In Invoca’s new State of the Mobile Experience Report, we explore why people pick up the phone to have a conversation. We received tons of interesting insights about how people use their phones, but one of the overall themes that emerged was that people want to talk when it’s important. For example, when respondents were asked if they could choose one mode of communication to relay news about major life events like getting engaged, getting divorced, announcing a pregnancy etc., they chose to call every time.

This was no different in the business context. According to our study, more than twice as many respondents have called a business than have used their phone to fill out an online form, in the past month. Think about it: you pick up the phone when it’s important. Like when you have complex questions, when you want to negotiate, and when you want to make a big purchase.

Yet, a lot of marketers continue to push people into an online purchase process simply because they think it’s easier to measure (hint, hint: not true!).

Anyway, this got me thinking more broadly about how we – as marketers – use conversation in our day jobs to communicate with our colleagues and customers. There’s certainly a lot of important business that happens in email, but all too often we forget to have a conversation. We forget to relate to each other on a more human level.

I asked 8 super smart marketers to give examples of how they use conversation to collaborate, spark new ideas, solve business problems and more. Read on:

How do you encourage your team to get out of their inbox and collaborate offline?

“A few years back we had a problem. There was a disconnect between our product team that builds Meghan Keaneyour software and the product marketers responsible for marketing it. We missed a few releases, our messaging wasn’t as strong or grounded as it could have been. It wasn’t working.  We fixed this disconnect with one, powerful thing. Seating. As low-tech as it sounds, moving the product marketers from the second floor to the first floor and embedding them with the product team made for much better marketing of our products. The product marketers began to understand the vision behind the product more. The product team started to think about how the features they were building would be rolled out. Physical proximity brought mental congruency. Now, this isn’t possible with every company – particularly large companies spread across regions – but even if you’re doing it through Google Hangouts or Perch – there’s something to be said for finding time to be together on a regular basis.”

— Meghan Anderson, VP of Marketing at Hubspot, @meghkeaney

“I am part of a remote team in a distributed organization, so collaboration beyond email is a requirement. Team off-sites, from our small team to the entire marketing organization, are key to building work relationships, and they always include fun activities. We also try to spend quality time when we’re attending conferences together.”

— Jeff Cohen, Director of Content Strategy, Oracle Marketing Cloud, @jeffreylcohen

jason miller“My team has spitballing sessions every week. It’s essentially brainstorming with no judgment. Half of the ideas will probably never fly, but it’s a good creative process. I’d like to think that we never completely abandon any idea good or bad and I think it gives us an edge with our approach to content and demand generation.”

— Jason Miller, Group Manager, Content Marketing at LinkedIn, @JasonMillerCA

Lena Waters

“Team collaboration takes time. Fix the two time-sucks: meetings and email. First, be merciless about meetings. Stick to a schedule tied to team goals, not individual projects. Two, solve the inbox problem. Ask your team to become Email Power Users and finish each day with zero emails in your inbox.”

— Lena Waters, VP of Corporate Marketing at Lookout, @LenaWaters

“Every month we have a full day training program on various items. We’ll talk about the latest in paid search, industry trends we’re seeing, and client relation matters. This day of training allows the team to learn from one another and ask questions.”

— Matt Umbro, Senior Account Manager, Hanapin Marketing, @Matt_Umbro

heinz“Ninety percent of what’s in your inbox is someone else’s priorities, not yours.  We encourage our team to get up and talk to one another. There’s still plenty of times when heads-down work is required without interruption, but that usually has little to do with your inbox.”

— Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, @HeinzMarketing

“Face to face collaboration is a daily part of work here at Highfive. Even if people are traveling or working from home, that never stops us from meeting face to face, even if it’s just for a five-minute impromptu discussion to hammer something out. If we want to connect with each other, it’s as easy as sending a link to a Highfive call via email or Slack. The benefit here is that we’re more aligned as a team, so that’s a huge benefit for our culture. And our communication is more efficient, which leads to greater productivity.”

— Jess Shambora, Head of Customer Marketing at Highfive, @JessShambora

Is there something you’ve learned from a live conversation with your customers that you wouldn’t have gleaned otherwise – and how did it inform your marketing?

“At Optimizely, we strive to turn data into action. I could stare at a computer screen full of stats Amanda Swan
for hours, but it’s not until I actually meet customers that our efforts come alive. Because these conversations carry so much value, we’ve focused on scaling offline events through a User Group program where our most passionate customers are enabled to host regular meetups across the US.”

— Amanda Swan, Community Manager at Optimizely, @Swan606

“The format isn’t as important as the live conversation. And online chat doesn’t count. If you have a question or concern, pick up the phone and have a discussion. Things get resolved more quickly, new opportunities gets discovered more quickly, and you can cut off frustrations far more quickly this way.”

— Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, @HeinzMarketing

“Before launching a product we conduct user testing sessions to hear how customers talk about their challenges and see how they use the feature or product first hand.  That experience has been really valuable in shaping not only how we build the product, but also how we talk about it.  We regularly send our staff to HubSpot User Groups and other customer events to make sure they have their finger on the pulse of the customer perspective.”

— Meghan Anderson, VP of Marketing at Hubspot, @meghkeaney

jeffrey-l-cohen-150“I am relatively new to my organization, so I am still finding the best ways to get in touch with the market. Attending trade shows and small events provides a great opportunity to talk to “the customer.” It is easy to forget that the customer has to sit at the center of what we do, and the more we can interact with “real, live customers” the better we can market to people like them.”

— Jeff Cohen, Director of Content Strategy, Oracle Marketing Cloud, @jeffreylcohen

“We all want to “build relationships” with our customers, but you need to engage them fully as a person to get the best insights. Think about hosting events for customers like you do for friends: a can’t miss experience that encourages personal conversation and forges bonds. Like any marketing program, it’s not about creating a single touchpoint, it’s about setting the stage for the next one.”

— Lena Waters, VP at Corporate Marketing at Lookout, @LenaWaters

matt umbro

“During calls, I’ll ask how the other parts of their business are doing beyond paid search. I look to get a holistic picture and hope to learn about trends. The client may be using messaging in the email campaign that could help PPC efforts and/or vice versa. Ultimately, I try to gain a sense of what’s going on with the business as a whole and how I can apply to paid search.”

— Matt Umbro, Senior Account Manager, Hanapin Marketing, @Matt_Umbro

shambora“Video conferencing has been essential for my meetings with customers to learn about their use cases and success stories with our product. We have customers across the U.S. and Canada that I’m meeting with every week, and traveling to meet with them just isn’t realistic. But Highfive is the next best option. It’s so much more valuable to be able to see them when they’re sharing their experience, as opposed to just hearing their voice over a call. It absolutely makes for a better interview and more natural exchange. I’m able to dig deeper into questions because the verbal cues I get tell me that there may be more to the story than what the customer has initially shared.”

— Jess Shambora, Head of Customer Marketing at Highfive, @JessShambora

Omnichannel Marketing Lookbook
Laura Schierberl

Posted by Laura Schierberl

Laura Schierberl is director of content marketing and communications at Invoca. Prior to that she held positions at Oracle, Responsys and Hill & Knowlton where she honed her skills in all things PR, content and social media. Laura earned a B.A. in Spanish and Communications at Wake Forest University. Fun facts: she loves crime TV shows and her labrador has dabbled in modeling.