What is the main difference then between a cheap website and a mid-range or big budget site? Most often, the difference comes down to how smart your site is. There are two main approaches to this. First, it could be very well designed, intelligently selling your story, USP and product or service. It is a smart site because it is smartly designed to provide a strong user experience and high functionality. The second approach is to utilise your website to act as a brain and make decisions for you. Sometimes called “AI”, “automation” or “machine learning,” they are all essentially software applications.
It’s this second approach that we would like to focus on in this blog, looking at how smart websites such as these can be a benefit to a business and increase its sales. Strategic IC say that companies that automate lead management see a 10% or more bump in revenue in 6-9 months time and PwC named AI one of the eight essential technologies in business (Huffington Post). There is increasing evidence to suggest that more and more businesses are beginning to invest in AI and automation, but what exactly is it? And how can you implement it? We’re diving in head first to lay out a few of our favourite approaches to automate your sales funnel.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to implementing AI, user tracking is a safe bet. Before you can begin to utilise more clever applications, you need to be able to uncover who your users are, what journey they are taking through your site and why. You can do this by using free or low cost solutions such as Google analytics, Crazy Egg or more sophisticated technology built into the site itself, but either way, the point is to try to understand how people are using your site and what information is most interesting to them. Once you know this, you’re in a good position to make decisions on where to spend your budget, what to test and what to optimise. More importantly, you’re in a better position to understand the point at which you should reach out to close a deal.
Let’s say that you are a fashion brand and you have sold a nice blue jacket to a customer. Wouldn’t it make sense to show that customer the matching blue shoes on their next visit to your site? This is the basis for variable content. If you can track your users and know what they are interested in, then you can trial showing them blue shoes, blue trousers or blue sunglasses. Essentially you are showing your customer more of what they are interested in and less of what they are not, increasing you’re the likelihood of making a sale.
Those of you with a sales background will know all about lead scoring. Simply put, lead scoring is how close someone may be to purchasing what you sell. A sales person, for instance, may estimate that a potential client is 80% likely to buy what they are selling. If you are tracking what a visitor does on your site, then you can assign a value to everything that they do. For example, if they spend 5 minutes on the homepage, it’s worth 10 points. If they download that eBook, 30 points. Perhaps they sign up to your e-mail list, that’s 20 points – and so on.
What’s the point of this? If your website has a brain, it can keep track of the visitors overall score and, if your visitor reaches 40 points, it can trigger your website to respond with an automated action such as sending an email to that visitor about a new product.
How many emails do you send a day? I am willing to bet it is a fair few. If someone has left a product in their shopping cart on your website or a user has expressed an interest in your service, do you want to have to send an email to follow up? As someone who is dyslexic, this is an impossible task! I hate spammy content, but in these instances the email automation is reaffirming the customer’s interest, demonstrating that your business has the ability to support and nurture its customers.
If you are clever about it, you can make these emails seem as though they are very personal and written for the person receiving them. Again, Strategic IC has done some in-depth research showing “businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost 33% less than non-nurtured prospects.”
Chatbots do almost exactly what it says on the tin. They are robots that will chat with online users on your behalf. Some merely start the conversation before handing the user over to a real person and others can be significantly more intelligent (if you have the budget). You can map out a vast array of possible paths for a conversation and subsequent replies that would make sense. Then you can plug this data into a chatbot AI and let it do all the hard work!
So there it is. That’s digital applications in a nutshell. Next week on the blog, we’ll talk more about where to spend your money when you’re looking to invest in digital.