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Live chat has quickly become an integral part of customer service in the digital era.
When a customer or website visitor has a question, complaint, or needs some other type of assistance, they expect to reach your brand via live chat.
In addition to the improved customer experience, live chat is also more efficient for your support team. Service reps can’t field more than one phone call simultaneously, but they can handle multiple live chat conversations at the same time.
Overall, live chat is fast, effective, and more cost-efficient than any other type of customer communication. In terms of consumer preferences, it ranks higher than phone, email, and social media. Every website needs to have live chat.
With that said, there are dozens of different live chat solutions available on the market today. Which one is the best for you and your website? Continue below for my in-depth analysis.
The Top 7 Options For Live Chat Software
How to Choose the Best Live Chat Software For You
As you’re comparing different live chat options, there are certain feature sets and considerations that must be evaluated. I’ll break these factors down in greater detail, so you have a better understanding of what to look for.
Number of Agents
How big is your support team?
There’s a big difference between businesses with 5, 50, and 500 agents. Most plans will have some limitations on how many support reps can access the software. Other plans will have minimum seat requirements as well.
It’s also important for you to look down the road as your company grows. Is it easy to add new agents to your plan at scale? Make sure you’re not locked into a plan that restricts your scalability.
Why exactly are you in the market for live chat software?
Sure, there are plenty of general-purpose options out there. But some software is designed to accommodate specific needs and goals. For example, there is live chat software for lead qualification, live chat software for customer engagement, and live chat software for customer support.
These are just a few of many examples that should be taken into consideration.
If you’ve got customers reaching out to your brand on different channels, you want to make sure that the software seamlessly integrates with those third-party systems.
For example, you could potentially manage conversations from your website and conversations from Facebook Messenger within the same live chat software. Your service reps can handle everything from a single dashboard, instead of switching screens and being forced to use different platforms.
Automation is arguably the most crucial and desirable feature of live chat software. It speeds up service requests significantly, and it’s a cost-effective way to provide assistance 24/7/365.
Chatbots don’t take lunch breaks or sick days. They work nights, weekends, and holidays. So if a website visitor has a question at 2:00 AM on a Saturday, it can potentially be resolved with a self-service chatbot.
For businesses with multiple departments, chatbots and live chat software can automatically route messages to the right representative. Questions about returns would be sent directly to a support rep, while questions about new products would be routed to a sales rep.
Extras and Bonus Features
Aside from the core live chat software tools, each software will offer additional features with different plans. Not all of these will be a deal-breaker, but it’s helpful to have if you’re going to take advantage of these offerings.
I’m referring to features like CRM integrations, chat history, custom widgets, admin monitoring, helpdesk features, HIPAA-compliance, calendar integrations, appointment scheduling, etc.
The Different Types of Live Chat Software
At its core, live chat software is essentially real-time messaging on a website between a visitor and brand representative from a chatbox on the corner of the page. But within this broad classification, live chat can be segmented into three main categories.
Chatbots use AI technology and automation to solve problems. In many cases, customer inquiries can be resolved without any human interaction if you add chatbots to your website.
It’s also common for sites to use chatbots initially, before ultimately routing the conversation to a support representative. Chatbots can help qualify the visitor and ultimately get the inquiry resolved faster.
Chatbots typically won’t come standard with basic live chat software plans. These are usually offered as an add-on. Don’t let the price of chatbots scare you away from using them. Over the long-term, it’s much cheaper to use bots than paying for human labor.
Live Chat For Sales
There are lots of great sales-specific live chat solutions out there. This type of live chat software will include built-in CRM tools (or integrate with the CRM you’re already using), lead qualification features, and customer engagement tools.
Your sales agents will have a much easier time closing leads if you’re leveraging live chat software built for sales.
Customer Support Software
Live chat is a common component of helpdesk software. Lots of customer service software on the market will have features for things like ticket support and team collaboration, but the best ones will also include live chat.
Not every live chat software is built specifically for customer support. So if this is the primary feature that you’re looking for, make sure you choose a solution with those helpdesk features and support tools.
