Adding live chat to your site is not only convenient for your users, but can also help cut down on support expenses, increase sales and give you the edge over your competition.
And with our free Chat plugin – available to download from the WordPress Plugin Directory – it only takes a few minutes to set up real-time chat on your site.
Not convinced you need live chat? We’ve got the stats to prove it: According to Kissmetrics, many customers want help from a live person while shopping online, and “44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”
Add to that an emarketer.com survey that found 63% were more likely to return to a website that offered live chat.
Offering live chat on your site doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. In fact, our Chat plugin takes no time at all to set up. Plus, it’s available as both a free and premium plugin so you can choose which features you need.
In this post, we’ll show you how simple it is to set up the free version of Chat, as well as cover some possible use cases.
Let’s start with some background information.
Introducing the Chat Plugin
But we’ll be focusing on the free version, which you can download at WordPress.org. Obviously, anything you can do in the free version is also possible in the commercial version (which offers even more awesome functionality, natch).
Chat enables you to include a number of different types of chat instances on your site:
- Corner chat: A pop-up chat window anchored to a corner of your page that persists across multiple pages – fantastic for customer support.
- In page/post chat: Individual chat rooms that can be embedded as shortcodes wherever you need.
- Chat widgets: Activate chat boxes on any sidebar of your site – a premium option.
- BuddyPress Group chats: Another premium option that allows you to integrate individually configurable chat rooms for each group.
The free version of the plugin has over 4,000 active installs and consistently positive reviews. It plays nicely with the vast majority of themes and grants you fine-grained control over the following options:
- Sounds to be used
- Date and time settings
- Chat box size
- Typographic options
- Offering guest use or members-only chat
The premium version offers a range of additional functionality including advanced color control, the creation of Chat logs, chat boxes on the backend, social network integration, advanced moderation features and more.
You’ve got the option of upgrading seamlessly to the paid version at any time.
Let’s briefly cover some use cases where Chat really shines.
Using WordPress Chat to Deliver Value to Users: Chat can be employed in all manner of ways on sites of various sizes, but there are a few standard use cases that stand out:
Lifting Your Community Site to the Next Level: Chat is fully compatible with BuddyPress (particularly with the advanced integration available in the paid version) so it’s a perfect solution for community discussions. Real-time chat increases overall interaction on your site and is a great way of encouraging engagement and developing a strong community, whatever the subject matter of your site happens to be.
Offering In-Context Training: If you’re offering online training of any type, in-page chat is a great way of being able to help users out at the exact points where they’re running into difficulty.
Client Communication: If you’re in services and dealing with clients who want real-time discussion groups (public or private), Chat is an excellent simple alternative to something like Slack and can be integrated on either your website or that of the client.
Pre-sales and Customer Service: Giving users a way of interacting with you directly comes into its own in the context of both pre-sales inquiries and ongoing customer support. Chat gives you both options out of the box without having to sign up to expensive third-party services with recurring billing.
So, we’ve introduced the plugin and considered just a few of the many incredibly handy ways you could put it to use. Let’s now look at actually getting up and running with Chat.
Installing Chat is a piece of cake.
With the free version, it’s simply a matter of searching for “chat” from Plugins > Add New in the backend of your site. Alternatively you can download the plugin directly from WordPress.org.
You can activate the plugin per site or from Network Admin if you’re running a Multisite or BuddyPress install.
Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that adding Chat is an inherently resource intensive affair.
At a minimum, you’ll want to increase your memory allocation in WordPress – 256M should be more than enough.
If you’re handling a lot of simultaneous chat connections, you may also notice things starting to slow down if you’re on shared hosting. Check out our hosting guide or check with your provider if you run into difficulties here. It’s not the plugin – promise!