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In the last few years, I finally reached a point in my business where I could begin testing new tools that in the past I ignored because I lacked the capacity to make them work.
I’m sure you resonate with me when I tell you that I frequently get overwhelmed by all the tools available to grow your business.
I love internet marketing, but it’s one of the fastest changing industries, with so many new apps and techniques popping up every month.
Just keeping up with them is a big enough job, let alone applying them to your business!
However, because I set a plan into action back in 2012 to grow a more automated, blog sales funnel powered business, and made a commitment to hire more people to help me, in the last few years I found myself in a situation where I could add something to my business I’d wanted to test out for a long time…
Live chat has been available years. I remember using IRC (Internet Relay Chat) online back in the late 1990s.
From those early days of simple command-line prompt style interfaces, the functionality and presentation of live chat has changed.
No longer is it just a software program for making friends, shooting the breeze and hooking up, today live chat is a powerful online business tool.
If you’re not familiar with modern live chat, it’s a straightforward idea. You visit a website, usually a page for a product you are thinking of buying, and a little box pops up on the right or left of the bottom of the screen, inviting you to start a chat with a customer support person.
If you initiate the chat, you and a support agent sitting at a computer somewhere on the planet will be connected through a small chat window where you can type to each other in real time.
If you’re still confused, go try it out on my Blog Mastermind order page and you should be able to chat with a member of my client care team live.
I played around with live chat for my business a few years ago. I added it to my main product sales pages and attempted to man the chat myself during big launches.
Even just this brief testing period showed that live chat can be very effective. I had several conversations with potential customers who were right in the middle of deciding whether to buy my course. After speaking to me via live chat, they purchased.
I also had conversations with people who were very excited to speak to me (some didn’t believe it was really me!), and then proceeded to use the live chat experience for some free coaching.
Some of the conversations I had were a waste of time. It’s easy to tell when someone isn’t really interested in buying your product. They tend to be in a hurry, are demanding and unrealistic. These conversations I ended as quickly as possible, usually guiding people to my free training resources.
At the end of my experiment I knew live chat was something that could help my business, but until I had more people working with me, it wasn’t something I could make much use of.
As I have written about before, for over twelve years I’ve had people handle my email for me, including customer support and sales queries sent via email (our primary communication channel).
In 2016 I made the decision to hire two new client care people rather than just one. This was because I wanted to offer quicker response times no matter what time of the day it was, and so we could implement a live chat strategy.
We started a research and testing process to find the best suited live chat software for what we wanted to do. This is no easy decision to make, as there are many live chat providers, including…
Some live chat services offer your basic live chat functionality, which includes the chat box itself and the ability to monitor people who are visiting your website.
From there, things can become complicated. Some live chat services offer much more than just live chat. They include full-blown customer management systems, including helpdesk ticketing, knowledgebase, onboarding, in-app messaging, customer database integration, plus social media connectivity.
Live chat user interface design can vary a lot too. Some programs look like software from the early 2000s, with countless settings you need to configure, so it quickly becomes overwhelming. Others have a more modern interface, but fewer options to play with.
I was keen to try the more advanced tools and was initially very excited by the potential presented by Intercom.
While I first looked at Intercom for their live chat app, as I browsed their well-designed website, I got excited by the different communication apps they provide beyond chat. I liked the idea of a complete site-wide live chat/helpdesk/onboarding tool, so decided to give it a test run.
We installed Intercom and spent several weeks learning how to use it. Everything was great, except one thing – the system wouldn’t send outgoing emails, a pretty important feature if you want to re-engage visitors after they have left your website.
After a couple of emails with their support team and then a phone call with the onboarding representative assigned to me, it became clear that I was not going to get the email function I wanted.
Apparently, because my business operates in the ‘make money’ niche, they don’t allow outgoing email due to the risk of spam complaints. As I saw it, email was a key component of almost every tool offered by the software, and even though I primarily wanted the live chat function, to not be able to use the rest of the tools made Intercom a very expensive option.
