Drift Acquires Siftrock; Launches Product & Partnerships at HYPERGROWTH

Drift Botflow
Drift Botflow

At their HYPERGROWTH user conference this week, Drift announced the acquisition of email reply management firm Siftrock which tracks email replies, routes them to sales reps, and syncs data with marketing automation platforms.  Siftrock will be integrated into Drift’s Assistant for Marketing.

“Last year, we started talking about reinventing email and focusing on conversations and replies instead of opens and clicks,” said CEO David Cancel. “Siftrock has built a best-in-class product that manages email replies at scale, and this acquisition will help us deliver on that vision even faster. But most importantly, this is a move that adds real value to both of our customer bases immediately.”

Drift Assistant for Marketing includes email auto-reply detection for updating MAPs and Salesforce when execs change jobs or their emails bounce.  The service also drives email calls to action to conversational landing pages instead of a traditional landing page.

A new Conversational Advertising capability which builds conversations around advertising views was also unveiled.  Instead of sending prospects from ads to webforms, users are brought into conversations.

“With traditional advertising it’s always been about later,” said Cancel. “You drive people to a landing page, get them to fill out a form, and then someone at the company contacts you later.  But with Conversational Advertising, it’s all about right now. We can close the gap and help buyers connect with a business instantly by taking them right from an ad to a conversation to get the answers they need instantly.”

At HYPERGROWTH, Drift rolled out partnerships with Outreach, Marketo, and Demandbase.  Last month, they announced Drift Intel, a lead enrichment service powered by Clearbit.

“The key to high-performing ABM strategies is connecting marketing programs directly to sales activity,” said Demandbase CEO Chris Golec. “We are incredibly excited to be the exclusive launch partner for Drift’s new Conversational Advertising product because now B2B marketers can target specific companies with our account-based advertising, and move to a conversation with sales in a single click. The time from engagement to conversation to pipeline has never been faster.”

“Great conversations are the most powerful way to drive conversion,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina. “To accomplish this, you must have a consistent customer journey, from calls and emails to your buyer’s experience on your website. Now sales and marketing teams can share context from every touchpoint in the customer journey to drive stronger results wherever they communicate with their buyers.”

A Drift Assistant for Sales email feature helps reps prepare for meetings with briefings on the firm’s tech stack, a summary of previous conversations, and an analysis of recent website activity.  Other features include no show and cancellation rescheduling and next step recommendations (e.g. meeting follow up notes),

“B2B businesses have gone digital, but we haven’t been able to move on from all of the paperwork,” commented Cancel. “Only a third of a sales reps time is actually spent selling, with over 60 percent of their time wasted on administrative tasks and meetings.

Drift Intel Powered by Clearbit

Drift MeetingConversational marketing vendor Drift released Drift Intel, a real-time enrichment service which maps anonymous leads to accounts using IP addresses.  The firm calls their Clearbit-powered account intelligence “x-ray vision for qualified leads.”  Clearbit firmographics drive the messaging flow, sales conversations, and lead routing; thus, prospect interactions are personalized to the account and directed to the proper sales rep or team.

Account matching is global, with a 40% to 60% IP-to-account match rate.  If the bot acquires an email address, then contact intelligence is also provided from Clearbit.

“In the old days, forms were the only way to get the info you need to qualify visitors,” states the firm. “With Drift Intel, you’ll get a full company profile in Drift the moment they land on your site.  That means you’ll know the visitor on your pricing page isn’t just a random person—it’s someone at a software company in NYC with 500 employees and $25-50m in annual revenue.”

Furthermore, because the intelligence is provided in real-time, leads can be properly routed to sales reps by account, region, size, etc.  If the account owner is not available, the AI chatbot automatically sets up an appointment for the rep.  The chatbot also personalizes the message based upon the account intelligence.

“The last decade in B2B sales and marketing was all about the business following up later.  But today, B2B sales and marketing have to be about now. The internet has changed everything and put customers in control of the buying process, not the business. As a result, people won’t put up with waiting days and weeks to get a response — they want answers now.”

  • Drift CEO David Cancel

Drift Customer Marketing Team Lead Chris Handy blogged about the cost and foolishness of investing in inbound marketing and then making prospects wait for marketing tools or sales reps.  “We asked them for information before we’d let them send us a simple question about our product. We lost what might have been our best accounts—sometimes by making them wait days or weeks for someone to follow up—even when they were ready to buy right then.  This wasn’t the way we liked to buy. We had to change the way we sold to match the way we bought.”

