Any marketer striving for greens knows how important it is to connect with the audience and establish a rapport that makes way for two-way conversation.
In addition, on every marketing guide out there – whether it’s a 400-word blog or a 5000-word ebook, the single point hammered into our heads repeatedly, over and over again is how crucial it is to connect with the customers in a meaningful and relevant way. Optimizing a marketing strategy for maximum traction and conversions is a matter of getting your prospects and customers on the same wavelength as you and that’s where conversational marketing plays a big role.
As is clear by the term, conversational marketing is a marketing strategy that enables you to have one-to-one interaction with a prospect or a customer. This conversation can be had across one of the several marketing channels available.
Why do we need conversational marketing?
The first step in marketing to a consumer is understanding their pain points, to get a good grasp over the kind of problem they want solving. And arguably the best way to go about it is hearing it directly from the customer, in unfiltered words and over a medium that does not let the message lost in translation. Conversational marketing provides you that medium through which you empower your customer to communicate with your brand more closely than ever, instead of them having to fill up lengthy forms or respond to pop-ups or steer clear of the instinct to unsubscribe from your mailing list.
Conversational marketing uses techniques like having live chatbots on a brand’s website which gives brands the chance to interact with site visitors in real-time or design targeted messaging that transcends over the routine drivel of marketing to reach the right customer at the right time.
Having talked about the importance of one-to-one interaction, it is equally imperative to know that tricks like cold calling don’t belong to this stratagem, neither does sending out generic emails to prospects. These methods are highly impersonal in nature, do not take into account a customer’s journey or specific wants and do not leave any room for scalability.
The Different Conversational Marketing Tools
Now that it has been established how conversational marketing will grow your business, it is important to know exactly which tools can enable you to create a winning conversational marketing strategy. Without the right tool, your best intentions won’t serve the kind of results you are aiming for.
There is a wide range of such tools available in the marketplace, and each comes with a bevy of benefits. But let’s focus our attention on the tool that is the market leader in the conversational marketing domain, a tool that most marketers swear by and is holding on to its number one choice for conversational marketing pretty firmly and sustainably. The tool in question here is Drift.
What is Drift about
Drift provides a range of services within the conversational marketing ambit, namely cloud-based chatbot, direct messaging within the app and a solution for management for emails targeted towards and sales and marketing departments. It serves as the ideal platform for a brand to provide a modern buying experience to customers and ensure that the quality of the leads being generated is high.
Talking of lead quality, it surely is a sore point for a majority of marketers out there. Any marketer has a myriad of tools available either free of cost or at affordable prices (some are even able to secure funds for expensive tools) in order to maximize the number of leads being collected to be forwarded to the sales team. However, one compromise that is made in this race to generate a huge number of leads is the quality of leads. There is no point in having a huge stock of contacts of your website visitors who may have landed on your website due to X number of reasons and buying is probably languishing at the bottom of their priority list. This is what leads to being a major point of conflict between the sales and marketing teams. Sales team needs people who have at least a real intention to buy when browsing the website, they don’t want people who were casually browsing. There’s a lot you can do with Drift, like setting up your sales team’s calendar.
- With Drift, you get the wherewithal and tools to ensure the lead quality is great, just so it becomes easier for the sales team to convert a lead into a customer, because that customer has expressed interest in buying through a one-to-one conversation which happens through mediums like in-app messages, on-page surveys, real-time chats, etc.
- For sales and marketing professionals, Drift provides a goldmine of data as soon as a visitor starts conversing with a website. Drift gives real-time information about which page the visitor is currently browsing. In case the visitor inputs their email address on the website’s pop-up or opt-in form, Drift displays the side profile drawer wherein the other information pertaining to the visitor like their social media account links, their company or job profile, the demographic data, etc. are available to the Drift user. Moving forward, the Drift user can start the conversation with a visitor himself or can assign it to other agents, using features like full-page takeover and slider messages.
- A challenge faced by most companies indulging in email marketing is that the open rate is very low. And if we consider the clicks on the links shared in the email, that makes for an even more discouraging number. This is where Drift proves to be valuable. You have a handle on things like establishing the base with the customer at just the right time, and this is where the features like customer triggers prove to be of great use. This real-time reach proves to be handy as you can nudge customer through a buyer journey much more smoothly.
- Driftbot , the chatbot feature of Drift, brings the power of artificial intelligence to chatbots. Not every chatbot you come across the web has artificial intelligence empowering it, those chatbots need tons of manual input of the kind of possible queries that customer is expected to ask. But with Driftbot, everything is dealt with intelligently, it can study patterns and come up with the most ideal answers to customer’s queries; thus ensuring that customer feels you have a good grasp over their challenges and requirements, thus boosting the customer-brand relationships.
- With Drift, you can create a profile that further allows you to set up your digital business card. Those who feel intimidated by the sound of it, don’t worry – it happens to be an extremely user-friendly process as it is a matter of just a few clicks. It builds a customizable page which can be shared with the professionals you are doing business with. What this does that it makes you reachable at all times.
