Agency Unfiltered - Remington Begg from Impulse Creative

Offering Conversational Engagement as a Service

Remington joins us to talk through conversational engagement, how agencies leverage chat for themselves, and where they should get started. He then pivots to how agencies should position conversational strategy to their clients and how the service can be scaled.

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Episode Transcript

On this episode of Agency Unfiltered, we're joined by Remington Begg. Remington is the co-founder and CEO of Impulse Creative, a Fort Myers based inbound agency and platinum HubSpot partner. The conversation with Remington is a good one as he's one of the leading voices on conversational engagement, so Remington shines a light on how agencies can incorporate a conversational strategy for both themselves and for their clients. A lot of agencies are thinking the same thing, how do I get started or will my clients be open to this strategy? So in this episode of Unfiltered, Remington shares exactly how agencies can get started, how they can position chat to their clients, how the service can be scaled and grown, and what sort of results it can drive home. Conversations about conversations, you've gotta love it.

Now, let's do it.

KD: Remington what's going on man?

RB: I'm having a lot of fun.

KD: That's awesome. Obviously you're here today, we want to talk about conversations, conversational engagement, how agencies can harness that, maybe for themselves but also I would imagine there's all these new elements that they can bring into their client engagements.

RB: It's kind of fun because I did sessions at partner day and standing room only, it was very, I was blessed with that, but they, the amount of people that were having conversations, and then the conversations I'm having afterwards, are, “oh I didn't know how to get started”, or “oh, I didn't think my customers would be open to it” — and it's really kind of funny, so, there's this mystery behind it, when it's really just us unlearning stuff, which I think is really fun.

KD: What do you mean?

RB: So when we're unlearning, well it's kind of like, traditional marketing, versus inbound marketing. Like, kind of unlearning, going back to the buyer, back to the customer, back to helping someone out. Conversation marketing is like, removing all the fluff, and like brevity, like making sure that you're starting a conversation like, you would never, I brought it back to the phone conversation, and this is the easiest way to kind of start off conversational for me is, so you're talking to a company, you pick up the phone, you're like, I need to reach out to them, and you pick up the phone and you get a prompt, and the prompt says, for one press marketing, for two press sales, and then you press for marketing and then it goes into, then it goes into well tell us what kind of company you are, and it's like, you're going through this flow and then finally it gets to a person. So, there's a stack that I know that we've shared probably a million of times as an ecosystem about answering or responding to a form submission in under five minutes, it's like a hundred times more likely, think about how long you'd wait on the phone.

KD: Yeah, to get connected to somebody.

RB: About five minutes, I would be irate in five minutes.

KD: Five minutes is a long time.

RB: Yeah, but yet you're 100 times more likely to get a lead if they fill out a form and you respond within five. So there's this like, cultural shift, so, this conversational culture that we have kind of like, peel back the layers, to get to and I think agencies are super scared about it because it doesn't sound or feel scalable, because they're thinking about it as a one on one conversation like we're having, like we couldn't be having another conversation over there with someone else, because then I'd be rude because I'm ignoring you. But on chat, you could be having five different chat conversations at the same time as a rep, so that's significantly more scalable. But agencies don't really know how to leverage it right now and because it's super new, and it's nothing new. So in my talk I go into like, best practices for conversion rate optimization, best practice for landing page optimization, and form optimization, like all the different fields you have, and it was funny, because everyone's, I was like dragging them through it because they, they were pretty stubborn in the beginning, or tired, but it was, so best practice as well, ask the least amount of fields that are necessary, in order to get the conversion.

KD: Do you consider like, name and email the required ones?

RB: So, maybe.

KD: Yeah, right, there's no right answer there.

RB: Yeah but I would never ask for email first and it's like, would you ask for a social security number if you want someone, more information on potato chips, I'm going on super polarized.

KD: But I understand what you're saying.

