demand generation

Does B2B live chat really generate leads?

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This could be a very short article – because the answer is conclusively ‘yes’.

But it’s also crucial to understand the role of B2B live chat in the lead generation machine. Manage it incorrectly and it’s an annoying pop-up. Manage it well and your prospects will not only appreciate the value of the immediate personal outreach, but may move straight onto the next stage of the buying process. Without it, you’ve lost them.

Today’s technology buyers educate themselves via the web and often find themselves on your site looking for useful content. If you don’t reach out to them, many will disappear, never to be seen again. Some may reappear later at the RFP stage after they’ve researched the competition, but by then you’ve lost the opportunity to engage early in the buying cycle and along with it the ability to influence their evaluation process, and you may have missed the boat.

Furthermore, you can ask and answer questions on the fly, thus qualifying the visitor in a way no automation tool can. In many cases, you will even move your prospect down the sales funnel to MQL or beyond, generating tangible, measurable ROI from your site traffic.

The variables of chat

Live chat is not a blunt instrument. The more you adapt it to suit your customers – and your demand generation requirements – the greater the benefit you will derive from it. Our experience tells us that there are broadly three factors you should customize to make live chat as effective as possible:

User behavior

Simply pushing a chat session out to anyone who hits your webpage will do more harm than good. Using sophisticated “rules of engagement”, today’s live chat platforms will score your site visitors, only inviting those to chat who are displaying the desired digital body language, such as viewing a certain page, or staying on a page for a defined period of time. Even better, you can continue to “tune” your engine by analyzing completed chats and feeding your learnings back into the rules. The more agents you add, so long as you have the site traffic, the more chats you can launch, thus exponentially increasing your flow of MQLs.

Staffing

While the subtleties of digital behavior are important, you also need to think about volume. Traffic to your site is not constant. So you should have the ability to scale chat capacity
up and down at a moment’s notice. Get it wrong and you’re either missing out on opportunities or wasting resources.

Geography

Scaling live chat across global audiences is where economies of scale really come into play. But you need to set up your live chat function to suit your visitors’ location. Speak their preferred language and fit in with their time zones, so you have the right level of service ready – wherever your website visitors are from. Create a live chat empire on which the sun never sets.

The bigger picture

Furthermore, live chat can – and should – be integrated with other marketing automation and digital campaigns to boost conversion rates. The most progressive marketers combine digital and email campaigns with “click to chat” to create one fluid dialogue with visiting prospects. Ensure the agencies and partners you work with are all on the same page, and that they all understand the bigger picture

For every MQL delivered by cold calling, live chat can be expected to deliver seven.

What results should you expect?

MarketOne’s chat clients (and other blue chip companies doing this themselves) are enjoying lower cost per MQL, lower cost per acquisition and higher sales acceptance rates versus tele-generated MQLs. Our pro-active chat teams are regularly delivering 7+ MQLs for every 1 MQL generated by their outbound, cold calling counterparts. In some cases we’ve seen, MQLs via live chat have even outperformed inbound web submissions and event attendees (typical inbound responders) by almost 2 to 1.  Customer service chats, if handled by a trained live chat agent, will also unlock upsell & cross-sell MQLs while improving your customer satisfaction levels at the same time.

Furthermore, the ability to analyze all your chat transcripts, your prospect exit surveys and agent exit questionnaires, along with your prospect/customer satisfaction levels, can provide powerful insights on market trends – what is resonating and what isn’t – and can help you devise more relevant marketing campaigns, with better messaging and content.

Facing up to the live chat dilemma

Some B2B marketers feel they face a dilemma. On the one hand they want to score and automate inbound enquiries because they fear getting sales involved too early on, and being accused of wasting resources on low-quality leads. Yet there is also a justified risk of turning up too late to the party – and missing out on the prospect altogether.

The B2B marketer’s dilemma: don’t waste precious resources, but don’t miss out on early leads.

But live chat is sophisticated enough to help us make this decision and get the balance right. By focusing live chat resources in a disciplined, data-driven way, we can be confident we are doing it right – providing extra value to prospects who need it, yet without wasting time on those who don’t. And it’s difficult to argue with logic that delivers predictable results time and time again.