Someone recently asked – ‘what advice would you give to others in this strange time?’ Mindset was my response.
The right mindset can help you adapt and protect from physical or mental hardships. http
Today, many employees and companies are facing unprecedented hardships. We’re all operating in a very ambiguous environment, where it is unusually challenging to confidentially forecast outcomes we were able to do in the past.
Although my career has more recently spanned high tech CMO for 10 years and current Agency owner, I draw on my early career experience in the military, where that culture was built on a mindset mantra: ‘Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome’.
Those mindset traits are most needed today by companies and by their people. Leaders need to encourage their people to stay on the move by taking risks, adapting to the uncomfortable environment, and overcoming the myriad of obstacles that we all face today. It’s too easy to react or settle in the comfort of the home environment. If people keep moving forward with decisions, acting rather than reacting, they and their company will come out stronger, with the right market feedback.
Those of you just joining. Go ahead and fill out the poll as we’re waiting for everybody to to come on. And you’ll also see that we’re live streaming this as a test on YouTube right now. So we’re really excited about that and we’re really excited that you joined us today. Be a phenomenal conversation with industry leaders talking about engagement. Now in this post covert world, we’ve had a lot of challenges, both prospecting as well as customer engagement and many of you have joined on the series kind of a journey that I’ve been having here with a series of webinars, talking about best practices within account based marketing. Today we’ve got three three experts that are online here and I’m going to,
I’ve got to mute out. There we go and mute out my YouTube cause I’m getting feedback. Sorry about that. We’ve got three industry experts that have joined us today. Amanda, who’s the CMO of app Netta. Thank you, Amanda for coming in today and we’ve got Megan, the recent VP of marketing at Engagio and former head of research at Sirius, Amy, who’s the VP of strategy at calm, creative. And my name is John Russo. I’m the founder of B2B fusion. As far as the setup today what we thought we’d do is w many of you have sent in questions and we’re appreciative that you did send in those questions. I’m going to go ahead and begin asking a couple of those questions probably one or two questions. Then I’ll pause to see if there’s any questions that you and the audience have a real time.
So this is your chance to really get anything that’s addressed top of mind with any of the panelists or all of the panelists to kind of riff on. So I would encourage you in the Q and a section to go ahead and pop things up or in the chat box. Just go ahead and pop things up as you think of them and then I’ll feel them as we go through. Our goal is to kind of keep this within 45 minutes. Depending on how fast we go. You know, we’ll, we’ll kinda do a, you know, we’ll see where we’re at at the bottom of the hour and then closer to 45 minutes as well. Before we jump in, just looking at the poll here and I will end the polling, I think it automatically shares, let me press and polling here.
Assuming everybody has voted on the poll or as many people as possible here we’ll hit share results and can everybody see this? Maybe just give a thumbs up in the chatter or a yes or, okay. I know that the panels could definitely see it, but fantastic. It looks like a good percentage of people are looking at growing this year, which is pretty impressive. A lot of companies are obviously doing a lot of re forecasting or even pausing on the reforecast right now because we just don’t know what this is going to look like. And then for those that are really impacted specifically within specific industries, travel industries as an example there, they’re probably a little bit more effected than, than most. So with that, I’m going to go ahead and hit up our first question and I’m going to toss it over to Amanda. Let’s see if I can stop the pole or minimize it. Amanda, you’re a CMO, you’re in the hot seat. We’ve gone through this pre depost Covid transition and you’re doing a lot in account based marketing. Where have you shifted your focus on those accounts specifically around the named account side of things?
Yeah, so we’ve been using and kind of an ABM approach for a couple of years now and it’s been really effective for us. It’s been a great opportunity for sales and marketing to really stay very tightly aligned. And so nothing about that has really changed. We’re still moving forward with that strategy. But what has changed is the specific accounts that are on our named account list. So we had to really think about the list that we had going into this. And then we went account by account and we started to think about, well, how have their business circumstances changed? And are they still you know, are they still a good candidate for us? Right? Or have their, has their situation changed in such a way that maybe that’s not where we want to spend our time and energy prospecting into right now. So for example you know, we deal with internet connectivity and making sure that it professionals have the visibility they need.
So it matters very much to us where people are working from. So the change to everybody working from home in certain industries had had a major effect on this. So we had to think about what are the particular use cases where somebody might leverage Neta now versus before. And then are those accounts that are on our list still are they likely to take us up on those new use cases? So we really called through that list because not everyone that was on there before is still relevant now. And likewise, there may have been some that wouldn’t have been on Melissa before that now. We brought on there. So I think the approach still very much holds, but we did really have to think about which specific accounts were on there based on the circumstances.
Let me just double click into that for a moment and thinking we’ve got 38 million people that are now unemployed. Unfortunately it’s been the most seismic event ever on a database. How have you looked at beyond
The accounts at the contact level or is there anything contact wise that you’re also shifting as part of that account strategy? You know, that’s a great question. We’re sort of iterating on that as we go. To be perfectly honest. There’s, you know, temporary layoffs, furloughs and things like that, there’s permanent layoffs and so it’s a little bit difficult to discern that. So we’re really kind of learning as we go and as the team is prospecting into these accounts and we learn more, we try to make sure that we’re updating our database to be as reflective of reality as we can. You know, similarly as we get those auto reply bounce backs and things like that from a marketing perspective, we try to funnel that back to sales. So for us it’s really just about that kind of cross functional communication. We don’t have any sort of like great systematic approach to making sure that we know that before we go in, but we do try to always funnel back whatever feedback that we’re getting.
That’s awesome. And maybe another follow on question or, or last question before we pause and see if anything, anybody has anything from the audience. You’re on the hot seat amongst all of us here. You’re on the hot seat. I would imagine for revenue production and marketing source pipeline. And in this time it’s really difficult to get people to engage. We’ve just shifted from kind of this environment of having events to not having events. How are you shifting your strategy to really connect the salespeople to new prospects in this process?
Yeah, I think the first thing is, I mean, obviously we’re all mourning the loss of in person events, right? It’s as tough as it is to organize a trade show there. They’re hugely effective for us for a reason. So that’s certainly sad. Not to be able to have those. But what we’ve tried to think about is, is not just chalking up events as a whole, as a complete loss cause certainly some events have just canceled and that is what it is. But others are really moving to digital events or virtual events. And this is kind of uncharted territory for a lot of us. We actually just participated in an industry event that was a virtual event and that had virtual booths and still, you know, online presentations. And so the form factor was really different and best practices start to look a little bit different.
