Home > Social Media Strategy > The Meeting Point: Conversational Marketing and Direct Marketing

The Meeting Point: Conversational Marketing and Direct Marketing

Recently, I got a chance to exchange few emails with Shel Israel. And this sparked a discussion around conversational marketing and direct marketing in the contest of social media. My random thinking on the topic, is in this post.

New Territory, New Rules

New Territory, New Rules

New territory, new rules

When we watch television, we know after every 15 minutes there will be a 2 minute commercial break. Or, when we open our mail box, or the morning news paper, we know what percentage of the content is news and what is just promotional offers. In traditional media, we pretty much know when we are going to be exposed to a direct marketing campaign. And, marketers have had several opportunities to study the user behavior and reactions to this exposure. For example, there are reports that suggest, which days are the best to send emails, or what are the industry specific benchmark percentage of click through rates etc. Savvy diret marketers continuously read the metrics, and optimize their communication.

However, in Social Media – this rule is not so clear. There is no set parameter that tells me, say, every 10th message from company x will be a promotional message. And, since I like the company, as they have engaged me with conversation for the last 9 messages, I am now obliged to tune in to the promotional message as well. For example, you are a rental car company and you engage me in communication for 10 days because, you have found out that I travel a lot across state. And, on 10th day you suggest me to rent a brand of car from your Franchise, in cities where I travel. So, are you doing direct marketing on 10th day, or in all 10 days or not at all? Or, even though you know I need a car, you do not offer me the car – because it will be direct marketing? While, I completely believe in the value of conversational marketing, the goal of conversational marketing is not clear to me.

As a marketer, conversational marketing gives an opportunity to gain insight into a typical user, and also helps establish a sense of trust. However, I do not see conversational marketing an end in iteself. There is no doubt that the membership to social media is growing, and that an increasing number of members are spending more time on these channels. To participate in social media marketing, businesses will eventually need to find that meeting point where conversational marketing meets direct marketing. Direct Marketing, needs to be more feedback based, creative and non-disruptive. It is only when, conversational marketing and direct marketing co-exist, with the eco-system thrive.

  1. August 12, 2009 at 12:07 am

    I think conversational and direct marketing are complementary, both employing/combining a mix of channels.

  2. August 17, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Great article and I agree: Twitter is conversational marketing. I think the challenge is in grasping that it is, in fact, a conversation. A well-respected colleague of mine suggested that the max number of tweets per person each day should be two. I nearly choked! I can agree if the tweets are ego-centric like what I’m eating (chicken salad/diet coke) but if they’re focused on adding to the pool of knowledge and starting or adding opinion to a conversation (like tweeting this blog post), I say: Tweet away! Twitter is conversational marketing.

  3. January 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you for a very informative and insightful blog post. Twitter is indeed a very potent tool for marketing and getting the word out, I just love viral marketing! 🙂

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