Guest Post: Improving conversions with live chat

olarketingOlark is a fantastic way to convert more visitors. My company has found live chat crucial as we grow the business and learn more about what our customers want to know.

But having a live chat box isn't the end of the story. Here are some tips that have really helped Red-Robot to build live chat into our business from start to finish.

1. Collect the right information

It's possible to have visitors start Olark chats without giving you any information at all, but we've found it's a good idea to collect at least a name and an email address.

There are a few reasons why I do this:

  • If I have someone's name, I can introduce myself as soon as a new chat comes in, and I can address that person before they start typing. Addressing people by name is a great way to start a conversation.
  • If I have someone's email address, it can give me clues as to their location, their company or the type of work they do. For example, a domain name could allow me to look up the customer's company while they're composing their first message.
  • If I have an email address, I can follow up. (More on that in section 3, below).

2. Act on trends

Live chat is a great tool, but it can be misused. Occasionally, people who contact me through live chat are looking for free downloads, jobs or information about our competitors.

I've hooked up our Google Analytics account to find out where chats are likely to start. By cross-referencing stats with transcripts, I see patterns. Often, people who find us through organic search are looking for information that isn't directly related to our own company; they might want information about a company we've mentioned in a blog post, for example.

The key is to notice these trends and act on them as soon as they start causing you problems. Use Targeted Chat to prevent the chat box appearing on troublesome pages. I've used Targeted Chat to drastically cut back on the amount of time I spend chatting with people who have no intention of becoming customers.

3. Don't bombard your visitors with chats

As you get more into using Olark, you'll discover just how powerful it is. You can choose to open your chat box automatically, make it pop out under certain circumstances or for certain users, or prompt people to chat after a certain amount of time.

However, you'll probably also recall using websites where live chat was more of an annoyance than a useful tool, so don't go overboard.

Find a balance between engagement and harassment. Rather than repeatedly bombarding your visitor with the Olark box, play around with Targeted Chat, try different colors or use a Greeter to find your own sweet spot.

4. Follow up transcripts

Live chat is a great tool, but it doesn't end when chats are closed.

Remember how I said you should collect email addresses? Here's another reason why: by collecting the visitor's email address, you can refer back to the transcript and follow up your chat with a focused, friendly email.

Unless the client has asked you to follow up immediately, I find it's best to wait a couple of days. Often, they'll reply to your email with an update. Many people use their email inbox as a to-do list: by sending an email, you're putting your company at the top of that list.

Check out relevant topics on: Sales and Conversions

Claire Broadley

Read more posts by Claire Broadley