Conference Attendance Rule #1: When you go to a four-day conference with thousands of attendees, make sure you bring enough business cards. The depletion rate of business cards is a leading indicator of the number of conversations you participated in over the course of the event.

Related Content: Make It Simple & Personal

Thinking back on conversations you’ve had at a conference like this, you’d probably agree there’s a high degree of variability across the interactions. Some of the conversations are informative, insightful, or even entertaining. Some leave you wishing you could talk more. Some continued at another time, over email, or a phone call. And some…well, some conversations were an experience that couldn’t end soon enough.

At the Sitecore Symposium conference last week, CEO Mark Frost challenged marketers and technologists to “elevate the experience.” And it left me thinking, what is the “experience” between a brand and a consumer—especially prior to purchase—but a “conversation?” And how can marketers and technologists curate that conversation with the consumer to elevate the experience?

Here are four short lessons in the art of conversation to help us answer this question. These guideposts help us think about how your brand is cultivating conversations on its website, and across other channels. The good news is that today’s technology, like Sitecore, can easily help you curate those conversations and increase the chance of conversion.

LESSON 1: “Every good conversation starts with good listening.” – unknown

How are you listening to your website visitors? Are you listening to understand, or simply to reply?

Having a content management system is only one element of a good website strategy. After all, content must be dynamic, timely, and relevant.

When a website visitor first visits your site, they can share a lot of information. You may learn about the search terms they used to land on your website, their location, preferred language, and/or the campaign that drove them to click. Visitors may also take actions, such as performing an on-site search, filling out a form, logging into their account, or browsing a sequence of pages.

All this information increases your opportunities to personalize the conversation you’re having with website visitors. Using this information can help you better showcase that you’re listening and care about their interests, and you understand them by serving up tailored content that aligns with what they want.

LESSON 2: “Conversation is king, content is just something to talk about.” – Cory Doctorow

Having a content management system is only one element of a good website strategy. After all, content must be dynamic, timely, and relevant if it’s going to have any chance at moving consumers from awareness and interest to consideration and purchase.

But managing the content should go well beyond editing and publishing. Content must be tailored to the audience segments you’re trying to reach—meaning you need a variety of content that can be swapped out quickly and easily on your website. Having a solid content strategy and creation process is an essential foundation to your ability to create, and continue, a conversation with website visitors.

LESSON 3: “Conversation is a catalyst for innovation.” – John Seely Brown

Each conversation you have with a customer is an experiment you can learn from. If you’re having the same static conversation over and over again, you’re not learning what drives customers to your website, what they want most to find on your site, and how you can improve your website experience.

Mapping your customer journeys is essential to understanding the interconnectedness of the cross-channel experience.

Instead, you should A/B test your website elements to identify areas of improvement. Then you can combine the most relevant elements from a set of experiments to create a more meaningful, innovative, and progressive customer experience.

LESSON 4: “Conversation isn’t about proving a point. True conversation is about going on a journey with the people you are speaking with.” – Ricky Maye

Depending on the product or service you’re selling, consumers may visit your website several times before taking any action. That means you must think about how to nurture your customer relationships over time, and across multiple channels and devices.

Mapping your customer journeys is essential to understanding the interconnectedness of the cross-channel experience. By breaking out the silos of channels, you’re able to better orchestrate touchpoints over time, allowing for better targeting of your audience segments. Using technologies that work together, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Sitecore, enable you to have a focused dialogue with a customer across many stages, which will increase your chance at conversion.

Start considering your interactions with website visitors as conversations that happen over time. By thinking about how you’ll get to know each other, and how you can experiment with different messages, you may change the way you approach engaging and interacting with potential customers. And updating the technology that both runs your website, and tracks and manages customer engagement, you can better connect with new and current customers across all channels.

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