COVID-19 has changed our lives in previously unimaginable ways. From statewide shutdowns to social distancing to the new rules of safe grocery shopping, no aspect of life has gone unaffected.
In the business world, the multitude of “lockdown” orders has sent many companies scrambling to adjust to a remote business model, often with very little warning. While Zoom memes have provided some much-needed humor, the reality of having to shift an entire company from a traditional to a dispersed workflow is a really big challenge.
ConnectWise is a platform built for the IT professional. Our team of 2,400 is dedicated to helping IT service companies – primarily managed service providers (MSPs) – manage the technology needs of small businesses around the world.
We implemented Drift on our website in early December of last year for a number of strategic reasons. But we had no way of anticipating that Drift would become a veritable lifeline for our business and the customers we serve.
The pandemic has created an all-hands-on-deck situation. So many businesses are struggling. We feel very fortunate that we implemented Drift when we did because it has been instrumental in helping us successfully manage the unexpected influx of traffic that started hitting our website in mid-March (right around when the pandemic began to get really serious in the United States). Drift has enabled us to keep up with unprecedented demand under very difficult circumstances, without compromising on customer experience.
The Initial Strategy – Improving How We Interact with Customers
As the marketing systems analyst at ConnectWise, my role is managing our marketing technology stack including automation, reporting, and so forth. I also now manage everything related to Drift, working with our marketing team to determine content and messaging, and then with our sales team to get everyone onboard with our strategy.
When I joined the company in the summer of 2019, I was already on a mission to create a better interactive environment for our prospects – something that would help us deliver a more intuitive and friction-free experience.
Our company and range of products is pretty complex. This means that our website is both broad and deep. Sometimes, new visitors aren’t sure exactly where to go to get the information they need. I was looking for a solution that would help us surface the right paths for prospects. Drift turned out to be that solution.
Before we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, our initial goals for Drift were to help us:
Capture buckets of people who were slipping through the cracks. We wanted to create different avenues to reach out to specific groups of people in a timely and relevant manner. We wanted to be able to respond in real-time at the peak of a prospect’s interest.
Change the way we leverage our sales team and engage customers. We wanted a tool that would help us scale our sales conversations without necessarily needing to scale our sales team.
Reduce the number of forms on our site. We wanted to give prospects more organic ways of interacting with us besides the traditional web form.
The Real-life Use Cases – Responding to a Pandemic
We currently have three use cases for Drift. Each one serves a unique purpose. The first is our high-intent trial pages, on which we see a 5% conversion rate with Drift. The second is a homepage chatbot designed to serve a navigational role.
This bot helps us break our site down to a modular level so we can direct customers to the content they need in as few steps as possible (and with no hunting and pecking on their end). The homepage chatbot also provides visitors with direct links to relevant resources including blogs, podcasts, guides, and so forth. Finally, visitors also have the option to connect with sales.
Drift’s flexibility made it easy for us to quickly update our homepage chatbot to reflect the current times. As the pandemic became a more prevalent and urgent reality, we edited the opening question of the homepage chatbot to ask if the visitor is looking specifically for remote work solutions due to COVID-19. For the duration of the phase 1 version of the bot, 73% of the people who interacted with this chatbot were, in fact, on our website for exactly that reason. Knowing the context of each person’s visit helps us get them to the relevant information more quickly, which is good for us and good for the customers.
Our “workhorse” use case for Drift is on our Control product, which includes two remote-focused solutions – one for support and one for unattended access, both critical to our MSP customers.
We actually have four separate playbooks for this product (depending on which specific page the visitor is on – trial, demo, or other), but they all follow a similar flow. These playbooks are designed to help new customers with critical tasks:
- Determining the most appropriate trial version
- Getting fast, accurate answers to questions about pricing, integrations, demos, etc.
- Connecting with our sales team (via chat or by scheduling a meeting)
- Connecting to the support team via ConnectWise’s existing support channel
The Outcome – Achieving What We Hoped for and More
I’ve already mentioned the 5% conversion rate Drift has earned on our high-intent pages. Our homepage chatbot has logged 639 conversations in the first month, and the Control bots have generated more than 2,000 conversations in the same period.
Overall, including the chatbots on our Control product pages, we have seen a 500% increase in the number of conversations we’re able to have now via Drift as compared to traditional channels (inbound calls, forms, webinars, distributors, etc.). This means we have leaped from an average of 40-50 conversations per day to an average of 250-300. In fact, we booked so many meetings through Drift over the first 30 days that we had to reduce the time per initial meeting from 30 minutes to 15 minutes just to be able to keep up with the volume.
Drift is not only helping us meet our original objectives, it is also allowing us to adapt seamlessly to the major and unexpected uptick in site traffic. Having an automated tool has been incredibly helpful because we simply didn’t have the manpower in place to handle the demands of the current situation.
At this point, we are actually looking into bringing on more sales reps to help us man our live chat. This is a good problem to have. Meanwhile, having Drift in place has alleviated a lot of the work that our people would otherwise be struggling to process on their own. Drift has been an incredibly valuable asset – helping us maintain our ability to provide critical services to our customers and prospects under extraordinary conditions.
In short, Drift has allowed us to handle more traffic without needing a corresponding increase in human intervention. The chatbot is answering questions for our customers – simultaneously taking work off our plates while keeping customers very happy. Drift allows us to respond in real-time, which is what people need right now in this time of great upheaval and uncertainty. It’s giving us the ability to adapt to the changing times and offer our customers options for how they interact with us.
Ultimately, Drift has empowered us to provide better service and a better experience to our customers in their time of need. And that’s really what matters most, because we’re all in this together.
Michael Clavelle is a Marketing Systems Analyst based out of Tampa, Florida.