4 Best Practices for Proactive Online Messaging

Written by:
Mike Brown
Growth Ideas
Live Chat

Start talking with your website visitors: 4 Best Practices for Proactive Online Messaging

Recently, I have found myself visiting local home shows, these are idyllic marketing and sales environments, target rich for the visitors and vendors alike.  There are 100’s of booths lined up in a confined space presenting their best merchandise, services, or wares - with hopefully hundreds or even thousands of visitors walking the aisles at any moment.  

As I walk down any aisle, some of the booths have employed staff to proactively greet you, ask you a leading question, and start a conversation.  Other booths are more introverted, and while they certainly might have beautiful graphics, nice pictures, and products I might like, nobody stepped up to engage me, so I moved on, I don;t have time for this in this room.  And worse yet, some vendor’s booths have no people representing them at all!  In the end, the vendor(s) that engaged with me are the vendors I remembered, they are certainly more likely the vendors I will do business with, or go back and talk to. Simply because, however brief it may have been, we had a conversation and made a personal connection, and the ice has been broken.

I find being a visitor to these busy Home Shows is much akin to browsing the web searching for a plumber, landscaper, or any service provider these days.  My google search returns some collection of vendors nearby with matching keywords, and then the hunt is on and I start digging in and doing my research, which really just amounts to trying to find a brand I think I can trust.  Of course, being included in those initial search results is critically important, and an entirely different and remarkably important topic.  But, let’s assume you are in the results, so know it’s what happens AFTER the search, that’s where the rubber really meets the road.  

When you land on some websites, you can see they take the introverted approach, “fill out this form and we’ll get back to you fast” approach.  Effective?  Maybe, if you call me back in less than 30 minutes, while I still shopping, you might have a chance.  But other sites, let’s call them the rockstars, they actually do a great job with on-site engagement.  Just like the friendly people who engaged me in the aisle outside their booth at the Home Show, the best sites engage casual visitors/shoppers in a similar fashion.  In doing so, they dramatically boost conversion rates and lead capture, ultimately sales increase as well.  All with the help of a little proactive on-site messaging to provoke conversation and an always available live chat agent.

In this article, I have gathered some really important proactive messaging best practices for you to try in your own online conversational strategies. Here we go!

With Live Web Chat, proactive messaging is a great tool to increase engagement.  In fact, it might be the BEST tool to turn visitors into prospects, and prospects into customers.  But what you say, and how you handle proactive interactions define your customer’s first impression of your brand, making these messages critical to your overall customer experience. So, it’s kind of a big deal to know what the proactive messaging best practices are these days.

As website visitors, we all have seen some examples of great proactive messages, you know, catchy phrases that trigger an emotional response, a welcoming invitation that makes you want to talk to that brand and learn a little more.  And, of course, we’ve all seen some poor examples as well.  In fact, if a message, or the timing of it’s delivery, or even the content is not relative to your visitor, then they might simply tune it out, or worse end up avoiding your website altogether. That’s sad, but it’s true.

Allow visitors (a little) time to browse

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Live chat on your website is a feature you’ve implemented to HELP visitors, not annoy them.  So keep in mind, that sometimes visitors simply don’t want or need to talk to a representative during their brief visit.  Surely we’ve all been there before, maybe you’re a returning visitor just looking for a phone number, address, an image, or a link and you pretty much know exactly where it is on a webpage… you jump online, you get it, and you get out.  So, let’s start with giving these people a “little” time to do their thing before pinging them with an invitation to chat. They might be interested, just not interested in this forum.

