Columnist Jacob Baadsgard explains how live chat technology can be deployed in a more personalized way to turn your content into conversations, leads and sales.
Often, live chat is viewed as a customer service tool — or, even worse, a pesky sales pop-up. In my opinion, though, while live chat can be used for both of those purposes, it can also be used for so much more.
Think about it: people love to buy from companies and people that they feel connected to. That’s why content is such a great marketing tool. It helps people get to know your business, build positive associations with your company and, hopefully, become a loyal customer.
But what if there was a way to squeeze even more leads and sales out of your content?
After all, content is all about communicating and connecting with people, so what would happen if you could take that to the next level and use your content to start an actual conversation with members of your audience?
Luckily, there’s a way to do just that: content-specific chat prompts.
Chatting about your content
The best way to connect with people is to talk to them about something they care about. Fortunately for you, anyone who visits your content has just revealed that they care enough about what your content discusses to spend time engaging with it.
That means they’ve just handed you the ideal ice-breaker.
By starting a chat with these people about a topic they’ve already shown an interest in, you can start a conversation, build a connection and identify the reasons why they are interested in your content. More often than not, that “why” will tell you exactly what pain point they have that your product or offer can address.
For example, if someone sees this tweet and clicks on it…
… what do you think they want to learn about? Poll results from the latest presidential debate?
Of course not! They want to learn about PPC for real estate. Simply clicking through to our content tells us a lot about them and their interests — information we can use to start a conversation.
With this in mind, we decided to try changing our chat approach. Instead of opening our chat conversations with a generic chat prompt, we decided to try starting a conversation about the content people were reading.
Starting the conversation
Now, here’s where you have to get a bit clever. Obviously, a generic prompt like, “Ask me, I can help!” wouldn’t do a lot of good here.
Yeah, we might have a few responders, but a prompt like that doesn’t do anything to connect what we know about our visitor to our conversation starter.
Just like a great headline or call to action, a great chat prompt should be highly targeted. In our case, we chose to take advantage of Olark’s targeted chat feature (I have no business interest in Olark, it’s just a good tool for this tactic).
Once you have Olark set up on your site, all you have to do is click Settings > Targeted Chat > + New Rule, and you can create a targeted chat prompt for any page or group of pages on your site.
Let’s use our “PPC for Real Estate” blog post (from the tweet above) as an example. We’d set up a chat about it like this:
Now, when someone visits our “PPC for Real Estate” post, they’ll get a specifically targeted message that is directly related to the topic they just displayed interest in. That should get them talking.
The fact that they’re reading the post means that they are likely to have questions… and probably an AdWords account that needs help. A targeted chat prompt is a great way to add value to our content and get them talking about their AdWords accounts — it’s good for everyone!
Tips for implementing this approach
Just so you know, if you have a ton of content, you can still get this to work.
Here are some ways to do it effectively:
- Be like Shia LaBeouf, and Just Do It! Make a specific prompt for every page. It may be a lot of work, but it will definitely deliver the most personalized experience.
- Make prompts for your top-performing pages. This will be way easier (and potentially more practical) than option #1. Find the top traffic pages you have, and put some targeted prompts together.
- Simply make prompts for different categories of your content. In our case, we could try making a PPC-related prompt for our PPC-related pages and landing page prompts for our landing page-related pages.
Honestly, if you’ve got a lot of content, combining #2 and #3 is probably your best bet. You’ll be able to really make the most of your top-performing pages, but you won’t be leaving your other content out to dry.
Does it work?
At this point, you might be thinking, That’s a cool idea, Jake, but does it really work?
Well, let me put it this way: Just this year, more than two-thirds of our chats began on content pages. And those chats weren’t just shooting the breeze or answering content-related question — a lot of them turned directly into leads.
For example, check out this chat:
I won’t be surprised if you didn’t read all of that, so here’s a quick recap: Someone who was interested in “PPC for Real Estate” read our blog post about it. While he was reading, he got our chat prompt, which said, “How are you planning to grow your AdWords campaigns in 2016?”
Makes sense, right? From the content of our post, we knew he was probably interested in using AdWords to grow his business, so the prompt was a natural extension of that idea.
He (“Austin”) quickly responded that he was looking for PPC management help. Now, as it turned out, Austin was mostly curious about whether or not AdWords would work for his business (something we never would have known if we hadn’t, you know, actually talked to him). Most of his PPC efforts had been on Facebook.
Once we identified his real pain points and what he was after, it was easy to get him connected with the head of our social media division and on a phone call to discuss our services.
To get all this goodness started, all we had to do was ask the right question.
So, do content-specific chat prompts teach you about your audience and drive leads? Absolutely.
Chatting like a pro
In implementing this approach, it’s important to remember that — just as in real life — not every conversation you start will go smoothly. To help improve the quality of your chats, though, keep the following in mind:
1. Relevance is key
Like I’ve said earlier in this article, you want to talk about what your customers are interested in. If your prompts are generic, your responses will probably be generic, too. Prompts that relate directly to the underlying need of the people who clicked on your content are best.
2. Being low-key is key
Remember, this is a conversation, not a sales pitch. The fact that they are interested in your content shows that they have a need, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to have you fulfill it yet.
With this in mind, you should approach your chats like you would approach a first date. Listen to the other person and talk about them (and their situation) until a natural opportunity for you to offer your solution arises.
3. Knowledge is key
This tactic works best when your chat operators really understand your audience, content and business. If they can’t talk about it fluently, you’ll run into problems. Salespeople will probably understand what your business is about well enough to pull this off, but be careful if you’re using third-party customer service reps.
4. Rapport is key
Let me emphasize this once again. Even though this is a focused online chat, it is still a conversation. Feel free to get off-topic if your clients do so. People definitely prefer talking to people instead of robots.
Even if they don’t become a lead after one conversation, they have a better chance of coming back later if you are helpful and human.
Good content is a fantastic ice-breaker. If you approach it right, you can use chat prompts to turn your content into conversations, leads and sales.
Sure, it might take a little extra work, but if it helps get a few more sales out of your content, isn’t it worth it?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.