Why Chatbots mark the end of the lead generation web form
Everyone knows that effectively capturing web leads is the end goal of any business website, but few stray from the well-trodden path of the standard web form. We’ve all filled out our fair share of these, from trivial sign ups to stress-inducing medical intakes. At Path, we took a long look at one of the most complex and emotional industries of them all, eldercare, and concluded that there must be a better way.
We’ve spent the last year building a truly modern solution: a universal chatbot dedicated to lead generation and conversion. Path turns web forms into conversational chatbots that deliver the same outcome, but in a more interactive, streamlined, and actionable way for both visitors and businesses.
The run-down on web forms
Web forms are one of the most pervasive data collection interfaces you encounter on a daily basis. According to Wikipedia, a web form or HTML form on a web page allows a user to enter data that is sent to a server for processing. Forms can resemble paper or database forms because web users fill out the forms using checkboxes, radio buttons, or text fields. Just think back to all the times that you have looked something up in a search engine, logged into your email, or clicked “Contact Us” or “Buy Now” and the internet browser has directed you to a form to fill out your contact or credit card information.
While web forms vary in complexity, ultimately you are sending information to a web server in the hopes of getting something in return. From user and password log ins to Contact Us forms, interface web forms play an integral role in almost all online interactions.
However, the fact that web forms remain pervasive doesn’t mean that they are the best communication method for businesses and web visitors to connect today.
Why web forms can’t compete
With the latest advances in mobile devices, personalized communication, and real-time messaging, web forms stand out as increasingly aged and unimaginative.
Today’s consumer doesn’t want to fill out another form. They want to be attended to and to talk to someone organically right now. They expect an interactive and responsive experience that keeps them engaged. Today’s consumer expects immediate feedback, and to be appraised of their status in real-time. Today’s consumer is not satisfied with a web form.
Across many industries, prospects dutifully fill out web forms with their contact information in the hopes of receiving a response from a company. More often than not, they end up with no response at all. Instead of waiting around, today’s impatient consumers are more likely to shop around. In this paradigm, the first company to respond gets that consumer’s business.
Highly competitive industries require high engagement
We’ve found in highly competitive industries, specifically high touch industries, that if one company has a slightly more engaging way of collecting prospect information, compared to the web form standard, that company will take the lead in the industry.
That’s why our clients turned to chatbots.
Throughout the last year, we’ve been developing a way for our clients to better communicate with their prospects without added work. We wanted to improve basic web forms and enable a more customizable, personalized process for our clients and their prospects to connect.
Converting web forms into conversations
It’s true – chatbots do the exact same thing as web form. But they are a much more powerful customer service tool because they give web forms the much needed human touch.
A chatbot simulates human conversation to perform basic tasks, such as collecting contact information, and more complex tasks, like lead routing and real-time notifications. For example, upon engaging with a chatbot, instead of a basic web form, it sends a message to ask, “How can I help you today?”, as if starting a conversation.
As a small widget on a web page, instead of its own web page, it allows visitors to scroll through information as long as they like and ask questions when they want to. If visitors are on your website after business hours, a chatbot is available 24/7, when there isn’t anyone in the office able to monitor incoming leads.
Given the information that prospects enter, the chatbot generates a custom response and is able to intuitively escalate the conversation. It automatically drives prospects down a path from inquiry to qualified lead to sale.
The technology behind this intuitive escalation is known as Natural Language Processing, or NLP. NLP is a combination of computer science, artificial intelligence, and computational linguistics that enables a chatbot to contextualize keywords and respond accordingly. This functionality is very aligned with the human need for organic conversation and immediate feedback. Not only does a chatbot initially engage web visitors, but it also gives them immediate feedback, letting them know where they stand with your business.
The chatbot invites visitors to leave contact details or schedule an appointment based on your real-time availability. This is a much more organic way of converting web visitors into leads than through a standard web form. For visitors, it feels like they engaged with a customer service agent the entire time, so they’re more willing to spend time to give their contact information.
It then gives visitors confirmation that their interest has been received or their appointment has been booked.
Visitors ultimately get the closure and ease-of-mind they need. This takes them out-of-market and keeps them from shopping alternatives.
Lead Routing and Notification
Given the automated nature of chatbots, they are also more likely to support smart lead routing and notification than web forms are. Many chatbots have built-in automated lead routing and notifications, so you can personally follow up with leads as soon as they are received.
Built on the ideals of more personalization, more conversation, and more conversion, chatbots humanize the standard web form. They make data collection more interactive and more engaging, an especially powerful lever against the average customer who is used to being unnoticed.
Chatbots benefit many industries
The number of industry leaders using chatbots far outnumbers the ones that use web forms. This is because industry leaders are leading the industry. they require the best engagement, the best response time, and make the best sales.
Some strong cases for chatbots include:
- Entertainment: Disney, Fandango, StubHub, Universal Studios
- News Media: NY Times, CNN, NBC, Wall Street Journal
- Sports: Sports Illustrated, NFL
- Medical: Boston Children’s Hospital,
- Food: Whole Foods, Taco Bell
- Retail: Ebay, Sephora, Burberry
- Financial: Fidelity, Capital One
- Travel: Expedia, Uber, Lyft
- Utilities: Hewlett Packard
- Non-profit: Unicef
Even our smaller, local service business clients benefit from using chatbots. One client, CSS Home Care saw tremendous results, gaining 55 new high-value qualified leads in only the first three months of using Path.
“In the first month alone, Path paid for itself. We received more leads from our website and got a new client. The software is elegant, easy to use and clearly delivers.” – Meredith Caplin, CEO of CSS Home Care
As you can see, chatbots are overtaking web forms due to their advanced technology and automation. They are collecting information, interacting with prospects, routing leads, and sending notifications better and faster than web forms. Companies with chatbots similarly outperform their counterparts with aging and slower web forms.