What to Look for in a Conversation Automation Solution

By Aurelia Solomon
Cover of report: Forrester New Wave

The landscape of B2B marketing and sales is always changing, but every once in a while it experiences a kind of evolutionary leap.

COVID-19 was the catalyst for one such leap. The pandemic forced companies to accelerate their digital transformation. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, GTM teams have had to quickly find innovative ways to meet buyers where they are with personalized digital experiences.

Since that initial pivot, buyers and sellers have become accustomed to the many benefits of operating in a digital-first world. At this point, there’s no going back. This is the new normal.

All this change defined a new, emerging market: conversation automation solutions (CAS). This prompted Forrester to release The Forrester New Wave™: Conversation Automation Solutions Q3, 2022. The report helps sales and marketing professionals identify solutions they should evaluate to fuel their go-to-market (GTM) success. As the report states, “The ability to automate conversational interactions using chatbots and virtual assistants (VAs) is one of many business requirements for organizations looking to enable the modern B2B buyer and workplace.”

We are humbled to be recognized as a Leader in the CAS segment. And we’re even more excited that Forrester’s in-depth evaluation of our product aligns with what our 5,000+ incredible customers have experienced first-hand.

Behind the Report

The Forrester New Wave report is an evaluation of the ten top products in an emerging market, and this is the first time they’ve done one on conversation automation solutions (CAS).

Each of the 10 vendors Forrester selected for inclusion in the report had to have three characteristics:

  • A solution that is sold as a standalone conversation automation offering
  • A total solution revenue of at least $5 million
  • Current B2B customers represent at least 25% of their entire customer base

Forrester then ranked those 10 selected vendors by giving one of four scores—differentiated, on par, needs improvement, or no capability — on 10 evaluation criteria:

  1. Use cases
  2. Conversation design
  3. Conversation delivery
  4. Conversation agents
  5. Orchestration
  6. Human-machine collaboration
  7. Performance insights
  8. Product vision
  9. Roadmap
  10. Market approach

Finally, Forrester rounded out the assessment by doing a 2-hour briefing with each evaluated vendor, and multiple customer interviews.

The CAS Playing Field and Where Drift Fits In

What exactly is a conversation automation solution?

In short, it’s a solution that uses AI, automation and/or integrations to facilitate real-time and asynchronous conversations between GTM teams and their buyers across the full customer lifecycle.

Or, as the Forrester report explains, “Vendors in this category offer comprehensive and purpose-built conversational solutions that anticipate and address the needs of B2B organizations interacting with diverse and empowered audiences through the customer lifecycle.”

The current market for CAS is characterized by:

  • The facilitation of 2-way conversations
  • Automation and artificial intelligence to scale
  • Extensibility into the broader B2B technology ecosystem

Drift was named a Leader in the CAS market and cited as a “best fit for companies focused on enabling their buyers digitally.” Drift received a differentiated rating, the highest score possible in three criteria: conversation delivery, performance insights, and market approach.

We believe we were selected as a Leader for our ability to handle multiple types of audiences. The report states: “Drift customizes type and level of interaction based on audience. marketing, sales, and virtual assistants collaborate in real time.”

3 Ways a CAS like Drift Can Help Your Business

We are obviously passionate about all the ways conversation automation solutions help organizations grow and evolve. So, it would be easy for us to get into the weeds about every aspect of how these products are changing the B2B GTM experience. Instead of trying to cover everything, however, we’re going to focus on the three specific criteria in which Drift received a differentiated rating.

Conversation Delivery: Engage your customers on their terms — at the right time, in the right place, with the right conversation

Even before the pandemic, busy B2B buyers were known for refusing to be drawn into a buying experience that wasn’t built around their preferences. Now, operating in a digital-first landscape, B2B buyers are even harder to engage if you can’t meet them where they are in terms of channel, timing, and type of communication.

To make things even more complex, an individual buyer’s needs shift constantly depending on where they are in their day and in the buying lifecycle.