In the end, I decided to leave Intercom. Next, we played around with a couple of other options, including Olark (the best if you’re on a budget – they have a solid free plan for just the basics), tried a few more advanced options that proved too complicated or clunky, then finally settled on the first live chat service I used all those years ago during my initial tests – LiveChatInc.com.
Live Chat Inc, in my opinion, has one of the best user interface designs. It’s simple, very easy to learn and uses big graphical elements so you don’t get lost in line after line of settings to configure.
You could think of Live Chat Inc as the Apple of the live chat world. Usability comes first, with the sacrifice of some features you probably won’t even realize are missing.
Importantly, Live Chat Inc has no problems sending outgoing emails, so every chat can be tracked and replied to via email as well, a critical function.
Live Chat Inc includes powerful customization. You can decide how and when the pop-up chat box fires up after a visitor hits the page and what message it leads with depending on whether it is a new or returning visitor. What country they are chatting from and what webpage they are initiating the chat on are also displayed. You can play with fonts, colors and set user images as well.
What I especially appreciate about Live Chat Inc are the various ways to access the platform. There is a web-based interface, a desktop app you can download and keep running in the background, and a mobile app as well.
I also like the pricing model. They don’t charge you per user agent like most other chat solutions, instead, they charge per ‘seat’. Think of a seat as the command chair for live chat, which any of your agents can sit in. You just can’t have more than one agent live on chat at once, unless you pay for more than one seat.
For all of 2016 we only paid for one seat — which is just $36 a month for the second tier we use — much lower than many of the other tools we tested.
Since we currently have three people in my client care team, and because live chat has proven so effective, I decided to double our seating capacity, paying $72 a month so we can have two agents operating at once, which can be important during busy periods.
If Live Chat Inc brings in just one more customer of my flagship course, it pays for itself. I can tell you that it’s done a lot better than that over the last twelve months, so well worth the investment.
You can learn more about Live Chat Inc here.
Over the last few years I’ve created many new training products, each with its own sales page.
With more products and more pages, means more visitors and thus more potential for live chats!
At any point in time throughout the day there are people visiting my product sales pages. We can see this in real time using the Live Chat Inc Dashboard, and if we want to, initiate a chat manually, although we rarely do this.
I have the software setup to popup an invitation to chat after a time delay and to be more active if there is a returning visitor, but leave it up to the visitor to initiate the chat. The end result is most days we have several sales related chats.
Most of these chats do not immediately lead to a sale. Occasionally they do — which is when you really feel the value of live chat — but more often a live chat is another step in the process a potential customer is going through before they become ready to buy.
Sometimes a visitor just needs clarification on how my product works and whether it is right for their situation. Sometimes price can be an issue, or there might be a sticking point that is holding them back, for example, they don’t know what topic to start a business on yet, so they’re not sure whether they are ready for my Blog Mastermind course.
During live chats my team can dynamically respond to what the visitor is saying, sometimes using a template response to a common question, sometimes explaining different pricing options or coming up with a custom offer on the fly.
Live chats frequently turn into mini-coaching sessions, so it’s important my team knows enough about what I teach that they can offer guidance (all new client care team members must review my products as part of their training).
Frequently chats end with a simple recommendation to go study my free training resources as the next step, if they are not ready to buy. Some chats end with the scheduling of a Clarity Call, taking the personal support experience up another level and frequently leading to a sale during the call.
One thing I learned recently while studying how to improve customer retention is the importance of multiple lines of communication.
This means that your customers can get in touch with you and your team in different ways. They don’t necessarily need to use all or any of the methods, simply making multiple options available increases your credibility.
We recently created a central support page that we link to from all other pages across my websites. On this EJ Support page, to go along with email and phone options, we added live chat.
Live chat was also added to every page of the Laptop Lifestyle Academy, and the download area for accessing all my paid programs.
Adding live chat is very easy to do, all you need is to paste the Live Chat Inc code to the main template theme of your website and the live chat is deployed across the site. This provides a constant line of support to all our customers so they don’t have to go digging around trying to find out how to get help from us.
