Visitors to higher education websites expect to find information or complete a task, but many times they cannot get quick answers to simple questions when they explore a site.
The bots replace an outdated strategy - forms - with a new communication channel, which optimizes the interaction of users with the institution and shortens the time it takes to:
- answer questions
- direct the visitor to the resource for which they were seeking
- capture new visitor contact and persona (and intent) information
- escalate important conversations to humans, and even
- schedule meetings
Has higher education validated this?
Just getting started. The only case study we have found is from an institution in Chile.
Note: This information was originally published here. The translation the web browser did naturally led to some confusing language nuances. Below please find an edited and translated version of the case study.
With more than 30 years of history, the Latin American Professional Institute of Foreign Trade, Iplacex is the only Chilean Higher Education entity with a case of proven success applying the Inbound method, introducing innovative changes in its strategy to capture more prospective students.
Three years of constant effort developing an Inbound lead generation strategy paid off: organic leads rose 350%.
Iplacex moved on to further increase lead conversion, but without increasing its spending on online ads or the effort in marketing activities.
In other words: get more qualified leads from your existing traffic.
What was happening?
The Buyer's Journey in Higher Education is heavily focused on academic programs and affordability and expected outcomes. While reviewing academic program-related information, prospective students and parents then have further questions - a seducible moment if you will. An opportunity to quickly chat with admissions counselor or advisor to find out details about deadlines, documentation, and financing, among other topics is highly desirable.
To this we must add that, according to a joint study by Drift and Salesforce , the difficulty in obtaining answers to simple questions is the second most common frustration for 31% of website users.
To capture more enrollment opportunities, Iplacex needed to obtain contact information from the visitors of its site quickly, to capture new leads from the traffic it was generating, before escalating the interaction to a human when appropriate.
The solution: conversational marketing
Today messaging applications are the main communication channel in real-time. However, request information forms introduce two major frictions in the lead generation process:
- They leave the user waiting for a response time that they cannot control
- They are static: they do not introduce any value in terms of additional user interaction.
Both users and marketing teams got used to living with this pain. However, conversational marketing solves this problem.
Using ChatBots, this approach allows institutions:
- to shorten the response times involved in filling out a contact form and waiting for a response.
- opening an interactive communication channel that allows website visitors to connect with the institution at their own pace, while exploring the site.
To address this challenge Iplacex focused on the root of what was affecting conversion rates: the unnecessary and increasing friction caused by having to fill out forms.
Obviously, visitors will avoid filling out a form if they can. But the interesting thing is that the bot works as a host that receives visitors, answers their questions and refers them to a human if they need more answers - holding multiple (hundred or thousands if necessary) conversations of this type at the same time, something that a live human cannot do.
The implementation strategy
When analyzing the conversion rates of the Iplacex site pages with more traffic, the team suggested the innovation of using the Drift bot, a conversational marketing platform, to boost lead capture. The implementation steps were as follows:
Traffic analysis vs user queries:
Iplacex was the ideal candidate to pivot towards Conversational Marketing, due to a large number of visits that its site receives:
The next step was to identify which pages of the website concentrated more visits from prospective students such as the home page and career or academic-related pages.
It was on these pages where bots with specific use cases were implemented (a use case is a list of actions or events that define the interactions between a Bot and a visitor.
- Homepage conversation starter
- Conversion of paid traffic
- Academic programs
The mission of the bot in these pages is to answer basic questions that do not need the intervention of a human, and to refer the conversation to a human… based on certain visitor responses (read: only qualified visitors are escalated to a conversation or meeting with a human).
Creation of conversation flows
IDS then gathered information with the Iplacex team about the most frequent queries of website users.
Based on this research, bot's conversation flows with visitors were developed, as shown in the visual below:
Since there are several paths that the conversation can take, the flows use yes / no decision trees to bring the conversation to the end of the use case or, put another way, to help the user get what they are looking for in the website - in this case, it's about answering basic questions about careers, financing, etc.
Capturing visitor information early
The bots have limitations. While the Drift bot uses artificial intelligence to recognize users and learn from conversations to offer better answers, eventually the flow of conversations can reach an endpoint.
This point is critical because if the user does not get what they are looking for, the risk of leaving the site rises - with the consequent loss of lead.
To reduce this opportunity cost, the flow of the conversation was structured to obtain the contact data at the beginning, in a natural passive way.
It is in this part where the bot says goodbye to the user, informing him that he is going to look for a counselor or advisor and will be available “behind the scenes” in case he needs anything else.
While the bot says goodbye to the visitor, advisors or counselors can see all the conversations that are happening at the moment and determine which conversations they want to “take over.”
In the case the visitor’s chat history and contact information are not appealing to the counselor, the bot informs that the counselor is not currently available and will contact you using the email address captured at the beginning of the conversation.
If the visitor is clearly qualified as being important enough to speak with a human, but the counselor assigned to the contact is not available, the bot automatically assigns the conversation to another team member.
Integration with CRM
Contact information are shared between the Bot and the CRM. Existing contact data and intelligence are used within Drift. New contact information acquired via the bot is pushed back to the CRM. Chat conversations with occur within the Bot and live chat are also stored in the communications log within the CRM.
Technically, the final solution was an integration between the CRM and Drift. The planning, design, development, and implementation of the solution took a month.
The result of the Iplacex pivot towards a conversational marketing strategy speaks for itself: a 518% increase in the generation of new leads in just 30 days.
Most current “modern” marketing approaches put the focus on content, SEO, keyword optimization and conversion rates.
Although these remain important elements of any marketing strategy, the importance of connecting with people 24/7 and interacting with them to provide a positive brand experience has proven to provide the largest lift in conversions.
Bots are this new twist in the ever-changing world of marketing, which allows you to dramatically improve website conversions.
Applying this conversational marketing tool, it is possible to introduce a real-time communication element in a key interaction in lead capture, which until recently was totally static and unidirectional.
Does your website need a chatbot to convert more visitors? Use our how-to-guide to learn more: