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CMO @ CaptivateIQ | Former CMO @ Drift
Chatbot leads inherently have high intent – they’re on your website and want to engage with your team.
Is your chatbot’s initial response personalized or generic? How will that lead be routed? Is the sales team prepared to respond quickly?
In this episode of Closing Time, Katie Foote shares practical ways to create a chatbot marketing strategy, align go-to-market teams to get the most out of prospect chats, and facilitate human conversations that build meaningful relationships.
Chatbots and conversational marketing are rapidly gaining momentum in the technology landscape. To maximize the potential of inbound chatbot leads, go-to-market leaders should focus on establishing alignment and understanding between marketing and sales regarding target audiences, messaging, and appropriate tactics. This ensures that when marketing initiates the conversation, sales is prepared to take it forward.
Consider the role of live chat on a website as part of an account-based marketing (ABM) program – when driving inbound traffic to your site, sales should be ready to engage in those conversations as quickly as possible, ideally in 5 seconds or less. Rather than treating chat as a mere form, it should be viewed as a live conversation where speed plays a critical role. Leaders should set strict SLA or expectations as it relates to response time and engagement with chats. Whether it’s a sales development representative (SDR) or an account executive (AE) handling an open opportunity, they need to be well-informed about why a lead is reaching out.
Here are other additional tips for chatbot marketing:
1. Treat every conversation as an opportunity to build a relationship. Prioritize relational, empathetic, and human-based interactions.
2. Continuously analyze and optimize chatbot performance based on metrics like response time, engagement rates, and conversions.
3. Incorporate natural language processing and AI capabilities to enhance chatbot interactions and provide personalized recommendations.
4. Implement proactive chat prompts to engage visitors who may need assistance but haven’t initiated a conversation.
5. Regularly update chatbot content, ensuring accuracy, relevance, and alignment with current marketing strategies.
6. Integrate chatbot data with other customer relationship management systems to gain comprehensive insights and streamline lead management processes.
Conversational marketing serves different purposes depending on your target audience and goals. The overall strategy aims to empower website visitors – allowing them to navigate your site as they please. However, as soon as they show a readiness to engage, your team should be readily available. For instance, if a visitor lands on your pricing page and has questions, you want to provide immediate answers. A successful chatbot marketing strategy emphasizes being responsive and meeting the needs of potential customers.
In the case of a robust account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, you can create targeted ABM playbooks that include customized messaging, landing pages, and conversational chat marketing flows. These playbooks are designed with specific calls to action and cater to the unique requirements of your marketing strategy – ranging from general engagement on high-traffic pages to highly personalized ABM playbooks. As a marketer, you have the flexibility to choose the approach that aligns best with your objectives and use case.
When it comes to the initial engagement of a chatbot on a website, the first few questions you ask are the most important. You’ll also want to be sure that the chatbot reflects the voice and personality of your brand. At Drift, for example, their approach is conversational and approachable. They often start with questions like “How are you today?” or “Is there anything we can help you with?” They aim to create a genuine connection with visitors by infusing personality into the initial chat.
The nature of the page where the chatbot resides also influences the type of questions asked. On a more generic “engage all” playbook, typically found on high-traffic pages, the questions are designed to engage anyone who lands on the site, regardless of their specific reasons for visiting. On the other hand, if the chatbot is part of a targeted account-based marketing (ABM) campaign, the questions will be tailored to that specific audience. Remember, the goal is to establish a positive and meaningful interaction that prompts visitors to explore further or seek assistance as needed.
To explore further ideas and strategies for developing your chatbot playbook, Drift offers a valuable resource called “Really Good Chat Bots.” This recently launched e-book, authored by one of their former customer success managers, provides over 50 different hooks and ideas to guide you at various stages of maturity.
