Lead Generation and Online Live Chats: Tips & Best Practices for B2B & Tech
Date : September 18, 2023 By
The first online chat widgets, often referred to as “live chat”, began to appear in the late 1990s and early 2000s. One of the early pioneers in this field was a company called LivePerson, which started offering live chat solutions for websites in 1998.
Since then, online chat widgets have become a common feature on many websites, providing customer support, sales assistance, and other services. In recent years this technology has evolved significantly, with the incorporation of AI and chatbots to enhance the customer experience.
Why don’t all companies use live chats for lead generation?
However, I still see a lot of clients not using this technology and thus losing an opportunity to generate leads. Some of the constraints and challenges I hear from them often include:
Limited Operating Hours
Many businesses offer online chat during specific hours, which may not align with both customers’ time zones or sales reps’ willingness to work more than a standard office schedule. This limitation can lead to lost chats, missed opportunities and frustrated customers. Offline message functionality when a visitor can leave a message when an agent is offline may solve this problem and generate even more leads according to my experience. Additionally, sales reps can install the chat’s app on their mobile devices and communicate from anywhere (if they’re motivated enough).
Operating a live chat system requires human resources. Depending on the volume of chats, you may need to hire and train additional staff, which can be costly, otherwise your customers might need to wait for an agent’s reply. Some companies I’ve worked with don’t have an inside sales department and senior sales reps have to stay on top of chats in addition to actually closing deals.
Response Time and Consistency
Customers expect quick responses in live chats. Failing to provide timely answers can result in a poor customer experience and lost opportunities. Maintaining consistency in responses across different chat agents can also be challenging. Variances in response quality can affect the customer experience. To overcome this and the previous issue, your chat solution needs to have a feature which prevents the chat window to be shown when all the agents are busy. This mitigates the risk of delays in responses.
If your business operates in multiple regions, it may be challenging to provide chat support in various languages, leading to communication barriers. The geographical routing feature in the chat solution is required to overcome this problem and send chats to local representatives with a specific language knowledge. Additionally you need to make sure that chat software
Misuse and Spam
Online chat systems can be vulnerable to misuse, including spammy or fraudulent inquiries. Implementing spam filters and captchas in the chat tool and monitoring chat interactions is necessary to combat this issue.
It’s essential to be aware of the above limitations to effectively manage and maximize the benefits of online chat. Despite these constraints, most of my customers find that online chat is a valuable leadgen tool, when managed effectively. To mitigate these challenges, businesses should invest in proper staff training and robust chat software.
How to generate leads with live chats?
Generating leads with live chat can be an effective strategy to capture both top- and bottom-funnel opportunities. I heard a lot of stories from sales reps of my clients being able to close huge revenue gaps close to the end of quarter by getting unexpected and warm leads from chat conversations. Here are some best practices to generate leads using live chat:
Place Live Chat Widget Wisely
Ensure that your live chat widget is prominently displayed on your website, preferably on all its pages (or only selected pages, but those where visitors are likely to have sales-related questions). Make sure it’s not hidden by any other design elements, especially test mobile devices.
Instead of waiting for visitors to initiate a chat, consider proactively engaging them. You can set up automated chat invitations triggered by specific user actions, such as spending a certain amount of time on a page or visiting a certain website section.
Don’t overload your visitors with proactive invitations, set the corresponding parameter to 60 seconds since the last invitation, like in this example on the screenshot. I found out by experimenting that 20 seconds on a page is enough, and you can open the proactive invitation chat window right after, without bothering anyone.
Create Engaging Welcome Messages
Your initial chat message should be friendly and inviting. It could be a simple greeting or a question that encourages visitors to respond. Pre-chat buttons also help to increase the engagement rate:
Provide Valuable Information
Use live chat to offer helpful information to your visitors. Address their questions or concerns, and if applicable, offer resources like ebooks, guides, or whitepapers that require them to provide their contact information to access, if you’re not asking for this information before the start of the chat.
Offer Personalized Assistance
Tailor your initial proactive invitation messages and general responses based on the information provided by the visitor or your chat solution. For example, your proactive invitations might be customized on a page-level and offer a more personalized approach. Also personalize your own chat account by adding a photo and signature.
Integrate Chat with CRM and Marketing Automation
Integrate your live chat software with your CRM and marketing automation systems. This allows you to automatically add chat leads to your sales pipeline and to your lead nurturing sequences. A lot of sales opportunities are lost because of this, so make sure your IT team follows the lead flow.
Monitor and Analyze Performance
Someone in your organization, whether it’s a sales or support executive, needs to manage the important associated KPIs: overall chats, chats accepted, chats accepted with no reply, average first time reply, lost chats, chat transfers and finished chats.
Based on these stats, continuously test different chat messages, timing, and engagement strategies to see what works best for lead generation on your specific website.
By implementing these best practices and continuously optimizing your live chat approach, you can effectively generate and convert leads using this valuable customer engagement channel. Live chat is more than just a tool; it’s a dynamic channel that allows you to bridge the gap between your business and its audience. By providing immediate assistance, personalized engagement, and valuable resources, you can convert website visitors into qualified leads.