volume perspective. We’ll, you know, we’ll sort of go for a bunch of long tail keywords that all relate to um a more pie in the sky keyword. For example, you know, if we’re talking about conversational marketing, right, Google conversational marketing, it’s going to be pretty hard to win that. Well, like you said earlier on because of some of the players in that namely Drifts, they’ve coined that, what was that like three years ago or something like that. And they dominate that pretty heavily. But, you know, how can you make a footprint there? Well, you try and find some tangential space in there to play, conversational media, conversational commerce, conversational web, and all these sorts of derivatives that relate to that you can play with to find opportunities in search to have some visibility. So, we’ve seen some really good results with that. I mean, that’s really cursory explanation of the methodology, but that seems to be working pretty well for us.

Chris Bonney:

Yeah, no, agreed it all makes a ton of sense. So what else can we talk about here? We did talk a little bit about con how we convert and the way we convert by keeping a single call to action in an email. I think as we saw with the AMA example on that page, again, they know what the intent of that page is and that’s to keep people to join. I think the intent of a blog post is, it can be a conversion mechanism and sometimes is to maybe get someone to give you their email address cause they found you through an organic search, right? So that’s an action they can take that moves them down the funnel. Landing pages tend to be a little more focused and optimized a little farther down the funnel with a single call to action. Sometimes it’s not as much about information as about selling. Is that a fair thing to say? The distinction between a blog post is sort of

Zach Wilson

Yeah for sure.

Chris Bonney:

informational and the landing pages a little more compelling.

Zach Wilson:

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I would say that’s a great, that’s a great distinction for sure.

Chris Bonney:

Yeah. Okay.

Zach Wilson:

Yeah but I think the, you know to wrap all this up in a nice pretty bow if you’re looking, you know if you’re looking for one, one take away from all of this engaging in conversational media and on conversational web. You’ve got all of these different ways you can play on it. Conversational ads, conversational AI, conversational commerce, conversational chatbots, we don’t really like to call them, but that’s what they are. And conversational marketing and all of these things. What you’re ultimately trying to achieve is, it’s two things. One, you’re trying to create a tighter connection with your customer. And two, you’re trying to create as a lot of these companies are trying to do less friction for your customers. And if you’re, you’re in the B2B space or B2C space and you’re, you’re not playing and true conversational software, chatbots, ads, ex conversational AI, and you’re just trying to get into the conversational web, you know, step one as we’re talking about it and changing your email style, changing your messaging, your style, what should you look for? Well, you know, one thing that we looked for was more engagement, more clicks, more opens, more click-throughs, more conversions on our website. Whether it’s a landing page or blog posts, some sort of form, but those are the things that, that’s ultimately your goal, right? Like you’re trying to, in terms of creating this conversation and changing the landscape and how you communicate with your customers or converse with your customers. You’re ultimately, and what we’re ultimately all trying to do is, is trying to create a more, a higher conversion rate.

Chris Bonney:

Yeah, no, I agree. I think that’s what this is about. Why should you take conversational web and conversational marketing seriously? And why, why make the shift? That’s exactly right. We ultimately, yeah, we’re looking for a conversion of some kind. If it’s an new, you know, whatever it is. We are, and we know that this is the way, and I think what people can take away from this too is keep an eye out for this now. Cause it is a nuance, but the minute you start seeing, Oh, that’s really formal and that’s not really taking the conversational tenants into account and look at this over here, this is, and it, and it feels a little more emotionally connected. I think that’s one of the five to that maybe we’ll make it a six one to have sort of an emotional connection focused on that emotional connection.

Chris Bonney:

That’s sort of like maybe our new number six because I think, you know, it’s a good one. It’s an after effect of it, but I think it is a big part of, it’s a big part of all marketing but, but I think that is an aspect that you kind of, you kind of do get drawn in emotionally. So, yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. So, so that’s, yeah, that’s a good wrap up, I think. This was a good session, Zach. I don’t know if you have anything else you want to share before we wrap up and say goodbye today.

Zach Wilson:

Get more conversions.

Chris Bonney:

Let’s all do that. We can do some too. Yeah. Excellent.

Chris Bonney:

All right, so thanks everybody for listening to this podcast today of Web Marketing Insights from Gulo, Zach Wilson and myself. Thank you very much for listening. If you’re on YouTube, feel free to leave a comment or subscribe in the bottom. If you’re listening through iTunes or anything else, please feel free to rate or I’ll leave a comment as well. We’d love to hear from you and stay tuned for our next web marketing insights, podcasts coming soon.

Chris Bonney:

Okay. Thanks Zach.

Zach Wilson:

Take care.

Chris Bonney:

Alright, bye. Bye.


Written by

Zachary Wilson

I enjoy reading & writing about the web and digital marketing. My day-to-day focuses on ensuring our clients have big wins. That begins with extraordinary website design and UX. The real exciting stuff is helping develop strategies to drive traffic (on-site page optimization) and help conversion rate optimization (getting new sales and / or customers). With all my “other” time, I enjoy exploring new adventures with my 3 daughters and wife.