The Value Of Live Chat: Comparing Email and Chat Conversion RatesEmail has worked for several decades.It still works well. The only problem is that it’s working less well with each passing year.Live chat, on the other hand, keeps gaining steam.Research shows that, 52% of consumers are likely to purchase again from a company that offers live chat support. And new features are making it easier for companies to answer customer queries in seconds (rather than the minutes or hours for email).So the writing’s on the wall. But let’s break down performance across the board to find out which channel is outperforming the other.Live Chat Verses Email: Whose Conversion Rate Is Higher?What is the average conversion rate for emails? The average email marketing open rate is 24.79% across all industries, thanks to SmartInsights reporting.Not bad, huh? Well, don’t get cocky. The average click-through rate is a measly 4.19%. And, naturally, the actual conversion rate sits even lower, likely somewhere between 1% and 2%. In other words, a lot of people open your emails, a few people click, and even fewer people buy. That, of course, isn’t a recipe for online success. Now, compare those meager results with live chat stats. The American Marketing Association ran a study that showed that adding live chat to business websites often increases conversions by at least 20%. And after Viktor Zeman, the CEO of QualityUnit, implemented live chat on his website, he’s quoted as saying,”After implementing live chat on our website, Post Affiliate Pro’s conversion rates increased by 23%.”If it can work for him, why not you? But it’s not just the conversion rate that soars with live chat. It’s also your overall ROI. In fact, the ROI of businesses that use live chat is 305% higher. Not to mention that customers are three times more likely to buy from a website that has live chat integration. (Image Source)Evidently, live chat is quite convincing. But that’s really no surprise. People prefer live chat because it’s fast, convenient, and easy. Email, on the other hand? Not so much. Consumers even prefer live chat on a website over SMS. (Image Source)For that reason, 79% of businesses report that offering live chat has had a positive effect on their sales, revenue, and even customer loyalty. The point? Live chat is more preferred and more profitable.It engages customers and prospects quicker. It’s more convenient. Which is why the average increase of online leads for companies that use live chat is around 40%. But there’s still one more question to answer. Why is live chat so much more effective than email or other marketing strategies? Well, the answer to that is five parts. Here’s each in turn. 1. Prospects Want You To Follow Up… FastThere’s nothing worse than wanting to buy a product but having a question. You don’t want to buy until you get your question answered because the answer might impact your decision to buy. So you go to the support page and what do you find? An email address. Sweet. Mother. Of. God. You’ve been there, right? You want to get your question answered fast but you can’t because you have to wait a few days for a reply. It’s literally the worst. And your prospects and customers feel the same way. In fact, that follow up and availability is notoriously critical for sales teams everywhere. Only 2% of sales are made on the first contact while 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact. What’s worse? 48% of salespeople never follow up. (Image Source)But the horror doesn’t end there. People don’t just want you to follow up with them. They want you to follow up instantaneously. Fortunately, speed pays. When salespeople follow up with a lead within 60 seconds, the chances of converting that person increases five times. You heard that right. Five. Freaking. Times. Additionally, if you’re the first business to contact the lead — rather than a competitor — you can increase your conversion rate by 238%. (Image Source)How, though, does live chat make that happen? Well, with live chat you can follow up immediately. With email, you can’t (or won’t). In fact, so helpful are live chat representatives that 44% of online consumers believe getting their questions answered immediately by the representative is one of the top features a website should offer. Really, though, you shouldn’t be surprised. People want you to follow up because they love your product and they have a question about it. If you’re available to answer their questions, you’ll likely make the sale. If you’re not, then maybe take another glance at email conversion rates. 