Live Chat and Content Marketing for eCommerce

Content marketing starts from the premise that by regularly providing value to your prospective customers, you establish credibility, improve engagement, and strengthen brand awareness. This, in turn, should increase the quantity and quality of leads generated.

Content marketing starts from the premise that by regularly providing value to your prospective customers, you establish credibility, improve engagement, and strengthen brand awareness. This, in turn, should increase the quantity and quality of leads generated.

Live chat can support your content marketing efforts by helping you to customize your calls to action, by re-affirming your audience’s impression of your business as a provider of value, by making it easy to capture testimonials, and by helping your chat agents to identify the buyer personas of your visitors and to approach them accordingly.

Content Marketing for Ecommerce

If you’re planning to utilize a content marketing approach to lead generation and brand awareness, you should reasonably expect to see a boost in the credibility, engagement, and brand awareness of your ecommerce content marketing efforts.

Credibility increases because the great content you’re providing helps establish you as an expert in your industry. Additionally, by making it a priority to provide valuable content to your audience, you present your organization as a group of professionals interested in helping to grow the market, rather than just another online sales company trying to make a buck off unsuspecting customers.

Engagement increases because you’ve created a positive expectation in your audience: the expectation that your marketing materials consistently provide value. At that point, your marketing materials don’t feel like marketing spam anymore, they feel like free help.

Brand awareness increases because when your content is genuinely interesting and/or useful, your audience will naturally want to share it with their coworkers, peers, and others. That said, you should not rely solely on “word of mouth” to distribute your content. It takes a long time to build the audience size and SEO clout required to just publish and share content on your social media channels and expect that to be sufficient to bring in new leads (some might argue even then, that’s a recipe for missed opportunities). Find influencers and consider paid options as well. There’s a useful guide to ecommerce content marketing, full of links to other resources here.

Live Chat for Ecommerce Content Marketing: Building Basic Credibility

Live chat is a highly preferred channel for customers because it is so quick and unobtrusive. Unlike traditional customer service channels, shoppers can easily maintain an active conversation with your customer service team while doing other things. By making it this convenient to reach and engage with your friendly and knowledgeable customer service team, you further develop the impression of your organization as a provider of value, who understands the pain points of your customers, and is well-equipped to address them.

Because live chat is a text-based channel, because it can incorporate surveys before and after customer service is provided, and because transcripts can be easily saved to a customer record via live chat integration with your CRM system, it is very easy to collect and verify customer testimonials. Admittedly, independently-created customer reviews are significantly more credible than testimonials the business shares itself, but live chat makes it so easy to request a satisfaction score or positive statement from customers (as well as permission to share it in marketing materials), that it’s worth going through the minimal effort to include testimonials on your website.

Both of these benefits strengthen perception of your business in general, read on for more advanced benefits live chat can provide in support of a content marketing strategy.

Live Chat for Ecommerce Content Marketing: Using Advanced Targeting

You should already have established audience segments and/or buyer personas as part of your content marketing strategy, and filled out a plan to ensure you have content that addresses each persona/segment at each stage in their buyer’s journey(awareness, consideration, decision).

From here, it’s just one extra step to create a customized invitation to chat, as a powerful call to action, for each type of content. This is a happy medium between using the same proactive chat invitation across every page on your site (good but could be much better with just a little extra effort) and creating a customized call to action for each individual piece of content (effective but inefficient). If even this happy medium is more effort than you’re willing to invest, at least create a custom invitation to chat for your checkout pages that lets visitors know there’s a live person ready to help them if they have a last-minute question about their order. You’d be surprised by how many would-be abandoned carts that one simple step can prevent.

The final benefit live chat brings to a well-implemented content marketing strategy is providing data that helps categorize shoppers. Data such as the site or channel that brought them to your site, the pages they’ve visited on your site, duration on each page, activity that suggests comparing pages for similar products, etc. This can help your chat agents identify the buyer personas and buyer stages of your site visitors, and use the right language to engage those prospective customers to help move them further down the sales funnel.

