Have You Got A Live Chat Widget On Your Website? Are You Using Facebook Messenger?

It’s 2017, and with the rapid evolution of technology and social media tools, it’s no surprise that services and features such as live chat widgets and chatbots are rising in popularity. With consumers expecting businesses to be available almost 24×7 and on a more human level, new social communication tools are now leading a new method of customer interaction.

Although emails, contact forms and ticket systems still have their place in many businesses (especially B2B), B2C companies are now embracing more instant forms of messaging. Whether it’s using the built-in feature of Facebook Messenger, or using a website widget, if you’re communicating with customers, you should be making the move towards instantaneous communication platforms.

Competition is fierce, and you don’t want to lose business simply because you didn’t respond in time.

The headings below will outline the benefits (and downfalls) of each platform:

 

Facebook Messenger

With over 1 billion people on Facebook, the social media platform is one of the easiest ways to reach and communicate with new and existing customers using its Pages feature. With a separate app (called Pages Manager), you can respond to messages sent directly to your Facebook page. There’s almost no setup required, as the messaging platform is a core feature of Facebook and Facebook pages.

Here are some reasons why your business should be using Facebook Messenger (via Facebook Pages Manager) to communicate with users:

  • No tools required – simply install the Facebook Pages Manager app on your mobile, or access the Page Manager from your desktop computer (via Facebook on your web browser)
  • “Everyone” has it – Facebook Messenger is a trusted platform that’s easy to use. Users will be able to communicate with you using a familiar interface – eliminating the trickiness of backwards and forwards emails, numerous phone calls or trying to schedule appointments.
  • Easy on mobile – Facebook Messenger is available (and optimised) for the mobile experience. You don’t need to worry about the technicalities, that’s Facebook’s speciality.
  • Automation – through third party platforms, you are able to automate or semi-automate the chat experience. Automatically sending messages, responding to enquiries or collecting data.
  • It’s social – people want to interact with people, not a faceless business, what better way to achieve this other than social media?

Now for the negatives. Admittedly there aren’t many, because seriously, what’s wrong with communicating using modern widely adopted technologies??

  • It requires manpower and effort –  depending on your business, you may need to hire one (or many) employees to man your social media page, handling enquiries as they come in. Because of this, it’s expensive and responding to customers is limited to the hours your employees are working. (Like many businesses nowadays anyway).
  • Automation platforms can be expensive – third party tools to automate the chat process often come at a price, and this needs to be evaluated from a business standpoint – what does it offer and is it worth it? Keeping in mind that automation is optional
  • Lack of customisation – unlike live chat widgets, emails or website forms, Facebook gives you almost no level of customisation for your messaging experience

 

 

Live Chat

Now onto live chat. Live chat widgets are commonly seen floating around the bottom left/right of a website (on both mobile and desktop), when clicked they bring up a window which resembles that of a Facebook Messenger conversation. Allowing website users to interact with your staff in real time whilst browsing your website. Here are the pros:

  • Branding and customisation – live chat software usually offers a great deal of customisation, allowing you to: pick a colour scheme, set logos and pop up images, choose when and where to display it on your site, and heaps more
  • Canned responses – often find yourself repeating the same information? Canned responses allow you to send predefined messages to users with the click of a button, speeding up the customer service process
  • Ability to capture information – live chat software allows you to have a pre-chat form, prompting users to enter certain data before initiating the chat. This allows you to store their phone, email (or whatever you like) for future reference, say for example you need to follow up on an enquiry
  • Reporting – important in any business environment, live chat software often allows you to monitor a variety of important stats, including: what page they entered on, how long they’ve been on the site, what browser/device they are using, and plenty more!
  • Screen sharing – some live chat apps even allow the user to share their screen with you, making it easy for you to guide them through a process on your website
  • File sharing – majority of live chat apps have a file sharing feature, making it easy to send photos, PDFs, Word Documents and more
  • Ticketing – unable to help the customer out through live chat? Live chat programs will allow you to assign a ticket to a particular user, making it easy to communicate with them once the chat session has ended
  • Categorisation – if you start to get inundated with large volumes of chat sessions, you can categorise them using tags. For example – if someone is asking about a particular product, you could tag it as the product name, and if someone had a general account enquiry, you could tag the chat with “account” (or similar). This makes reporting even easier – you’ll be able to see what users are using the live chat for, and tailor your web experience for them
  • Polls/feedback – once the chat ends, it’s always helpful to know whether or not the user appreciated the interaction. Different live chat apps have different setups, but usually you can gauge a user’s experience with a simple thumbs up/down poll at the end of a chat session
  • API integration – some live chat apps integrate with other services such as Salesforce and MailChimp. Others allow Zapier integration, which means importing/exporting data between almost any system is possible.

