Introduction

Customer Behavior Has Evolved

Imagine, back in pre-COVID times, walking into Nordstrom.

From the moment you stepped foot in the store, you were treated like a VIP. A personal shopper guided you from one department to another. A stylist helped you pick out clothes. After you made a purchase, instead of sliding your bag across the counter, the salesperson walked around and personally handed it to you.

Shops like Nordstrom set a new standard for customer experience. When you were in one of their stores, everything was about you, the customer. Wherever you went, an employee was there for you – whether it was helping you get a garment tailored, return an unwanted purchase, or unwind with a cold beverage.

This customer-centric revolution isn’t limited to physical retailers. Brands like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon have raised expectations and redefined how consumers interact with brands online. Today, people want an experience that isn’t just frictionless, but enjoyable.

When a customer visits your site, they expect the same type of experience they’d get from Nordstrom or Netflix. To keep up with skyrocketing expectations, you need to remove friction and give customers what they want at the exact moment they want it.

In other words, your business needs a model that focuses on the customer first.

That’s where Conversational Marketing comes in.

Conversational marketing creates instant and personalized engagement with customers and buyers. It accelerates business revenue by removing friction from the customer experience. Build conversational experiences and design conversations that accelerate your business’s revenue and make buying more enjoyable.

In this book, you’ll discover three approaches you can use to visualize, plan, and implement Conversational Marketing in your business. By the end of the book, you’ll learn:

  • What Conversational Marketing is and how it works
  • How to accelerate revenue with Conversational Marketing
  • How to optimize Conversational Marketing for maximum results

B2B Buying Today is Broken

A Nordstrom-style experience may be what customers expect, but it’s definitely not the norm.

Think of what shopping at JCPenney was like before they went bankrupt. You were left fumbling your way through the store on your own. Trying to find a shop clerk was like playing hide and seek. The checkout experience was something you endured, rather than enjoyed.

It’s the same story online, especially in B2B.

While innovative companies like Netflix and Amazon are driving progress in the consumer space, the B2B sector lags way behind. Businesses serve up generic ads leading to unpersonalized landing pages. Buyers get lost in confusing websites and have to fill out lengthy forms just to get answers. They wait days, if not weeks, for replies, which often come back as stock emails. It’s a frustrating experience for everyone involved.

But while poor customer experience is bad for the buyers, it’s disastrous for your business.

When you let your customers down, it doesn’t just hit you once. It hits you again and again, driving up customer acquisition cost and sinking customer lifetime value. In fact, studies show that CX laggards grow revenue nearly 6 times slower than industry leaders.

Your Brand Suffers

As a marketing leader, you do everything in your power to build and protect your company’s brand. You develop a voice, hone an image, and craft a customer experience. Through your hard work, you build authority, generate interest, and attract customers.

But when you fail your customers, all of that comes crashing down.

You’re no longer the brand with the great product or service – you’re the brand that ignores its customers. You’re the brand that leaves buyers to wander aimlessly through your site. You’re the brand that makes people fill out confusing forms just to get help.

And you don’t get many chances to make a good first impression. Studies show that three-quarters of people will tell friends and family about a bad customer experience, and half will amplify that complaint via social media or review sites.

The thing you spent so much time creating – your brand – suddenly falls apart.

Your Marketing Pipeline Falls

Marketers are always expected to do less with more. If your company’s sales org is growing by 20%, your marketing budget might increase by 10% – if you’re lucky. And yet, even when your budget lags behind, the demands increase: more leads, higher quality, less spend.

When everything goes perfectly, building a pipeline is a tough task. Now consider that modern buyers rank customer experience as a greater consideration than both price and product. When you leave visitors to wander aimlessly on your site, building a pipeline becomes borderline impossible.

Think of each instance of poor customer experience as a hole in your pipeline. Even if you ramp up your marketing spend, your buyers will spill out long before they reach your sales team.

Your Revenue Shrinks

When you’re in charge of demand generation, you live on a constant knife-edge with success judged on two metrics: volume of qualified leads and pipeline generated from marketing.

The challenge every marketing leader faces is finding a way to scale lead-gen campaigns without sacrificing the quality of those leads. You make constant tradeoffs to balance volume and quality – all while squeezing every last drop of value from your budget.

According to McKinsey, customer experience leaders stand to achieve revenue gains of 5-10%, while reducing costs by 15-25% within two or three years. Your customer experience and conversion process needs to be as frictionless as possible. If you’re pushing buyers to jump through hoops or play by your rules, you’re leaving money on the table.

Your Qualified Leads Dry Up

For those in charge of sales development, evaluation is brutal. You’re measured daily, sometimes hourly, on the volume of qualified leads and meetings you pass to your account executives. As your sales org grows, so do your targets.

Your job is to drive the maximum number of qualified leads into your sales machine so that AEs can cherry-pick the best opportunities. When you make it difficult for potential customers to engage with your business, those good opportunities dry up – fast.

Just one instance of poor customer experience can lead to one-quarter of prospects walking away. With your good leads gone, you’re left scraping the bottom of the barrel, passing poor leads on to your AEs.

Your Sales Productivity Tanks

While driving traffic to your website has never been easier, it’s getting harder and harder to convert those visitors into customers. That ramps up pressure on sales leaders, who are constantly expected to grow revenue faster than they grow sales capacity.

The key to keeping your revenue in the lead is sales productivity – or how much closed business each fully ramped AE delivers.

Sales productivity comes from spending more time on inbound qualified leads and less time on cold-calling – from talking to leads that are more qualified, having better context on their interest, and reducing time spent on non-selling tasks like scheduling meetings.

