A few weeks ago, I got a disturbing message from Google notifying me that thousands of my client’s ads were down due to “Malicious Content.” As any good Account Manager would, I called Google using my stern, don’t-be-passive-aggressive-but-get-results-voice to uncover the issue and figure out what hoops I had to jump through to get the ads live again. The “Malicious Content” in question turned out to be the script for Drift. For anyone unfamiliar, Drift is a “conversational marketing platform” read: Chatbot Software, that can be taught a myriad of questions and responses to help inform and qualify website users. Think of it as a virtual assistant for Sales. Google was interpreting websites with Drift as malware and there was nothing to be done until the engineering team at Google could de-bug. The team fixed it in the span of a few hours. What this response time told me is that Drift is becoming a BIG DEAL.

Drift Chatbot

When my client told me they were moving away from standard lead gen forms on their website to exclusively using drift a wave of panic swept over me. How would we track this? How will this affect lead volume? CPL? ROI? What if people don’t want to chat with a robot? Don’t get me wrong, I was game, but this was a whole new frontier for me.

My favorite quality of the chat bot is the inherent “foot in the door” tactic it employs. When you draw a prospect in and get them to answer a simple question, answers to follow-up questions are easier to secure. After a few months of using Drift to gather leads here are some expectations you can share with your client if they’re thinking about making the transition.


1. Determine what qualifies as a lead in this brave new world

The first thing you need to consider is at what point in the conversation can you declare a lead won? In my client’s case, there are a few qualifying questions prior to asking for an email. It is at the point of capturing an email address that a lead is established.

2. Drift will save your client’s Sales team times

With lead forms, sales had to conduct phone call/e-mail follow-ups and negotiate a time to show the demo to the prospect. With drift however, they can see a sale’s person’s schedule and pick a time on the spot without ever having to leave the website.

3. Drift can pre-qualify leads better than lead forms

By prompting a series of specific questions, drift does a better job of converting the right kinds of prospects. It’s dynamic and can answer questions in real-time. If someone comes to the site, they can learn if the product isn’t right for them within a few questions and likely won’t continue the conversation long enough to submit their contact info. The ones who do move forward with their contact info are better informed and are more likely to be a sales qualified lead. Since its inception on my client’s website, 72% of the website users who got to point of submitting their contact info also booked a meeting for a demo on the spot. This is a tremendous success rate for qualified leads.

4. CPLs will rise

If you’re better able to pre-qualify leads, it stands to reason that overall lead volume will drop, but the most qualified leads will continue forth. In this sales gauntlet, only the strong survive. In my client’s case CPLs rose by 45%. However, ROI from paid search has not seen any declines.

5. It’s hard to track leads from social networks

It takes complex event tracking within GTM to create an analytics goal that is then imported into adwords to capture a conversion. Tracking conversions in most social networks is easiest when tracking a thank you or confirmation url. Facebook does have more sophisticated event tracking. However, I’ve found it the most useful to use lead form ads in Facebook and LinkedIn for the same client so that we have a method for measuring lead volume within the platforms instead of pulling analytics reports.

Marketing Ideas

Drift represents a shift in the way businesses and prospects communicate using direct messaging. Given Google’s speedy response in my earlier anecdote, this software is becoming more prolific, and we need to adapt as marketers and employ tactics in service of the bot. Let potential customers know what to expect when they get to the site. Test CTAs that call out scheduling through the chat bot. Test Sitelinks that employe similar messaging. Ensure your client has drift across all pages of their site, including blogs. If there are pages that represent lower stages of the sales funnel, make sure the client adapts the drift prompts accordingly. My final take-away is that chat bots, like most automated tactics, can have a positive impact on paid search and it will behoove us to adapt our ad copy and CTA to get prospects comfortable chatting with the bots and handing over their valuable data.