6 ABM and Demand Gen Campaigns You Can Steal to Level Up Your Marketing

Imagine you’re a VP of Sales named Hayden.

You step out of your Uber and glance up at one of those digital billboards on top of a cab.

“Getting into OOH advertising, Hayden?” the ad reads. “We can help.” 

That might sound like Minority Report, but all the ad would have to do is combine geofencing with a dynamic ad creative and programmatic placement via a DSP—along with a healthy level of account-based segmentation on the back end.

It’s not exactly a demand gen campaign, but it’s not pure ABM, either. It’s just smart marketing. 

It’s this kind of blended approach that will eventually allow for the “ad of the future” described above. (It’s not that far off, either.)

In the meantime, what kinds of ABM and demand gen campaigns will have the biggest impact?

We put together dos and don’ts plus six examples to help you get even more creative with your marketing tactics both now and in the future. 

  1. Our distinction between ABM and demand gen
  2. Demand gen campaigns: dos and don’ts
  3. 4 demand gen campaign examples
  4. ABM campaigns: dos and don’ts
  5. 2 ABM campaign examples

Why our distinction between ABM and demand gen doesn’t matter as much as we think it does

Let me switch gears for a second.

As I was preparing to write this article, I had a conversation (well, Zoom call) with Logan Neveau, our Sr. Director of Product Growth.

He asked a quasi-rhetorical question I still can’t get out of my head.

“Most marketers don’t consider demand gen campaigns as part of ABM, or vice versa. But why the hell not?”

The more I think about it, the more I see what he means. 

The lines between demand gen and ABM campaigns are arbitrary at best: when the ultimate goal is to drive more revenue, what does it matter if the campaign uses one channel over another or a predefined list over a look-alike audience?

“Whether it’s demand gen or ABM, at the end of the day, you’re just trying to get in front of the right person.” 

Silvio Perez, Head of Ad Operations, Metadata

OK, sure. The goal is often different:

ABM is often about account engagement, while demand gen is more directly about activation.

But one should flow into the other, instead of standing entirely apart. (In fact, we wrote an entire blog post about it.) 

Watch Jason, Chris, and others break down ABM vs Demand Gen

The reality is that both of these are the marketing tactics that will all support the same overarching goal: get in front of the right person and drive more revenue. 

Demand gen campaigns: Dos and don’ts

I’m going to go out on a limb and say: this is where most of your budget currently goes. 

That makes sense, too: it has the most direct line to revenue, it’s faster to experiment with, and it’s generally easier to measure because marketers have been running direct response lead gen campaigns for so long. The systems are just set up for it. 

But that’s not the only reason: your CEO and CRO probably think “leads, MQLs, and opportunities” in the same breath as “marketing.”

Trying to get them to use new engagement metrics to measure ABM programs doesn’t always go over well—so you return to tried and true demand gen tactics.

Nothing wrong with that—but using a measurement system that has been around for a decade is no reason to phone it in. 

Dos for demand gen campaigns

1. Retarget folks who’ve visited your pricing and demo pages.

We’d call this low-hanging fruit, but we don’t like the buzzword. How about a no-brainer?

2. Run conversation ads on LinkedIn without an incentive.

You don’t have to reserve the effective channel for direct response, cold outreach. Try it out for retargeting and intent-based audiences, too. They may respond well.

3. Return to pipeline acceleration.

We don’t often see marketing teams using demand gen channels to push deals through faster. This is a great opportunity to blur the lines between demand gen and ABM to great effect. 

4. Rewrite your objectives.

Everyone defaults to direct response lead gen campaigns in demand gen. But switching over to engagement objectives (watching the video in the ad, for example) can work to support retargeting down the line. Aim to serve content that attracts or repels—something only your ICP will find interesting and valuable. 

Don’ts for demand gen campaigns

1. Treat all conversions and leads the same.

Leads captured through demand gen campaigns don’t all have the same level of intent or interest, so don’t make the mistake of treating the same in subsequent engagement. 

2. Add leads from demand gen campaigns to automated sales sequences.

The best way to alienate your carefully curated leads is to pass them to a biz dev team that will ask for 15 minutes of their time. If B2B buyers want to get in touch and schedule a demo, they know how to do that for themselves. 

3. Use the same offer all the time.

“Schedule a demo” might work some places some of the time, but it won’t work everywhere all the time. Your offer should be relevant based on the audience and where they are in their evaluation process. For example: don’t serve demo request ads to an entirely cold audience that would benefit from sponsored content on Facebook or LinkedIn, instead. 

4 demand gen campaign examples

1. Retarget high-intent audiences

  • Strategy: Remarketing to anyone that bounced from your demo or pricing page to get them to sign up.
  • Creative: Testimonials, Awards, Anything that shows you’re the sh*t.
  • Ad Objective: Conversion / Lead Gen
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Discovery, Display

Anyone who spends any amount of time on your demo or pricing page is most likely part of your highest-intent audience. You should be running with that all day, every day. 

If someone landed on one of those pages and didn’t convert, they either aren’t ready to give you their money or they don’t understand how your solution can help them. Retargeting them helps on both fronts. Here’s how. 

First, set up a custom audience on Facebook and/or LinkedIn that narrows in on visitors to either your demo or pricing page. 

LinkedIn:

Account Assets ➡ Matched Audiences ➡ Create Audience ➡ Website ➡ Enter URL paths

screenshot of linkedin retargeting
Create retargeting audiences on LinkedIn for people who visit high-intent pages on your website.

Facebook:

Audiences ➡ Create Audience ➡ Custom Audience ➡ Website ➡ People who visited specific pages ➡ Enter URL paths

screenshot of facebook retargeting
You can do the same thing on Facebook too.

Then, start a campaign to this custom audience with ad creatives that other people talking about how awesome you are.

Testimonials work great, especially if you can put a face to the name. Awards in a relevant category work great, too. 

Now’s not the time for discounts or desperation. 

2. Offer demo requests for high-intent audiences

  • Strategy: Conversation Ads + Intent Audience + Incentive 
  • Creative: Personalized convo ads offering a gift card.
  • Ad Objective: Conversion / Lead Gen
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn

I might not be a math guy, but here’s a simple equation: Conversation Ads + Intent Audience + Gift Card = Ultimate combo of maximum interest.

You start with a high-intent audience—you can pull a list from Bombora based on broader browsing habits, or get a feed of visitors to your category’s G2 page. For example, in Metadata you can pull up: 

screenshot of G2 Intent lookback
We use Metadata to build audiences with G2 intent data.

Then set up your Conversation Ads campaign to that specific list.

Convo Ad with an incentive:

Instead of making it broad, make it specific to them: Are you still looking at that software category? Can I help? Want a $50 Uber Eats gift card?

(I mean, work your copywriting magic, but you get the idea.) 

3. Convert trial users

  • Strategy: Leverage product usage data to target accounts that are actively using their trial 
  • Creative: Testimonials, Awards—ideally testimonials discussing how they upgraded their trial and benefits they’ve received.
  • Ad Objective: Conversion / Lead Gen
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

If you’re already leveraging product usage data, you should easily be able to pull a list of users within specific accounts who are actively using their trial (for example, “Days since Last Activity < 30”). 

Instead of lumping these accounts in with the rest of your custom audience or target list for your next demand gen campaign, separate them out so you can serve a hyper-relevant and timely creative. 

screenshot - active trials
Product usage data is almost like a cheat code for your marketing.

This approach (along with email drip sequences) is often reserved for re-engagement—but why not aim to convert some of your most engaged trial users?

4. Increase brand awareness via demand gen channels 

  • Strategy: Promote helpful, specific-to-your-ICP content that doesn’t sell anything. Retarget viewers based on video completion with trial and demo offers.
  • Creative: Educational, non-promotional content: an ICP-specific video, an industry report, an ungated deep dive guide, and so on. 
  • Ad Objective: Video Views
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

Capturing existing demand via Google and Capterra works for the time being. But what happens when these more direct channels get more saturated and more expensive?

Why not think outside the box before then?

“In every channel, it’s not about what you do but how you do it.”

Silvio Perez, Head of Ad Operations, Metadata

With this campaign, you’re more focused on capturing interest than leads—at least, initially. 

First, take time to create a truly helpful piece of content. Let’s take a video, for example.

Serve it to a wider audience on Facebook and LinkedIn, and watch for the number of people who finish watching the entire video. Suddenly you have a much more qualified shortlist even after casting a wide net.

screenshot video campaign
I’ll spend $5.04 to get 8 people that watch a 24-minute long video of mine, every day of the week.

Look for engagement on that creative (native to the platform—you’re not looking for conversions just yet.)

screenshot engagement metric
Talk about a HIGHLY engaged audience.

From there, retarget that shorter list of leads with a follow-up offer. 

ABM campaigns: dos and don’ts

Let’s get this out of the way: ABM isn’t just “air cover” for your sales team. You can (and should) get strategic with account-based campaigns.

Better yet: instead of treating ABM as entirely separate from demand gen, why not use it to both support demand gen efforts and experiment with more demand gen-esque tactics? 

Overall, you’re looking at awareness first, then engagement, then direct response. ABM can feed all three, even as it focuses on just a handful of key accounts. 

Dos for ABM campaigns

1. Lead with content but set up strong intent scoring in the background.

Instead of aiming for a direct response right off the bat, take a slower approach and measure engagement along the way. 