Poor customer experience decimates productivity – and costs you money at the same time. McKinsey estimates that companies that optimize the customer experience also reduce sales and marketing costs by up to 25%.

When you let down your visitors, your inbound leads vanish, leaving behind the low-value outbound opportunities. It’s disheartening for the reps, who have to spend huge chunks of their day chasing dead-end opportunities, and frustrating for sales leaders who have to watch as productivity stalls – or, worse, declines.

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

New communication channels emerge all the time. In the late 1990s, email took over workplaces. In the early 2000s, text messaging started to become popular. And by the late 2000s, digital messaging had exploded and revolutionized how we interact with each other and with businesses. The glut of communication options makes it easier than ever for businesses to engage with customers.

But although opportunities for interaction are ballooning, actually getting a prospect’s attention and converting them into a customer has never been more challenging.

The key is to offer an experience that moves people through the buying journey with as little friction as possible. And the best way to do that is by starting instant and personalized conversations.

Create Better Buying Experiences

Consider two different prospects.

The first is scrolling through her social media feed when a retargeting ad for your company pops up. She clicks it and goes to a page about a relevant product feature.

The second prospect, meanwhile, Googles a question related to your product category and stumbles on one of your blog posts, a helpful explainer article on the issue she’s having.

Clearly, these two people are different. They have different goals, behaviors, interests, and challenges. And yet, many marketing and sales funnels don’t personalize their experiences. Both receive the same calls to action: Join our email listSchedule a call, Book a demo.

Too often, as marketers and salespeople, we ignore the four Ws that brought these visitors to our site in the first place.

Since the dawn of digital marketing, we’ve been giving everyone who visits our websites the same message and experience, over and over, no matter who they are.

But we can do better with Conversational Marketing.

We can – and should – individually engage each buyer based on who they are, where they came from, what page they’re on, and why they’re there in the first place. We should act like a Nordstrom personal shopper, not a cardboard sign at the front of a big-box store.

Because when we deliver a great experience, the rewards are huge.

Deliver a Great Experience – on and off Your Website

You invest a ton of time and money getting target accounts to visit your website – so don’t give them the same generic experience as everyone else. Whether a customer is researching a specific product feature or looking for an informative article, you need to build a service around their needs and interests.

Conversational marketing lets you do that.

By automatically identifying your website visitors, you can greet each visitor with a personalized message and deliver an interaction dictated by their individual needs.

Instead of a generic experience, they get something tailored just to them. Each interaction becomes a memorable experience, building and strengthening your brand.

Convert More Web Traffic into Qualified Leads and Pipeline

Just as you don’t want to spend time and effort attracting visitors only to deliver a lackluster experience, you also don’t want visitors to leave before you engage them.

Conversational marketing helps you make the most of your traffic by engaging previously anonymous visitors with personalized conversations based on who they are, how they’re behaving, and how they’ve engaged with marketing and sales in the past.

Once a website visitor is engaged in conversation, you can add in the right sales rep or even automatically qualify them and book a sales meeting.

Increase the ROI on Your Marketing Programs

Your marketing efforts are likely measured on the volume of qualified leads and pipeline generated. Most executives expect both to grow faster than sales targets and definitely faster than the growth rate of their budgets. As a result, marketing leaders are constantly balancing trade-offs to optimize getting more qualified leads for fewer dollars, from every channel.

Conversational marketing can improve the yield from your other marketing programs – email campaigns, paid advertising, SEO, content marketing – by automatically engaging every website visitor, serving them a personalized, targeted experience.

You can customize this experience based not just on the channel they came from, but even the ad they clicked, the email sequence they’re in, or the piece of content they’re reading.

Generate More Sales Meetings with Intelligent Context

Scaling your sales performance is a double-edged sword. When you ramp up your demand generation, your lead volume rises. But as the number of leads trends upwards, the quality of buyer often takes a nosedive.

Conversational marketing reverses this trend. By equipping your SDRs with in-depth insights about their buyers and recording every interaction a visitor has with sales and marketing, you can supercharge your sales reps’ performance, ensuring you get more qualified buyers and meetings, as well as more pipeline.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Conversational marketing lets you take your best SDRs and replicate their work through automated conversations.

By serving up the optimal automated, personalized conversation for every web visitor, Conversational Marketing gives your AEs more qualified leads and meetings – with no involvement from SDRs or marketing required.

Increase Qualified Meetings with 24/7 Engagement

Your sales team could be the best in the world, but if a buyer reaches out when your reps aren’t online, their skill, dedication, and knowledge count for nothing. Conversational marketing is the ultimate sales wingman, there to step in at all hours of the day, engaging buyers until a human is ready to take over.

Conversational marketing lets you turn more web visitors into qualified sales meetings by creating personalized chatbot experiences for every web visitor. Chatbots will qualify potential buyers and schedule a meeting with the right person (or people) based on everyone’s calendar availability.

By delivering the same quality of experience to your prospects regardless of whether there’s a human agent on the other line, Conversational Marketing boosts your sales productivity – even when your sales reps are sleeping.

Accelerate Your Revenue

It’s easy to focus on the individual benefits of Conversational Marketing – how Bottomline improved their user journey, how Marketo automatically qualified leads, and so on. But doing so risks missing the bigger picture.

Conversational marketing revolutionizes your entire customer experience. By guiding buyers around your website like a VIP, connecting them with the perfect sales rep, and providing support wherever they need it, you remove friction and transform their buying experience from a chore into a treat.

And benefits like these aren’t limited to customers. This new methodology overhauls how your sales and marketing orgs operate, helping them work and collaborate more efficiently.

Ultimately, those benefits combine up into a single foundational improvement: Conversational Marketing accelerates your revenue.

