Mark Kilens, Drift VP of Content & Community Reveals How to Use Bots and Content to Print Money
Guest: Mark Kilen– Mark Kilens is VP of Content and Community at Drift where he leads the blogging, editorial, social, Drift Insider, and HYPERGROWTH teams.
Prior to joining Drift, he served as VP and founder of HubSpot Academy. As an enthusiastic former customer, Mark joined HubSpot in 2010 as an Inbound Marketing Consultant, where he spent two years working with thousands of HubSpot customers to scale their inbound strategy.
From there, he went on to build HubSpot Academy from the ground up, and in doing so, educated millions of people and created a best-in-class hub for marketing and sales content and training.
When he’s not at Drift, Mark enjoys plenty of steak and lobster, a round of golf or two, and loves being on snow or in the ocean.
Overview: In this episode of digital conversations our host Billy Bateman and Mark Kilen VP of Content and Community for Drift discuss how content and bots intersect. They talk about conversing with customers while they’re connecting with the content and giving them a personalized experience through retargeting bots.
Billy OK. Mark, thanks for. Thanks for doing this, man.
Mark Of course. It’s a pleasure, Billy.
Billy It’s awesome to be here at Hypergrowth with you.
Mark It’s exciting day.
Billy Yeah. D.C. (David Cancel) got up, gave a great, great keynote this morning. Frictionless buying. I’m all in on that.
Mark So beatboxing.
Billy Some beatboxing. Yeah, that started things off strong.
Mark Yeah, Grace is amazing. It’s an awesome, awesome day so far. Looking forward to this conversation.
Billy Yeah, me too. We’re going to talk about two things. First, I want to talk about your conversational marketing certificate, you guys have.
Mark Oh, sure. Yeah.
Billy So I have never seen so many people get excited about a marketing certification. How did you do it?
Mark That’s your question. So that’s been in the planning phases for a long time. Yeah, I would say three months. And one of the things that we’ve always done here at drift is involve the community before there even is anything. Like you use think about to how. Launch drift, right? It was about like, let’s get everyone excited with the brand, let’s get people excited about conversational marketing, build the category and the products will start to fall in place.
And involve the community of people that are super passionate about Hypergrowth, for example. We started and reviewed the same playbook for the certification. We have use it for a lot of things. Fo example, we’re launching the certification this way. My first LinkedIn post about it, it was back in, I think July, maybe August. And I said, hey, we’re going to launch, the certification, anyone interested? Been kind of thrown out there. You know, we know they’re gonna do it. But hey, we’ve done lots of certifications. What do you think? Do you think you’ll signup for that?
Billy I think I remember that post actually.
Mark So you build off that. Great I want to use as an opportunity now to get people in the certification who are part of the community sort of featured in, that was or people in the certification that are part of the community. But then let’s build a plan that involves the drifters are incentive plus members, all these different people to give them early access. We certified our conversational advisor team or CSM team, we before launch to the public. So we had all this groundswell built up and then when we launched it, we involved all the Drifters to get them excited about it. So it’s a team effort.
Billy For sure, man. So I mean we got all on the hype. Was it Thursday it came out?
Mark Yeah. Yeah. Officially.
Billy By the end of the day all of my consulting team, they were done with it. So.
Mark That’s amazing. Thank you.
Billy Yeah it was good. It was good. They liked that. Appreciate it.
Mark It’s a good platform for companies who are looking to enter a category build a category to use. You know, it’s a good cornerstone piece of content. And I think we you these cornerstone pieces of content, you can do a lot with them. You know, we’re going to use all that content in different ways for different nurturing sequences.
We’re going to use that content as part of our conversation marketing podcast. We’re gonna keep updating the content as more examples of people using conversational marketing. So I think you can take the time to spend a few months building something like that. It pays off huge dividends and it helps you start more conversations.
Billy I agree. I agree. We do a lot that, we write about experiments and that’s our best conversation starter. We run an experiment. How should you start a conversation? What’s the question or what’s the difference? And it’s amazing what we find sometimes. We did one on whether a pricing offer or a demo offer would to be more effective. We all thought it’s going to be pricing. Turns out not so much.
Mark Interesting, which one was more effective?
Billy The demo offer, actually.
Mark Why do you think that is?
Billy You know, I think buyer behavior has changed a little bit to how it was. If you click the pricing button on a web site, it will fire a Drift bot. If they click demo, same thing, similar qualifying sequences, not very different. I think people who are willing to sit down for a demo are actually more interested now than people that just want pricing information.
Billy I think buyer behaviors change just a little bit from what we think it is.
Mark So they kind of want both what you’re saying.