Wow! So many positives! There are a few cons you need to take into consideration though:

  • It requires manpower and effort –  depending on your business, you may need to hire one (or many) employees to man your live chat software, handling enquiries as they come in. Because of this, it’s expensive and responding to customers is limited to the hours your employees are working

 

Chatbot

Last, but not least, Chatbots. Gaining in popularity, Chatbots require little to human monitoring once the system has been set up. Here are the pros of using a Chatbot over Messenger or Live Chat:

  • 24/7 – computer code doesn’t sleep! You can answer enquiries on your website at any time of the day, any day of the year
  • Multiple chats – have multiple users wanting to contact you at the same time? No worries, many Chatbots can handle a few (even unlimited amounts of) enquiries simultaneously
  • Responses are instant – Chatbots respond using a database of predefines responses depending on their relevancy – because of this, they can reply to messages instantly
  • Cost efficient – depending on your needs, a Chatbot will almost always be cheaper to maintain than hiring a staff member to respond to enquiries
  • Potential to be fully automated – you basically don’t have to touch a single key on the keyboard, everything is handled by if-this-then-that pieces of code, and almost anything can be implemented depending on your Chatbot software

Whilst a “robot” may solve some of your problems, new issues often arise due to the lack of a human element, please consider that:

  • The software may need training – just like humans, a Chatbot needs to learn how to respond to questions, and a bit of initial effort may need to be put into setting up the system
  • Lacks a human touch and empathy – whilst you can make your predefined responses sound as friendly as possible, at the end of the day, they’re coming from a computer. Many consumers still want to interact with a human
  • Responses may not be specific enough – many website users turn to live chat widgets as a quick and easy way to get relevant information. If the Chatbot doesn’t understand what it’s being asked, it may send back a generic response that doesn’t help the user at all
  • User frustration – because of the points mentioned above, someone on your website may get annoyed and frustrated, a simple question for a human may prove difficult for a computer. Depending on how you implement a Chatbot, it may do more harm than good.

 

So which one is right for me?

Well it depends on your business, here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  • How do people currently contact my business – through social media, email or phone?
  • How many enquiries do I get and how frequently?
  • Do I usually respond with similar information, or is every enquiry unique?
  • What’s my budget?

 

Need help deciding?

Get in touch with me on social media, or click the Contact tab!

Which Social Media Platform Suits Your Business?

The social media game is no longer as simple as Facebook & Twitter. With technology constantly changing, users demanding greater connectedness and online businesses looking to evolve; we now face the issue: which social media platform (out of the many that there are) is right for me?

Whilst the list of social media platforms could go on forever, I want to keep it short and informative, outlining the pros and cons of the top 6 social media networks for businesses. I’m a fan of lists and tables, so here they are:

Facebook

Pros

  • Ability to reach a large audience – Facebook has over 1 billion users
  • Easy and effective tool for relationship building – customer interaction, brand loyalty
  • Easy measurability
  • Interactions often have a snowball effect (potential to go viral)
  • There’s a variety of paid marketing tools available
  • Different levels of targeting available
  • Increases website traffic

Cons

  • Difficult to identify ghost and fake users
  • Time requirements – potential high workload to maintain a Facebook page
  • High amounts of spam/irrelevant content
  • Ineffective for B2B – Facebook is designed primarily for socialisation
  • Little control over platform
  • Vastly varying conversion rates
  • Ad targeting has the potential to go to the wrong demographics

Tips

  • Add a CTA in your cover photo
  • Customise your Facebook page with apps, and organise the tabs to suit you
  • Promote both lead-gen and non-lead-gen content (healthy balance between advertising and socialising)
  • Monitor and respond to comments quickly
  • Promote the page (in both free and paid ways) to get more likes

 

YouTube

Pros

  • YouTube users are loyal, frequently visiting and spending time on the site
  • Customisable interactive content such as cards are available to complement the video
  • Very little content restriction, allowing free reign on ideas (keep in mind Copyright etc.)
  • Videos aren’t restricted in length
  • Sharing videos is easy for users
  • Affordable advertising through Google

