Around the world, businesses are increasing their investment in digital marketing to keep the virtual doors open and revenue growing.
But here’s a discouraging stat: The average website visitor converts at a rate of 1-4%.
Ugh. So what’s the alternative?
Across the Customers.ai database of hundreds of thousands of customers, we are seeing conversion in web chat and messaging sessions at a rate of 3-5x higher.
Webchat and messaging sessions have higher conversion rates than web traffic sessions for key reasons:
- Instant, 24/7 answers to questions reduces uncertainty and establishes trust
- High interactivity leads to lower rate of abandonment
- Messaging is the height of convenience and mobile-friendliness
We’ve run dozens of experiments and studied the webchat sales techniques of thousands of customers to distill the high-converting web chat strategies and tactics into a playbook that we use at Customers.ai.
Since we developed it, we’ve helped our customers put these tactics in place during $200/hour one-on-one strategy sessions that turn web chat into their top-producing sales and marketing channel.
However, you can create this exact web chat sales funnel for your own business for free by following the steps we lay out in this playbook.
There are 5 chapters in this guide on how to sell with web chat:
- Chapter 1: How to add webchat and messaging to your marketing funnels
- Chapter 2: Tactics to inspire web visitors to start chatting
- Chapter 3: How to proactively restart more high-converting chat sessions
- Chapter 4: How to cater to specific customer segments in chat to market to them more effectively
- Chapter 5: 7 pro tips from top sales teams facilitating more sales through web chat
Skip to each chapter above or read on for the full guide on how to sell with web chat.
We’ve written this guide to be 100% actionable for businesses in every industry, whether you sell products or services, B2C or B2B.
Ready to add web chat to your sales and marketing mix?
Customers.ai is the easiest-to-use platform to build a multi-channel web chat and messaging funnel like the one we’ll review together here.
Here’s how to sell with web chat and messaging, step-by-step:
- Step 1: Set up chat starters across your website, social media and ad campaigns.
- Step 2: Gain opt-in for follow-up messaging in re-engagement chat apps like SMS and Facebook Messenger.
- Step 3: Proactively re-engage prospects via lead nurturing messages, including drip campaigns, chat blast campaigns and Facebook Sponsored message campaigns.
- Step 4: Send strategically timed promotional messages to convert prospects into customers.
Let’s dive in to the strategies and tactics you’ll use to implement each step.
Chapter 1: How to add webchat and messaging to your marketing funnels
If you’re familiar with the concept of the marketing funnel, you might recognize a diagram like this:
A funnel isn’t a perfect analogy for the customer journey, but it does help illustrate some of the basics.
The top of the marketing funnel represents brand awareness. Everyone who comes into contact with your brand — whether through a Google search, an Instagram ad, or a referral from a friend — enters through the top of the funnel.
Once people learn that your brand exists, it’s the role of your marketing to move them through the funnel to understand the solution your business provides and demonstrate the value of that solution in making customers’ lives better.
Now here’s a key thing to keep in mind. You’re going to have a lot more sales success when through your marketing activity, you establish a channel for ongoing communication with prospects.
By establishing a connection for ongoing communication, a lead moves into the middle of the funnel, where a brand will nurture and educate a lead into a paying customer. Before a sale happens, a brand will often reach out and touch a future customer 10 or more times.
And here’s why selling with web chat is so effective:
Web chat is a channel that can both establish an initial top-of-funnel connection to future customers AND is a channel for continuing the conversation. Add in the ability of the brand to proactively start new messaging sessions, and you can see why web chat is such a high-performing tool for increasing sales.
So next let’s take a look at some of the ways you can start an initial conversation in chat with new leads or prospects.
How to Sell with Web Chat: Start conversations with new leads
There are lots of different ways to start a messaging conversation with a potential customer for the first time. At Customers.ai we call these chat starters.
Starting a conversation with a new contact can happen a lot of ways:
- A chat session started with someone visiting your website: Embed a chat widget on your website, like the webchat widget you see in the bottom right corner of this very webpage. (How meta!)
Each page on your website plays a different role in your marketing. Some web pages are informational or educational, like about pages or tutorials. Some web pages are more closely tied to sales, like checkout pages or pricing pages. The same way different website pages sit in a different position for serving people at different stages of a customer journey, so can your web chat widget. Consider the customer persona visiting different pages of your website and map your webchat greeting and menu to serve that customer persona and intent.
- A chat session started with someone who clicks on your Facebook ad (Customers.ai PRO feature): Facebook’s kind of famous for its ad network. First of all, Facebook ads run on some of the web’s hottest properties including Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook.
Second of all, Facebook advertisers can leverage some uniquely personal audience targeting options — everything from job title to Facebook Pages they’re interested in to people who have visited your website recently. Click-to-Messenger ads are a type of Facebook ad where the person who clicks on the ad starts a conversation with a business in the popular Facebook mobile chat app, Messenger.
- A chat session started when someone comments on your Facebook post: Social media can be a tough marketing channel — not because your audience isn’t there, but because lead capture or direct sales attribution can be fuzzy at best. If this sounds familiar, you’re going to love the Facebook Comment Guard.