Again, you will be best-equipped to take advantage of these benefits of live chat if you already have established what your top buyer personas or audience segments are, but it is possible to make use of customized chat invitations and visitor categories without them (especially if you’ve set up a live chat integration with an ecommerce platform that includes a customer groups feature, e.g. Magento).

What Data Does Online Chat Software Offer to Help Increase Customer Service ROI?

Online chat software data can inform improvements across a customer service organization.

Everyone who works in customer service cares about data for three reasons:

  1. to understand for our own sake how we’re doing/what’s happening
  2. to demonstrate to others how we’re doing/what’s happening
  3. to improve how we’re doing and/or better respond to what’s happening

This article will focus on the third function for customer service data: continuous improvement.

Basic Data from Online Chat Software
Online chat software data can inform improvements across a customer service organization.
Online chat software data can inform improvements across a customer service organization.

Most online chat software products offer several types of data, captured automatically from the activity of your website visitors. These include:

  • how visitors got to your site (referring page or website)
  • what pages on your site they visit
  • how long they have been on the page they are currently on
  • what items they add to their shopping cart

This information is obviously useful in the short term for increasing sales conversions, but it’s actually also very useful in the long-term.

Being aware of what sites are driving traffic to your website, knowing what pages represent stumbling blocks for visitors, and making sure your chat agents are trained to recognize and appropriately engage visitors who match a VIP buyer persona are all critical uses of even just the basic data listed above.

Taking Online Chat Software Data Further

Taking it a step further, some online chat software providers offer reporting that connects this information to the specific chat agent who engaged the visitor.

This makes it possible to generate reports that tell you which chat agents are the most effective at various aspects of their job (e.g. working with certain visitor personas, selling/supporting specific products, time management/multi-tasking, tailoring premade messages to each conversations, etc.). This kind of reporting also helps identify which areas even your best agents have room for improvement.

This information is not only valuable for assisting managers with the professional development of these individual chat agents, but it also can help management identify which agents might be best-suited to offer trainings themselves to the rest of the team in the aspects of their job at which they excel.

This strengthens employee engagement, leadership skills, and in general customer service skills among your chat agents- as they are now helping each other improve.

The Future of Performance Management through Online Chat

But online chat software can go even further than that. It can tell you what wording in your scripts resonates best with each visitor persona, it can provide managers the ability to coach chat agents while remotely shadowing them, and it can provide ROI reports that point you towards opportunities to capture additional revenue.

When online chat first became a standard for businesses, it was because companies recognized the efficiency with which online chat could satisfy customer service needs. This tremendous improvement in customer service resulted in a greater number of sales being completed, in larger order sizes, and most predictably: in creating more positive, lasting impressions with customers.

Today, online chat still represents the channel of efficiency, as well as a customer service channel that proves the return on investment for customer service spend. But with the ever-increasing emphasis on data collection and intelligent use of data, online chat is becoming the customer service channel of improving ROI.

With tighter feedback loops on more granular data points, online chat is now capable of informing effective messaging, website design, and upsell opportunities across the company.

It’s important to note that other customer service channels are making strides in the “use of data” direction as well. One-click surveys embedded in normal customer service email responses (note: the link points to a detailed ‘how to’, but just skim the page to get a sense for what I’m referring to) are simple on the customer/user side but informative and actionable on the customer service team side, and speech analytics/emotion detection can provide the data necessary to improve phone conversations, for example. Use of these tools is not mutually exclusive with use of online chat software to improve ROI, I am merely calling attention to them here to underscore that this shift to continuous improvement isn’t limited to the online chat channel.

Performance management is not a new phenomenon to customer service, but the quality of the tools available to make it easier and more impactful to take a continuous improvement approach are new, and will continue to set the bar higher for remarkable customer service.