Q&A Recap From Our 2020 Trends Webinar

Hello And Welcome

This is a blog post is a recap from the questions we weren’t able to get to during the Q&A portion of our “2020 Sucked. Your Marketing in 2021 Doesn’t Have To” webinar. Grab the slides and webinar recording here.

We’ve run gift campaigns before in exchange for meetings and found they rarely converted to opportunities and revenue. Have you found that to be the case too? HELLO

This can definitely be a drawback when exchanging gifts, and more importantly, people’s time, for demo requests. The % of people coming to you with an immediate need or feeling any pain is low. HELLO TEST

We see a lower conversion rate to opportunity with this type of campaign, but we’re able to make that work with our unit economics – and it works better than other tactics we’ve tried.

If you dangle an appealing carrot in front of me like donating to a charity of my choice or offering me a gift I find valuable in exchange for 45 minutes of my time, I’ll probably take the meeting. Hello test

Dangling a carrot in front of Mark
Definitely not a carrot guy but hopefully you get what I’m saying here

Sometimes to stay on top of what’s in the market, primarily if I haven’t heard of your product before, and other times because I see the need for your product. Just not right now.

You should first look at your cost-per-lead from any paid campaigns you’re running to generate the demo requests, plus the cost of the gift. Then see how this compares to the cost-per-lead in your demand model and whether you can stomach this.

If you don’t know your cost-per-lead or don’t have a demand model, connect with me on LinkedIn, and I can help get you started.

Check your audience and see who you’re targeting with your gift campaigns. If you have junior or mid-level people accepting gifts and you really need to get in contact with their boss, give them the gift after they made an intro and connected you with their boss.

Interestingly for us, the success of this type of campaign depends on the channel it’s delivered in. We have high ROI when the offer is delivered using conversation ads on LinkedIn and negative ROI when the offer is delivered using traditional, direct response ads on Facebook and LinkedIn.

We used LinkedIn conversation ads last quarter and generated 100+ demo requests. Not a single person actually showed up to their demo. We were very thoughtful about building our audience. Any thoughts?

I’d recommend looking at three things:

  1. The audience
  2. The offer
  3. The follow-up process

The audience
Is it a list of target accounts with job titles? Did you use demographic/firmographic criteria to cast a wider net? Did you layer on any technographic data? What about intent data?

Make sure you have a good answer to all of the above questions. There are so many ways to tighten (and sometimes widen) your audience for any paid campaign.

The offer
Outside of the demo itself – what’s in it for your target audience? How creative and relevant is the offer? Are you using a gift to get them to agree to the meeting?

Using conversation ads to schedule (and hold) demos can be difficult if you don’t have a compelling reason for the person to show up.

Especially if it’s cold outreach and the person isn’t familiar with you, who your company is, and how your product can make their lives easier.

The follow-up process

This is the most important thing to look at here, by far.

Throwing money out of the window
Basically what happens when you spend $$ to generate demo requests and don’t have a solid follow-up process in place

After someone requests a demo from your conversation ad, what happens next? How quickly are they followed up with? How many attempts are made to get in contact with them? Over what time frame?

You can have the best conversation ads in the world, but without a solid follow-up process in place, you shouldn’t write this tactic off just yet.

You also need to keep your Sales team involved every step of the way here, so they know who you’re targeting, how the conversation ad campaign works, and what they need to do when they see a new demo request come in.

Finally, the 600lb gorilla in the room could be a miss on product-market fit.

Any tips on connecting LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms to your marketing automation platform and content management system? We’ve been relying on manual exports and HATE IT.

Manual exports and being stuck on the .csv hamster wheel is the WORST. I feel your pain because I’ve lived it before.

The good news is there’s definitely a better and less painful way to do this.

For starters – we use Hubspot as our marketing automation platform and WordPress as our content management platform. We also use Salesforce as our CRM.

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms integrate with Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, plus a few others here.

From a data flow perspective – our conversions from LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms sync from LinkedIn to Hubspot, then from Hubspot to Salesforce with the bi-directional sync we have enabled.

We use a Hubspot workflow that looks for the form submission from the LinkedIn Lead Gen Form. This acts as the contact enrollment trigger.

Make sure to remember how you named your Lead Gen Form before looking for the form in Hubspot when you set up the trigger.

All forms from LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms start with “Lead ad:” in Hubspot. Our Lead Gen Form was named “DoorDash Demo 3 – Apr-2020” in LinkedIn. So enter “Lead ad: DoorDash Demo 3 – Apr-2020” like the screenshot here:

Selecting LinkedIn Lead Gen Form in Hubspot
Pro tip: you need a test Lead Gen Form submission before Hubspot will recognize the form and allow you to use it in a workflow

Once you have this trigger in place, you can run the rest of the workflow based on whatever you need it to do.