2. Adjust your outreach along the way.

Measure engagement within the account, and reach out with the right message at the right time. If you start with display ads to drive awareness, add in Conversation Ads once penetration is high enough (go from “nurture status” to active prospecting). 

3. Experiment with channels.

Most people hear “ABM” and immediately think of direct mail or running display ads. They’re far from the only things that will help you move forward with your accounts. 

Don’ts for ABM campaigns

1. Run the same demand gen campaigns against a list of accounts.

If you’re not aiming to appeal to the entire account, you’re not doing ABM. You’re doing demand gen with a smaller list. 

2. Think you need an ABM platform to run ABM campaigns.

And I say that as a marketer selling what some consider an ABM platform. You can run account-based campaigns on your own, natively in LinkedIn and Facebook. See how it goes and if the approach even makes sense for your company. 

3. Run ABM campaigns without coordinating with sales.

Consult your sales team both on who you’re targeting and the messaging and offer that you’re using. Coming off as uncoordinated will be off-putting for prospects. 

2 ABM campaign examples

1. Keep the recurring revenue train going by re-engaging customers

  • Strategy: Pull a Salesforce report with company names, serve account-based ads ahead of renewal and expansion efforts. 
  • Creative: Testimonials, Awards with company name mention
  • Ad Objective: Awareness ahead of renewal
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

Let’s be honest: usually, demand gen couldn’t care less about existing customers. 

It’s not their fault. OKRs for demand gen typically double down on new acquisition, not renewals or expansion.

And, like most people, those in demand gen care about more than their numbers than the company numbers. 

But that doesn’t have to be the case. If ABM can run “air cover” for sales, why can’t ABM run “air cover” for customer success?

Here’s our take: allocate most of your campaign budget to Tier 1 customers, then a smaller fraction for Tier 2 and Tier 3 customers (with a wider audience). 

Pull the company names from Salesforce, fill out your custom audience based on seniority and department (see the screenshot below), then push live and automate updates from Salesforce down the line. 

screenshot Salesforce account
This is one of the few campaigns here you can’t run natively in Facebook or LinkedIn.

Sales reps aren’t going to tag everyone in the buying committee, so you need a tool that can automatically bridge the gap between Salesforce and your advertising platform. 

“The first time legal and finance sees my logo should not be when the contract comes across their desk.” 

Logan Neveau, Sr. Director of Product Growth, Metadata

2. Use intent data from G2 to populate new campaigns

  • Strategy: Integrate G2 with your Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns to get a fresh audience for your demo request campaigns. 
  • Creative: Demo request
  • Ad Objective: Conversion/Leads
  • Ad Channel: LinkedIn/Facebook

This one’s pretty cool, I’m not going to lie. 

If you’re a paying G2 customer, you can get a list of everyone who visits the category and comparison pages for your product. Better yet, with the API you can automatically throw them into campaigns, and update your audience on a daily basis. 

Here’s the ABM bit: instead of limiting the audience to direct visitors, you can expand it to include relevant buyers at the same target account. 

With a bit of fancy footwork, you can also suppress the cookie pool so that it excludes current customers and competitors. 

screenshot how to integrate G2 with your Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns
This is how we build dynamic G2 audiences on LinkedIn using Metadata.

Example of building dynamic SFDC exclusion audience of customers in Metadata:

Example of building dynamic SFDC exclusion audience of customers
Depending on the campaign – make sure to use dynamic exclusion audiences for your customers.

Just like your demand gen campaigns that rely on intent data, relying on G2 to feed your ABM campaign gives you the best possible audience to hit with a demo request. With this always-up-to-date and qualified audience, go for gold in your ad creatives. 

Bringing it all together with measurement

So you’ve launched the new demand gen and ABM campaigns you borrowed from this post. Now what? 

First, you need to make sure you’re measuring the right things to show your impact to your boss (and your boss’s boss). 

It all depends (as much as I hate typing that) on the objective of the campaign: consumption vs. conversion. Find the right balance between the two objectives, because you need both leading and lagging indicators.

For leading indicators, you can measure ad engagement, traffic and scroll depth. It’ll show you whether your audience is actually seeing and consuming your message. (And, yes, you can measure leads and MQLs too. Just don’t make them the end-all-be-all of your success metrics.)

I recommend keeping it simple for lagging indicators too. Measure things like demo requests, opportunities created and pipeline/revenue created. Don’t try to make the move overnight and jump directly to revenue. If you want to level up your measurement, you can measure things like average contract value, deal velocity and win rates.

Notice how we didn’t mention influenced revenue or account engagement?

100% intentional. Why? 

Because neither have a direct line to revenue.

And neither are things I would hang my hat on when showing our CEO or CFO. (Because they won’t care.)

That’s the high-level view of measurement.

How to Measure Your Facebook Ads ROI (With Metrics That Matter to Your Boss and Business)

There’s a big, honkin’ elephant sitting next to me that I need to address here.

If you’re reading this post on the ROI of Facebook ads, you’re probably asking a lot of common questions:

  • Are Facebook ads worth it for B2B?
  • What’s a good ROI for B2B Facebook ads?
  • How do I calculate the return on investment of my Facebook ads?

Yeah, you’re not alone. But you’re asking the wrong questions.

The problem is that these questions are all predicated on a giant assumption (and you know what they say about assumptions)—that you’re measuring your ad performance against the right metrics.

You don’t want to measure just any metrics. You want to measure the right metrics.

The metrics that matter to your boss. And your boss’ boss.

And that’s not typically the case.

In this post, we cover:

  1. Are Facebook ads a waste of money for B2B?
  2. Common mistakes to avoid
  3. How to calculate the real ROI of your Facebook ads

If you like raking in “leads” that have downloaded your eBook or attended your webinar, you can stop reading now.

But if you’d rather measure the ROI of your Facebook ads by things like pipeline and revenue, read on.

Are Facebook ads a waste of money for B2B?

A lot of B2B marketers wonder if spending marketing dollars on Facebook is worth it. You might worry that your super special and totally-unique-to-you ICP isn’t on Facebook—or maybe that you just won’t be able to reach them on the platform.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth a reminder. There are about 2.89 BILLION people on Facebook. I promise you, your ideal customer is there, and you can find them. And Facebook offers the advantage of catching these people outside of their typical work hours (score!).

Common mistakes to avoid

That said, Facebook ads can, in fact, be a waste of money if you fall prey to these mistakes B2B marketers often make:

  1. Using bad targeting
  2. Optimizing your ads against the wrong metrics

1. Using bad targeting

I already covered finding your perfect B2B Facebook target audience pretty extensively, but targeting is, in fact, one of the biggest hang-ups when it comes to driving return on ad spend (ROAS).

Working natively in the Facebook platform, you have limited options for targeting the people and accounts you’re looking for. It’s difficult or impossible to aggregate audiences by typical B2B variables like job title, industry, and employee count, you can’t upload account lists to find employees, etc. 

If you don’t get good at things like using your own first-party data and setting exclusions, you’re going to serve ads to a lot of people that don’t fit your ICP.

Which will tank your ROI.

Go back and check out that post if you’re struggling with Facebook targeting.

2. Optimizing your ads against the wrong metrics

Outside of targeting, the biggest problem surrounding the ROI of Facebook ads is your metrics.

When the top executives in your company present marketing results to the board, do they include impressions? Clicks? Engagement?

😬 😬 😬

I hope not.

The big wigs are much keener to hear how you’re actually impacting the bottom line. They want you to present metrics like:

  • Pipeline and revenue created
  • Opportunities created
  • Cost-per-opportunity

Ultimately, you want to tie your ad spend to revenue, but since your sales cycle might make that an excessively long process, these are strong performance indicators to report on and optimize against along the way.

The problem is that Facebook doesn’t allow you to optimize your ad performance against these metrics. The only option the platform gives you is to optimize to the initial conversion event, which is a higher funnel metric.

This conversion point is flawed and doesn’t account for the lower funnel metrics that matter to the business—like opportunities, pipeline, and revenue.

So, you may end up with a bunch of “leads” that downloaded your guide but aren’t the people that end up buying your product/service. 

Volume looks good. Cost per lead looks good. But the ultimate ROI does not look so good. Then Facebook continues to optimize your ads against this metric, sending you more of the same.

D’oh. It’s a money pit.

Great for Facebook, but not for you.

The exit out of this merry-go-round (and driving real ROI) is to connect your Facebook performance data with your marketing and sales performance data. 

This lets you figure out who IS buying your product or service after engaging with your ad. The better you can get at measuring lower-level conversions and feeding that data back to Facebook, the better your ROAS will be. 

Adam Goyette, VP of Marketing at Help Scout, does a great job explaining what that looks like in 4 Ways to Reduce Your CPL on Facebook by 50%.

How to calculate the real ROI of your Facebook ads

It’s a pretty simple equation to calculate the ROI of any advertising campaign, Facebook included:

(Money Received – Money Spent) / Money Spent = ROI

So, if you spent $2,500, which resulted in $10,000 coming into the business, the ROI equation would look like this:

(10,000  – 2,500) / 2,500 = 3

That can be expressed as a ratio, which would be 3:1, or a percentage, which would be 300%. 