But we’re trying to think about how we can leverage those virtual events to get, maybe not the same as we would have gotten out of the physical event, but, but not to, you know, to still be able to leverage that. So, whether it’s, you know, interacting with attendees in a virtual booth or reusing the content that we might do during a virtual presentation, taking that recording and how can we repurpose that as an asset that we can put into nurture streams or syndication or something like that after the fact. So we’ve tried not to just talk up all events as gone, which has been one part of it. And the other thing is exactly what we’re doing here today. You know, webinars for us prior to Kobe webinars were sort of like a mediocre performer relative to some of our other our other programs. But I think the appetite for this sort of event has really changed, right? People are hungry for content and information and thought leadership still. And because they can’t get it in these live events they’re doing exactly what we’re doing here, right? And turning to these sort of virtual webinars that maybe 30 minutes, they don’t have to be long. But we’ve actually seen a lot of success with webinars just in the past couple of months in a way that’s very different than what we were seeing beforehand.
Makes a ton of sense. Makes a ton of sense. And we’re going to pivot to the audience questions. I keep popping your questions here. We’ve got an early question from Avi and Avi, it looks like it’s good timing because this relates to another question that came in as well. The question is outside of predictive analytics for gathering intent-based accounts, what are some of the other suggestions to update a target account list? Megan, you and I were talking, I think before beforehand we were talking about kind of the data and insights and you know, what you can do with accounts that are in market, who are not a market that might fit your ICP or don’t fit your ICP. What, how would you approach this question? That obvious asking?
Yeah, great question. And, and I think it’s a really important one, Amanda. Like you just said, right? The first thing you need to start with is his understanding of the people that you normally would be selling to who is affected and how are they affected? So the first thing you kind of want to start with is really your Tam, right? And saying, okay, is my addressable market still addressable? And I would do that at the industry level, the sub-industry level and the size of company level. Because there may be different things going on in different markets, you know, travel, food, whatever it is. Those are obviously directly impacted, but there are some markets that are actually growing, you know, as 50% of our respondents just said, right? They’re still planning to grow. So depending on the market you’re in, that’s the first thing.
And then components of those markets may be growing differently than others, but size of company is really key to larger organizations. Especially if they have a lot of cash on hand. Are pretty well insulated from some of this, right? They’ve got runway, they’ve got a comfort level with continuing with investment. And in fact, for companies who are finding themselves in the position of having an opportunity, they didn’t expect they may be forced to invest in forced to change faster. And I think this is another really kind of important lens to put on your addressable market. And it may even change who your ICP is. If you’ve got companies that have found themselves sort of behind the curve in terms of digital transformation and having to remote selling different styles of marketing. If their hand is being forced by the current market, they may have a different kind of a need you can help with.
So if you understand sort of those industry and company size dynamics as well as the nature of the district eruption on those kinds of businesses, you can basically go back and rebuild a Tam that better reflects the current market. And then that’s going to tell you the kinds of companies that you think you can be most successful with and that’ll lead you to revisit your ICP. So who’s still buying, what are they buying, why are they buying? And then the other thing you want to think about is inside that company, are there different people who are part of that buying group, right? So maybe you didn’t have a ratifier playing a strong role, maybe procurement or finance or others really didn’t get involved before. Well, they’re involved now, so you’re going to have a buying group that’s going to have some different members in it.
So you’re going to want to pay attention to sort of building out what I call an account persona. A company of this size and type will typically have these members of the buying group involved in making this decision and here are the things they care about at each stage of buying. So if you kind of map that out, you know who you need to get to. And then obviously to your point, actually I think gay intent is a really, really useful tool right now. I’m seeing really interesting trends of who’s looking and what they’re looking at and in what volumes and how that’s changed. Recent data that I’ve seen from Madison logic actually shows that there was a pretty significant downturn in the March timeframe as one would have expected, right? That’s when, when most of us made the shift to work from home, there was a great deal of uncertainty and concern in the market.
Those volumes are now back up in April and may. And that’s exciting news. That’s sort of saying, Hey, we are getting back to whatever our new normal is going to be. So you’re going to have information about that, but know what that looks like and then make sure you’re applying it and thinking about it. And by the way, that data can also point you to what the topics of your webinars and what the topics of your content should be based on the themes and topics that those organizations are looking at. And again, divided by industry divided by role, all those good things that we did in the previous step. And then the last thing you really want to do to kind of revisit your your ICP, your target accounts is bring in data from customers. You want to pay attention to where you are seeing changes in customer behavior.
And again, you can use that to kind of reapply back to who you should be targeting in the new market. So have your customers of the industries that they’re in, their company sizes, the same things that you’re using to segment your target market generally. How has their behavior changed and what has changed about it. And that can tell you a couple of things. One where you’re going to need to focus more on retention efforts, but two, it’s going to show you who is more or less impacted in your base. And then you can start to dig into why and add that to the data that you’re monitoring on an ongoing basis. But those are all some things that I think can be really helpful to revisiting what your market can and should be going forward. That’s excellent.
And just to add on to what Megan had said as a consultancy, we’ve done probably close to 100 plus ABM engagements in this one particular one recently we did, which is relevant to here, surprised us where we uncovered that the ICP of the company was not what they thought it was. This particular SaaS company had done a lot of defining of their market a way in advance of us and thought they were going after a stratification of tier one, tier two and tier three, but through the implementation of Engagio and Salesforce and Marketo, what we found was the engagement was off the charts and the other category. So literally within the last four weeks, they have pivoted their entire marketing efforts to this other category and they’ve moved off their quote unquote ICP. So it was enlightening to us. You know, it was great that we were part of that process to kind of enable that decision.
But it really reaffirmed to me that you, you know, just because you think you know what your ICP is you really gotta press on that. Really, really hard. And I would never have thought about that until I started seeing the data on the engagement. So I think that’s a great point that you bring up multiple points that you bring up there. Megan that are also important. Let me see if I can relaunch the poll here. Poll number two question for those that are still with us and I’m going to ask another question in a moment here. But we’re talking about intent data as part of the spend. And so this question is how are you thinking about investing in MarTech this year? Do you as your company or perhaps your client, are they investing more in MarTech?