A real pet peeve I have with many company websites is how they try and hide their email and phone numbers. I wanted to be sure we put our contact points only one click away no matter where a customer is on my websites.
We also offer a members-only Slack chat, community forums and live group coaching webinars with me.
The end result is my customers have six different ways to communicate with me and my client care team.
All of these communication channels and support tools make the impression that our business is ‘always-on‘ (which it is thanks to the Internet!), and that we are serious about what we do. This is not a one-man-show that might disappear overnight.
As much as I am the name, face and teacher of my business, over the last few years my team have become much more involved in the communication process.
Live chat is one of the areas where this impact is obvious. Potential customers chat with one member of my client care team, and thus begin a relationship that may extend over to many emails and possibly a phone call too.
It doesn’t stop there. If the person then purchases, the same client care member will frequently provide onboarding support, answering queries and guiding people through resources. Months later the same customer may email in asking for help from the same client care member.
I like this because it empowers my team to take control of the relationship and the marketing process, and leaves me out of it. If it was up to just me to offer this level of communication and support I wouldn’t be able to do much else in my business.
I’m now free to do what I do best — create content that will help more people and attract more potential customers.
Knowing that my team can handle incoming queries through live chat, email and clarity calls gives me a real sense of running a business that can run without me (in fact it largely does since my previous content does much of the first-stage marketing for me).
Before this, I did make sales automatically because content (free reports, videos, blog posts and emails) can be enough to convince someone to buy your product, but that’s not always the case. Live chat and a great support team means you bring in more customers you would otherwise lose, and it’s still automated from your point of view as the business owner.
Live chat is a great tool for learning why people don’t buy your products.
If you’re a student of copywriting, you know one of the main purposes of a long form sales page or video or email sequence, and even the entire launch process itself is to deal with every potential rejection point — the reasons why someone won’t buy from you.
Chances are, right now you don’t know what all those rejection points are.
This might seem obvious, but the answers exist in the minds and emotions of the people who are considering buying your products.
One of the best places to tap into this insight is through live chat during the sales process. Since most live chat conversations occur on the sales page itself, you know you have a person who has been through your marketing process and reached a critical decision point.
Will they buy or won’t they?
When they activate the live chat, pay close attention, because they’re going to tell you exactly what they are thinking about right then as they consider buying. That’s a special moment.
Once you have a few conversations you’re quickly going to learn the most common questions, fears and frustration points for your potential customer.
If you’re live chat team are well trained, they will act very much like counselors just as much as sales people. They are there to listen, to ask questions and determine what the visitor is going through right now, what they are thinking and feeling, and what their goals and aspirations are, and then apply the appropriate response.
You have to be careful though, live chat, like all communication, takes some practice. It’s so easy to treat it as a direct sales tool, simply spitting out platitudes about how good the product is and pushing hard to get the person to buy, only to have them run away, never to be seen from again.
Once you spend some time with live chat you will be able to produce a list of the most common questions and fears that stop people from buying. You can then add content to your content marketing process (blog posts, videos, emails, etc) to directly address these issues, and create template replies for use in live chat conversations.
I’ll end this with a simple statement: Live chat will increase your sales.
Every day we get queries via live chat from potential customers, who otherwise we would never have communicated with. They may not purchase straight away, but each touch point we have with them increases the likelihood they will eventually.
Live chat gives my team the power to create special offers tailored exactly to the needs of the person they are talking to. For example, if a person mentions during a live chat they have fear around the technical setup of a blog, we can offer to include a bonus blog setup package from our BlogSetupServices.com offer for free, which can instantly convince them to join my Blog Mastermind program.
Without live chat, this outcome would likely never occur.
Live chat is also great during launches with deadlines. Think about how many people hit your sales page during the final 24 hours of a promotion. This is a critical decision-making point, further motivated by the looming cut-off point. A quick live chat to demonstrate the credibility of your business can make all the difference.
Today people visited your product pages and decided not to buy. If you knew why that was and had the ability to chat with them about their concerns, would that make a difference? I think so.
How many new sales are you missing out on? Stop wondering and start chatting.