The difficult part is connecting the spend with the money coming into the business.

So, how do you connect all of your data?

Well, you have a few options for bringing the data together.

1. Aggregate all of your own data

Hello, spreadsheets! 

At my last company, we used a data connector to pull everything we needed into a Google sheet—Facebook channel data plus opportunity data from our marketing automation platform (MAP). Then the Google sheet was full of calculations to net out the ROI of our Facebook ads.

It was messy, and it broke all the time, and I had to spend a lot of time fixing it, but it got me the ROI data I was looking for (namely, SQOs and cost per SQO). 

If you’re a bit more sophisticated, you can use a business intelligence (BI) tool like Domo for this integration and number crunching. 

BI tools will make your life a lot easier—if you know how to use them. You’ll probably need the expertise of a data analyst or strong marketing ops person to navigate the tech.

2. Make UTM codes work for you

If you can’t quite make it to fully aggregating your data, this is the next best thing. When you advertise on Facebook:

  1. Use a custom UTM for your campaign
  2. Tag anyone that engages as leads in your MAP
  3. Funnel these leads into a CRM campaign

With this approach, you can keep track of how many members end up in your campaign, how many convert into opportunities, how many show up to their demo calls, etc. 

The caveat is that you cannot see campaign spend in Salesforce—you’ll need to manually bring this data in from the ad channel (i.e. Facebook).

3. Use a tool like Metadata that measures Facebook ROI for you

Shameless plug—we’re really good at this. 

If you’re tired of hacking it together yourself, we make it easy by pulling in data from your ad channels, MAP, CRM, etc. It’s all in one place, numbers crunched behind the scenes, so you can quickly get at the ROI metrics that actually matter (adios, impressions).

But obviously, we’re biased. So, I suggest you dive into some Facebook benchmark data yourself. Head on over to our 2021 B2B Paid Social Benchmark Data for a variety of industry averages for ROI metrics like:

  • Click-to-lead conversion rate
  • Lead-to-opportunity conversion rate
  • Opportunity win rate

All of the data comes directly from our clients’ Facebook ad campaigns.

Friends with the ROI elephant yet?

I get it—it’s hard to let go of the metrics you’re familiar with. They’ve been ingrained in our marketer brains. 

We have to do some rewiring to measure and optimize against lower-level metrics. Because focusing on these metrics that actually matter to your boss—and your business—is the real way to drive ROI from your Facebook ads. 

🎤🙋🏼‍♂️

How To Launch Software Products Part III

Don’t look now — but you did it.

YOU LAUNCHED YOUR SOFTWARE PRODUCT.

  • You captured all the data to position your product effectively
  • You educated the hell out of your audience to prep them for your launch
  • You introduced totally new technology to the market
  • And you made sure every rep and buyer had every tool they needed to know how to use it

Time to pop some bottles, because IT’S OVER! SUCCESS! ONTO THE NEXT LAUNCH!

Animated GIF of The Office spraying champagne.
Narrator: But in fact, the launch was not over.

Don’t hate me just yet. You can keep sippin’ on that beverage because you have A LOT to celebrate.

The foundational knowledge stage is emotionally exhausting, and the launch stage is tactically taxing — and now that’s all effectively behind you. There’s plenty of reason to celebrate. 

But the goal of this whole product marketing thing isn’t just to pull back the curtain on new technology. It’s to maximize adoption and drive recurring revenue.

And showing your audience what you have to offer falls short of (in my opinion — and Simon Sinek’s) the ‘why.’

What do I mean by showing them the why? 

There’s a reason Pottery Barn sells all their furniture by setting up adorable little staged kitchens and bedrooms in their showrooms and catalog. And it’s not because the salespeople like to playhouse.

It’s because they know showing you a fantastic, beautiful, comfortable, expensive chair by itself is not nearly as compelling as showing it to you in context. 

Pottery Barn advertisement example
A chair by itself is a place to sit.

Add a throw blanket, a matching rug, a coffee table to kick your feet up on with a scented candle, and family photos? Issa VIBE.

That ‘place to sit’ just became your window to what your life could look like. The vision has been painted, it’s tangible, it’s real, and it’s appealing as hell.

You’re no longer buying a chair, you’re buying an experience, an emotion, and an outcome so real you’ve actually SAT in it, smelled it, felt it, and connected with it.  

Who says software can’t elicit the same connection we get as B2C consumers? 

In this final stage, we’ll break down how you can maximize adoption and beef up those recurring revenue numbers by transforming your product launch into a sticky, inspiring, ROI-driving business strategy, and we’ll do it in three key phases:

  1. Practical application
  2. Thought leadership
  3. Assessment

Phase I: Practical application

Math teachers had 4 modes: mad minute, overhead projector, worksheets, and tests.

Mad minute was the foundational knowledge stage — their way of reviewing what we already knew. How many multiplication problems could we knock out in a minute?

Some of us crushed it, some of us are still working that out in therapy. But it was the teacher’s way of knowing who was ready for division, and who still needed to strengthen that foundational knowledge muscle before learning anything new. 

Overhead projector day was the product launch.

Follow along carefully, class, and if you’re feeling slick, stroll up to the Elmo and take a spin yourself. Just don’t be left-handed, okay, because those markers smudge so easily, and then it’s all over your hand, and the screen, god forbid your face — it’s a mess.

The worksheets though? That’s this stage: practical application.

That’s the “Molly has 62 watermelons, and can only eat 2 watermelons per hour. How many hours will it take for Molly to polish off all 62 watermelons?” crap that in the moment, felt absolutely ridiculous, but in hindsight, was actually the only vision we had into how the hell any of this even plays out in the real world.

Practical application made us tie newly acquired information to real-life — in other words, the product launch to our own use case. 

Like damn, maybe I do actually need division (ahem, this new software) to get through my day.

If you executed the launch stage effectively, you’ve successfully turned once green buyers into bonafide technical wizards through assets, tools, and demos. Your buyers are now intimately familiar with what your product does. Now is the time to teach them how to use it. And you’ll want to start PRACTICALLY.

Some ways to arm your buyers with the practical application can include:

1. Playbooks

These are the “5 steps to getting _____ going TODAY” guides that shamelessly leverage our affinity for Buzzfeed-esque listicles to present real, useful 101-level steps to using and getting initial value out of your new product.

2. Pro-tips

Think bite-size, 1-2 minute clips showing different best practices and use cases for drawing out quick, measurable value from your product that your buyers couldn’t do before.

Figure out who in-house has a smooth narration voice and knows a thing or two about the product, give them a script, have them share their screen, and hit record.

3. Video testimonials

Did you have the good fortune of running a beta or early adopter group before launch? Time to cash in, baby.

The high-fidelity output looks like setting up lighting, a camera, and an interview with a few customers on their turf to capture a 20-minute conversation about their experience, use cases, and outcomes using your new product.

More budget-friendly option?

Set up a zoom and get to work in iMovie. Want to lift even less? Ask them to leave a fresh video review on your G2 profile — hell bake that requirement into their beta agreement at the onset, and you’re golden. 

These kinds of assets are evergreen and do more to build trust and reputation with your buyers than any Gartner or Forrester analyst is ever going to get you. 

Phase II: Thought leadership

I warned you in the practical application stage to keep it practical, right?

We want our buyers to start using the product, but remember who your audience is at their core.

These are tech bros, not Plato. Get too woo-woo with them right off the bat and they’re going to run for the hills (read: dollar draft night).

But if we get them to just start using the product, and seeing some value, then we can start showing them what it’s really capable of. And that’s when the fun begins. 

Because adoption is good, but retention is better.

Animated GIF of The Office saying "the fire guy!"
As Ryan “fire guy” Howard so eloquently schooled us, it is 10x more expensive to sign a new customer than to keep an existing one. And simply using something isn’t going to make your buyer keep using it. 

In this stage, you’ll want to go beyond how to use your product and get value from it, to showing them why your product should be central to their overall business strategy.

Yes, everybody, this is the why stage. The think bigger stage. The dream with me for a minute stage.

And frankly, you’re probably going to want to go above the tech bros for this one. 

Your target audience for thought leadership should land amongst the strategic drivers at your target accounts — think VPs, founders, department heads, and C suites.

These aren’t the people implementing the tool, they’re the ones signing the renewals, and holding their teams accountable for the output they’re getting from that software investment. Show leaders at your target accounts just how much value your solution can drive, and they’ll practically close the sale for you.

This kind of marketing should include:

Webinars

Don’t roll your eyes at me. I’m serious.

Boring-ass buzzwordy quick-fix webinars are tired and over, yes. Inspiring, differentiated, breath of fresh air webinars? Your buyers are begging for them. I know this because I’ve hosted a few. Hell, I’ve attended a few.

If you layer this channel into your launch strategy at this stage, choose hosts they actually care to hear from and keep the “sale” far from the discussion, you will get registrants. You will get attendees. And you will evangelize decision-makers from your top accounts, in about 1 hour. 

Op-eds

I’ll give it to you, webinars are a heavy lift (as I exhale today from a 4-month long build-up to this morning’s webinar). But Op-ed pieces, albeit less flashy, can pack just as much punch if your thought leaders can write well (or, and you did not hear this from me, work with a fantastic ghost-writer).

You’re a business, so chances are, your ICP exists at your company.