#1 – Zendesk Review — Best For Customer Engagement
Zendesk is a versatile live chat software trusted by 200,000+ businesses worldwide. They have solutions for sales, support, and customer engagement.
One of the reasons why Zendesk ranks so high on my list is because of its simplicity. The software is easy to use, and you can deploy it within hours of signing up.
Zendesk is used by some big names and industry leaders, like Shopify, Slack, Uber, Venmo, and more. Here are some of the top reasons why I recommend it:
- Reach out to customers with proactive engagement before they land on your site
- Powerful analytics customer satisfaction, agent performance, and other KPIs
- Omnichannel support with email, social, phone, and live chat
- Self-service and knowledge base tools in 40+ languages
- AI suggestions and machine learning from context clues
Zendesk Chat starts at $14 per agent per month.
But I recommend the Zendesk Support Suite. This package comes with features for chat, support, messaging, and voice, starting at $89 per month. It’s also worth noting that Zendesk has a Sales Suite to consider as well.
Try any Zendesk plan free for 30 days.
#2 – JivoChat Review — Best Cross-Platform Live Chat Software
JivoChat is branded as an all-in-one business messaging solution. It allows you to communicate with customers via phone, email, social, and of course, live chat—all from a single platform.
It seamlessly integrates with popular tools and services that you’re already using, like Slack, Weebly, WordPress, Wix, Pipedrive, Zapier, Shopify, and more.
More than 284,000 websites worldwide rely on JivoChat for their live chat needs, making it one of the most popular solutions on the market today. Here’s a quick overview and explanation of why the software is so popular:
- Compatible with Facebook, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Telegram, Email, etc.
- All customer communication is managed from a single window
- The live chat widget works on every device, browser, and operating system
- It’s customizable and has the ability to be translated into 20 different languages
- Automatic proactive messages based on custom triggers
- CRM integrations and visitor’s information (like location and click source)
- Chat logs and reports between customers and agents
JivoChat offers unlimited chats and websites on every plan, including the free version.
The software and its basic features are free for your first five agents. Pricing starts at $13 per month per agent, which gives you access to all of JivoChat’s features. Try it free for 14 days.
#3 – Pure Chat Review — The Best Live Chat Features
Pure Chat is an excellent live chat solution for small and medium-sized teams.
Compared to other solutions on the market today, Pure Chat is one of the most feature-rich live chat tools that you’ll come across. Even better, all of these features are included with every plan.
Let’s take a closer look at Pure Chat’s extensive feature list:
- Unlimited chats
- Advanced widget customization
- Security roles (for admins, operators, power users)
- Chat notifications
- Canned responses
- File transfers
- Trigger-based actions
- Real-time analytics and visitor tracking
There are two different Pure Chat plans for you to choose from—Growth and Pro. These start at $39 and $79 per month, respectively. The Growth plan comes with four users, and the Pro plan comes with ten. Additional users cost extra.
For most businesses, I’d recommend the Pro plan. It gives you the ability to remove Pure Chat’s branding from your widget, and you can use it on an unlimited number of websites.
Try either of these Pure Chat plans free for 30 days to access all of the features.
#4 – Intercom Review — The Best For Lead Qualifications
Intercom is branded as a “conversational relationship platform.” It’s a clever way to say it helps you build customer relationships through messaging and live chat.
The software is trusted by 30,000+ companies across the globe, including Microsoft, IBM, Udemy, and Sotheby’s.
What makes Intercom so great? Let’s take a closer look at the software highlights:
- Boost site conversions with targeted messages, bots, and real-time chat
- Onboard, activate, and re-engage customers with outbound communication
- Proactive support tools and self-help features
- Manage customer interactions across all channels from a single dashboard
- 250+ integrations out-of-the-box and APIs for custom integrations
The software starts at $39 per month for basic live chat and outbound messaging features.
To take advantage of automation and managing lead qualifications at scale, I recommend the Accelerate plan. It starts at $499 per month and includes ten seats. This comes with awesome features like custom bots, team inboxes, and more.
Try Intercom for free with a 14-day trial.