Once engagement occurs and a visitor starts interacting with your chatbot, the next step is to route those leads to the appropriate team–whether it’s your sales team, SDR team, or customer success team–depending on the customer’s needs. To achieve a “speed to lead” strategy at Drift, they employ a round-robin routing system where the available team member who can respond promptly jumps into the conversation. However, if an organization has stricter engagement rules and prefers to assign specific accounts to particular AEs or SDRs they should integrate the routing process with a CRM system. The decision on how to set up the routing mechanism depends on the organization’s preferences and strategic objectives. With a successful routing system in place, chatbot conversations can prove to be a productive and high-converting lead source.
Launching and maintaining a successful chatbot marketing campaign takes time, resources, and experimentation. Here are some common mistakes that go-to-market leaders make when implementing and running a chatbot:
1. Lack of strategic targeting: Organizations need to define their target accounts, drive relevant traffic to their website, and determine the desired pages and conversations to have. This ensures that when leads engage with the chatbot, the sales team recognizes the value and responds promptly.
2. Employees aren’t incentivized to respond quickly: Leaders should create the right incentives for sales teams to respond quickly, such as implementing financial rewards tied to meeting the 5-second response time SLA (Service Level Agreement).
3. “Set it and forget it” mentality: Similar to email marketing, chatbot marketing requires ongoing attention and personalization. Someone passionate about conversational sales, marketing, and service in the organization, even as part of their role, can drive strategy and continual improvement.
4. Minimal personalization: A mix of universal playbooks and personalized chatbot interactions yields better results than solely relying on generic approaches. Tailoring conversations to specific visitors enhances engagement and lifts overall performance.
Is your sales team chomping at the bit for more chat leads, or are they lukewarm on them? Get the scoop in this episode of. Closing Time. Hi, I’m Chip House, CMO at Insightly. Welcome to Closing Time, the show for go-to-market leaders. I’m joined today by Katie Foote. She’s the CMO of Drift, a fast growing SaaS business in the conversation cloud space. Welcome, Katie. Thank you, Chip. So excited to be here. It’s super great to have you and Katie, you know, we go back years and years. I know you’ve been doing. SaaS for 15 plus years. We work together at ExactTarget and at Salesforce years ago. And your career has really taken off. So tell me more about what’s going on at Drift. Yeah, it’s an exciting time at Drift. We have been so fortunate to experience what we call hypergrowth within our business. The business, we started back in 2016 and under this whole premise, which to me is just very inspirational, that B2B shopping experiences really missed the mark when you compare them to B2C. And if you’ve ever heard our co-founder speak they talk a lot about this concept of, imagine yourself going into an Apple store or into one of your favorite brands and there’s no one in the store you’re ready to purchase something there’s no one there to help you. And there’s a little post-it note on the checkout counter that says, fill out this form, we’ll get back to you in 48 hours or so. That doesn’t make any sense. So why would that apply in the B2B space? And so that was the whole premise for Drift, was really putting the buyer and the buyer experience at the center of everything we do. And we’ve just evolved very quickly since then. We just recently launched back in. March, what we call and you introduce this just a moment ago, The Conversation Cloud, which is really expanding beyond conversational marketing and just the live chat space into sales and service as well, because buyers like you and me, we really do expect that instant gratification and we want one digital experience across every stage of the customer lifecycle. So it’s been very exciting to be a part of the company now for over a year. And it reminds me a lot of our time back in email marketing when it was kind of having its moment and growing very quickly. That’s, that’s what I like and a lot of my experience and chat to be similar to. Yeah, just like email was in its heyday, maybe 15, 20 years ago almost. It was really, really taking off, now chat and conversational marketing is really catching its stride. So it’s when you think about what your service does at Drift,. Katie, and you’re working closely with people who are building websites, with marketers, with salespeople, you’re really kind of touching the top of the funnel or kind of middle of the funnel, I guess, for you know, once, once leads start engaging with a brand. You know, so how can sales teams do a better job than they are today, potentially at picking up those leads and making the most of them? Well, I think and this is true for any marketing tactic, having alignment with sales and an understanding for who are we targeting, what messages do we want