On the list of the worst ways to spend your time, waiting on hold on the phone with that annoyingly loud, upbeat, jazzy tune playing in the background makes the top ten. After 20 minutes of waiting, the trumpets and sax distort, warping into a distorted remix when all you wanted to do is ask for a return shipping label for your package.

Thankfully, more and more businesses have entered the digital age and are offering the comfort of sending an email from home with the immediacy of speaking with someone on the telephone.

Consumers prefer live chat (whether with a human or a bot) over every other communication channel, including phone, email, and social media. As technology pushes more people into the digital world, chat marketing remains a space to build human connections with customers online.

What is Chat Marketing?

According to a survey from Userlike, 80% of respondents have interacted with website chat at some point in their life. For anyone who hates long wait times on the phone, website chat and ai chatbots are a life-saver.

Interest in online chat dipped in 2019, only to rise again because of the pandemic. Stuck inside, users revived online chat as their primary way to ask questions, order items, and communicate directly with brands.

Chat marketing utilizes real-time messaging software to connect to current leads and future customers. It’s like being able to close a sale, assist a customer, and update package tracking simultaneously without having to clone yourself.

Messaging software includes everything from live chat to AI-powered chatbots. Many service providers are available that are easy to install on your website at various price points.

As more and more brick-and-mortar stores close down, chat marketing is the closest thing in the digital marketplace to face-to-face communication.

The Importance of Website Chat for Marketing

Let’s explore the importance of website chat for marketing in two areas: the connection-building aspect and the technical aspect.

Since the technical is easier to explain, we can start there.

For search engine optimization, two factors that go into your Google rankings are user experience and time on website.

Website chat improves user experience by providing a simple-to-use online resource that answers questions and delivers online support whenever needed (depending on your marketing chat).

As for time on a website, since responses from a human or AI chatbot aren’t always immediate, customers and leads will spend more time on your site. This improves your time on page.

Another technical reason for adding chat marketing to your website is similar to a brick-and-mortar store theory. The longer you’re in a store, the more products you’ll see and the more money you’re likely to spend.

The same goes for an online store. As customers are waiting for a response, they might click around your site, see other products or read another blog post. As they’re interacting with you via chat, they’re also interacting with your website.

Now for the connection-building aspect.

It’s important to imagine marketing chat as another digital marketing tool available to you. Marketing has and will always be about building human relationships with customers. 

Website chat allows you to build connections between yourself and your customers through a screen. You are capturing leads in real time.

Chat marketing lets your business engage with customers more dynamically and conversationally. 

By offering a convenient messaging interface, visitors can instantly connect with your brand, ask questions, and receive immediate responses. This even includes guiding them through the buyer’s journey.

If using an AI-powered site chat, use it to ask targeted questions and offer personalized recommendations to qualify leads. You significantly increase the chances of converting them into paying customers with only a conversation.

Understanding Website Chat as a Marketing Channel

Now that we’ve established chat marketing as an essential part of your digital marketing strategy, it’s important to understand the types of opportunities available to you.

Types of Website Chat Tools

Two main types of chat marketing tools are available: live agents and AI chatbots. Both have clear benefits and significant drawbacks.

Live website chat enables businesses to offer immediate support and assistance to visitors. 

A prominently displayed chat window on the website lets customers quickly reach out with their queries, concerns, or requests. This instant accessibility helps businesses address customer issues promptly, leading to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates. 

Moreover, live chat allows for personalized interactions, as customer service representatives tailor their responses based on the individual’s needs and preferences.

Of course, the downside is that someone needs to be on the other end of that computer or phone screen at all times (unless you have posted hours of availability). 

AI-powered site chat provides businesses with a scalable and cost-effective solution for customer support. Powered by artificial intelligence algorithms, AI chatbots understand and respond to customer inquiries in a human-like manner. 

AI chatbots can handle various queries, from basic FAQs to complex troubleshooting, without requiring human intervention. They can provide instant responses 24/7, ensuring customers receive timely assistance outside regular business hours.

Of course, there’s always the off-chance your AI chatbot goes rogue and begins pushing out nonsense, ultimately ruining your brand’s reputation.

Integrating Chat into Your Website

Integrating site chat is relatively simple. Most marketing chat widgets live in the bottom right corner of your website, only activating when clicked on. Use this if your marketing chat widget will be used to answer quick questions about your services or products or if you plan to lead customers through the buyer’s journey.

Other websites tend to only place links for their site chat on their contact us page. These are more used for customer support concerns versus leading customers through the buyer’s journey.

Where you place your website chat widget directly relates to how you plan to use it. Throw it on the front page if you want to build informal relationships with current and potential customers. If you plan on using it to help customers with orders or other support topics, it’s best left for the contact us page.

Analyzing and Tracking Chat Interactions

Marketing chat analytics is a lot more challenging to navigate than website data. Instead of looking for users visiting specific pages, there are linguistic data points you need to understand.

Of course, there is always the number of chats started, abandoned, and reviews.

But to truly understand how your marketing chat works, you need to know how people interact with your chat widget and, more importantly, what they tell you.

Identifying central themes in your marketing chat lets you see which topics, words, and phrases your users often ask about. Data visualizations like word clouds present your website chat’s most commonly used words/phrases.

The other key data tracking point to consider is linguistic trends, i.e., what are the most common issues or questions consumers are asking? When you track this data, you have the ability to improve the customer experience and your products based on real-time customer testimonials.

It’s a win-win.

Optimizing Chat for Lead Generation

Optimizing chat for lead generation requires you to proactively ask your customers to reach out to you and develop responses that work towards building strong relationships.

