90% of B2B Companies Don’t Respond to Leads Fast Enough . . . Do You?
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots over the past few years. At one extreme, you have people who are worried that AI will take over the world—that intelligent machines will eventually come to replace humans in nearly every field and industry. At the other extreme, you have people who think intelligent machines are useless curiosities, and that they are more likely to distract and confuse potential customers than help them.
The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. The idea isn’t to replace human marketers and salespeople, it’s to supplement their efforts. And when it comes to responding to new leads as quickly as possible, 24/7, there’s no denying the effectiveness of intelligent chatbots.
Without having to write a single line of code, marketers and salespeople can now add chatbots to their websites that can provide answers to common questions, route visitors to the right people and departments, ask qualifying questions, and schedule meetings for sales reps. By automating these tasks, chatbots enable marketers and salespeople to focus more of their time on tasks that require a human touch, like answering complex product questions and building rapport with new leads. So even though you’re outsourcing some of the work to chatbots, the end result is a more human buying experience.
Using Messaging to Capture and Qualify Leads in a Single Step
The good news: By adding messaging to your website, you can eliminate the time gap between when you capture leads and when you qualify them. And that’s because with messaging, you can capture and qualify a lead during a single conversation. There’s no magic or painstaking work required—it just comes down to being helpful, asking the right questions, and treating the person you’re talking to like an actual person, and not like an entry in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
By having a real-time conversation via messaging, you’re able to learn about potential customers in a more natural way, right away. You can figure out right then and there, during a single conversation, whether or not someone is going to be a good fit for your product or service. And as soon as that person enters an email address, he or she can automatically be saved in your system as a new contact. It all happens right there in a messaging window, no follow-up emails or phone calls required.
Chatbots and Humans (Not Chatbots Versus Humans)
Using chatbots as part of your marketing and sales strategy isn’t about replacing humans, it’s about supplementing your human workforce and helping them do their jobs as efficiently as possible. And in a world where billions of people now prefer to communicate via messaging and have come to expect a real-time buying experience by default, most marketing and sales teams could use that extra help that chatbots can provide.
Step #1 Setup
Replace Your Forms or Add a “Second Net” (Don’t Worry, It Takes Five Minutes)
Adding real-time messaging to your website is as simple as copying and pasting a snippet of code (which is provided by the messaging service you’re using) into your website’s source code. It’s the same process for installing Google Analytics or any other marketing or sales application, and it doesn’t require a ton of technical know-how. Granted, if you don’t have access to your website’s source code, you’ll need to tag in someone on your team who can help. Either way, once that snippet has been added, a messaging widget
will appear on your website and visitors will be able to engage with you in real time. Depending on how much traffic your website gets, your first conversation with a visitor might begin within a matter of seconds.
Put Up a Welcome Message
Once you have the system in place you can start fleshing out the experience. A welcome message is a short message that pops up in the corner of your website (out of your messaging widget) and automatically greets your website visitors.
Show Your Face
Whether it’s our product, the homepage of our website, or the images on our blog, faces are crucial when it comes to humanizing our brand and humanizing the customer experience.
Capture Leads (Without Using Lead Forms)
Once you have the basic setup for conversational marketing and sales in place on your website, you’ll no longer have to rely on forms in order to capture leads. Instead, you’ll be able to use messaging as a net new source of leads, and you’ll be able to capture those leads 24 hours a day
Step #2 Email Tweak
A Few Simple Tweaks for Bringing Your Email Marketing Strategy into the Real-Time World
Three of the main problems with traditional email marketing have been as follows:
Email isn’t real-time.
Email is abused.
Email isn’t smart.
The silver lining: With a few simple tweaks, you can modernize your email marketing strategy and start using email as a tool for engaging (and re-engaging) potential customers in real-time conversation. Here’s how you do it.
Connect Email to Real-Time Messaging
In every email you send, start including a hyperlink that allows the recipient to start a real-time conversation with a single click. You can create this hyperlink in seconds inside of your conversational marketing and sales platform.
Send Fewer (More Highly Targeted) Emails
The “spray and pray” approach to email marketing is both inefficient and—for a lot of teams—producing diminishing returns. The solution: Stop going broad and start going narrow. Instead of flooding inboxes with emails that share as much information as possible with the hope that something will resonate, start honing your message to address the specific concerns of the people you’re emailing.
Step #3 Initiate Conversation
So, Uh, What Do I Say?
