This is the fourth in a series of blog posts that provide demand and account-based marketing best practices in honor of the 12 days of Christmas.

This crazy year has made us long for the nostalgia of a simpler time when carolers went door to door singing “On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds . . . ” and children mailed handwritten wish lists to Santa. How many of us get pulled into a Hallmark holiday movie yearning for past comforts like a fireplace, hot chocolate, cookies, and friendly gatherings played out in a quaint snow-covered town? The pandemic has sent us headfirst into an alternate reality where even the elderly are using Zoom and FaceTime daily. We are all seeking more meaningful engagement through our interactions.

Like B2B marketers, Santa has had to evolve to find new ways of leveraging conversational interactions to attract, engage, and enable children to share their wish lists since few people send letters anymore and the malls are not hosting pictures with Santa. Chatbots and virtual assistants introduce more opportunities to orchestrate elf offers by integrating into websites, mobile apps, and social media. Connecting conversations across channels helps organizations, and Santa, deliver frictionless engagement and contextual content experiences with immediate value.

However, for B2B marketers, without accurate audience context — and an understanding of individual motivations and questions being asked — conversational interactions will fail to meet buyer expectations. The Forrester SiriusDecisions Conversational Interaction Framework can help.

The Conversational Interaction Framework
Conversational interactions should be designed to create an authentic, valuable connection with the audience, replacing traditional forms of communication through digital dialogue. The development of meaningful conversational interactions for buyers and customers begins with a clear understanding of the target audience, clear goals, and a plan to provide a measurable path to success. The Conversational Interaction Framework focuses on four primary components:

One: Audience
The personalized nature of conversation requires delivery of these interactions to be targeted, relevant, and appropriate to audience context to map timing, tone, and response to the persona, behavior, and intent of the conversation. When Santa developed a plan to expand his support for children and their parents everywhere via elf chat on the website, for example, he made sure to keep in mind the needs of all those trying to reach him with their Christmas lists. We can learn from his approach the importance of using the context of the content the visitor is viewing to drive the conversation toward the goal.

Two: Goals
Santa’s goal was straightforward: to reach children in any way possible. For B2B marketers, it can be more complex to reconcile the interaction goals of the buyer and selling organization. Best practice is to focus on the basics — the buyer has a business problem and the selling organization wants to communicate a solution to that problem. Conversational interactions should align with objectives while supporting more immediate goals at the tactic level to attract, engage, and qualify target buyers and buying groups. Lack of goal alignment creates noise with no meaningful buying signals for the organization or meaningful outcomes for the user.

Three: Delivery
Santa had to pivot from his comfort level (face-to-face mall events) to more virtual events, developing new skills within the elf team to support the expanded digital focus. Similarly, B2B marketers are expanding skill sets to rely more heavily on virtual delivery channels. With a virtual assistant or chatbot scenario, for example, the chat is the interaction type (a conversation) and the bot sits inside the delivery mechanism (e.g., website, social media platform, mobile app) and is used to facilitate the interaction. Demand marketers are finding new ways to leverage conversational interactions within the tactic mix to attract, engage, and enable buyers while rethinking traditional approaches to content gating and data capture.

Four: Conversation
Children are having a difficult time adjusting to the pandemic, and Santa realizes it is even more important than ever to reach out and support conversations with them. In any dialogue scenario, conversation design may be informational, navigational, or focused on completing common tasks to drive specific outcomes. Conversational copy should be clear, concise, natural, and on topic.

As you pour a cup of hot chocolate and curl up for another Hallmark holiday movie, keep in mind that we are all longing for more human interaction, even if it is through digital channels. We can learn new tips and tricks from Santa and his elves to adapt our approach and still engage with our audiences more efficiently.