Chatbots – love them or hate them they are a game changer for marketers. Sometimes people just want to explore your website without pressure. But what happens when they have a question? They’re forced to either fill out the marketing form of doom, resulting in endless emails and unsolicited sales calls, or to leave the site with unanswered questions. Both sound dreadful right?
This is where chatbots come become helpful. Sure, we know on the other side of a chat bot is a well-meaning marketer and sales person salivating at the responses you provide. But here’s the thing – chatbots provide a good user experience when done right. They can provide the low-pressure scenario for a prospect to thrive unpressured, while marketing gets to see how they interact with the chat bot, the questions they ask, and delve into a bazillion ways to better market to them.
In this episode of AMP UP Your Digital Marketing we meet Lindsay Kelley, Vice President of Digital and Content Marketing at Telit, an IoT enablement global leader. She speaks directly to the challenges that arise in creating some 40+ playbooks globally, including the need for translation into multiple languages. In this discussion you’ll also learn some of her key discoveries, like more questions aren’t always better.
Glenn: Welcome back to the show. Today we’re speaking with Lindsay Kelley. Lindsay, welcome to the show.
Lindsay: Good morning, Glenn. Thanks for having me.
Glenn: Lindsay, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Lindsay: Well, I am a digital marketing person. I kind of grew up in the dot boom era and have evolved into a love of digital and martech and all things customer journey centric. So, I really like to focus on what the customer is doing today, how they’re evolving, how we can evolve with them? I am currently the VP of Digital and Content Marketing for an organization called Telit. In its simplest form, we basically help things connect to the internet. So, we make them smart.
Glenn: Oh, very cool. We can always use a little more smart. The thing that’s kind of interesting that I’ve been looking forward to on this conversation is you all have implemented some chat capabilities on your website. And so, I know we’re going to dig into that a little bit today. But I am curious what was the thing that got you to say, you know what, we really do need to add some chat capabilities here. Was it just, you know, hmm, this is new, this is interesting, let’s try it out or was there something else that really drove that decision?
Lindsay: Well, Glenn, I think it was a combination of a few different things. So, I said in my intro, I’m really always trying to follow what the buyer is up to, what they’re doing on the website, what their behaviors are? And I think across the board, as marketers, a lot of us have experienced a little bit of customers being shy with filling forms out these days. They pretty much expect then be bombarded by our marketing emails and they are. We tend to do that in the marketing world, but we want to be more intentional about it. So, as we are looking at some of those numbers and honestly so many different things have been popping up with relation to what’s going on in the martech space. What are new things that people are trying and testing to see how they can better engage with folks who are coming to their website?
And so, you know, chatbots are obviously one of the new kind of hot things that marketers in the digital world are exploring and looking at. They’ve been around for a while but I think that their evolution is now to a point where AI can really take a customer pretty deeply into a journey without ever needing to engage with a sales person or a human. And a lot of the data shows that folks actually enjoy engaging with a bot and getting what they want quickly and not feeling that pressure of having to speak with somebody right up front. But when they’re ready to talk to a sales rep or a technical support person, they can do that if it’s beyond the bot.
So, we decided to start testing it about this time last year actually, we started exploring it, looking at what we could do? And we just started with a very small beta group and learned a lot of great lessons along the way. And now, I think we have somewhere around the realm of over 40 playbooks that we have across the entire website globally, both, in North America and we’re about to turn on a lot of different ones in AMEA.
Glenn: Now, I know you finally selected on Drift as your provider there. But I’m curious, when you test it out, did you test out in number of platforms? I mean, how did you think about that? Or did you really make your selection on what you’re going to test before you even got there?
Lindsay: We actually looked at a bunch of different things and one of our biggest challenges is, we needed the ability to have this bot route the conversations correctly. So, we need it to be able to set up global territories. So, this really gets us that in-depth ability to not only create the different territories, but we have different lines of businesses, so we have reps who sell one thing in certain countries and then another rep who may have overlap in those other countries but they’re selling a completely different product.
And so, the bot has to be responsive to that, especially if we’re targeting those account-based marketing lists. Because we can have the bot pop up and identify and understand what the company is. And it’s slightly creepy but at the same time it’s so helpful, it’s almost like the experience that we have when we go to, like, an Amazon.com and we just expect that when we type in what we’re looking for, not only are we going to find that, but it’s going to give us great suggestions as to other things we may need to purchase as well.
Glenn: Isn’t that interesting, because where we are as a society, it feels like – and maybe this is just me – but it’s almost like we expect it to know more about us without necessarily thinking how it knows more about us.
