How to use Live Chat to fuel your firm's growth

In the last few months, our team at Vanity Projects has been on a massive cold-emailing bender finding awesome small firms to pitch our growth-services to... and we noticed something was missing... from every single Architect's website in Australia. LIVE CHAT. Sad!

UPDATE 01/03/2017: KEEP SENDING THESE TO ME IF YOU'RE ONBOARD! 👏👏👏

Why LIVE matters...

Before moving to Melbourne, I was doing marketing for the Spacemarket App. In the tech startup space, it's vital that we're available to respond instantaneously on-site, in-app, and everywhere else our users (and potential users) might be interacting with our product or our brand. If your customers have a problem, and they can't get a quick fix, they uninstall. If a sales-lead can't get an answer to a pricing question, or a feature you're describing is confusing them, they bounce and never return. While architecture is supposed to be a lot stickier, less rushed - normally - I'm going to be unorthodox here and suggest that our bucket of prospects out there on the internet is just as impatient with our sales process. They know there are alternatives (the biggest being doing nothing at all), they know the alternatives are only a click away - and just like the latest season of House of Cards, if they do want an architect, they want one on-demand, on their time, right now... which we don't do. We make them wait, and play by our rules. We're still Foxtel.

Email is dead guys, contact forms aren't converting like they used to! Even Architects who are getting a respectable number of visitors to their site each month are probably seeing few enquiries. Maybe one every few weeks? A few good ones each year? Unless you're working B2B like us, I'm guessing you're trying to reach ordinary mums and dads who stumbled across you on one of a handful of typical inbound channels (GOOGLE, IG, PINTEREST)... the important thing to remember here, is that they aren't in love with you yet, they aren't coming to your funeral yet. Right now, they're just kind of curious! And you're definitely not the only Architect they have open in their tabs. Andrew Maynard is sliding into their DM's as we speak.

Winners act different in the first 30-seconds.

I can tell you, being engaging online in a way that nobody else is, and doing it quickly, matters. From the perspective of a dude who looks at Architect's websites all day, every day, you're all super hard to find, and all present the same way! Looking at all of these sites, we noticed a common structure.

  • Project Grid Gallery. What am I supposed to click first? TMI.
  • Individual project. Surely the client had something good to say about all this. Where are they?
  • About page. A multi-disciplinary, award-winning, industry-leading architect... Wow, rare!
  • FAQ. Not there... we don't answer questions for free.
  • Contact Page. What am I even supposed to be saying here, I've known about you for 30 seconds!

End of story, back to Instagram.

If I was a curious maybe-client on my lunch-break, fantasising about working with an architect, scrolling through the #australianarchitecture hashtag on Instagram - flirtatiously tabbing into each of your homepages for a second or two before moving on to the next - and suddenly one of you stopped me in my tracks by throwing up a friendly message that said "Hey! Before you go, we realise you've probably never worked with an Architect before. So, let us know if you have any questions about how all of this stuff works! We're here right now.". It might actually grab me... because I have a logical starting point!

And this isn't just some gimmicky pop-up where you're offering an 'eBook' for their email address... this is real. You're sitting in your office with the chat tab or Slack open waiting to respond to these messages. That's the trade-off. You hear a ping? It's go-time! There aren't any shortcuts.

The big game-changer, the thing that will make you disproportionately more interesting than the rest of the industry, from a prospect's POV, is that you're offering them value and immediate availability in the 1-minute window you have their attention... WHEN EVERY OTHER ARCHITECT IS HOPING THE PROSPECT WILL PICK UP THE PHONE(Go into Google Analytics and find out how long the average visitor stays on your website before disappearing... for good. I'll shout you Uber Eats if it's over 80 seconds.)

How to setup your chat.

Now that I've sold you on this scary new thing, I'll walk you through setting up your very own lead-generating live-chat chat button. I'm going to recommend Drift because it's free if you attract fewer than 100 leads. While they're right when they say that you've got to "spend money to make money", I know it falls on deaf ears in this industry, so Drift's price is right. Over the last year I've built 7 websites and played around with all of the alternatives in this space - Drift is really easy. If you take 10-minutes right now to set this up, in 30 days (if you have a decent bit of inbound traffic, let's say 500 visitors per month) you'll have a dozen conversations that would have bounced last month. A few of them will turn into phone calls and one of them might turn into a new client. You'll have a bunch of seemingly obvious repeat questions that you'd never thought to answer in something like an FAQ, and you'll be well on your way to converting a pile of cold-blooded-browsers into biz-dev-BFF's.

 

  1. Sign up for Drift. (I'm not being paid by these guys, I don't even pay to use their product. As I mentioned, it's free.) Other alternatives include Intercom, Olark, GoSquared.
  2. Set a welcome message and upload an avatar (of your face, not logo). My advice here is to be clear that you're available right now to help them and answer any questions. Adapt your welcome message to the content on your site. If it's just photos of buildings, they probably don't have any questions. For situations like these, Drift allows you to segment different messages to pop-up on separate pages (if you upgrade to a paid plan). For example, "Now that you've read about us, it's only fair that we can hear a little bit about you! What's up? 👋" on the About Page. It's best to start out with "Hey there! We're here if you have any questions.".
  3. Grab the code! Plug it into your site yourself (wise-guy, eh?) or send it to me at Dave@vanityprojects.com.au and I'll install it for you, on my dime.

 

Finally. If you and your team use Slack, you can easily invite the Drift bot into your Slack team and anyone on your team will be invited to setup profiles in Drift and begin responding to enquiries (meaning even the intern you pay $0/hour can bring you mad-money leads), or you can simply log into Drift in your browser and respond to messages there. Involving everyone in the office is fun.

A final note, if you're on the free plan, you'll have to turn your chat on and off manually at the beginning and end of the day. Not a big hassle. When you're away, it will let your prospects know and collect their email address for you to respond to tomorrow. Or never turn it off and respond from your couch at 10PM using the iOS app... after all, it's only your livelihood.

There you go! If you've followed these steps you're now the most approachable architect in Australia. Congrats 👏

 

I'd love to hear how your first month goes with this. Please copy-paste your most surprising and heart-warming conversations and email them to me at dave@vanityprojects.com.au. I'd love to read them.

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