RB: But, even the HubSpot templates right now, start with email address, but that's like walking into Walmart, where did that come from, walking into a Best Buy. And them going, how can I help you today, and you're like, oh where's the, and they go, can you provide your email address? No one would ever do that. Which is the beauty of live chat. You actually don't need, an email address to have a conversation. You needed the email address to have a conversation with the forms, so you could follow up. You don't actually need it with chat. So at Impulse, Impulse Creative we've had a huge amount of success and we've actually closed significant deals without even talking to the customer.

KD: Face to face or on the phone?

RB: All live chat. So one live chat session will last about 15 minutes was like, $21000 worth of revenue for us because they had a problem, they had some immediacy to it and rather than try to push them to an actual meeting we just had a conversation. And think about a joke that my wife, if she wants pizza she would a hundred times over order, like order it from Domino's because of the app, instead of picking up the phone and calling Domino's, right?

KD: And that's again the cultural shift, we just like doing online ordering.

RB: Yeah like I don't want to talk to someone and I don't want them to judge me about my toppings, just give me my pizza, right? And it's a very similar thing, so no one wants to feel stupid in their transaction, but at the same time they want their information. So making it accessible, but then looking at it as a conversion, so there's a cultural shift that has to happen with that conversion because what is the difference between a visitor and a lead? So we right now, in HubSpot, say that it's someone that we have an email address because they're no longer anonymous. But if we have a chat flow conversation, and we know who they are, and we can still track where they're at and what they're doing, does that make them any less of a lead if we don't have their email? It shouldn't. Especially if we're engaging and we're able to track all that. So, it's been a really fun kind of journey, we've been all in, I blow things up in my agency all the time and my team has to follow suit, but the big thing is trying to, really focus around, so how does this solve for the customer, and we've had some really great results. We've shortened our sales cycle to about a third of what it used to be.

And we have, there's a couple of core principles that I go with and, it's funny, I was talking to Brian from the Academy team and he's like, I have three. His three are a little bit more like, a “higher methodology” type three. And I'm coming at it from an agency point of view. So I promised him that I would talk about it. But when we're looking at those principles, the feedback loop is vital to your arsenal. Because you get to see all those conversations happening in the conversations tool and it's like being plugged into the company's like ideas about what kind of content they need, so until inbound you would of had to take those calls, get a transcript, ask the client, what kind of content they want and all those other things, and now, this feedback loop allows for you to simply just scroll through the conversations that are in the portal and go, we don't have content about that, we need some content about that.

KD: What are people asking about, or anything.

RB: 100%, yeah.

KD: So you pull inspiration for content out of these conversations.

RB: Yeah, so that does two things. That makes it so that the sales team, the friction, and that was my favorite part about the flywheel on stage at INBOUND.

KD: The coefficient of friction?

RB: I think you could spin that fly wheel and it would go until next year's inbound. But the overall concept is to answer these questions and Dharmesh's talk was incredible, about, he did a really great job, I was just blown away.

KD: Yeah the customer code is awesome.

RB: Yeah and, but as we go into all these things and how we can solve for the customer, and the prospect at any given point, with HubSpot conversations you, we have the ability to trigger things based on smart lists and all these other things. So, I, and I'm stealing this because I heard it and it was brilliant, and I don't know who it was but going, personas aren't enough, so that personalized experiences is another one of the principals that I teach. The personalized experience is not a persona, it's a person. And I was talking about it's an actual human, you're having a conversation with a friend but they said, person over persona and I'm like...

But it's that one on one conversation so you're not speaking to a room, you're speaking to an individual, how do you make an impact with that individual? And it would be: how you would naturally talk? So I have a template that we have, and it's just a simple Google Sheet that we built out that essentially allows for you to plan out the flow if you will, of what a text message conversation would be back and forth and then it forces you into understanding what that user story is, if you're familiar with user story. So, user story, just like in agile development is the exact same thing you should use in conversational marketing because you're speaking to one person with one problem, not a list of problems.

KD: A very particular goal that they're trying to achieve, right, whatever unique circumstances.

