Case Study:Olark

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B2B, SaaS
Oct. 2013

Olark is a live chat software that makes customers happier and boosts sales by helping people when they’re on your site. Launched in 2009, Olark recently achieved the amazing milestone of serving 10,000 paid subscribers — including companies like Buffer, Hipmunk, and Wordpress.

By enabling companies to start millions of conversations, Olark makes the relationship between businesses and their customers more human and helpful. So how does Olark extend that approach to its own users if they’ve left the site?

How do you get people to return to your app?

Olark uses to communicate with its users in a personalized way once they’ve left the site. Chief marketing Olarker Sunir Shah explains, “We rely on to send emails based on the specific experience of each individual user.

A huge mistake with drip emails is asking users to complete actions they have already done.

Reflect individual experiences to get through to users.

Emails are the perfect low-key channel for helpful nudges outside an app. For instance, if new users don’t perform key actions such as installing Olark’s live chat snippet, changing default settings, or logging into chat — they’ll get emails encouraging them to finish setting up.

A huge mistake with drip emails is asking users to complete actions they have already done,“ Sunir explains. "Users will just conclude your product is buggy and not saving their data properly.”

Olark uses Segment to track customer activity inside its product. Thanks to Segment’s simple integration, it took minutes for Sunir and his team to connect to receive Olark’s event data. Now Olark can reach out to users based on key actions like whether they’ve customized colors, tried the reporting feature, or viewed a chat transcript.

“Because lets us filter, segment, and build email flows based on each individual’s specific activity, we can build drip email campaigns that accurately reflect what the customer is experiencing.”

Personalize messages to motivate action.

Olark also uses to deliver personalized experiences, even within the same email campaign.

Olark tailors its message based on an individual’s plan for one drip campaign nudging new users who haven’t yet installed its code snippet. Recipients on larger plans — who would appreciate a higher-touch level of support — see a more proactive offer of help (such as getting on a call or scheduling a training webinar) while others see a helpful message focused more on self-service. supports Liquid templating language, which provides a way for Olark to show different content to each plan level.

olark use of Liquid in email example

Go beyond email click-tracking to understand actual conversions

When Olark launched Chat Ratings, a new feature allowing companies to collect feedback about their chats, the team wanted to make sure that all of its customers tried it. "We wanted to reach full penetration in our customer base,” explains Sunir. “We created a email campaign for only those paying customers who have never looked at Chat Ratings. It was as easy as picking the right segments.”

The Olark team then ran a split test of different email designs to see which converted better on the end goal of “turning on Chat Ratings without turning it off.” Sunir comments, “That kind of conversion tracking is impossible with traditional newsletter tools, which stop at click tracking. Clicks are not the same thing as conversions.”

Sample email campaign conversion goal in Sample email campaign conversion goal in

“Because is aware of what users actually do inside our product, we could measure the true conversion rate of who had specifically turned on or off Chat Ratings. Of course, as soon as they took a conversion action, users were removed from the segment and dropped from any further emails.”

Treat email as part of the product experience.

Olark sends many types of emails, including notifications, newsletters, support responses, and drip emails. “We never want customers to question why they got an email from Olark,” Sunir explains. “It should be part of the natural flow of the product experience, and ideally, help them meet their true goal with Olark.”

The value of being able to filter, segment, and personalize messages in real-time based on user activity is that you send pertinent, impactful messages. Relevant, timely emails become an extension of your product.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking emails about your product are not part of the product,” advises Sunir. “The most important emails are part of the product experience. The product is not just the app — it’s the entire flow the user needs to go through to complete their goal.

Only with a tool like that keeps up-to-date in real-time with the user’s actual activity do you stand a chance of meeting your customers’ expectations.