Intercom Case Study: Using Intercom Live Chat for Sales and Marketing.

Last updated on June 13th, 2023

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

This is a case study for those learning about Intercom and covers how to use Intercom to email out a short term special deal and manage the consequent incoming requests to generate $2,000 in 2 days. The case study is from the experience of the SAAS email startup written in March 2017.

Related: See an overview of Intercom which explains what it is, the key features and how to use it and we also cover the in-depth benefits of Intercom.


  1. Our level of experience with Intercom and what we aimed to do
  2. The email templates we had prepared
  3. How we sent those emails out using Intercom
  4. How Intercom makes it easy to manage the response to those emails
  5. The hidden benefit of Intercom that you only realise afterwards
  6. What Intercom really costs
  7. A full set of real Intercom onboarding templates

1. Our level of experience with Intercom and what we aimed to do.

We’ve had experience using Intercom for a few years on 2 different startups.

  1. Upscope which is like screen sharing but instant, you click** once** to see their browser and then click buttons for them on their screen to guide new users onboard.
  2. which is an email marketing tool for finding and verifying emails of your leads.

This case study focuses on Anymailfinder but we’ve linked our email templates for Upscope at the bottom as they give you further insight into the onboarding sales process.

What we aimed to do

We’d been going through the motions with AnymailFinder and we decided to push it along by sending 2 new email offers, one was simple and the other was aimed at an underlying fear we suspected users have.

2. The emails we sent. One crazy, one normal.

We sent two emails. A slightly crazy email that dealt with the fear some people have in asking for exactly what they want. We gave them permission to bargain. We also sent a more straight forward offer of doubling their credits if they purchased within a limited time period.

Email 1: ‘Too shy to ask’ crazy email which directly generated $500 within 2 days

Subject: Too shy to ask

Hi John,

I get it, I also sign up for services and just go with whatever price they give. Well, not any more. My Indian bargaining genetics are screaming for a bargain. If you want a customised plan then say what you want :).

This is how the conversation will go:

“I want 3,500 credits per month and I want them for $63 NOW!”

“Hell no buddy, we’re not that soft, we can do it for $70”



If our current plans don’t suit you, then ask for what you prefer.

Thank you

Note: We got a great reaction to this. People loved it and we continued to send it for a while until we came up with a better email that showed them how to use the service fully with existing plans. It works but other things work better.

Email 2: ‘Permission to double your credits’ which directly generated $1,000 in 2 days.

Subject: Permission to double your credits

Hi John

The current 10,000 credits plan is $150. Anyone buying that plan will get double the credits even if you only use it for 1 month.

So that’s 20,000 credits for the price of 10,000.

This offer will run for a limited period of time. To get it, make your purchase here: and we’ll add 10,000 credits later that same day.

Thank you,

Additional $500+ in related sales.

Not everyone went for the deal or bargained but simply sending emails wakes people up sometimes and we had additional sales of over $500.

3. How we sent emails from intercom

Intercom has to have a list of our user’s email addresses and does that itself.

Integrating your existing database with intercom is not some hugely complicated task. We have our users in our own database, when one of them signs up / logs in, this information is passed into the intercom javascript code as tags. It then builds up a database as our users use the site. There is additional syncing but this is our main way of getting users into intercom.

Intercom has an engage module for sending emails

Intercom has 3 main modules (ok, there is a 4th but really it only feels like 3). Respond, Engage and Educate.

The respond module is made of chat and allows setting up of automated messages to anonymous users.

The engage module sends campaigns of automated emails to signed up users to convert them into customers and help them use the service. Have a look at an entire email campaign laid out as a template you can use here.

The educate module lets us build up educational articles to insert into responses and acts as our help section.

We set up a new manual email

Within engage module you can set up a full campaign of automated emails or send one time manual messages. In this case we sent a couple of manual emails.


We filtered people to make sure it’s not sent to the wrong people

Important step. You don’t want to send a manual message to everyone. We can apply rules and filter down people e.g. all the people who signed up in the last 30 days, are not already paying and have tried the demo version.


We wrote the emails using intercom’s template and chose when it should be sent.

Intercom has very simple clean editing tool where you can write your email and include an unsubscribe link with one click. This is how it looks as you type it up.


We chose to deliver the email only within their local office hours.

We figure it’s best to send it some time during their working day. Ideally Tuesday or Wednesday early morning but we can’t always control our desire to get things going right now ?


Choose the delivery time

We sent it and watched the stats

As soon as you send it you can see the stats coming in. As we set the delivery time to be their local office hours, not everyone gets the email straight away. As well as delivery and open rates you will see click through rates and how many completed the goal of making a purchase.


4. How intercom makes it enjoyable to manage the response.

The first emailed replies to our ‘too shy to ask’ appeared in our intercom feed.