Will it be flat in MarTech or will it be down in MarTech? So go ahead and click on poll and vote on that. And while you’re voting on that, I’m going to ask Megan another follow on question. Particularly as it relates to the other side of the funnel, Megan, which is the customer retention side of things. You’ve seen a lot on the demand generation piece. And there’s skill sets that people have within demand gen. And as companies are transitioning to customer retention, who’s going to be focusing on what now? Like what are the responsibilities in this kind of shift from acquisition marketing to customer marketing? Where do you see that pivot of, of skill sets going?
Yeah, that’s a great question. And by the way, I’m really glad you brought up the idea of, of you know, using this as an opportunity to revisit your ICP. That’s the step. I don’t see enough companies take what you thought was true even six months ago may not still be true and it’s probably just a good moment to do that homework. Same applies to when you’re thinking about shifting over to a greater focus on post sale and saying, okay, well if we’re finding that there’s a good chunk of the market that we want to win, that’s not really in buying mode. Then our growth strategy is going to be to hold on to our base. It’s going to be to hold onto the customers that we have. So retention becomes your growth strategy. Cause if you’ve got a sound foundation, when you come out of the down market, you’re going to have that much stronger base to build on, right?
It’s going to be really good. So that means, okay, we’re going to have to potentially temporarily or potentially longer term have to redeploy some resources in particular, most likely from demand and field because that’s where you’re going to have capacity that can’t do its traditional job well. Those marketers tend to be really well suited to making the shift over to thinking about post sale because they’re close to the sales organization. So they know kind of those needs and how to work with folks who are customer facing. So say they need to now go work with customer success or customer support, they’re going to have that habit of engaging with customer facing business partners. Right. the second thing is they are good at thinking about experiences. Amanda, you brought up the fact that, you know, your team is just saying, well we can’t do the events that we used to love to do, but we understand the goal of those events and what made those events a useful part of our buying cycle?
Well, you can think about the same thing here in saying how do we create experiences and value for our customers and use that same understanding of how to engage and convince people to spend time with you just for a different reason, right? To, to help them understand more about how to get value from the relationship with you as opposed to, you know, moving through stages of a funnel. But those same tools apply. The third thing is those folks tend to be good at content and very creative about developing it and sharing it. And one of the biggest gaps that I see certainly in organizations is when you think mostly about content to convince people to buy you, you’re going to need to start to say, wow, well what do I need to convince people to stay a customer?
And as you think about the stages that your customers go through from onboarding to sort of early adoption, to kind of the middle of the relationship to the renewal cycle and then even on into longer term engagement with you and hopefully becoming raving fans and advocates. There are essentially conversions from stage to stage there. And what you want to think about is what are those actions, what are those conversions, what is the path to success and renewal for our business? And then how can we create reusable content assets or other kinds of resources that will encourage customers to stay on that path and then put that in front of them just like we nurture our prospect, we need to nurture our customers and now is the moment to then redirect some of those demand resources to creating that. And the nice thing that comes out of that is even if at some point pivot back to a more pre-sale or demand oriented focus, they’re going to have such a good understanding of what’s harder, easy for your customers, what those folks need, what’s going on in their lives. Kind of that customer persona instead of the buyer persona. And that will inform and flavor the quality of the presale stuff that you’re doing. And so your buyers are going to say, wow, they really get me. And it’s because they really get customers. So that’s going to be super helpful as well. But those are, those are some ways I think you can pivot those skills. You also have to change your metrics.
I think if I could just add, I think that’s spot on. And the thing that’s that’s so interesting is not only do those customer insights help to inform the demand gen strategy when you do pivot back, but even before you fully pivot, you might develop some insights from talking to those customers and interacting with them. You just have a different relationship with customers than you do with prospects. Right. That can also help to identify new slices of potential ICP, right? New use cases that maybe you didn’t think about, Oh, I didn’t actually didn’t really know our customers were using our product in that way. But that can also open up new avenues to not only potentially extract more value from existing customers, but also to do some blow cost or whatever the case may be. Prospecting activities from, you know, using those insights that you got from those customers.
Yeah, absolutely. And a real world example of a client that we’re currently working with and how they’ve shifted their ICP. So they’re, you know they work with a lot of retailers. They have a merchandising software solution. They typically have targeted apparel accessory lines your support as of the world. That obviously is not a very viable customer to sell to right now. So they really did have to revisit that ICP, think about it. And we’ve completely shifted all our strategy now to go after grocers and the kind of pharmacies, the CVS, the Walgreens of the world, really the ones that are still thriving and the ones that have such demand than they ever did before, that they really do need to have their merchandising completely buttoned up. They have the money to spend right now because their, their sales are through the roof and we’ve completely shifted everything we’re doing messaging wise, offer wise and obviously our targeting to really now go after that kind of new segment for them. And it’s proven to be very successful.
Yeah. Just building on that, Amy, you, you certainly see a lot of clients from an agency perspective in your role as strategy in addition to what you just shared there. How else are you seeing clients approach today’s market environment differently than maybe in times past?
Yeah, absolutely. So I think, you know, there’s been probably five major things that all a lot of our clients are re-examining right now. The first being their messaging, how they’re going to market everybody, companies, individuals, you know, all of us being on zooms every day and kind of seeing a little bit more of our personal side that’s happening with businesses too. We’re reshifting a lot of our messaging to be more personable, more empathetic, more human, not so stark businesslike. So that’s a shift that’s definitely happening. In addition to the shift of offers and what we’re putting out into the market to try to drive prospects in or having our clients we’re working with clients looking at is there something that they could offer on more of a free trial type basis where you know, clients might not be in a place to spend today, but how can we get them in, prove our value, get them to, you know, want to use us in the future when maybe spending opens up a little bit more.
So our clients are definitely kind of rethinking what products they have, what we can offer on a more free basis and free trial basis. Another area is obviously looking at all of the outbound that we typically do. Budgets are in some cases getting slashed. In some cases. We have clients who are trying to figure out what to do with those event budgets that they no longer need to spend the money on those physical events and how they can move that to digital. So we’re spending a lot of time with clients on you know, really making their digital infrastructure and digital footprint really sounded strong. SCO, SCM and all of their very specific targeting. We’re getting much, much deeper and more segmented in light of today’s environment and a lot of what we just talked about, about having to shift ITPs and having to look at potential new audience segments, we’re really focusing on those that are going to be the most viable in the short term.