Sell HR software? Have your Chief People Officer pen an op-ed about the state of HR, and how your software solves the challenges we’ll be facing in the next 10 years.

You’ll want this to come from a person who’s been around the block and has the credibility and experience to share an opinion people want to hear about. 

These pieces are meant to inspire possibilities, expand beyond technology, and let people in leadership positions sit in that Pottery Barn living room for a second and imagine what life could be like.

Evangelize decision-makers at your top accounts, and this phase will pay dividends long beyond the conclusion of your launch, that’s a promise.

Phase III: Assessment

I’m getting emotional. We’re almost at the end, which means you’re almost ready to go crush the hell out of your next launch. I’m so proud of you for making it this far!

But I feel in my heart that I’d be doing you dirty if I didn’t bring it back to our teaching metaphor just one more time.

Animated GIF of math equation.
So just like any good teacher finishing out any unit, the final stage of your product launch campaign can only be one thing: The Test.  

And it’s arguably the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The proof.

You’ve spent weeks…months…quarters (?!?!)… drawing out this product launch, creating compelling stories, positioning poetic narratives, launching differentiated features, and slinging inspirational dogma all in an effort to turn buyers, into customers, into believers — but there’s one thing in tech that speaks louder than all of it: data. 

Cold, hard, shiny, indisputable, numerical validation. If they didn’t buy it before, numbers don’t lie. And if they didn’t trust you before, their peers don’t lie either.

This is where you lean into a customer-led growth engine to seal the deal. Capture a few solid customer stories, and ride those beautiful KPIs all the way into the sunset.

But before we dig into just how much juice you can squeeze out of a good customer story, one more food metaphor for the road:

There’s nothing I hate more than when people order a bone-in ribeye and CUT the meat away from the bone, leaving the richest, most flavorful part of the steak to get cold and thrown out.

YOU IDIOTS. YOU’RE THROWING AWAY GOLD.

Everyone knows you either gnaw the bone, or you bring it home to use as a base in your next cooking adventure.

(By the end of this blog series you’ve probably guessed I like my steak. So if you’re in Chicago and are looking for a fantastic steak experience, book a table at Steak48 on Wabash. You can thank me later).

But my point is, by simply turning a customer story into one lousy ass case study, you’re leaving cold-hard ARR cash on the table. Our customer’s time is valuable as hell. And ya know what? So is ours.

Here are some examples of getting extra miles out of customer story:

1. Case study blog

Write and publish your customer story for your blog site. Optimize it, and let the organic traffic roll in.

2. Case study PDF

Pair down that story into the challenge, solution, and outcome sections, with big sexy data callouts in a fully designed PDF. Gate this PDF behind matching display ads with GIANT data points as the focal point and fill that top of funnel. 

3. Case study slides

Turn that story into 3 deck slides: Slide 1: The challenge. Slide 2: The solution. Slide 3: The outcome (make the data points the biggest part of that slide). Hand this over to sales to use in their pitches and watch the BOFU leads close.

4. Case study presentation

Give your customer the mic and let them tell their story on a webinar or conference panel.

If it’s a known company amongst your target audience, the logo will draw attendance, and co-presenting with a customer is one of the best ways to show, strengthen, and solidify that partnership. Retention and expansion with this account henceforth should be a breeze. 

Animated GIF of man saying "you can do it"

Well fam, that’s it.

That’s all she (I) wrote. I hope like hell this was digestible, and makes sense, and feels doable.

Give yourself grace when you try to implement these strategies. You’re not going to knock out every stage overnight, but I can bet the first time around you’ll get just enough validation from the market and your sales reps to give it another hack.

And before you know it, you’ll be off writing blogs for Metadata about how I SHOULD be launching products.

I’m proud of you, I’m excited as hell to see what our industry cooks up next, and I can’t wait to hear who checks out Steak48.

Til next time, Bears fans. Happy launching.

Meet Aubyn Casady

Principal Product Marketing Manager, G2

Aubyn Casady runs partner marketing in her role as Principal Product Marketing Manager for G2. She has spent her marketing career launching campaigns, products, and partnerships for some of Chicago’s top SaaS companies, while moonlighting as a freelance content writer and product marketing consultant.

Outside of her full-and-a-half-time marketing responsibilities, Aubyn manages and sings every weekend with Chicago’s premium event band, Rush Street Rhythm.

Connect with Aubyn on LinkedIn here.  

How To Create Webinars That Live Longer and Convert Faster

This is the ninth post in our new content series, No Fluffs Given. We’re tired of the fluffy content in our LinkedIn feeds, with no real substance or actionable takeaways. So we’re teaming up with some of the best B2B marketers we know. People who have ACTUALLY done this stuff before. And giving you new, actionable tactics to implement today.

Tyler Durden gets rebranding. He’s also good at mission statements and community building. Don’t be like Tyler, but do learn from Tyler.

See, marketers (you) ruined webinars with your pitch slapping, logo flexing, and ego stroking. You were so worried about getting butts in seats that you forgot about math. That’s right, math.

Think about how thrilled you’d be to get 100 people to your first webinar. You’d pee yourself. Yet, 1,000 organic views on a LinkedIn post is subpar.

So, the first thing you need to hammer into your head is the webinar is not about the webinar. Say that again if you need to.

Webinars are a way to learn from your audience and create community-led content that you can later distribute on other channels. The bulk of the ROI comes after the webinar.

Here’s how to stop wasting time on the wrong webinar activities (ahem, lead gen) and start making money with webinar repurposing:

1. Identify your sweet spot

When my former employer, MarketerHire, launched a Live series (see how I didn’t say the W-word there?), we didn’t promise to cover all the marketing things and please all the marketing people. We took a step back to answer:

  1. Who are we talking to? CMOs
  2. Where’s the overlap between that person and our product? CMOs care about hitting their numbers. To hit those growing numbers, they must scale. We could help them hire top talent, faster.
  3. Where’s the gap between that person and your product? CMOs sometimes believe in-house hires are the only way to go. They’re also not 100% sure who to hire when. They want to hear how other CMOs are doing it before making a decision.

While we had the resources to talk about marketing in general, that wouldn’t help us address common objections around our product. Thus, it wasn’t the strongest play. The best move, we decided, was to focus on marketing operations — how to build a marketing team.

Ahrefs and HotJar follow a similar framework to prioritize their blog content. They give each potential topic a relevancy score between 0-3. A three means your product is an irreplaceable solution, a zero means there’s no connection between the topic and your product.

When I’m overwhelmed with content possibilities (often), I go back to Ahrefs’ scoring rubric.

You can follow Ahref’s topic scoring framework to find your webinar sweet spot. Once you find that intersection between the content your target audience wants and what you’re uniquely qualified to deliver, the next steps get easier.

2. Ask strategic questions

Every question you ask should relate to the niche you decided on.

On our webinar landing page and event promos, we promised to cover how, who, and when to hire freelancers. We also talked directly to CMOs and the pains of building a marketing team, not the pains of marketing.

Asking the right questions isn’t complicated. It just takes focus and the ability to say “no” when you want to go off topic. Tell your guests in the promos what they can expect. Then stick to it.

So, naturally, we asked questions like:

  • Which marketer should you hire first?
  • How is your team currently structured?
  • When do you hire freelancers?

Editor’s Note: If you’re getting too many surface-level answers and you want to drill more into the tactics, give guests the permission to dive deeper with follow-up “how” and “why” questions.

Having a clear webinar outline helps you and the guest bring your A-game. You won’t get to every question and attendees will ask their own, but creating an outline that aligns with your sweet spot helps guarantee you get repurposable content out of the show.

3. Mine the transcript for gold

While asking the right questions to the right guests increases your chances of getting repurposable content, you still have to dig for the best clips. I recommend a team member take notes throughout the event to timestamp what I call “money moments.” (I made this term up just now.)

Here are two things to look out for during the webinar:

Content that captures existing demand

Growth marketers were by far the most in-demand role at MarketerHire, making up a third of all hires. We also noticed organic content around growth marketing — blogs and social — not only drove engagement, but also SQLs. So, we asked guests specifically about what to look for in a growth marketer and when to hire them.

Content that creates new demand

On the flip side, non-performance marketers — brand marketers, SEOs, and social media managers — tended to have less demand. Also, some CMOs were skeptical about hiring freelancers over in-house marketers. We addressed these objections by asking CMOs when and how they hired specialist freelancers.

Once we found clips we liked, I would write a few headline options for each and send to our video agency to edit the raw footage.

4. Invest in a video editor

Whether or not you hire a video editor in-house will depend on how much video you plan to produce and what kind of budget you have. But trust me, if you aren’t a video person (guilty), editing will consume too much of your time. It’s worth hiring an expert.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend hiring a video agency. I personally use Motion for my podcast and we used Blnk Slate Media for general video repurposing at MarketerHire — webinar and customer story clips.

Here are some key learnings from testing dozens of formats on organic and paid social:

  • Bold headlines and colors perform better
  • Direct quotes and questions work well as headlines
  • Include captions (and proofread them)
  • Prioritize video over audiograms
  • Maximize your real estate in the feed (1080×1080 format on Instagram, for instance)

Don’t assume your video editor will know to do all of the above. Get specific about what you want in the brief. The cheaper the editor, the more hand-holding required. All-star (expensive) editors don’t need a brief after a while, they know good content when they see it.

