Messenger tools can help you recover millions in lost revenue

How it works and where to deploy it

We’ve all had annoyingly memorable experiences with websites — websites that invite you to subscribe to browser notifications or bombard you with pop-ups that ask for your email before you’ve even had a chance to look around. That’s no way to do customer service. Yet many brands still use these lead capture tactics, ones that often permanently turn off would-be customers.

The principle that underlies these tactics makes sense; brands want the chance to communicate with those visitors more personally on a channel like email. But a gap most brands never bridge is the one between how personal they want to get with a website visitor and how personal they are in their initial interaction with that visitor.

In my experience as a marketer, there are few better ways to bridge that gap than a thoughtful implementation of messenger tools, those chat bubbles many big brands use to offer real-time customer support.

Implementing this strategy alone has allowed me to help my clients recover millions of dollars in what would have been lost revenue — more than $5 million for a local dentistry I’ve worked with. Here’s how it works, starting with where to deploy it.

Picking candidate pages through observing user flow and bounce rates

When picking pages for where to deploy messenger tools, the one principle to keep in mind is that you don’t want to offer customer support to those who don’t need it. So every time I implement messenger tools, I think about four key customer segments:

  1. A recurring website visitor — potentially an existing customer.
  2. Website visitors who have no interest in the product or service.
  3. Website visitors who have feature-related questions.
  4. Website visitors who are on the fence about buying a product or service offering.

Sometimes it’s obvious which category a website visitor falls into; for instance, someone who clicks on your client login portal is obviously already a customer and someone who rapidly clicks off your site is obviously not interested in your offering. But for most other users, it’s a lot less clear. That’s where heat map software used in tandem with Google Analytics could be tremendously helpful in mapping user behavior to a profile.

For instance, your heat map software might show a common user flow from an “About Us” page to a product page to an FAQ page, which may signal that a user has questions. The issue is FAQ pages are often not detailed enough to answer questions visitors have. And there’s where a lot of visitors tend to leave websites. Deploying messenger tools whenever users transition from product pages to FAQs is one example of prompt customer service — analogous to asking if a customer needs help when they look up at directories in a store.

Another metric that can say a lot about user behavior is the bounce rate, which is the percentage of users who visit one page on your site and leave. While a high bounce rate indicates a lack of engagement, having high bounce rates on product pages often means descriptions are confusing or the selling point isn’t strong enough.

Either way, deploying a messaging tool with a live support agent can help to alleviate questions or concerns — as well as act as somewhat of an extension of your sales team. This ethos worked particularly well for one of my dental office clients, who was seeing 65% of his website visitors leave right after landing on his teeth whitening product page. Deploying a messenger tool on this page helped us decrease that number to 25%, which led to hundreds of recovered engagements.

How to determine when to deploy the messenger tool: Giving your customer enough breathing room

Imagine a prospective customer walks into your store and one of your employees immediately asks that customer if they need any help before the door has any time to even shut. That customer might not leave the store necessarily but they may, however, feel a mix of creeped out and exploited for sales. But if you adopt this sales strategy online, it’s abundantly easy for a customer to just leave your site in one click and never come back.

Clearly, messenger tools shouldn’t be deployed as soon as someone visits your site, but how long should a brand wait? After all, only 22% of browsers are willing to scroll to the bottom of your site, so you only have a brief window of time to keep your potential client engaged.

In my experience, it’s best to go into Google Analytics, take note of the average time your customer spends on a page, and then multiply that time by 75%. For pages with high bounce rates, you might even experiment with deploying your messenger tool after your customer has had seven to eight seconds to scroll.

From there, you can adjust the waiting period by beta testing:

  • what percentage of the time your messenger tool showed up for users (which will tell you whether you’re deploying too late).
  • how much longer your users are spending on certain pages and cross-referencing how long they spend interfacing with your messenger tool.
  • whether linked pages where you’ve implemented messenger tools are seeing lower bounce rates.

Crafting that first point of engagement with gifting — and moving to a more personal channel

After figuring out where and when to deploy messenger tools on your website, the next step is making sure that your visitors actually open those messages. At this stage, your brand is still an unknown quantity to most of your website visitors, who almost certainly aren’t messaging you to buy right away. So it’s crucial to avoid the temptation of hard selling.

Instead, leverage your messenger tool to create a clear and organic pathway for the conversation to move to a more personal communication channel like email. There, your brand can more effectively nurture that relationship. But to get that email in the first place, there needs to be some form of value-add.

Depending on the type of business — software, dentistry, consulting, etc. — you may opt to give certain website visitors (based on Google Analytics and heat maps) free demos, trials, consultation calls or gifts. For instance, one of my dentistry clients offered some of their website visitors who seemed on the fence about a product offering (again, based on Google Analytics and heat map data) free branded mugs and toothbrushes, along with invites to a free in-person diagnostic.

With this strategy, the dentistry generated thousands of appointments, many of which led to acquiring long-term clients, and collected tens of thousands of mailing addresses that were used to ship the freebies and later used to mail promotional materials.

Everyone loves gifts. In my experience, gifting through messenger tools is the perfect way to digitize the very principle that makes swag at trade shows exciting and gives website visitors a far better reason to give you their email than a flash-in-the-pan pop-up on the way out.