We’re building out plays, marketing plans that offer that much more personalization, not much more segmentation about not only how we go and advertise to them, but exactly the entire process coming through the funnel and then integrating with sales teams. That’s another huge piece for us. Like Amanda talked about, events are typically a really great place for sales to be able to engage face to face with customers that doesn’t exist today. So how do we think about getting our sales teams virtual? How do we perfect? Really the zoom pitch, we’re working with a lot of clients on that perfecting really these digital virtual plays where again, you can add personality, you can build connections but you have to do it all virtually today. So we’re supporting sales teams a lot more heavily on the marketing side from not only supplying a lot of that intent and intelligence to a lot of those scripts about how to communicate in a very personalized and customized way, not only from the marketing perspective, but all the way down to sales.
And a lot of times our sales teams don’t have, the resources are sometimes the knowhow, honestly, to be able to customize and really pull out interesting nuggets. So we’re working a lot of clients on pulling things from intent and intelligence, which I know we’ve talked about a little bit before and I think intent is way more important today than it even was a year ago, simply because a lot of audience segments are no longer in market, so to speak and intent is able to help tell that story about who is still researching solutions. It was still very active and really help identifying the right accounts and the right individuals to go after.
Yeah. Maybe building on that if you look at our poll results here it actually beers very closely. What not only what you said there, but I had shared this identical question and a Slack channel actually one of the participants Heidi or a Slack channel and the same exact results, which surprise me that more people were planning on making investments this year in MarTech in 2020. I figured that it would be flat or or down and in both cases, although, you know, maybe not statistically significant, we haven’t had a lot of responses yet, but in both cases nobody said that they were reducing MarTech, which really, really surprised me. I thought for sure people would in this environment be looking at it, but maybe with the change to everything being a digital strategy. Now. And to your point, Amy, with intent and some of the search things that you talked about, people are doing more and more investment. Let me ask you one more question before we ask the audience a question. Amy, we were talking earlier about ABM and there are a number of challenges with account based marketing and you talked even about one of your clients that pivoted markets. In addition to that example. Are there any other examples that you could give of challenges that companies are, are facing with from an ABM perspective as you’re seeing across industry?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I do think ABM in some cases and you know, what I really work on is building a robust go to market strategies for not only building out with the messages but how we get those messages actually to the right audiences and really get that channel out there. So that piece is definitely becoming more challenging in today’s work from home environment. Traditionally we can do polygon targeting where we’re able to specifically target ads out a physical building that we know a headquartered location is for that particular target. Nobody’s working in those headquarters anymore, so now everybody’s dispersed at home. We can still target them through IP display targeting if folks are still connected to their, their company’s VPNs and things like that. But direct mail has also been a really big channel when it comes to ABM and really trying to personalize and build out a really smart direct mail campaign has resulted in a lot of success for a lot of our clients.
That’s also much more difficult. So a lot of our partners are starting to have to pre ask for physical addresses before sending. We can’t send to that business location anymore. Everybody’s home. So verifying addresses, verifying information before anything is sent is very much key right now. And I think, you know, so thinking about again the scale of everything. In some cases, like I said, some of our clients have a little bit more to spend on digital. Some cases we have to scale back. That’s where we really are. Increasing, as I said, our efforts with intent to be able to take that budget that might’ve been this big to shift down to this size. But making sure we’re focusing on the right accounts at the right time. That is what’s most important about intent is it not only gives you the insight into exactly which accounts might be in market for you, but when, so we are doing a lot of things with our clients now in terms of shifting week to week, week to month our targeting capabilities, who we want to go after based on that exact intent we see in market at that particular time.
We can see the intent that very next day or week we serve them very relevant ads about what they’re showing intent on. And we shift that constantly week to week with each of the accounts to try to limit that budget to not go too expansive.
Yeah. Yeah, let’s, let’s definitely go there. And I think the, the question, well, it’s kind of a statement if I’m understanding it correctly, is ABM marketing download leads are not converting to the meeting. However, there are 20 that are sales driven. It’s not scaling right now. Less than 1% of the downloaded meetings are converting to prospect meetings marketing downloads. So it is, so it’s the, you know, the classic question of the quality that marketing is producing. I don’t know if you, you know, we’re all marketers, so obviously we’re gonna have a, probably a pretty biased point of view on this one, but any perspective to add to this?
Yeah. And, and Michael, I understand why you’re asking, right? Because it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re getting people to raise their hand, but then it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Why? Right. Where did we go wrong kind of thing. And it’s super frustrating. And then you’ve got, you know, sales pointing fingers and and I would say, you know, there are a couple of things. Let’s see. So an issue is that marketers are not driving programs that directly to deliver meetings. I guess it asked the question, are they supposed to? I mean, yes, but it’s maybe not a one for one correlation between download and ready for meeting. I would say there’s a couple of factors I’d keep in mind if I’m trying to unpack this one. One is do I have a data problem? Am I doing and that in, and maybe not for you specifically Michael, but just generally if one’s trying to unpack, why aren’t my, you know, my hand raisers, turning into meetings, I would say, are they, I just don’t know.
So am I doing lead to account matching? Am I connecting the people and the accounts, the people that I’m engaging through marketing to the account that they’re associated with. So I know, well, maybe that person didn’t take a meeting but somebody else did. And kind of what’s that influence relationship? That’s one thing. So it could be a data thing. Could be a conversion thing too. Sometimes you got that age old problem of, yes, marketing sent the lead over to sales, but they created their own anyway. Which continues to make no sense to me and hasn’t for 15 years, but there it is. It’s a, it, it just is. And, and that’s one to look at too. Then the other one would be, okay, if we don’t have a data or a process problem then why are we attracting people who ultimately don’t choose to meet with us?