5. Test clips and copy on organic social first

There are infinite things you can test on organic social before ever dropping a cent on paid advertising. Things like:

Formatting – I saw more success with video than audiograms on LinkedIn organic, especially when showcasing recognizable guests.

Placements – I don’t have much data on this, but we started testing Instagram story ads as well toward the end of my tenure. Instagram is pushing Reels right now, so worth considering. 

Copy – Easily the most important factor of all these. If the headline doesn’t resonate, they won’t read the rest or watch the video.

Clips – Think back to your sweet spot. Does the clip address an objection? Will it help you capture or create demand? Would you watch it?

CTAs – While you can’t mimic CTAs on organic social the same as you would in paid, you can create a Bitly link to test click-through rates. For example, we would always drop the link to sign up for the next Live in the comments. (NOTE: Most people won’t click. That doesn’t mean it’s not working.)

Here are two examples of clips we tested on our company LinkedIn and Twitter pages first. To get a more representative size, I would sometimes post these to my personal profile as well.

Headlines about what not to do tend to do better than headlines about what to do. That’s because we’re risk averse. Consider this when writing headlines for your clips.
Questions you know about your audience is asking make for good hooks. Also, consider the “fold” on social so you can end on a cliffhanger. I.e., “It depends.” On what exactly?

I highly recommend posting to a personal profile to test video content. You’ll get far better reach. The catch: this is only helpful if the bulk of your connections match the audience you’re targeting. Both of the above videos performed well relative to our other posts.

6. Promote top video clips to paid ads

Once you’ve taken the time to test your webinar clips in organic spaces where your audience hangs out, assess the reactions and comments.

  • Are you getting more engagement than you typically get on your other video content?
  • Is your target audience engaging?
  • Are they asking questions?
  • Are they tagging people from their team?

All of the above are good signs you’re onto something. Promoting to paid is how you’ll know for sure.

Of course, this part gets complicated as you not only need to know who you’re talking to (a given), but how to creatively target them on paid social given data limitations.

For instance, you won’t be able to target by title as well on Facebook as you can on LinkedIn. Our paid team used Metadata to track down our target audience on hard-to-reach channels.

The paid team would then A/B test two or three headlines per clip and two or three clips at a time. After a few days, they’d cut the low performers and double-down on what was working. That process is basically good marketing in a nutshell — test small and focus on what works.

Here are a few repurposed webinar clips that have been catching my attention on Instagram lately. Props to Active Campaign and AdWorld for earning my eyeballs (and now my praise).

Sometimes your guest is Seth Godin and he sells himself. But the fire engine red doesn’t hurt either.
I’ve found video to work better than audiograms, but this one’s done well and the bright, bold blue certainly caught my attention. Also, the headline plays to a universal fear — messing up.

The results

Every MarketerLive guest had at least two great clips and each campaign (guest) generated a few hundred qualified leads for MarketerHire. And by qualified leads, I mean people who clicked on the “hire expert marketer” CTA and filled out a 10-question form. That indicates a much higher intent than the webinar attendees B2B marketers are currently classifying as leads in the CRM. Just saying.

On average, webinar ads had a 25% higher click-through rate compared to non-webinar ads. However, they converted about 25% worse. At least, based on what we could track within the platforms.

The iOS14 update kicked in during this time, so we could only track conversions from ads for seven days. That means if you didn’t convert on the platform within that window, there was no perfect way to know if they converted from the ads later. Or, if they found out about us from the ad but visited the site via Google.

Still, if you know your audience and the message you want to tell, content consumption should be a core focus. I’ve found webinar repurposing to be a great way to engage your audience on both organic and social. If you have a solid product that aligns with the content you’re sharing, the conversions should come. You just won’t be able to attribute everyone.

Now what?

Now you launch your own webinar, er, live event and repurpose it into engaging social clips and ads. You’ll do this to drive the right people to real conversions. As Metadata says, “generate revenue, not just leads.”

If you want more tactical content marketing tips, I host a podcast called Content Logistics where I interview the marketers behind the best content flywheels. It publishes on Spotify and Apple biweekly, is 100% free, and I’m told it’s best consumed while walking your dog.

Now go forth and create.

Meet Camille Trent

Head of Content, Dooly

Camille Trent started her career as an agency copywriter and found her home in early-stage B2B SaaS. When she’s not working on content strategies, she’s hanging out with her two favorite redheads or coaching the Portland Trail Blazers (unsuccessfully) from her couch.

You can connect with Camille on LinkedIn here.

Metadata Selected Second Year in a Row for Inc. 5000 List, With 3-Year Revenue Growth of 420%

Metadata named one of the fastest-growing private companies in America, changing the way B2B marketers think about demand generation

SAN FRANCISCO (AUG. 19, 2021) — Metadata.io, the first demand generation platform for B2B marketers who want to get closer to revenue, has been named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States, ranking 1159 on the Inc. 5000 list.

This is the second consecutive year that Metadata, which has had a three-year revenue increase of  420%, has made the Inc. 5000.

The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses.

This achievement puts Metadata among an elite group, sharing a pedigree with Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Jamba Juice, Timberland, Clif Bar, Pandora, Patagonia, Oracle and other notable companies that have made the Inc. 5000.

“We are incredibly proud of the customer-first culture we have to create not only a product that marketers desire, but an entirely new category in a market that is sometimes confusing,” said Gil Allouche, CEO of Metadata.

“This recognition is a testament to the fact that autonomous demand generation is working for our customers. Our customers’ success fuels our continued growth, and that is the ultimate validation that our work is disrupting the status quo for B2B marketers.”

B2B marketers use Metadata to run paid campaign experiments at scale. Metadata’s demand generation platform automates how campaigns are launched, finds the best performing experiments, and self-optimizes based on what drives pipeline and revenue.

With Metadata, revenue marketers from customers such as Slack, G2, Zoom and Juniper Networks have experienced as much as a 4.5X ROI in as little as 90 days using Metadata. 

Metadata’s rapidly growing customer base continues to praise the technology for helping B2B marketers achieve results beyond the scale they previously thought was possible. On average, Metadata customers achieved positive ROI within just seven months compared to 17 months from competing platforms.

Not only have the companies on the 2021 Inc. 5000 been very competitive within their markets, but this year’s list also proved especially resilient and flexible given 2020’s unprecedented challenges. Among the 5,000 listed, the average median three-year growth rate soared to 543 percent, and median revenue reached $11.1 million. Together, those companies added more than 610,000 jobs over the past three years. 

“The 2021 Inc. 5000 list feels like one of the most important rosters of companies ever compiled,” said Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief of Inc. “Building one of the fastest-growing companies in America in any year is a remarkable achievement. Building one in the crisis we’ve lived through is just plain amazing. This kind of accomplishment comes with hard work, smart pivots, great leadership and the help of a whole lot of people.”

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000. The top 500 companies are featured in the September issue of Inc., which will be available on newsstands Aug. 20.

The annual Inc. 5000 event honoring the companies on the list will be held at the annual Inc. 5000 Vision Conference on Oct. 19-20. As always, speakers will include some of the greatest innovators and business leaders of our generation. 

More about Inc. and the Inc. 5000

Methodology

Companies on the 2021 Inc. 5000 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2017 to 2020. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2017. They must be U.S.-based, privately held, for-profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2020. (Since then, some on the list may have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2017 is $100,000; the minimum for 2020 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Growth rates used to determine company rankings were calculated to three decimal places. There was one tie on this year’s Inc. 5000.  Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at http://www.inc.com/inc5000.

About Inc. Media

The world’s most trusted business-media brand, Inc. offers entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, connections, and community to build great companies. Its award-winning multiplatform content reaches more than 50 million people each month across a variety of channels including web sites, newsletters, social media, podcasts, and print. Its prestigious Inc. 5000 list, produced every year since 1982, analyzes company data to recognize the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States. The global recognition that comes with inclusion in the 5000 gives the founders of the best businesses an opportunity to engage with an exclusive community of their peers, and the credibility that helps them drive sales and recruit talent. The associated Inc. 5000 Vision Conference is part of a highly acclaimed portfolio of bespoke events produced by Inc. For more information, visit www.inc.com.

For more information on the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference, visit http://conference.inc.com/

How To Find Your Perfect B2B Facebook Target Audience

Let’s be honest—finding your perfect B2B Facebook target audience kind of sucks. Okay, not just kind of. It’s about as fun as cleaning your kid’s car seat. Or scooping a yard full of dog poop.

Working in the Facebook platform natively, you have very limited options for finding and targeting B2B buyers.

You might even wonder if it’s worth it for your company to use Facebook advertising. The short answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes.’ There are an astounding 2.89 BILLION people on the platform. Your buyers are definitely among them, and with a little creative targeting, you can find them.

Here’s what you need to know about the challenges of finding and building the perfect Facebook audience for your B2B company. We’ll cover tips for working natively in the platform—as well as some options for if you’re lucky enough to have some additional resources.

What you need to know about building B2B audiences on Facebook

The reason targeting B2B audiences on Facebook is such a pain in the @$$ comes down to the ways in which Facebook allows you to build these audiences. Facebook allows you to target in four ways:

  • Demographics. Age ranges, gender, geography, yadda yadda.
  • Interests. The stuff Facebook deduces each person is interested in based on their online behavior—like running, or Disney, or marketing.
  • Behaviors. Actions Facebook users take, such as clicking your ad or downloading your content or visiting your website.
  • Your lists and lookalikes. You can upload your lists to Facebook, and Facebook will do their best to find these people, as well as others like them.

