Listen to our exclusive interview with Maddy Martin:
Are you leaning into modern marketing solutions that will allow you to help more people and scale impact? We spoke to the head of growth and education at Smith.ai.
Maddy Martin is the head of growth and education at Smith.ai, which provides integrated phone and web chat services for solo and small businesses, including their virtual receptionist & intake service, live website chat, and Keypad cloud phone system.
She has spent the last decade growing tech startups from New York to California and has expertise in digital marketing, small business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, SEO, and event marketing.
Learn more about Maddy and her work at > https://smith.ai
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Transcription of Interview
(Transcribed by Otter.ai, there may be errors)
Adam G. Force 00:11
What’s going on everybody welcome back to the Change Creator podcast show. This is your host Adam force. hope everybody’s doing well today. If you missed the last episode, it was with Travis chambers. He’s the founder of chamber media they’re doing some really amazing stuff with video and so we talked about video marketing and development and all that good stuff. So a lot of good gold nuggets in there and as you know, video is hot today. So you want to check that out. And today we are going to be talking with somebody in the AI space and her name is Maddy, Martin. She’s head of growth and education at Smith AI. And they’re all about integrating you know, web and phone chats right so automating these processes to help increase your sales connect with leads validate the leads right. This can lead to calls the can lead to whatever your funnel or process is. And you know, there’s a lot of money left on the table today, when we don’t have these types of resources in place. And even, you know, like Facebook Messenger is super powerful with really unique strategies behind it. And you know, programs like this for your website can really help you increase your monthly revenue for your business. So we wanted to talk to her about how businesses are using this stuff, why it’s so important and get a sense of what they’re doing that’s different, and bring that to you guys. So you can get some insights and maybe fresh ideas for you know, pulling in some more leads, pulling in some more sales and upping your business, right, the more we can do that the more impact we can have in the world, with our companies. And that’s always a good thing. So the other announcement I want to make is, we have a very special offer and it is a it’s new. We haven’t we haven’t shared this with anybody just yet. And it is our storytelling roadmap for impact on Entrepreneurs now we run a program called the captivate method. And we help supercharge your brand with storytelling right to turn more leads into sales and automate your business and really set things up and integrate storytelling as a powerful marketing force. And this is a first step. So we want to share this storytelling roadmap as a first step to get acclimated understand story a little bit better and what’s going on with it some of the mistakes that people make when they’re in their early years of startup. And so you could check that out now this again, this is a fresh document we’d love your feedback on it as well. So you can go to the URL change crater comm slash forward slash storytelling roadmap. All right, just all one word. So Change Creator comm slash storytelling roadmap, and you can grab your free copy of the storytelling roadmap for impact entrepreneurs. Now check it out, let us know what you think we’d love to get some feedback on it. And we hope you really enjoy it and it’s helpful for you. There’s lots of good nuggets in Alright, so this will be a good first step. Alright guys, I think that’s about it, you can check out our website, check us out on Facebook, you know where we’re at, you know, get on Facebook, this is where we put a lot of content and then get into the Facebook group, the, the profitable digital impact entrepreneur. All right, we have a really healthy community in there that you can connect with lots of good insights. And we hope to see you over there. Alright, let’s jump into this conversation about messenger and AI with Maddie. Hey, Maddie, welcome to the Change Creator podcast show. How’s everything going today?
Maddy Martin 03:38
Oh, it’s great. Thanks, Adam. Thanks for having me.
Adam G. Force 03:40
Yep. Thanks for being here. I think you’re in an exciting space and you know, just over the past couple years, there’s just so much talk around this type of technology and messenger support and I think, you know, for even for our business as we get into this stuff, it’s I always look at it as like another thing to learn, but I think So look at it as like, Man, you better start leaning into it, because that’s money that you’re leaving on the table for sure. And I’ve seen just incredible results for people. So maybe just give a little bit of background on what’s going on with, you know, with you today, what you’re working on and just kind of a little summary there.
