How I Delivered 230% More Demos in a Month With 60% Less Budget

When you clicked on this headline, you probably had an expectation about what was behind it. You might think you’re familiar with the most efficient ways to increase demos on less budget. But I would bet that I have a couple of surprises in here for you — ideas that you’re not thinking about, but should be. I’m going to walk through a series of scenarios and activities that ultimately led to these exact results for our company, Metadata, between March and April of this year.

Our general marketing strategy

Before we discuss what we changed in March and April, I’ll put those changes in context by explaining our general marketing strategy right now as a pre Series-A startup. First and foremost, we need to generate awareness. We’re new, and still relatively unknown. Our Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) therefore looks a little different right now: we find ourselves targeting an ICP that might be slightly smaller in company size than where we should be in favor of deal velocity and minimal redlines. Once we have more business, and more awareness, that ICP can shift.

We’re also maximizing the use of social proof (including but not limited to G2 reviews, case studies, and quotes) — both because we know that nothing works more effectively than word-of-mouth marketing, and because we have great, well-known brands using our platform. To grow our awareness, we currently spend money on inexpensive targeted display via The Tradedesk in order to get quality eyeballs on the site. To those of you currently wondering why I’m not mentioning Google Display: TTD is a better deal. It has access to a much wider range of inventory, including channel and region specific exchanges, and more robust controls for brand safety, page quality, and bid optimization. Plus, its audience-building capabilities are unrivaled. Finally, we’re using email sporadically, with a database size of around 60,000.

What was missing

We’d seen some success and return on our general marketing investment. But our strategy wasn’t without its weak spots. Like all companies, we encountered obstacles. Like all companies right now, we also encountered a global pandemic this spring, which changed things further.

Here’s what happened: Our website had never been optimized to convert leads or demo requests.

In addition, our website messaging was inconsistent and too technical. Then, after the Coronavirus arrived in the U.S., our regular digital spend of about $40,000 a month (and increasing) got cut back to about $17,000/month thanks to tightened budgets. Our demo results were inconsistent month to month. We enjoyed a peak of demo requests in January at 47, but then in March they were back to 37, and in April, 35. Our email results, meanwhile, were on par with industry benchmarks for top and mid-funnel metrics, but didn’t convert.

We tried a basic eight-touch nurture with overview videos, organic content — all the usual suspects — and it didn’t work. Now, it’s worth noting that we didn’t spend much time optimizing it. I suspect our emails might not be getting through, and the metrics can’t be trusted due to spam filter platforms. Regardless: we needed to pivot.

How we shifted our strategy

As soon as we understood our budget reduction, we went into brainstorming mode. My initial thought was: I need to use free channels to deliver our message, but email isn’t working for us right now and our website is not great at attracting and converting organic traffic. So what options do I have? I thought about using my own LinkedIn network, but it’s simply not big enough to support our growth needs. (However, I did and do use organic content from me on LinkedIn to organically grow that channel so that it can support our awareness efforts at no cost. Content is still king.)

Instead, we shifted to LinkedIn sponsored messaging — where you can send a single message to a targeted inbox. During our research, we discovered LinkedIn Conversation Ads beta product. It felt like a Drift chat playbook, but targeted specifically to my buyers on LinkedIn. Plus, we could get sends for $0.30 – $.070/per. While that spend could scale quickly, if it worked, it would definitely be worth it.

LinkedIn Conversation Ads

How we executed

I’ll save most of the details around our use of Conversation Ads for a future blog post, but here’s a glimpse of our approach. We needed an offer and decided that, since everyone was stuck at home in quarantine, we would offer them a $100 DoorDash gift card if they would take a demo meeting with us. Since we’d be shouldering the cost of the LinkedIn campaign and the gift card, we needed to make sure the target audience was tight as a drum. So we created an audience of our primary buyers in very tight industries and company sizes, ending up with an audience size of about 19,000.

If you think back to the start of this blog post, you’ll remember that we’re still fighting for awareness as a brand. This means the very first message in these conversations was absolutely critical — and you’re limited in that message to 500 characters. I leaned on two approaches: the first was, “I’m a marketer like you, with goals.” The second was the social proof concept I mentioned previously. Think, “Companies like Sendoso and G2 use our product…” It’s my belief that it’s because the message comes from a marketer and is targeted at a marketer that it works really well. There’s a shared language and point of view from the start.

