People no longer want to be marketed to. They want to talk instead.

Your marketing technology stack increases in complexity as you seek effectiveness and scale, but how good is your communications stack?
Big, brash advertising campaigns won’t be as potent as talking directly to your customer this year.
An interesting trend was highlighted in the latest of Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer surveys.
The global PR giant confirmed last week what many of us could have guessed. The survey of 33,000 people across 28 countries revealed the lowest levels of trust on record across all institutions including business.
Within the data was a new observation about the way consumers want to speak to businesses; a shift Edelman called ‘Talk With, Not At’.
Presented with ways of receiving information from businesses and asked which they were more likely to believe, respondents squarely plumped for a conversation with a ‘spontaneous speaker’ over a ‘rehearsed speaker’.
Participants also said they were more likely to believe someone citing ‘personal experience’ over ‘data’, and said they perceived a company’s social media to be more truthful than its advertising.
Consumers’ bullshit radars start tingling at the merest hint of a big, promotional advertising campaign that can often be perceived as brash, out of touch or merely inauthentic whitewash. People today simply don’t want to feel they are being marketed to.
They do still want to buy though. They want to browse and maybe engage and ask a couple of questions. They want to get a deal. They want to be treated as an individual and they want to buy from people they trust. So they want a conversation. They want information but are wary of beginning an overlong and frustrating inquiry with you that may see them cast into an unwanted conversation with the wrong person in the wrong department.

The average website converts two out of every hundred visitors. What if you found an easy way of turning those two conversions into four?

It’s worth noting here that I’m not using the word ‘conversation’ in the same way as I might have done when I was a marketing journalist getting excited about the emergence of social media in the early 2000s. I’m talking about an actual telephone conversation.

Consider this: Only two out of every 100 online visitors convert through the average website. The rest leave without engaging in any way. The chances are a sizable chunk of those that left without making themselves visible wanted to ask you a question. In fact, our data at Freespee shows that six visitors from that same hundred try to call the company behind the website with an enquiry.
Why do they call? According to a study commissioned by Google and Ipsos these people are often driven to call because there is not enough information on the website. Other times there is something specific they want to do that can’t be done on the website. According to the study 57% of callers pick up the phone specifically because ‘they want to talk to a human’.
Whatever the reason, these people are showing clear intent to convert – they arrived at a website and are now taking time out of their busy day to call. They are itching to buy and fiddling with their credit cards as they do so.
Again, according to our own data at Freespee, 40% of these ‘nearly customers’ hang up and move on before they get through to a real person because of a poor customer experience. Typically they’ve been faced with a clunky interactive voice response system: ‘Press 1 for…, press 2 for…’ and so on.
They disappear, these ready-to-buy customers that could have doubled or tripled your online revenue overnight, forever to remain invisible to you if you have no way to see and track them. And they’re not coming back.
The marketing technology stack is increasing in complexity for good reason as companies chase greater effectiveness and scale but how good is your communications stack? How embedded are your technologies and processes that allow you to talk to real customers and get a deal done quickly on their terms?
Buying and selling have both always been about people. That remains the case. People buy from people they trust. As you put the finishing touches to your big ideas and campaigns for the year to come, how much focus are you putting on finding ways to fielding real conversations with your prospects and customers?
What if you’re missing a trick? What if you could do something easy to turn those two conversions in every 100 into four? What if, just by finding ways to have a conversation with those that want to talk you could turn it into six?
What if we really started to listen to our customers? And just by listening to them, they became less frustrated, more trusting and far more responsive? What if we were able to drive superlative customer experience simply by having a conversation directly with our customers? Anytime, anyhow, any subject?
What then?