Billy They kind of they want both. But if you were just going to double down on one based on that experiment, it’d be doubling down on the demo crosstalk to real pipeline.
Mark So I think that’s an opportunity that a lot of marketers haven’t yet realized. They have, like probably within their navigation on their website. Yeah, like the demo, right? And it’s a like, … let’s make that experience as seamless as possible. Go back to your point of friction. Let’s just get that person, they want the demo, and to that demo as fast as possible. Capture that other human. And I think actually we talked about this before, you know, doing this conversation today. But the intersection of content and conversations.
Billy For sure.
Mark It’s so important these days. What’s the point of your content? Your point of your content is probably to get some attention, to educate them, and to maybe entertain them, to engage with them. But then when they have a question about that content, when they want to ask you something, even you may be using it as a gentles in that piece of content. How do they do it? Like contact us, demo.
Billy Your content’s going to need be amazing for somebody want to fill out a form? Have you called them back yet? Let’s not kid ourselves. Our content is good? Yeah, most of it’s not that good.
Mark Well, that but even say like when it is a good if we even like, you know, average or whatever, someone might have a question. In that moment, how can you engage with that person in a more conversational way as they’re reading that PDF, as they are going through that website page like that pillar content page. Everyone responding to a pillar pages? Most people are. It’s a deal. What, word teaching tool? It’s a ranking for SEO. You’re using it as part of probably your nurture strategy? Your sales team might be using it.
We actually start our top five places when we start conversations with people. One of them is our pillar page “drift.com/learn/chatbot”. OK. And it’s about chatbots. So they want to engage and ask us questions. So how do you make sure that not only if you’re using it or if you’re doing things with pillar pages or PDFs, e-books, certification courses, how do you make it easy for someone to start a conversation with you? I don’t think marketers are thinking quite like that yet.
Billy Well, I think some of them are, but it’s still got a long way to go.
Mark I should say. Yeah, the mass.
Billy The mass is not. Yeah, the mass is not like even when we talk to our customers they’re like no. Will you need to put all of this content behind a form. Yeah. And it is a fight. It’s like no. Let some of it out and let’s put some bots on here to give people the opportunity to engage with your team. And let’s see what happens. And usually as long as the sales teams engaged and ready to answer questions.
Mark Use the bot to qualify that person. If you wanted to like have your content on Gater like we do. Yeah. So you engage with that person. You need the content by asking them an interesting question or they ask you a question. There’s no human still. It’s just a chatbot. You ask him a couple of questions. Maybe they ask you a couple of questions. As part of that conversation. So that’s like your qualifying you think about from the country’s traditionally formed fields experience.
But then the thing that we find to be super successful is like, hey, you want this piece of content on the go, either read it later. Just give us the e-mail address. Right. And then deliver that piece of content right then and there to their email. So it still helps you capture that person’s email, even though you probably already have it. And then you can use the endless funnel play and say, oh, great, oh,have you any questions for anyone on our team and maybe don’t see position as a demo with any questions or someone on our team about this, which can then get them to a point to schedule a conversation.
Billy Yeah, it’s good play. So let’s take a step back. They are on the piece, they’re on the piller page. How are you? How are you engaging them with the bot? What do you guys see as like the best practices? What’s working?
Mark Two things at a minimum. One is you have to have the bot show itself as the person is scrolling through the page. So don’t fire that bot experience. Don’t start the bot right when they land on the page. Give them some time to digest the page so you can, you know, with a good tool that you can you can do that. So as they go down like percent in the page percent the page, then start to show the bot.
Second thing is you have calls to action on that page. You probably have a primary call to action on those pages and a secondary call to action. When I would do is use those calls to action and instead of sending someone to another page, when they click on one of those cta’s, it could be I have a question, schedule a demo. I want to learn more. That is going to open up a bot specific to that thing they collect also specific to may be where they are on that page.
Billy That’s right. That’s a great move, actually. That’s one of the things with drift or into any of the bots that you can just really easily tailor to exactly where they are on the page.
Mark One hundred percent. I was just talking to someone about this for you and I start the conversation. You could do this. Emily should be doing this. If you have long form content that is about multiple sub topics like because you’re then you’re not. If you don’t do that, you’re not having a higher chance of maybe pulling them deeper into that conversation with that that chatbot. You know, I don’t know. I just yeah.
Billy I like just use the bot and just give them a little. Give them what they want. Then they don’t make out like don’t make everybody show mere their pants and get a piece of content you know.