Conversational Framework for Marketing

Engage, Understand, Recommend

Implementing Conversational Marketing doesn’t mean blowing up your marketing strategy and starting from scratch. Think of it as a way of improving the experience you already deliver to your customers and accelerating your revenue.

To make things easy, we’ve boiled it down into what’s called the Conversational Framework. There are only three steps you need to remember:

  1. Engage
  2. Understand
  3. Recommend

As you’ll see in the next few chapters, the Conversational Framework is super flexible. Whether you’re experimenting with Conversational Marketing for the first time or leveling up with a sophisticated AI-driven approach, this is all you need to turn more buyers into customers.

But before we dive into implementation, let’s get to know the framework a little better.

Engage

Ask and Acknowledge

What happens when you let visitors instantly start a conversation instead of forcing them to fill out a form? Buyers enjoy a better, more personal experience. And for most businesses, that means higher conversion rates, more opportunities, and accelerated revenue.

When someone clicks to download now, contact sales, or book a demo, you can kickstart a conversation through chat, email, or video. And it doesn’t have to end there. You can keep the conversation going and continue moving people through your funnel, instead of making them wait hours or days for a follow-up email.

Of course, you can’t have someone managing communications at all hours of the day. That’s where smart AI-powered chat comes in. Intelligent chatbots and workflows let you engage people with Conversational Marketing whenever they want to engage, no matter the time of day.

You can also send targeted messages to the visitors who seem most likely to buy, instead of waiting for them to initiate the conversation. Whether you want to offer assistance to someone browsing your pricing page or check in on repeat visitors, Conversational Marketing lets you take the first step and proactively engage the people who are most serious about buying.

Understand

Learn and Respond

The traditional qualification process takes days of marketing automation and nurturing emails. But today’s customers aren’t willing to wait that long. According to a study from Lead Response Management, responding within five minutes gives you the best chance of qualifying a buyer. Wait even 30 minutes and your odds of qualifying the buyer drop by 100 times.

Unfortunately, staffing a sales org around the clock is impractical for most businesses.

Conversational marketing relieves that burden. Advanced technology can understand who your buyers are and what they want, qualifying them in real-time instead of forcing both sides to wait on follow-up emails. With Conversational Marketing, you’re always available, ready to step in at any moment to engage buyers.

Build your interactions using similar questions that you already ask on form fields or initial qualifying calls. Your buyers will have a natural conversation, explaining their goals, challenges, and pain points. You’ll speed up response times and ensure your salespeople are talking to the right people at the right time.

Deploy AI to understand who might not be ready for a sales conversation and disqualify them in the early stages of the buying process. Whether a visitor should be talking to support instead of sales, or if they’re just not a good fit for your product, you can make sure your sales reps are spending time with buyers who are genuinely interested in buying.

Recommend

Guide and Suggest

Once you’ve engaged your buyer and understood their needs, it’s time to close the sale. Here, nothing beats human-to-human interaction. That’s why you should use intelligent routing to connect buyers to your sales team and even book meetings automatically, letting your reps focus on guiding qualified buyers over the finish line.

With intelligent routing, your buyers always go to the right reps. If you have multiple reps in the same territory, buyers can be assigned on a rotating basis.

Once sales reps connect their calendars, you can automatically book meetings for qualified buyers directly from conversations. Your sales team will appreciate waking up to calendars full of high-quality meetings.

But meetings, demos, and sales are just three possible outcomes. You can also guide buyers to pieces of content or collateral, or nurture them to the next stage by further qualifying who they are and delivering relevant content over time.

This is one of the key differences between Conversational Marketing and traditional inbound marketing. With inbound marketing, you sit back and wait for buyers to interact with you. As buyer behavior evolves, this older approach gets less effective each year.

Conversational marketing lets you make the first move. You reach out and interact with potential buyers. You learn about their challenges and goals. You suggest the next course of action. With Conversational Marketing, buyers are constantly moving forward – towards conversion.

Applying the Conversational Framework

The Conversational Framework is simple and straightforward: you engage, understand, and recommend. Regardless of whether you’re rolling out a simple Conversational Marketing trial or doubling down with an intricate AI-powered use case, the Framework stays the same.

But the Framework alone doesn’t teach you how to roll out Conversational Marketing. For that, you need something more practical:

Ready to get started? Download the Conversational Marketing Blueprint Workbook Now.

Blueprint Stage #1 – Engage Website Visitors

Imagine you’re on the hunt for a new e-learning platform for your sales org. You hit up Google, type in “best online learning platform,” and click the first link that appears.

The website loads, and you scan the homepage. There’s a bunch of information about products, use cases, features, customers. It’s a lot of information to parse and understand.

But then a chatbot appears. “Hey there,” it says, “Can I help you find something?”

You respond that you’re looking for a learning platform geared towards sales.

“Great,” the bot says. “You might want to check out our Customer Stories to hear from companies that rely on our platform to uplevel their teams. Can I interest you in a quick demo?”

You agree, and a few seconds later you’re chatting with a sales rep. She gets you onto a call, shares her screen, and walks you through the product. The next month, you wrap up your research and decide to purchase a subscription.

You’ve just experienced the first stage of Conversational Marketing: engaging website visitors.

Your ‘Engage Website Visitors’ Blueprint

The Conversational Framework is the theory behind Conversational Marketing. But to turn the theory into tangible campaigns, you need a blueprint. Each blueprint has two parts.

First, there’s your conversational experience. This digs into the four Ws – who, where, what, and why – to unpack the conversation you’re trying to design.

As you can see, at this stage, you’re targeting the widest audience possible: everyone who visits your website.