Glenn: You know, but particularly as a B2B business, I mean, sometimes that’s a little harder because Amazon at least tracks all this information about you because of past purchases, they probably blend in your credit card information and all sorts of things. As a B2B buyer, it’s a little more challenging. How do you think about it in that context? How do you get to know the customers that you can inform the playbooks well enough – and we should probably define what a playbook is for everybody – but how do you prepare for that?
Lindsay: So, there’s a bunch of different ways that we do it. And, you know, first of all, playbook is, just basically the path that somebody will take based upon the page that they land on, their location and it’s focused on one specific line of business. So, for instance, we have a playbook for Modules – North America. And anybody that comes to a certain URL within our website, they’re going to have a certain bot pop up and that bot is going to say what kind of module can I help you with today? And we give them a buttoned response. And buttons, we have found, have been a much easier way of qualifying, but when you keep the bot open to, you know, open text; for us, right now, we’re still learning and we are getting new information every day and altering the playbooks as they exist now so that the bot gets even smarter. But we really look at what the questions are that these guys are able to ask when they get to a certain point in their journey where they’ve converted, we have their email address, they’ve booked a meeting. And the bot says, you know, what is it that you’re interested in speaking about in this meeting that we can be prepared and help you? And this is where we learn, this is where we figure out, okay, so a lot of people are asking this question, can we add something to the playbook that addresses this to alleviate either the meeting or get somebody on the chat live directly faster? So that the sales rep can actually get that person qualified and get them in the pipeline.
Glenn: So, if you think about the journey of somebody in a chat conversation with a bot, there’s a series of questions with, you know, buttons that are offered to them. You know, ask a question, here’s – pick one of three answers or something? How do you develop that path overtime? Is this just a series of A or B test or is there some other magic to this that people should be thinking about?
Lindsay: Well, we really do start with the sales reps and they are obviously the ones that are the feet on the street, the guys in the trenches, they are the ones that get the same questions over and over again along with the same responses. And we’re able to work with sales leadership to say here are our suggestions, help us alter this? And so, they’ll say, oh, well, this is a good way to go, however, like these are usually the things that we get asked as well and can we get another branch off of that? So, one of our big takeaways in the beginning was, we were asking too many questions and our drop-off rate was pretty substantial and what we realized when we dropped it down to just a couple of questions, we were getting a lot more engagement. And we offered the ability, we also figured out, you know, some people just have a quick question and so if they don’t want to chat with somebody, we’ll ask, do you just have a question that you want us to have somebody email you an answer? And we find that that works very well.
So, there are just a very broad variety of ways that we’re able to figure out what is best for the folks that are coming to the site? And we have to work really hard with the sales reps as well to help guide them as to how to have these conversations. Because if you are sitting there and you’re asking a simple question and you’re actually engaged live with a sales person, you don’t want to sit there and watch the three little dots bouncing over and over and over. So, one of the things that we were taught and that we learned early on was, you know, you have to give, like, one sentence answers and then keep going.
So, they can see the dot it’s like the universal I’m still talking symbol. So, they’ll be able to break the conversation up and make it a series of short responses so that there’s a little bit of engagement and they understand on the other end of the line that, oh, okay, well, he’s still giving me more information. And sometimes based upon that quick answer, the sales rep may find that they’re going in the wrong direction and the person is like, no, I actually meant this. Oh, okay. Well, hold on, let me get some information about that and then send a message, and then ‘…’ type in even more. So, there’s kind of an art to the conversation itself.
Glenn: You know it’s interesting, when you initially put a chat functionality within your website, then you have to think about staffing for that. And the sales people have other duties; unless you’re going to dedicate people just to responding to the chats. How did you go about that and did it changed from what when we you first implemented this?
Lindsay: Great question. So, a couple of different things did happen. So, when we first turned out the bot, it was in North America only and it was for modules only. And so, we had one beta person who’s covering the whole country. And it wasn’t overwhelming, however, he did have some very interesting things happen.
So, because there is a mobile app, you’re able to get those notifications directly to your phone. So, I think it was a bit of a proud moment for this person that was helping me out. He sent me the chat transcript, and it was a wonderful conversation, and at the bottom of it he said, hey, I did all of this while on the treadmill at the gym. So, I mean, it’s really interesting. And people are so understanding and forgiving when you’re human. I’ve literally seen people say, hey, I’m literally answering you from traffic lights as I’m driving, shoot me your email address, let me shoot you an email with all of the information that you’re asking me for, you know, so that you don’t have to wait for me.