to deliver, what tactics do we think are appropriate so that, you know, when marketing winds up and throws the pitch, sales is there to catch the ball, is really important. So I think that’s just foundational. Now, if we talk specifically about live chat, for instance, on a website, you’ve run a particular ABM program, you want to drive inbound visitors to your site. You need to make sure that sales is aligned to pick up that conversation. And the way we think about chat is not just a fancy form. It’s very much that, a live conversation, and speed really matters. So when a chat comes inbound, whether it’s an SDR that’s working that or an AE that’s working an open opportunity, we want them to be well educated, well versed in why that lead might be coming inbound, that’s a person, and we want them to be able to have a really positive conversation within 5 seconds or less because that timeliness really does matter. Yeah. So give me those stats again. How fast is ideal? 5 seconds or less is ideal to to launch into a chat and we have very robust I mean, obviously we use our own product within our own marketing and sales motion and we have very robust. SLAs and expectations. And you know, again, if you keep this whole premise of meeting the buyer where they’re at, if we think about our own experiences, if someone’s coming to a website, they have high intent, they’re there for a reason. And if they you know, if they initiate a chat conversation, we need to be there to engage right away. Yeah. I may have misspoke when I was talking earlier. I said higher funnel or middle funnel but you know, when somebody is at a website, they’re already there, potentially they’ve clicked on some sort of ad to get there. Right. Or they’ve come in organically through some sort of search. Is the point of conversational marketing to actually proactively engage them? Or do you want them to navigate your site as they will? We really want, the strategy is different depending on who you’re targeting, what you’re trying to accomplish. But we want them to feel empowered and be in the driver’s seat. And if they are ready to engage with us, we want to be right there. So if they go to our pricing page and they have questions about pricing, we want to be able to answer right away. If we’ve developed a robust account based marketing strategy where let’s say we’ve sent a direct mail to a high intent prospect that asks them to come to our website, we even build like very specific targeted ABM playbooks on our site with specific calls to action. So it really kind of depends what your marketing strategy is in your use case. And they range all the way from kind of engage all on your top traffic pages to very bespoke customized ABM playbooks. There’s a wide range of options as a marketer. So you might have an account based marketing campaign where you have a very well defined set list of accounts potentially with intent. Right. Or at least that’s your target list that you’ve coordinated with your sales team and you’re building a specific campaign with a customized messaging, customized landing page, customized conversational chat marketing flow, right? Absolutely. And that’s going to step one of the journey. Step two is when the SDR or AE then engages in conversation. And again, we always have this premise of wanting to deliver the next best action to deepen that engagement with a prospect or even a customer. So say more about that, next best action. Yeah. I mean, you have to really gauge what is it the prospect or the the buyer is asking for. Are they wanting just some high level information? Maybe they’re just wanting to read some more about thought leadership Maybe they want to talk immediately to a sales rep about pricing. So we use our patented AI, as well as making sure that our sales organization is properly enabled to listen to what the buyer is asking for and then respond appropriately with the next best action. Makes sense. Yeah. And by doing that, well, you’re actually making the AI seem more human, right? And more sort of respectful of the human. Yes, absolutely. And you know, we believe that through that machine learning, engaging in that human experience and that personalization is critical. AI is never going to fully replace that human connection, but we believe that having that type of initial experience on the site, when you are routed to a human for a live conversation, it just makes it feel more connected throughout the entire process. So what kind of questions do you generally see work the best, Katie, for the initial chat bot engagement on a website? You know, it kind of depends. I think one of the most important things is that you are true to your brand and your chat bot is kind of, you know, taking on the voice of who you are. At Drift, we are approachable, we’re conversational. You know, we will ask how are you today? Is there anything we can help you with? We try to infuse personality in our chats initially, and it does again depend on kind of which page that chat is living on. It’s much more generic on what we call an engage all playbook. So one of your more trafficked pages can be just trying to engage anyone who comes to the site for a variety of different reasons. If you’re coming from a specific