How clever automated live chat messages increase conversion rates

Today's post comes from Johnathan Dane, founder of KlientBoost. His company got some surprising results after experimenting with the Olark Greeter...

If you're like me, you already have a healthy list of 'to dos' you're working through to grow your business  — all the the latest and greatest marketing tips and tricks from across the Internet.

And if you're like me, there just isn't enough time in the day to put all of these new marketing discoveries to use. You want something that will get results, but you're not sure where to start.

Well, I can recommend one thing to put near the top of your "increase conversions" to-do list: get clever with your automated live chat messages, and specifically with the Olark Greeter.

What's a Greeter?

Greeters are automated chat messages that "greet" your website visitors as they're browsing. If you shop online, you've probably had the experience of a chat window popping up with an offer to answer questions or help you locate a product — that's a Greeter. 

Sometimes Greeters are simple and helpful — “Hi! My name is Jamie, please let me know if you have any questions that I can help you answer. I’m right here!”

Some are a little more inquisitive — “Welcome to Acme Corp! I am here to help you. Is this your first time visiting us?”

No matter how you use it, the Greeter often gets the conversation started. Greeters let your visitors know their questions will be answered by you, a real human being.

Here at Disruptive Advertising, we found using the Olark Greeter in clever ways on clients' landing pages increased conversion rates by as much as 37 percent!

But we didn't hit that number right out of the gate — we had to do a little experimenting to find the best Greeter style to increase conversions. When the dust settled, we found that the best greeters followed one of a few basic (but non-obvious) patterns.

Ask something counterintuitive

One of the first lessons we learned was that "traditional" Greeters don't actually work that well. As an illustration, here are the four chat Greeters we’re split testing right now for our own site (for context: we’re a pay-per-click advertising agency):

  • “What’s your best marriage advice?”
  • “If your AdWords account was an animal, what would it be?”
  • “Who’s your #1 competitor?”
  • “What are you struggling with right now?”

Guess which one has the highest response rate...

“What’s your best marriage advice?”

How did we know it's okay to ask a question that doesn't make much sense? Because we know our visitors are on our site on purpose, and have arrived either through a PPC click, an organic blog post link, or something else that’s related to the services we offer. We also know that the visitor is either interested in improving their own PPC performance or looking to outsource.

So, we start by asking an actual question that gets the visitor's attention — maybe even something that's fun to answer. That question becomes the chat operator’s “foot-in-the-door” to initiate the conversation, connect with the visitor, and move things along toward a sale.

Get to the point

We've also run Greeter experiments on our clients' sites. For example, we tested a few Greeters for a client who sells promo products: 

  • “How many lanyards are you looking for?”
  • “Hi! I’m Brad! Let me know if you need any help!”
  • “What event do you need the lanyards for?”

The Greeter that won by a landslide was “How many lanyards are you looking for?” This Greeter also raised overall conversion rates within their AdWords account by 37% (we only tracked conversions through Olark when the visitor replied to the greeter).

Why did this Greeter work so well? I'd point to three reasons: 

  • It got to the point
  • It gave the visitor a quick answer to come back with (a number)
  • It lead to what the visitor was looking for (a quote)

Unexpected, but easy to answer

Here’s another Greeter test we ran for a veterans mortgage firm. We used:

  • How long have you been serving?
  • What military branch are you a part of?
  • Do you need to refinance or home purchase?

Know which one performed the best? "What military branch are you part of?"

We believe this was because it was a unique question that a visitor didn’t expect to, and that a spouse of a veteran could answer. The “How long have you been serving?” would only apply if an actual veteran was on the site, and the “Need to refinance or home purchase?” could seem like a bait-n-switch tactic.


Online chat in itself can be a powerful sales tool — and when paired with automatic chat Greeters, it can seriously bump your conversion rates.

Not only can you split test new ideas for Greeters, but you can also get very creative with them. Just remember to look at your transcripts within Olark and determine which have the highest response rates. Then pause the underperforming ones and create new Greeters to compete with your winners. And feel free to comment on this post to let us know what works for you!

Check out relevant topics on: Sales and Conversions

Johnathan Dane

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