EDGE hosts Erin Sparks (Site Strategics CEO) and Tom Brodbeck (Site Strategics Digital Media Director) talked with Dave Gerhardt, VP of Marketing at Drift in EDGE of the Web Episode 300 to find out more about conversational marketing and why it’s such an important concept for today’s digital marketers to understand and implement. Here’s what we learned:

What is Conversational Marketing?

Drift’s CEO Dave Cancel and CTO Elias Torres are the ones who had the foresight to see that conversational marketing was going to become an important new direction in digital marketing, and they built the Drift platform to facilitate action and results for early adopters.

Mark Schaefer’s new book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, is a great example of why a platform like Drift is so important right now. He says marketers have to stop lying. Marketers can’t have secrets anymore. Those words sound raw and harsh, but he’s right. You have to win on brand, you have to win by having your customers be your primary marketers. Marketers can no longer dictate how people get content. Marketers have to deliver content to the customers where, when and how they want it.

This is having a huge impact on marketing, and especially B2B marketing. When the customer comes to you already having done 90% of the research, it changes the sales process. Instead of it being about budget, authority, needs, timing and this big discovery process, it’s now more like, “Hey, thanks for checking us out. What can I help you with? Why are you here?” And that is a complete shift from how marketing was before. Conversational marketing is all about connecting you NOW with the people who are ready to buy NOW while they’re on your website. This is how brick and mortar stores work. If somebody walked into your store, you wouldn’t ignore them. You would say, “How are you doing? Let me know if you have any questions.” That is exactly what conversational marketing does for your website.

Marketing should be a two-way channel – a conversation. But marketing has lost its way and just blasts people with information instead of engaging people in a real conversation. Sales in the real world, face-to-face, happen because of conversations. But the B2B world has lost sight of that and the technologies haven’t evolved to facilitate it. Instead of the one-way “spray and pray” approach, conversational marketing is a scalable way to have those essential conversations with your customer and still get all the data you need, all the lead generation and tools you need out of it. Because we were early in this market, we heard all those pain points and made sure we addressed all of them as we developed the Drift platform. Drift is what marketing automation looks like for a world that runs on conversations.

Drift can send the conversation into your company’s Slack account so that anyone in the company who has the answers for the customer can engage the conversation. It allows the best customers who are ready to have meaningful interaction get to the people in your company who can have that conversation.

The All-Important NOW Factor

A disturbing statistic is how 58% of B2B websites are like empty stores leaking revenues. Marketers get so wrapped up in the quantity and quality of leads that they totally miss following up on those leads. If you had a big campaign to get people into your brick-and-mortar store and all these people showed up, would you just ignore them? If you did, they would just leave and go somewhere else to get what they want. Now imagine later that day the customer gets home and receives a phone call from the store thanking you for stopping by. The customers are obviously going to wonder why you didn’t just talk to them when they were in your store. But this is exactly what is happening on most B2B websites.

Drift filled out “contact me” forms on 500 B2B websites. In 75% of the cases, they never heard back from the company, ever. Or they didn’t hear back within five days, which is like an eternity. If customers don’t hear back very quickly, they’re going to go elsewhere. This is the NOW factor of conversational marketing Drift addresses with chatbots. Most businesses will say they can’t afford to have people sitting around waiting to answer those contact forms, but chatbots can get the process started 24/7/365. My response is always, how can you afford not to talk to the people who come to you? And the chatbot part of the solution is so much easier to implement than people think. It’s not hard at all. You let the bots automate a lot of the front-end details needed: What’s your name? What’s your role? What industry are you in? How much revenue do you have? What’s your budget? How many employees? The customer is then free to have the right conversation with the right person having already gotten through all those mundane details really quickly. The chatbots don’t replace humans, they share the workload.

When you think about all the noise marketers have to cut through to get their message heard, it’s a real accomplishment to get anyone to actually visit your website, so why wouldn’t you immediately have a conversation with them? It makes no sense to drive people to your store only to ignore them. Conversational marketing is how you move a B2B from later to NOW, from being a Yellow Cab Company to an Uber or Lyft, from a Blockbuster to a Netflix. This is how people want to buy today – NOW, not later. Drift is like a NOW button for any B2B website.

Connect with Dave Gerhardt and Drift

Special EDGE Fans Offer from Site Strategics

If it’s time to find the true ROI of your digital marketing efforts, EDGE sponsor Site Strategics can help with a Digital Marketing ROI Report about your existing SEO, content, social media, and PPC. Get a 30% discount at https://edgeofthewebradio.com/roi!