Mark Exactly. Exactly. I think content and conversations go together better than almost anything. Because single at this, what is this? This is a piece of content. And hopefully it sparks an idea for someone, maybe they have a question and then have a conversation with one of our companies maybe. Or they go to the website page and then they start a conversation that way right. That is like, no relationship is formed without a conversation. So in BB, it’s early duty as marketers who are doing things with content to to make sure we’re thinking about both. And I think conversion rate optimization today is interesting. Is it conversion rate optimization? Yes. But is it also conversation with optimization?
Billy Yeah, like. I think they’re very similar, like they’re almost the same. They’re not. They’re not. So you’re calm. I mean, you can think of the funnel on the Web site like a I got a visitor and then they fill out a form. Sales team qualifies. We set a meeting and go down the pipeline. Really, you can I mean, you can circumvent and David Cancel talked about this a long time ago. This SDR, the form with the bot then with the AE. It works great.
We do it for a lot of our customers. But you need to pay attention to how many people get into that conversation and come out the other end of it. Your main goal that you want. And a lot of people are tracking that. They’re not looking at OK. How many sends do they get in the conversations of those conversations, who they get e-mail address from and then who do they get meeting from? They’re not tracking that phone right there. And that’s I mean, shameless plug ChatFunnels. That’s what we really look at is how is your funnel doing within the chat?
Mark And that is so important when you look at it from what piece of content did were enable that conversation to have? See, that’s the connection. And I think every marketer should be focused on really starting to dive into.
Billy Should really look at which pages are actually making conversation. Yeah. Like we always find like the home page for any customer. Like there’s a lot of conversations. Sure, not the greatest.
Mark No, no, no, no. It’s yeah, but it should give us an example of what kind of page you like the contents.
Billy You know, like if we go back to content, we see they’re high quality blog posts get really good. Really good conversations. You know, even if you don’t get a ton. The quality is good.
Mark I don’t think people on that point really quick. People do not realize that they should be using conversation marketing within their block.
Billy Yeah, this I mean this is one of the things we do. If you go to our blog, almost every blog article will have a bot specific to the content on that page.
Mark That’s really good. I’m really feeling it.
Billy Almost everyone, not all of them, but most of them would love that. We don’t get tons of conversations out of it. But you book a lot of meetings from like the rate of conversation booking meetings is great.
Mark Imagine if you don’t do that, then what’s happening? There’s like, why did we write to me?
Billy Like when we started writing the blog. Yeah. Cassidy runs our bots for us. And, you know, Anna runs the blog and like you to we have to get together. We gotta get a bot on everyone because we wrote this content to educate people and then try to help them. Yeah. So and let’s not put a generic bot on there like this. I mean we build bots and so we do. So we got to be great at it. But like anybody can do this, it’s not easy. It’s easy to take. Like you’ve probably got like bots that you use most of the time. Take one of them and just adapt the opener to the blog post.
Mark Easily. Easily. I mean, Snowflake does this well, when you go to your blog. What’s your blog?
Billy It’s just getsignals.ai/blog/
Mark Same address. We have four different types of bots on the blog right now, depending on who’s visiting the blog. If they’re customer, they’re needed for experience. The paper contents. Have they subscribed to the blog yet? We’d actually three email subscriptions for the blog. So like, you know, if they need to subscribe to the scene of not this e-mail. We’re trying to get into this other email, like there’s the possibilities are endless. But I think the blog is a great one. And the piller pages that we talked about, our agreement with content conversations going to e-books or PDFs.
Billy Those are really good. You guys embed the bot right in it.It works great.
Mark It does I mean just have the content available on one page. Put all the content on one page. A good company that does this actually is Funnel Cake. You heard of Funnel Cake?
Mark Marko’s awesome. We worked on this measurable lead model with them. Check it out. If you go to his page. It’s one page. The whole book is on that page. But again. The bot is on that page. He’s using call to action that page fire the bot and he books right now and it’s his company just getting going. Still super impressive that he book seven meetings a week for the one that funnel pitch. He just told me that literally . He just told me that.
Billy That’s great. That’s money on one page. And it’s not the home page.
Mark It’s a piece of content.
Billy It’s the content page. That’s awesome, man.
Mark And normally that just be like, I’m going to give you my e-mail address and maybe we’ll follow up, right?
Billy Yeah. I hate it whenever we just end up with e-mail addresses and we didn’t get to talk to somebody. Yeah, I hate it.
Mark You’re not you’re not seizing that moment of high interest from the visitors.
Billy Now, let’s be honest. It’s awkward. It’s like, yeah, I got your email address. Let me send you some e-mails or try to look you up and zoom and call you. It’s just awkward. The moment it’s passed.
Mark The moment is passed. I will say this because people like I don’t screw up my my demand funnel. I choose not conversion rates. So do this. We call the second net play. You heard about the second net?