If you’re using chatbots to welcome website visitors and to route them to the right teams, you can also use your opening greeting as an opportunity to establish that you are a human—not a chatbot. For example, after a chatbot routes a new lead your way, you could open by saying something like: “Hey there! Real human here, happy to help.” As a marketer or sales rep, it’s a great way to break the ice and to make it immediately clear that the chatbot did its job and has now gotten out of the way.
The Best Questions to Ask Your Website Visitors
There’s one key difference between good questions and bad questions: Value. Good questions generate value for both you and for the person you’re talking with, while bad questions generate value, at best, just for you, and at worst, for nobody
Here are a few tips for making sure your qualifying questions are always adding value for both parties:
- Avoid asking closed questions
- Avoid following a script
- Be authentic
A List of Common Qualifying Questions
- “What brought you here today?”
- “Why’d you decide to sign up?”
- “What are you hoping to accomplish?”
- “What specific goals are you trying to hit?”
- “What tools/products/services are you currently using to hit these goals?”
Step #4 Target Visitors
Where to Start: Targeting the High-Intent Pages on Your Site
One of the benefits of using messaging is that you’re able to create a fast lane for your best leads and engage with them in real time, while they’re live on your website and clearly interested in learning more. In many cases, those leads are hanging out on a few specific pages, perhaps on your pricing page or on a bottom-of-the-funnel landing page where they can fill out a form in order to connect with your sales team. These are both examples of high-intent pages—pages on your website that people tend to visit when they’re getting close to making a purchase decision. By creating custom welcome messages that target your high-intent pages, you can cut through the “noise” that you might commonly encounter on your homepage or on your blog and hone in on just those visitors who are more likely to buy.
There are three common targeting options which are widely available in today’s chatbots:
- Targeting Visitors Based on Their On-Site Behavior
- Targeting Visitors Based on the Sites They’re Coming From
- Targeting Visitors Based on the Companies They Work For
Step #5 Qualify Leads
Build a Lead Qualification Chatbot (Without Writing a Single Line of Code)
One of the biggest problems we were able to solve with the help of a chatbot was qualifying leads in real time.
Coming Up with Questions and Responses for Your Bot
While it might sound technical, setting up a lead qualification chatbot on your website is really an exercise in crafting conversations. It’s about coming up with interesting questions, anticipating the responses you might get, and then writing relevant follow-ups based on those responses. Unlike a lead capture form, a lead qualification chatbot doesn’t passively collect answers, but actively engages visitors in one-to-one conversation and learns about those visitors just as a human marketer or sales rep would. But to clarify, the goal here isn’t to have the chatbot convince your website visitors that it’s human; the goal is to be able to provide a high-quality, real-time buying experience on your website, even when the humans on your team are unavailable.
Of course, the specific questions marketing and sales teams have lead qualification chatbots ask will vary from company to company and industry to industry. But as a starting point, the following “What? Who? How?” template is recommended:
- What brought you here?
- Who are you?
- How can I help you use our product?
Setting Up Responses
There are two different ways you can approach writing chatbot responses: by basing them on keywords that visitors use when answering open-ended questions, or by basing them on button responses—which you’ve pre-written—that visitors click on.
By crafting responses that align to certain keywords or sets of keywords, your lead qualification chatbot can ask your website visitors open-ended questions and—provided there’s a keyword match—reply with customized responses.
Using Button Responses
While keyword matching is perhaps the more natural way of getting your lead qualification chatbot to provide relevant responses, as your visitors are able to use natural language when answering qualifying questions, button responses allow for a speedier qualification process. Instead of having your chatbot ask open-ended questions, with button responses, you can make your questions multiple choice
Deciding On a Call-to-Action (CTA)
Whether you use keyword matching, button responses, or a combination of both, once you’ve set up your questions and the corresponding responses, you will have the makings of a chatbot that can work toward a specific goal. As a lead qualification chatbot, that goal is to identify people who are likely to buy by engaging them in conversation and persuading them to answer a few questions.
Now, let’s imagine that a website visitor has replied to all of the chatbot’s questions and, based on the answers that he or she has given, it’s clear that this person is a great fit to buy. In other words, let’s imagine that a chatbot has succeeded in its goal. It begs the obvious question: What should that chatbot do next?
After reaching its goal, the chatbot can automatically display a call-to-action (CTA)—a prompt that encourages qualified leads to talk to a human sales rep, or to book a time on a sales reps’ calendar or to start a free trial of your product, or to simply leave an email address. Ultimately, the CTA you use at the end of your chatbot conversation will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.