But a conversational experience alone isn’t enough. You also need to understand how you’ll interact with them. For this, you combine your experience with the Conversational Framework to create a template.

Engage Website Visitors Template

This template is your tactical roadmap for applying Conversational Marketing to engage anyone who arrives on your website. It creates the basis for that Nordstrom-esque experience. As soon as someone arrives on your site, you’re engaging them, understanding their challenges, and recommending a solution. You’re turning their interaction from something purely transactional into something personalized and enjoyable.

But you can’t just roll out the template as is. You need to tweak it slightly depending on who the user is, how they got to your website, and what pages they’re looking at. Each tweak is a different use case, and for the first stage there are 11 of them in total.

Engage Website Visitors Use Cases

Chat

Email

Video

It might seem like a long list, but don’t worry. You don’t need to launch with them all. You can generate great results from just the first four – and even that is getting ahead of the game.

When you’re just starting out, everything begins with the Engage All use case.

Chat: Engage All Use Case

The Engage All use case is the heart of your website blueprint. It’s your go-to, your default, the Conversational Marketing DNA that underpins your entire strategy. Once you’ve nailed this use case, you can tweak it and refine it for other purposes, such as your pricing page or blog.

The Engage All experience fires when a visitor doesn’t trigger a more targeted, higher-priority experience, such as the pricing page or visitor retargeting use case.

Engage All Use Case Template

 Your goal is to engage visitors quickly and kickstart a conversation with them. The copy you use needs to jump out and grab their attention. Here are some ideas:

  1. Hey there! Can I ask you a quick question?
  2. Hey, {insert company}! Can I help you find something?
  3. Want to know something cool?
  4. Hey {company name} What would you do with 40% more leads?
  5. Thanks for stopping by! Looking into [solution type]?
  6. Ready to take [solution tech] to the next level?
  7. Can I help you with your research?
  8. Hey there! Have any questions? We have humans available to chat now!

Your Engage All use case is like a safety net. It catches all the website visitors who slip past other conversion points and more advanced Conversational Marketing use cases. So don’t be worried if its engagement rate is comparatively low.

A good benchmark to aim for is an engagement rate of between 1.8 and 2.2%. Any lower and you’ll want to change and test your hook.

Once you’ve got visitors engaged in a conversation, expect an email capture rate of between 15 and 20%.

Again, if you come in lower, it’s time to test and refine. Check your Conversion Flow report for points of friction. Try removing excess buttons, questions, and other obstacles to make the flow as frictionless as possible.

Email: Abandoned Chat

When someone drops off a chat mid-conversation, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. An urgent message might have interrupted them. They may have become distracted by another task. Their laptop battery might have died.

Instead of leaving prospects to meander away from your business, you need to re-engage them and warm the conversation back up. That’s where the Abandoned Chat use case comes in. It’s just another way to implement your safety net so it’s waiting to catch buyers before they fall out of your funnel completely.

Abandoned Chat Use Case Template

Your email doesn’t have to be complex. It just needs to provide another route back into the conversation your buyer abandoned. Here’s one template we use at Drift. 

Subject

Still interested in chatting?

Email body

Hi {{user.first_name or “there”}},

I saw you took a look at our product info recently, so you know that sending from a personal email address will get you a ton of hand-raisers.

How do you track it though?

Rely on salespeople – yeah right!!

Have the REPLY-TO be a generic marketing inbox that someone combs through? Nope!  That’s bad for deliverability.

Have Drift email host an inbox for you? Yep!

[Link to case study] Take a look at how Acme Corp leveraged this – I’d love to show you how it works.

Interested? Reply to this email to get started!

Video: Visit Follow-up

This use case is similar to your Abandoned Chat experience, except this time you’re re-engaging people who have left your site, rather than abandoned a chat. And instead of email, you’re utilizing video. For your Visit Follow-up use case, we recommend sending a video to prospects within 24 hours.

Visit Follow-up Video Use Case Template

And when we say video, it doesn’t have to be some highly produced masterpiece. People respond to authenticity, so fire up your webcam and talk to your prospect as if they’re sitting directly across from you.

Here’s one video script we use.

Title

Thanks for stopping by [company website]!

Video Script

Hey {{first name}}!

Thanks for stopping by [company website]!

Curious what brought you by… What did you think?

Feel free to chat with me *point to videobot* if you have any questions or better yet, book a time on my calendar so we can discuss what this shift means for your business.

Thank you for watching!

How ConnectWise Increased Conversations by 500%

When Michael Clavelle joined ConnectWise in the summer of 2019, he had just one thing on his mind: customer experience.

The software company’s website was huge, covering a wide range of products and services, including business automation, cybersecurity, disaster recovery, and more. And that scale was causing issues. Visitors struggled to navigate the complex website and find the specific pages and content they needed.

Michael began hunting for ways to automatically engage every website visitor and guide them to the product they needed. He identified three specific goals:

  • Capture buckets of people who were slipping through the cracks.
  • Change the way he leveraged ConnectWise’s sales team to better engage customers without scaling headcount.
  • Reduce the number of forms on his site and provide a more organic contact method.

After an exhaustive search, Michael found the perfect solution: Conversational Marketing.

Instead of leaving visitors to fumble their way through ConnectWise’s site, Michael deployed Drift and used an Engage All use case to greet each visitor, understand their needs, and direct them to the right section.

“The homepage chatbot provides visitors with direct links to relevant resources including blogs, podcasts, guides, and so forth,” Michael says. “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).”

But this was just the start. Michael went much further than a simple Engage All use case, designing and launching dozens of specialized Conversational Marketing experiences across his site.

