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How Drift is Transforming B2B and B2C Conversations with Artificial Intelligence
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By: Paul Roetzer

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April 10th, 2018

How Drift is Transforming B2B and B2C Conversations with Artificial Intelligence

Drift is a conversational marketing and sales platform with $107 million in funding. The four-year-old company is streamlining how meetings are booked and conversations are started. Drift uses artificial intelligence to turn website traffic into qualified leads. All you have to do is install their chatbot on your website to get started.

Drift-Marketing-Platform-Using-AI-Daniel-MurphyTheir competitive advantage? Connecting with sales-qualified leads in real-time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We spoke with Drift marketing manager Daniel Murphy (LinkedIn) to learn how the platform uses AI to deliver exceptional results for marketers and sales professionals.

In a single sentence or statement, describe Drift.

Drift is a conversational marketing and sales platform. It is the new way businesses buy from businesses.

How does Drift use artificial intelligence (i.e. machine learning, natural language generation, natural language processing, deep learning, etc.)?

First of all, we have chatbots that connect with calendars, pull availability, route leads based on rules, and interact with websites based on targeting. It's a light form of AI, but it's still very powerful.

We also use machine learning and natural language processing to review replies to sales emails and automatically opt people out. For instance, if someone replies "I don't want any more emails," Drift is intelligent enough to pull them out of future emails.

And that's the way it should be. Sales reps shouldn't be wasting time manually unsubscribing someone. They should be able to focus on selling. That's where AI is helping Drift customers save time.

What do you see as the limitations of artificial intelligence as it exists today?

I know we (everyone) are just at the beginning with AI. At Drift, we're definitely in the early days of how AI can power sales and marketing. We have big plans to streamline selling, make customer experiences better, and make it easier for people to sell and buy.

What do you see as the future potential of artificial intelligence in marketing and sales?

Well, there are many areas where marketing and sales can be improved. But it starts with simple stuff.

Think about what we've done so far with our MeetingBot. Just streamlining the demo booking process means Drift customers, like SalesRabbit, can book 40% more meetings. Our customers now react with, "Why did we ever do this differently with forms and emails?" But that's how technology works, right? You look back and think, how did we ever live without smartphones or GPS?

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What makes Drift different than competing or traditional solutions?

There are two ways to answer that question: Drift the company and Drift the product.

From a company perspective, this is the most mission-driven team I've ever worked with and I'd guess will ever work with. The collaboration, team-focused problem solving and attitude of each individual is why as a company we can execute so successfully on our goals.

As a product, we have built something our customers really want. And that wasn't accidental. We work very closely with our customers to make sure what we build reflects what they want and need. That's our secret sauce (and it's no secret). Sales and marketing technologies is a crowded space. The way we've been able to get ahead is staying closer to the customer than any of our competitors.

Who are your prototype customers in terms of company size and industries?

We're a great fit for companies that need rapid growth. Ultimately, that's what Drift can do—help companies achieve rapid growth. So B2B startups are a great fit for Drift and we've seen a lot of traction there. But we've also had some really big eCommerce and Fortune 500 companies, as well as higher education institutions, adopt Drift and conversational marketing.

What are the primary use cases of Drift for marketers and sales professionals?

The primary use case is using Drift for demand generation. Most of our customers are seeing success generating new leads through real-time messaging, booking more qualified meetings for their sales team with chatbots, and closing deals faster because of Drift platform features like email that connect to messaging or one-click meetings.

Any other thoughts on AI in marketing, or advice for marketers who are just starting to explore the possibilities of AI?

Applying AI to marketing is definitely the hot new topic in marketing technology, but I actually want to preach some caution when it comes to how people are using it.

For one, AI is not going to replace marketers, not anytime soon, at least. The big benefit of AI is creating better customer experiences. AI does not encompass the type of critical thinking or creativity that marketers need for their jobs.

So, while it's great for helping marketers do their job, I don't think it will do their job entirely. If AI can help with some of the experience problems that marketers are dealing with (email frequency, list segmentation, communicating at the right time on the right channel), that's great and means marketers can focus on core marketing disciplines again: copywriting, design, positioning, and coming up with creative campaigns.

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About Paul Roetzer

Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint and The Marketing Agency Blueprint, and creator of The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute and Marketing Score. Full bio.

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