In this case – we use the workflow to populate information like recent UTM fields, their responses to custom questions in the Lead Gen Form with corresponding custom fields in Hubspot.

We also use a final custom field to suggest initial product fit for our SDRs and AEs.

Performance-wise on LinkedIn – how do conversation ads compare to sponsored content ads?

The performance will definitely depend on your messaging and the type of offer.

But I can speak from my own experience using both conversation ads and sponsored content ads at Metadata.

We’ve only used conversation ads to generate demo requests for our sales team. And like we mentioned during the webinar, we’ve seen a whole lot of success with them.

We run sponsored content campaigns to promote educational pages on our website. We intentionally don’t gate anything here because we’re trying to drive awareness within our target account lists.

We’re using each ad type for different reasons. Given our average contract value, we haven’t seen sponsored content ads perform well when generating demo requests.

As of right now – our customers can build audiences for their conversation ad campaigns through the Metadata platform. But they can’t launch these campaigns directly from the platform.

It’s in our product roadmap, and we’re actively working on rolling this out in 2021.

What’s the ideal video length for paid social campaigns?

The honest answer is we originally intended to include this in our trends analysis. But we didn’t have enough data for this to really be statistically significant.

That being said – 30 seconds should be the absolute max length for any videos used in your campaigns. We typically recommend anywhere between 6-15 seconds.

Vidyard knows a thing or two about video (disclaimer: we aren’t customers). They have an incredibly comprehensive blog post on all things video length here.

If you do a quick Google search – you’ll notice the Martech consolidation “trend” has appeared on many trend/prediction posts over the last few years. It’s not anything new.

The Martech landscape continues to grow every year. There are too many tools in the market. We’re overwhelmed.

Martech landscape 2011-2020
At some point, the madness needs to stop. We’re going to run out of room on Scott Brinker’s annual market landscape diagram

It basically comes down to this:

  1. Marketers are often fascinated by shiny new tools and waste a whole lot of money on them
  2. Marketing budgets were slashed at the start of the pandemic. No one really knows when they may get their pre-pandemic budget back
  3. Marketers are being forced to do more with less, get the most out of their tech investments and focus on what actually works

Whether it means getting rid of a tool that doesn’t help you generate more revenue or replacing a tool with a more manual process that still allows you to get by right now, demand marketers are going to look hard at each item in their 2021 budgets.

Especially when this budget can be reallocated to your program budget.

I’d love to hear a comparison of Facebook and LinkedIn for B2B. Are you seeing a lower CPL on Facebook with similar lead quality?

Like a lot of our answers, “it depends.”

Generally, we see CPLs of around 10-50% less on Facebook. However, some of our customers get lower CPLs on LinkedIn, and some get lower CPLs on Facebook – it’s not an “always lower on Facebook” thing.

In terms of lead quality, we don’t see a big difference between LinkedIn and Facebook. But this is primarily because of how we build audiences in these two ad channels using the Metadata platform.

We can use standard firmographic and job title targeting across LinkedIn and Facebook, targeting the same people without using lookalike audiences or personal-interest targeting.

For our customers, we always recommend experimenting across both ad channels to see which will have the most significant impact on your KPIs.

November 2020 – Product Updates

G2 Dynamic Audiences

Build G2 Audiences using G2 Intent data and channel filters. Audiences will be updated dynamically for LinkedIn. 

To use this feature, integrate G2 through the Integration page.

Audience Groups in Library

Create and reuse audience groups in multiple campaigns.

LinkedIn Integration – Choose Campaign Groups 

Choose the Campaign Group under which you want to create campaigns for LinkedIn. Update the Campaign group through the LinkedIn Integration page.

Converted Leads – Append UTMs for existing Leads

Track all campaigns a Lead converted by appending UTMs for existing leads.

To use this feature, enable the setting in the MA tools integration page. Once enabled, if the same lead converts through multiple campaigns the UTM values will be appended as comma separated values.

Drift Chatbot Support for Landing Pages

To use a Drift chatbot on Landing Pages, enable Metadata pixel through Integrations and map Email field. Once done, leads converted through the Landing Pages will appear on your MA tool.

20+ New Features and Fixes

  • Enhancements to show Total Budget for Campaign Draft
  • Audience name limit now 50 characters
  • UI updates to Report filters and sorting order
  • Enhancements to allow more special characters in UTMs

How Not to Lose Your Marketing Budget for 2021

How’d you do with your marketing budget this year? If you’re anything like me…

Every single year, planning and forecasting in marketing teams is already a little bit like jumping in a Delorean and going 88 MPH with 1.21 gigawatts of power behind you! Add a dose of worldwide pandemic and your 2020 plan is now nothing better than a bad guess.

