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Executive Reports
March 14, 2022

Rethink Your Revenue #1: How to Turn Anonymous Web Visitors Into $$$

by 
Don Simpson

It’s no secret that the majority of business today is done online — a reality that has been accelerated by COVID-19, with online sales in May 2020 growing 77% year-over-year. In fact, Gartner states that 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur in digital channels by 2025 — four to six years faster compared to the more stable, historic pace.

Is your business ready to take advantage of such a strong tailwind of change, especially when your competition is looking to do that too? 

Well, here’s the biggest opportunity on your website today — anonymous visitors.

Marketing automation vendor, Marketo, discovered that up to 98% of potential customers landing on corporate websites are completely anonymous unless they volunteer information about themselves by logging in, subscribing to a newsletter, or filling out a form with their contact details. So if you don’t have anonymous visitor tracking in place, you’re simply hoping for unknown visitors to fall through your marketing funnel. 

Figure 1: Up to 98% of your website visitors are anonymous.

If your website traffic sees tens of thousands of visitors every month, that means a significant number of prospective leads and revenue are being left on the table.

Why is this a big deal? The most successful online businesses know that engaging their individual visitors in real time (while they’re active on the website) is the ideal scenario, as after the visitor leaves, you’re far less likely to convert them into a sale or lead. 

However, if you don’t have visitor tracking software and don’t know anything about your visitors, your options are often reduced to firing chat invitations at random and hoping to catch interested buyers, or making it difficult for first-time visitors to initiate the engagement by forcing them to give you their email before they can connect with a live sales resource. Since having your sales team talk to every single visitor isn’t feasible, what should you do instead? 

Automated tools like chatbots are great when used properly, but they have limitations when it comes to converting visitors into potential buyers. Such tools have to be used strategically to be effective for both the customer and your sales team, or you’ll start quickly losing opportunities. Unlike first-time visitors, potential buyers are much less patient and will leave as soon as they become frustrated with the sales process in any way. 

What does that leave you with? A sales team missing out on sales, customers missing better real-time experiences, and a website that’s missing out on revenue.

So what’s the alternative when you don’t know who your anonymous visitors are? The answer isn’t in finding their name or email address — but what their buying intent is. It’s not just knowing who is visiting your site, but why they are there as expressed by their online behavior across the website. With that information in hand, you can successfully turn those anonymous buyers into revenue.

In this guide we’ll focus on: 

  1. Defining the anonymous buyer on your website
  2. Learning why buying intent is the key to anonymous buyers
  3. Figuring out how to convert anonymous buyers into revenue using AI

Defining Anonymous Traffic vs. Leads vs. Customers

In the online context, anonymous buyers are a subset of anonymous website visitors who have strong buyer intent but remain unknown until they decide to reveal themselves by providing contact information or by purchasing something.

Imagine a Nordstrom department store. While nearly all shoppers are the same at first glance, good salespeople can single out various types of customers that fit the ideal customer profile and gauge their interest in certain products or see whether they need any help. Their visibility and expressed behavior make it easy for sales and marketing teams to be proactive and deliver a memorable shopping experience.

On the web, this becomes much more challenging. While it’s easy to see how many people have landed on the website at any moment, there are no visual visitors and no simple way to sort them by their likelihood to buy. That means businesses are effectively flying blind, unable to take the set of actions needed to convert promising buyers, and missing out on considerable revenue potential as a result. 

You could dramatically increase the number of new business opportunities when you take steps to identify anonymous website visitors through their buyer intent. 

Even if the online visitors are anonymous, there’s no reason to lack insight — their digital body language allows visitor tracking tools to gather a large amount of historic and behavioral data, and evaluate their true conversion potential.

The good news is any business today can translate such visitor data into practical steps and capitalize on the growing gap in the market. 

How Buying Intent is the Key to Anonymous Users

The key to delivering the right digital experience to every anonymous visitor is knowing their intent before you interact with them. 

A popular solution right now is to use visitor identification tools that help reveal visitor identity and then target those visitors with ABM (account-based marketing) email campaigns, tailor their online experience, and prioritize them accordingly for sales engagement. 

The challenge with this approach is that it’s only possible to identify complete profiles of no more than 30% of the website visitors using ID reveal techniques (and this is even less with COVID due to people working from home). The other 70% will still be anonymous and thus ignored. 

Figure 2: Up to 30% of your visitors might be revealed using identity tools such as CRM and reverse IP lookup.

Moreover, if your offering skews toward B2C or you’re targeting buyer personas that represent a large volume of low-LTV (lifetime value) customers, ID reveal and ABM tactics will be largely ineffective. 

