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How live chat can improve your conversion rates

With more and more businesses moving online, it seems that the dominance of cyberspace in the global business environment is only set to increase. Certainly, the web offers many great tools for marketing your e-business and increasing your number of sales. However, where the internet suffers in comparison to the traditional bricks-and-mortar sales environment of a physical shop is its lack of direct, face-to-face engagement.

Online it is much more difficult to initiate a relationship with a customer that will hopefully lead to a transaction. This is where live chat solutions come in.

While the typical conversion rate to sales for e-business is just 1-3%, meaning that of 100 visitors to your site only 2 or 3 will actually purchase, with live chat software you can boost these rates considerably by improving your customer engagement and creating a strong feedback loop that will help you to improve your sales processes. Here are 3 ways in which chat solutions can help to boost your website’s conversion rate.

1. Opening the sales relationship

Just as a sales rep in a bricks-and-mortar store would approach an entering customer and offer their assistance, with chat solutions your business or organization can make the first step and initiate a sales transaction with a potential customer. This facility has an advantage over the traditional bricks-and-mortar setting because it is available around the clock, 24/7 – so that no matter when the customer accesses your website, you can have customer service ready to initiate contact and respond to their needs.

This immediate engagement will instantly set your business apart from others and demonstrate that your brand is hands-on, caring and professional, with a strong emphasis on customer service.

2. Keep visitors on your site longer

When trying to improve website conversion rates, many marketing professionals and webmasters will only concentrate on methods of increasing overall traffic to the website. However, a more effective solution is to examine why visitors are leaving your site – on average, 97% of them!

Increasing traffic to your website is not useful if these visitors will continue to exit before completing transactions with you. Fixing any problems and resolving customer issues is a smarter way to improve your conversion rates. Using chat solutions can help you to identify these issues and locate the bottleneck that is occurring between the point at which visitors enter your site and the point at which they exit before purchasing.

Being connected to a live human being has a powerful impact on customers, and will encourage them to spend much longer on your website than they would otherwise. Friendly, accessible and customer-focused chat services are a great way to make your customers feel cared for and valued, and will make them feel more positive about your brand as a result.

3. Helping customers through the buying process

Live chat through e-business websites has been proven to increase the number of sales, help to generate sales leads, and reduce the proportion of shopping carts which are abandoned before checkout.

According to a survey carried out in 2009 by the North American Technographic Customer Experience Surveyors, 57% of consumers online stated that they were ‘very likely’ to abandon their shopping cart if they were unable to quickly locate answers to their questions – for example, regarding delivery rates, product information or legal statements.

Some retailers have found that live chat has a conversion rate as high as 15-20%. Chat is particularly effective for customers who do not know what they wish to purchase, because chat agents can guide them quickly towards products that meet their needs. If a customer encounters problems with vouchers or shipping, live chat can be crucial for keeping the transaction going.

A couple of good live chat solutions out there include:

Live chat by Olark

Live chat by Liveperson

Live chat by Velaro

This is a guest post by Liza, a blogger who also works with a company helping clients discover their average site conversion rate and ways to increase it.