After getting his foundational Engage All experience running, Michael turned his attention to specific applications, such as ConnectWise’s Control product pages. These “high-intent” pages required a more personalized approach than what he had been using.

Michael designed three separate experiences for Control – trial, demo, or other – which fired depending on the page a visitor was on. While each use case was slightly different, they all followed a similar flow, helping new customers with critical tasks:

  • Determining the most appropriate trial version
  • Getting fast, accurate answers to questions about pricing, integrations, demos, etc.
  • Connecting with the sales team (via chat or by scheduling a meeting)
  • Connecting to the support team via ConnectWise’s existing support channel

As Michael was rolling out his new experiences, the Covid-19 pandemic struck, driving a huge uptick in demand for ConnectWise’s service, and putting its sales and marketing teams under immense pressure. But with Drift already in place, the company took the surge in its stride.

ConnectWise recorded a 500% increase in the number of conversations compared to traditional channels, such as inbound calls, forms, webinars, and third-party partners.

In fact, shortly after implementing Drift, Michael’s sales colleagues had to reduce their standard initial meeting time from 30 to 15 minutes to keep up with demand.

“At this point, we are actually looking into bringing on more sales reps to help us man our live chat,” says Michael. “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.”

ConnectWise’s chatbot is answering questions for their customers, simultaneously reducing the demand on human agents while keeping customers happy. That’s allowed them to handle the pandemic-driven uptick in traffic without being buried by ballooning administrative work.

“Ultimately, Drift has empowered us to provide better service and a better experience to our customers in their time of need,” Michael says. “And that’s really what matters most, because we’re all in this together.”

Building a Safety Net

The first stage of Conversational Marketing touches each website visitor you have. But that’s just the start. Conversational marketing can be so much more than a blanket campaign.

You can use Conversational Marketing to proactively engage with targeted buyers, deliver more personalized campaigns, and reduce friction in their buying experience. In the next chapter, we’ll show you precisely how that works.

Blueprint Stage #2 – Target Potential Buyers

Say you attended a marketing webinar run by an analytics company. A week later, you’re trying to remember something you learned, so you go back to their website to rewatch the recording.

But as you scroll through the resources section, hunting for the video, a chatbot appears. It instantly recognizes you as an attendee from last week’s webinar and launches into a personalized follow-up play.

“Hey Mark, thanks for attending our marketing webinar,” it says. “Have any questions about what you learned?”

You pause your search, click on the chat box, and explain that you’re looking for information on how to track brand mentions on LinkedIn.

“Great question,” the bot says. To help you out, it shares the webinar recording along with a handful of related guides and articles. “Would you like to speak to one of our sales reps?”

You say yes, and within minutes you’re chatting with a sales rep about how their product can help you keep tabs on conversations about your brand.

Welcome to the second stage of Conversational Marketing: targeting potential buyers.

Your ‘Target Potential Buyers’ Blueprint

If the first stage of Conversational Marketing is all about engaging website visitors, the second stage is all about finding new, more specific opportunities for implementation. In this stage, instead of engaging a broad audience, you target specific groups of potential buyers and offer them a more personalized experience.

It’s important to make your approach as granular as possible. You deliver the best experience to potential buyers when you can speak to them as individuals, tailoring your communication to their circumstances, challenges, and goals.

Of course, this isn’t always possible. If you don’t know who a website visitor is, you can zoom out to the company level, building your messaging around their organization and industry. And if you don’t have that information, you can default to campaign-based messaging.

How granular you get depends on the data available, but it doesn’t change the basic structure of your campaign. That structure – just like in stage one – comes from combining your conversational experience with the Conversational Framework to create a template.

Target Potential Buyers Template

You execute the blueprint through 15 use cases that cover everything from personalized retargeting to organic search. Here they are in order of importance.

Target Potential Buyers Use Cases

Chat

Email

Video

Again, such a long list of use cases might seem intimidating, but you don’t need to launch with all of them. Prioritize the first four, and build out the remainder after you’ve gone live.

Let’s dig into the highest-priority use cases for chat, email, and video.

Chat: Target Account Experiences Use Case

The big difference between a stage-one use case and a stage-two use case is knowledge. More knowledge means that instead of throwing out attention-grabbing but untargeted hooks in the engage stage, you can focus on what you know buyers really care about.

In this case, you’re going after a very select group of target accounts.

Your goal is to engage potential buyers quickly and connect them with a human agent for a VIP experience. Here’s a list of eye-catching openers:

  • Hey [Company Name]! Glad to have you here! Want to speak to a human right now!
  • Hey [Company Name} Welcome to [Site Name] Can I ask you a quick question?
  • Hey [Company Name} Welcome to [Site Name!] Any questions? I can help right here!
  • Hey [Company Name]! Great to see you! The humans are away, but you can book a meeting right here!

A Target Account Experience experience is more tailored to specific visitors than any of your stage one use cases, so expect a higher conversion rate. With this use case, aim for an engagement rate of above 4%. If you’re not hitting that mark, your messaging probably isn’t working. Try some new hooks or A/B test different hook variants to nudge your engagement rate upwards.

Further down the funnel, this use case should achieve an email capture rate of 30% or higher.

Email: Personalized Abandoned Chat

This is almost a carbon copy of the stage-one Abandoned Chat use case, except this time you’re turning the dial up on personalization. Instead of sending a generic message, you’re tailoring your engage, understand, and recommend copy to each individual recipient.

Personalized Abandoned Chat Use Case Template

Like before, aim to fire this experience quickly. Five minutes after a buyer closes a chat, an email should fall into your buyer’s inbox.

Here’s one template we use.