Is it that our content is targeted at somebody in the organization who isn’t maybe necessarily the right buyer? Am I actually attracting people with my content from companies that aren’t in my target account group? So my sellers are incented not to meet with them. They’re not really trying that hard. Am I reaching out to slowly? Potentially. One of the things we see is that if you get a name right, somebody takes a download, the faster you follow up on that. As much as we all probably like to think, but I don’t want somebody stalking me and calling me the second I’ve downloaded the white paper. I haven’t even had time to read. There is evidence that says the faster you follow up on that, the better the conversions are. So is there a speed issue? Another one could be that you haven’t sort of pro a properly assessed to the buying group that you need to engage well, who would take the meeting and then who is your content targeted at?
And if those are different people you’re going to, you’re going to have, you know, downloads that don’t take a meeting. So I think the trick is to sort of unpack the why. And then the other thing of course is to go in and say, are the people who are downloading content, I’m also in market for a solution now. So what’s the intent data telling us about those folks? I would add that one into our, are they the fast moving water or are they people that are not ready to buy? They’re just homework, right? They’re doing their homework but they’re not ready to buy. That’s why they’re not taking a meeting. So then we need a longer nurture strategy and we need to understand that complete buying group and what they’re going to need to engage. But those are all, you know, those are, those are some things that I would unpack. I don’t know if that speaks to your specific situation, Michael, but, but those are the questions I’d ask.
The thing I would layer on top of that, and I thought those were all fantastic ideas is, it sounds like this is implied in this question, is that there was a change, right, that before marketing downloads used to be converting at a much higher rate. So what I would look at is do a little bit of analysis and compare, you know, do kind of a cohort analysis and look at who worked where the titles, the accounts, how do those compare to those you know, those that were on our ABM lists before and after, like maybe something has changed about the type of people or titles or something that are coming in. And that’s that’s driving that. And similarly, you can also compare on what you’re seeing now from those marketing leads to the sales leads that are actually converting. Is there a distinguishable difference there in terms of who we’re attracting?
Right. And start to dig in there to see if maybe something due to the buying behavior and, and you know, what’s changed in the world right now. Maybe that’s affected who’s actually coming in. And if I suppose if you find something relevant there or even if you don’t it may just be the case that that people are researching, but maybe they’re in that bucket that are saying like, I’m actually not spending as much right now. And so this is me researching because I have the time and I’m home and I know that I’m going to need to do this when I get back, but I don’t actually have the budget or the readiness to kind of make the decision and take the meeting right now, in which case that can be a really good opportunity to really invest in some meaningful nurture strategies, which is frankly what we have to do for, for almost all of our marketing leads.
Right? It’s very seldom for us that someone will download content and immediately convert and want to talk to us. So we have some pretty robust nurture programs. I think that can be a really effective way to you know, move those people through the funnel. I’ll be at perhaps at a slower pace. But if we assume that those people are researching and hoping that they’re going to convert at a later date, but they’re just not able to right now, then let’s at least keep them informed about what we can do for them, the value we can deliver, the types of problems that we solve. So that we stay top of mind.
Yeah, that’s great. Amanda, and just quickly building off that, as you said, if this is a more recent issue, that would be very much in the trends that we’re seeing across the board. We’re seeing that convergence since this pandemic has definitely dropped pretty significantly across all industries. It’s interesting because traffic is up big time website traffic for most of our clients. All of the click rates and CPCs are down, but conversions are that much more difficult to get today. A lot of folks are more in that research. I want to, I have a little more time. Maybe now that I’m at home, I’m not sending as many face to face meetings. I’m doing a lot of research on topics and education, but I’m not ready to take a meeting and buy yet. That is definitely a trend that we’re seeing. And to Amanda and Megan’s point, it’s all about capturing them, understanding that intent and staying in front and nurturing until the time is right.
Yeah. And just building on a point that Amanda said and these are all fantastic points. I think you said something about kind of looking at the cohort of the sales conversion versus the marketing conversion. And I would go maybe one step further on your org structure. If the SDR BDR is responsible for their own prospecting, their cold to qualify prospecting beyond what marketing is, if that’s all in one function, there may be some tension there in terms of how that person gets compensated. So I’ve seen organizations where it’s all piled into one person. I’ve also seen organizations where we’ve split it apart where you have an inbound MDR or BDR only. And then a separate SDR function which is doing its own prospecting. So you can really do some clear comparisons based on Amanda’s suggestion there. So you just maybe want to look at that now.
I think you make a very valid point though, Michael, because I think marketers are guilty of kind of the the nineties marketing or the early ages of marketing automation and batch and blast of sending a bunch of stuff out and seeing what sticks. So the SDRs are a bit jaded, like, Hey, marketing just keeps sending me all this stuff and it’s not converting, therefore I’m going to go work on what I know I can control. So maybe there’s some historical baggage but these days with, you know, all the data privacy and personalization and how challenging it is to get the conversion. Hopefully the yesteryear marketing gets sunset and we, you know, we transition a little bit into a more modern marketing approaches. Excellent question. We were just doing a time check here. We got about five minutes left and I’ve got a couple other questions that have since come in as well. And maybe, you know, going back to Amanda being an operator, your having to probably juggle around your marketing budget for 2020. What you thought was going to happen in Q1 now has been blown out the window. What are you doing? Like where are you refocusing? Where are you doubling down? What are you dialing back on for the remainder of the year?
Yeah, I think the first is like anytime we have major changes where it feels like we kind of just blew everything up, I think that’s really an opportunity for us to first and foremost refocus and realign with sales and just make sure that we’re still pointed in the same direction. Operating off of the same playbooks as I mentioned for us. You know, we have some new use cases that are kind of much more relevant for us in this new world order. And so making sure that we’ve provided sales with relevant content and that they have the right sales scripts and all of that sort of stuff. And because it’s also new and it’s hot off the presses, like making sure that we stay really aligned. There is definitely been a focus of ours. I think the other major thing that we’ve taken this opportunity to do is to spend a little bit of time and effort on our own channels that are easy to ignore.
Even though we know we shouldn’t, there, they’re still easy to ignore things like optimizing our website conversion, taking a look at those email nurtures and what’s performing, what’s underperforming, where can we AB test and try to eke out more from that. You know, those are things that we know are good, good hygiene, right? It’s eating our vegetables, but not always easy to prioritize when you’re getting ready for a major trade show or something like that. So we’ve taken this opportunity to to do those things and really refocused in areas that had kind of gotten pushed to the wayside a little bit. That, and just the other thing that I think we brought up a couple of times already, which is like really honing in on that intent data, right? Especially now that every, everything is different and we can’t count on the same buyer behavior as we knew and could kind of predict a little bit better before leveraging intent data. To just be as smart as we can be about where we should spend our time, what we should be creating content on. And kind of bringing it full circle right. How we can better arm the sales team with that information has really been a major investment for us.