And I even had another guy who said, I literally had just sat down in the evening after dinner, I just made myself a nice Manhattan, I put my easy chair up and I got a quick message from somebody and I just answered the conversation really quick. So, I’m literally doing sales calls in my easy chair with a Manhattan. So, sales reps are pretty happy. But it’s interesting to see the different regions and where there’s more activity and the different lines of business.
So, for instance, 5G is such a hot topic right now and we have a dedicated person in North America just for 5G. And he’s had, you know, 49 meetings booked this year alone with the bot. Like, 49 meetings that he didn’t have to do anything for. He’s extremely happy. Now, are all of those going to turn into opportunities? No. Are all of those actual calls? No. I mean, one guy was like, I literally just had somebody book a meeting with me to try to sale me some kind of sales software. But you’re going to get that.
Glenn: Or a chat software.
Lindsay: Or a chat software. Exactly.
Glenn: And they think they’re on the chat.
Lindsay: Right. Wouldn’t like to see my chat options instead?
Glenn: So, that’s interesting. So, 49 meetings booked and were all of them booked via the bot or was there some interaction with that sales rep that got the meeting to become a meeting?
Lindsay: Nine times out of ten, the bot, his name is Otis, Otis Bot. Otis Bot is the one booking meetings on behalf of the sales reps, because when somebody doesn’t respond immediately, if somebody says, yes, I want to talk to somebody now about this particular module. Otis sets the stage. He’s upfront. He says, okay, great, let me go find somebody to talk to you, but it might take me a minute or two so please hold on.
So, if nobody responds within two minutes – and you can set it to whatever timeframe that your time is comfortable with; two minutes we found is pretty good. And if nobody responds in two minutes, that’s means either the rep is unavailable, maybe they’re traveling. And Otis will come back and say, hey, I’m really sorry, but this – and they’ll put the sales person’s name in – is not available right now, would you like to book a meeting here, if so, enter your email address and I’ll send you his calendar? And his calendar will pop up. So, we have found that to be very effective because once we obtain the email address and the meeting is booked. We say, okay, great, leave any notes that you would like this person to see here so that we’re prepared for our conversation.
And we also have it set so that the person cannot book anything until at least 24 hours out and the reason is that we’re finding that people were finding, you know, almost immediate openings in somebody’s calendar, trying to get meetings right away. And the sales rep may have just forgotten to, you know, update his calendar and he was out of the office or on a plane and traveling. So, there are so many different things that you can’t account for. So, that’s why we try to put the fail safes in.
The ultimate goal is to have everybody on the sales organization just very in-tune with turning their status on and off and on and off and on and off. We are realistic, we said, look, they’re going to forget. I forget. So, that’s why we just leave the status as available at all times and Otis just comes in and saves the day for us.
Glenn: So, how do you approach the issue of at least pre-qualifying whether or not they’re the right person, not necessarily the right salesperson, because I think you figure that out because you have dedicated people to certain areas and you can navigate people through that. But how do you find out or do you not bother identifying that this person qualifies, you know, whether it’s certain company size or certain title or anything like that before they book the meeting?
Lindsay: No, that’s a great question. We actually have the chat bot set up, so in some instances unless the organization IP address coming in is of a certain size or a certain revenue, the bot won’t even pop up. And in other instances, we have it where if they’re not interested in certain number of maybe sim cards, the bot will say, oh, just go straight here to the Contact Us form and fill it out and somebody will get back to you. Because if it’s not of a certain size, we send it away to a distributor to deal with that for us because it’s just, you know, we deal with the larger ones and our distributors have smaller deals and they’re more accustomed to that and it’s very regionally focused. So, you’ll find a lot more of that in the AMEA region than you will in North America.
But, you know, these are just little things that you can do with the bot to make it very smart, just because it is connected to Clearbit, so it can actually scrap the data and see the IP address, see the company. So, it has all of that information for size of company. And, you know, the bot can say whether or not it’s going to be a qualified organization.
So, we have that as well as with account-based marketing, the sales reps have target accounts, obviously, and so we’re able to upload those and have specialized greetings pop up for just those organizations, because those are our whales, those are the ones that we want to go after. So, the bots actually quite capable. We’re not even using, I would say, half of all the amazing functionality that the bot offers right now. We’re kind of still rolling out certain things and getting ourselves in a place where the reps are very comfortable. They give us great feedback. And slowly but surely, we add a little bit, you know, a little bit, a little bit, so.
Glenn: Right. Yeah. And how many months or years are you into using the technology?