Drift’s goal is to “remove friction,” shorten the sales cycle, and connect businesses with their customers at peak interest.

In a quick test of the bot on the Drift website, it accurately identified my company name and location, but lacked industry and sizing data.  As I am a one-person company, the lack of richer firmographics is common.  I was quickly chatting with a sales rep and she offered three days for a product demo within the chatbot (see image on top).

Drift Intel is available as part of their Company ($1,500 / month) and Enterprise (starting at $5,000 / month) plans.  Unlimited company matches are supported.

Drift made the LinkedIn Startup 25 last week.

Tomorrow I will be discussing announcements made at last week’s HYPERGROWTH user conference.

Outreach & Drift Make LinkedIn Top Startups

LI Top StartupsCongratulations to Outreach (#15) and Drift (#22) for making the LinkedIn Top 25 U.S. Startups list.  To be eligible for Top Startups, companies must be 7 years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, be privately held, and headquartered in the U.S.  Selection is based upon employment growth, engagement, job interest, and attraction of top talent between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018

Coincidentally, I just began covering Drift in my subscription newsletter.  They will be covered here in two weeks following my standard embargo.  I’ve been covering Outreach for several years.

Outreach is a sales engagement platform that helps sales reps manage their multi-channel communications with customers and prospects.  Along with templates and cadence tools, Outreach offers call recording and coaching, analytics, a partner ecosystem, and meeting management.  The firm has 285 employees and is looking to double its headcount over the next year following a $65 million funding round.  LinkedIn noted that they have 2,400 customers.

Outreach Employee Count
Seattle-based Outreach said in April that it plans to double its headcount over the next year. (Chart Source: LinkedIn)

Conversational marketing firm Drift landed a $60 million Series C round earlier this year.  The funds will be used to quadruple its office space with an expanded presence in Boston and new space in San Francisco.  As one-third of their clients are outside of the United States, they plan to open international offices later this year.

The Drift platform removes webforms and offers chatbots for conversational discovery and qualification.  “A sale doesn’t get made until a conversation happens. So, with Conversational Marketing, we created a new way of doing marketing and sales that removed the roadblocks and hurdles that can get in the way of someone talking to your business. This creates a better customer experience, makes it easier for people to buy, and ultimately creates a faster path to revenue,” said CEO David Cancel.

Drift supports email sequencing, revenue reporting, visitor id, chatbots, playbooks (templates), reporting, email reply management, and meeting scheduling.  A new Conversational Advertising capability provides conversational landing pages instead of webforms.

Drift’s goal is to be the Amazon for Business.  “Amazon revolutionized how people buy with the one-click buying experience, and that’s what we all expect online today,” said Cancel. “But when it comes to B2B, the buying process is painful. Companies force buyers to fill out forms and jump through so many hoops just to talk to them, despite the fact that most buying decisions have already been made by the time someone comes to your website. We’re on a mission to build the most customer-centric company in the world and make B2B buying as easy as buying from Amazon.”

Boston-based Drift has had rapid employee growth over the past two years (Source: LinkedIn)
Boston-based Drift has had rapid employee growth over the past two years. (Chart Source: LinkedIn)

 

Artesian CEO Andrew Yates: Technological Disruption, AI, and Data Insights

Arti responds to

Artesian CEO Andrew Yates recently discussed Artesian Solutions with Sudipto Ghosh as part of the MarTech Interview Series. Artesian was founded to help resolve the disparity between B2B buyer and seller tools. “We saw that businesses had transformed the way they buy, but that sellers had not adapted. This mismatch led us to create a vision of better B2B sales engagement that is customer-centric at its heart, and to develop the world’s most powerful customer intelligence application to support it.”

Yates described technology as “the biggest disruptive force in the world” and his entrepreneurship as “a desire to disrupt the status quo, solve problems, remove complexity and make a difference.” He sees Artesian Solutions as a “disruptive force for good in our sector, providing engagement smarts for companies and markets in the same way that LinkedIn has done for people insights.”

Artesian is incorporating new AI technologies into its platform including the Arti chatbot based upon IBM Watson. As they are doing so, they are repositioning from Social Selling to “A.I.-powered sales intelligence.”