Got it. Anybody else have anything to add? I’ve got one other question here if not, okay. Maybe a question to Megan since we’re talking about customer attention earlier and now that you know, think about Amanda’s situation where we’re having to reset expectations. How do you look or what would you advise a company in terms of pipeline and revenue contribution? If you’re now supposed to support customer engagement and retention that you really haven’t been compensated on before? Like what do you w what would you suggest there in that scenario?
Yeah, Amanda, I think you called it. And that is make sure you are aligned with sales on what their target changes have been first and foremost. I heard a comment the other day that sales is revising their targets but marketing isn’t Hmm. That doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me. So if you know your market is being impacted clearly make sure you’re aligned with sales and in terms of who you’re going after as well. Second thing is make sure you’ve got your facts right. Back to the question about is the, is the conversion for marketing a change and is it a sudden change? Right. Well, if it is a sudden change, you know that something outside of your organization has made that happen. Unless you, you know, suddenly blew up all your marketing and put something new out there, but you probably didn’t.
So all things being equal, the market may have made a change. Have your facts, know what your inbound lead flow looks like, your inbound contact engagement, your target account engagement, know what your conversion rates were before and now what are they? And look at them in March, look at them in April, look at them in may, right? Because those months are very different. And you want to understand what’s happening so that you can go back and say, based on the world we’re in now and the trends that we’re seeing and the contrast with before to now as well as the expectations of the business for revenue and for pipeline going forward. Here’s what we can reasonably expect marketing to deliver. So that’s the first thing, but have your facts, have your numbers, have your trends. As I think it was Matt Heinz that said, you know, all benchmarks are out the window now you’re going to have to start from scratch, build your own.
But you can still compare them to see why and how they’re different. And then I think the other thing is with retention, right? We can say as a business, our goal is retaining as many customers as we can at as high a dollar value as we can, you know, and growing them. So the difference between gross and net retention but you also can’t just say, okay marketing, now you have a retention number, right? You have to specifically break that down and say what components of retention can marketing have an impact on? Well, they can help to engage customers. They can show that there is consumption of content, participation in events participation in advocacy, but break it down and say what behaviors do we want to see in our customer base that we know are going to help us get to a renewal outcome?
And then what things is marketing doing? What, what things can they do to help that number? And what are leading indicators then that are that say you’re getting there. So what activities can you track? And then ultimately that’ll roll up to the company retention number. But marketing needs to break that down for the business in, you know, a fact based way and then go in and make a case to say, these are the things we can do to help with the goals that we have. Here’s how we’re going to track it. And here are the numbers based on where we’re at, we think we can deliver and then let the negotiations begin.
Terrific. Well, I think we’re at the end of time here. I wanted to thank in addition to the audience and the great questions. We want to give you a few minutes back here so you can get to your next zoom. Amanda for taking time out. Megan Amy, thank you ladies for joining and putting up with my football headsets that I hope you have a terrific holiday weekend and thank you again for joining us.
TLDR; B2B Customer retention is #1 priority. Audit your message cadence and data situation, outline your customer journey, message according to journey, plan for long term. Outsource aspects if needed. Learn more on Friday.
For B2B Sales & Marketers, you’ve heard recession comparisons between today’s global pandemic and that of 1991, 2001, and 2008. In those years, some companies experienced a downdraft in hiring as well as pull backs on discretionary expenditures as a function of decreasing top line revenue. Also in those years, a strong pivot was made to ‘hug your customers’ theme because the cost of acquiring new customers would go through the roof versus holding onto what you have on hand.
Today is no different. Several companies are going through a revenue re-forecasting exercise or suspending their 2020 forecast altogether, and you are likely experiencing this by being asked to make cuts in your digital acquisition sales and marketing programs as well.
TrustRadius’ recent survey outlining which SaaS solutions would be impacted the most in this new environment. Marketing and Sales Technology are two of the top four categories expecting a reduction in software expenditures.
There seems to be a strong pivot towards hanging onto existing customers. Sam Jacobs from RevenueCollective recently polled 119 B2B companies across the US and found that in about 57% of the cases, churn has increased significantly from the prior period, heightening this need for marketing to focus on existing clients. It would stand to reason that companies that are selling MarTech or SaleTech would be likely feel these churn rate increases the most right now.
Marketers for years have been focused on the purchase of new technology to acquire more customers, faster than ever before. Much of a Marketer’s board level reporting is built around “acquisition language” – Marketing Qualified Leads, Marketing Qualified accounts, Demand Generation – all assume new account acquisition to work hand in hand with sales. Sales and Marketing Compensation is often tied to this success which widens the gap further. Marketers are not focused on customer marketing strategies because they haven’t had to be nor have they been rewarded to be.
While many SaaS based organizations have invested in Customer Service as a function, few have perfected their marketing outreach strategy to existing customers through this organization – in large part due to the marketers extreme focus on acquisition. CS has thus been relegated to more tactical regularly scheduled meetings to keep in touch with customer needs, but often times those meetings are conducted at the end user level.
Thus a skills and knowledge gap exists between Marketers conditioned to do acquisition marketing along with customer marketing. Marketers are now learning new skills and have to really think through the messaging around retention. Where does a Marketer start?
Step 1 – Audit. Keep in mind that their customers are getting hammered by competitors, partners, and analysts on other alternatives to their product during the lifecycle they are a customer – so a Marketer should start with a self assessment to find out how frequently and what kinds of communications have been going out to their customer base in times prior. In addition to messaging frequency, a data audit of the types of contacts in the account should be done – end users vs. decision makers within the database. Remember that a happy end user in this environment may not necessarily translate to a renewed contract.
Step 2 – Journey. Marketers in parallel need to make sure they are thinking about the account journey their customers are experiencing relative to their renewal. More specifically, like a funnel that is split into 3 sections, a Marketer might want to think about the initial onboarding process, the middle phase, and final phase of renewal.
