Intercom vs. Drift: Best Website Chat Tool in 2021

The views expressed in this post are the writer's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Aloa or AloaLabs, LLC.

Intercom and Drift are the two best website chat tools in 2021, but startups and small businesses often struggle with deciding which one is best for their website. We've collected a list of their features and pricing to compare which one we think is better, and make a recommendation for your website chat tool.

Intercom: Chat, Knowledge Base, and Company Updates in One Place

Intercom is great for companies looking to use one tool for potential leads as well as provide support to their existing customers on their platform. The best part of Intercom is the ability to provide a chat, knowledge base, and company updates or blog posts all in one place.

Drift chat feature view

We think Intercom works great for both B2C and B2B companies. If you're a B2B company, you can provide quick access to knowledge articles and frequently asked questions to try and anticipate what questions potential leads might have. For your existing customers, you can provide tech support via chat, and allow customers to look up articles in the knowledge base to try and solve their own issues.

For B2C companies, Intercom can be used as a marketing tool. For example, if a lot of your website leads ask for pricing up front, you can feature your pricing article in the Intercom widget for easy access. Sidenote: for more on pricing pages, check out our article on how to make a great SaaS pricing page. Customers might also have questions about your product, and you can provide customer support via a beautiful chat box.

Drift: Chat(bots), a Simple Interface, and Powerful Automation

Drift offers the usual chat box, but also has powerful chatbots and automation that helps you field leads even when you're offline. Their simple interface is cleaner than Intercom's, which has all the bells and whistles of their knowledge base and blog posts in the chat window. Drift just has a chat box that your customers use to talk to a human on the other side.

Drift's clean chat widget

Intercom also offers a bot, but Drift automation goes a step further. You can have Drift learn from your best sales reps and their conversations, and setup a workflow where the Drift bot will automatically reply to leads and handle their questions. Using what Drift calls "Playbooks," you can also quickly and easily set up different workflows for different situations, for example when no team members are online, or when it's a certain day of the week.

Intercom and Drift Pricing

The base plan on Intercom is their Start plan at $39/month, which gets you 1 seat with live chat. If you upgrade to their Grow plan at $99/month, you get up to 5 seats, a lead qualification bot, the ability to send articles in conversations, and have a help center in the widget. Read more here.

Start isn't too bad if you're just looking for a basic chat widget, but if you want the help center, access to chatbots, and ability to send articles, you'll have to shell out for their pretty pricey Grow plan. It's worth it if you need the bells and whistles, but if all you need is a live chat, the Start plan will get you everything you need.

Intercom's plans include up to 2,000 people reached per month, and it's an additional $50/month for every 1,000 people reached after.

Drift has a free plan, which is nice for a company just getting started. The free plan just gets your live chat, which is actually all we currently need, so we're still on the free plan.

If you want the fancy automations that Drift offers, you must be on their Premium plan. It's hard to find pricing on their site, but supposedly it's $1500/month and an additional $80/month for more seats, which is extremely pricey. Startups can apply to Drift's startup plan, which gives you an unspecified discount based on your funding level.

We really dislike Drift's lack of transparency here on their pricing. Even as existing customers, we need to start a chat with a salesperson just to upgrade our plan from the free plan, which is annoying.

However, at least Drift has a free plan. If you're a startup or small business, consider using Drift's free plan to see if it's the right tool for you. The alternative is Intercom's Start plan at $39/month for the same features as the Drift free plan, but if you like Intercom's pricing tiers better and think you'll eventually make the jump to a higher tier, then go with Intercom Start.

Have a question about whether Intercom or Drift is the best website chat tool for you in 2021? Send us a message on our Drift chat, or email!

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