The Free Guide To Using Drift

Editor’s Note: This guide was updated in June 2020 to reflect product changes.

A few things to know about this guide:

It’s designed to help you understand how Drift works and what you need to be successful.

It’s packed full of information that will let you have better conversations and conversions.

It’s completely free.

Don’t let the length of this guide scare you – Drift is designed to be easy and intuitive. We want to make sure you’re supported during your entire journey as a Drift user.

So, whether you are still weighing the pros and cons of a chatbot or are completely bought into conversational marketing, we hope you will find this guide to be educational and informative.

If you’re not already using Drift for conversational marketing, you can get your free account right here.

Getting the Most Out of Drift

Convert more leads, delight customers, and grow your business.

Okay, here’s what we’re going to cover in this guide –– feel free to skip around; you definitely don’t need to go through this in order.

Just click on each title below and you can jump right to that section.

The Basics

Your brand is the most important thing you have as a business –– and it shouldn’t feel any different when you start using Drift. This section will cover everything you need to make sure Drift matches your brand so you can make a great first impression.

Live Chat: Everything You Need to Know

From routing, to setting an away message, and keeping conversations going after someone has left your website, this section will cover everything you need to know about live chat with Drift.

Connecting Drift with the Tools You’re Already Using

You shouldn’t have to change the way you work when you start using Drift. That’s why we connect to the tools that you’re already using today. We’ll run through our most popular integrations in this section.


In this section we’ll go over what tools Drift offers to help you understand who you are speaking to so you can craft conversations that get results.

Leveraging Bots

Live chat is great, but sometimes you need to be proactive. With Drift, you can always get the right message to the right person at the right time –– and that’s what we’ll talk about in this section.

Is the Way We’ve Been Doing Marketing and Sales Broken?

To wrap things up, we’ll take a quick look at the state of conversational marketing, what’s in store for the future, and what it means for your business.

We didn’t want to just make this a really long help doc or FAQ, but something to get you thinking. So if you have any questions while you’re reading this guide, just use the chat button on the bottom right – we’re here to help.

The Basics

There are two main reasons that your business would use Drift today:

  1. To talk to the people that are visiting your website – which is a great way for marketing and sales to generate more leads (the result of starting conversations with people in real-time vs. waiting for them to fill out a form).
  2. To talk to the people that are using your product – which is the best way to make sure that you are always there for your customers to give them the help they need. And this is a great way to drive product adoption and engagement.

In either case, the most important thing you can do is make a great first impression.

You want to let people know that you are there.

It’s just like when you go to a store, and as you’re looking around, one of the employees asks you if they can help you with anything – or suggests some of the most comfortable, breathable socks to go with that new pair of running shoes you’re eyeing.

And with Drift – basically the online version of that – making a great first impression starts with the basics, and getting Drift setup to match your brand’s look and feel.

So here’s what will happen when you go through onboarding after creating your Drift account for the first time.

You’ll be able to customize the design of the chat widget to match your brand when it’s on your website or inside of your product:

Once you spend a minute to get the look and feel squared away, the next thing you will want to do is install Drift on your website.

If you’re going to be using Drift to talk to people on your website, all it takes is a little copy and paste. If you’re not comfortable with that, it’s super easy to send the instructions to a teammate who can help. And don’t worry – no one is going to be able to see Drift on your website yet. You can turn that on (and off) later on.

And if you’re going to be using Drift inside of your product, you’ll want to check out this help doc and get a little help from someone who knows their way around some Javascript.

You can also set your office hours within the onboarding flow. This will help Drift understand when your team is online or offline and make sure the right messages and bots fire based on availability.

Our goal at Drift is to help our customers be successful.

By sharing your goals during onboarding, we can help you measure and track your progress – ensuring you are using Drift the right way and following best practices. Pick the metrics that most matter to you and we can help you get set up to improve them.

Live Chat: Everything You Need To Know

Okay, let’s fast forward a little bit and talk about things after you’ve installed Drift, and what you need to know about live chat.

If you have any website traffic at all people are going to start writing in shortly after you turn on Drift.

So what do you say when a new lead comes in via live chat?

Say Hi ?

This one sounds so obvious, right? But people rarely do it.

You have to remember that a lead isn’t just an email address – they aren’t just a lead in your database somewhere or a conversation in Drift – they’re a real person just like you.

So reach out and say hey, and try to get a little more information. Start a conversation.

What would you say if someone were to walk into a brick-and-mortar store you owned? You’d say hey. Reaching out to a lead who is live on your website is no different.

Be Human ?‍♀️

There’s no better way to start a conversation than by showing you’re a real person too.

At Drift, we try not to be too formal or buttoned up – we keep things “conversational.” But, that might not be the right move for your brand or industry. What’s most important is that you keep things authentic.

To help you start more conversations, we try and give you as much context for each new conversation as we can.

For anonymous visitors (people who have not given you their email address yet), you’ll be able to see the page they’re on, their location, IP address and local time:

And for people who’ve already identified or given you their email address (this is where it gets awesome) you’ll get enriched data for that contact, including their name, location, job and company information, links to their social profiles and more:

You can use any of this information to have a better conversation with your new leads, like Hey Peter – saw you’re on our pricing page. Anything I can help with?

A Few Other Things You Should Know About Live Chat

Just a few more things on live chat before we move on…

It’s called “live” chat but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be there for people 24/7.

If someone writes in on your website and you’re not in Drift at that moment, you’ll get an email with their message – but you can also let people know when you plan on being offline by setting your hours and availability.

Think of it like an away message for your website.

I’ll just use our away message at Drift to give you a quick example.

