What We’ve Learned After 3 Months of Live Chat

In The Digital Marketing Blog by SeanLeave a Comment

We’ve had live chat on our site for 3 months now and we love it. It’s great.

It wasn’t highest priority in my marketing plan and wasn’t something I was too enthusiastic about, but since we’ve trialed it, and signed up to the full paid subscription, I’ve been really impressed and have learnt a lot about the visitors to our site and about marketing.

In this post I’ll be looking at the lessons we’ve learned from having live chat on our site over the last 3 months, the benefits to us as a business and why you should give it a try.

Oh, and we’ll also go through some of the more bizarre responses that we’ve had!

Some Context: Why Did We Decide to Implement Live Chat on our Site?

Live chat has been around for years. It’s predominantly been used for customer service and generally, it was a place to help resolve issues or for customers to make complaints on eCommerce sites.

Over the last year or so however, we’ve seen more and more b2b businesses adopting it as part of their marketing strategy. Many predicted it to be the next big thing in marketing in 2017 and Tech.co included it in their list of 5 Digital Marketing Trends to Implement in 2017 back in June.

Earlier this year, my colleague Scott mentioned that he wanted to trial live chat on our site. I had many reservations:

Why do we need live chat? We already have clickable phone numbers and contact forms across the site.

Who would have the time to monitor it? We know that we have visits from all around the world. Surely, we’d need someone with access to it 24/7.

Could we actually generate leads? Surely, it was just a tool for marketing engagement or customer services.

The response, as I so often get from Scott, was “The only way we’ll find out is by testing it”.

So, after a few months, we finally found the time to sit down and investigate live chat for SiteVisibility.

We looked at several different platforms including Drift before coming across Intercom. We’d seen it used on other marketing sites, it had a 14-day free trial and seemed easy enough to set up. We decided to give it a go and after being impressed during the trial, we haven’t looked back.

So what have we learnt over the last 3 months? Let’s find out…

1.     Fast Responses are Important

This is something we learnt almost straight away.

One of the mistakes I made over the first few weeks was not loading up Intercom as part of my morning routine.

I kept forgetting to log in when I arrived at work. Mid-way through the morning I’d remember, login and find that I’d missed conversations. The visitors would be long gone and we hadn’t managed to capture any of their information in order to respond to them.

We were often left with intriguing questions and enquiries but with no contact information to reply.

It was frustrating.

We’d missed the opportunity to help people, and in one case, we missed someone who was enquiring about our services. Not ideal.

I quickly learned that I needed to pin the tab as an open tab in Google Chrome. That way the site was always there when I turned my computer on and I’d be on hand to respond to any enquiries we got.

I also learned that I needed to keep my sound on. Intercom makes a high-pitched noise to notify you that someone has instigated a chat and often it’s the fastest way to find out.

You can also set up email notifications that will tell you when someone has asked a question. This has helped us when we’ve been in a meeting or on our lunch break as we get an email and if we’re free can respond straight away.

The only downside is that sometimes these can take a few minutes to come through and again, on a few occasions we’d lost the visitor by the time we’d responded. But there is another workaround…

Intercom also allows you to set pre-defined messages if you aren’t online and also lets you set up an option for the user to leave their email address so that you can get back to them if we miss their question or query.

We don’t have the resource to manage Intercom 24 hours a day and can only really monitor it when we’re in the office. As such, we’ve since set up auto-responses that differ depending on the time of day and encourage users to leave their details so that we can get back to them.

Although we won’t capture everyone’s data every time, we’re hoping this will help us to respond and reach as many visitors as we can.

2.     There are a Lot of Students Looking for Information!

Key takeaway: students can be lazy!

The number of students asking for explicit information (often not relevant to the content they’ve been visiting) or for us to answer their questions on specific brands that we’ve written about to help them with their studies has been eye opening.

The majority of these types of enquiries, came from some of our best performing and most visited blog posts:

As a predominantly b2b marketing agency, we were surprised by the nature of a lot of the enquiries that we had from students. I’ll show you a few examples:

student responses 1

With this one, we weren’t entirely sure what they wanted. They visited our hotel challenges for 2016 post but they’re asking for more help… Next we have an even more specific request:

African retail challenges

With this one, they’ve visited our post What are the Top 3 Digital Challenges Facing Retailers in 2016, but wanted us to help them with the challenges facing retailers in the African market…

We have a lot of these types of enquiry and although we’d love to be able to help, we can’t spend the time researching and answering these questions ourselves.