Proactive Chat Invitations

As the initial point of contact, how you introduce leads to your chat widget significantly impacts the user’s willingness to engage further.

For starters, it’s important to personalize the message based on the visitor’s behavior or demographics. Businesses tailor the invitation to the visitor’s specific needs using the pages customers have visited or their location.

A friendly tone, and a clear call-to-action, such as “Chat now” or “Ask us anything,” effectively conveys the chat’s purpose and encourages visitors to take the next step.

Remember, according to a study by Software Advice, customers who use live chat “spend up to 60% more per purchase than those who don’t.” Attracting new leads to your chat marketing service is the first step towards building a collection of raving fans.

Using Chatbots and Automated Responses

Using AI algorithms to analyze data and generate contextually relevant invitations, AI chatbots are proven tools in chat marketing. 

Depending on the service you choose, chatbots consider factors such as the visitor’s browsing history, referral source, or previous interactions to craft personalized messages.

Research shows that 62% of consumers prefer to use an AI chatbot rather than wait for a human agent, and “74% of internet users prefer using chatbots when looking for answers to simple questions.”

AI chatbot marketing is all about speed, efficiency, and availability. Customers can get the information they need quickly and with a chatbot at all hours of the day or night.

When a customer joins a chat, ensure visitors understand they are interacting with a chatbot. Include phrases such as “Chat with our virtual assistant” or “Get instant answers from our AI-powered chatbot” to set the right expectations and reassure visitors that they will receive timely and accurate assistance.

Just be aware that the responses you put together for your chatbots need to still feel human. Studies show that “29% of consumers find scripted, impersonal responses the most frustrating,” leading them to move entirely onto different forms of communication or new companies.

Personalizing User Experiences with Chat

We’ve already discussed the importance of personalization in email segmentation and marketing, but marketing chat allows you to take that one step further.

91% of consumers prefer brands that use their data to personalize their experiences which tell us that to stay ahead of the competition, knowing and understanding your customer’s needs is essential.

Businesses that personalize their offerings to customers increase their revenue by nearly 40%, according to a McKinsey report.

When using a live agent, personalization is easy. A few simple prompts in the chat window give your agents all the information necessary to lead consumers exactly where they want to go.

But with the growth of chatbot marketing, personalization has become the expectation versus the exception.

Based on your AI chatbot selection, you can send personalized greetings based on web pages viewed or time on page to help navigate a sale. You can use their data and preferences to provide real-time product suggestions without human involvement.

Use personalization in your marketing chat to help consumers believe that they are the most important customer you’ve ever had because they are.

Nurturing and Converting Leads through Chat

Building a relationship with trust is the key when nurturing leads through marketing chat. Whether human-led or AI-driven, chat interactions provide an opportunity to understand the lead’s pain points and offer tailored solutions.

Some marketing chat service offerings aim to create a positive and helpful experience that encourages your leads to progress in their buyer’s journey.

Reports suggest 41% of all business chatbots are used for sales, the most common use case for marketing chat over customer support and general marketing.

Many business leaders believe virtual agents do a better job converting leads than AI chatbots.

Through facilitating transactions and providing the necessary information to overcome any final hesitations, chat marketing has the potential to be one of your greatest sales tools. 

Use co-browsing or screen sharing to guide leads through the purchase process, demonstrate product features, or provide visual assistance.

Consider where to include marketing chat in your sales funnel because not every use is as successful as the next. For example, upselling chatbots are 20% more effective, and offering discounts through chatbots is only about 14% more effective than just a traditional chatbot service.

It’s time to understand that marketing chat is another aspect of your sales funnel.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Regarding success and chat marketing, the proof is in the case studies. Here are three examples of big-name brands successfully integrating online chat into their digital marketing presence.

CoverGirl’s AI Influencer

CoverGirl partnered with Automat and theAmplify to create the world’s first influencer chatbot in late 2016. With the main goal being to drive awareness and desire for new products, CoverGirl introduced the world to Kalani Hilliker.

Consumers could connect and chat with AI Kalani, and at some point, Kalani would share the CoverGirl products she was using. 

The results were positive: 48% of all conversations led to coupon delivery, with a 51% click-through rate on those deliveries.

CoverGirl’s AI influencer showed the world that people’s need for interaction and conversation drives consumer engagement.

Best Western’s Advertising Conversions

IBM Watson Advertising and Best Western launched the first AI-powered ads for the hospitality industry. Using information from Best Western and natural language processing, their AI chatbot, Conversations, offered tips, tricks, and inspiration for travelers on their upcoming vacations.

What sticks out most about this case study is how Best Western used real-time data tracking to identify customers’ needs and desires. Once they figured that information out, they pivoted to conversations about tips related to membership perks, discounts, and in-room amenities.

As a result, there was a 48.6% incremental lift in visits to Best Western locations vs. those who had already planned to visit Best Western hotel properties.

The Land of Legends Theme Parks Post-Covid Reopening

As COVID-19 forced massive changes in the theme park industry, The Land of Legends Theme Park needed something to drive consumers back to their location. They decided the best way to do this was to introduce an AI chatbot on their website to enrich the customer experience and give the best service to the audience.

What The Land of Legends realized was that their customers desired conversational marketing techniques intermixing artificial intelligence and live agents during their sales funnel.

As a result, the theme park experienced a 25% increase in conversion rates and a 70% drop in customer response time, leading to the business regaining some of its lost business due to COVID-19.

Need help using chat marketing in your sales funnel? Contact The Loop Marketing today.

Our full-service digital marketing agency helps drive leads to your business. Need content writing? What about web design? The Loop Marketing’s team of experts are here to help.

Want to grow your business? Schedule a free consultation today.

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The Loop Marketing Team