Subject

Great to see you again ☺️

Email body

Hi {{first name}},

Thanks for connecting with {chat rep} – great to see you’re interested in pricing for {solution}}!

We’ve actually been chatting with a few others at {[company name] or “your company”}, and I have some ideas on how {solution} would work for you.

For example, we help {Name drop company} [saved {$x} amount / achieved {X goal} last year with] {solution} – just saying [Link case study]

I can put together a custom plan of how this could work for you. Should we book a time to chat?

Just let me know, or head here to block off some time on my calendar [link]

Video: Webinars

After attending a webinar, buyers are typically open and receptive. It’s the perfect time to put a human face in front of them and have them engage with your brand.

For your Webinar use case, we recommend getting a video out to prospects within 24 hours, while the experience is still fresh in their mind.

Webinar Use Case Template

Here’s one script we use.

Title

Thanks for attending [webinar title]!

Video Script

Hey {{first name}},

Thanks for checking out the [insert webinar subject matter] webinar! What did you think?

Feel free to chat with me *point to videobot* if you have any questions.

Better yet, book a time on my calendar so we can discuss what this shift means for your business.

Thank you for watching!

How Celonis Boosted Event Attendance by 7X

Celosphere, Celonis’ process excellence event, was scheduled for April 2020. But just a few weeks out, with the Covid-19 pandemic worsening every day, marketing operations manager Gabe Turner pulled the plug. Instead of writing off the event entirely, he decided to save what he could and move it online.

“While we knew the pivot would require an enormous amount of work and coordination – all of which needed to be completed within a very brief window – we were excited about the possibilities,” he says.

Those possibilities paid off handsomely. In the end, Celonis drove more than 18,000 registrations, which translated into 7,000 live attendees at the three-day event and more than 40,000 session views within two weeks of the event.

But Celosphere’s success wasn’t limited to top-of-the-funnel metrics.

At a live event, demos typically happen between sessions, during lunch breaks, and at other points where there’s a pause in the agenda. The benefit of a live event is that because everyone is physically there and already in conversation, it’s easier to motivate people to engage with a demo. The scenario is a little trickier at a virtual event. Driving demos at a digital venue requires a light touch that doesn’t interrupt the overall attendee experience. It requires connecting real-time conversations during the event to post-event demos.

That’s where Drift came in.

He created an experience to mimic the interaction buyers would enjoy at an in-person event booth. The concept was to strike up relevant conversations in the context of the overall event experience. So, for instance, the opener might be something like, “Hey, Jane. I see you’re at Celosphere Live. That accounts payable session was interesting. Do you want to hop on a demo right now and get that process smoothed out?”

The experience struck a chord with Celonis’ target buyers, and Turner racked up 98 demo-oriented conversations during Celosphere.

With the support of Drift, Turner and his colleagues transformed Celosphere from a well-established in-person conference to an online-only event – in just 10 days. While immensely challenging, the event’s success has given Turner the confidence to experiment with virtual events in the future.

“In retrospect, the only thing we wish we’d done differently was implementing Drift earlier,” says Turner, reflecting on Celosphere. “It felt almost like a miracle that we were able to get Drift up and running as quickly as we did. If we’d had more time, we know we could have made even better use of Drift’s features.”

Taking Targeting One Step Further

The second stage allows you to expand Conversational Marketing into new, exciting areas – paid ad traffic, particular personas, webinar attendees, and so on. The next step is directly targeting buyers with artificial intelligence. Instead of speaking to groups of buyers, AI lets you speak to individual people, creating hyper-personalized experiences and dissolving every last ounce of friction. Find out how in the next chapter.

Blueprint Stage #3 –  Accelerate Deal Cycles

Picture this. You head up recruitment at a new startup and need a people management platform to manage your organization. You review the main players and pick out a frontrunner. Before you pull the trigger, you have one important question: does it integrate with your payroll software?

You want an answer now, but it’s late and the company’s customer support is closed. So you pull up their website to search for information yourself. As you’re reading about product features, a chat box pops up.

“Can I help you with your research?” it asks.

The chat window has an open text box, so you explain that you’re looking for information on whether the product integrates with your payroll software.

Without any input from a human agent, the bot considers your request and, after dropping some technical integration documents into the chat, it replies: “It sure does! Would you like to book a demo to see it in action?”

You agree and book a demo with a sales rep. It goes well, and you sign up a couple of weeks later.

Say hello to the third stage of Conversational Marketing: deal acceleration.

Your ‘Accelerate Deal Cycles’ Blueprint

The first stage of Conversational Marketing concentrates on engaging your website visitors. The second targets your ideal customer profiles. The third goes one step deeper, delivering deeply personalized experiences tailored to individual buyers.

Here’s the conversational experience you’re building.

You’re looking for people coming to your website in a buying mindset, and you’re helping them find answers, support, or products as quickly as possible.

And you’re doing it with artificial intelligence.

You use sophisticated AI to take Conversational Marketing beyond rigid decision trees. Instead of delivering a series of discrete options and shepherding buyers from one branch to the next, your tech understands what your buyers are saying and responds intelligently.

There are two specific pieces of technology at play: the classifier and dialogue manager.

The classifier is like the language center of the AI’s brain. It reads everything your users type and works out precisely what they mean.

But the classifier on its own is only half the equation. For your bot to deliver solutions, it’s got to respond to what your buyers are saying. That’s where your dialogue manager comes in.

The dialogue manager is the logical part of the AI’s brain. It takes the input from the classifier and decides what to do with it. For example, if someone asks about pricing, do you ask follow-up qualifying questions, direct them to your pricing page, or offer a demo?

