COVID-19 Update

Drift CMO Tricia Gellman Discusses AI In Marketing, Personalization & The Upcoming RevGrowth Virtual Summit

Drift's Summit has always been a must-attend event for the Demand Gen Report team. Previously known as HYPERGROWTH, the (in-person) west coast version was last held in 2019 around the same time as Dreamforce in San Francisco. I clearly remember rushing from the airport to catch as many sessions as I could. The speakers were top notch and super energetic/engaging, and the vibe of the whole event was totally different than the B2B events I was used to.

Fast forward to today… The world is still a hot mess, most events are still virtual, Drift’s event is dubbed RevGrowth and is now in its second year in a digital setting. Hot off the success of 2020’s RevGrowth Virtual Summit, the event will will be back on Aug. 26 with a killer agenda featuring some inspiring speakers from companies such as PTC, Dolby Laboratories, Modern Arena and more.

The theme of this year’s RevGrowth Virtual Summit is “Personalization at Scale.” With buyers in complete control of their journeys, marketers have taken personalization beyond those “Hi, [Name]” email efforts to truly customize the experience for key personas, accounts and industries — all in an effort to educate and inspire audiences (versus just pushing a product at them).

To get a sneak peek into what we can expect at next week’s Summit, I sat down with Tricia Gellman, CMO of Drift and keynote speaker at the event. We discussed everything from AI in marketing and personalization to the virtual event experience.

Demand Gen Report: Now that we’re over halfway through 2021, how has AI in marketing evolved to where we are now?

1atricTricia Gellman: AI has been around for a while, and we've talked a lot about it. There was so much hype, even five years ago, when people started talking about how AI can help marketers, and now we're in a place where we have proof that it's doing valuable things for people. The original premise was that you could apply AI to the more mundane topics and tasks to free up marketers’ time for things that require a human touch.

We see our customers getting great ROI by pairing the technology with humans that are available 24/7. Especially in the post-pandemic time, we've seen our personal and work lives blend so much that the time when you're doing marketing and sales to move your business forward has become so unpredictable. A lot of executives don't have any time to do anything until eight or nine o'clock at night. So, are your marketing programs available and engaging people at those right times of the day? I think it's created scalability on what's really very long tail for marketers, which is great. That allows people to see a very high ROI in terms of engagement and moving through with the business.

DGR: There was always so much talk about AI replacing humans and people losing their jobs because of it. But it’s clear that that's not the case, because you need that combination, right?

Gellman: Yes, you need the combination. I remember when I was at Salesforce, we were talking about AI and how it's going to do all of these things. People talked about AI for a long time, so everyone acts like they know what it is, but most people don't. And part of that is because there was so much hype, you couldn't really see anything. Now at least our customers are starting to see the tangible results of it; they see the leads that are generated in the middle of the night, they see that they don't have to add more SDRs. And yet, they've added more meetings, different things that really impact the business, so that's been pretty cool.

DGR: The theme for this year's RevGrowth Virtual Summit is "personalization at scale" — can you talk about the meaning of the theme this year and why the event is laser-focused on it?

Gellman: We felt that it was important to really look at the needs of the market. We pride ourselves on taking guidance from our customers and the market, so it’s really the people that create the event. When we look at the market, we see people getting this very rich, personalized experience from Amazon and Netflix where they don't even think, “Oh, this technology is providing personalization.” But in fact, when you log into Netflix, it's only showing the movies that would be recommended for you based on your past preferences and how you acted.

Now with the pandemic and everyone blending their lives, there's more desire to have a relevant experience. As marketers and salespeople, especially in B2B, how can you possibly do that? How can you deliver on what the end-user really expects? How is the content relevant to where the prospect is in their journey? That takes a lot of different inputs, and then there’s the execution of it. So, between reading all the inputs, analyzing the data and then acting on it at the right time and in the right channel, etc., it’s way too heavy of a lift for marketers and salespeople. We're at this tipping point where people need to start paying attention to how they deliver on the expectations of their buyers and customers. AI is a really great way to do that.

DGR: Personalization has been a hot topic in B2B for quite some time — and it has gone beyond the standard email greeting. How does personalization fit into Drift's vision today? And how are you even personalizing the event experience this year?

Gellman: Personalization is at the core of what we're doing. We believe that the best way to do business is through a conversation — you would never pre-program yourself to have the same discussion with every person that you spoke to all day. If you are building your world around personalized conversations, then you're really stepping it up in terms of how you engage and build that experience.

From an event standpoint, we still are big believers in “one stage, one experience.” We are laser-focused on getting the message out in terms of how to personalize that sales and marketing experience.

For RevGrowth, we like to bring in inspirational speakers who can talk to the topic. So, we have Greg Hoffman and others who are talking about the importance of your brand, how it comes across and how you can personalize it. Then we have some other B2B speakers that will talk about how you can help sales and marketing work better together, and how having that sharing of information between the two groups can really deliver a more personalized experience.

DGR: You will present the keynote at this year's Summit — can you give us a sneak peek into what the audience can expect from it?

Gellman: One thing that happens all the time with AI is that while it sounds awesome, you can't get started until you have heaps of data. As part of our keynote, we'll be talking about how we are taking the aggregate data that we see across all our customers — which is now over 3 billion conversations — and bringing that to people to help them customize/personalize and act with AI so that they don't have to wait around for results. The key is how AI is not just listening to the conversations on the marketing side and looking at what's happening in your marketing automation and other things, but how it’s analyzing the data in your CRM and sales tech stack to connect sales and marketing.

DGR: What sessions/speakers are you looking forward to at RevGrowth?

Gellman: We have Marianna Cogan from PTC speaking on what they're doing to drive digital transformation to take this company that's over 20 years old and bring it into today's decade. People should check that out to just see how they can take the old and modernize it for today, given the challenges of reaching the right audience with the right message.

Then we have Greg Kaufman. I'm super excited to hear him talk specifically around this idea of brand and personalization, because of what he did for Nike, what he's doing generally in terms of giving back and what he’s doing around diversity is super compelling.

There’s still time to save your seat for the FREE virtual event. Register here.