2. Live Chat Is More Convenient For ProspectsPerhaps the biggest reason that live chat is so great for consumers — and thus, your business — is because it’s remarkably convenient to use. Think about it in the shoes of the consumer. If you have a question to ask, you don’t have to travel to your email server to send an email that you may or may not receive a reply from. Instead, all you have to do is click on the little box in the corner and ask a question toward a friendly face. Usually, the response comes in seconds or minutes rather than days. And while you’re waiting, you can simply browse around. Sadly, no one really expects the same from email… because, with email, that just never happens. In fact, the top reasons that people prefer live chat to other customer support options is because they get their questions answered immediately, they can multitask while they ask questions, and it’s the most efficient mode of communication for them. (Image Source)And since live chat is so easy to use, it also makes people more likely to buy from you. Kissmetrics reports that 62% of people are more likely to buy from a site again if they used live chat the first time and 38% of people make a purchase simply because of the live chat session. And they do that for one simple reason: they are happier with live chat than they are with other methods of communication. In terms of customer satisfaction, live chat wins by a long shot, with a customer satisfaction average of 73%. (Image Source)Clearly, live chat is winning. And it’s not just winning because it’s new and exciting, but because it’s the most convenient option for your prospects and customers to use. For that reason, 63% of millennials — the upcoming generation — prefer to have their questions answered via live chat. (Image Source)And with every question you answer via live chat, your conversion rate increases. It’s like having a salesperson right next to you as you browse products. You know you’re more likely to leave a store if you can’t find someone to answer your questions. The same is true online. 3. You’ll Save More Money Per Conversion With Live ChatCash does a nice job of convincing people to implement a new tool, right? So here are the facts. Live chat is going to save you money. Seriously. Because here’s the thing. Your live chat doesn’t always have to be ‘live.’ Chatbots and filters can be used to automate 80% of the work.In fact, since you don’t have to pay someone to provide 24/7 customer support, the potential annual salary savings created by chatbots in the U.S. is projected to be around $200 billion. (Image Source)Do you want a cut of that $200 billion worth of savings? Ha! Of course you do. Who wouldn’t?Of course, you won’t be able to completely rely on chatbots. For more difficult inquiries, you’ll likely need a live person on board for at least part of the time. But for the vast majority of people asking easy questions, a chatbot or set of automated responses will do just fine. In the end, Forrester research has shown that live chat is 17% to 30% cheaper than a phone call. And that means live chat doesn’t just make you money by increasing your conversion rate, but it saves you money by decreasing your necessary bandwidth. Win. Win. 4. Live Chat Gives You A Competitive Advantage Over Other CompaniesNow that you’re aware of tons of the benefits of using live chat, you’re probably thinking that everyone is already using it, huh? You’re probably just playing catch up by joining the ranks. After all, since live chat saves money and makes money, who would possibly be crazy enough to not use it?91% of businesses. That’s who. In fact, out of 1,000 websites analyzed, only 9% were integrating live chat. That picture becomes even more horrific when you find out that, in the last five years, the number of people who use live chat has increased from 38% to 58%. In other words, consumers prefer live chat, but companies aren’t using it. “Unfortunate” doesn’t quite fit the bill. Now, the number of websites using live chat is rapidly climbing. But still, many ecommerce and SaaS company websites have not yet adopted the technology. That’s actually good for your business. It means that if you do use live chat, you’ve just placed yourself above the competition. In the words of a Kissmetrics article on the topic, “If you want to gain an edge on the competition, live chat is a key feature that websites must have in order to be competitive and to hopefully rise to the top. In fact, live chat provides a simple way to connect with customers who spend a good deal of their money online.”The problem with conversion rates on most websites is that there’s no salesperson to answer questions in between the visitor and the actual purchase. (Image Source)Really, the process should look something more like this, with engagement in between those two actions. (Image Source)And the best part about live chat is that you, the business, get to initiate the conversation. You don’t have to wait for someone to get upset and leave. And since you’re the one reaching out to the prospect immediately — and your competitors likely aren’t — then you’ll acquire more customers than your pesky competition. In the case that your competitors do use live chat, then it’s par for the course, and you should jump on board as soon as possible. ConclusionNow you know whether live chat is right for your business. It has a higher conversion rate than email, making it a far better contender in the world of conversion rates and lead generation. The reason that live chat provides such a remarkable conversion rate for its adopters is four-fold. Namely, prospects want you to follow up quickly, it’s more convenient to use, you’ll save money using it, and it gives you a competitive advantage over other similar businesses. So is live chat right for your business? It is if you want happier customers and a higher conversion rate.