In the modern, hyper-connected world, customer engagement is more important than ever before.
Today’s online consumers have a shorter attention span than ever before, and higher expectations from brands when it comes to engagement, interaction, and service.
And, in many cases, businesses are failing to meet these expectations — 54% of customers now say companies need to fundamentally transform how they engage.
The rewards for doing this are impressive. Customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth. Plus, research from the Temkin Group found that companies earning $1 billion annually can expect to earn an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience.
The message is clear: it’s never been more important to connect with your customers at every stage of the funnel. Brands that fail to do this effectively will pay the price, and those that get it right stand to make big gains.
One of the best ways to do this is through live engagement. Done right, live engagement allows you to connect with your customers, capture their attention, and achieve your goals at every stage of the sales funnel.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at what live engagement is and how brands can use it to maximum effect. We’ll look at some brands already using it successfully, and why it’s so important and useful.
What is Live Engagement?
Engaging with your customers — constantly and effectively — is essential in today’s online world. There are multiple ways to do this, from blog content and email campaigns to social media posts and YouTube videos.
Most engagement, while it’s highly effective, tends to fall short in one key area — it’s not live. Customers read blog articles published several months ago, they watch videos recorded last November. You’re still talking to them and engaging with them, but it’s not happening in real-time.
To really ramp up your engagement efforts, then, it’s important to think about ways to connect with your customer in a more immediate and live way. This is what we call live engagement, and we think it has the potential to transform digital marketing and sales.
Live engagement involves striking up a real-time conversation with your customers at any stage in the sales process. Whether they’ve just stumbled upon the first piece of content by your brand, or they’re getting ready to hit the buy button, or they’re already a satisfied customer, you can engage at any point in the best way for the situation.
It’s highly effective and represents a more intimate connection and deeper satisfaction. Before we move onto the stats supporting this, let’s take a quick look at some of the channels that are used in live engagement:
- Live videos. Unlike traditional video content, live videos are broadcast to your viewers in real-time. This means they feature cutting-edge information, a highly relevant vibe, and the opportunity for viewers to ask questions and interact with the host there and then.
- Chatbots. Chatbots are an increasingly popular way for customers to interact with your brand simply by sending instant messages through a chat platform. Sales chatbots can solve basic problems quickly, refer users to sales staff, and guide interested customers through large chunks of the buying journey.
- One-to-one selling platforms. Chatbots have the ability to qualify leads and send these customers to a member of the sales team for one-to-one interaction. This is the pinnacle of live engagement, quickly putting an interested and engaged customer into contact with a human to complete the sale.
Live engagement allows brands to take a more hands-on role in working with their customers. Instead of relying solely on static content, they can engage with their audience in the moment, dealing with questions and issues as they arise.
It’s a much more dynamic way of approaching the sales process and has a huge amount of potential. In the next sections, we’ll show you how to use live engagement in your own business.
First, however, let’s take a look at some statistics that highlight why live engagement is so valuable.
Why use Live Engagement for business?
Live engagement techniques are extremely popular among customers. The data shows that adopting these methods is a sure-fire way to delight your audience, increase engagement, and grow your brand.
Let’s take a look at the stats supporting some key live engagement techniques.
Live video content is an extremely effective way to connect with customers in a way they consistently love. Video has always been a popular medium, and combining it with real-time interaction has proven to be a big hit.
- 80% of consumers prefer to watch live videos from a brand than read a blog
- In 2019, internet users watched a total of 1.1 billion hours of life video
- The online live streaming industry has grown by 99% between April 2019 and April 2020
Chatbots are developing at a rapid rate. It wasn’t long ago that they were fairly basic, limited to answering simplistic questions, and essentially functioning as glorified FAQs.
Today’s chatbots are much more advanced, capable of walking customers through fairly complex procedures, handling the bulk of the sales process, and handing users to real staff to complete a transaction.
57% of businesses now agree that chatbots deliver a large ROI with minimal effort, making them almost a no-brainer for brands.
And — perhaps surprisingly — the popularity of chatbots spans all generations. It might not be shocking to learn that 70% of Millenials report positive experiences with chatbots, but baby boomers also seem to like them.
Real-time marketing works
Engaging with your audience in real-time is clearly a successful approach. 85% of respondents in one survey said providing experiences that are responsive to customers based on real-time, in-the-moment behaviors is fundamental, significant, or important to their future business.
And marketers in the UK reported a 26% increase in conversion rates from real-time marketing. It’s clear that there’s a big demand for this kind of immediate, dynamic interaction between brands and their followers, and that’s reflected in the bottom line of companies that can deliver this.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a major impact on how customers want to interact with brands — driving more demand for real-time marketing. Here are some stats to highlight this trend:
- 75% of consumers have changed their shopping behavior in response to economic pressures, store closings, and changing priorities
- 20% of those consumers that have changed their shopping behavior have tried a new digital shopping method.
- 80% of those consumers that have tried a new digital shopping method will continue to use it in the future.
So how can you build real-time marketing and live engagement into your sales and marketing process, reaping all the above rewards and many more?
How to implement live engagement
At Whisbi, we break our live engagement process into three main steps, which roughly reflect the stages in the buyer’s journey that most customers progress through on their way to making a purchase.
In this chapter, we’ll break down these main stages and explain how live engagement techniques can be used each step of the way to connect with your audience members and walk them through the journey to becoming a happy customer.
This is the first stage of the process, aligning with the top of the sales funnel and the beginning of the customer journey. This is where customers are just getting to know your brand, consuming content in the form of social media posts, videos, and blog articles.
They’re usually not ready to make a purchase at this point (although they might be), and the focus should be on informing them and giving them all the resources they need to get on board with your brand. How can we use live engagement to do that?