#5 – LiveChat Review — The Most Versatile Live Chat Software
With a brand name like LiveChat, it’s no surprise to see this software rank so high on my list. This tool is trusted by 30,000+ businesses in over 150 countries, including names like PayPal, McDonald’s, Adobe, and Mercedes-Benz.
The software is used for online chat, multichannel support, lead generation, online surveys, in-app support, net promoter score, and more—making it one of the most versatile solutions on the market today.
Here’s a brief overview of the features, benefits, and noteworthy highlights of LiveChat:
- Add product cards to live chat conversations
- Use custom forms and AI chatbots to qualify your leads
- Automatically track sales and KPIs to monitor the effectiveness
- Automatic agent routing
- Automatic ticket creation
- Segment visitors based on their behavior on your site
- 170+ integrations (Dropbox, BigCommerce, MailChimp, Shopify, Salesforce, etc.)
LiveChat is easy to use and set up as well. Plans start at $16 per agent per month, and you can try it free for 14 days; no credit card required.
#6 – Acquire Review — Best Live Chat Software For Chatbots
Acquire isn’t the most popular live chat software on the market today. But it’s still trusted by large organizations like Lexus, Audi, the US Air Force, Discover, and more. It’s an all-in-one solution for omnichannel support, knowledge base, video chat, VoIP phone, and more.
For those of you looking to add the most advanced chatbots to your website, Acquire is my top recommendation.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes Acquire stand out from the crowd:
- Automate routine questions with AI chatbots
- Sync your knowledge base articles with chatbots
- Route chats to human agents when bots can’t provide a solution
- No coding needed or developers required to deploy bots
- Manage all email, social, live chat, and other channels from a single inbox
- Team collaboration tools
- Co-browsing software for troubleshooting with on-page markups
- Video chat with customers
Another reason why I like Acquire is because the company provides exceptional customer support. It’s a growing brand, but their team is still available to accommodate your needs, 24/7.
Pricing is not available online. Contact the Acquire sales team for more information.
#7 – Smartsupp Review — Best For Monitoring Visitor Behavior
Smartsupp is another live chat software with omnichannel capabilities. The solution is used by over 425,000 websites.
It’s a great way to increase customer loyalty, drive conversions, and improve engagement with live chat and bots.
Smartsupp has one of the most unique features of all live chat software on the market today. It has built-in video recordings that give your agents a deeper understanding of how each visitor is moving around on your site. This gives you agents the ability to discover where people are getting lost, so they can provide better support.
You’ll also benefit from top features like:
- Out-of-the-box integrations and APIs
- Analytics and customer satisfaction ratings
- Create personalized automated messages with smart rules
- Communicate with customers while on the go from Smartsupp’s mobile app
- Web dashboard with analytics about customers
- Customize the look and colors of chat box
- Add personalized photos to support agent names in the chat widget
For smaller websites with basic needs, Smartsupp is free forever for your first three agents. Paid plans start at $10 per month.
You can try Smartsupp today by creating a free account.
There are lots of great live chat solutions available. But the seven recommended in this guide are definitely my favorite.
Which one is the best option for your website?
Be sure to follow the methodology I outlined earlier in this guide. This will make it much easier for you to narrow down your options.
Did you recently find out that your conversions are low compared to the industry average?
If that’s the case, then you need to hire a Conversion Rate Optimization Agency that can help you fix this issue.
Today we’ll go over everything you need to be aware of before hiring the right agency for your business.
First of all, you should…
Know Your Goals and Desired Outcomes
You are about to hire a CRO Agency and there are countless Conversion Rate Optimization companies out there.
In order to choose the one that will suit your exact situation, you’ll need to ask yourself what do you need?
Your best approach is to find out the exact things you need help with and then hire the agency that specializes in those 2 or 3 desired services.
Again, you want to build a strong, long-term relationship with this company.
So don’t treat your choice today lightly. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What part of my business is stuck right now?
- What can I add so I get to more traffic (paid or organic)?
- What do my followers say, what do I miss on?
- What is the one most profitable activity I can focus on right now?
