Drift’s Conversational Marketing and the Art of Here and Now

Thursday, January 17, 2019
Michael Zunenshine

What’s that everyone’s talking about?

Over 150,000 companies are getting in on the conversation, and they’re doing so with Drift, a conversational marketing platform. Forbes puts Drift in their top 100 cloud companies; LinkedIn has them as a top 50 startup.

But what exactly is conversational marketing and what makes it so great? Before getting into everything that Drift does, let’s explore a world without conversational marketing.

A world without Drift

Scenario 1: So you’re interested in buying a memory foam mattress, but you have a narrow staircase so you want to know exactly how the mattress would be delivered.

You go to a site like MikesMemoryFoam.com, and since you don’t find answers about deliveries, you fill out a contact form.

Congratulations, you have just become a lead for someone at Mike’s Memory Foam.

The problem is, now you wait. Probably a few days (almost 47 hours according to one study). More likely you don’t even make it into the lucky minority who ever get contacted (that’s 27% by the same study).

After a few days, you’ve likely found answers and bought your mattress elsewhere. Perhaps you wrote off Mike’s altogether. Could be you just changed your mind.

Either way, Mike’s Memory Foam just blew a lead (and those things ain’t cheap).

Scenario 2: You want to know if King Cobra snakes make good pets.

You visit SallysReptileKingdom.com, but you learn nothing about the danger levels of her snakes.

Again, instead of answers, you get a form. From experience, you know that forms might be a waste of time (see scenario 1).

So you move on.

Sally’s Reptile Kingdom didn’t create a lead, let alone close a deal.

Pardon our French

Both scenarios exhibit what we might call—pardon the vulgarity—the “F this Sh*t effect.” Not gonna call me back? F this sh*t. Gonna shove a form in my face? F. This. Sh*t.

Drift gets the frustration of “FTS” for both the potential customer, but more importantly, for the company failing to turn over leads.

They do this firstly by harnessing the incredible power of automated conversation marketing.

Image credit: Drift

“Conversation marketing” is not unlike the popular messaging app platform, Intercom, which offers several different messaging products—for marketing, sales, or customer service—in one platform designed to improve and personalize customer communications.

Drift’s foundation for conversational marketing is to get rid of the black hole of forms and opt for chatbots instead, which in turn totally re-thinks the landing page.

Conversational marketing takes the lead

Landing pages

Here’s a third scenario courtesy of Drift: You land on a website, either via an ad or a search result, and the first thing you see, in fact, everything you see, is a greeting and an invitation to have a conversation.

You’re presented with the opportunity to instantly ask a question or explain what you want.

On the company’s end, this sort of landing page cuts down the workflow of designers, writers, and coders who once had to make endless iterations based on factors like different promotions, time of year, or location of the visitor.

Drift’s method is simultaneously one single landing page for all as well as a personalized landing page experience for each.

Also, that chatbot doing the greeting isn’t just a cute little digital robot receptionist, whose purpose is to wow you at the mouth of a pipeline. Drift’s chatbot, called LeadBot, has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

Lead qualifier

Lead qualifier assesses the seriousness of the visitor and qualifies that contact accordingly. For example, someone who answers LeadBot’s greeting with “just browsing” might get a lower sales priority than someone who immediately has a question about pricing.

Because what human sales rep really has the time and energy to deal with every single random contact that happens to surf through a site?


LeadBot acts as a pretty sophisticated meeting scheduler. Once the seriousness of a lead is assessed, and which sales rep (or department) should handle it, a calendar pops up for the lead to pick a time for a phone call, a demo or even an IRL handshake.

One click syncs a Google or Office 365 Calendar right into the Drift dashboard.

Salespeople get their calendars populated with pre-qualified leads without the fuss of back-and-forth coordination.


Drift has two separate email platforms for marketing and sales, but that doesn’t mean their departments work in isolation. In fact, keeping marketing and sales emails apart means they work better together.

For example, a customer receives an email from a company’s marketing department promoting their product—interested, they follow a link to set up a meeting or demo with a sales rep. Now, how sloppy would it seem if, before that meeting, the customer still received marketing emails asking if they wanted to set up a meeting?

Drift’s separate email platforms avoid that problem. Plus, there’s even more to Drift’s email powers.

Their outbound email module (installed with a Chrome extension) means that following the email’s link leads directly to a personalized chat, where all the available contact info is already waiting for the rep on the other end.

And if a rep isn’t there, chatbots are on call 24/365. Of course, these bots have also been primed with only as much info about the visiting contact as possible.

Now, now, now!

All of these features fall in line with one of their most in-your-face slogans: “Drift connects you now with the people who want to buy now.”

That is to say: Quickly cull the serious leads from the time-wasters, get them in conversation immediately to find out what they want, put them in touch with the best rep ASAP.

No more jumping through hoops; no more dragging sales cycles. Because wait times equal dropouts, and seriously, FTS!

There are plenty of other features in the Drift package, which range from free to $50 to $500 a month for teams, and $1,500 to $5,000 for companies and enterprises respectively (with discounts for annual rates).

Account based marketing (ABM) is all about what Drift calls CQL, or conversationally-qualified leads. These are VIPs, leads who definitely are in the market to purchase what a company is selling.

This feature sends notifications when leads land on a site, and uses Intel to glean as much info about the visitor even if they arrived via a totally anonymous source.

ABM also facilitates the syncing of all one’s contacts from Salesforce.

Playbooks are prepackaged campaigns that marketing uses to automate the sales funnel so that things like demos can be booked right away in the marketing stage, freeing up sales to take over at the right time and not a second too soon. This means less wasted time for sales.

The Drift Assistant is the feature that could be pulled right out of the CRM playbook and given a Drift spin. It’s an AI-powered tool that helps manage email replies, prepare notes for coming meetings, keep contact data up to date, and automates away a whole bunch of other “digital busywork.”

Reporting achieves what many marketers deem the impossible: connecting market tactics to actual revenue. Normally there’s a foggy labyrinth twixt the two that only valiant sales staff dare to navigate.

Drift characterizes this as a “war between marketing and sales” and vows to end it. Drift’s reporting features represent top-grade marketing-to-sales metrics that cover conversational stats in terms of ROI.

Tossing out rusty pipes

It’s no secret there is a whole lot of effort going into marketing campaigns. If a customer expresses interest but is then faced with a generic landing page, annoying forms, or worse, a long response time—all that effort can prove to be a total waste.

Drift doesn’t want your company to waste any effort or time. They believe marketing’s efforts should lead instead to a personalized experience which in turn connects qualified leads to ready-to-serve sales teams.

Drift encourages companies to think beyond the sales funnel model completely.

Their copious case studies prove that there’s a new path to conversion: It starts with a conversation.