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First Glances from a Marketing Technologist Perspective


Muhammad Ardhin

Since around October 2019, I noticed a growing discussion about Drift. I followed a lot of Marketing Operations & Marketing Technology professionals on Linkedin, and many of them are sharing about their newly earned Drift’s Conversational Marketing Certificate. It piqued my interest, and hence I decided to take a peek. So it’s about chatbots for Marketing!

image from

As my day-to-day work nowadays revolves around Marketing Automation, I am no stranger to automated responses and automated marketing campaigns. I am not a complete stranger to chatbots too. But chatbots for Marketing — that is something I have not put a lot of focus at — yet.

Are you familiar perhaps with Linkedin’s Sales Navigator PointDrive? Basically, PointDrive is a tool to create custom Landing Pages called Presentations. These Landing Pages are custom made for an account or business prospect, filled with hand-picked marketing & sales contents, to start, or keep the conversation going. My company has something internally built that is similar to PointDrive (we call them Prospect Portal), and I am the Product Manager for this product (but it’s considered a legacy tool as of this writing). I was thinking of how cool would it be if custom Landing Pages are presented with chatbots. We can present more customized and automated communications, cut craps, and save more time for everyone!

So I decided to take a peek — but being someone who is not satisfied by simply following the crowd, I decided to go a little bit further. I decided to take this Conversational Marketing course and certification but also got my hands a little bit more dirty by studying IBM Watson Assistant and also HubSpot’s chatbot tool. I’ll highlight the reason why I chose these 3 soon.

It was back in 2011 — I was in my 3rd year of study when I first heard of Watson. AI is an interesting subject for me, but I never really took it seriously — simply because my career did not head into that direction back then.

Watson Assistant, , is really an AI tool. I enrolled myself in IBM’s Professional Certificate Program on Building Smart Chatbot — picking the program because I believe Watson Assistant is one of the leaders in the chatbot domain. Watson Assistant provides a very convenient way to create smart chatbots which are emphasized on their ability to process natural language input. Watson boasts it’s tech environment too. Basically, Watson Assistant can be easily integrated with a lot of other systems and tools, and more so with whatever is inside IBM Cloud.

IBM Watson Asssistant Intents Setup — Screen captured from IBM Watson Assistant

With Watson Assistant we can create -very easily- chatbots who can converse with us not only in text but also in speech. We can create -very easily- chatbots that can not only understand natural language input, but also can try to predict the tone of our conversation with IBM Tone Analyzer, and predict our personality with IBM Personality Insight, based on our messages. We can create too, a know-it-all chatbot by integrating Watson Assistant with Watson Discovery. All these wonders have their free version for anyone to use in their business or for personal needs.

Think about what all this can bring into Marketing. Imagine your database now can be better seen as humans with personalities and emotions — and that they can be reached automatically better too.

Watson Assistant promises great things and so far, more digging only gets me more interested.

IT Support Chatbot Design using IBM Cloud Services — Image belongs to IBM, taken from here.

Drift’s Conversational Marketing Program is very interesting! No wonder people talk about Drift passionately.

Drift presents itself in a very -in my opinion- elegant yet awesomely catchy and user-friendly (did I express my adoration in a weird way? Oh well). On my first impression, I’m immediately reminded of HubSpot and how it amazes me too back then. Drift guides its new user extremely well in the process of quickly setting up a Drift account and creating a Drift Chat to be added to a web page. All in all the process of converting someone into a Drift user is one of Drift’s main strengths. The tool is presented in a neat way and serves to support greatly Drift’s conversational marketing blueprint and framework.

Drift’s Conversational Framework — Image belongs to Drift, taken from here.

Whereas Drift is a great tool in itself, but it is not as advanced as Watsons Assistant from a technical perspective. Drift chatbots emphasize themselves as quick-to-build bots that utilize rule-based dialog flows. Drift bot can converse with a human in a neat way and provides them answer options — or an option to go talk to a real human, presented in an elegant way. Though bot training through conversation analysis is a feature you can request from Drift, this feature (and power to train bot) relies on the Drift team and are not open to users — contrary to what Watson Assistant provides. This is not bad actually — as not everyone wants to spend their time working on the technical details — hence what Drift offers will sound better than music for many parties.

A little bit more on the technical part — Drift provides integration features with popular tools, and also provides API access too — so that’s great! If you already have a marketing technology and operations infrastructure setup, I believe Drift can be integrated smoothly. Integrations with popular tools such as Marketo and HubSpot can provide wonders for the customer journey — but also not necessarily exhausting to set up for non-technical users.

Drift’s Conversational Blueprint — Image belongs to Drift, taken from here.

When I first learn of HubSpot, I immediately fell in love, and I still do. My entry point to my affair with HubSpot was HubSpot academy. I was really new to Digital Marketing and Marketing Technology & Operations in general back then, but what HubSpot teaches me brings me to where I am today. HubSpot provides an all-in-one suite of growth tools, and at the very same time, surprisingly able to present their powerful tools, in a very simple and user-friendly manner to everyone. With the academy and free certifications, GPTW publicity, and not to mention the awesome tools you can use for free, no wonder HubSpot’s case is one of the most studied by growth hackers.

HubSpot’s Flyewheel Model — Image belongs to HubSpot, taken from here.

HubSpot acquires Motion AI back in 2017 and since then HubSpot starts to release a chatbot too as part of its package — and it’s immediately free to use (contrary to Drift). (This time similar to Drift) Hubspot’s chatbots are also quick-to-build bots that utilize rule-based dialog, so it is intended to be easy to use for everyone. What I see special about Hubspot chatbots is their natural ability to access and manipulate HubSpot’s systems in itself. It is possible to directly play around with HubSpot database and system entities such as HubSpot’s Workflows — in an easy and straightforward way. In my opinion, this is truly a magnificent power to be held by users. In many systems, access to complicated Workflows and direct access to data are limited to developers / technical professionals.

Similar to Drift, HubSpot chatbots are not promoting NLP abilities too like Watson Assistant, but HubSpot chatbots with its own power of simplicity and power of access to bigger HubSpot’s infrastructure is a force in its own right. I personally believe that HubSpot will continue to grow magnificently.

HubSpot’s Chatbot Building — Screen captured from HubSpot

Well, I’m writing this only to share my opinion of my first glances of chatbots — with 3 examples, so take my words with a grain of salt.

In my opinion, all in all, if you just started on your marketing technology journey but you already have some marketing technology infrastructure and you intend to start utilizing chatbots as part of your marketing strategy, I highly recommend Drift. Drift is powerful and easy to use and can prepare you for advanced chatbot usage.

If you just started to set up your marketing technology journey, consider becoming a HubSpot customer. HubSpot will educate you, pamper you, and help you grow and set up your marketing technology infrastructure — and once they are there, you can start to use chatbots.

If you are an advanced organization (or a professional) with a stable marketing technology infrastructure, and you are ready to take it to the next level — consider trying out IBM Cloud and of course, Watson Assistant as part of it. You will experience wonders.

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