What is Conversational Marketing? And What Is Drift?

Whether you’re a marketer or a marketing-savvy business-owner, you’ve probably heard the term Conversational Marketing bandied about. It was coined by the Founders of Drift, the martech company that has transformed the chatbot from a customer-service and support function into a tool that has the power to significantly speed up the sales process.

What is conversational marketing? 

Conversational marketing is the process of using instant messaging (via a mix of both live chat and chatbots) in order to engage prospects with your brand. The goal is to actively engage users in real time rather than delaying responses via lead capture forms. The big idea of conversational marketing is to empower business owners to respond to new customer enquiries in the moment. Conversational marketing tools such as Drift are used to create pop-up instant messages which appear as you browse a website, answering your questions in real-time. You can set up customised chatbots for multiple pages of your website, programmed to ask the right questions and give relevant responses according to the page a visitor is viewing. This completely removes the need for contact forms - where potential customers have to wait for an email response or a call-back. Instead, their burning questions are answered instantly.  

Conversational Marketing is powerful because it taps into the way customers want to communicate. Martech Advisor's research shows that 85% of consumers would rather have a one on one conversation than fill out a form on a website. And in eliminating the need for forms, prospects are also far less likely to fall through the cracks. In short, conversational marketing tightens up the sales process - as Drift explains here:

"Conversational marketing is the fastest way to move buyers through your marketing and sales funnels through the power of real-time conversations. It builds relationships and creates authentic experiences with customers and buyers...Instead of forcing people to go through lead capture forms and wait days for a response, conversational marketing uses targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage with people when they’re on your website."

Back in 2011, the Harvard Business Review found that firms who contacted customers within an hour of receiving a query were seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker than those who waited longer. In fact, they were 60 times more likely to end up with a qualified lead than companies who waited 24 hours or longer. Fast forward nine years, and an hour now feels too long. According to HubSpot, 82% of consumers rate an immediate response as important or very important when they have a marketing or sales question. 

Chatbots give the feel of instant messaging, and the work of an experienced receptionist - with the added bonus of filtering out time wasters and those who are likely to be a bad fit for your business. 

What is Drift?

Drift converts inbound prospects into qualified leads by routing them through playbooks on a chatbot. Playbooks act like a script to take website visitors through a conversation via a chatbot. The chatbot quickly identifies the prospect’s needs, and then connects them to a human. You can choose different playbooks to serve visitors depending on which page of your website they are on, so that the conversation feels completely relevant to their behaviour. For instance, on your homepage you might choose to use a welcome message playbook so that you can personally greet visitors to your website both in and out of office hours. Here's an example from Drift's own homepage:


out of office

A separate playbook on your pricing page will help you to reach out to visitors in the moment they are considering a purchase. The chatbot will ask them a series of questions to better understand their needs, before connecting them directly with a sales rep:


Drift can also detect when a prospect has visited the same page multiple times but not interacted. If someone is on a high-intent page such as your pricing page, this is a strong indicator they are ready to make a purchase - but there could be something holding them back. Drift can ask the right questions in the moment to engage them:

drift 2

The beauty of Drift’s technology is that its bots are super-speedy, and the possibilities for personalisation of conversations and content on Drift are second to none. Drift enables sales teams to communicate with customers where they are, reducing frustration and removing friction. In short, Drift is a paradox – a marketing automation tool that makes for more human interactions with customers. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, particularly because Drift is best known for its bots, but as soon as you start to use it, its human value as a sales tool becomes obvious. Drift brings businesses closer to their customers at the moment the customer is most likely to buy.

Drift’s lead response report in 2018, revealed that when the company surveyed business owners, a staggering 58% of form leads were not followed-up on. When the conversation happens in Drift, which can be configured to integrate fully with HubSpot and other sales platforms, all the information on a lead appears in one place, making it ultra-easy to follow-up.

How we saw profit within 3 hours of installing Drift 

We experienced the transformative power of Drift as a sales tool ourselves, reaping the benefits pretty much as soon as the ink was dry on our Drift Partner agreement. We were delighted (and to be honest, a bit surprised) to see a profit from the platform less than three hours after getting started.

Here’s what happened:

  • 12pm: turned Drift on and configured Drift Video
  • 1pm: incoming conversation via the website requesting a quote
  • 1.30pm: sent the quote out and included a Drift Video in the email
  • 2.09pm: prospect starts a conversation on the Drift Video
  • 2:15pm: based on the conversation, we change the quote and share it back over the chat interface
  • 2:20pm: the quote is signed, to a value that more than recoups our investment in Drift

How Drift has changed our sales process

Because we often send a video along with a quote (using Vidyard), and having been convinced about the power of video as a marketing tool for a while, I was sceptical about how much difference Drift would make. But it transpires that being able to talk to a prospect in real time whilst they watch a video designed for them, is a game-changer. A chat pane appears next to the video automatically, and the prospect is able to pause it and ask us about the specifics there and then. Because we are all so used to using messaging services (from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to Slack), this type of interaction feels natural. Together, the combination of a personalised video and real time chat alongside it, with an actual human at the other end who is able to provide the customer with answers to their burning questions, turns this piece of martech into a killer sales tool.

Another improvement is the granular possibility for configuration of bot text in Drift, so when a returning prospect (a customer who had moved from one company to another), reappeared on our site, the bot recognised him and greeted him with a personal welcome message. In this way, Drift facilitates a personal chat experience that is the antithesis of faceless customer service.

For ESM Inbound, Drift also means we can add significant value to customers using varied CRMs. With Drift, we can support conversational marketing integration with customers using Marketo, Salesforce, Eloqua and even Wordpress. Drift is ultra-easy to configure, and our dedicated onboarding team can map sales bot playbooks for you, customised to meet the needs of your customers.

Drift is not for everyone

We’re not saying everyone needs Drift. For the vast majority of our HubSpot customers, the constantly improving chat tools on HubSpot are more than adequate. But for those using other CRMs or marketing automation platforms, Drift is a quick win. It requires minimal fuss to set up, as all it needs is a simple bit of code to be added to the back end of your site. It is easy to customise and simple to use, and the results speak for themselves. At its heart, there is a simple truth behind Drift’s offering - that all good relationships start with a conversation. If you're looking to reduce friction in your sales process by answering your customers's questions instantly and communicating in a more human way whilst capturing intelligent data, conversational marketing and Drift could be the perfect combination for your business. 

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