RB: And then the contextual accuracy, so, and this is one thing I can't wait for HubSpot to incorporate into the tool is, if I'm halfway down the page on a blog, I want a chat bot to pop up that correlates with the content in that section. And so some other technology's allowed for you to do that but I'm sure HubSpot is innovating like crazy and the ability to be able to drive that contextual accuracy can drastically increase conversions and we have an example--

KD: Which makes sense, right? Like you're looking at this, let's talk about that...

RB: 100%. Yeah so we have a conversational marketing blog post on impulsecreative.com and it goes through and about half way down there's a CTA and that CTA talks about this template I was mentioning. We have, on that blog, a 22% conversion rate on that CTA. And 90% conversion rate on the people that click that CTA that actually follow the bot flow. Right, so when you think about that, the rate of returns that you would have going from a CTA to a landing page, the experience is completely different, but the context of well I'm halfway through reading this blog, I'm interested in this information, and then that flow, doesn't solve for the customer if they're still trying to get the rest of the stuff. So they literally go through they're like, oh I really want that template, they click it and they continue reading.

KD: Right, they don't have to jump anywhere else.

RB: And they can engage on the next conversion. So you could get on that blog, three or four conversions, if you really needed to, understanding the intent of the user. So it's just, amazing.

KD: Now let's just say, I'm just getting started, haven't done anything for conversational, maybe it's to your point, I don't know where and how to get started. Is it simply just installing live chat across my website, then just seeing the conversations that come in? People tell me about chatbots, so how do I get started if I'm starting absolutely at zero here?

RB: Great question, so, it was funny during the talk that we had, I had actually a couple of people tweet me after, they were like, I never thought about conversational marketing being live chat and I had to pause.

KD: That's what it is.

RB: It's actually having a conversation, but to that point, yes, you're going to want to have those conversations but it's like walking into a room. Imagine Dharmesh not practicing his talk and going out to the room and going like, “Hi…”

How well would that be received, right? And so versus knowing who his audience is, knowing the context of what they're interested in, and all of those things. So, it was, it's one of those things that people, typically start with, well let's put live chat on every page and there's two things to consider. The change management on the company's side, right, so you're taking a company who let's just say they have a five week sales process. Meeting every week, five steps. So week one the questions are very different than week five. So if we have live chat across the board on every single page the value of the time spent on those conversations are not going to be really great, so the ROI that the client would feel from live chat, isn't going to be awesome. Because, if we're having a live chat on the home page, which you can, but there's a completely different strategy than you'd have on your pricing page.

KD: Which makes sense, right?

RB: But the first thing I see, and probably half of my clients that went rogue as soon as conversations was announced was they put HubSpot, the HubSpot chat on all pages because it was easy. So the first thing we do is drop a star (an asterisk) in the setting for like the URL and then they're like, hey, what's up? And it's like, I think there's even a very similar default, and then it goes right to, they click on the pop up and let's say it's eight o'clock in the evening.

So when we get into that chat flow and it's 8PM, it's after hours, you gotta think about the type of people that would be doing that. In my experience, the actual decision makers are doing their research between five and eight, which no one really thinks about, so, the advisors or the people who are like, hey, what is it, intermediary buyers, people that are doing the research, they're going to be doing that during the day but as a CEO and I'm sure as a lot of agencies can imagine, nine to five is my team's time, I don't talk to people very much, but as soon as I get done with the business day, then suddenly I get to work on the stuff that grows the agency, and the same thing before, so I've seen numerous times, and HubSpot's defaults really need to change here, is that, you know you get that 8PM chat, someone clicks on it, and it pops up and it goes, hey, how can I help you, and it's the expectation is not the five minute response on a form, the expectation is that someone's like, hey how can I help? And then it says, in really small letters, we'll respond by 8AM.

KD: Right, but you have a decision to make, potentially, right there, ready to go, you have to be able to...