Adding to the usefulness of Drift are its pricing plans that suit different kinds of pockets – whether they are deep or on a budget. Whether you are just starting out with your business or are handling the online marketing operations of a huge enterprise, there is a package for everybody.
- Free plan: Don’t go by a preconceived notion that if a plan comes free of cost, it is of not much use. While this may still be true of a lot of tools out there, Drift ensures that even the customers who don’t have a budget but wish to boost their marketing efforts through conversational marketing have a lot to choose from. They can implement chatbot on their website for real-time chat with the website visitors. The profiles can also be created with this plan and for those who have a decent mobile presence can use Drift as a mobile app tool as well. With this plan, you can send 150 emails a month. There are limited integration options available, with Slack and Vidyard.
- Standard Plan of $50: With the Standard plan, you do have to part with some of your cherished cash, but it is surely not a lot of cash, especially considering what you get in exchange. It enables you to engage with more purpose with your leads. Apart from the features that are part of the Free plan, you also get the option to design custom greetings, get a live view of who is visiting your website in real time, and use the email sequences feature. It allows more integrations, so in addition to Slack and Vidyard, you can also integrate with Knowledgebase and Zapier. The Standard plan allows you to send 150 emails in a day.
- Pro Plan of $500: So, from a decently priced plan of $50, Drift jumps right away to the $500 price tag. As you would imagine, the Pro plan is for businesses that spend big and earn bigger. Apart from the features like bot playbook, automated meetings, this plan helps your marketing team to push activities to CRM. you get the Calendar Drop feature. As for the number of emails you can send out, it is at 150 emails per day. But what truly makes this plan stand out is the integration capabilities. You can integrate Drift with a range of other platforms, namely Hubspot, Salesforce, Vidyard, Outreach, Zapier, Slack and Segment.
Having gone over the features and pricing of Drift in depth, it is important to also look at a few good alternatives before you make your mind up on where should your money go.
So while there are a bunch of conversational marketing platforms other than Drift, we will talk about the ones that give some serious competition to Drift.
Collect.chat is a highly intuitive chatbot builder that can be used by novices and experts alike to set up interactive chatbots on their websites. It allows for simple drag and drop functionality for you to build live chat support on your website.
- Those who feel intimidated by the prospect of writing programming codes in order for their website to display chatbots can use Collect.chat. You don’t need to invest a lot of capital either.
- This tool comes with a number of question templates. These prove handy for users who find it hard, especially in the beginning to form the relevant questions that can elicit a response from the website visitors. There are personalization options available as well.
- Collect.chat also allows for fast and easy installation. There are different ways you can install it. You can either add a code snippet to your website or install the WordPress plugin for this tool or simply send the snippet over the email or any other medium to your developer.
- The admin dashboard is very interactive and visually easy to manage the different functions provided. The powerful visualizations on the dashboard enable easy tracking and you get a clear-eyed view of the customer responses and other insights.
- The Collect.chat plans start from a free plan and go all the way up to $99.
On its website, Chatra.io poses a question for you – “Are you there when your visitors need you?” – and provides an efficient answer to that as well. Through its wide range of impressive features, it makes sure that your visitors’ grievances or simple queries are never left unanswered.
- Chatra.io helps a great deal in boosting sales by answering questions that prevent visitors from converting into buyers. When you realize that a visitor just needs a nudge at the pricing page or at a checkout stage, you can chat with them online and clear their concerns. And not just sell to new customers, it can prove very handy to cross-sell and upsell too.
- Email marketing is one marketing technique that has only become more important with the emergence of Smartphones. Chatra.io proves to be a great assist for you to build an email list. As and when customer ask a question through the Chatra.io bot, their emails get stored so that you can use it for your marketing endeavors.
- Cart abandonment is a major pain point for e-commerce players all across the globe. In fact, 69% of carts do not get to the checkout stage, which ultimately leads to a huge loss in revenue. But with Chatra.io, you can display custom messages during exit that the users can respond to, explaining why they are abandoning the cart so that you can help them with their concern and turn the loss into conversion.
- Chatra.io can be great to collect actionable feedback, which can help you identify common problems and deep dive into what your customers really want.
- While Chatra.io provides the free trial option, you can also use their Free Forever plan if you want it for a small enterprise. Their plan for bigger businesses comes at $15 per agent per month if billed annually or $19 per month if you choose to be billed monthly.
The live chat support marketplace has another hotly pursued tool in the form of Crisp.chat. Owing to its growing line up of features, this tool has been making a serious impact on the market.
A brief overview of crisp features on their website:
- The customer support implemented using Crisp.chat is very modern and chic. You can have the support implemented across multiple channels, integrating an advanced form of messaging customer experiences using modern messaging.
- The messaging can be trigger-based, and your website visitors can start conversations with your agents also via popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Slack, etc. The visitor messages are stored in a shared inbox and can be picked up by any agent for responding to them.
