By Brenna Lofquist, Senior Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

In today’s digital technology landscape there are numerous platforms, tools and technologies at the disposal of every marketer—almost too many. My goal with the Quick Start Guide series is to provide you a quick synopsis of a martech solution category. For each category I’ll highlight a few platforms/tools, the pros and cons of each, benchmarks and additional resources. Without further ado…

Welcome to the eighth installment of The B2B Marketer’s Quick Start Guide. Today’s post is about Live Chat platforms. Check out the previous quick start guide posts on marketing automation and ABM orchestration.

Overview

Live chat software/platforms have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Live chat allows companies to communicate with their website visitors in real time. It provides another channel to engage with prospects in a highly-personalized way where you’re engaging with prospects at the right time because they are reaching out to you. Live chat has a few different use cases, some companies might use it for customer service, others will use it to drive sales. In some cases live chat communications can be automated or from a human in real-time, there’s lots of possibilities!

So let’s get into it!

Live Chat Platforms

Olark

  • Features/functionality:
    • Customize your chat box to match your brand
    • Olark’s easy-to-configure live chat automation rules save time and speed up your workflow
    • Learn from live chat analytics – detailed live chat reports update in real time so you can monitor chat volume, customer satisfaction, and agent activity
    • Uncover actionable insights in transcripts
    • Custom chatbox forms
    • The PowerUps add on provides specialized live chat features for going the extra mile
    • Keep your entire team on track – easily distribute chats and monitor team performance
    • Integrations: HubSpot, Salesforce, Slack, Zendesk and more
  • Reviews/rating:
    • G2 Rating: 4.3 / 5
    • Pros:
      • Olark is extremely easy to install and simple to use. Love that they make a free trial available
      • It allows our entire team to be in live chat throughout the day to be able to serve our customers in the best way possible
      • Olark is very easy to use. I like the different chat features like automation pop-ups an the ability to toggle it on/off
      • The ability to customize notifications and save shortcuts
      • Easy to integrate with other software and we’ve noticed an increase in sales since our customer team is actively talking to customer on our website
    • Cons:
      • Need to add more functionality like stickers and file sharing options with security
      • Lack of metrics. I wish there was a way to group similar keywords and measure by them
      • I’d like to edit the appearance more and make even more customizations
      • The monthly subscription fee can make someone stop using Olark especially for small startups like ours

Drift

    • Features/functionality:
      • Connect with more website visitors at their moment of highest intent
      • Shorten your sales cycle with real-time conversations
      • Build playbooks to target open opportunities when they return to your website and route them to their account executive
      • Use Chat to Call or Chat to Zoom to instantly start a phone call with your prospect
      • Customize chat experiences depending on what you already know about them
      • Create multiple Drift inboxes to manage different types of conversations
      • Save time answering common questions with Saved Replies
      • Get feedback from your buyers using Conversational Ratings
      • Use Internal Notes to communicate with teammates right from within the conversation
      • Unlock the power of every conversation with Conversational Analysis
      • Integrations: Salesforce, SalesLoft, Marketo, Pardot, Outreach and more
    • Reviews/rating:
      • G2 Rating: 4.3 / 5
      • Pros:
        • It is effortless to customize and set up A/B testing. Our Drift rep is also very helpful in getting the best results from our playbooks and homepage bot
        • The bot/playbooks are extremely user-friendly to build and manage with features to allow you to capture leads in a number of ways – capturing their contact details, allowing them to book a meeting within the bot, and also to speak to the sales team when they are online.
        • I think the tool is very easy to use and learn. Their interface is intuitive
        • Tangible ROI, Modular design process, great CSM team
      • Cons:
        • Our biggest downfall is not having the right time/resources to properly invest into optimizing the tool in order to see the ROI. Like any marketing strategy, it requires time and experimentation to see what works. I think there’s a lot of room for us to grow our strategy. So this isn’t necessarily a fault of Drift itself, but rather it needs to be treated like any other tactic and given the care and attention it deserves
        • I would say the meeting scheduler is not as customizable as we would hope….. but no complaints on the function!
        • The automation product line is underdeveloped and doesn’t provide accessibility or autonomy to the end user. It becomes difficult to troubleshoot issues due to this.

Intercom (Business Messenger)

    • Features/functionality:
      • Chat with your customers the way they want – chat in real-time or follow up later
      • Automate work with chatbots
      • Personalize every customer experience
      • Deliver outbound messages on your website or app
      • Target chat to specific segments
      • Intercom connects your tools and workflows so you can communicate personally at scale
      • Integrations: Google Analytics, Salesforce, Slack, HubSpot, Clearbit and more
    • Reviews/rating:
      • G2 Rating: 4.4 / 5
      • Pros:
        • We have a great relationship with their customer success team. They listen, they deliver, they help us to get the best out of their app. The app is very modular and helps us to scale our support
        • Its UI design and the documentations of its features are pretty clear. It is fast and reliable. You can count on Intercom that it has a trustworthy customer care team
        • I like that I can have all my channels connected in one, and my team save a lot of time. I also love that I not only use it to talk to my clients, but also to notify those with whom I have no communication
      • Cons:
        • Since Intercom focuses on messaging experience with customers most, there should be more features which cover such as finding specific text messages, easy to read and locate a message in a conversation without scrolling back to find it, finding the conversations contains specific words and letting you export them, etc.
        • Location Targeting customers could be better. Right now you can target customers based on city and state (region). But we would prefer if we could target customers based on a radius from a city, or a radius from a specific address or zip code
        • We can’t automate replies to customers based on certain events, their triggers are limited, and in general, it requires a lot of manual effort to manage customers on the day-to-day

HubSpot Chat Builder (Sales Hub)

    • Features/functionality:
      • Book meetings and qualify leads automatically directly from within your chatbot window
      • Design chatbot windows that match the theme of your website or product
      • Create natural-seeming chatbot sequences without any coding knowledge required
      • Automatically trigger an email sequence after a conversation with your chatbot has closed
      • Personalize messages using information pulled directly from your CRM
      • Integrations: Vidyard, Google Ads, Outlook, Slack, Salesforce, and more
    • Reviews/rating:
      • The ratings on G2 were not specific to the Chat Builder functionality and there was no way to filter the reviews by feature
      • Another note, the chat feature is enabled through the HubSpot Sales Hub, there is a free version as well as paid options with increased functionality

To Sum it All Up

To reiterate, I always encourage you to check out these platforms for yourself, especially depending on the goals and objectives of your business. The platforms I reviewed were more specific to B2B marketing and sales use cases, there are other platforms out there that specialize in customer service and support. Do you have any other live chat platforms you’d recommend? Let me know!

Next up: Analytics and Reporting