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8 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing speaks to the growing expectation of a personalized experience and the opportunity to connect and start a one-to-one conversation. 

Coined by our partners at Drift, conversational marketing aims to guide users through an engagement funnel more quickly by using real-time conversations. As chatbots are increasingly seen as a natural way to get information, they can help to build relationships and create authentic experiences between an organization and its target audiences.

The difference between conversational marketing and chatbots?

  • Conversational marketing is a strategy to engage people in an online one-to-one discussion immediately.
  • Chatbots are a tool used to execute this conversational strategy. A chatbot can vary in its complexity from a simple website playbook sequence, to a live (real person) chat, SMS notification flow, or AI programming.

Rather than needing to wait for users to engage over time, conversational marketing allows visitors to complete everyday actions immediately—such as booking an appointment or getting an answer to a question, rather than having to go through an online form and wait for an email or phone response. By making it easier to engage with your organization, you’re that much closer to gaining their support and involvement in your mission.

Let’s explore how conversational marketing can move the needle forward for nonprofits’ missions with eight specific ways that it can support your nonprofit’s web presence and outreach.

1. Answer FAQs directly and quickly

Most organizations have a good idea of the most common questions they receive by email or through online web forms. This could include requests around opening hours and location, conference registration, or donation details. According to IBM, roughly 80% of FAQs can be answered through a chatbot. Using your most frequently asked questions (FAQs) as a starter, you can develop an intelligent chatbot that allows people to quickly ask for the information they’re seeking rather than having to navigate a page with all of the common questions about your organization. Compared to a contact form, visitors get what they need right away, and your staff can use their time for other tasks.

2. Reduce time responding to email and form requests 

This is a big one. A lot of time can go into collecting form submissions and ensuring that they are replied to in a timely manner, which is often a much harder thing to achieve than most would hope. Additionally, it means your team is spending time replying to the same question repeatedly. Conversational marketing allows your organization to start that conversation right away so that by the time the user gets to your team, your team is able to discuss more specific, complex questions to further develop a relationship with them.

3. Convert new visitors into contacts faster

Generally speaking, traditional online forms are seeing fewer conversions on websites for things such as e-newsletter signups or white paper downloads. An email newsletter may not be at the top of people’s lists with such a wide variety of  “things” out there for people to sign up for. That’s why engaging with them in a conversation about what it is that you can offer them and what they can expect allows them to get a more specific and interesting picture of what is often otherwise a very general ask.

4. Engage and support community members

Membership organizations often have a huge amount of valuable information and content to share with their members, both on their public websites and members-only platforms. Conversational marketing can help new members navigate a platform to find what they’re looking for, remind long-term members of services and content available to them, and support non-members as they consider the benefits of joining the community. 

5. Simplify or complement fundraising efforts

A lot of work goes into creating the right online user journeys that bring in much-needed monetary support through intriguing content and strategically-placed calls-to-action (CTAs). An additional conversational prompt that helps users see how they can get involved directly can both encourage this transaction — and make it happen faster. The fewer page loads a user has to go through, the better.  A HubSpot survey found that 47% of consumers would be open to making a purchase from a chatbot, signally that audiences are increasingly more trustworthy of chatbots to conduct a transaction such as a donation.

6. Provide extra support to your website

Many organizations’ websites currently include more than 1,000 pages, which can make it time-consuming to find information via navigation or search. Increasingly, we’re seeing conversational options replace search features to help visitors quickly find the correct and most up-to-date resources on sites. A conversational bot can engage them right away to save them the scrolling and clicking time needed to get to the information they need.

7. Get a conversation started

A chatbot provides the opportunity to start up a conversation even though it is not usually managed by a human being. Chat playbooks are developed by human beings to create a more informal voice and human connection. A recent PWC study found that 27% of consumers were unsure if the last customer support interaction they had was with a real person or a chatbot, which shows how increasingly developed the conversations are becoming. And conversations don’t have to be all business! They can be playful in nature by starting with a fun quiz or poll while simultaneously creating a genuine connection to help the visitor sift through online content. As a first opportunity to engage, chatbots are a way to provide tailored information to get users to where they want to go faster and to take action.

8. Collect important user experience data 

Website data analytics provide invaluable insight into what your users’ interests are and where they are dropping off. This data allows you to optimize and tweak your website’s user experience so that it’s more valuable to your audiences. Conversational marketing is another source of useful insight into how users are interacting with your website because you can track what questions are being asked the most, where people drop off in the conversational playbook, and how what users do next. According to Statista, 64% of businesses believe that chatbots will allow them to provide a more customized support experience. For example, if you’re looking to increase donations but see that people drop off when you ask for their email address, it may be an opportunity to share more content with them, such as financial transparency (e.g., 990 forms) or additional program information, so that they feel more confident in supporting you.

Above all, conversational marketing is about getting a conversation started — creating one-to-one engagement between your organization and an online user who’s interested and intrigued by your mission and goals. Rather than waiting for them to click through and eventually fill in a form, take the opportunity to proactively reach out, say hello, lend a hand, and take it from there.

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