We’re always talking about the need to create personalized website experiences but never seem to be able to do it in a way that’s effective and scalable. So maybe it’s time to rethink how we need to create these experiences. Maybe we need to consider a new future for B2B marketing?
Drift believes it has that new future in conversational marketing, and it's releasing a new suite of new products to prove it. Matt Tippets, SVP of Product at Drift, took me through some new products announced today and shared Drift’s vision for the future of B2B marketing.
Your digital concierge
According to Tippets, Drift has an “interesting piece of real estate on the website” and it’s directly owned and interacted with by each buyer. This is the Drift widget. That piece of real estate is now expanding to offer more apps that will help buyers quickly get access to the information they need.
It’s called the Drift Site Concierge. Along with the Drift chatbot, there are now apps (or widgets) that offer additional capabilities:
- A meeting app - shown to qualified visitors to enable them to set a meeting.
- Recommendations app - show AI-recommended content targeted to the visitor, as well as crowdsourced topics. The AI looks at the visitor’s behavior and profile, as well as the history of what they’ve done with the content.
- GPT Search - including both starter questions and the ability to ask freeform questions to get information.
Tippets said this isn’t about not pushing content at people, but rather allowing them to decide how they want to engage, and not just the first time they are on the site. When the visitor comes back, the Concierge remembers the content they integrated with and the questions they asked.
Which apps should you show? Tippets said Drift recommends GPT Search and Recommended Content to start, especially if the visitor is anonymous. But for people who engage with high-intent materials, or people flagged as high-intent buyers, also show them the meeting app and the chat experience. You can also target visitors based on segments like demographics, industry, behavior, and site activity. And the apps shown can change in real-time as the website visitor interacts with the site and its content.
A bionic chatbot
Drift is re-imagining the chatbot experience with the help of generative AI. The new Bionic Chatbot is a GPT-powered chat with guardrails and business processes applied. The bot is trained against the company’s data, providing the accuracy and relevance needed.
Tippets said the goal is still to drive business, not have never-ending conversations, so the bot will automatically identify if someone is expressing support behavior or purchase behavior. When it does, it will ask the visitor if they if they need specific help and then route them down that specific.
Think about TV's The Bionic Woman. She was mostly human, but had bionic parts (like her bionic ear) that helped her in situations when she needed to do something quickly. The bionic chatbot is the same. The GPT deals with the basic questions, but when it looks like the person needs more sales-oriented support, the marketer takes control. This happens using a decision-tree, Tippets explained, where the marketer can configure the steps to take after someone is qualified.
I asked Tippets how conversations are tracked. He said the traditional chatbot is structured so it can capture clicks. Now with GPT, it can capture freeform text and stores the entire text. It analyzes the text to identify topics today, but the roadmap has such bots able to analyze the text in real-time to learn what’s being said and how to map it to important topics.
Sentiment is another consideration. It’s not part of the Bionic Chatbot now, but when Drift’s sentiment engine is integrated, customers will be able to put more guard rails in place to quickly identify what the person needs and them in a structured conversation.
Finding high-intent buyers
The third new product Drift is introducing is Drift Engage, based on a partnership with Lift AI, a data provider. Lift AI assigns an intent score to website visitors based on their behavior. Drift uses Lift’s intent score to target white-glove playbooks or experiences to high-intent buyers that you can’t map to a specific account (remember those 70% of website visitors most companies can’t identify?).
Drift also provides the score to SDRs and BDRs looking at website visitors to help them understand how to engage with the visitor, create segments based on the scores, and enables you to share the score with other systems.
Why is this the future?
I asked Tippets why Drift believes these products are indicative of the future of B2B marketing. He said it’s a convergence of three things:
Giving the buyer control
In the consumer world, the buyer is in control and decides when they want to do something. But in the B2B world, the business still owns the experience. They tell buyers what they want them to do, gate content, and maintain control over when and how meetings are offered. Essentially, buyers lack control and that needs to change. Tippets said:
So, it's taking this concept of here's a little space of the website that is fully interactive, not just clicking links, but fully interactive bidirectionally and giving the buyer all of the information at their fingertips, giving them control over that space and making it persistent, meaning it follows them across every webpage and it follows them on their next web visit. So that's probably using too many words. But effectively, it's giving people a wallet for the B2B website, where generally buyers don't own or can't control any aspect of the website.
Listening to the customer
The historical strength of Drift has been conversational data. This is the true voice of the customer data. Not traffic, not activity, not behavior - it’s the customer telling you exactly what they need and care about. According to Tippets:
Typically we track data on customers based on clicking on a website or opening an email or what they've completed in their form. If they tell us something through a live chat or through a chat bot with Drift they're actually telling you directly what they care about and what they need from you. So, listening to the true voice of the customer, like literally what they're telling you and then activating that throughout their whole experience.
Leveraging AI the right way
AI/GPT is used across the tech stack in different ways. Drift is giving the business more guard rails and control over GPT and allowing the AI to provide a cohesive experience across the buyer’s journey.
Put these three things together and you start to see how the B2B buyer experience needs to evolve. Drift is building on its conversational marketing model to build that more relevant, targeted engagement that website visitors want, said Tippets:
But ultimately, as a business buyer, I've got another job to do, right. My job is not to shop for software, shop for services. And so the website is generally something that I go to because I have to. I don't want to study the website, and I don't want to have to click every link on the website. The more we can surface things and have it be driven right then and there, we're hopeful that it makes a bit of a transformation to how buyers can interact in B2B scenarios.
B2B marketing does need to evolve. We can’t continue with the same strategies that may have worked well five to ten years ago but aren’t working today. People are smarter. They have higher expectations and are less tolerant of generic messages.
And while B2C and B2B marketing are not the same thing, B2B marketers need to recognize that every business person looking for new software and services tends to have that B2C shopping experience in the back of their mind. What can be learned from B2C to help improve B2B marketing? And where does generative AI need to live in that new model?
Drift may be on to something with these new products by giving customers more control. And maybe we can finally move on from this desire to personalize the website experience.