In addition to the LinkedIn campaign, we pulled back all of our top-of-funnel spend and started to rely more on organic content and our website to drive awareness. We launched a redesigned website with a completely new homepage experience — this was not part of the campaign, but something we were already doing. I also started doing a lot more content myself — videos, LinkedIn Live broadcasts, engaging on social, and broadening my network. These are tactics that won’t immediately pay off, but will in the coming months.

The bottom line

Our results were great: in April, we delivered our highest number of demo requests ever (by 230%), and spent 60% less than the prior month. Those demos were high-quality, with positive feedback from sales, and more than enough late-stage pipeline to show positive ROI.

My lesson from all of this? Constraints fuel progress. If I had not been given the constraint of a -60% reduction in our budget, we would have never spent so much time trying to figure out how to continue to meet our goals. We may have just continued to spend money on top-of-funnel and ignored the latent demand that the product had.

DoorDash Demo Chart

All this said, if we hadn’t replaced our top-of-funnel engagement with the free, organic stuff we’ve been doing, this strategy would not be sustainable. We’ll better understand this in a few months as we optimize our content and website to acquire and convert leads. Stay tuned — we’ll update you here.

B2B Facebook Audiences: How Metadata Bridges the Personal and Professional

You already know about the power of Facebook because there’s a high likelihood you’re already on Facebook — alongside 69 percent of your fellow Americans and some 2.4 billion other people. You’ve seen the ads. You’ve contributed to someone’s CTR.

But you may not know that a full 74 percent of Facebook users are high-income earners. The network even surpasses LinkedIn, which reaches just 49 percent of users making more than $75,000. And with 74 percent of active US Facebook users checking the site daily, that could translate to a lot of high-quality, high-earning eyeballs on your B2B brand’s campaigns — if only you could find a way to create an audience in Facebook with your corporate email base.

Facebook could be the key to unlocking cost-effective campaigns for B2B marketers if its targeting capabilities were able to connect corporate to personal identities. The fact is, most of us don’t use Facebook in a professional capacity. We don’t update our roles, titles, even the companies we work for. We use Facebook to connect to one another personally, not to network. Almost two-thirds of B2B marketers struggle to target B2B audiences through digital advertising. So even though Facebook is cheap — the average CPC for a Facebook ad, across all industries, is just $1.72 — the real power of the network has until now remained untapped for businesses looking to market to other businesses.

That’s where Metadata comes in, and that’s how our software will change marketing for B2B companies looking to reach their audiences on Facebook. How exactly? We’re glad you asked.

How the Metadata Platform Works

Metadata hosts 1.2 billion profiles in its proprietary contact database. Unlike our competitors, this database pulls from multiple data sources, making its data even richer.

This database includes both current and historical business attributes for people, similar to what you’d see on LinkedIn, plus every single business and personal email address that could be found for any given person, stored along their profile of business attributes. For every person, Metadata has on average 3+ emails to match them by. And finally, we have a way to match corporate to personal email for Facebook targeting.

LinkedIn is designed to be a professional network, which is why it’s great for business advertising. If you want to target people who work for companies of a particular size, for a particular industry, with a certain title, LinkedIn already has that data. Facebook simply does not. Facebook is our personal home, where we often don’t note anything more than our birthday and our gender.

Additionally, simply taking your named account list and uploading it to Facebook for targeting doesn’t produce great results. That’s because the contacts in these accounts will have a company email, which you’re then left trying to match to personal emails on Facebook. The match rate for this tactic is very low — usually about 4 percent. So, most B2B marketers cross Facebook off their list.

As content marketing increasingly becomes a pillar in demand generation for B2B marketers, you might be exchanging company emails for downloadable content. How can you use these emails to reach those people with digital advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook, where most people are connected to their personal emails? Metadata.

Facebook has no idea what business relationships

and attributes might exist for each personal profile.

Metadata’s massive proprietary database houses company attributes alongside personal emails, which means that our customers can go create that audience, then we create a pool of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of email addresses that fit the business criteria that our customer created a segment against, and upload those to Facebook. Each person might have one to thirty email addresses we have on file, we’ll upload every single one to increase the chances of matching. Our match rates tend to hover around 35 percent on average; don’t take our word for it, though. Read how G2 raised their Facebook match rate from around 5 percent to 40-50 percent using Metadata.

