What Is Drift?

Digital Marketing Direction is all about helping our clients grow in innovative, customer-centric ways, a.k.a. “inbound.” Inbound is the opposite of interruption marketing. So, a natural next step after personalization and automation on businesses' websites is live chat. Below is our exclusive Q&A with Jared Fuller, Senior Director of Partnerships at Drift, to help explain more about their company and their leading conversational marketing platform.

What is Drift?

drift logoDrift is the new way in which businesses buy from other businesses and one of the fastest growing B2B SaaS companies ever. With Drift on your website, any conversation can be a conversion. Instead of traditional marketing and sales platforms that rely on forms and follow ups, Drift connects your business with the best leads in real-time and leverages best-in-class bot technology to book meetings on your behalf from your site.

Why was it started? 

As our CEO David Cancel has said, "The way we’ve been taught to market and sell doesn’t match how we actually communicate today… the tools marketers and sales use are perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists." We really believe that the best customer experiences come from companies like Apple, Amazon, and Home Depot. But somehow, in Business to Business (B2B) companies, we've lost our way. Making people go through many hurdles, such as contact forms, only to be followed up with later no longer makes sense especially in a commoditized world. There's almost always a product or service for everything and the best customer experiences will end up winning. That's why we decided to create the category of Conversational Marketing. A category we pioneered and even Gartner has taken notice. 

Which types of businesses are the best fit for the technology?

B2B companies with at least three full time sales people and even larger organizations looking to optimize their inbound funnel and conversions. You have to want conversations because that's what your customers want: real-time help in order to buy. We're typically not the best fit for businesses that sell directly to consumers, retail, or e-commerce. Although we've been seeing a lot of folks use Drift to solve problems we never anticipated, I'd say the B2B sales and marketing use case is the best fit.

What's the company's relationship with HubSpot?

The Drift Story is an interesting one. Drift was somewhat "born" out of HubSpot. David Cancel and Elias Torres, our founders, sold their company Performable to HubSpot back in 2011. David ended up becoming HubSpot's Chief Product Officer and successfully launched the now famous HubSpot CRM public with Elias and the HubSpot team. They were a big part of the HubSpot family. But eventually they saw an opportunity to create a new category in messaging for businesses. They'd been building marketing and sales software for a decade and felt that the traditional funnel optimized for the business but not for the consumer. They left in 2015 to start Drift and the rest is history. We still have a great relationship with HubSpot today and offer integrations with their core products.

How does Drift differ from HubSpot Sales Pro and conversations?

Drift is all about conversations. Whether you have people working chat or you don't. We focus on leveraging bots, lead-routing, segmentation, and targeting at a level no one else has thought about for website chat. We even go so far as to bring insights into what target accounts are visiting your website and allowing you to provide a personalized experience for those visitors. Drift goes beyond basic chat and messaging with our ABM products and advanced targeting for target accounts. Like HubSpot Sales Pro, Drift also has email sequences, calendar features, and an email extension. But we think about those tools as an extension of conversations—putting the customer first—instead of conversations being an extension of email or sales tools.

Is the AI technology in every version of the software?

There are a lot of companies touting "AI" or "Machine Learning" in their products. Good for them, but we've found those labels don't often meet the expectations they bring. At Drift, we actually recommend using our Leadbot and workflow builders that create simple and clear customer journeys and routing. In those scenarios, we're not actually touching Natural Language Processing (NLP) or any AI. You can create keywords to build workflows too that helps to process language. Our help tool, Drift Help, can also recommend support articles to customers asking support questions. Our help tool is free, but (for the foreseeable future) you'll see us shy away from fancy labels like AI.

How do you build the conversations that don't use AI?

It's all about mapping out the customer journey and building workflows. Our new Leadbot 2.0 really takes this up a notch with a visual workflow builder that's highly intuitive. Sometimes you have sales engaged people coming to the website. Sometimes you have unqualified traffic. Sometimes you have an existing customer that has support questions. Our workflow tools empower you to visually map the journey to give the best customer experience possible while simultaneously route the conversation or auto-book a meeting.

Is Drift just used for sales or other functions like customer support also?

Drift is the conversational platform. You might use other tools like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zendesk. That's great. We integrate with all of them and empower people to deliver conversations that match the new way people want to interact with your business, on a more human level. Even if the bot is handling a conversation, their expectations are managed, and they are provided a better experience. That said, there are website tools built into Drift, sales toolsemail toolsemail signaturesAccount Based Marketing tools, and support tools. We fundamentally believe conversations are the now and future drivers of business and we are therefore much more than a chat product. We're obsessed with customers over here. So much so that we release a brand-new product every single month. Yes, you read that right. Every. Single. Month. I've never seen a company move this fast. We're tied extremely close to the customer through our products and that's resulted in unprecedented speed and a relentless focus on customer delight.

What's the number one thing that surprises most people about the tool or company?

I think we see people buy into the vision a lot. But it's the results that blow them away. If you're serious about taking your company to the next level and are in growth mode, we've seen double, triple, and even quadruple lead conversion rates. The average increase from website visitor to a lead after a Drift implementation is a bump of 1.5%. If you're converting only 1% of website visitors to leads and then, after Drift, you are then converting 2.5% that's pretty astounding. I don't know of a B2B tool in the past decade that has been able to deliver those type of results in the same quarter you buy it and implement it. It's a new era for B2B marketing and sales for certain.

To check out a demonstration of the platform, go to drift.com. You can also learn more about HubSpot's free similar conversations tool here

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Posted by Jared Fuller

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