With the next example, my colleague Scott did his best to answer their questions, but I think it’s fair to say that he got a bit sassy after a while!

Even as I’m writing this, I’ve had another example:

Although not the ideal queries that we’d want from Live Chat, these do have a benefit.

They can help us to inform our future marketing strategy.

We now know more about the visitors to these pages.

We’d written the above blog posts with a target audience in mind but what we’ve found is that a lot of the visits are actually from students.

This allows us to learn and take that into consideration when writing future posts.

3.     We Have Generated Qualified Leads from Live Chat

Despite the often strange and irrelevant questions that we’re asked using live chat, we have generated qualified leads.

It’s widely known that across many eCommerce sites, live chat has helped to increase sales, but I wasn’t sure that this would apply to a marketing agency.

I thought that if people wanted to enquire about one of our services, they’d either call us or use the contact form.

It turns out I was wrong.

Live chat has proved to be an excellent lead generation tool for us.

One of the great things about live chat is that it’s a great way to informally open a conversation with a potential customer. Of the qualified leads we’ve had through live chat, most have started with a simple question.

Once we’ve answered the question, we’ve been able to chat further and understand the needs of the visitor. In a couple of situations, we’ve been able to capture their data and pass them onto our sales team.

Our fast response helped us to win business

One of our biggest lessons has been to respond. Fast. I won’t mention any names, but one company came to us and started a conversation on live chat as they were looking for a really quick response.

The business was working on their 2018 marketing budget that same day and wanted to get a quote for our PPC services so that they could factor it in if necessary.

We were able to take their details, pass them onto our sales team and call them back right away. The client has since said that our quick response was part of the reason that we were able to close the deal quickly.

We always aim to get back to any enquiries as soon as possible but if our sales team are out of office it can sometimes take longer than we’d like. In this instance, without live chat we might not have been able to close the deal.

Another live chat success! If live chat can help you to generate qualified leads for just $53 per month, it seems like a no brainer.

4.     It Can be a Great Place to Generate Content Ideas

We learn what problems people have as we get a lot of precise questions from visitors to the site. People looking for a very specific answer, often quite random, with nothing to do with the page that they’ve landed on.

I’ll show you some examples:

Live Chat Examples

Again, it seems like a lot of people are lazy and don’t want to do the research themselves!

Although we try our best to be as helpful as possible with every enquiry, we often can’t help. To answer those above, we’d have to do the research ourselves. Something we simply don’t have the time to do. Often we might have a quick look for blog posts that might help them and refer them there instead.

We’ve learned that we won’t be able to help everyone but as long as we try our best that’s ok.

Despite this, these types of enquiries also have their benefits. A lot of the enquiries like this could help us to inform any future content we produce or to make our current content better.

For example, we could add a paragraph to our hotel challenges post about branding issues as someone’s asked about above or we could write a new post on issues facing high end retailers like Tommy Hilfiger.

5.     There’s Never a Dull Enquiry! (There are Some Strange People Out There…)

As well as being a useful tool for us here at SiteVisibility in terms of generating engagement with our audience and generating leads, it’s also been a lot of fun!

Some of the questions that we get are great and some of the people we’ve interacted with have been hilarious. It certainly adds an element of fun to m day as you never know who is going to pop-up.

Below I’ve collated some of the stranger responses that we’ve had:

However, we also get Nice Feedback

Aside from generating leads, these are the types of responses that we get on Live Chat that make my day.

We all like to know when we’ve done something good and it can help us to know the types of activity that we can plan for more of in the future.

Our Internet Marketing Podcast is something that we’ve been looking to get more feedback on from our listeners and live chat has enabled us to do that.

So, What Have We Learnt & What are the Key Benefits of Live Chat?

Over the last 3 month’s we’ve only really had a positive experience with live chat. Although we’ve realised that we need to be logged in and online during work hours, in truth, it doesn’t take up a lot of our time. Intercom has been an easy tool for us to pick up and there are some great features on it.

Let’s recap on some of the main benefits that we’ve seen:

  • It’s a quick and instant way to chat to potential customers
  • We’ve been able to generate qualified leads
  • It’s helped us to inform the types of visitors to key landing pages
  • It’s helped us to improve existing content
  • It helped to inform our future content

As well as this, it can also help to improve user experience on your site and to reduce bounce rate by keeping people on your site for longer.

All of these can help you to improve not only your marketing, but your business as well.

So if you’ve got the time, resource and budget, we’d recommend at least trialing live chat on your site.

We promise you won’t regret it!

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