These are all extremely important questions.
If there is a part of your business that feels stuck, then you need help there.
If your traffic lacks, then you need more so you can focus on converting the new traffic as well.
Your followers share gold there. You just have to be active enough to collect the most valuable information and put it into action quickly.
And also think about the business you’re running.
For example, if you’re an E-commerce store that is not using Email Marketing, you’re missing out on a lot of conversions.
That means Email Marketing would be your most profitable activity at the moment.
Be specific and honest with your answers so you can choose the CRO Agency that’s going to generate results for your business in the future.
3 Characteristics That Make a Great CRO Agency
In the process of choosing the best CRO Agency, you’ll probably find yourself visiting a couple of different websites.
For that reason, you need to know what to look for before initiating the next step.
So here are the 3 characteristics to look for before you go into a partnership with a CRO agency.
#1 Dedicated Services
As mentioned previously, the best practice is to hire a marketing agency that specializes mainly in the skills you need right now.
The thing is that most agencies focus on many services all at once.
For example here at Neil Patel Digital, we focus specifically on SEO, CRO, SMM, and Paid Advertising.
That helps us maximize our clients’ results by using the best strategies that work right now.
When choosing your winner today, you should clearly see how these services can help your business now or in the near future.
#2 Budget and Pricing
You should NOT enroll in a long-term partnership with a marketing agency if you can’t afford them.
A good rule here is to see if you can pay 3 months of services upfront.
You must NOT try to pay off the services from the profits they generate for you.
Investing in a good marketing agency can be extremely profitable but don’t expect to double your profits from day one.
So be careful because the agency that charges $20,000/month is not always the best choice for your situation.
#3 Communication Skills
You are running a business so things change fast.
Roadblocks are inevitable and that’s the reason why you need to hire an agency that updates you with occasional data reports.
And more importantly anytime you have a question, they come and help you understand what’s going on.
The best marketing agencies don’t just use the same offer for everyone.
If they just slapped a general offer on their website, they are probably not your best choice.
The best way to ensure you get what you want is to schedule a call where a professional goes over your current situation and comes up with the best strategy that’s going to work for YOU.
How to Work With a CRO Agency
You’ll need this section if it’s your first time working with a marketing agency or you’ve tried it before but it didn’t work quite as you expected.
You’re here because you need to convert more of your traffic into active followers and customers for your products and services.
And Conversion Rate Optimization is not a walk in the park.
You need a real professionals that know what works in today’s fast-paced world.
Because everyone can give you random suggestions on what you can optimize or which color to use for you button.
But you don’t need suggestions… You need results!
That’s why when starting your partnership you need to set up some ground rules.
Ask your agency what they normally do with similar clients but it’s essential to not get sucked up in their explanations and…
Demand What You Need
If they can’t provide it then they’re not your best choice.
Before jumping on a call with them, first clear out exactly what you need using the questions I shared with you at the beginning of this post.
Write them down and stick to them. But don’t block their ideas. It’s always possible that you have a blindspot about the situation of your business.
So ask for the professional’s opinion so you can create the best strategy together.
Don’t Make Exceptions
Keep in mind you’re working with a professional agency that helps dozens of clients each month.
If they are the best, they’ll follow monthly reports and pre-set deadlines.
Always agree on what needs to be done in the next week/month and check if they did it.
Keep a close eye on the most important part of the project daily. Of course, that would be your Conversion Rates.
Make sure you have a reliable way of measuring it so you see the real-time results the agency generates for your business.
Work With Them
It takes two people for a positive relationship.
The right agency will need access to different accounts and analytics to generate the best results possible.
But they’ll also need ongoing updates from you as well.
What interesting thing you noticed last week, what you think should be modified this week, etc.
Be open about your thoughts so you can achieve your goals as quickly as you can.
How to Find The Right CRO Agency For You
After reading this post, you should already know what you need, what makes a great CRO Company, and how to build a positive result-generating relationship with a professional CRO Agency.
And if you’re jumping into optimizing your conversions, I hope you have an existing reliable traffic source.
