You’re almost finished remodeling your home. It’s taken eight months, and you can’t wait to be done. All you need is that last coat of beige paint. You’re pretty sure you’ve found the right shade, but you want to verify with the seller. You try calling first, ready to buy, but get tired of waiting on hold. You notice a “contact us” tab on their website and click it, only to find a lengthy form. So you submit your name, email address, and phone number, and hope they get back to you in the next 24 hours. Just when you thought you were finished, your project is on hold.

Over 74% of marketers still rely on forms for lead generation. However, forms break, slip through the cracks, and can take a day or more for customers to get a response. 

As a small business owner, you can’t afford to lose your hard-earned leads to technical issues or lengthy waits. That’s why many of our customers are rapidly replacing forms with live chat. As you’ll see below, they’ve discovered that live chat outperforms form fills. Every time. 

Forms are asynchronous. Live chat happens in real time. 

We’ve all experienced submitting a form and never receiving a reply. Whether it slips through the cracks or the system accidentally sends it into the ether, the unreliability of forms can cost your business big. Live chat drives confidence in that it’ll be responded to immediately, in real time. This prevents a number of problems that forms typically pose, such as conversation breaks and miscommunication. Conversational marketing also allows you to quickly develop a strong relationship with the customer and build a reputation of responsiveness.

Forms connect. Live chat converts.

With the info you gather from a form, you can connect with leads. However, live chat actually converts. In fact, our research shows that Podium Webchat converts at a rate of 8% while forms convert at a rate of 3-5%. Live chat shortens your sales cycle significantly by engaging and converting leads on the spot in a very small window of time. And this kind of conversion pays. A recent survey reported that live chat leads to a 48% increase in revenue per chat hour.

Forms collect contact info. Live chat skips straight to the conversation. 

Forms are great at collecting contact information—your name, email, what you’re searching for, etc. But you don’t need contact information to close a deal; you need context. Live chat skips straight to the conversation and allows customers to ask key questions like, “Do you have a couch with leather that doesn’t fade? I’m worried about the sun in my living room,” or “I need a last minute Mother’s Day gift,” or “Here’s what the other firm can do for me—can you do any better?” With live chat, you can get valuable information on pain points along with what is actually important to the customer.

Forms are robotic. Live chat is personal.

While forms resemble a survey, live chat makes you feel as though you are talking to a real person, because you are. This human aspect is enhanced by the conversational nature of live chat. With a form, your customer simply fills out several rows, submits, and then waits in their email inbox. But with live chat, you can use emojis, pictures, videos, links, and more to create a personalized and interactive experience for your customer. This kind of personalization pays as 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase a service or product from a company that personalizes their experience. The future of business is personalization, and live chat helps you not only keep up, but get ahead. 

Forms are slow. Live chat is instant.

Forms lengthen your sales cycle. They drag contact out over a series of hours, or even days, decreasing your chances of closing the sale. Conversely, live chat is the fastest way to get leads through your marketing and sales funnels. It is live, takes minutes instead of days, and gets rid of the back-and-forth email tag that so often kills the energy needed to hold interest and close. Your customers are probably shopping your competitors as well, which means that you need to close and convert as quickly as possible. If your customers have to wait for an email response, they will leave and find a business they can engage with. Because if you don’t initiate instant engagement, someone else will. 

Forms sort. Live chat qualifies.

As a business owner, you know that leads are not the key to success. Quality, qualified leads are what you want. And while forms are great for sorting and categorizing different leads and their requests, leads that are qualified through conversation actually close much faster than leads qualified through traditional methods. Your time is precious. You don’t have extra hours to spend on someone who may not even be wanting to buy from you. Conversation is the best way to determine if a lead is actually a prospect and how committed they are to purchasing from you. 

Forms request. Live chat commits. 

Forms require a level of interest. If a lead gives you his name, contact, and personal information, he likely wants to be contacted by a sales representative and is at least somewhat interested in your services. Live chat, on the other hand, asks relatively little. We’ve found that the average customer feels like he doesn’t have to commit as much in live chat, which is why he is more willing to fill out a Webchat info section. In reality, after the conversation moves to text, he ends up being much more committed to the business and process than he would be after filling a form. 

Not all live chat solutions are created equal. 

As with everything, not all live chat solutions deliver the same value. A common problem businesses experience is that live chat chains people to their desktops—employees and customers. But our live chat product, Webchat, can be taken on the go. Using the power of text, Webchat can transfer directly to a mobile device and back again. Almost 90% of consumers prefer messaging. If you want to convert leads effectively, you have to reach them where they are—their text inbox. This also means more freedom for you as texting allows you to close deals on the fly. You can also customize automated messages, making instant, live communication an easy lift for you whether you’re in the office or out for the day. 

Forms are many business owners’ first love. If you’re not ready to say goodbye completely, you don’t have to. Here at Podium, we actually use both forms and Webchat. Just don’t miss the opportunity to maximize your conversion rates with the power of live chat. With the right tools, you can make sure that no one is ever waiting on you for their last coat of paint again.  

Podium’s webchat feature allows you to optimize your lead conversion by tracking webchat performance through Google Analytics and transferring conversations from one business location to another. You can also receive a daily report of new inbound leads, employ auto responses, and automatically respond to FAQS. To learn more, check out our demo and see how webchat can revolutionize the way you do business.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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