ABM campaign, it’s obviously going to be much more targeted. We have a great e-book that just launched about a month ago called Really Good Chat Bots. It’s written by one of our former CSMs, and there’s a bunch of great hooks and great ideas when you’re building out your chat playbook strategy. So I would encourage folks to go to our website and check out that e-book because I believe it has more than 50 different hooks that you could choose from depending on where you are in maturity. So that is super helpful. Katie. So let’s take the next step, so once the engagement happens, right, and a visitor, a potential buyer is engaging with your chat bot, you know, what’s the best practice for routing those leads to your sales team, your SDR team or your CS team, depending on, you know, whatever the customer is looking for. So when we’re advising a customer on how to do that, when you’re implementing Drift, we typically want to understand what are your goals as an organization? Do you have a speed to lead methodology where you want to get to that conversation as quickly as possible? And that’s actually our approach. We really want to honor that 5 seconds or less. Let’s make sure we get in front of the prospect. We have a round robin routing system, so whoever is available within that 5 seconds or less will jump into the conversation and chat with that customer. If you were an organization that has much stricter engagement rules where you only want that account to go to a particular AE, for example, or a particular SDR, we typically would run that through a CRM system based on how we lead score. So there’s a couple of different ways that you can set that up. And again, it’s up to the the organization with whom we’re working, and we just want to ask questions and understand what their strategic goals are. So, you know, when you see organizations put these in place, by the way, because we’re just, we just updated our Drift chat bot on our website and yeah, we’re happy with the results we’ve seen thus far. It’s always been a productive lead source for us. But what do you see are some of the biggest challenges that organizations have and maybe what the the biggest mistakes are that you see made. You kind of need to get into the tactical details on what types of accounts are we targeting? Who do we want to actually drive to our site? Which pages do we want to drive them to? What types of conversations do we want to have? So that when you when an individual comes inbound and is engaging in those chats, AEs trust the credibility of that lead source and they want to engage really quickly if they feel like we don’t really want to work this because it’s not fruitful for us, it’s not going to be successful. You also have to make sure that the financial incentives are in place for sales to want to respond to that SLA in 5 seconds or less. I think that’s always a consideration when you’re developing your workflows for both your SDR and your AE organizations. I think other big mistakes is you can’t really just set it and forget it, right? I mean, if we think back to email marketing and the importance of personalization and, you know, 15 years ago when email marketing was in its heyday, it could change people’s careers. You know, a lot of times that role of an email marketer like it would land in your lap and you’re like, I don’t know anything about this. So you learn about it. You take it on as a plus one to your existing day job. I think you have to have someone passionate about conversation, cloud, conversational, sales, marketing and service in your organization. Even if it’s just a plus one part of their job, they’re thinking about it. They have a set strategy. If you just have five playbooks running on your site, that are very universal and not personalized, you’re not necessarily going to see as much lift as if you have a mix of both more generic as well as more personalized approaches. So you talked about speed, you talked about personalization. Katie, what else? What kind of final thoughts would you have for salespeople or the SDR front line people that are out there trying to engage with chat bot leads? You know, I think just remembering that while, yes, we’re selling software to make human connections more powerful, it’s all about that connection and to treat every conversation in a relational way, in an empathetic way and a human based way. Again, it’s not a fancy form that we’re asking in peppering a bunch of questions to a prospect or a customer. It’s truly about that human connection. We have a tagline at Drift of every relationship starts with a conversation, and that’s the power of what we provide, is facilitating that human connection. And if we think about how isolated we were during the pandemic, how many of us work remotely now, technology still holds the power to connect us. And so I would leave everyone with that inspirational thought. So, Katie, I love that, every relationship begins with a conversation. Well, that’s a great way to leave us all. And thanks again for joining us. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been great. Make sure all of you at home click the subscribe button and tick the bell so you don’t miss any episodes. And we’ll see you next time.