The longer a prospective client has to wait for a response from your company, the greater the risk someone else will answer first.

Elizabeth Weddle, Director of Marketing at GoZone WiFi, knew this was true in the extremely competitive world of WiFi marketing. She installed a live chat app on GoZone’s website as a test, and has never looked back.

In fact, GoZone WiFi’s live chat leads regularly convert into clients. “It’s a high performing lead channel,” said Weddle.

If you’re looking to capture more leads — and convert more of them into customers — it’s time to look at installing chat software on your website. Chat is quickly becoming the preferred method of messaging for customers, and especially for younger audiences who have grown up with instant-access to brands.

a live chat bot

“Forget the email waiting game,” she said. “Prospects know that they can get an immediate answer from a real person, which has definitely improved our ability to successfully convert prospective clients.”

The difference between live chat and a chatbot is blurry

Chat comes in a few varieties. GoZone WiFi chose a real-time, live-person chat function that instantly connects prospects with their sales department. Other companies choose an AI-powered chatbot, while some choose a combination of the two. HubSpot, Big Sea’s marketing automation platform of choice, offers both with its Live Chat and Chatflows.

Live chat makes sense if you have dedicated resources to handle the number of incoming messages. That can depend on the volume of traffic to your site and the number of people choosing to utilize the chat feature. HubSpot found that 1 in 30 of its site visitors initiated a chat. That may not sound like a lot, but consider if you’re an enterprise company that receives thousands of website visitors every day.

A chatbot, on the other hand, uses artificial intelligence and marketing automation to answer questions and guide prospects toward a conversion. Some chatbots are so well-crafted that a user can’t even tell they’re talking to a robot. If you’ve ever engaged in a customer service chat on a major retailer website (or even some small-business company sites), chances are you were talking to a robot.

At least, at the beginning of the conversation.

That’s the trick with web chat, blending the personalization of live chat with the efficiency of a bot. HubSpot makes this easy with its Chatflows and Workflow functions. The first preliminary questions — generally asking a visitor for their name and email address or other identifying contact information — can be handled by the chatbot. This information is automatically captured in the CRM, which makes lead nurturing practically automatic. Once the chatbot has gathered enough data, it initiates a Live Chat conversation with a living, breathing human being. Chatflows even allows brands to customize the chatbot messages based on the type of visitor to the site or what time of day (or night) they’re visiting.

If you’re only checking your live chat inbox during business hours, an automated chatbot gives your late-night website visitors a chance to show their interest, share a little information, and most important, find the information they’re searching for.

Whether you choose a live chat, AI-powered chatbot, or a combination, there’s really no question that your website visitors — and your business — will benefit from a chat feature.

Chatbots and live chat increase conversions

Every transaction consists of a journey the customer had to make. One of the primary reasons for a lost transaction, not coincidentally, is that the journey is too long or too confusing for the user to complete it. They hit a roadblock, lost interest, or became frustrated with the process along the way. According to a survey from Kissmetrics, 23% of abandoned carts happen because the customer had to create a new user account.

Chatbots can increase your online conversions by shortening the sales cycle — offering users the products or services they are interested in within the message — and creating a seamless checkout process by gathering information to pre-fill forms and guiding the user through the transaction step-by-step.

Improve customer service with chat

Both chatbots and live chat can also work to expedite customer service. Alli Knothe, Marketing Manager at Mobilization Funding, sees web chat as an extension of their sales and service team. “The live chat feature on our website is just one more way for leads to get in touch with us, and we believe further reinforces our commitment to outstanding customer service.”

If you’re rolling out a service chatbot or service livechat, it’s important to set and maintain expectations early and often. According to HelpScout, 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. There is no moment more critical in the buyer’s journey than a moment of difficulty. If your company can quickly acknowledge, address and overcome that difficult, you win business and affinity.

To make sure every visitor on Mobilization Funding’s website receives help as quickly as possible, Knothe integrated the HubSpot chat feature with the company Slack account. “We are immediately notified when someone is trying to get in touch. We can communicate directly with clients and prospects to make sure they get the answers they’re looking for in an easy and streamlined manner.”

Let live chat and chatbots do the upsell work

With every interaction, a chatbot gathers information from your website visitor. We’re not just talking about contact information, but behavioral data and even shopping preferences. With a powerful marketing automation strategy in place to utilize that data, your chatbot can not only facilitate first-time customer conversions but help up-sell and cross-sell your products or services.

For example, we set up a chatbot that upsells birthday parties to customers who regularly visit the Reserve a Lane or Daily Specials pages on our bowling and FEC client websites, and a separate bot that helps first-time visitors find the activities they’re looking for.

Live and automated chat is here to stay, and it’s a good thing, too. When strategized and executed properly, chat increases efficiency, streamlines sales journeys, improves customer service, and drives more conversions for your business.

Ready to chat? Our digital marketing strategists would love to discuss your business and how live chat and automated chat flows can change the way you do business, in a good way.