By Steve Castro-Miller and Ryan Allis
A savvy e-tailer’s work is never done. Everything from effectively managing pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, optimizing for search, blogging, integrating social media efforts and continually refreshing content is on the to-do list. But it all really boils down to making every visitor count.
Websites should make every effort to move prospects through
the sales cycle, but as important — if not more so — is to optimize
the site for information capture. Some visitors, for example, will not
purchase right away, but they are not less important. Every time a
well-qualified prospect lands on-site and leaves anonymously, the
website — and all its underlying technological wizardry — has
failed. The more we can learn about our site visitors, the better we
can optimize for tomorrow’s prospect.
CONTACT CAPTURE QUOTIENT
To frame this discussion and to act as a
strategic tool for businesses, we introduce the
concept of the Contact Capture Quotient
(CCQ). A website’s CCQ is the measure of a
website’s success in capturing visitors’ contact
data. A website with a CCQ of one captures
complete information about 100 percent
of its visitors. Websites will differ in
their informational needs but a website’s
CCQ will, at any given time, fall into one of
the four categories described below.
LIST GROWERS: Websites that require
limited information in order to maximize
the percentage of visitors captured. List
Growers are typically only capturing one
or two pieces of information such as name
CCQ BEGINNERS: Websites that capture a
low percentage of visitors and little information
about them. This might include the visitor’s
name, e-mail address, business name,
and maybe basic demographics like age and
gender. This type of website is likely to have
several form fields without requiring completion
of all of them. These websites “take
what they can get” from visitors.
CCQ LEADERS: Websites that excel at
capturing a high percentage of visitor data,
and robust information about them. They
use multiple methods of collection in multiple
locations throughout the website.
They want data that will allow them to
place someone well in the sales cycle. They
find out if a person is the decision-maker,
and who might know the purchasing timeframe.
They may even learn about budgets
and use live chat to ask more questions.
SERIOUS QUALIFIERS: Websites that capture
detailed information about a relatively
small percent of visitors using automated
and/or human touch methods to collect
information. They want specific information
from only the most qualified prospects. An
auto dealer, for example, will want to know
about the website visitor’s existing car
(appraisal), and what other car dealers the
person is considering so they can combat the
competition. If the website has a business- to-business focus, they will want to know
about how the decision-making process
works, and the RFP process.
CCQ is similar to SEO in that it does
not have a mathematical formula that fully
describes it, but it does purport a relative
ranking. Business owners will find it useful
to determine both their present and desired
locations in the quadrants above because
the integration of live chat software and email
marketing will dramatically improve
any website’s CCQ.
INTEGRATING LIVE CHAT
Forms are one way to capture user information
but nothing can compare with an actual
conversation with your customers. And
that’s where live chat comes in — it provides
real insight into products, our clients
and how we service them during critical
stages of their interactions with our brands.
With live chat, consumers not only feel
connected to our brands, but can also get
access to key information during the decision-
making process. All the while information
can be collected about the
visitor — are they more concerned with
product guarantees or cost? In addition, the
website owner can begin to understand
how the website is performing, where roadblocks
exist, the effectiveness (or lack
thereof) of product descriptions, and so on.
Depending where live chat is
accessible to the user (an
‘about’ page, next to the
shopping cart, etc.) and its
usage, site owners can target
the most effective place to
engage a consumer. All of
this information can be used
to build user profiles and
drive business decisions.
Another consideration is repeat visitors.
Are they more likely to give additional
information? It’s possible, if the visitor is
already familiar with and trusts the brand.
If so, website owners can develop business
rules through some live chat software that
will indicate when a repeat visitor is on the
site. Site owners can then reach out to them
through a proactive chat.
E-mail is one of the most cost-effective
marketing methods available. It’s cheaper
than traditional bulk postage mail, often
has a much larger impact on immediate
sales, and allows buyers and sellers to build
a relationship based on value and trust. Email
can also be used for deeper, more personal
With offerings that make it easy to
insert HTML into e-mail content, it’s possible
and advisable to include a live chat button
in e-mail campaigns. It’s a powerful way
to further the website/consumer relationship
and encourage future e-mail deliverability
and click-throughs. For some, it can
even out-perform other clickable links
inside the e-mail. E-mail chat can also help
determine those messages that are the most
effective — or least effective — at providing
a desired response.
USING PROACTIVE CHAT
Once the user has navigated from your
e-mail to your website, keep the conversations
going. Visitor monitoring data can be
used by a proactive chat rules engine to
engage website visitors in real time. Based on
a visitor’s behavior, geographic data, or other
information, website owners can proactively
offer someone the opportunity to engage in
a live chat. So, if a website visitor located in
Houston is on your website, you might be
able to engage a live chat session that is relevant
to their location — perhaps offer local
business coupons or notify them of a store
near their home they don’t yet know about.
Proactive campaigns regularly see take rates
of their invitations at well over 20 percent.
ANALYZE YOUR VISITOR DATA
Using a live chat offering, you will learn
something about your visitors. This data —
as impersonal as it may seem — can be
aggregated into useful information. The
goal of this data is to identify changes that
will increase your site’s CCQ. Consider the
• You may have a content relevancy issue
if visitors who arrive on-site from a
particular keyword tend to engage you
in chats, but don’t agree to be added to
lists for follow-up.
• Change your chat operator incentive
plans to account for longer chat sessions
if they result in better contact capture.
Many companies push operators to
reduce the time they spend with customers,
in order to control overhead.
USE AUTORESPONDERS AND
Don’t wait if someone agrees to have
their name added to your house list.
Immediately set up an autoresponder series
that gives them instant gratification by
delivering one or more e-mails containing
relevant and robust content. Additionally,
use whatever reporting facility enables you
to analyze internal e-mail clicks, forwards
Integrating live chat and e-mail marketing
influences each phase of the click
cycle and, when considered together, can
work in concert to raise a website’s CCQ.
A website’s ability to build ongoing relationships
with visitors is a big key to long
term monetization; whether that is the sale
of goods and services directly to visitors,
or the sale of advertising impressions
based on their visits.
About the Authors: Steve Castro-Miller is the president and
CEO of Bold Software,
who provides live chat among other services.
Ryan Allis is the CEO of iContact Corp.