With endless website options that can enhance the user experience and create more value for visitors, how should you evaluate and prioritize opportunities? Which enhancements among dozens of choices will keep your brand competitive, while impacting the bottom line and supporting sales?
Out of the endless tactics to attract leads and convert them into customers, live chat is a vital component of your marketing strategy. According to the American Marketing Association, live chat increases conversion by 20 percent and results in a 305 percent overall return on investment.
While more traditionally used as a B2C conversion tactic, much evidence shows that all consumers ultimately behave in the same way. Therefore, B2B companies will see just as much return on investment when implementing this support channel. Why is live chat a critical component for generating sales-ready contacts? Read on.
1. Build Trust
Decision makers and their teams search online to first understand their problem and then evaluate its ultimate solution. As they move through the funnel, live chat can build buyer confidence. When a potential customer is unclear about the details of your offer, or needs reaffirmation that your solution offers what he or she expects, providing an instant answer to questions will begin to position you as an authority and trusted partner. Further confirmation from a Bold Software Survey (cited by Telus International) reports that 77 percent of live chat users agree that chat tools positively improve their attitude toward the company they interact with online.
Professionals across generations now make decisions using information from digital platforms. The Telus International report indicates that, of both Gen Y and Gen X consumers (professionals between the ages of 18 and 40), 20 percent use online chat when they visit a website. This growing channel is preferred by these generations over Baby Boomers and seniors, who use chat half as often. With the shifting demographics of the workforce, chat will be instrumental in remaining competitive across the digital landscape.
2. Educate Along the Buyer’s Journey
Customer education is the basis of marketing today, and the capability of live chat to answer questions creates a personalized buying experience. This hyperpersonalization of content, which includes a live-chat expert overcoming specific objections and redirecting the lead toward highly targeted content—such as product pages or blog articles—can fill in gaps and accelerate the buyer’s journey. Leveraging content via live chat can support conversion in ways similar to sales enablement.
Longer sales cycles are expected for B2B organizations in which a variety of stakeholders may need to weigh in. These industries can specifically benefit from online chat, which delivers a personalized, positive brand impression and resolves potential objections as leads move through the sales funnel.
You can measure the micro-conversion of online chat engagement as an indicator of interest; it provides insight into how purchase-ready your leads might be. This touchpoint in the buyer’s journey can be an important attributing factor in a macro-conversion, such as a new client acquisition.
3. Enhance the Customer Experience Using Micro-moments
Tony Zambito, author and modern authority of buyer insights and personas for B2B marketing, reminds us of this reality: “Instead of using technology to automate processes, think about using technology to enhance human interaction.”
This human interaction is more widely known as the customer experience, or the sum of all interactions between a brand and its buyers or potential buyers, over the lifetime of the relationship.
More than ever, this experience is built on micro-moments, which Think with Google defines as “intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey.” In these moments, customer expectations are high, so brands with a strategy to deliver digital answers on demand will have an advantage over their competitors. Successful hyperpersonalization of the buyer’s journey supports a positive brand experience and inbound marketing success.
Moreover, leveraging subject-matter experts on live chat can significantly impact the bottom line. In some incidences, a simple live chat can evolve into screen-sharing, video chat, a product demo, or a sales call as you build trust with prospects, showing that you can meet their needs. Live chat provides a touchpoint and micro-conversion opportunity as prospects move from consideration to decision, as outlined by HubSpot's conversion stages below.
4. Outline Optimization Priorities
The foundation of good marketing is a high-performing website that helps an audience move through the buyer’s journey. Feedback via this digital chat tool is invaluable, and visitor questions via live chat can provide insights such as these:
- Content needs
- Clarification of pain points
- Motivators for buying (price, features, customer support)
- Product/service feedback for new product development
Live chat makes a website dynamic and interactive, which is essential to improving specific site engagement metrics:
Time on page
Especially if your company is committed to growth-driven design, these customer insights can prioritize your site updates, using data to drive decisions. Consistent website updates positively impact the buyer’s journey for all visitors—whether or not they engage in live chat.
The impact of any tool on the bottom line ultimately drives the decision to implement. While it is important to use live chat to assist the buyer’s journey, it’s also essential to add it to your technology stack as a means of delighting your current customers and creating brand evangelists. For example, live chat has been shown to help in these ways:
- Reducing overall customer service costs by resolving questions quickly.
- Minimizing phone expenses (both in staffing and infrastructure costs).
- Reducing customer support agent burnout by creating a platform to manage multiple conversations simultaneously, rather than managing support escalations on the phone.
- Improving the website experience that positively impacts the Net Promoter Score, which gauges brand loyalty.
According to a benchmarking study by TELUS International, chat can increase customer lifetime value; it can allow for more frequent, targeted transactions because it positions trained chat agents for upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Someone's immediate response to specific needs and direct solutions is a form of lead nurturing that helps move prospects through the buyer’s journey. The specific ROI, as reported by TELUS International, can be found below.
Source: TELUS International, Online Chat: What You Didn’t Know
Regardless of the benefits of live chat, this channel's success will depend upon the vendor that delivers the service. Selection criteria, such as the quality of agents and system features, are a critical method of ensuring the benefits outlined in this article. Some live-chat B2B platforms are worth considering, such as LiveAgent, Tagove, SnapEngage, and Pure Chat.