Yates warns that businesses look for CRM platforms to help customer facing departments build customer-centric businesses and a full customer view. Often, though, they become frustrated when CRMs do not provide the desired customer experience and engagement. But CRMs are only as good as the data entered into them and are subject to ongoing data decay. Further compounding this issue is

“the sheer volume of data businesses need to grapple with. Often unstructured, this data is increasingly hard to find, rationalize and interpret. Inaccurate or out-of-date data has several inevitable consequences. Take-up and enthusiasm for CRM input wanes as the volume of data increases, and time spent just keeping up-to-date with existing customer data impacts negatively on time spent researching and acquiring new ones. Opportunities to respond to real-time customer news and market insight are missed, and customers looking for instant action and results are left disappointed. Likewise, deals are lost through mistakes, and errors in messaging and targeting become more frequent. Forecasting accuracy diminishes as emerging trends go unnoticed.”

Yates recommends working with a data partner that provides a full view of customers and contacts, including contextualized customer insight; news, market trends and social media monitoring; real-time intelligence; and single sourced company and contact profiles with “social profiles, opinions, and expectations.”

Full Interview

Artesian: £3.5M in Expansion Capital to Focus on A.I.

Arti responds to "How many companies do you cover?"
Arti responds to “How many companies do you cover?”

British sales intelligence vendor Artesian Solutions announced that it received £3.5M in expansion capital from Columbia Lake partners. The funds will be used to refinance current debt obligations and provide working capital for “further growth and expansion.” The refinancing also provides better terms and business flexibility after the firm reached a profitability milestone in July.

Artesian has begun integrating artificial intelligence into its tools. Earlier this year, it launched Insight Agent, “the first step in a series of intelligent chat bots aimed at automating many of the tasks carried out by B2B professionals” along with Arti, the firm’s interactive digital assistant.

“This is an exciting milestone in our company’s history and positively reinforces the leadership position we have attained.  We are constantly looking at the ‘what next’ scenario, pushing boundaries to establish our business as one of the leading innovators in B2B software for commercial teams, this has paved the way for our new risk mitigation capabilities which will be released in the New Year.”

  • Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates

The firm has recently shifted its positioning from social selling to “A.I. powered sales intelligence.”

“Social Selling sits at the heart of Artesian’s founding principles,” explained Yates. “But as sales best practice has evolved, so has Artesian. Our goal is to be at the forefront of technology evolution for enterprise B2B, delivering a suite of A.I.-powered tools to make prospecting, engaging and closing deals easier. As our forthcoming risk mitigation capabilities demonstrate, we will continue to evolve to ensure we remain a trusted partner of our enterprise customers and to maximise the impact of their business relationships”

Artesian offers products for both the British and American markets.

 

Artesian Arti Chatbot

Artesian responses tend toward the overly broad. A question about the news taxonomy provided a general overview of Artesian content and functionality.
Artesian responses tend toward the overly broad. A question about the news taxonomy provided a general overview of Artesian content and functionality.

British social selling service Artesian Solutions launched their new Arti chatbot (artesian.ai) this month. According to their press release, “Arti enables intuitive customer interaction in a relatively human-like way, answering questions about Artesian’s capabilities and providing expertise in real time. No longer do customers need to search through content on the company’s website, instead they can now interact directly with Arti and uncover the information they need in an instant.”

The Arti screen is split into two with the user keying questions on the left. A text response is displayed alongside the question as a British voice reads the answer. If there is ancillary content or videos, it is displayed in the right window.

“Our business is all about pushing the boundaries of web-based technology to deliver commercially valuable and immediately actionable insights for our customers,” said CEO Andrew Yates. “Telling the user what they need to know and the action they need to take, at the right time, means client facing teams can capitalise from every business moment. Arti is a great example of how the application of AI can be a significant enabler of productivity, lead generation and importantly enhanced customer experiences.”

A quick test proved disappointing with Arti misunderstanding basic questions such as “Which countries do you cover?” or “do you publish financials?” Many of the responses are tangential answers usually suggesting a “meeting with the team.” Of course, AI tools are able to learn and the content and response sets should improve over time. Thus, Arti users are likely to have better results in the future.

And as evidence of learning, the system has been updated to provide the following answer to “do you publish financials?”

We provide access to Experian credit ratings directly within Artesian, along with lots of other valuable information such as corporate family tree, shareholdings and detailed financial information.

“Arti is more than just a bit of fun, although we’ve certainly had fun building it,” said Director of Marketing Stuart Newton. “It has the potential to be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for us. Arti will continue to get smarter the more our customers engage with it, learning from previous conversations to become more effective and valuable to our web visitors. I am delighted to place Artesian amongst some of the leading brands in the world, leveraging chat bots to connect with customers. It will change the customer experience by replacing clicks with sustained conversations and personalised interactions.”