A Comment Guard initiates a chat session with everyone who comments on your Facebook posts. And everyone who replies back to the chat starter turns into captured lead, who’s name and info is saved to a customer profile in Customers.ai, and who you can send follow-up messaging to, reengaging them in future conversations to nurture them toward sales.
- A chat session started through events: Events, live and pre-recorded, in-person and online, present a unique opportunity for a super first impression. The next time you’re attending, speaking or sponsoring an event, invite people to connect with you in chat. You can link straight to a chat-based marketing funnel from a URL, QR code, or magic keyword.
How to Sell with Web Chat: Re-engage leads to close more sales
Now you’re a conversation starter. It’s kind of like you’ve met someone for the first time at a party and hit it off.
The next few interactions will make the difference between establishing a lasting relationship vs. a tale of two ships passing in the night.
A couple things to keep in mind as you develop your mid-funnel messaging strategy:
- Re-engagement tip #1) Create a messaging opt-in connection. If your first conversation happens in web chat, it’s super important to establish how you and the person you’re talking to should connect for future conversations. This invitation to stay connected is sometimes called obtaining opt-in for follow-up messaging in a messaging channel like SMS.
On the other hand, if a conversation is started in Facebook Messenger chat, you might also want to obtain opt-in for follow-up messaging in another messaging channel like SMS. Facebook Messenger has a 24-hour window for promotional messaging. After that 24-hour window closes, a brand can start up a conversation with an existing contact through a type of ad called a sponsored message, and you can also invite that person to connect in another messaging channel.
- Re-engagement tip #2) Use drip campaigns to automate lead nurture and develop brand affinity. It’s important to gain opt-in to follow-up messaging so you can re-engage prospects, nurture and convert down-funnel. A chat drip campaign is a series of strategically timed messages sent in chat. Use a chat drip campaign to set up messages to automatically send to new contacts in an audience. Focus on messages that will make that person’s life better because they connected to your brand. Think educational resources and well-timed promotions.
Recommended resource: How to Do SMS Drip Marketing & Messenger Chat Drips for More Sales & Deeper Customer Relationships.
- Re-engagement tip #3) Re-engage audiences with one-time text message blasts (Customers.ai PRO feature). Along with drip campaigns, send one-time re-engagment campaigns in chat via text message SMS blasts. SMS blasting requires opt-in to SMS messaging. See re-engagment tip #1.
Recommended resource: How to Send a Text Message Blast: Step-by-Step Guide to Growing an SMS Contact List & Sending Mass Text Marketing Messages.
- Re-engagement tip #4) Re-engage Facebook contacts with Sponsored Messages (Customers.ai PRO feature). If your first contact was in Facebook Messenger, you have the option to start a follow-up Messenger conversation through Sponsored Messages. Facebook Sponsored Message ads cost about $.02 per impression, not bad for striking back up a conversation with a warm lead who knows who you are and might be considering your product or service.
Recommended resource: How to Create Facebook Sponsored Messages Ads: What They Are, When to Use Them & Performance Tips
Chapter 2: Tactics to inspire web visitors to start chatting
In Chapter 1 of this guide, we reviewed the web chat sales funnel, focusing on the high-level strategies of using messaging at the top, middle and bottom of the marketing funnel.
In Chapter 2 we’re zooming in on the tactics you can use to initiate more conversations with new leads.
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Chat starter tip #1) Use pop-ups to invite SMS opt-in.
Customers.ai chat starter tools feature website pop-ups you can use to invite someone to connect in SMS for future updates.
Chat starter tip #2) Use an animated web chat icon to draw attention to the web chat widget on a webpage.
A little animation can catch the attention of a visitor to your webpage. Web chat widget animation is included in every web chat widget created with Customers.ai.
Chat starter tip #3) Craft an engaging web chat greeting.
Here are some ways to inspire someone to start chatting:
- Offer incentives
- Create scarcity
- Show social proof
Use the web chat widget pop-up greeting to engage and inspire someone to start a conversation in webchat.
Remember that goal #1 is to start a conversation.
Chapter 3: How to proactively restart more high-converting chat sessions
In Chapter 3 we’re going to close-up on the tactics you can use to re-engage contacts to persuade and convert leads into customers.
Most businesses jam a web chat widget on their site and then react to whatever chats come their way.
Considering that web chat sessions are more valuable than web traffic sessions because they convert better, it’s important to proactively initiate more chat sessions.
Customers.ai lets you proactively start more valuable web sessions by integrating drip campaigns, SMS blasting and Facebook Sponsored Message ads that restart conversations with chat contacts.
Chat Re-engagement Tactic #1: Drip Campaigns in Facebook Messenger & SMS
Customers.ai makes it super easy to re-engage leads proactively through drip campaigns, or automated messages sent to new members of an audience — both in Facebook Messenger and SMS.
Here is how to get the best engagement in your drip campaigns:
- Facebook Messenger drip campaigns are absolutely free for 24 hours. While you can technically send as many messages as you want 24 hours after someone messages your page, we suggest sending 2-3 in the first 24 hours after a brand new contact is made. This is an opportunity to restart a dialogue — and restart the 24-hour clock. Try offering a coupon to new subscribers, good for today only!
