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Should you add live chat to your website in 2020?

By Daniel J. Murphy

Should you add live chat to your website in 2020?

When navigating a company's website looking for support, how often have you been given the option to "live chat" with a customer support representative as an alternative to calling a 1-800 number?

Big companies like Verizon, Comcast, and many others have been offering live chat support for a few years now and for 53% of customers chat  – also known as “instant messaging” – is preferred. Who wants to wait on hold for 20 minutes to speak with a support representative, anymore?

Instant messaging is a better way for companies to communicate with customers, but customers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from live chat. Marketers too can see a huge increase in leads and sales.  

Experimenting with live chat

Drift, a Boston-based company, is trying to revolutionize the sales and marketing world with "Messaging" (a.k.a live chat) technology.

Its product offers marketers and sales representatives the ability to chat instantly with website visitors and even helps identify anonymous site visitors. The team has gone as far as building chatbots which they believe will one day replace lead forms.

My company Onshape recently tested live chat on our website. We started using Intercom but converted into Drift as it has more features for marketing teams. 

Since we enabled the messaging on our website, we've learned a lot. Here are a few of our big takeaways:

  • Regardless of how much content you've created, visitors still have questions, which makes a live chat feature to get instant answers, very useful. 
  • After receiving the same feedback from multiple people, we realized that we could better communicate our plans on our pricing page. Those changes weren't obvious to us until we engaged in conversation with our visitors in real-time.
  • Many of our hot prospects who are evaluating our product and some even engaged with our sales team – typically on the phone – like to ask questions on live chat instead of calling our team. If the prospects prefer live chat over the phone, then we must evolve and get our sales team on live chat. So we added our sales reps to Drift. 

Drift and live chat could have an immense impact on marketing and sales. We're still living in the early days of this technology, but I see a lot of promise.

Should I install live chat on my website?

Hearing this, you're probably thinking to yourself, “should I try this on my company’s website?” 

A few weeks ago, I published my first blog post about live chat called “Why B2B Companies Are Adding Live Chat To Their Websites.” In that post, I outlined my company’s four objectives with messaging:

  1. Convert more visitors to leads (and possibly automate this with chatbots)
  2. Qualify leads by directly asking qualification questions (probably automate this too)
  3. Use a new channel to engage with hot prospects that are actively seeking answers and evaluating our product (existing channels for this: phone & email)
  4. Discover what information our website might lack or bury from our visitors

I imagine, if you’re reading this, your company’s objectives may be very similar. If you have the resources and time to test live chat, then you should.

Messaging might be the major focus of marketing and sales teams of the future. If you can start now and get really good at it now, then you’ll have a competitive advantage.

But before you try live chat, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What pages should you put live chat on? 

Your homepage probably gets the most traffic, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right place to add live chat. Consider key action pages like a pricing page, contact page, or a request trial landing page.

These are the right places to try messaging because this is where visitors will have questions and have expressed some level of interest in your company simply by navigating there.

Who will work your live chat?

The magic window to respond to a lead is five minutes, according to Drift. Chatbots are helpful to extract information from a visitor, but having a real human to answer questions is necessary.

Be careful though. You don’t want to roll out messaging to your entire marketing and sales teams all at once. Find one or two individuals on your team to work chat to evaluate its benefits.

What will measure success?

Getting many visitors to chat with you might not be the only measurement of success. Consider the objectives I outlined above. What do you really want to conquer with chat? And what are the early indicators of success so you can determine if messaging is worth scaling? 

I think messaging holds a lot of promise for marketing and sales teams. It’s new and exciting, but is still unproven. It’s the “hairy cusp” of marketing technology, as my CMO put it.

Key takeaway

Overall, live chat can dramatically increase your number of leads and sales by eliminating friction and building trust. If you’re interested in live chat for your website, check out Drift, Intercomor Olark.

Also, if you have questions or want more insight you can email me at

Free Assessment:

How does your inbound marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.


Marketing Strategy
Conversational Marketing
Published on December 8, 2019

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