To take full advantage of the visitors’ buying intent, even the ones that remain anonymous throughout, businesses have to be able to: 

  • Determine purchase intent signals of all visitors at every step of their journey (in real time). Think of this as digital body behavior.
  • Segment audiences by their intent (e.g. low, medium, and high) so that you can deliver the right online experience according to their needs
  • Once there is clear buyer intent data on every visitor, it can be used to create an engagement strategy for each segment that would optimize website performance, improve customer experience, and ultimately increase conversions by preemptively meeting those customers’ expectations. 

Until recently, deciphering buyer intent of all anonymous visitors was nearly impossible. Companies would craft thousands of unique customer pathways and user journeys, specifying engagement scripts for each one based on numerous criteria — only to have both largely inaccurate and incredibly time-consuming results in the end. 

Today, processing behavioral data of all anonymous visitors at scale can be done, but only thanks to the latest advances in AI (artificial intelligence) and big data. It’s through applying machine-scoring AI models on website traffic that reliable outcomes can be achieved, regardless of the actual number of anonymous visitors.

Convert Anonymous Businesses into Revenue with AI

“On average, 9% of website visitors have a strong buying intent. If you have thousands of visitors every month, that’s a lot of revenue to capture.”

— Lise Reddick, Lift AI

The best possible way to convert high-quality, warm leads is to do so in real time, while they are actively engaged with the website. But it’s important to emphasize that companies simply can’t discover the buyer intent of anonymous visitors and know which ones to engage without using AI.

Why? Because with AI you can instantly identify key decision-makers and assess their buyer intent by processing hundreds of real-time data attributes, such as referral URLs, pageviews, time spent on page, page sequencing, and more, against millions of historic data points including logged visitor profiles and real chat interaction outcomes, to predict a visitor’s conversion probability with over 90% accuracy.

Accuracy is an important distinction. Ascend2, a market research firm, found that 64% of marketers think that quality of data is the most important attribute of an intent data solution.

The leading solution in this space today is Lift AI. This artificial intelligence platform uses a proprietary machine-learning model to assign buyer intent scores to every single website visitor in real time, without needing to know their identity. Lift AI does so based on 15 years of sales data across various industries and business models, incorporating over a billion profiled visitors and over 14 million live online sales engagements.

Once Lift AI knows the buyer intent of every visitor, it creates high-probability conversion opportunities for the key employees of your sales team. It does this by matching anonymous buyers who display a high likelihood to buy with live sales agents over the chat tool they already use (e.g. Drift, LivePerson). 

Lower-scoring visitors can be nurtured through automated bot experiences and escalated to sales representatives when qualified, or directed to reactive self-help chatbot for more support-oriented needs. This creates a viable and cost-effective sales strategy throughout the organization, regardless of your employee count. 

Looking at the data in Figure 3, you can see the typical breakdown of your website visitors by their Lift AI Buying Intent both for the anonymous visitors on your site and the (best-case scenario) 30% of identified visitors.

As you can see, there are more opportunities across the board with anonymous website visitors — and now that you know their buying intent with over 90% accuracy, you can strategize the best engagement strategy for each segment accordingly, such as direct to live agent, nurturing and escalation through chatbots, or simply offering support.

Figure 3: The split of anonymous to identified visitors by Lift AI Buying Intent.

Here’s another journey to consider — you could even hide chat and chatbots from the highest percentile of high-intent visitors because the data would suggest those visitors would buy anyway, and interrupting them with chat may cannibalize the sale or lead.

As a result, Lift AI can properly match the buyer intent of completely anonymous visitors with an appropriate level of engagement, thus effectively utilizing any sales team’s resources for customer relationship management to maximize conversions.

In fact, PointClickCare used Lift AI and saw a 4x increase in conversions, which you can read more about here.

“To maximize the conversion of our existing website traffic, we engaged Lift AI to optimize our Drift implementation. We chose Lift AI based on their proven machine-learning model and extensive experience in sales chat optimization. The combination of Lift AI’s targeting model and chatbot optimization enabled PointClickCare to realize a 168% increase in qualified leads from chat in the first month!”  — John Walker, Director of Demand Marketing at PointClickCare

Lift AI also works in tandem with most ID reveal or ABM tools already in place, focusing on the 70% of anonymous visitors that other platforms can’t evaluate. And if sales are more transactional and anonymous visitors are closer to the average of 98%, then using Lift AI becomes even more critical.

Best of all, Lift AI is easy and risk-free to try. It works with any chat tool, there’s a free 30-day trial with no credit card required, and installing it is as simple as adding a small JavaScript snippet to the website. Just like that, your sales team can now uncover the real-time buyer intent of every anonymous visitor online.

This is part 1 of the "Rethink Your Revenue" series. To read part 2, click here.

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An illustration showing a website visitor being scored in real-time by Lift AI