Maddy Martin 04:18
Yeah, sure. Absolutely. So I’m the head of growth and education for Smith AI, which is a Virtual Receptionist and web chat service that’s now offering also texts answering for small businesses primarily. So we operate now really globally, but we’re based in Silicon Valley and we have the majority of our receptionists are in the US and Canada, English and Spanish support for really a professional services, businesses and solopreneurs to small business owners who are you know, the first few years of business to more mature and advanced where they understand the opportunity cost of their time, which for me is a long time ago. Economy Major really resonates with the with the business and our clients because we know that yes, you know, you could take out a loan and spend more money you can leverage friends and family and you know, venture capital. But what you can’t get more of no matter how hard you try is time. And it’s precious in terms of how quickly your business gets adopted in the market, how quickly you make sales and in are able to find the right product market fit. And what we find is that if business owners are spending all their time on admin tasks and chores and answering the phone, or neglecting those and not finding replacements to pick up the phone and answer emails and chats, then what happens is that there is a huge lag and missed opportunity in business growth, and that can significantly affect the sort of opportunities and viability of the business.
Adam G. Force 05:53
Yeah, I think that was well said. And it’s a tough lesson to learn because, you know, there’s a I would say that as As soon as you’re when you have an established revenue stream, let’s say I just have one product as a start up and you’re starting to get sales, you know, that’s when I would really start looking at this technology to help kind of capitalize on that. And I think you made a good point just about the time we put in because I’ve seen it over and over again, where people put in a lot of time in the weeds with this type of stuff, rather than spending their time you know, they talk about working on the business versus in the business and there is definitely some truth to to that and how you spend your time is important. So once you just have those sales like I think technology like this is is essential, actually, you know
Maddy Martin 06:39
Yeah, and I think you know, there’s such like a chicken and egg sort of mentality with services like this even think about like, are you using a CRM? Are you using online calendaring? Have you outsourced like the chore of bookkeeping and accounting like we’re approaching tax season, right? So maybe, I mean, to be honest, maybe we’re in tax season if we like it or not. And what ends up happening is that we get so bogged down by the day to day and the chores. But we don’t take an eye on the things that actually really move the needle, which is responsiveness. That’s the most important thing. And if we don’t invest in the tools that allow us to be responsive, then we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. So like, there’s often this analysis paralysis that happens, where you think, Oh my gosh, there’s so many CRMs on the market, like which one do I choose? How important is it that it connects to all my other tools? Should I have a you know, email account hosted by Gmail or Outlook or how does it play well with my other systems, and what we find now that’s really honestly a huge advantage to small business owners is that there are not as many like long term commitments and contracts that are required by software. You can use most software and services month to month, so there isn’t so much of an initial investment. And, and cost if you don’t like the software, so what I recommend is that you just get started using something that’s like free or low cost, like think about calendly. I mean, they offer a free online calendaring solution, there, even CRMs that start free. There’s email marketing tools that start free until you hit, you know, a total number of contacts. And then you know, like, this is something I like to use, it works for my business functions. It’s something that I can understand. But you don’t know unless you start actually using these systems and not just reading you know, your peers posts in a Facebook group, like how they’re going to actually work for you. Because like, if you agonize, you will never end up choosing a software and frankly, nothing is perfect, but you won’t know what actually you even want or like to use unless you just get started. And that’s one of the biggest struggles that we see small businesses. face.
Adam G. Force 08:58
Yeah, it’s true. And I think you see a lot of the software companies, they do offer, you know, a free access opportunity, you know, until you can get your business to a certain point, but that by that point, you either love it and you’re integrated with them. So you continue, or you don’t and you can try something else. So there’s really no reason to not get started with some of these things. And, you know, we’ve done it with calendly and drift and just simple things like that. And we’re behind on the messenger game and you know, this type of support at the level that you guys are, are doing. So that’s led me to be super curious to talk to you more about it. And if you could share maybe a little insight around, you know, the uses of this technology for small businesses and, and some of the things that might stand out as just someone maybe top two or three items that stand out that could be valuable, that someone should be thinking about that maybe they’re not.