RB: So how I see conversational marketing is to, and to actually come back and answer your question is, is you have, you've got this opportunity to connect quickly and efficiently with someone, but no one's going to judge you if you don't have live chat on your site. At least right now. Right, so if you're not available or your reps aren't there, don't have anything to show, but when there are people available then make it there, because the expectation just like if you were on the phone, you pick up the phone and you'd say, press one for sales, two, you know, and you go through, and you do like two or three selectors and you're like, thank god I'm finally going to get to talk to someone, and then it goes, we'll be with you by 8AM. The user experience on that is atrocious. So that's the expectation and it's almost exactly the same thing online. So choose high intent pages first, so pricing pages, landing pages, or other conversion areas that you think would be great, so I usually tell my clients pricing pages, if you have them.

KD: That just feels like it makes the most sense. Somebody's curious about what you cost, they have, you know.

RB: And you can have, this is another feature I can't wait for HubSpot to come out with, but if you have a CTA or some kind of call to action, like right now you could use a, like a UTM parameter or in the URL as a trigger, but you could have a little link in your pricing, like want more information on this, and it could trigger a chat, those conversions are going to be so much more rich and valuable for the sales team, while if you had a CTA for engaging with a chat on a blog, it might be more of a marketing one. So focus on the one on one conversation and I usually tell people, start with a pilot program. So choose five people in your org to leverage and own it.

KD: I was going to say, who owns it on the team, share responsibilities?

RB: So I think it depends. So, all week we've been having people hitting our website asking questions, and you know we're at a conference all week and super busy talking to conversations and just like you'd get a text message from your loved ones and you'd respond to it, essentially the same thing, so at Impulse, we have a 14 second average response time and now as soon as this goes out, everyone's going to test it, so please say testing, if you're going to do it, but essentially what that allows for us to do is imagine that response would be. Right, 14 seconds I'm there to help you, and there's, Jackie on the team does it all the time, she'll be like, oh yeah, you want to chat about this right now, of course if she has time, and they're like, yeah I'd love to. So their expectation is I'm going to ask for your email, your phone number, all this crap, Jackie just drops a Zoom link.

KD: Love that.

RB: Let's chat, right now. So now all of a sudden I'm having a conversation, I've asked you a couple of questions we, and then we're literally taking you into a video conversation and it's not like, making you jump through all those hoops. It’s customer centric.

KD: We're going to wrap up here, final question, there's one question I tend to ask all my guests, I'm going to put a little different spin on it. So I usually ask, what's the weirdest part of agency life but almost, for you I want to pivot to: what's the weirdest conversation you've had come through, either with Impulse's live chat or maybe your clients chat?

RB: Yeah so, I think that some of the weirdest stuff that we've seen come through on Impulse is, is people, so we say that we're a bot when we're a bot, and we say we're human when we're human and we've had a couple of flows come through and I do a whole bunch of tutorials on this stuff so when people see my name come up as the person responding they're like, this is bot, and I'm like no this is a human. Right and they go--

KD: People try and test you, see if you're real?

RB: Yeah so what's 14 minus 37, and I'm like, that's a negative number, and they're like, give me a number, prove you're a human, and I'm like, I'll send a selfie. And they're like, that's probably not you. And I'm like, no really, like I'm me. But there's a lot of people, obviously marketers are testing and trying to see whether it's AI, and I like to think I'm pretty smart AI but when we're digging in, it's that experience so making sure that people realize the difference between a bot and a human because bots are really cool but they're never going to be, well, they're not going to be as smart as humans for a very long time.

KD: Sure, so your rule of thumb there, just be explicitly clear, if there's a bot, don't try and play a bot off as a human, regardless — people are going to try and test you. And for goodness sakes, don't put, the blond girl with the teleprompt, the telephone headset going like this. Just don't, just have a picture of a real human or have a picture of a bot, and then you're setting up for success.

KD: Awesome man, well thanks so much for coming on. It's always good talking to you.

RB: Great time.

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