Working in partnership, the classifier and dialogue manager can listen to what your buyer wants and respond dynamically. For example, if a buyer requests a demo during a conversation about features, your bot will switch gears and set up the demo then and there. That’s just part of why Conversational Marketing blows traditional decision trees out of the water.

Now that you understand what’s going on behind the scenes, let’s take a look at the template.

Accelerate Deal Cycles Template

Although your bots are largely autonomous, they don’t think completely for themselves. They won’t go rogue and respond with off-brand messages. How they act and what they suggest are both tied to your use case.

In stage three, we recommend these 11 Use Cases.

Accelerate Deal Cycles Use Cases

AI-Powered Chat

Email

Video

Getting all these use cases set up is a significant undertaking, so we suggest you start with the first three: Website Concierge, Homepage, and Sales Development Rep. Once you’ve got them dialed in, you can work down the ladder, designing and launching more advanced uses.

AI-Powered Chat: Website Concierge

Unless you work at a global conglomerate, chances are your sales, marketing, and success departments aren’t staffed 24 hours a day. And that’s a problem. What do you do when a potential buyer or existing customer contacts you when your employees are sleeping?

Even a couple of years ago, there wasn’t an effective way to deal with people who contacted you outside of working hours. Perhaps you automatically redirected them to an FAQ page or offered to book a call back. Neither option was particularly effective.

But now, things are different. Using an Website Concierge use case, your bot can step in and handle all frontline interactions, engaging visitors on their schedule, instead of forcing them to align with yours.

Website Concierge Use Case Template

Email: Re-engagement Campaign

It’s natural for buyers to meander away from potential deals. Something important might have come up at home or their work may have become particularly busy. Just because a buyer stops interacting doesn’t mean they aren’t interested.

When your buyers go quiet, that’s where a Re-engagement Campaign use case comes in handy.

Re-engagement Campaign Template

Here’s one of the email scripts we use to bring distracted buyers back to a conversation.

Subject

We haven’t seen you in a while

Email body

Hi {{“first name” or “there”}},

We noticed that you haven’t been interacting with Pied Piper content very much.

I know it’s been a while since we connected on a data solution, and we’ve launched a lot of new features we’d love to tell you about.

So I thought you’d be interested in taking a peek at our [link] Analyst’s Ultimate Guide to Data Management.

It covers:

  • What is a data management platform?
  • How intelligent is AI?
  • Is my information secure?

…and much more! Once you’ve read it – I’d love to answer any follow up questions.

If you’re still interested – reply to start the conversation!

Video: SDR to AE Meeting Handoff Intro

The handoff between SDR and AE is critical for any sale cycle. Get it wrong and you risk alienating your potential buyer and losing the sale. But get it right and you keep the conversation flowing and strengthen your relationship.

For your Handoff experience, we recommend your SDRs record and send a video introduction within 24 hours of a prospect booking a meeting.

SDR to AE Meeting Handoff Intro Template

Here’s one script our SDRs use.

Title

Looking forward to [insert date of meeting], [first name]!

Video Script

Hey {{first name}},

Thanks so much for connecting with me earlier! Wanted to quickly introduce you to [name of AE], who you’ll be speaking to [insert day of week].

I let him/her/they know we discussed [insert what was discussed] and they are stoked to learn more about your upcoming projects to see how we can help.

Feel free to use the chat, **cue pointing your right hand to the left** to leave me any feedback, otherwise we’ll see you [insert date of meeting]!

Thank you for watching [first name]!

How Smartling Increased Meetings Booked by 86%

When Adrian Cohn took charge of Smartling’s brand and communication strategy, he instantly knew something was wrong. Despite its impressive service and strong reputation with customers, the translation company’s website was stuck in the past.

“It was also painfully obvious that our challenge was beyond messaging: The buyer experience was old-fashioned,” Adrian says. “Our website was stuck in 2010 and was too old school. Hard to navigate. Forms everywhere. Complicated buying process. We spent a lot of time developing the website with very little return.”

And it wasn’t just a gut feel. The data backed up his suspicion. Adrian looked under the hood and discovered that despite Smartling’s considerable web traffic, people weren’t filling out the forms when they got to the site.

But he didn’t linger on the negative.

“We recognized that our brand experience wasn’t a competitive advantage,” Adrian says, “but we knew that it could be.”

He decided to completely rebuild Smartling’s website, redesigning and launching a replacement in just one month. It was no small feat – new content, a refreshed brand position, and, perhaps most importantly, not a single form in sight. Smartling’s new website now relies entirely on a Conversational Marketing platform to drive real-time, one-to-one conversations.

“I knew a form wasn’t the way anymore,” Adrian says. “Instead of the complex forms of the past, we asked three simple questions through Drift: ‘Do you want to know about our translators, do you want to know about our technology, or do you want to book a meeting right now?’”

By rolling out Conversational Marketing, Smartling’s buyers now had choices. They could pick their own path. By engaging customers immediately and getting rid of forms, Adrian was confident the improved customer experience would make it more likely for interested people to share their contact information.

He was right. Smartling doubled its conversion of leads engaged on their website through Conversational Marketing.

But this was just the beginning.

Fast forward to a year later. While conversations were up, Adrian saw an opportunity to go further and drive even more innovation in Smartling’s buyer experience.

As he saw it, there were three major problems:

  1. Conversations weren’t consistently leading to booked meetings.
  2. Incorrect answers and slow SDR response times were costing them leads.
  3. Smartling was losing interested buyers during offline hours.

Adrian’s next step was to bring in automated Conversational Marketing. He had a pretty good idea of what this would look like.

