Forms vs. Conversations: The Results Are Finally In. Here’s What We’ve Seen.

By Drift

One of the really fun parts about being a marketing nerd is, well, doing marketing at a marketing company! Because it means we get to eat our own dogfood.

Now that we’ve had several quarters under our belt of experimenting with ways to use messaging and bots powered by AI and automation since getting rid of our lead forms and gated content, I thought it’d be fun to review what we’ve learned.

Here are the key findings:

  1. Conversations are a net new source of leads, adding 15% more leads to the top of our funnel
  2. Conversations are a major source of pipeline, driving 50% of our business
  3. Conversation leads close more quickly: 3 days from conversation to Drift demo
  4. Automation and AI dramatically improve signal-to-noise, handling nearly 50% of all conversations on their own, and supporting majority of the remaining ones


Let’s take a closer look.

Does Drift Cannibalize Our Lead forms? No. Here’s Why.

One of the first questions folks ask when considering adding Drift to their website is whether it actually drives net new leads, or “cannibalizes” other sources of leads by giving visitors another way to engage. Well, I am happy to report that adding messaging has added a net new source of leads for us at Drift!

Though there is indeed overlap with other lead sources (e.g., some visitors also sign up for the free Drift product or subscribe to our blog), some choose to engage solely via the chat widget. And while we have a healthy flow of leads (product signups, blog signups, webinars and live events), adding Drift to our website has resulted in an additional 15% of leads.

Conversations Are a Major Source of Pipeline (Driving 50% of Our Business!)

But here’s the best part — it’s not just more leads.

It’s more of the BEST leads.

Drift generates 50% (!) of our business via conversations. This is also directly visible in the upstream funnel metrics – though representing only 15% of the leads, conversations drive 50% of the qualified demos, and 50% of the opportunities resulting from those demos.

Drift Leads Close More Quickly (Just 3 Days From Conversation to Demo)

Conversation-qualified leads (CQLs) are people who’ve expressed intent to buy during a real-time, one-to-one conversation, either with a human or a chatbot. And compared to typical leads, they tend to close much more quickly, bringing sales cycles down from months and weeks, to days and hours.

How much faster? Well, we’ve observed a shorter time-to-close for leads that originate via a Drift conversation. For example, the average time from a conversation to delivering a demo for our Sales team is 3 days. No surprise here – after all, we built Drift to connect your business with the best leads in real-time – and the best leads convert directly into sales meetings.

Automation and A.I. Dramatically Improve Signal-to-Noise

Early last year we introduced bots, over time adding artificial intelligence and automation. As the bots have gotten smarter, they are able to handle an increasingly larger portion of our visitors’ questions on their own, and are getting better at handling part of the conversation before handing off to a sales rep.

The result is that “Bot only” conversations make up nearly 50% of all conversations, and the LeadBot™ is able to assists on another 40% of all conversations. In other words, the “Rep only” conversations have gone from 100% (i.e., live chat only) to 10-15% of all conversations.

Increasingly smarter bots are the only practical way to incorporate conversations at scale. Over the course of the year, the volume of conversations handled by reps has stayed nearly the same – while our traffic and conversation volume has grown by over 10X!

Give the Second Net a Shot!

Every decade or so, something comes along that changes the marketing playbook. Twenty years ago, when I was just starting out in marketing, it was the Internet. A decade ago, it was the marriage of content marketing and marketing automation. And today, the adoption of messaging and AI feels like one of those major shifts.

The good news is that though we’ve preached the “No Forms” movement, one doesn’t have to change religions to give this approach a try. View it like a second net, and start off slow. See what you can catch in this second net.

Put a bot on your pricing page, or demo page, and see how many meetings it can book for your Sales team.

What I do know is that we’re only scratching the surface — there’s a ton to learn about best way to put these new tools to work. And of course, as we learn what works and what doesn’t, we’ll be sharing it here.

See why thousands of businesses are using Drift to generate leads and close deals faster.