Guest post by Dave Rigotti, head of marketing at Bizible.

As the head of marketing for a fast growing enterprise SaaS startup, I spend a lot of energy (and budget) on top of the funnel growth. However, I balance that volume with quality to maximize the most important marketing metric: revenue. At Bizible we call this pipeline marketing.

One of my favorite examples of this in practice is proactive live chat.

What Is Proactive Live Chat?

Proactive chat is quite simple. When a website visitor doesn’t take any action on a page after a predefined number of seconds, they are prompted with a question in a chat box.

We use SnapEngage, but there are other great chat platforms that integrate with CRMs such as Olark. All of these providers allow for a number of customizations, including the design. 

You can customize the message based on the web page they’re on, whether they are a returning visitor, how long they’ve been on the page, and a number of other criteria. Doing so ensures your proactive message is relevant and engages the visitor to increase chat response rates.

Proactive chat looks like this:

live chat pic

Proactive Live Chat Drives Revenue

If you were to stack rank all lead generation activities we do every month, live chat would be at the bottom in terms of quantity of leads generated. Not to mention it takes significant amount of energy to operate.

However, it’s near the top in terms of revenue.

Let me back up a bit to explain why. Like many SaaS companies, we use live chat on our website to connect visitors with sales — it’s a conversion channel for us. The directives for chat agents are basically: get their email, do some basic qualification, and schedule a demo. They aren’t supposed to sell. 

Our data shows that people talking to us on live chat are middle of funnel leads. These people are on our site, looking at our product, and are interested enough to start a conversation. These middle of funnel leads are very different from a non-aware lead, e.g. people who download content.

Live chat for us has a lead to opportunity conversion rate 50% higher than average. They also convert much faster too, since SDRs aren’t spending cycles following up with emails and phone calls — all the interaction happens in one conversation.

After a revenue analysis, I found that contacts from live chat contribute to ~25% of our new monthly revenue each month. Seriously. And with a big driver like that, you optimize it. We spend a considerable amount of time tweaking the program chat notifications, the delay, and personalization/customization to make it work harder and harder.

One clever way we found to be effective in collecting email addresses is to simply ask for it, like this: “In case we get disconnected, can I have your email address? Mine is [operator]@bizible.com.” Giving up our email address first makes it more of a two-way transaction than a sales maneuver.

A few other optimizations that made a difference:

  1. Use agent’s real photo and name in chat to build a relationship and trust.
  2. Use a free offer in the first proactive prompt to encourage the first response. Ours is “want to see what Bizible has tracked for your visit today?” to show off our product.
  3. Turn product questions into an opportunity to ask the visitor to schedule a live demo.

In the end, the revenue is fantastic, you also get a bit of unexpected fun too. You never really know who is going to come on to the chat. We once had the mother of one of our reps start chatting with him, calling him cute names and not realizing the transcripts are sent to the team.

Dave Rigotti is the Head of Pipeline Marketing at Bizible, marketing analytics/attribution application for companies who use a CRM. Dave is also the co-founder of PipelineMarketer.com, an education site on lead to revenue management. Prior to Bizible, Dave worked for over 4 years at Microsoft on the Bing marketing team. You can follow him on Twitter at @drigotti.