One great way is with one-to-many video broadcasts, allowing you to educate and inform multiple customers at once about your products with dynamic video content. Encourage questions and have your presenters interact with viewers in real-time. This allows you to connect with your customers from the very start — forging a bond and setting the stage for your future relationship.
The popularity of video as a way to interact with brands has skyrocketed in 2020. According to the Global Customer Engagement Landscape Report by Vonage:
“Since January, globally, there has been 140% growth in the number of people who prefer to connect with businesses via video. Video chat has also become a mainstream addition to people’s everyday lives, and U.S. adoption has experienced four years of growth in just seven months, with 43% of Americans now video chatting with businesses regularly.”
Once your customers have gotten to know your brand a little better and are getting ready to make a purchase, it’s time to guide them towards the sale.
This is the middle part of the sales funnel, and usually takes the form of things like landing pages, case studies, and email sequences. Your goal should be to give your prospects everything they need to make a decision and become a paying customer.
Chatbots can be a powerful tool at this stage. You can use bots to guide, inform, and convert your visitors into customers. As we covered in the previous section, chatbots are increasingly popular and effective tools and allow you to open interactions with customers without the need for a human staff member.
Chatbots can also help minimize lead response time, which has huge implications when it comes to qualifying leads. According to the Harvard Business Review: “Brands who respond to online leads within the first couple of hours are more than 60 times as likely to qualify them as potential customers than those who wait 24 hours or longer.”
Research based on 1.25 million sales leads received by 29 B2C and 13 B2B companies in the U.S.
The final stage of the process, and perhaps the most important, is the sale.
This is where good sales chatbots really come into their own. Whisbi’s sales chatbots can quickly qualify whether or not a lead is ready to be referred to a member of your sales team, simply by asking some basic questions.
According to a report by Mulesoft, 93% of consumers see real-time help beneficial during their online customer journey, and 51% were more likely to purchase from a website if they could get answers via live chat.
If the lead is ready to buy, it’s simply a case of connecting them to a human sales rep to complete the sale. Our solution also makes it easy to carefully track and report at this stage, which is crucial to understand why customers are behaving the way they do and make changes to improve your sales process and generate more revenue.
Live engagement success stories
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how Whisbi has used live engagement to help brands connect with their customers and achieve their goals.
Auto industry — Hyundai
The challenge: In the new digital era, car buyers are less willing to go into car dealerships. There’s now an expectation that the research and buying process can take place mostly online, and people have grown accustomed to this convenience.
Unfortunately, for Hyundai’s customers, there was a sense of friction between offline and online purchasing. Customers felt brand experts weren’t reachable for information online. What’s more, even though Hyundai’s site was packed with great tools like car configurators and deal building tools, this wasn’t leading to more conversions or test drives.
The solution: Whisbi helped Hyundai adopt their one-to-many video chat solution, introducing live engagement for customers with interactive and detailed explanations of car models and features while answering any questions in real-time.
- 93% customer satisfaction rate
- 13% engaged viewers
- 1 million total viewers
Auto industry — Toyota
The challenge: Like Hyundai, Toyota’s customers were losing interest in the dealership model and wanted to go through the car buying process online. Cutting-edge tools on the website weren’t resulting in more conversions, and customers were finding it difficult to get all the information they needed online, leading to friction.
The solution: Toyota used live engagement, driven by Whisbi’s platform, to create a dialogue with customers via live chat or voice call. This way, they were able to eliminate friction by providing information as needed throughout the buyer’s journey.
Customers also gained the ability to choose a date and time to speak with sales experts with click-to-call.
- 56% of all leads booked test drives through the Whisbi One-to-One solution.
- On average Whisbi delivers more than 200 test drives to Toyota every month!
- 95% of customers loved the service
The challenge: Vodafone, like many companies, was witnessing a rapid shift from traditional high street stores to ecommerce.
One major challenge was that their website contained insufficient information for visitors, and they were finding it hard to get everything they needed to make a buying decision. Vodafone was getting a high level of traffic to their website, but sales were comparatively low.
The solution: Vodafone implemented Whisbi’s one-to-one and one-to-many solutions, allowing live engagement with their customers at multiple points in the sales process. They were able to provide lots of detailed information, offer interaction at every stage, and overcome friction to deliver a more rewarding and successful customer experience
- 25% increase in online conversion rate and gained over 400K sales leads/month
- Online sales share increased to 20%, and Whisbi represents 50% of these sales
- Gained market innovator status
Travel & Hospitality — Bahia Principe (luxury hotel chain)
The challenge: Customers typically do a lot of research before booking a trip, and with luxury hotels, customers will be hesitant to make a commitment unless they have as much information as possible.
Bahia Principe wanted to make the booking decision and process as easy as possible for their customers by making it easy for them to access all the information they need.
The solution: Bahia Principe used Whisbi’s live engagement tools to connect with their visitors more easily at all stages of the customer journey. They used live video, voice, and chat to walk customers through the booking process one-to-one, in real-time.
This allowed the hotel chain to build greater trust and a closer connection with their customers, making the decision-making process that much smoother.
- Able to connect every web visitor with an agent in less than 6 seconds
- 35% increase in conversion rate
- 20% of bookings made with Whisbi
- $1597 average ticket value
The future for live engagement
As time goes on, customers will continue to demand more and more from brands when it comes to online interaction.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this process, closing high street stores all over the world and forcing companies to ramp up their ecommerce capabilities to handle a market that is, in many cases, now taking place entirely digitally.
The ability to deliver live engagement to customers, connecting with them on a human level in real-time to answer their questions and guide them through the buyer’s journey, is proving to be crucial in this new world.
This ability will separate successful brands from failures and could turn out to be one of the main predictors of success in the future.
To find out how Whisbi can help you implement live engagement across your sales funnel and online experience, schedule a demo with us.