 

What’s notably missing here are most of the variables B2B marketers use for effective ad targeting:

  • Job function
  • Company
  • Industry
  • Revenue
  • Employee count

 

Ouch. This is a huge pain point for reaching B2B audiences on Facebook.

Facebook does allow you to target by job title, but the platform offers a limited set of options. Plus, when was the last time you updated your job title on Facebook? Maybe around the same time you ordered your last studded belt or Ed Hardy t-shirt. This data point is dubious at best.

You can also choose industries and companies that the audience is interested in. But who cares that the person viewing your ad is interested in the healthcare or technology industries? What you need to know is whether these folks have been able to achieve gainful employment in these fields.

As Adam Goyette, VP of Marketing at Help Scout explains, “Using Facebook’s demographics, the closest I can get to targeting people in B2B SaaS is ‘Business & Financial Operations.’”

There are even targeting complications when it comes to uploading your own lists. Working natively in Facebook, you can’t upload target account lists (TAL) consisting of company names and domains. The platform only allows contact lists of individuals’ names and email addresses. No bueno when it comes to B2B and ABM.

Without these options available in Facebook ad targeting, finding your B2B audience is tricky at best. And the leads you do generate will probably suck a little, too.

How to find your B2B target audience natively in Facebook

We’ve painted a pretty bleak picture, but not all hope is lost, young grasshopper.

So, how DO you get your ads in front of the right Facebook target audience? You have a few options for finding an audience that delivers the results you’re looking for (leads, signups, content downloads, new best friends…).

If you’re set on targeting natively in Facebook, there are a few things you’ll have to get good at.

1. Use first-party data to find your Facebook target audience

In case you’ve totally been living under a rock, first-party data refers to data your business collects directly from your customers. These data points are called identifiers and include things like name, email address, phone number, etc.

You can feed this information into Facebook to build a custom audience. Facebook takes your identifiers and matches them to user profiles to find the people in your target audience. Since these people are your customers already, you know they’re the kind of people that buy your product.

Then, you can ask Facebook to find more profiles like these people via a lookalike audience. And Facebook can probably do a better job than you can at figuring out the trackable similarities between these people.

The better quality first-party data you put in, the better your results are likely to be. So, get collecting.

Caveats on lookalikes:

  • Keep the lookalike audience at no more than 1-2% of your total audience. Anything more and Facebook will start pulling in people that probably aren’t very relevant to meet the required audience size.
  • Make sure you’re reviewing the leads coming through from lookalikes. If you have a small total addressable market (TAM) and a very specific ICP, lookalike audiences may not work too well.

2. Retarget engaged prospects on Facebook

Who else do you know is likely to be jonesing for your wares? The peeps that have engaged with your company already. Maybe they’ve visited your website and downloaded some of that sweet, sweet content you’ve been sweating over.

Your goal is to get them to come back and enjoy more. You can track this behavior on your own website with the Facebook pixel—then build a Facebook target audience specifically made up of these people.

As Facebook explains:

“When someone visits your website and takes an action (for example, buying something), the Facebook pixel is triggered and reports this action. This way, you’ll know when a customer took an action after seeing your Facebook ad. You’ll also be able to reach this customer again by using a custom audience. When more and more conversions happen on your website, Facebook gets better at delivering your ads to people who are more likely to take certain actions.”

Don’t forget to personalize this retargeting to people based on what they’ve already engaged with. Keep it relevant, friends.

3. Use exclusions to keep out the wrong people

Most of us are pretty fixated on targeting the right people. But it’s equally important to keep the wrong people out of your target audience. When your impression pool is full of fluff, there’s a higher potential for overspending—which means higher customer acquisition costs (CAC) and lower ROI.

This means you’ve got to get good at using Facebook’s exclusions.

Running a demo campaign? Exclude anyone that’s already signed up for a demo. The same goes for things like webinar and event registrations.

Got a special offer for new customers? Make sure your existing customers don’t see it and get miffed. Lot’s of companies don’t—which is just insane.

A good rule of thumb when you’re creating your B2B target audience is to always exclude:

  • All paid customers
  • Any contacts marked ‘bad fit’ or poor ICP

Pro tip: Create a 1% lookalike of your worst customers/leads—and exclude them from your targeting.

4. Target only high-value leads

Our friend Adam over at Help Scout explains it this way:

“Facebook automatically optimizes ads for ‘website conversions,’ but I would much rather have it optimized for the highest quality, which means the likelihood to convert into a sale.”

Adam reviews the deets in his post on lowering your Facebook CPL, but the TL;DR is that you need a good lead scoring model. He uses Madkudu, but there are plenty of other options out there. The model looks at thousands of your data points and figures out the most common traits in people that converted into a paying customer—and those leads that went nowhere. Then it tells Facebook exactly what kind of target audience to build based on this information.

How to find a better B2B audience on Facebook

If you’re totally sold on Facebook ads (but tired of crappy B2B targeting), it ironically might be time to forget working natively in the platform. There are a variety of tools you can invest in to access the granular, B2B-specific data points and targeting options you need to build the perfect Facebook target audience—like accurate job title, job function, company, industry, etc.

For example, with the right tools, you can layer in information like G2 and Bombora intent data, target dynamic Salesforce audiences, upload and target account lists (versus only contact lists)—and generally get access to all of the firmographic targeting options that give you the warm fuzzies.

With Metadata, we’ve found that combining these various data sources and B2B targeting options allows you to increase your Facebook audience match rates up to 9X (but you can also explore options like Lusha, Clearbit and Versium).

And when it comes down to it, more audience accuracy means more moolah.

As our own Jason Widup likes to say, “A mediocre ad targeted to the right audience will typically outperform a stellar ad targeted to the wrong audience.”

We’re diving deep on Facebook, so keep your eyes peeled for our next post on Facebook ROI.

How To Create a Memorable Brand and Grow Revenue With Your Content Strategy

This is the eighth post in our new content series, No Fluffs Given. We’re tired of the fluffy content in our LinkedIn feeds, with no real substance or actionable takeaways. So we’re teaming up with some of the best B2B marketers we know. People who have ACTUALLY done this stuff before. And giving you new, actionable tactics to implement today.

Marketers aren’t just competing with other vendors’ products – they’re competing for their buyers’ attention

And in the attention economy, content isn’t just king. It’s currency. 

When done correctly, you can create a memorable brand that your audience loves and generate revenue that fuels company growth.

But the truth is that most marketing teams have solid content marketing. They don’t have a great content strategy.

As a result, their content efforts are disjointed and ineffective. This prevents them from building a brand that separates them from the sea of sameness, one that creates loyal followers. 

Having an effective content strategy is a superpower for marketing teams. 

It can put you in the forefront of your buyer’s mind… and keep you there. 

It can build brand loyalty than fends off competitors, and keeps clients coming back for more. 

And it can become a heavy contributor to your qualified pipeline gen.

I will walk you through how to create a cohesive and effective content strategy by breaking down how we created one at Gong. 

But first… the fundamentals.

The anatomy of a cohesive content strategy 

There are three core pillars in an effective, cohesive, and memorable brand strategy:

  1. Clear, unique point of view (POV) 
  2. Clear target audience
  3. Defined brand tone

These critical elements are your baseline before choosing your topics, media, or distribution channels or putting anything out into the world. 

Let’s look at each one:

Clear, unique point of view (POV)

Your POV is how you see the world and envision what it could be. 

In terms of marketing, this is typically tied to the problem your company solves. Your POV is that a given problem exists, and you have the right perspective (and product) to solve it. 

Most importantly, your perspective has to be unique. Being different is the key to being memorable.

Gong’s POV is that sales leaders don’t have full visibility into their business. But with revenue intelligence, our category, they can make business decisions based on reality instead of perception or gut feelings. As we say internally, it’s “opinions vs. reality.”

That’s why the core of our content strategy is sales research. 

Because for a long time, the sales content landscape was exclusively made up of individuals sharing “best practices” that are actually based solely on their individual experience. 

By introducing real sales research – using our proprietary database to analyze millions of sales interactions – we provided something our audience had never seen before. And equally importantly, this approach aligned with our POV, which is that we value data over opinions. 

Your content strategy must be an extension of our company’s mission. That’s cohesion. 

Clear target audience 

To build a brand, you have to know who you want to attract. That means having a clearly defined target audience. This might seem obvious, but that doesn’t prevent some people from skipping it or thinking it’s clearer than it is.

It’s most effective to pick ONE specific audience and win them over.

Gong’s audience started as B2B sales professionals in the software/internet vertical, and our buyer is a VP Sales. 

We created top-down and bottom-up content because (1) there are significantly more sales reps than leaders, and (2) reps have a heavy influence on the tech stack that their leadership team decides to purchase. We knew we needed to win over both for long-term brand building. 

We started with Sales as our core audience, then attracted other revenue personas as our content strategy matured and grew.

And speaking of brand… ours is unique. Here’s how we keep it cohesive (there’s that word again).