Step 3. – Message. Next Marketers will want to revisit their message as a function of where the client is in the account journey. Corporate Visions’ Tim Riesterer wrote an excellent book ‘The Expansion Sale’ provides multiple frameworks on how to communicate with customers AFTER the purchase. He suggests looking into ‘Why Stay’ language vs ‘Why Evolve’ language.
In both cases of those phases starts with documenting the results that you’ve had with customers. This almost has to be done at a CS or individual level, unless Marketers can somehow aggregate typical wins that similar clients have gained from using their product.
It is difficult to summarize Tim’s 200 page book in a paragraph, but his firm Corporate Visions has done some extensive research in the areas of messaging and it is well worth reading.
Step 4 – Plan. Marketers could also consider building a community of end users to make their product more sticky. But that type of initiative is not a light lift, it requires planning to operationalize, investment in platforms (like Salesforce.com or HigherLogic) and an executive commitment to successfully pull off.
Somewhat self-serving but if capacity is an issue to pull all this off, of course hiring outside agencies to help accelerate your process to improve your retention will be key. Regardless, this kind of framework could help Marketers plan their retention strategy.
What are you finding that works right now on your retention strategies?
In our previous post, I interviewed Tessa Barron who heads marketing for On24 on what she finds helpful for her clients (full disclosure, we’ve done integrations with On24 with our Marketing Automation and ABM clients prior to this interview). Here are lessons 4-6 (but bulleted 1-3 thanks to wordpress).
Our webinar benchmarks show that time over time, all webinars are around 50 to 60 minutes. In fact, we saw a minute increase, I believe in the last over the last year. Those, those results will be published in March. So I think that what that shows us is the on demand functionality and the, and the always on aspect of webinars is really becoming so much more important. So people are not treating them any more as this one off event that happens in a single moment and they have to be there. Instead. It’s this always on channel that prospects can come back to again and again. They can self educate, they can share with a buying group and it becomes an extremely valuable opportunity for them to have an entire buyer’s journey and entire experience in a single, in a single event, which I think is pretty phenomenal. You know, with the, typically in marketing we like to drip things out and it’s this six week nurture process and a single webinar, a prospect can get a the, you know, the thought leadership valuable content.
Interactive. They can also raise their hand to get a demo or book a meeting with the sales person. And actually our, our platform is designed for that to have that multi-touch experience. And so that’s why I think the link is actually staying the same. It’s just the context in which people consume them.
ABM Webinars. Personalization at scale. Webinars are an amazing tactic for anyone’s ABM strategy and the role that they play is they offer that ability to get really personal with promotions but still leverage the meaty thought leadership content that is done at that general level.
They will take a thought leadership webinar that’s done by corporate or that’s done for the general population. And then what our platform specifically allows them to do is customize the different calls to action, customize the intros, the outros, the branding on it. And that gives them a really easy way to solve that ABM content challenge, but still personalize the different ways that they want someone to engage with them.
And then I think at a higher level what we’re seeing is a lot of webinars by industry a lot of webinars by persona. And it turns out that because someone’s able to come in and have that conversation and have that interaction, a webinar channel is, is a personalized experience that someone is looking for that goes way deeper than just putting a logo on a landing page.
I just ran a survey recently on marketing demand generation ABM techniques and webinars was the number one tactic across the board for B to B marketers to do. I caught up with Tessa Barron who heads Marketing for On24 and asked her a number of questions.
Tessa, what best practices suggestions would you have
using webinars these days?
So I think that the biggest thing I would suggest is stop thinking of webinars as a one off event and something that happens once and then gets thrown away and isn’t integrated as part of your overall buyer’s journey or overall integrated demand gen campaign. We add on 24 no surprise, obviously drink our own Kool-Aid and webinars are far and away our number one tactic when it comes to pipeline and in fact closed one pipeline.
So I’d actually take your survey results one step further and say it’s not just effective from a generation of MQL standpoint, it’s all the way down the funnel. And so what we’ve really done is evolved our webinar program from just being a single event once a month to being something that is always on and is happening on a day in, day out basis. We do that in a few ways.
One, we leverage simulive capabilities, which means you can record something once and replay it again and again. So we have a bottom of funnel webinar called our daily demo that happens every single day at 11:00 AM Pacific. So someone can sign up for multiple days in a week. They figure out it’s a no pressure environment to really get an understanding of our product.
And then way at the top of the funnel, we have a lot of different panels. We work with partners, we bring in other voices. What that allows us to do is broaden our perspective, but that can be difficult from a scheduling standpoint. So we, we often record panels, well I have a recording I think tomorrow. And then we’ll run it at a time that is best for all the different parties involved. So we are able to promote with different people and then have the convenience of the scheduling.
Think about webinars as being a part of an integrated demand gen campaign. So you can use all your typical demand gen tactics, like your content reports, your blogs, your eBooks, and those should be driving momentum toward a big culmination, a culminating effect and use webinars or field events to drive urgency to get those prospects to convert.
And also to help drive motion with your outbound SDR or BDR teams and also your AEs. There was nothing better for them to then to be able to use a, a point in time to drive that urgency.
But if you just think of that as something separate that’s in a silo and not a part of this momentous and has alignment with the other content and messaging you’re pushing, then you’ll lose out on that halo effect that really helps you build that audience over time. And, and pipeline.
Very few companies do a pure Account Based strategy, most
augment with a lead strategy. When small
or large companies do embark on this AB strategy through a Marketing led
initiative, Sales and Sales Leaders may have preconceived notions of Marketing
behavior or what is expected of Marketing.
Here are helpful tips on what trends we see in Enterprises who are event driven
that need more help with changing the perception that Marketers are strategic
Typical “Good” Marketing behaviors working with Sales that we’ve observed
Work together on an Account Based weekly stand up meeting (#1 recommendation, Engagio CEO Oct 2019)
Be data driven on recommending Accounts for tiers/prioritization/selection – intent data or whitespace reports can assist in this effort.
Start small together – pilots, a few accounts, get wins, etc.
Provide ‘Marketing treatment’ options across tiers of accounts rather than a ‘pool of money’ approach toward these tiers.
Drive towards Marketing influenced reporting for existing accounts vs. sourced revenue
Work primarily with Sales Leadership so you have a better chance at scaling. Leverage your Marketing leaders to reset expectations with Sales leaders if needed.
Typical “Not So Good” Marketing behaviors working with Sales that we’ve observedover the years:
Avoid doing administrative work on behalf of sales (meeting coordination, etc.). You are not a sales assistant.