- SMS drip campaigns (Customers.ai PRO feature) are an important way to welcome a new SMS contact into your text messaging experience. Try converting new SMS subscribers into customers with a coupon, good for today only!
Chat Re-engagement Tactic #2: SMS Blasting
Customers.ai makes it super easy to re-engage leads proactively through chat blasts.
Use SMS blasting (Customers.ai PRO feature) to send helpful educational resources, news and new product launches, promotional offers and more.
Recommended resource: 10 Instant SMS Marketing Examples to Stay in Touch with Customers via Text
Chat Re-engagement Tactic #3: Facebook Sponsored Message Ads
For contacts who connected to your Facebook Messenger chat, you have the ability to send follow-up messages to them with a Facebook ad called a sponsored message.
For just $0.02 per message impression, run a Sponsored Message ad campaign to re-engage a prospect in the familiar, mobile-friendly Messenger chat app.
Use Sponsored Messages (Customers.ai PRO feature) to send promotional messages like sales, coupon codes and other special campaigns to convert leads into customers with well-timed offers.
Chapter 4: How to cater to specific customer segments in chat to market to them more effectively
In Chapter 4 we’re going to talk about audiences.
There’s a truth in marketing that the more you segment your audience, the better your campaign performance.
Why does segmentation lead to better campaign performance? Because audience segmentation allows for more personalization and lets you match your messaging to what your prospect wants.
Some common ways to segment an audience include criteria like:
- Demographics such as gender, age, race, location, and language
- Behaviors such as job, purchase behavior, and search behavior
- Interests including likes, pursuits, and fandom
- Psychographics including personality, values, opinions, attitudes, and lifestyle
- Conversation history including any preference someone has previously shared with you through earlier chat conversations
Here are some particulars about audience segmentation to keep in mind with your chat marketing:
- Know who your audience is and speak to them specifically.
- Use a different web chat greeting and conversation funnel on every key page of your website.
- Use a menu of options and ask introductory questions to learn about the prospect you’re chatting with.
- Use tags and attributes to save chat history to the customer profile.
- Enter them into drip sequences tailored to their interests and where they are in their customer journey.
Chapter 5: 7 pro tips from top sales teams facilitating more sales through web chat
Congratulations! You’ve learned how to leverage chat to become the top-performing sales channel in your marketing mix, from top-of-funnel conversation starter strategies to re-engaging leads through consideration to conversion.
In this last chapter we’re taking a look at the pro tips top sales teams use to craft persuasive chat conversations.
- Be personal and likeable. Pop quiz: What’s everyone’s favorite word? Their name. There’s a dopamine hit when we hear our own name. And that’s just the beginning of personalization. They may be your prospect, but they’re going to evaluate you as a person.
- Be perceptive. Learn who it is that you’re chatting with. Ask questions and tailor your conversation to what would help them.
- Be proactive. From inspiring the first conversation, to starting a conversation back up, Customers.ai’s platform has attractive chat starters (animated web chat, pop-up opt-ins) and makes it super easy to start and REstart more of these valuable sessions
- Set expectations. Let them know when they’re talking to a bot vs a human. Think through all the customer personas and motivations, then provide a guided path to help them get what they’re looking for. When a real human is needed, set expectations about when, where and how they will be in touch.
- Set up notifications to alert your team to conversations that need human attention. Use automation to trigger notifications in a mobile chat app, email or browser notification, when a person should jump in. Learn more about setting up live chat takeover lead notifications.
- Be timely. There’s a precipitous drop-off for every minute that goes by without a reply in chat. Chat is real-time and customers expect replies in real-time, or at least an instant setting of expectations for when they’ll hear back. Use chat automation bot to have 24/7 instant response times. Use lead notifications to jump into conversations when a human touch is required.
- Be helpful. You don’t want to be “selling” but rather supporting people in finding a solution. Best thing is to be a trusted resource and establish trust and value, which in time, turns to sales.
Now You Know How to Sell with Web Chat, What’s Next?
We started Customers.ai because marketers need a unified chat marketing platform to connect with customers in the messaging apps people use every day.
Three years later, messaging has become the most important channel for sales and marketing because customers prefer chatting with service providers over phone calls and email.
Customers.ai makes it easier than ever to create marketing funnels in real-time messaging apps including web chat, text messaging SMS and Facebook Messenger.
And now you can get Customers.ai’s We’re In This Together Free Forever edition to add webchat to your site and Facebook posts.
Claim your Free Forever Customers.ai edition today to launch the sales funnels we reviewed in this guide for your own business, for free.
Important Next Steps
- Sign up for Customers.ai’s OmniChat™ chatbot builder to execute web chat growth marketing strategies and chat re-engagement campaigns.
- Advance your marketing performance with Chatbot University, a free chatbot tutorial and training area for marketers.
- Learn about webchat marketing with other enthusiasts. Join Customers.ai Island, a Facebook Group of 35k marketers and entrepreneurs.