The Future of Conversational Marketing ft. Justin Bartels, Drift

Pierce is joined by Justin Bartels, Alliances Manager at Drift, for a chat about the future of conversational marketing, why the divide between sales and marketing is shrinking, and why it’s great to be a MarTech unicorn.

Show Notes

Justin Bartels, Alliances Manager at Drift, has extensive experience in sales and marketing – including experience selling to marketers – which makes him a bit of a unicorn in the MarTech space.  

Originally from Minnesota, Justin wanted to be near the mountains, so he moved to Montana for school, to a town that had a small MarTech scene created by the Oracle acquisitions and RightNow Technologies. 

He started with internships in marketing and sales and then moved to a Marketo consultancy called Elixiter. Elixiter has found a great formula: they recruit students right out of college and teach them the fundamentals of Marketo so they can hit the ground running. 

“consultancy is such a great avenue early on in your professional career because you just build so much awareness about the space very quickly.”

Justin entered the world of MarTech at a time when new technology was prevalent, but teams were still trying to understand how to operationalize that new tech to get more out of their marketing automation platforms. Justin took a year hiatus to work for Path to Scale (with fellow podcast guest Grant Grignon), but once it was acquired by Engagio, he shifted back to working as a Marketo consultant until relocating to Boston for his current role with Drift. 

He never saw himself in a sales role, but after his first year and a half at Elixiter, his VP of sales convinced him to give it a try. Learning the ins and outs of sales enablement was a new experience for him, but Justin quickly saw the value in it and built connections with customers and prospects. 

Justin is grateful for the time he spent as a consultant because it gave him great insight into the needs of sales and marketing teams. Because he spent so much time learning Marketo, he understands the technology behind marketing, which has made him more effective in his current role. 

He believes that having a background in sales and marketing is incredibly valuable because the divide between the two departments is shrinking. Sales is gaining more automation tools, and marketers are learning more about the benefits of a personal touch. 

Here, Justin breaks down the strategy behind conversational marketing and shares how to reduce friction in the buying process, something Drift is known for. Drift believes that conversations can and should be part of the entire customer journey, even across digital channels, to create a real-time experience that accelerates revenue outcomes.  

Marketing automation plays a huge role in conversational marketing, as it allows marketers to identify the customer and their needs while making the experience personal and relevant. Drift is a leader in conversational marketing, and they’re leaning into the customer journey and sales conversations in order to drive business outcomes. 

Justin is quick to point out that conversational marketing is the front end of the customer journey. It should always be followed up with conversational sales efforts that bridge the gap between marketing, sales, and customer success. 

As far as email goes, Justin is a firm believer in the importance of strong email marketing, especially in a time when email is more competitive than ever. 

“Email is almost (a) more important channel right now because there are not as many offline ways to generate demand.”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The value of starting in an entry level marketing position to understand your target market and diversify your career experience
  • Why marketers need to learn the benefits of a personalized touch
  • Where conversational marketing is headed and what marketers need to do to stay current

Follow Justin on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Thanks for listening to Unsubscribed! – a podcast created by Knak. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review on your favourite podcast player. We release new episodes every Wednesday.

Join the Conversation

If you have any feedback, or want to chat, feel free to reach out to Pierce on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @marketing_101.

Pierce Ujjainwalla has years of experience as a CEO, entrepreneur, and marketing leader. He has lived in the marketing trenches at companies like IBM, SAP, NVIDIA, and Marketo, and he launched Knak in 2015 as a platform designed to help Marketers simplify email creation. Visit his personal blog, Unsubscribed!, for more of the insight he’s gained as founder and CEO of Knak.

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