Maddy Martin 09:55
Yeah, um, I think there there are three sort of core things to think about. About one and we started actually with our website chat having a self service sort of platform like you know, an intercom or drift or something. But what we found is that small business owners don’t need to answer their own chats. The two options that we now offer are live website chat, which is staffed by us, and also staffs, your texts answering and messages. Then the other product is the chat bot, which is automatically responding with programmatic answers that you know, respond to common questions and steer leads in the right direction towards scheduling a consultation or or buying products online. And those are the tools that are really hands off either there is someone handling it without your involvement or there is AI handling it without your involvement. But when we first sort of launched the website chat, and giving that self service platform, we realize like hey, hang on a second, like our core, you know, business Owner clients are not available. That’s why we exist to sort of deliver this service either through live humans or AI to respond on their behalf. And that’s what we do with phone calls. And and now doing that across, as we say, omni channel platform, so phone, text, website chat and expanding from there into other things like Facebook and other messenger apps. But what we know is that business owners always want to be in the loop. So when you’re looking at the system, they should notify you and anyone else who is scheduled or who is, you know, purchase a product, the notification should not only be to the business owner, but also to the buyer or to the lead. And then also see how you can sort of get the most out of the system. So like, a lot of people probably know that there are call answering services. But what a lot of people don’t know is that you can actually mask a business number. And I’m not speaking about spoofing and spam can actually move Ask a business number and we can call using your business number so that it shows on caller ID, your leads and clients to follow up on maybe they completed a website form or they left their cart abandoned and they didn’t end up buying the product, whatever the case may be, they have indicated an interest in buying something from you a product or service, we follow up on those great leads on the people who may be you know, indicated an interest or had a consultation with your service and didn’t buy. And then you have that entire workflow sort of both inbound and outbound with us answering, you know, screening, scheduling, answering questions and getting that, that revenue in or following up on people outbound to call them and to get that sale proactively. So I think that that proactiveness and the level of depth that we provide is really the thing that moves the needle, not a glorified voicemail right now. Just like leave a message. I mean, how annoying is that? When you go to a website, and you see that little like chat widget, and then you click on it thinking, I’m going to get live help right now either like through AI or a human being. And then it says, okay, enter your information. All right, I’ve done that name and email and then it says, things were away right now leave your message. And you’re like, what, you know, a bunch of baloney, like you just like made me fill out a form basically, and I’m not going to get live help. That’s such a disappointing experience. So I think that there is the expectation unfortunately, that like we live in the Uber Amazon instacart world where people are getting instant gratification and unbelievably great, fast service for any questions that they have about buying something or or just like, you know, contacting a business. And what ends up happening is that like, those are the same clients or the same consumers who are Going to be interacting with you. So if you don’t have business texting, if you don’t have a Facebook page with messenger, if you don’t have a website that has anything more than a form and instead, like, you know, a chat widget for real time interaction, then you’re missing out on potential business. Like, for example, what we see is that you can expect one chat for every four calls you get for a net new lead for your business. So we know that there is money being left on the table.
Adam G. Force 14:29
Yeah, and I think that’s huge. I think that, you know, I literally was just having this conversation with my co founder, Amy about just abandoned cart stuff, or you know, people that are hitting that page and you know, there’s retargeting solutions and, you know, ways to follow up with people. But I think that this type of support and follow up is really important. I was gonna say powerful, but I just think it’s really important because there is a ton of money left on the table, and it might be something very simple. With these follow ups that you find out that were just holding someone back from that sale, and not only do you get the information, but you will get the sale also. So, like, if you’re not following up in these different, there’s different ways to have these follow ups. I feel like and you know, you want to be covering your bases and in the ways that are going to be most effective and immediate.