Now, if you’re particularly scrappy, you might be saying, but I can and do use Facebook for B2B targeting already. Technically speaking on Facebook, you can absolutely target according to “work.” Here’s a list of everything you can target by in the work category:

  • Employers
  • Industries
  • Job Titles
  • Office Type

The trouble is the same that we already mentioned: when is the last time you updated your Facebook profile with your current job title and employer?

You could also use custom audiences to retarget folks who have visited your site, subscribed to your newsletter, or made purchases from you before — but what if you need to tap into a new audience? Or target account engagement? Custom Audiences won’t help. Because B2B deals take longer, it makes perfect sense to use Facebook as a brand awareness and lead nurturing tool. Plus, have we mentioned how much cheaper it can be? Median CPC for Facebook is just $ 0.51, whereas LinkedIn’s median is $5.61. But Facebook’s own targeting just isn’t set up for that. That’s where metadata.io comes in.

One of the core pillars of our platform is data and targeting, and this functionality is the core of that pillar. Think of it as corporate to personal matching. Within the Custom Audience tab of our platform, you can simply create a new custom audience based on a number of attributes, from firmographics to intent topics to exact contact or company lists. Concerned about privacy? Don’t be. You can preview audiences, seeing the group you’ve just built’s title, job function, seniority, and organization — all without personally identifiable information (PII).

Metadata’s platform builds the audience, matching as many email addresses as possible with the business attributes you’ve identified. Voila: you know your audience size Facebook (and we also plug in to LinkedIn!). From there, marketers can shift back to where they’re already comfortable working: in the native platform. Execution can also happen within the Metadata platform, which allows for automatic, multivariate experimentation of your ad campaigns.

Just interested in audience lists? We’ve got a brand-new product for that, too. MetaMatch allows B2B advertisers to build custom audiences on Facebook and LinkedIn using firmographic, technographic, and demographic data from our proprietary database. Simply connect your Facebook, LinkedIn and Salesforce accounts, define your target audience from our database, and create your audiences directly on Facebook/Instagram and LinkedIn. If you’re ready to get cost-effective, high quality leads from your target accounts on Facebook, book a demo today.

How to determine which campaigns win

With Marketing budgets being scrutinized now more than ever, it’s even more important for marketers to have an accurate and consistent way to measure the performance of their campaigns. And with more and more CMOs asking for the *actual*ROI of marketing activities – we have to go deeper than basic engagement metrics.

Let’s take a closer look at how these two campaigns played out. This is a real-world test we did at Metadata. The campaign on the left had a headline I LOVED! “Leave the testing to the machines”. While the one on the right was a little more direct and literal. Both with similar creative treatment and headlines. Which do you think would win?

If we only look at top of funnel vanity metrics like Cost Per Click, # of Leads, and Cost Per Lead, we would optimize towards the campaign on the left. The most people saw the campaign, it delivered the most leads, at both the lowest CPC and lowest CPL! Sweet, we have a winner!

However, when we focus on the lower funnel metrics like MQLs, Pipeline, and Closed/Won business, the story changes considerably. The campaign on the right delivered more Pipeline, and was involved in double the closed/won business.

And while both campaigns showed positive ROI, since they’re both serving the same goal of brand awareness, we turned off the lower-performing of the two. Unfortunately for me, the headline I loved had to be turned off…

Obviously this is a very simple view of campaign performance. We’re only looking at the creative. Behind these, we also tested different audiences, different headlines, as well as different ways to deliver the offer (i.e. via a LeadGen Form or ungated website visit). Ever wondered what messaging resonates with each persona? We can experiment for that.

Here are some additional tips to consider as you’re deciding how to gauge campaign performance:

Make sure you have an organized and consistent approach to UTM tagging. This is the foundation of being able to track to the metrics you see above.

Don’t over-engineer a complex attribution model to help with this. A simple view of “triggered” or “influenced” will suffice. I recently wrote a blog on that topic as well, HERE.

Try lots and lots of things, with small budgets each. “What works” is changing faster today than it ever has. The campaign that failed three weeks ago may work today. The evergreen campaign that’s worked for 2 years may stop working next week.

Good luck out there!