The list of emails and chats all appear down the left hand side. We try and clear this feed each day by answering queries and closing the chats. It’s a todo list.


Below is an example early response to one of our emails.

Key points:

  1. Emails and chats all look the same to us as they appear in a single intercom feed.
  2. All communication from one customer is in that feed even if they switch from chat to emailing us.
  3. We’re less distracted when not having to switch from app to app and it feels clean.

Many of the first responses were like ‘Great email!’. Shortly after that there were some requests to bargain with us. Then the sales came in.


The first chat replies appeared

People see an email and don’t sometimes reply to that email. Instead, they click a link in that email, come to our website and then write a message in the chat box. However, as above, it’s all just in one feed so we barely distinguish between emails and chat, it’s all part of the same conversation and we can track back.

We deal with replies as a team

While chatting to a customer, we can also pass messages to other team members silently in the background. Here I’m telling Joe that we seem to get a lot of enquiries about a direct verification service, so maybe it’s time to build one.

On the left hand side you can see the names that intercom makes up for anonymous users like ‘Turquoise Rhine from New Delhi’.


Chatting to Joe silently in the background using the ‘internal note’ feature.

We insert educational articles to save lots of time on explanations

Some questions just keep coming up and sometimes writing the answer takes up time so of course we’d like to send a canned response. The ‘education’ module helps greatly. It lets you insert articles into the chat and builds a help / FAQ equivalent section which is great for SEO and customers can search that section themselves.


When someone has a question that we have an educational article for, we click one button and insert it. Reduces support time in half!

That’s from the help section that the education module automatically builds when you create educational articles. Customers can choose to search for answers themselves.

We used Upscope to see their screen and support them by highlighting an area of the screen to guide them there.


Highlighting the single search feature for a user to direct them to it

Ever dealt with a non-tech user for an hour? They hate having to be a burden and it’s a real struggle for us guiding them through something with text only. One hour of that can take up half a days energy.

Upscope is something we built over a year ago (originally under a different name) and lets us see their screen and even take control to guide them through the site. Even though we only have 2 or 3 simple main features, some people still have problems. We can’t imagine what it’s like for more complicated sites. Actually we can, we recently tried wordpress!

Upscope is integrated into intercom just by doing a copy and paste of the javascript. A link then appears next to each person’s profile in intercom.


We click that link and we can see their screen even when they’re on mobile as in the case below. We see what they see and click on the screen to highlight an area or even guide the mouse directly with intercom acting as our chat tool.

Creating a link from intercom to our admin panel means we switch to their account details in one click.

The offer was to double their credits so we actually needed to double their credits. We did not have this automated, we simply manually did it as the payments came in. We previously integrated a link to our admin panel directly into intercom for each person’s profile. Small changes like this make a lot of difference. We use that link a dozen times a day.


Did you see. I told a lie. I said I’ll do it in one minute and it actually took 6. Shame on me, shame! We use this link many times a day and it’s pretty essential to how we support people.

5. What’s the hidden benefit you don’t realise until after using intercom?

Organisation gives us confidence to do more offers faster.

Live chat tools like this, where all conversations are in one feed, help give us confidence in launching new offers and features. If the replies were chaotic then we’d be delayed by doubts each time and put off the process.

Team feedback and discussion is based on real data and we improve revenue in 1000 small smart steps.

We are learning at a rapid rate. We try things and straight away we’ll get a response which we can manage and view as a team. This helps us adjust parts of the site based on real feedback and we’re in tune when we decide on things.

6. What is intercom currently costing us and what’s the return on investment?

The current cost is $450 per month for 3 modules and 7522 core users.

Intercom charges based on the number of people you have and the modules you use. We routinely clear the intercom database for customers that show little or no intention to use the product. It’s possible some companies would not do this as there is hope the old customers could be turned around but we’d like to spend more time with people who do show some need for it.

We’re currently paying $450 using 3 main modules with 7522 users — the modules we use are Respond, Engage and Educate (they get renamed every few months but it’s always the same 3 modules)

Responsible for 60%+ of overall monthly revenue directly from chatting

Overall, we think that live chat was responsible for around 60% of our total revenue (maybe more but certainly around 60%). We could have simply put up a ‘contact us for support’ but it would not have had the same impact, as we know from experience.

This one process of sending emails covered our entire live chat costs for 4 months+ and it’s only been a couple of days.

7. Understand further by looking at a real Intercom email campaign

The automated emails module of Intercom is a huge part of why companies use and stick to Intercom.

Once set up, they’ll drip email users to educate and convert them into buyers. They also encourage conversation and thankfully all the responses are in that one central feed.

See the full onboarding emails campaign that Upscope uses with Intercom to inform and persuade clients to buy a product from sign up, through set up, trial and purchase.

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

Pardeep overlooks growth at Upscope and loves writing about SaaS companies, customer success and customer experience.