Valentine's Day served as the perfect laboratory for OneUp Innovations of Atlanta to improve conversions among otherwise shy prospects. The direct marketer, a manufacturer of adult bedroom accessories through the brand Liberator, had puzzled over how to get red-faced consumers who dreaded asking embarrassing questions aloud to convert. Enter live chat.
OneUp Innovations Marketing Manager Dawn Hill reveals how her company overcame this hurdle and recently experienced the company's biggest Valentine's Day season ever. In fact, purchases grew by a third, thanks in part to its live chat offering.
1. Direct marketers need to understand their customers. In Liberator's adult industry, prospects need to feel comfortable calling and asking questions about products. The idea of a phone conversation about an adult product can seem pretty daunting, and prospects say that live chat feels like a much safer way to reach out. In fact, live chat tripled during this past Valentine's Day season over typical chat volume, going from five chats per day to 15 chats a day. The season resulted in more than 1,170 calls and chats, up from the 2008 season, which yielded 700 to 800 calls. After introducing BoldChat's live chat feature almost a year ago on the site, Liberator encouraged customers to use the communication channel by posting the live chat box on almost every page of the Web site, and by having customer service phone operators let people know about the option.
2. Know the products. "The same as with any smart online retailer, it's critical that our live chat operators know and understand all of our products," Hill says. "Live chat won't be effective if we don't have the right people running the chats." In addition to the typical questions that they field via phone and chat, such as sizes, colors, product details and shipping confirmations, chat operators also get far more specific questions than customer sales representatives do on the phone. As a result, they are armed with the necessary details to address a wide range of topics related to products and customer service issues.
3. Leverage the live chat data. "Relating to the data reports we can run with BoldChat, we get to know our online customers really well and use that when we talk with them," Hill says. "We know what types of products they've bought in the past, what sizes they've wanted and even what other pages they've reviewed before without making a purchase. Customers appreciated our knowledge about their past history with us, and regularly comment on it." About 20 percent of Liberator's customers are repeat buyers, who typically are upgrading or replacing products.
4. Make live chat accessible and available. "We've got the BoldChat button on nearly every page of our Web site because we want customers to be able to ask us questions at any point in the shopping and purchasing process," Hill says. "We've also got operators working from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, so customers can benefit from the additional help as they peruse products." Operators typically get requests throughout the day, without one time of day receiving noticeably more traffic than than another. When live chat isn't available, customers can call Liberator's toll-free phone number as well as send the customer service department an e-mail for more information.