Maddy Martin 15:19
Yeah, I mean, one other thing that I’ll emphasize, honestly, in terms of tools, because there is a little bit of hesitancy still here with text messaging, that, you know, chat is great. But it does require sort of someone coming to your website or prompting that engagement, right? But texting is really nice because it can be less, less less inbound, right? And it can be two way and we know that unlike email, which many of us are still leveraging, but it’s you know, lower and lower open rates and more noise and less effective text messages, get an astronomically higher ROI. Right so what ends up happening is that for those who are most likely to respond to a text message and who are most clearly indicating that they want to hear from you, they want to engage with your business or they have already engaged with your business and I’ll get to an example of that in a second. You can text them and get a much higher interaction engagement rate and and you know when to sale rate so that you can you know, really make the sale happen especially if you have a mobile friendly website. Or if you have purchases available for product on other sites, you can direct through link them to make a purchase and it can even be something that is a personalized link so it gets them right back to where they were started, you know, with cookies, etc. So So to me, like I’ve got chrome on my desktop on my browser. If someone texts me a link on my phone, then I’m using Chrome no matter which device I’m in my Chrome knows where I am. So I can pick up right where I left off. Again, leveraging technology that’s not costing you anything extra. But it allows you to help facilitate that sale. Now with existing clients. What’s really interesting is that you can even use texting to help them write reviews for you, what we see is that reviews or referrals are still incredibly important and have a ton of weight on the attraction and the sort of search ranking of your business, the visibility, everyone is checking, you know, online reviews and referrals. Even if they have a friend who tells them you know, go check out this business, they’re still going to look at it and what you want to do is systematically be asking for and getting fresh reviews and from your happiest clients of course, so if you use texting and you say thanks so much for you know, your recent purchase and we’re leaving us you know, five stars, when you automatically email them about you know, thanks for making this purchase. You You made a purchase in your cart. And then here’s the automatic email. If you text them and you say, Would you please write a review on our Facebook page or Google My Business or wherever it is that you have a listing, then you can help facilitate that actually coming to fruition, whereas in the email, you know, someone’s gonna snooze it, maybe they want to do it, maybe the open rate is lower, if you just direct them to that link right there. And then and you can even if you’ve captured, you know, comments from them, praise in the past, you can include that to make it even easier for them to write the review. One of the things that we even do is we can call, you know, recent clients back who left a positive review and say, you know, what, you know, let me just, you know, have a little mini interview with you, and we will send this to you, you can approve it, and then I’ll send you the link to post it online, like really facilitating that online reputation management.
Adam G. Force 18:55
Yeah. Which I love and I and I think a lot of people have a gap there with getting those reviews and stuff like that for their products, and it can be a real pain in the butt. And sometimes people do need that little, like, make it as easy as possible for them. So they need a little nudge.
Maddy Martin 19:10
Yeah, and I think they don’t want to they don’t have time, right. So you have to facilitate that.
Adam G. Force 19:16
Well, we’ve learned, you know, like on iTunes and stuff, like people find it to be a real pain in the butt to like, they want to leave a review, but it becomes like a hassle. And so if it’s not really simple for them, you lose that and I know like on iTunes, it can be a little bit if you’re not familiar with the process, it’s a little bit clunky. So that kind of like hand holding could be really valuable to getting those additional reviews and stuff. So have you noticed anything? I’m curious on just some of the companies that might be using this type of technology and support at the level you’re talking about. And if you’ve heard any kind of results stories that have shown an uptick in their sales or Just overall business revenues and things like that.
Maddy Martin 20:03
Oh my gosh, so many okay like a few things well, first of all one like sort of PSA. I travel around the country Adam and like I talked to a lot of small business owners, and many of them are using voice phone systems cloud phone systems and they don’t sort of Secret Shop them. So after you listen to this, one thing that I would recommend that you do if you’re running a small business is to have someone call your business phone number and count the rings and then pick up when you hear the you know, first or second ring. So count the rings on your end because what we’re seeing is a lot of latency. So sometimes if your phone system is not set up properly, or if you have a lot of delays, then you could be missing calls for the very simple and very fixable reason of like there’s eight rings and I kid you not this actually happens before you hear it ring once on your end, and people are hanging up then before they even reach you. So that is really an easy fix. The other thing that I recommend is that if you don’t have business texting enabled for your phone number that you get that immediately a lot of our clients