The best Live Web Chat apps have tools and features that allow you to delay the trigger of a message, either by time elapsed, or some position on the page, or both.  It is important this strategy is implemented differently on some pages within your site vs. others, in fact, the best Live Web Chat softwares allow you to fine tune the timing of messages and even allow multiple messages based on how long and how deep a user scrolls on each individual page. This is especially important on pricing pages, home pages, or a target specific landing page - where your message might be a little diffferent on each, and the timing is important.  Just keep in mind, not everyone on every page is ready to buy, or shop, or schedule an appointment, every time.  And by respecting this, you’ll earn respect and trust from those visitors all the same.  Give them a few moments to browse before inviting them to chat.  For a generic page like your home page, I recommend 10-15 seconds.  For the pricing page, give them even more time, maybe 30 seconds.  If they’re still there, your “timely” message will have greater impact because they have had time to learn about your offerings, and they might actually have a question to ask!

In BeeOpen, you can set these triggers for any combination of pages, time elapsed on the page or scroll position on the page.  You can even layer messages on the same page.  

Craft personalized, relevant messages

Photo by Barn Images

Personalization does matter!  I would recommend against “pushing” content for “everyone” always. Each and every visitor should say, “Oh, this is a message for me.” So, your goal should be: no more generic messages. Use segmentation and send tailored, unique, enticing messages (to the best of your ability to do so) instead of faceless junk.

Now you might ask: “Based on what should I segment my visitors?” The really quick answer is – you can segment them simply based on if they have had a conversation with you before.  If they have, maybe send them a “Hi, welcome back…”, these messages work great.  Whereas, for new visitors, a “Hi there!  👋 Welcome to [your brand]. We’re here 24/7 for questions. Let’s chat!” will certainly set a welcoming tone.  Emoticons, are especially powerful to set a friendly, casual tone.

At BeeOpen, we do just this kind of thing.  Our chat widget recognizes new vs. returning visitors and can personalize the message based on that.  The best chat applications tag conversations and the entities (customers) associated with them, so maybe you can use the most popular tag for a customer and spin a message from that topic as well.  Your imagination is the only limit.

For example, if the last time a prospect visited s/he had a conversation about Landscape Design services, and you tagged that as the topic in BeeOpen, you could say, “Hey, welcome back.  We have some 🔥 deals on Landscape Design right now, chat to learn more!”.  There is it, again with the emoji, but trust me, it helps both visually catch the eye, as well as set a friendly, casual tone.

Be Short, but make it sweet 🍭

Proactive messaging is meant to open up a conversation, the rule is simple here: content should be interesting and relevant. Keep a conversational tone and be pithy (brief) with your wording. Generally speaking, you have around 12 words to make a positive impact. Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Be precise and obvious about what you want
  2. Invite them to chat
  3. Use your 12 words wisely

Photo by Danielle MacInnes

If you are offering a discount, use phrasal verbs. Messages that include words like “off,” “today,” “now” provide a feeling of urgency and seem to work especially well.

Finally, make your words relevant to the user’s device.   Avoid using the words “Click here” for mobile devices, instead use “Tap” or “Press”.

Remind visitors you are available 24/7

Photo by Fancycrave.com

This idea, as simple as it is, seems to be one of the most overlooked messaging opportunities many of our BeeOpen clients can easily use to easily differentiate themselves within their market.  

The fact is, you never really know when the urge (or need) for your products or services will hit, and by delivering your 24/7 message “after-hours” you are reminding customers who may not even be considering an interaction at that time that your Live Web Chat and phone are open for conversation.  You can schedule messages like this for AFTER your regular closing times (e.g. like after 6:00pm) or on weekends.  And, by doing just that you are in fact reminding visitors that. “Hey, we’re here for you anytime.  It’s not a burden.  We’re ready for this.  

Let’s face it, 24/7 and immediate service response is what modern customers want, it builds trust in your brand to know you have representation available anytime.  So, while your competitors websites and offices will be offline and asking for voicemail, or a web-form/email, you’ll be creating a real personal connection through conversation.  Bottom line, don't forget to let after-hours visitors know you are available.

Summing it up

Using proactive messages in your live chat strategy can be a great way of reminding your users about your products and services, and your commitment and investment into great customer service. Just make sure to use them at the right doses and at the right time: give the user time to browse, stay short and sweet, invite conversation, and keep it personalized as much as you can.