- Crisp.chat also serves as a fantastic marketing tool, especially if you are looking to strengthen your email marketing efforts. You can Retarget customers and visitors by using Crisp.chat to send targeted emails and in-app messages. You are provided a Crisp user management system, using which it becomes effortless to manage, edit, and export all the information pertaining to your users and leads. You can run “Crisp Drip Campaigns” and use the contextual information captured during past and current conversations.
- As for the pricing, Crisp offers 3 plans. The Free forever feature is for small websites that need to have a basic chat feature, and it allows for 2 seats. For startups that are looking to boost their customer-brand relationship, the Pro plan starting at $25 is a good bet and allows for 4 seats. As for those looking at large scale implementation, the Unlimited Plan comes at $95 and, staying true to its name, offers unlimited seats.
So, if you are looking at alternatives to Drift, you have got a pretty good list of alternatives in the form of the 3 tools mentioned above. Having said that, there are many more in the marketplace, and it’s better to know about as many as you can before you take a call.
Let’s highlight some more options that you can look at:
Livechat is an interesting option to look at when scouting for conversational marketing platforms. It proves an array of features to ensure that your visitors remain engaged with your website and you have a handle on their requirements and challenges.
Botengine keeps things interactive and user-friendly, when adding some automation to your website to keep your marketing endeavors conversational and effective.
As playful as the name sounds, Smooch.io keeps things free of fluff or unnecessary complications, making the task of setting up the tool easy and worthwhile.
As the name suggests, Manychat.com facilitates chatting with website visitors at the most convenient times to ensure they are never left in the lurch, not being able to find answers to the most pressing of questions.
So while this is an impressive lineup of tools that also saves on your capital, it does lack the sheer scale of the features and capabilities that Drift and, for that matter, Collect.chat, Chatra.io, and Crisp.chat provide. These are relatively lightweight but worth pondering over.
How does Intercom stack up against Drift
The marketing industry reserves a special place for Intercom, considering the fact that it has helped businesses from all industries expand their reach and grow exponentially over the years. The messaging feature of Intercom has enabled hordes of businesses to send targeted messages to their visitors and convert them into paying customers. This conversion is aided by the inbox feature that helps in assigning, replying and closing conversations with visitors.
The integrations of Intercom with different platforms doesn’t leave much to be desired, since all bases are well covered, right from Mailchimp, Marketo, Facebook to JustCall, Toky, Leadbridge.
When you compare intercom with Drift, on the surface level there appears to be very little to choose between.
- Intercom does a great job of qualifying your leads based on their activities and browsing behaviour or your website or app so that you send out the most relevant messages. Drift and Intercom are very similar in this regard because both use certain criteria before establishing a connection with the visitor, for example, a visitor browsing a pricing page for the fourth time is treated differently than a visitor browsing the ‘About Us’ page.
- The Inbox feature in Intercom is pretty dynamic as it includes varied automated workflows, which serve as a great aid for agents to cut back on the time spent on non-productive tasks. The Operator Bot is highly intelligent and intuitive as it can predict the intent of your leads and throw at you some very useful suggestions.
- Drift goes a little further as it facilitates conversation with the visitors and customers in real-time. When a user’s concerns are being addressed instantly, they would invest more trust in a website and thus are more likely to convert into a buyer; this real-time interaction serves as a great enabler for that conversion.
- In addition, Every agent with Drift has a standalone profile page to themselves, which makes it easy for customers to touch base with them for any query or issue. This gives a more human touch to the brand-customer interaction as customers are not made to feel like they are interacting with bots.
- For every solution that Intercom provides, you have to deal with different products. Drift, on the other hand, integrates all the features into a single, robust platform.
- The pricing structure of Intercom is a little unusual, as it depends on the number of Active Users your website or mobile app is drawing in a month. There is further segregation – so you have plans divided into categories like All of Intercom, Marketing plans, Sales plans, and Support plans. Under the first plan, the plan starts from $136, the Pro plan comes at $202 and the Premium plan can be discussed with the Intercom team.
- The pricing strategy for Drift is also more amicable as you are paying only once for the entire platform, instead of paying separately for separate features, as is the case with Intercom.
- The support services of Drift and Intercom do leave a room for improvement. The phone-based support in case of Intercom is nearly non-existing while the email support in Drift is a no-show for a lot of users. But thankfully, due to the nature of the features both products are selling, their visitors can express their grievances and get their issues solved right there on the live chat.
What Should You Finally Choose
It’s a tough one. As a website owner or a professional in charge of taking the call on which conversational marketing platform to invest your business’ funds in, there are a lot of questions that come to mind and need answering. In this post, we have tried to answer most of your questions.
If one looks closely at all the features and prices of the tools involved, it can be surmised that that Crisp.chat, Chatra.io, and Collect.chat are easily the best alternatives to Drift. Not only these 3 tools have the best of all the features, but they also suit the pockets of a range of businesses or individuals alike.
Or, if you are looking at big-game tools to invest in, Intercom does come across as a great alternative. But the final verdict does tend to lean towards Drift for all its gains over Intercom.