say, you know, these are lawyers, financial advisors, e commerce, you know, they say they didn’t realize that people were trying to text their number until they enabled it or until they switch their phone system. And the really nice thing is that that typically is rolled into like any cloud phone system plan, it shouldn’t really cost you anything extra. If so, it’s extremely small potatoes right in the grand scheme of your costs, and you know, 510 bucks a month or something that have basic business texting enabled. And if you have a landline, you can even use zip whip, or you can use Smith AI to provision sort of a business texting solution for you. So that’s something that I would absolutely recommend and then I would definitely also recommend looking into you know, having sort of automation setup, so that if you have a webform filled For example, from a new potential client or from someone who says, Yes, I want more information or you do product demos, or whatever the case may be, you have a really good system of follow up. So that if someone, even if they’re chatting on your website, that you always have the opportunity to sort of like have that conversation with them. One of the things that we see is that business owners shoot themselves in the foot sometimes by saying, play by my rules, rather than trying to be in tune with the clients and say, okay, you’re contacting me, on my website. Here you are, you’re chatting, or you’re filling out these forms. If you’re just filling out forms, you should definitely have website chat if you get a lot of form fills and e commerce requests. If you have website chat, then what happens? You’ve got someone who’s live on the line, and you’ve got this fish on the line and then they say, you know what, I need to step away like can I can I turn this into a call or this is getting a little bit more complicated, you know, I want to learn more about extra Z, you know, can I schedule time to speak with someone, you want to be able to make that available to them. So either they’re able to schedule a call for someone on your team, maybe it’s even you the business owner. Or if you’re using an omni channel solution where for example, we know your business, and we’re using chat and phone to communicate on your behalf, we can actually even have our receptionist, take that phone call and continue the conversation so you don’t have the interruption. But the main thing is that don’t get interrupted until it actually has to be you who brings in that final sale, who does that demo or consultation are much more sort of advanced conversation that only you or your team can do before that point. If you are doing all of that triage and handling yourself, then you’re spending a lot of time with people who are probably not all converting to clients. or customers? And that doesn’t need to be you who’s on the front lines? Yeah,
Adam G. Force 24:07
yeah, I mean, the time saving is huge and I agree that was gonna be a question is that converting from the the automated chat because you know sometimes there does it does require a personal touch so you might have a trigger point that would turn it into something that you can handle personally to close a deal or whatever it might be but the whole setup process and the initial conversation getting there sounds like it can be automated and then you can have a trigger point to set up a call as needed.
Maddy Martin 24:35
Absolutely. And the nice thing with online calendaring is that if it is you know, you or your staff who has to have the you know, consultation or demo or discussion, then we will book that based on your calendar settings. So you can say you know, I only open up you know, my public calendar for you know, three demos a day or phone calls in the afternoons and I need 15 minutes of buffer time in between Each appointment to take notes and follow through. All of those things are completely customizable. And when we’re booking appointments for you, it’s not like we’re seeing into your calendar or we’re logging in or you need to buy another license. It really is just a link that we use based on your directions. But the important thing is that it’s not just anyone having a link and they’re just booking appointments with you willy nilly. They’re screened first to determine if they’re a good potential client or customer or even partner. You know, are there people who you’re doing work with? Maybe it’s b2b and not see to see, you know, b2c? There may be different vetting steps based on who is on the phone and how you plan to work with them.
Adam G. Force 25:46
Yeah, and I think I would make the point that it’s nice to be able to screen people because you want to get a sense of who is coming in who is chatting because you can look at that and say great, these are the right people. For my My business or you’re going to find out these are not the right people for my business. So now you want to look at well, then why are we attracting the wrong people? Do we have the wrong SEO content? Are we doing the wrong targeting in our ads or whatever it might be. So I think it’s great to be able to screen people and make those types of decisions because you’re starting a sales conversation or a funnel, whatever you want to call it. And if you’re seeing a lot of the wrong people, it kind of leads you to determine there’s probably other issues with your traffic to begin with. So I love that I love that screening opportunity. And I like the automation. I mean, not that we don’t want to have personal touches, but you know, once you get to a certain number, more and more people coming, it’s like you just can’t, right. So it’s it is nice to be able to manage some of the primary conversation to like, vet somebody depending on what they need. And then if they are a buyer, then you have that conversation.