Let Sales do all the account selection without a Marketing point of view – major red flag, they’ll give you their hardest or worst accounts because they don’t want Marketing involvement, we’ve seen this before.
Provide a ‘pool of money’ concept where they are deciding how to spend your budget
Realize that with Marketing Sourced Reporting you are picking a battle when you choose this metric, the battle being: did Sales source this account revenue or did Marketing source it? Make sure your processes and data ducks are in a row else risk measurement credibility.
Work with account executives on formulating an account based strategy – it will not scale. Each deal will have unique experiences. This may require executive Marketing leadership to reset expectations.
What is working for you in your interaction with Sales?
Here the latest on how Gartner thinks Marketing budgets are shaping up for 2020. It’s somewhat contradictory – on the heels of budgets not seen since 2011 with flat to declining budgets, the report is also saying Marketers are surprisingly optimistic with a small percentage saying they expect budget increases year over year despite the economic climate of China tariffs, Brexit, and other extraneous forces. Keep in mind that of the companies they polled, they consist of 326 b2b and b2c clients of theirs.
This one section I’ve highlighted here struck me as interesting.
Gartner saying y/y drop in MarTech significant but not a retraction – they are claiming the retraction is ‘more efficient use of MarTech’ vs. ‘disillusionment of use.’
In our experience, there is the start of retraction. If MarTech isn’t providing value to a company, it’s exited from that company. Many companies right now need agencies to prove the value of existing investments instead of recommending net new investments.
Gartner saying hiring MarTech generalists instead of specialists
I question that finding, that’s why so many companies are struggling with adoption right now – too many generalists have put the companies in a mess.
Marketing Analytics is highest strategic priority of investment.
This observation makes sense.
Hiring Marketing Ops is a recommendation
I agree with this observation
12.6% of budget going to Marketing ops (2/3 of orgs have Marketing Ops).
I’m on the board of MOCCA (Marketing Operations Cross Company Alliance) and would agree many MarTech vendors are now shifting efforts towards Marketing Operations.
Trend towards MVP agile budgeting on project based approach
CFOs are #1 inhibitor of Marketing
Are they an inhibitor or do Marketers not know the language of the CFO? CFOs can be real enablers if you can speak their language – CAC, Churn, retention, Net revenue dollar, etc.
CMOs gravitate towards volume vs. value metrics
Love that quote – very true
If you need a copy of their report, you can find it on their website Gartner.com or if send me an email for a copy of their report.
Improves conversion odds. Intent helps your sales team identify which accounts are more likely to be interested or ‘in market’ vs. others, thus increasing the odds of successful pipeline conversion.
Prioritizes large number of accounts for sales to work through. When there is a one to many approach that your sales team is tackling, Intent data helps prioritize which accounts are more likely expressing some level of interest in your topic/product vs. other areas.
Enables account targeting with appropriate nurture campaign air cover and/or banner interest based on account need. Intent data can trigger use cases of better web banner advertising (e.g. a surround sound effect on targeting) and improved nurturing odds based on what an account is actually interested in.
Improves ROI/utilization of existing Marketing & Sales Technology. Intent when integrated with the marketing automation or CRM platform can be used in a more aggressive way than using those same platforms without intent data.
There are a variety of intent data providers – G2 Crowd, Bombora, Big Willow (recently acquired), & TechTarget to name a few.
Today’s post is a Guest Contribution by Jennifer Metherell. Jennifer has recently attended the TOPO conference and summarized the trip on what she learned relative to her 50+ ABM experiences.
1) Embarking on the ABM Journey – every successful organization who has effectively built an ABM practice all had one common theme – START SMALL! All of the organizations who shared their stories chose 3-5 accounts who they could sell more solutions too or a large solution too and ran well-orchestrated plays to them for both new or existing logos. The main reasons they did this:
Limited resources to execute internally
Pilots were run to get sales and marketing aligned on simple common goals
No technology buys needed to execute
2) Forget the Funnel – As customer experience plays a stronger role in differentiating your product and reduces churn, more and more organizations are ditching the concept of the Funnel for a holistic approach to customer acquisition and expansion. They are looking at more at their customer relationship as a loop and understand that growth and sustainability come from a symbiotic view. This viewpoint also helps pave the way for more internal groups to work together with a single account plan from sales, to implementation and on to account management. The traditional funnel is great for transactional relationships but lacks the structural needs to make the customer first a strategy in the organization.
3) MQL – So long, farewell, we hate to say goodbye! Ok let’s face it the concept of the MQL is needed as a first step in getting Sales and Marketing working together, but really this is just a mechanism for building a better path of KPI’s. TOPO was the first place I have seen a widely accepted and commonly spoke about the concept of the MQA. Organizations who are focused on targeting ICP accounts understand that more than one person buys and if you are waiting for inbound then you are probably too late. It was refreshing to see so many talk about driving engagement with the right accounts and people and use pipeline created or closed as the metrics they report. However, this does imply that Marketing is aligned with Sales and they jointly agreed to an ICP, target lists as well as a process for working accounts. In addition, this new process is fully supported by a newer set of tools in the marketing place like provide insights – intent data, account level engagement, and account scoring.
4) Intent Data – If you are waiting to drive inbound leads you are late for the party! Intent data is finally maturing along with a set of best practice business process for implementation. Forward thinking and high growth companies have developed the following practices within their organization:
Jointly defined an ICP with C-Suite, Sales & Marketing
Understand the personas and playbooks for gaining market share
Purchased tools to show intent along with engagement for creation of an account score to prioritize with sales and marketing
Just like that co-worker who does not sit and wait to be promoted through years of service, people using intent data ensure market growth by outmaneuvering their competitors. Seeing this stuff is sooooo cool. It reminds of when we first got Marketing automation and were like “Oh my gosh we can see who opened our emails!” Thank you 2005 – LOVE THIS STUFF
5) Shared organization strategies for driving alignment with sales and marketing while totally crushing it:
SDR/BDR whatever you want to call it lives under marketing but is paid by a sales comp plan
Sales and Marketing start annual planning together by developing an organization whitespace report
Marketing understands and has accountability against the revenue targets the same way sales does
We’re really passionate about ABM – if we can be a resource to you, let us know how!