Conversational Marketing Definition

Conversational marketing is the fastest way to move buyers through your marketing and sales funnels through the power of real-time conversations. It builds relationships and creates authentic experiences with customers and buyers.

Conversational marketing is the best way to start real-time conversations with buyers and customers.

Instead of forcing people to go through lead capture forms and wait days for a response, conversational marketing uses targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage with people when they’re on your website.

Making it easier for people to engage with your business will help you convert more of the right leads faster. Which means happier customers and a happier company.

How Conversational Marketing Is Changing the Way Your Customers Buy

There’s a problem with the way we’ve been taught to market and sell—it no longer matches how buyers buy things.

Think about it—when you’re not talking to someone face-to-face, where do most of your conversations happen? For most people, the answer looks a lot like this:


People love communicating with messaging because it’s fast, easy, and actually feels like a conversation. So it’s not surprising that 90% of consumers want to use it to communicate with businesses (and the majority prefer it over email) according to a recent survey from Twilio.

But most businesses are still forcing people to jump through endless hoops before a conversation can ever take place.

Here’s how the traditional funnel works these days:

Buyers and customers don’t have time for this anymore, and the numbers show it:

  • Only 43% of people answer cold calls.
  • The average email open rate has fallen to 20%
  • The average landing page conversion rate is only 2.35%

The B2B buying process has become cold, impersonal, and way more painful for the buyer than it needs to be.

The fix?

We need to make business actually feel personal again.

Conversational marketing builds relationships and creates authentic experiences with customers and buyers.

How Do You (actually) Do Conversational Marketing?

Implementing conversational marketing doesn’t force you to blow everything up and start from scratch. It’s the fastest way to move buyers through your marketing and sales funnel.

It’s more like turning on a new lead-gen channel that complements your existing marketing efforts. We boiled it down into a simple framework called the Conversational Framework.

The Conversational Framework boils down to 3 steps:

  1. Engage
  2. Understand
  3. Recommend

It’s how you have conversations now and build relationships in today’s world. It’s not a new marketing and sales funnel. It’s a new way to move people through your funnel.

Let’s break down each step.

Step 1: Engage more leads with chat instead of forms.

What happens when you give visitors ways to instantly start conversations on your website instead of forcing them to fill out forms before they can talk to anyone? For most businesses, it means higher conversion rates, more opportunities, and a more personal experience with the customer.

When visitors click to download now, contact sales or book a demo, you can use a bot to start that conversation. But it doesn’t have to end there—you can keep the conversation going and continue moving people through your funnel instead of forcing them to wait for a follow-up email—if that’s what they want.

conversational marketing bot

You can’t have someone operating live chat software on your website 24/7. That’s why we built intelligent chatbots that make conversational marketing work for your business no matter the time of day. You can engage people on your website now when they want to engage with you.

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 people browsing your pricing page or check in on repeat visitors, with Drift, you can proactively reach the people who are serious about buying.

Step 2: Understand leads and what they want in minutes instead of days.

The typical approach to qualifying leads takes days of marketing automation and nurturing emails. But according to a study from Harvard Business Review, companies need to respond within five minutes of initial contact to have the best chance of qualifying a lead. Wait any longer and your odds of qualifying the lead decrease by 400%.

With conversational marketing, bots keep you available 24/7 to engage with new leads instantly. Chatbot platforms can understand who those leads are and what they want by qualifying those leads for you in real-time instead of forcing them to wait on follow-up emails.

Let bots ask qualifying questions for you. Build your bot using similar questions that you already ask on form fields or initial qualifying calls. The bot will then have a conversation with the lead to understand them better. This will also help the bot recommend the next steps for the person engaging with it. You’ll speed up response time and ensure your reps talk to the right people at the right time.

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Bots can understand who might not be ready for a sales conversation and can disqualify visitors, saving your reps valuable time. Whether someone should be talking to support instead of sales or just isn’t a good fit for your product, Drift Bots make sure sales is spending time with leads who are interested in buying.

Step 3: Recommend the right next step to move leads through your funnel.

