Proactive Chat: What is it, and When Should You Use it?


Proactive chat is the practice of inviting or enticing a visitor on your website to start chatting with you. This is an action initiated by you, rather than waiting for the visitor to start a chat themselves.

Proactive invitations to chat can be used with either live chat agents or chat bots, and can be a helpful way to increase customer engagement and inform your visitors. It’s an increasingly popular form of customer service and support, and can also help sales teams convert customers who are already browsing on-site. Let’s dive deeper into the purpose of proactive chat and take a look at some tips and best practices from the industry.

Read more about adding a live chat plugin to your site and increasing efficiency with marketing automation.

What is Proactive Chat?

As mentioned, proactive chat is like inviting a visitor to engage in a chat. You can think of it much like a salesperson in a physical store who stops to ask a customer if they need any help. Just like the salesperson in a physical store, a proactive chat is meant to ensure that the customer can ask any questions that they have prior to the customer deciding to leave (consequently losing the opportunity for engagement).

Chat invitation can be especially useful for ecommerce sites, where a little bit of friendly hand-holding can make the difference between a visitor who bounces and one who becomes a lifelong customer. In fact, data from Forrester suggests that customers who engage with chat are “2.8x more likely to convert than those who don’t.”

Proactive chat is often automated, since the intent is to make sure help is offered to everyone. Having automatic Proactive chat also means that you do not have to have anybody constantly monitoring website traffic looking for visitors who seem to need extra assistance. If you do have behavior you need to watch for, you can also trigger a proactive chat invitation manually (when using a platform like Formilla) depending on your needs.

A proactive chat can also be used to show a bit of personalization on your pages. You can showcase the voice of your brand with a cleverly crafted proactive chat. You can even customize proactive chats to match the theme of the page that they are showing on.

Read more about how to set up and use proactive Smart Messages in the Formilla platform.

When to Use Proactive Chat

proactive chat-bot-preview-image

Proactive live chat invitations work very well in many situations. Here is a list of when it is beneficial to do so:

  • Shopping cart abandonment. Industry data from Forrester shows that 55% of US online shoppers will abandon their carts if they can’t get a question answered quickly. You can offer a smart proactive chat message if a customer has spent a long time on the shopping cart page without checking out.
  • Offer to chat about a particular product or service. You can set up a proactive chat for times when a visitor has indicated interest based on time spent viewing a particular item or staying on a particular page.
  • Welcome messages. You can display a bit of hands-on personal care by creating a proactive welcome message for new visitors. You can also create a welcome back message for visitors who have not been seen in a while, visitors who have recently purchased an item, etc.
  • Sharing updates or new promotions. This is a nice way to pass on a bit of information about any updates you might have while offering to answer questions. It is also an opportunity to close a sale based on any new promotion or offering you have, since you are offering to chat at the same time you are sharing information.
  • Proactive chat based on a referral link. This is great if you have any channel specific promotion, like promotional codes for visitors to your Pinterest page or YouTube channel. Send out a proactive chat mentioning the promotion and an offer of chat assistance to increase your daily chats.

You can try out any or all of the above proactive chat best practices using our Formilla plugin on your site.

Read “5 Ways Companies Can Use Live Chat to Increase Sales.”

Proactive Chat Tips (And What to Avoid)

There are times when using proactive live chat may be less beneficial or even detrimental. Here are some tips that you may want to think about when you’re using proactive invitations.

  • Do not invite too quickly. If you send out a proactive chat on a super short timer, it will likely have more of a pop-up or spam feel instead of appearing like a personalized invitation to chat. This is compounded if every page has an immediate proactive chat.
  • Avoid too many invites in one session. If a visitor has already minimized one chat, that is basically declining your invitation to chat. It will start to feel obtrusive or like spam if the visitor is continuously bombarded with the exact same message every time they move from one page to another.
  • Make sure the message is appropriate for each page it is set to appear on. A visitor may normally love hearing about a promotion when they visit your site. However, they will likely not want to hear about any deals you have while they are browsing a troubleshooting section to solve an issue. A proactive chat invitation asking if they needed help would be much more appropriate for a troubleshooting page.

If you’re ready to try live chat, chat bots, and proactive greetings and invitations for your site visitors, sign up for a free trial of Formilla and explore what Smart Messages can do for you.

Header image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay

Join the Formilla blog!

We offer actionable advice about live chat, chat bots, marketing automation, customer service, and sales. Sign up and we'll send you the best of the blog, from articles to infographics, every two weeks.

100% privacy. Unsubscribe any time.