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Q&A with Mikael da Costa

Business Info talks to Mikael da Costa, founder of Finnish lead generation company Leadoo, about how the company’s platform takes chatbots to the next level

Founded in August 2018, Leadoo is one of the fastest growing companies in Finland where its chatbot platform is being used by 550 companies to engage more directly with website visitors and, in doing so, enhance both sales and recruitment processes. In October it opened a UK office, enabling businesses over here to use its technology and marketing expertise to increase website conversion rates that are typically less than 1%. The company designs, scripts, implements and optimises a variety of bots that go far beyond traditional customer service applications to convert passive website visitors into sales leads or job applications. Leadoo has clients in numerous industries, including recruitment, real estate, leisure, travel and tourism, print, roofing and software. With packages starting at £399 a month, Leadoo recommends companies have at least 1,000 monthly website visitors to make the investment worthwhile, but this is not a hard and fast rule and some clients have as few as 100. James Goulding spoke to
Leadoo founder Mikael da Costa to find out more about the company, its technology and its applications.

Business Info: You started Leadoo in August 2018 with one other person and you now employ 40 marketing, technology and sales professionals in Helsinki, Stockholm and London. What inspired you to set up the company?

Mikael da Costa: I was working in recruitment marketing before Leadoo and had the feeling that companies that spent money on employer branding to get better applicants were not getting any more, or any better, applicants than those that didn’t.

The company where I worked ran the career sites of 120 medium-sized businesses in Finland and we found out that the average conversion rate from someone reading an employer branding article to submitting an actual job application was less than 0.2%.

I started analysing why the conversion rate was so low and found that while articles explaining why people enjoy working at a certain company might be easy to read, to take it to the next stage the reader would have to click the job vacancies tab, find an open position, be convinced that they wanted to apply and then deliver an application and probably update their CV. There are lots of opportunities in such a process for the user to jump off.

Before starting Leadoo we created an interactive employer branding article for a company in Finland and were able to raise the conversion rate to 17%. That’s a huge increase – one out of five people started discussing with our bot and were converted.

We thought at first that Leadoo would be a niche recruitment solution, but quickly understood that what was happening with employer advertising also happens with content advertising. Most companies put out great articles listing five reasons why you should buy a certain product, but then the article ends and the user has to scroll back up and click on ‘contact us’ to take it further. Instead of you as a company being active and going after a client, you put the onus on site visitors to contact you, which, from my point of view, is insane.

Business Info: There are a lot of chatbots out there, how do yours differ from what’s already available?

Mikael da Costa: To date, chatbots have mainly been used for customer service purposes, to automate customer service behaviour. Leadoo is different because while 20% of our business comes from the customer service sector, 80% of what we do comes from lead generation.

With Leadoo, we have chatbots, which account for 20%-25% of our business, but also deeper, more interactive modules that companies can use on their websites – a modal bot, an innovate bot, a call back widget. Compared to a chatbot provider, Leadoo is more of a lead generation platform with various modules that make a company’s website more engaging and more interactive for visitors.

In 2014 or 2015, Arianna Huffington was in Finland speaking at a business forum where she was asked what made Huffington Post so different from struggling traditional media companies. She said that the biggest issue traditional media companies had was that they hadn’t yet realised that there are no passive newspaper readers anymore, that people want to engage and get involved. Just as there are no longer passive newspaper readers, I believe there are no longer passive website visitors either. If you look at a roof renovation website, for example, on some level you will be interested in that.

Imagine you are a retail store owner and you take out a huge newspaper advert. Because you expect it to attract many more clients to your store, you will bring in more staff to serve those clients. In the online world, a company can run a huge advertising campaign to bring people to the store, but there is no one actually taking care of them.

Then, if the newspaper campaign got 1,000 people to the store and only 10 people bought something, you wouldn’t be too happy with the results. What’s funny is that companies that spend a lot of money on online advertising are extraordinarily happy when 1,000 people go to their website and 10 people convert into a lead.

My question is why did 990 people who came to the site read something and not do anything? Typically, the answer is because the only action a person can take on a website is to fill out a call-back form and ask for someone to contact them.

Business Info: What’s the difference between the three modules you provide?

Mikael da Costa: Most of our customers use all of our modules. The chatbot is typically what we offer our clients for customer support – it’s like a chatbot on the bottom right corner of the page that pops up and offers different answers. Then we have an in-page bot, a highly content-specific chatbot that appears half-way down the content. Instead of having something pop-up in your face, so the first thing you do is close it, the in-page bot is part of the content and helps bring the content to life.

Take the example of a company offering demolition services. If someone is reading about those services, at some point in the middle of the text, the chatbot pops up and asks ‘It’s great that you are reading about demolition services, may I just ask what kind of demolition service you are looking for? We have demolition for offices, demolition for a private house and so on’. It is highly personalised to the visitor and can be modelled to ask the right questions at different points of the buying journey.

For me, good marketing has three elements: you need to capture the user’s attention; you need to personalise and win their trust; then you need to generate results to show that it actually works. The way the in-page bot pops up captures the user’s attention every time – it has a six times higher engagement rate to a discussion than a traditional chatbot (we have both so we can monitor that). Then it starts to win the user’s trust by personalising the engagement according to what they were interested in.

Then we have the modal bot, which is a more visual type of tool. We have clients who have used it to create a car builder, where you choose the number of doors, the colour, the brand and it makes everything visual.

Leadoo is not just a technology; it is a platform and that’s one of the things that differentiates us from competitors like US company Drift. When a client sets up with Drift, they basically get credentials and some intro videos and are asked to start building. With Leadoo, what happens next is our customer support will contact you. They will go through your goals together and the Leadoo team will then build the bot dialogues and optimise them on a monthly basis.

Leadoo’s customers don’t measure Leadoo’s success based on whether or not the technology works. Instead, they measure Leadoo on the conversion increase we are able to achieve. It’s like a full-service package; you get the technology and you get our full support in building and increasing the conversion rate.

Business Info: Typically, what sort of increase in conversions can people expect?

Mikael da Costa: It depends a lot on our clients. When it comes to recruitment, we have clients that have gained five times more applications or have got five times more conversions than before. But on average, I would say between 30% and 70%.

Lead chart
Lead chart

It’s a very hard question to answer because in the case of the construction and demolition company I referred to earlier, the landing page for its demolition service has a website visitor to lead conversion rate of roughly 2%, but its high power vacuuming service has a conversion rate of 40%. We started to investigate the difference between the two and found that the demolition service was getting a lot of visitors from organic traffic and other routes like SEO marketing from people who in most cases were just looking for a plot where there was a house to demolish. But with the high powered vacuuming service, most of the traffic was coming from Goolge Adverts, so the traffic was more qualified. That was the reason for the difference in conversion rates, not poor dialogues.