What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is a software application that can conduct a conversation with a human user. 

Some chatbots leverage rules-based programming with decision trees or word classification processes to interpret human typed speech and generate meaningful responses, while others leverage modern technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) or Machine Learning (ML).

In digital marketing, chatbots have become a vital customer engagement touchpoint that can drive sales-qualified lead (SQL) generation, shorten the sales cycle, and accelerate revenue for B2B SaaS companies. 

Visitors can engage with chatbots by selecting a topic to chat about, or typing their own question into the text box. Chatbots automate 1-to-1 conversation with customers at scale. They can help with customer service inquiries or support the sales/marketing process.

Deploying a marketing chatbot on your website allows you to engage visitors on a one-to-one basis at scale, answering their questions, directing them to relevant information and resources, and helping them book appointments or demos with your sales team.


How Do Chatbots Work?

Chatbots can be divided into two categories based on their underlying technology and the scope of their application.

Task-oriented chatbots are specialized to perform a narrow range of functions. These chatbots use NLP technology to understand the intent behind a user’s request, then follow rules-based decision trees to generate conversational responses and provide basic services over a dialog-driven interface.

Data-driven chatbots are more sophisticated and complex than their task-oriented counterparts. These chatbots apply predictive intelligence and machine learning to execute on a broad range of requests, offering an interactive experience that’s personalized based on past user behavior. Data-driven chatbots are contextually aware, with the ability to learn about a user’s preferences and eventually anticipate their needs.

Data-driven chatbots are often deployed as virtual assistants, with notable examples including Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa.


How Do Marketing Chatbots Work?

A marketing chatbot is a task-oriented chatbot that can be deployed on your business website to engage with your visitors on a one-to-one basis at scale. Marketing chatbots applications are most commonly consumed as either a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution or a public cloud service.

Today’s marketing chatbots can be configured using a simple, rules-based programming approach to fulfill a variety of functions, including things like:


  • Welcoming visitors to your website with a targeted message,
  • Welcoming new and returning visitors to your website with targeted messaging,
  • Welcoming visitors to your website with targeted messaging based on the traffic source,
  • Delivering targeted messaging on high-intent sales pages or landing pages on your website,
  • Recommending articles or resources to visitors based on their browsing history, needs, queries, etc.,
  • Responding to basic customer inquiries,
  • Qualifying leads by asking pre-programmed questions (and keeping track of answers),
  • Capturing leads by directing visitors to your email list or webinar registration,
  • Helping high-intent purchasers book meetings directly with your sales team, or
  • Connecting high-intent purchasers with your sales team for an immediate conversation.


When a potential customer visits your website, they’ll be greeted by your chatbot using the customized messaging that you create. Visitors can ask questions or make requests to your chatbot as if they were speaking to a live human agent. They can even choose to ignore your chatbot and engage directly with your website – but the bot will still be there if the visitor decides they need help.


What are the Benefits of a Marketing Chatbot?

Optimize and Automate the Customer Journey

Chatbots help optimize and streamline the customer journey by connecting your visitors with resources that support and educate them at every stage of the purchasing process.

Chatbots can do this organically, by responding directly to customer inquiries and requests, or they can leverage data from browser cookies to recognize where visitors are in the customer journey and connect them with the right information, resources, or messaging to nudge them along.

Best of all, chatbots allow this entire process to be automated at scale.

A marketing chatbot deployed on a specific page of your website can deliver a personalized, targeted welcome to your visitors. Drift uses this feature on the landing page for its Drift for Startups program, offering a warm, personalized welcome for potential new applicants.


Accelerate the Sales Process

In B2B SaaS, unless you’re following a self-service sales model, a conversation usually needs to happen before a sale can be finalized. 

Conversational marketing is a new marketing method, pioneered by our favorite chatbot vendor Drift, that uses marketing chatbots and targeted messaging to make conversations happen earlier in the sales process. 

Instead of filling out a lead capture form or a contact request and waiting for a phone call from your sales team, prospects can start a conversation with your chatbot and either connect through to a member of your sales team or make an appointment for a product demo or sales conversation at their earliest convenience.


Drive SQL Generation

There’s no doubt that marketing chatbots and conversational marketing can have a significant impact on SQL generation. 

Deploying a chatbot on your website with the capability to automatically book appointments in your sales calendar means that a prospect can go from visiting your website to meeting with your sales team very quickly and with minimal friction. This single capability reduces drop-off in your sales/marketing funnel and creates a “fast-lane” for converting your hottest prospects into paying customers.


Marketing Chatbots Drive Revenue Growth for B2B SaaS Companies

At Directive, we view chatbots and conversational marketing as valuable tools that help us accelerate revenue growth for our B2B SaaS clients. 

As part of our Customer Generation methodology, we help our clients start more conversations with customers and generate more SQLs by customizing and deploying Drift, our favorite conversational marketing chatbot.

Ready to learn more?

Book an intro call with us to learn more about the power of chatbots, or Join Society, our SaaS marketing community on Slack, and gain access to exclusive content and free insights from our friendly group of SaaS marketing professionals.


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