“I thought about how frequently I use search – via Google and on websites – to answer specific questions immediately,” Adrian says. “How could we replicate that, and make the experience even better through the familiar experience of chat? Our interested buyers were coming to the Smartling website and searching for answers. I wanted every question someone had to become a conversation with Smartling through Drift.”

That’s exactly what Adrian and the marketing team did with AI-powered chat. By learning the most common questions and the best answers, every conversation with Smartling was like speaking to Smartling’s most qualified expert – only faster. Smartling went from engaging people eight hours a day, to having conversations with potential buyers 24/7.

No more wrong answers, no more waiting.

With Conversational Marketing and AI-powered chat, Smartling drives multiple hundreds of conversations every month, which turn into qualified meetings for Smartling’s sales team.

Creating Clarity and Alignment

The first three stages of Conversational Marketing allow you to target buyers at different levels. First, every website visitor. Second, specific target accounts. And third, individual people. At each level, you’re delivering a more personalized experience with less friction for the buyer, easing them through the purchase funnel towards conversion.

But to succeed at any of these stages, you need cooperation and collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. Without that cohesion, buyers will get stuck and your conversions will crumble.

In the next chapter, we’ll explore how to build foundational alignment between these functional orgs and learn how the specifics of alignment change between each.

Align and Act with Sales

The disconnect between sales and marketing is legendary. Despite the fact that these two functional areas are most responsible for generating revenue, they often seem to be working from separate playbooks.

But this disjointed approach isn’t viable anymore. It’s time to align marketing and sales to deliver a more productive environment for your employees, create a richer experience for your buyers, and ultimately accelerate your revenue.

With Conversational Marketing, sales and marketing don’t just align their goals. Instead, they act together as one team to produce a seamless conversation that flows from a prospect’s first touchpoint all the way through their buying journey and customer experience.

Matt Amundson, VP of Marketing at EverString, describes Conversational Marketing as “allowing the prospect to learn at their own pace and to connect with a salesperson when they feel the time is right, not once they reach an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all behavioral score that triggers outreach from sales.”

Agreement on outcomes is critically important. Sales leaders must work closely with their marketing counterparts to agree on buyer and business outcomes. You should collaborate on quarterly and monthly planning, and strategize together regularly so your marketing team is generating the conversations and leads your sales reps actually want.

Effective alignment also relies on convergence. With Conversational Marketing, you aren’t just narrowing the gap between sales and marketing. You’re driving convergence between the two teams, encouraging reps to get involved earlier and marketers to stay engaged later.

But alignment goes further than these basic foundational agreements. As you progress deeper into the Conversational Marketing Blueprint, the relationship between sales and marketing must evolve and become more nuanced at every step.

Stage #1: Engage Website Visitors

Early on, alignment is about connecting sales with the most qualified visitors – and doing it as fast as possible.

Leaders from both functional orgs need to get together and foster a tight partnership, particularly between demand generation and sales development. That means collaboratively deciding what makes a good potential buyer and co-creating quality qualification questions.

When these two teams are in sync, every buyer you attract will be the right fit for your organization.

Stage #2: Target Potential Buyers

In the second stage, alignment centers on targeting specifically what sorts of buyers you’re going after. It’s about bringing sales and marketing together and outlining not just your ideal customer profile, but also your more selective VIP lists.

Once you have those definitions set, you need to work out how to engage members of each target account’s buying tribe. Sometimes that’s as simple as setting up notifications that alert sales reps whenever a target account is on your website. Other times it’s more in-depth outbound touches.

What’s most important is that sales and marketing act together. These are collaborative tasks and actions, and you’ll only drive real revenue growth when your functional teams act as one.

Stage #3: Accelerate Deal Cycles

In the third stage, alignment is all about creating the fastest possible feedback loops. For example, when marketing publishes a piece of content and buyers engage with it, your sales org needs to send feedback to marketing. That feedback loop helps your marketing org create better sales assets, which in turn helps your sales reps sell more efficiently. At Drift, we do that with weekly check-ins. Each meeting provides an opportunity for analysis and improvement, ensuring that we’re getting better every week.

High-performance organizations constantly refine and improve their conversational experiences based on feedback – but there are more sources of feedback than just your colleagues.

When you’re using AI-powered tools, optimization is always running behind the scenes – and it’s way faster than humans. Artificial intelligence can change buyers’ experiences on the fly, tweaking how they’re engaged, routed, and so on.

Building Alignment and Action

Marketing and sales alignment isn’t a simple switch that you flick on. It’s a mindset you need to adopt and a set of behaviors you must learn.

At the start, progress may be slow. But once teams start to experience the value in alignment – higher-quality buyers, stronger targeting, faster improvements – the rate of adoption picks up. Ultimately, what you’re aiming for isn’t just alignment. Your end goal should be convergence, with sales and marketing thinking and acting together as one revenue org.

Get Started Today

We live in a world where buyers expect instant responses to their questions and the ability to buy almost anything with just a few clicks. If you can’t deliver the experience customers have come to expect, they’re guaranteed to leave and find a competitor who can.

For years, businesses have neglected this fact, slipping instead into a company-first or shareholder-first mindset. They traded tight-knit relationships with customers for sales efficiency and revenue. They told themselves that it was a necessary trade-off, that it’s impossible to scale that special one-to-one treatment they were able to provide as a scrappy startup.

But this is a false dichotomy.

Conversational marketing revolutionizes your customer experience while streamlining your sales and marketing operations. It accelerates your revenue without letting either your customers or business down.

Ready to get started? Download the Conversational Marketing Blueprint Workbook Now.

Get started with Conversational Marketing

This step by step blueprint gives you actionable guidelines to set you up for success with Conversational Marketing NOW.