We do Show & Tell every Friday from 3-4 PM (everyone at Drift shares what they worked on that week) so we set our away message during that time.

If someone comes to our website and clicks to start a conversation during that time, they will be greeted with an away message that pops out and looks a little something like this:

And then after show and tell, we can go respond to any of the messages that came in while we were away.

That’s one example of how live chat doesn’t always have to be 24/7 and real-time.

We also have you covered if you’re talking to someone and they leave mid conversation – or don’t stick around by the time you respond.

If someone hasn’t seen your message after 15 minutes, they will get the entire conversation emailed to them (and you will get a notification that the chat has been converted to email):

The Drift Desktop App is ideal for those manning the frontlines and fielding chats. It’s an application for your desktop device which will allow you to quickly access your Drift conversations! When using this app, messaging prospects via Drift live chat will be faster, easier, and more reliable than ever.

Connect the Tools You’re Already Using

When we started building Drift, there were two things we heard loud and clear about all of the existing live chat products out there:

  1. Pricing has traditionally been confusing.
  2. The existing tools force people to change the way they work.

And that’s exactly why we’ve been building Drift with integrations in mind since day one (we’re not going to cover pricing in this guide, but we think our pricing is pretty straight forward).

Drift connects to many of the tools that you’re already using (we say “many” because there are some integrations that we’re still working on and there will always be more).

Integrations not only make Drift easy to set up, but they also make it super easy for you to bring Drift into your existing workflows.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of our most popular integrations.


The Salesforce integration lets you create leads, map attributes, connect campaigns and pass transcripts and a whole lot more. Connecting your CRM allows you to measure and understand how Drift is impacting your business.

You can track and analyze your buyer’s entire journey from their very first chat to their experience as a customer.


Zapier is a little secret weapon for web applications – they’ve made it super simple to connect Drift to 500+ business applications (aka just about any tool you’d ever want).

So whether you want to turn new conversations in Drift into leads in Salesforce, or log an entire live chat conversation in Zendesk, you can do it with Zapier. To give you some more inspiration, here are some of the pre-made Zaps that you could use:


With Drift and HubSpot, not only can you talk to people while they’re live on your website with live chat, but you’ll be able to see all of that activity and the source right inside of HubSpot’s contact timeline.

That means that sales reps can tailor their outreach or follow up based on a certain activity, like viewing your pricing page – and marketers can create workflows or send emails based on conversations that have happened via Drift so every prospect gets a personal touch.

Use Drift Audiences

A great rule of thumb when you are designing a conversation or bot flow is to “start with the who.” Knowing who you are trying to talk to can help you get your messaging and experience just right.

That’s where Drift Audiences comes in (available on Enterprise plans). It can help you identify areas of opportunity within your website traffic and let you take action to address them. Use Audiences to see who is encountering a playbook, who is not, and what opportunities there are to create additional playbooks and improve engagement.

Before taking any action around adding new bots, start by understanding who you’re trying to engage with. Are they a target account? Are they interested in pricing? Are they coming from a paid campaign? Once you have established the “who” you can determine what strategy to put into play.

Next, let’s talk about bots ?

Leveraging Bots

With live chat, people send messages to you. On your end, it’s reactive – you reply to people as they write in.

But one of the most powerful features of Drift is the ability for you to proactively reach out to people – whether a sales rep wants to trigger a message to a lead who has just visited your pricing page for the third time.

In Drift, these targeted types of messages, or bots, are found under the Playbooks section of the dashboard. You can choose from Homepage, Pricing Page, Skip the Form and many more.

Homepage Bot

This bot is used to greet and engage site visitors. You can ask questions to qualify your visitors while also offering them content and driving them towards your main call-to-action.

Pricing Page Bot

Use this bot to offer information about pricing plans while also asking qualifying questions that help you route visitors to the right members of your team.

Skip the Form Bot

The “skip the form” bot is designed to capture those visitors that might not want to fill out all the fields on a standard form and give them a shortcut to your team instead.

The State Of Conversational Marketing

We just walked through a few examples of how you can use Drift, and I just wanted to wrap up this guide with a final thought on the state of conversational marketing – which is something we’ve been talking about a lot at Drift lately.

See, traditional sales and marketing work something like this:

  • Get people to your website.
  • Get those people to convert on a form.
  • Nurture those people with emails and phone calls until they buy from you, unsubscribe, or just do absolutely nothing, forever and live in your CRM.

But if you’re anything like me, I’m willing to bet that when you’re thinking about buying something, the last thing you want to do is fill out a form or talk to a sales rep.

We avoid those things at all costs.

Because these days, we can find out just about everything we need to know before making a purchase, and many times, we can buy things or get the information we need without ever having to talk to sales at all.

But in our jobs in marketing and sales, we stick to those traditional methods.

That’s how we do marketing and sales every single day – because that’s how it’s always been done. That’s how everyone does it.

Now think about the way that you talk to people today: you might use iMessage to talk to your family, Facebook Messenger to connect with old friends, and Slack to talk to your co-workers all day.

Yet when you want to talk to a business, you have to fill out forms and wait for a response or talk to a sales rep on the phone – you have to do all of those traditional things we just mentioned.

And that’s exactly why we built Drift – so your business can connect with customers in a modern way.

So, we think that there are two paths forward for businesses from here:

  1. They can stick to their guns, keep doing what everyone else has been doing, and wait for that threshold level to get higher.
  2. They can follow the lead of those modern businesses and change the way they do marketing and sales to match the way that people actually want to interact with a business today.

Which path will you choose?

Ready to implement conversational marketing for your business? Get a demo today.