How Tenable Uses Drift Conversational AI to Deliver a Better Experience and 3x Qualified Pipeline

By Matt Mullin

Like a lot of software companies, Tenable has attended its fair share of trade shows, using them as opportunities to connect with prospective buyers. Take the RSA Conference, which draws approximately 45,000 attendees each year — we typically collect 3,000 leads there.

But those are just the people who took the time to talk to us. The truth is we could collect more leads if we had a way to connect with the folks who wanted to talk with us but ended up walking away because our staff was tied up in other conversations.

The same can be said for websites. Every website gets tons of organic and inbound traffic every day, but there are never enough people to immediately engage every site visitor. And that got us wondering: How much difference could we make to our bottom line if we could convert even 10% more of our website traffic?

To accomplish this, we needed a scalable way to keep prospects on the line until a sales development rep (SDR) was free to hop into the conversation. Luckily for us, we discovered Drift Conversational AI just in time to do exactly that. Here is our story 🤖

I joined Drift’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, Aurelia Solomon, on a webinar where I shared some of the ways Tenable is using Drift.  If you want to watch the full recording, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for all the insights 💡

The Road to Drift & Conversational AI

Our journey with Drift started in 2018. Having relied on email marketing to generate leads in the past, we were on the hunt for a solution that would provide us with more qualified leads.

For our initial pilot, we put our five best SDRs on Drift, using chatbots and live chat. Immediately, we saw our conversion rates skyrocket. In less than a year, from a marketing qualified lead (MQL) standpoint, we’d attained a 50% conversion rate.

Want to read the full story about Tenable’s journey with Drift? Check out the case study.

While we were excited by these results, there was a downside. Now, we had so much traffic that our SDRs couldn’t keep up. Even when we doubled the number of SDRs using Drift, our conversion rate didn’t budge. It was clear that we needed to figure out how to keep buyers engaged when an SDR wasn’t online or was busy with another customer.

Just as our SDRs were reaching their breaking point, I received a call from Elias Torres, Drift co-founder and CTO. He wanted to talk about a new offering: Drift Conversational AI. His timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

3 Ways Conversational AI Transformed Tenable’s Conversations

Drift Conversational AI turned out to be exactly what we needed.

With its ability to automate conversations with buyers and customers alike, Conversational AI helped us create the great experience that today’s buyers expect, while also providing better leads, greater sales efficiency, and faster conversions.

Here are the three ways Conversational AI has improved our website experience over the years 👇

1. A More Human Experience, At Scale

Drift Conversational AI enables us to engage more people faster through personalized and authentic conversations. This is because Conversational AI allows visitors to chat with us through open text so they can instantly jump into what matters most to them. As a result, visitors get a quick response that delivers immediate gratification.

And this isn’t just limited to qualified leads or target accounts. With Conversational AI, we’ve been able to have equally engaging conversations with unqualified leads and those who aren’t ready to buy. We’ve even been able to convey our sense of humor to people who play around with our bot. For example, if someone says, “I want a hug,” our bot replies, “I’m sorry. I’m a virtual assistant, so I can’t give you a hug. But I can send you some virtual love.”

Using AI chatbots, we’ve been able to achieve a response time of less than one minute, while increasing the average conversation length by 30%. In fact, many people are willing to talk with us for 45 minutes or more 🤖

Not only has this alleviated the pressure on our SDRs, but it’s also given us a scalable way to keep buyers on the line without making any compromises with our digital experience. And that has resulted in our SDR-qualified leads being delivered 3x faster.

When you think about it, it’s not really rocket science. Buyers are more likely to convert if you’re available to answer questions and respond instantly because you’re meeting them where they are and moving them along the buyer journey — all while delivering a five-star experience.

2. Higher Quality Conversations That Harness Intent

Because Drift’s Conversational AI allows visitors to guide the conversation using their own words, it provides extremely valuable access to the voice of the customer. By analyzing chat inputs and reading between the lines, we can figure out what our buyers, customers, and other site visitors care about most without having to guess.

Part of what makes Conversational AI such a good window into the voice of the customer is that it goes beyond keywords; instead, it gathers clusters of keywords known as “topics.” For example, a price-based topic might include words like “price,” “cost,” “dollar,” “budget,” “expense,” and so forth. This breadth of understanding allows for more fluid, intuitive, and effective conversations that help zero in on the site visitor’s intent.

This intent guides the AI’s conversations, which means we’ve been able to deliver an increasingly personalized experience to our site visitors as they move along the buyer’s journey. Not to mention that the AI is always optimizing, adjusting, and expanding its ability to meet customers where they are — so that its conversations are always getting better.

Conversational AI

These AI insights have also helped us deploy an intent-based strategy to nurture leads within our account-based marketing (ABM) and digital programs. For example, our content syndication programs deliver a decent number of leads, but they often leave us in the dark as to what exactly brought them to our website. Through the AI chatbot, it only takes one conversation to find out what the visitor is interested in, provide a tailored message that’s relevant to their interests, and start them on their Tenable journey.

Like most companies, we spend a ton of money on digital advertising, and we want to get a good return on that investment. So, it’s a good sign that, with Drift, we’ve seen a 20% conversion rate on our AI leads. 

3. Answering Technical Questions Accurately

The Tenable audience is both very technical and reluctant to give up information easily, which means that one of our biggest challenges is making sure our site visitors’ technical questions are answered accurately.

And while our prospects and customers are hesitant about filling out forms that they imagine will end up in a black hole, they are pretty willing to chat.

Instead of tying up our SDRs or service reps in these conversations, Drift’s Conversational AI ensures that visitors are getting the resources they need by pulling articles from our knowledge base. And if their questions need an expert set of eyes but no one is available to chat, our AI will invite the visitor to engage with our community to interact with peers who have that technical knowledge on hand.

Conversational AI

In either case, Conversational AI works to answer technical questions and solve problems quickly. With this system in place, we also show our buyers that we’re here to be a trusted and valued resource for them, instead of just pushing the sale.

Plus, with the data that the AI collects and categorizes, it’s easy for us to tap into frequently asked questions or concerns from our buyers and customers. From there, we can train our AI chatbot to respond to those queries, so that the next person can get a relevant response straight away.

A Bright Future Ahead for AI-Led Conversations

More than three years into our relationship with Drift and we continue to find new ways that Drift can help us increase our efficiency, scale our efforts, drive higher engagement, and — most importantly — make our customers happier.

The best news is that all of this success is just the beginning.

As we shift towards creating an even more interconnected experience across our digital channels and global campaigns, we see Drift playing an even more integral role in evolving our messaging, enhancing our campaigns, and ensuring better conversations all around. And with Conversational AI at the forefront, we’re excited to see how, in the future, this ever-growing platform will improve the buying journey — for both Tenable and our customers.

Conversational AI isn’t out to steal your job. Find out why in our ebook, AI for Humans.

Download AI for Humans