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 (according to Adobe). 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 as well?
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. So if you don’t know anything about your visitors, you are simply hoping for them to fall through your marketing funnel.
If your website traffic sees tens of thousands of visitors every month, that means significant revenue is left on the table.
Why is this a big deal? The most successful online businesses know that engaging their 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 that visitor into a sale or lead. However, if you 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 to engage when visitors initiate the engagement, by forcing them to give you their email before they can connect with a live sales resource. Having your sales team engage every single visitor isn’t feasible, so what do you do?
Automated tools like chatbots are great when used properly but they have limitations when it comes to converting visitors into sales or leads. They have to be used strategically to effectively serve the customer and your sales team, and though they can have a tremendous impact, done wrong you can lose an opportunity in an instant. Unlike customer support visitors, buyers are much less patient and will leave quickly if they become frustrated in any way with the sales process.
So what does that leave you? A sales team missing out on sales, customers missing better real-time experiences, and a website that’s missing out on revenue.
So what would an alternative be, if you couldn’t know who your anonymous visitors are? The answer isn’t in determining their name or email address — but what their buying intent is. It is 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 turn those anonymous buyers into revenue.
In this guide we’ll focus on:
- Defining the anonymous buyer on your website
- How buying intent is the key to anonymous buyers
- How to convert anonymnous buyers into revenue using AI
Defining the Anonymous Visitor vs Anonymous Buyer
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 gauge their interest in certain products or see whether they need any help. Their visibility and their expressed behavior make it easy for a salesperson or a marketer 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’s no simple way to sort them by their likeliness 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 and exceed the expectations of your anonymous visitors from your website with buyer intent.
Even if the online visitors are anonymous, there’s no reason to lack insight — their digital body language allows websites 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 Buyers
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 tools that help reveal visitor identity and then target those visitors with ABM (account-based marketing) 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 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.
Moreover, if your offering skews toward B2C or you are targeting a large volume of high-speed but low-LTV (lifetime customer value) buyers, ID reveal and ABM tactics will be of little to no value to you.
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 segment
- 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’ needs.
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 Buyers 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 those buyers is to do so in real-time, while they are actively engaged with the website. However, it’s important to emphasize that companies simply can’t discover the buyer intent of anonymous visitors and know which ones to engage in real-time without using AI.
Why? Because with AI you can instantly assess 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. This accuracy is an important distinction, especially when market research firm Ascend2 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. It does so based on 15 years of sales data across various industries, 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 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.
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.
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 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 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 no other platform can evaluate. And if the sales motion is more transactional and anonymous visitors are closer to the average of 98%, then using Lift AI becomes even more critical.
This is part 1 of the "Rethink Your Revenue" series. To read part 2, click here.