Bots are great at engaging and understanding leads, but nothing beats human-to-human interaction once it’s time to close the sale. That’s why bots use intelligent routing to connect leads to your sales team and even book meetings for them automatically—so your reps can focus 100% on selling.

With intelligent routing, bots will always make sure the right leads go to the right reps. If you have multiple reps in the same territory, leads can be assigned on a rotating basis.

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

Bots can guide leads to pieces of content or collateral that will answer their questions or suggest personal solutions. And they can nurture leads to the next stage by further qualifying who they are and delivering relevant content over time. This is one of the key differences of conversational marketing vs traditional inbound marketing.

The 5 Key Benefits of Conversational Marketing

You’ve already read about some of the positive results many different businesses have been able to achieve through conversational marketing. But those aren’t the only benefits you can expect.

Here are the five biggest benefits of using conversations to capture and qualify leads:

1) You create a more human buying experience.

With conversational marketing software, your website no longer feels like an empty store or generic catalogue, where the only thing to greet shoppers were lead forms.

Now you can actually say “hello” to the people taking time to visit your site, allowing them to start a conversation when it’s most convenient for them.

2) You learn a ton about your buyers and customers.

Lead forms can collect contact info, but they’re not great at providing context. Conversations can easily show you why a buyer came to your site in the first place, what their biggest pain points are, and which product features are most important to them.

3) You convert more leads and better leads.

At Drift, we’ve added 15% more leads to the top of our funnel with conversational marketing. Those are leads that were never going to the trouble of filling out a form before we gave them an alternative.

4) You shorten your sales cycle.

Leads qualified through conversations (called CQLs, or conversation qualified leads) tend to close faster than leads qualified through traditional methods. Digital marketing agency ThriveHive’s sales cycle for CQLs lasts four days on average, compared to 11 days on average for leads from other sources.

5) You grow your sales pipeline.

Since implementing conversational marketing, RapidMiner, a leading data science platform, has influenced 25% of their pipeline with conversations—an amount worth well over $1 million to them.

Conversational Marketing FAQ

Here are the most common questions we get related to conversational marketing:

Do I have to completely remove all of my lead capture forms?

Getting started with conversational marketing isn’t an “all or nothing” decision.

Rather than removing all of the forms from your site, you could start by simply adding real-time messaging and bots as a second net—an alternative to forms for leads who are ready to talk to someone immediately. It’s like opening a new way for your prospects to engage with you that’s more natural and personal.

How do I measure the effectiveness of conversational marketing?

You can measure your conversational marketing efforts just like you would measure any other marketing channel.

Drift’s conversational marketing platform gives you dashboards that show you how many leads you’ve captured and qualified with conversations, how many meetings you booked and scheduled, and how much revenue and pipeline your conversations are driving.

You can even see the total amount of sales opportunities influenced.

What types of people are having conversations with businesses?

When we analyzed the data from the 50,000+ businesses using Drift for conversational marketing, we found that people in key decision-making roles are often the ones choosing to connect with businesses via real-time messaging.

In terms of seniority, 41% of the people having conversations were executives. CEOs made up 7.1%.

Can I use conversational marketing & chatbots for customer support?

Yes! One of the most popular applications of conversational marketing is to help reduce the friction of customer support experiences, finding the right support documentation to self-help, and improve all-around customer experience.

Looking for an example of how you can use conversational marketing for support? Check out our own Knowledge Base, which holds our help docs and is guided by our customer support bot.

How do I scale conversational marketing?

Bots allow you to offer fast responses to visitors 24/7, even while your team is sleeping. Since they can ask the same qualifying questions your sales reps normally would, they can figure out who’s qualified to talk to sales and connect them to the right person.

Chatbots have become so effective at these types of conversations that they now manage over 50% of all the conversations we have at Drift.

Learn More About Conversational Marketing

To see how marketing and sales teams are using conversational marketing to create better customer experiences and relationships with their customers, check out the following resources:

Enhance Buyer Experiences and Drive Pipeline with Conversational Marketing

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