Cons

  • Easy to lose viewers to the competition (suggested videos may show your competitors’ content)
  • Videos need to be marketed in order to be seen – organic growth is possible, but potentially difficult
  • Risk associated with posting content – it will either thrive or fail
  • The YouTube community is full of negative reviews and comments
  • Be warned – viewers may like the video, but not you or your value proposition
  • Lack of channel customisation
  • Targeting relies on accurate tags, which may be grouped with unrelated content
  • Users have short attention spans

Tips

  • Constantly upload new videos
  • Get interactive with viewers
  • Create effective titles
  • Utilise categories and tags
  • Include CTAs
  • YouTube is about content, don’t blatantly advertise or self-promote
  • Consider collaborations with other YouTubers

 

Twitter

Pros

  • It’s the second largest online social network
  • Events happen in real time – all content being posted as it happens
  • Paid advertising available
  • Affordable pricing structures
  • It’s easy to build your audience/follower base with the right posts
  • You have the potential to go viral
  • Twitter is a very open community, and promotes discussion (both positive and negative)

Cons

  • Network has stagnant growth, and continues to decline due to lack of understanding (eg. How do I use Twitter?)
  • Twitter is full of spam and bot automation
  • Occasionally, targeting may reach the wrong audience
  • There is so much content posted every minute, there’s a high likelihood of your content (paid or not) getting lost
  • Limited reporting features and tools
  • The network isn’t suited to all users (and therefore not all businesses)
  • Difficult ROI tracking

Tips

  • Keep it short and sweet
  • Use powerful visuals
  • Incorporate relevant hashtags (don’t use too many)
  • Ask questions and run polls
  • Retweet and reply to relevant Tweets
  • Avoid automation

 

Instagram

Pros

  • Simple, easy to use platform
  • Instagram is a relatively positive social network
  • Businesses are easily contactable with business profiles available (in settings)
  • Business profiles have access to insights and measurability reports
  • Paid solutions are available which include targeting options and visible/actionable CTAs
  • Instagram is a visual network – making it easy to build your brand identity and showcase products
  • It’s a fast growing platform
  • Location tagging and hashtags allow greater reach

Cons

  • Instagram algorithm means organic posts from businesses are likely to get lost
  • Large budgets may be needed to ensure your content is visible
  • Being a “business” on a photo sharing “social” network may not suit your business depending on your industry
  • Minimal room for additional content – captions don’t allow links and shouldn’t be too long
  • Sending people to specific locations can be difficult due to the inability to add links in captions
  • It’s easy for brands to forget purpose of Instagram (and get consumed by the social aspect of the app)

Tips

  • Show what you do in a creative way
  • Try Instagram Stories
  • Take followers behind the scenes
  • Incorporate relevant hashtags (don’t use too many)
  • Collaborate and mention/tag others
  • Build anticipation and offer exclusivity

 

Pinterest

Pros

  • Targeting – skewed towards females
  • All boards are public
  • Long half-life of pins
  • No need to leave comments to engage with others
  • It’s a visuals based network like Instagram – making it easy to engage with users
  • Allows for market research (upcoming trends)
  • Easy to drive traffic to external sites
  • High conversion rates
  • User base steadily growing

Cons

  • Target audience may be too specific
  • Copyright issues everywhere
  • Not business oriented
  • The original content has the potential to be lost after constant pinning
  • Difficult to automate
  • Requires a large amount of content to get noticed
  • No control over the path of your content – it may be used/pinned in ways that conflict the business

Tips

  • Content is more likely to be shared if it has more colours
  • Red images get more repins than blue images
  • Best image ratio is 2w x 3h
  • Brand images without faces receive 23% more repins
  • Don’t use it for self-promotion

 

LinkedIn

Pros

  • Isn’t overly cluttered – the network has specific purposes
  • Precise targeting – main user base is business professionals
  • Depending on the campaign/business, it may be the “perfect match”

Cons

  • Inactive community
  • There is spam throughout site, and there are plenty of… odd… individuals who use the site for different purposes
  • High advertising costs
  • Low click through rates

Tips

  • Plan your campaign carefully – ensure that this is the right audience
  • Keep profile up to date with as much relevant information as possible
  • Post updates and articles regularly

 

Social media services like Snapchat are also worth mentioning, but I’ll outline whether or not you should set up Snapchat for your business in a later post.

Have questions? Please leave a comment below, or contact me using the contact form.