As we close in on 2021, marketers are facing a similar challenge. We still have little context to work with. Despite this, there are several things you can do to plan and manage your 2021 budget strategically, hold onto as much budget as possible, and maximize the impact on your organization.

Managing a marketing budget is an incredibly important part of a marketing leader’s job – yet, in my experience, it’s often wildly mismanaged. And when things get unpredictable, you need to be able to show that you’re being a good steward of the company’s money or you run the risk of losing massive piles of money.

Fighting the uphill battle

This isn’t an excuse – but Marketing departments have always had it hard. When things are going well, no one questions a thing. But when things aren’t delivering, marketers are the first in line for scrutiny. Budgeting in marketing is highly volatile – much of our spend is tied to unpredictable volumes and ad auctions and things that aren’t just a fixed cost for the entire year. So our costs are already difficult to manage.

Now throw on top of that the fact that the results of our work in marketing are also one of the most difficult to measure. There was a time when marketing was the “fluff” department, but today, they’re responsible for driving tangible value and shaping businesses into what they are.

Despite all of this, if you want to keep and grow your budget, there are things you can do to ensure your money is being spent as efficiently as possible and that you have business outcomes to show for it.

Defining budget responsibilities for the marketing leader

Here are some of the responsibilities CMO’s and other marketing leaders have in store when looking at their 2021 budget:

  • Create accurate forecasts- Accurate forecasting is one of the essential keys to building trust and credibility. Managing these projections positions marketing departments as a revenue center that deserves investment to improve profits, not a cost center to be cut. This is akin to accountability – you’re telling the team and the CMO what you plan to spend your money on, and what you intend to get in return.
  • Manage forecast vs. actuals- Once forecasting is approved, get comfortable with the data and check what the actual numbers are on your P&L, then compare those with the numbers in your forecast. It’s one thing to say what you’re planning to do (forecast) – the proof comes in how close you then manage to that.
  • Know the basics- It’s your responsibility as a marketing leader to understand the basics of business accounting. For example, understanding what the term “amortization” means in business finance, and using that practice to your advantage in planning and execution.
  • Have a continuous-improvement mindset- This should be a discipline you implement into all marketing decisions. It’s a drive to always want something to be better than it is. From a budget-management perspective, this means ensuring that every dollar is scrutinized, you’re negotiating for the best deals, etc.
  • Create transparency within the team- As executives, transparency is key, especially during times of uncertainty. Sharing budgets with your team provides insight into budgeted costs, expected costs, and real expenditure. Trust is at the core of the business, which requires leaders to be honest about the current state and trajectory of their company.

 

Jason’s Top Tips for Strategically Managing Your Marketing Budget

  1. Treat the company’s money like it’s your own- That is, unless you’re frivolous with your personal finances! Scrutinize every dollar. For example, would you buy a car without aggressively negotiating price or terms? Of course not – so don’t buy expensive business software without negotiating.
  2. Get creative, use your internal resources- Finance and procurement are your friends – get to know them and understand what’s important to them. These folks can really help you out with creative solutions to tough finance problems – but only if they trust that you are being a good steward of the company’s resources. Build relationships.
  3. True-up to forecast frequently- Most companies manage their spend at a quarterly level – so in those cases it’s more important to hit your quarterly forecast. This means it’s ok to go heavy or light early in the quarter as long as you make it up before quarter-end. Don’t wait until the last week in the quarter to figure this out – true up monthly at a minimum. But even better if you track spend in near-real-time and true-up weekly.
  4. Understand practices like amortization and how they can help you- It’s October and you desperately need to add a new tool that costs $50k/year – but you only have $15k left and the vendor wants upfront payment. If you understand amortization, you know that you can buy that tool for $50k because you’ll only need to have $12,500 in your budget to pay for 3 months of a 12-month contract!
  5. Don’t spend it just because you have it- There’s an old myth that if you don’t spend your budget in a given year, you might get a cut the following year. NO! This is all about communication. If you actually do not have a way to spend your forecasted budget EFFECTIVELY, then it’s better to find a new home for it than just spend it. Everyone I know in Finance would much rather have a budget owner find a better use for their under-spend than just hitting their forecast.

 

Definite Ways to Get Your Budget Cut

Avoid these things as each one is an easy way to get your budgets cut:

  1. Inability to tie marketing spend/activities to revenue – you don’t know your ROI
  2. Consistently over-spending, or even under-spending against your forecast – you don’t learn from experience
  3. Making perceived bad decisions with your budget – you can’t read a room

 

Conclusion:

While not the sexiest part of a marketing leader’s job, being an expert at setting and managing a budget can be a differentiator in your career. Showing that you have a good handle on what you need to spend in order to deliver specific results creates trust and credibility with your peers and manager.

Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or not, effectively managing a marketing budget for your business doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Get specific about your marketing plan now, and feel more confident about where your money is going for 2021.