Maddy Martin 26:53
Yeah, I mean, I think that you also just go back to that SEO point that you made that is a really important In one, and it’s sort of this like unknown secret benefit to having something like website chat that allows you to get the exact language that people are using to search. So what do we know, we know that like Google doesn’t really give you the keyword so much anymore that people are using to search and find your business. It’s really hard to determine all the entire questions that the entire keyword set that’s driving business to your pages. So what we know, though, is that in a chat, they’re using the exact same language that they were searching for in Google, right? Because like, maybe they got to the right page, or maybe they got your homepage, or maybe they search for something and now they’re actually going to search their exact query on your website. A lot of small business websites don’t have search or very robust search. So chat actually can be a search portal for the rest of your site. If it’s connected to live agents, they can facilitate you know, getting the right answer to you or providing it directly. But the really nice thing is that you can read into all of the chat transcripts that you see. And you can pull out the best blog posts the best FAQ the best, like, you know, questions that people are asking and then answer them proactively on Facebook or Twitter and say, we just got, you know, three of the same question this week about, you know, product A, wanting to, you know, share with everyone the answer because we didn’t realize it was something that wasn’t, you know, well known. You know, you as a business owner, you have deep expertise. And sometimes it’s easy to have those blinders on where, where you don’t keep in touch with like, those basic questions that maybe you take for granted. And we see this really often. Or maybe you have used a digital marketing agency that isn’t totally familiar with the exact language that’s used, like a really good example of that would be, you know, with attorneys who do personal injury, like let’s consider the phrases like car wreck, or car accident, right? Like if you’re Just saying car accident all over your website, but you’re in a region in the US where people say car wreck, then you’re going to be missing out on some of that search traffic. And if everyone in your chat widget is saying, Oh, do you handle, you know, injuries from car wrecks, you’re like, Oh my gosh, it’s so simple. Like, I should be using that keyword too. So something like that can be a big unlock to organic search traffic growth, as you were alluding to,
Adam G. Force 29:29
yeah, yeah. No, I love that. That’s all really good information. And I just think that there’s such an important place for this type of technology. And there’s a lot of ways we can use it. I get a little sensitive around the text messaging. I think it’s super powerful. And obviously it gets high exposure and opens. I guess we all just have to be a little bit more intimate, right, it gets Yeah, email is like at one level of intimacy and trust. And then you get to the text messaging. It’s like you’re really in the Inside world with somebody
Maddy Martin 30:03
And so you need to be careful and not invasive, right? Like, you know, consider how interested the person is and then be Be careful. You know, it’s like how I teach writers who I’ve worked with, you know how to use an exclamation point you know, it’s like a jalapeno like you only need one and you know any block of text any recipe right? Right. Um, too many is overload. You want to be careful with like how much you’re you’re out bound communicating, whether that’s email or text message, but you really don’t want to ever feel spammy and have clear indicators of when you send that prompt follow up and on what channel
Adam G. Force 30:42
love it. Yeah, makes sense. Well, it sounds like there’s a lot of to explore here for people. So you know, if you got your business you’re you’re up and running. This type of support could not only just takes give you some time back, but it could also improve your sales and conversion rates, not just the number of sales, but those conversion rates can go up based on the volume of traffic, you have come to your site. So definitely something really great to look into. So thanks for sharing, you know, your expertise on the topic and some of the ways that people are using it to grow their businesses that you’ve seen and stuff like that. So, Maddie, let’s give her a shout out to where people can learn more about it and kind of check out what you guys are all about.
Maddy Martin 31:27
Yeah, thanks, Adam. So if you are interested in having us help you accelerate growth with phone calls, chats, texts. We are available to speak with you firstname.lastname@example.org our website. We also have a phone number traditionally 6507 to 76484, or you can email us at email@example.com. And as a listener of this podcast, we have created a special promo code so it is Change Creator 100 that’s 100. And if you put that in, you’ll get not only a free trial for calls and chats, but also $100 off your first month. And if you don’t want to spend a dime, you can use our free AI chat bot that has unlimited conversations available to you for your website.
Adam G. Force 32:20
Awesome. That’s, that’s great. Appreciate that. Alright guys, so take advantage. I thought this was gonna be you know, a great call. And it was because I really wanted to dig into more of this chat stuff as our team is even looking into it and kind of share this with everybody that’s listening in. So it’s a really good opportunity to start automating your business more taking that time back and capitalizing on those sales that you’re leaving on the table. So thanks again Maddy, appreciate your time this episode. Your next step is to join the Change Creator revolution by downloading our interactive digital magazine app for premium content, exclusive interviews, and more ways to stay on top of your game available now on iTunes and Google Play or visit Change Creator mag calm We’ll see you next time where money and meaning intersect right here at the Change Creator podcast.