Lindsay: So, we rolled out to a larger majority of the sales force at the end of Q1. So, we are not even a year in yet and we are right now on the verge of launching more playbooks and adding more reps in the AMEA region so that they have the same functionality. But we also have the challenge of different languages. So, now we’re actually having all of our playbooks translated, you know, with our internal folks so that we can built these bots in language for folks in Germany, you know what I mean. It’s a much nicer and friendlier conversation when it’s in your native language.
Glenn: Right. Yeah. Especially when the other person only speaks their native language, right?
Lindsay: Exactly. Yes.
Glenn: So, from a marketing perspective in terms of allocating resources, I mean, a lot of people end up getting technology, and sometimes we forget that we have to have people managing the technology. So, is this a full-time dedicated person, is it part-time of multiple people, how do you actually manage it from a marketing, staffing perspective?
Lindsay: That’s a great question. So, in the beginning it was primarily me. First of all, because I’m martech geek and second of all, because I just really wanted to learn it and do it. So, when it was in beta, it was just myself and this one other VP of sales. And, you know, we just rolled our sleeves up and got it done.
Everything is integrated and tracked and managed with our Marketing Director of Operations, who’s over in Tel Aviv. And so, he routes the leads. He manually goes in and looks at ones that need actual attention. If they leave messages for the bots, then he’s able to make sure the reps are following up with that, put that in Salesforce tasks. And so, the three of us were really the ones that started on this journey.
Now we have over 20 reps that are on this and I do have a marketing coordinator, digital marketing coordinator who’s now helping me build everything out. So, I kind of, you know, create the strategy, the path, the questions with the sales reps. This individual then goes in and she’s learning the tool and executing everything and making sure it’s firing off the way that it should. So, technically it’s multiple people, it’s not one dedicated person. But it is definitely one of my favorite projects right now.
Glenn: So, with the exception of maybe tweaking it or just making sure everything is running correctly, it’s somewhat set it and forget or is that an oversimplification?
Lindsay: Oh, that is an oversimplification. We are constantly looking at – I have biweekly meetings with my reps to see what are, like, anomalies that you’ve had or things that you’ve seen over and over again that we can do to improve the bot? And then, you know, we have, obviously, campaigns that we’re putting together at all times. And so, this is a piece of a campaign.
So, when we have this very integrated campaign that might be, you know, media partner plus whitepaper written by analyst plus, you know, this, this, this, this, we have certain bots that will pop up that are very relevant and speak directly to the same messaging as that campaign. So, that’s constantly being built as well, so that there’s a consistency in that experience for the prospect who’s engaging with us.
Glenn: That’s great. And that’s really good perspective because one of the challenges that any marketing professional can have, especially when they roll out a new technology is, okay, how much people time is this actually going to take, right? And that’s usually the thing that’s usually underestimated the most with any technology rollout. So, that was really helpful.
Lindsay: Yeah. Especially in the beginning. I mean, it takes a lot, it does. You have to really sit down and strategize out what’s going to work the best, not just learn how to use the tool.
Glenn: And it’s iteration, right? So, you’re constantly trying things to try to find that original right path.
Lindsay: Oh, exactly. And we’ve learned – like, we don’t have a bot on the homepage, that would just be overwhelming. I mean, we have almost 50,000 visitors a month. So, you know, 50,000 people – oh, look, at this little bot, isn’t he cute?
Glenn: Isn’t Otis cute?
Lindsay: Isn’t he? He gets festive too at the holidays. So, we’re brainstorming our holiday bot now.
Glenn: Lindsay, if there was one thing that our audience could put into action today to really have impact with their digital marketing, what would that one thing be?
Lindsay: Keep your eyes open for technology like this that’s going to help achieve the goals that you have set for your team. If it’s KPIs, if it’s, you know, increasing ROI, increasing traffic to the site. You know, in this instance it was look first, figure out what’s needed, strategize and then find the right tool in order to make it happen and then roll it out slowly and learn at every turn.
Glenn: Yeah. Really helpful. If people want to get in touch with you what’s the best way to do that?
Lindsay: I’m on LinkedIn and that is where, really, I am the most active in my business life. And so, it’s Lindsay with an A-Y, Kelley with an E-Y. And you’ll find me there.
Glenn: Fantastic. Lindsay, thank you so much for being on the show.
Lindsay: Glenn, thanks for having me. This was a blast.
Linsday’s Bio: Lindsay Kelley is the Vice President of Digital and Content Marketing for Telit, an IoT enablement global leader. You can connect with Lindsay on LinkedIn.
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