To succeed in this type of environment, you need a conversation strategy that allows you to continue the conversation anywhere at any time. Drift’s omnichannel capability — powered by 60+ native integrations and developer API with dozens of endpoints — allows your buyer engagement to shift seamlessly across a wide variety of channels and media including email, video, chat, SMS, phone, etc.

From the report: “Drift is best fit for companies focused on enabling their buyers digitally. Companies will appreciate Drift’s focus on experience optimization and flexibility, and ability to implement decision-tree or AI-based conversations.”

Performance Insights: Get real-time insights so you can take action in the moment

In B2B sales, timing is everything. The hard truth is, if you miss an opportunity, you may not get a second chance. Increasingly, B2B growth depends on being able to make the right move in real time.

Forrester’s focus on “performance insights” as one of its evaluation criteria speaks to the importance of access to robust reporting and analytics.

Always big believers in the power not only of information in general, but also of information in context, Drift has put a lot of effort into ensuring customers have access to real-time insights that enable GTM teams to take action in the moment so deals don’t slip through the cracks. This actionable intelligence, customized for each role, has a strong advantage over the historical approach many solutions take with their data. You need to know what’s happening right now, not what happened yesterday.

Our real-time dashboards provide service and sales leaders with in-the-moment visibility into what’s happening. Drift also sends real-time notifications to sales reps when a target account or high-intent prospect is on the website and ready to chat.

The other key to making data truly actionable is ensuring the highest level of reporting flexibility. Drift gives users the ability to drill down and slice data in whatever way is most useful. No matter your business model, growth challenge, or sales objective, you can create a report that will get to the heart of what you need to know.

From the report: “Drift offers strong audience insights and digital experience capabilities. Drift customizes type and level of interaction based on audiences. Marketing, sales and VA collaborate in real time.”

Market Approach: Partner with market leaders who have the experience and expertise to drive your success and ROI as you grow

Our co-founders, David Cancel and Elias Torres, anticipated the need for conversation automation solutions years before the pandemic took hold. They founded Drift in 2015 because they recognized that more and more conversations were moving online. They also saw the ways in which the B2B buyer experience was broken and not evolving to meet the needs of a digital-first buyer journey.

Drift built the conversational category, and now we’re leading it into the future. We’re constantly innovating on behalf of and in partnership with our customers. We help them eliminate current challenges, and we’re also always looking ahead so we can anticipate the challenges that will emerge over the next few years. To keep our product (and our customers) ahead of the curve, we constantly monitor and analyze market trends, refine and pursue our own creative vision, and — as we’ve been doing since day one — listen to our customers and put their needs at the center of every decision we make.

All our efforts boil down to this: We have the market leadership perspective and expertise to make sure our customers succeed. Working with us gives forward-thinking B2B companies access to our proven best practices and the direct support of our seasoned and extremely talented team. And with all that support, our customers are able to get more value out of Drift in both the short and long term.

From the report: “Customers praise Drift’s ability to handle multiple types of audiences and innovation roadmap, noting previous experience [with Drift] and peer recommendations as factors influencing purchase and adoption.”

📚 Additional reading: Drift commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic ImpactTM (TEI) study to examine the potential return on investment (ROI) of Drift. This is what they found: Companies that invest in Drift can experience up to a 670% ROI. Learn more here.

drift total economic impact report

Drift: A Conversation Automation Solution for Today and Tomorrow

We are proud to have earned a coveted spot as a Leader in Forrester’s first New Wave report evaluating the CAS category.

Our strategy is to grow with our customers. This means we need to help them stay one step ahead of their competition today. And it means we need to help them future-proof their businesses with a solution that adapts and scales to meet the evolving demands of the market and its buyers. Whether that means helping customers as they add new products, territories, and audiences, or innovating to deliver new features and capabilities, we’re ready for the challenge.

To learn more, you can download the full report, The Forrester New Wave™: Conversation Automation Solutions, Q3 2022, below.