Mark You want to explain it?
Billy So let me make sure that we’re tracking with the same thing. But with somebody talking somebody gets to a calendar drop, doesn’t book, retargeting them.
Mark Actually that’s a lot different. We just talk about that one.
Billy Tell me second net.
Mark Second net is you had a traditional content page. The landing page. People land on it. There’s a form on that page. There’s probably six or seven questions. And they fill out the form to get the piece of contents. Keep that going. But add a bot to that page, add a bot to the page that say, hey, you want to. You want to skip the form. That’s one way you can do it. Yeah. Hey, you want this piece of content right now? Seemly people fill out the form versus engage the bot and complete the bot, get your e-mail that way and so many meetings come from the bot to optimize the bot to also have a conversation with someone. Versus the form that speed and velocity.
Billy The bots got away.
Mark It’s typically going to win. I’ve send it typically most of times when most so the second net. But then you still will. I’ve seen it always. I’ve never seen it go down Billy the pages overall conversion rate goes up. Because you have two nets.
Billy Have more options and different, not just more options because you could have two forms on there and they give you two options like another. They’re good options. Yeah, but you’d give them different channels to engage with people and you let them choose. This is how I feel comfortable. Let me engage that way. That’s why I work.
Mark Yes. Yes.
Billy So awesome, man. So I want to get your thoughts then down on the read what I went through. They get to the calendar drop retargeted, let them skip the line.
Mark So I think the thing that people need to realize is. I’ll take a step back. Conversational marketing is not Chat bot. It’s not live chat. Those are tools. Right, those are tools. Email is a tool. Yeah, for sure. It can be kind of a channel. It’s definitely more of a tool if you think.
Billy SMS is a tool. It’s a tool. The phone’s a tool.
Mark What conversational marketing is, it’s an overarching philosophy and strategy to start more conversations that will help your sales team connect with people faster and create a better customer experience which all are in service of driving more revenue. Right, or attaining net revenue. So when you ask about retargeting, there’s a blueprint that I know you folks have used that is super important to retargeting. because it’s a little bit more complicated. Right.
Because I get what you’re saying here. Visitors coming back to the Web site. And I want to serve up a different experience for sure. Maybe. So it all begins with what page are you trying to reach targets on and on? Who are you trying to engage with? For the second, third could be tough time. Does it matter where they’re coming from?
Does it matter if they came on because it’s an occasion program? An e-mail nurture. Maybe they came from a paid ad that says, you know, maybe from social. Then you should ask yourself, why are they coming back to your Web site for the X amount of time? Whatever. Like that second visit or fifth visit? It might be. Yeah.
And why are they on that page and why do they want to maybe ask you a question or start a conversation with you and why do you want to have a conversation with them? So you can map those those things up to what, the who, the where, the why. You can then create really sophisticated targeting campaigns based off of what you know about that person.
Because I think the big failure marketers make today and it goes back to your conversion rates, optimization point. It goes back to not generating enough pipeliner revenue, even though your top of the phone looks healthy, is because they don’t take the time to slightly personalize the experience based off of who’s visit the website at that point. And I think that’s where retargeting comes into play.
Billy Yeah, for sure. We were using a lot of different scenarios, the one that our clients love because they see measurable results. Is get meetings with people that almost got meetings.
Mark Give me an example.
Billy So inside sales. Is a customer and well, there’s that now just rebranded. But they do it. They want meetings for their sales guys. Stay on brand here with them. But what happens is people go through, they get to a calendar drop, and for whatever reason, they choose not to book a meeting.
And so whenever those people come back to the site, we have a campaign that essentially it doesn’t matter which page really for those guys because they were interested enough to qualify. And we say, hey, you were so close last time. Let’s skip the line and get you connected to somebody. And it’s money.
Mark I love that. What’s the conversion rate? Can you give us this deal?
Billy I don’t know that conversion rate on, they day book a couple of meetings a week off of it, though. Which is pretty good. And that’s just one play.
Mark It’s one of so many. You could run. Yeah, you could run a play that. All right. They’ve come back to your Web site and looked at all of this content and just say, hey, welcome back. It looks like you’re loving our content to have any questions about it.
Billy Like those are great plays. Another good play is to suggest content from the home page.
Mark Love to suggest content.
Billy Giving people asking like you’d know who your personas are. You just say, hey, are you one of these people? If you are. Let me help you. That’s a great way. And then you’ve also they’ve also said, I’m a marketer. I’m a salesperson. I’m I.T., whatever it is. And you know that in the future. And you can retarget that under it.