Because conversion rate optimization is useless if people don’t go through your funnel.
But if you do have a trustworthy source of traffic such as SEO or paid ads then CRO is something you should focus on.
We prepared a whole post going over the best CRO Companies of 2020 where we share some more tips on how to choose the perfect fit for you.
Here’s a summary of that list so you can make the right decision right now:
The 8 Top CRO Agencies in the World
#1 Neil Patel Digital — Best For SEO + CRO
Neil Patel Digital is the best Marketing Agency if you’re looking to optimize your organic traffic and convert it into paying customers.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, I’d guess you’re running a blog of your own.
If that’s the case you need the best SEO practices in order to outgrow your competitors.
And given that this blog is ranked for every marketing term you can think of, Neil Patel Digital is the best choice for you.
For Conversion Rate Optimization we use the most relevant tools and strategies that fit with the current marketing trends.
That has helped us get outstanding results for our clients.
So if you want to get more organic traffic and convert it using the most profitable strategies in the world…
Just schedule a call with a professional that will help you achieve all your goals.
#2 Trinity — Best For E-commerce Conversions
Trinity is a well-known CRO company that focuses on helping businesses in the E-commerce space.
If your store’s conversions have dropped lately, then you should look at Trinity’s services.
Their fees are premium but if you’re at a point in your business that you can afford their services, they’re most likely going to generate great results for you.
#3 WebMechanix — Best For All-In-One Services
Very often when you focus on one part of your business, soon you find out five other parts have collapsed in the background.
That’s completely normal when you’re trying to scale your business.
WebMechanix is one of the little agencies that can help you with everything all at once.
That doesn’t mean the results would be optimal but they have separate teams that can help you with everything from paid advertising and organic traffic to building an optimized funnel that converts.
So if you think your whole marketing strategy is falling apart, then you should contact WebMechanix.
#4 SiteTuners — Best For Small to Medium Businesses
SiteTunners is another great agency that you can trust if you’re in the early stages of your business development.
They are well-known for helping start-ups optimize their conversions for optimal scaling purposes.
For almost 20 years now, they’ve been helping the new stars in business shine brighter and brighter.
So if you’re in the beginning stages of growing your online presence, you can trust SiteTuners and their services.
#5 Invesp — Best For Dedicated CRO
If you think that every part of your business but the CRO is optimized, then you should look at what the Invesp team has to offer.
Of course, with their one hundred percent dedication towards CRO, their prices have been rising more and more.
If you’re at the point where you can afford to pay $150-199 / hour for CRO optimization, you should look at Invesp’s services.
#6 Inflow — Affordable Multi-Service E-commerce Option
Inflow is one of the little marketing agencies that give you direct access to the marketing experts that work on your project.
They help mainly E-commerce stores skyrocket their conversions.
It’s a great choice if you like working with freelancers who specialize in the services you need.
#7 Conversion Fanatics — Best For CRO + SMM
Conversion Fanatics is a marketing agency focusing directly on growing your social media presence.
Once you start getting traffic, they optimize your landing pages for traffic coming specifically from the social media they optimized earlier.
So if you think your social media marketing can use some help together with your CRO, then contact Conversion Fanatics and explore more of their options.
#8 Linear Design — Best For PPC + CRO
If you completed the questionnaire at the beginning of this post and found out you need to focus on driving more paid traffic together with optimizing your landing pages, then Linear Design would be a good choice for you.
Having access to your paid ads helps them optimize your funnel’s conversion rate optimally.
But keep in mind that you’re paying them and paying for ads.
If you choose this combination, you should be very careful with your budget and the results that come from it.
To sum up:
First, you need to clear your mind on what exactly do you need from a marketing agency.
Then you should find the agency that specializes in these 1-3 services and make sure they have great communication skills and also fit your budget.
Always start with a call where a professional can assess your situation and come up with the best strategy for your business.
Have you ever worked with one of the agencies listed above? Do you have more valuable tips for choosing the right agency? Share them in the comments below:
The post How to Choose The Right Conversion Rate Optimization Agency appeared first on Neil Patel.