Defined brand tone

Your brand tone is how you present yourself to the world. It’s a way of speaking that becomes familiar to your audience. It helps to tie all your content outlets together. So how do you define your brand’s tone? You get clear on who you are as a company. 

Our tone choice is very specific. We aim to be a reflection of exactly who salespeople are today: casual, humorous (but not silly), professional conversationalists. We knew this would stand out from other brands in the sales technology space. We chose that path on purpose because, as our CMO, Udi Ledergor says, “different is better than better.”

Choose a brand that suits your company’s mission and personality.

And remember, while most marketers think of content as either brand or demand gen, you can design your content strategy to do both. Be intentional and strategic about how you execute your content to ensure that it stays on brand while hitting your demand gen targets. 

Those are the basics.

Now let’s break down the layers of our content strategy at Gong — the what, why, and how of it — so you can apply these strategies and tactics to your own content engine. 

Phase 1: Build a brand

This slide haunts me:

That’s the number of companies selling to marketers. 

And even if you think, “Yea, but I’m only targeting PR professionals.”

Cool. Still, 30+ companies are fighting you for your buyer’s budget and attention.

Without a standout brand, you become “just another vendor.” And that means you need to find a way to break out of the mold. 

As a marketer, you differentiate yourself by creating a brand, not necessarily by having the best product (though yours may, in fact, be top-shelf). Part of differentiating yourself is building an audience. 

That’s partly because the buzz is worth more than thousands in advertising budget. But more importantly, everything’s easier once you have an audience. Getting people to come to your events, asking them to swap their email address for content, or subscribe to your podcast; all easier once you’ve earned their trust. 

Great content has a gravitational pull. It brings the right people toward you. It also pulls like-minded people together around you. And by default puts you in the center of attention and conversation. That’s how you dominate a market and box out competitors. 

The more people you pull into your brand’s sphere, the more gravitational pull you create, and the easier and easier it becomes to grow your reach. Soon followers become loyal fans, and those fans turn into paying clients.

How we did it at Gong

Our decision to build a powerhouse of an audience early on was intentional. 

Gong Labs, our data-backed research blog that uses proprietary data, was our first content initiative. It was specifically created to counter sales content that was all about one person’s experience/perspective. 

By sharing data-backed insights mixed with actionable tips, we grabbed attention and helped sellers become more effective in their roles. 

We chose to publish new articles on LinkedIn first, before the website, because we knew that was where sales pros spent their time. 

And we weren’t interested in providing the same, played-out content. We took a bold stance and backed it up by data. And our audience loved it:

One of our most popular posts analyzed thousands of sales deals to uncover how cursing affects win rates.

That sales research blog series, mixed with a consistent flow of brand content on our company’s LinkedIn page, fueled our growth from 12k to 85k+ followers in 24 months.

We specifically add “Follow Gong on CTA” across our site and content strategy to fuel our social presence.

It’s worth mentioning that we did some demand gen campaigns, from gated upgrade assets in blogs to webinars, but our primary goal was brand building. 

Performance marketing became the new strategic goal once we had brand momentum and a scaling sales team to support it.

Phase 2: Scale demand gen

No one needs to be sold on the value of creating pipeline. It keeps companies alive. But few content marketing teams know how to do it effectively. 

Content marketing can generate millions in qualified pipeline and thousands in revenue. It can warm qualified buyers until they come inbound, ready to buy, and create brand awareness that makes your outbound sales motion easier. 

The problem is that most marketing teams skip brand building and go straight to demand gen. When it comes to their campaigns, they assume “if we build it, they will come.” 

But motivating sophisticated buyers to swap their email addresses for a gated e-book is a lot harder when they’ve never heard of your company. That’s because there’s an information transaction, and every transaction requires trust. 

To buyers, an unknown brand is a stranger. And we don’t trust strangers, especially with our personal information and the unspoken agreement that I’m likely signing up for a call from an SDR. 

This results in high costs per lead, low conversion rates, and frustrated CMOs. 

But if they’re familiar with you, like you, and trust you, downloading your content becomes a no-brainer – and they’ll share with their peers. That’s how you rapidly scale your pipeline: by turning your followers into prospects and prospects into paying clients.

How we did it at Gong

At Gong, building a loyal audience meant a large LinkedIn following and an engaged email list. 

We accomplished both, and in the process, had learned that our audience LOVED data-backed insights. 

Now we needed to scale those channels to feed our rapidly growing sales teams.  

We chose to host a webinar every ~8 weeks, along with a more frequent cadence of email campaigns.

This webinar drew over 2k registrants because we focused on “different” and sparking curiosity.

We chose those routes because they were the perfect way to differentiate ourselves through sales research. 

Later, we used our brand and our growing following to launch a new category.

Phase 3: Category creation

Category creation is a long-term strategic goal where a company builds and leads a new market. 

It’s tough to do, takes a long time, and is really hard to measure until you end up in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. 

But if you pull it off (and fortunately, we did at Gong), it’s a marketing influence on steroids. Because instead of trying to play and win in someone else’s game by joining their category, you build a brand new one while positioning yourself as its ruler. 

(If you want in-depth info on creating a category, check out Play Bigger. It’s my favorite book on the topic and a great read.)

Building a category requires a content strategy that educates people on the problem you solve and how you solve it. 

Fail at this, and you’ll build a throne only to watch your competitor snatch the crown away before you take a seat. 

One of the most effective ways to do this is to create a content channel that interacts with your ecosystem: the buyers, thought leaders, and partners that make up your market. 

How we did it at Gong

Part of launching a category means launching new content to support it. 

At Gong, our big move was our first industry event, #celebrate: The Revenue Intelligence Summit. It served as a lightning-strike event in 2019, where we announced the launch of the Revenue Intelligence category. The event was a celebration of revenue professionals (our target audience), and was full of thought leadership and entertainment that wowed prospects and validated clients.  

Since the pandemic, this annual in-person event has become a quarterly digital event that continues to build our brand, generate pipeline, and evangelize Revenue Intelligence and our leadership position in it. 

#celebrate has become the core of our events strategy, drawing over 6k registrants.

From a content perspective, we wanted to launch an evangelical program that resonated with senior sales executives. 

(That’s a fancy way to say we wanted our ideal buyers to know about our category.) 

As always, we started with our audience: What did they like? What did they hate? And where/how do they already consume content?

Our research surfaced a few key things:

  1. They almost never subscribe to marketing lists
  2. They often consume content on the go and in short chunks
  3. They want to learn actionable thought leadership from their peers

The outcome?

An interview-style podcast where we talk to the world’s most successful revenue executives. The goal is to provide helpful content that drives awareness and publish conversations around revenue intelligence with high-caliber leaders.

Focusing on actionable thought leadership content led to 100k downloads in <18 months.

We even used the sessions and side interviews from #celebrate to create the first few episodes. 

18 months later, we crossed 100K downloads and landed a $140k+ deal by converting an interviewee into a client.

This is how we evolved our content strategy to include our big category moves. While our other content also reflects our company’s POV, this is the only content that exclusively focuses on our buyer persona and Revenue Intelligence.

Advice for getting started…

When building your content strategy, start with ONE specific goal. The best way to do that is to align your content strategy with the strategic goals your CEO presents to kick off the year. It might be generating revenue in a new vertical or becoming the go-to thought leader in a new space.

That’s what makes content strategy so fun and valuable – there’s no single way to do it “right.” So long as you’re intentional and consistent, you’ll be in good shape. By picking and accomplishing one goal at a time, you’ll position yourself to add a new layer, and that’s how you build a world-class content engine.

If you want more strategy and tactics on creating content that breaks through the noise, join my newsletter, the Content Strategy Reeder. It’s delivered on Saturdays, completely free, and takes less than 5 minutes to read. 

Meet Devin Reed

Head of Content Strategy, Gong

Devin Reed is a SaaS sales professional turned marketer. He was the second sales hire at Gong in 2017 and is now the Head of Content Strategy, where he’s responsible for sales research, content marketing, social media. He’s also an advisor to B2B marketing teams, helping with brand building and content strategy. 

Connect with Devin on LinkedIn here.  

How To Launch Software Products Part II

If you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve done it: You’ve knocked out part 1 of How to Launch Software Products, and are ready to actually, well, launch software products.

But in order to get into CLUB PRODUCT LAUNCH, this product marketing bouncer requires that you present government-issued identification of these three measurable outcomes:

  1. An engaged audience: They’ve been interacting with the foundational knowledge assets you’ve produced by opening your emails, answering your surveys, clicking your ads, and downloading your content.
  2. A smart audience: They’ve read, shared, and commented on the foundational knowledge content you’ve been producing across all mediums.
  3. A hungry audience: They’ve been identifying challenges they didn’t previously know they had from the content you’ve shared, and are starting to swarm the hive for new solutions by showing higher intent scores and interacting with your sales team.

Proper ID admits you one entry into CLUB LAUNCH.

I also accept discretely slipped $100 bills.

But now that you’re in, there’s one housekeeping pro tip I want to share with you before we really get this party started: CUT THE GUESTLIST NOW.

Unless you’re working with an unlimited budget and timeline (in which case, btw, I hate you), NOW is the time to parse down that account list.

By running a few high-level reports, you should be able to pull out key engagement trends from stage 1 (foundational knowledge).