Mark And that’s and that’s why I love all these places, because it’s like just in the moment, just in time engagement that you’re trying to drum up with someone. And you’re giving them an experience that you could almost never do with existing tools now.
But you’re thinking through it from their point of view, from their point of view, meaning where they are in that customer journey, because you’re like thinking about like, again, actually, if you use, say like Marketo and you integrate them with to get chat tool, you could use those lists as a way to be targets. You can basically say, I’m not only gonna use Marketo for like email nurturing and database management, things like that.
I’m gonna get another super valuable thing from that extremely powerful tool in use like Marketo for web site automation. And I can we target someone who’s like, you know, half way through the sales process? Maybe they actually only booked a meeting, but they think they just fell off them.
Billy Retarget them get that going again?
Mark Yeah. At any point. Even like you will look for all the opportunities that they had, no budget, no time for the next quarter.
Billy And you just keep them in the phone.
Mark Keep them on the phone. Think come back to your website. Say something to those folks. That is a relevant subset. Hey, how can I help you? You want to talk to them. I don’t know.
Billy Let’s talk about how we can move this along or how we can help you.
Mark Yeah. Yeah. Hey. Hey. You get me. The people who are taking this to the next level is Rio, like dozens, if not playbooks. Yeah, ‘Jeff has like over a hundred playbooks,.
Billy For sure you do.
Mark And that’s where you start to get into the account based approaches. You can you can get really specific.
Billy You can it almost, if you’re really all in it. You almost either need the agency or somebody like brought up for you.
Mark Or you drift automation.
Billy Yeah or you drift AI.
Mark I said it like that. Yeah, this is awesome. What else can we talk about? Anything else.
Billy What’s your one best content play. If you were just going to say to somebody listening, and they haven’t done any conversational marketing with content and you’re going to say this is what I want you to do. What would you tell them?
Mark We definitely talked about a couple already. I’ll summarize them, pillar page one, blog one. I’ll give you two frameworks if you like. One of my favorite frameworks for contents is story, examples, protips. So a story could be long, could be small in terms of the length of it, but are the simply a story about how some one of your customers or does it because more specific, but I like using a customer got to this outcome.
Right. So like there was an obstacle, like there was a challenge. There is an enemy, right? There’s a guy standing in the way. But then the hero came in right there, the before and after story. use the story framework. As you tell that story, give real examples of what that person did or what you’re recommending they do. But like use real examples from your customers. And we all have customers, hopefully.
Right. And you can pull up the exact things they did in that story. It could be two. Could be three. Doesn’t have to be a ton to get to that outcome? Then as you go through those examples, weave in specific suggestions. I call them pro tips. Educational nuggets, teach them how they actually brought that thing to life. That example. Right. So the story’s the overarching thing. You’re giving them these examples.
You’re giving them these educational nuggets? And if you can do it and next, someone on brand entertaining way each basically like in your voice, you do it in your voice. It’s a home run because you could think that a story could be a blog post. A story could be in a video format. A story could be as per your podcast. You can play all that content up to. Actually, that’s great.
Billy I like that one.
Mark The other one is why, how, what? Why, How, What? Why do I need to do this thing? Facts, data points, could be from Gartner the analyst firm or your own research. We just need conversation marketing the facts, pure proof, business proof, which is case studies. Facts. Why?
How? how do we do it? Not specific to your business. What are the best practices? What’s the strategy? How do I start conversation marketing? I’ll use the blueprint. Use the conversational framework. How do I do it? Anyone could use those things. You don’t have to be a drift customer. What do I do now that I understand why I should do it? How to do it? What should I do now? From a tool standpoint, what tools to use? In what ways?
With the how to get to that? You almost think of it as kind of like your funnel, if you like tofu, which is a engage to educate? And you’ve bofu. Research to evaluate. I’m sorry, mofu, i meant mofu. Research and evaluate. Bofu justify. You start to get deeper into your product as you go through that funnel. Right.
So you can search to create content if you use that format. Why? How? What? Then you could use some of the Why content for the beginning of the funnel. And as you get deeper, you because it’s a show that product marketing content, the educational content, as it’s hard to evaluate and justify this investment and say whatever yourself. Those are my favorite.
Billy That makes sense. That’s money. That’s good stuff.
Mark Hopefully that answers your question.
Billy Okay man. Well, thank you, Mark.
Mark Of course.
Billy Appreciate it.
Mark A pleasure, Billy.
Billy Where do people find you?
Mark Linkedin, Twitter? Mark the K kilens. I’m online. Love to chat. Lets have a conversation.
Billy Awesome. Thank you, man.
Mark Thank you, Billy.
Billy We’ll chat later.
Mark Take care.