  • Which accounts aren’t engaged?
  • Are there certain verticals, or spaces, or regions who didn’t take the foundational knowledge bait?
  • Are there any other trends you’ve noticed that probably won’t yield the ROI you’re looking for from this campaign?

Scrub those accounts from your target lists NOW, and don’t look back. Because either they DGAF or they ain’t ready.

Either way, keeping those accounts around for stage 2 is only going to get you a pair of bad, bad things:

Mad unsubscribed

Before this campaign, they were probably neutral with your brand.

You keep hittin ‘em with stuff they don’t want? You’re gonna end up with a fat list of permanent suppressions.

And you don’t want to be on the hook for a whole bunch of people who have new beef with your brand.

Compromised KPIs

If they didn’t click before, what makes you think they’re going to click now?

The whole point of stage 1 was to level up and even out the knowledge base of your audience.

If they aren’t meeting you at the starting line for this launch, at this point they’ll never catch up, and your ad spend and email sends are going to reflect much lower open, click, and conversion rates as a result.

But let’s not drag this out any further: in the words of the great Product Marketing legend Hannah Horvath, it’s launch day baby, and I’m ALIVE.

Cause it’s LAUNCH DAY baby, and I’m alive.

Now that we’ve prepared our audience for what’s to come, it’s time to present all the new information you’ve probably just been jumping right into from the start with your previous launches (that’s not a jab, btw, because same).

In this stage, we’re answering the BIG questions, including:

  1. What new product, feature, update, or solution does your company now offer that wasn’t available before?
  2. What about it is better? What about it is limiting?
  3. What about it is like other solutions? What sets it completely apart from the rest?
  4. What challenges does it solve? What about this will make your buyer better at their job?
  5. What technology does it integrate with?

This is the stage in which we product marketers thrive because it’s time to do what we do best: storytelling.

There’s a reason the LOST season finale had to be 2.5 hours long.

But storytellers be warned: throw all those answers at them at once, and I don’t care how sick this launch is, your own launch will cannibalize itself.

Your audience can only take so much new information before experiencing total launch fatigue.

If Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse tried to answer the crash, the 4-toed statue, and the man in black all in under 45 minutes, we’d have all walked away thinking they were in purgatory the whole time, and nothing else we studied, rewatched, zoomed in on or researched for the past 7 years of our lives even mattered.

…OR DID IT. Maybe that was a bad example.

But regardless of where you found yourself emotionally on the evening of May 23rd, 2010 (#livetogetherdiealone), how you tell your product launch story should be a slow, steady, building stream of new information that unfolds over time — like a beautifully executed novel.

We’ve already introduced context and key players (in stage 1: foundational knowledge); now it’s time to develop those characters, call out their challenges, and slow-burn their arcs. We’ll do that by breaking the launch stage into 3 key phases:

  1. ANNOUNCE
  2. EXPAND
  3. EXPERIENCE

The Announcement phase

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, folks: YOU CAN’T MESS THIS ONE UP.

Product Marketers wear a helluva lot of hats, and we are responsible to make sure a boatload of stuff goes right throughout the planning and execution of an entire launch campaign, but nothing is more critical than the execution of your core product launch announcement.

If you lose sleep at all, this is the night to do it. And if you pick one day out of the year to NOT BE ON VACATION, this would be the day.

Because if we’re sitting down for a product launch dinner, this is the steak. It needs to come out perfectly hot, medium rare, delicately marbled, and lightly seasoned. No distractions, just meat.

(steak break)

I don’t doubt you for one second that this product launch is nuanced, layered, and solves myriad challenges for myriad personas. I know it does because as product marketers it’s our job to make sure of it.

But do not make the mistake of trying to tell that story all at once.

“You can’t be everything to everybody at the same time.” – Dr. Alice Nixon, My Therapist

Narrow your focus on your biggest, juiciest value: If you had to choose to fill in the blanks below with just ONE WORD, what would those words be?

Today we are announcing the launch of (core product/feature/update). This (product/feature/update) helps (core persona it impacts) do (core challenge it solves) better.

NO “AND”s ALLOWED. YOU HATE ME. I know.

Your messaging house clearly articulates 3-5 personas this product impacts, and 3-5 corresponding challenges it solves, and 3-5 really incredible outcomes those personas with those challenges can expect.

But today, I wanna talk about THE BIG STUFF.

The sides are coming. The dessert is on the way. Today, let them bite into that steak and focus on the core quality of what they’re about to enjoy. And if you do this phase right, it’ll make them want even MORE.

Here are a few ways to up the effectiveness of your core product announcement:

Simplify your message

Drop the truffle butter. Drop the au ju. And for the love of all that is holy and good in this world, drop the buzzwords.

You’ve got to NAIL this messaging, and get right to telling your audience, in as few words as possible, what the hell you are launching.

If you’ve got a copywriter in-house or at your disposal, this is the time to hop on a call and go through this announcement frame-by-frame.

Pro tip: Read your announcement email and time it.

Make sure you get to the point in under 8 seconds, and that all your core messaging and designs are both complementary and mobile-friendly.

Nobody’s giving you the benefit of the scroll doubt on a marketing email, that’s a promise.

Diversify how you promote it

Repeat after me: “Just because I like to consume content on a certain platform, doesn’t mean everybody likes to consume content on that platform.”

It’s incredibly important to make sure you splash your singular, big, amazing announcement EVERYWHERE.

Don’t just think LinkedIn. Think Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, ClubHouse, TikTok — wherever your buyers are, you should be for this one.

Pro tip: Go way beyond organic social.

How about paid social, banner ads, email, direct mail (remember that?), SMS, billboards, tv commercials, streaming ads, messenger — Once you simplify your message, you want to get it in front of as many eyes, as many times as possible.

Repetition breeds awareness, and awareness sparks engagement.

You may be bored as hell with this announcement by now. But I promise your audience is not.

Make your CTA as clear as possible

Awareness sparks engagement — but only when you make it crystal clear how and why your audience should engage.

What’s the ask here?

Don’t you dare come to the table with a sick tag followed by an unclear CTA. Not only will your copywriter hate you, so will your audience — because ultimately, you got them hyped for zero payoff. It’s a lose-lose.

So whatever you do, once you’ve got that beautifully simple announcement copy, and a massively diverse channel launch plan, decide what the hell you’re asking them to do.

Pro tip: Make it easy for them, not you.

If you’re trying to capture demand for this announcement, sure, a form fill might have to be your best bet to collect that critical contact info.

But don’t you dare send that same form via email — you emailed them. You already have all the contact info you’re trying to collect via that form. And your recipients will resent the hell out of you for asking for it again.

Take them straight to the purchase, to book a meeting, to your product — whatever it is, don’t make your audience do extra work so you don’t have to.

Every channel requires a different CTA because every channel starts with different information about your audience. Think through this customer experience map and be deliberate with each CTA.

The Expansion phase

Alright, my product marketing babies.

I know that was tough to narrow down your message to one core benefit for one core group, but now it’s time to get saucy: because HERE COME THE SIDES.

When I told you to make them want more, this is where the more comes in.

And any well-coursed meal doesn’t just throw any old food next to that steak — NO. These sides are perfectly paired to balance out and bring forward the natural flavor of the main course.

In this phase, we’re going to get into the ancillary benefits this core product launch also offers. Now’s the time to address the additional personas, challenges, and solutions I made you hold off on in phase 1.

Here are a couple of tips for introducing all the extras to your audience:

Create channel consistency

No need to reinvent the wheel here: stick to the same channel strategy playbook you created for your core product launch.

Buyers like consistency, and seeing what they expect come to fruition. Your buyers frequent the same few channels and expect to engage with your marketing on those same few channels, consistently.

So if part of your core launch was banner ads, think retargeting. If part of your strategy was email, think trigger campaigns based on previous opens and clicks. Or if you relied heavily on digital events and webinars, think bite-size videos on social.

If the place I usually engage with your company is in my inbox, and I don’t get an email about a product launch, I’m probably not even going to know it happened.

And even if I happen across your message somewhere else, at best I’ll assume it wasn’t too important because I didn’t hear about it in “the usual” place.

Mix up your messaging

If your core product announcement was one full week of the same tag and message across all assets and channels, now’s the time to unveil your secondary and tertiary messaging to hammer home the breadth of this solution. Use every day of this week to introduce a new benefit.

Remember the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign from the 90s? (Gen Z has left the chat).

I expected to see those magazine ads, full-bleed, in every magazine I subscribed to, with their core product tag, “got milk?” splashed across the page.

I knew all that was coming, and it felt like I was, somehow, IN on the whole thing.

That channel consistency bred brand loyalty. But the variable that this then-middle-schooler was foaming at the mouth for each month was who was going to be the next celebrity donning that iconic milk mustache, and what was their milk story that came along with it?

By piggybacking the variability of their additional messaging on top of the consistency of their core tag and channel strategy, Milk was able to capture my attention through loyalty, while simultaneously expanding upon their core product message in bite-size chunks with a new celebrity milk message.

Remind me never to say bite-size chunks again when talking about milk.

The Experience phase

But alas, the time has come in this campaign that every good Jerry Maguire fan waits for.

This is the part where you stop educating people about your product, you stop hyping your product, you stop writing memos mission statements about your product, and you get to the damn point.

In the words of fictional Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rod Tiddwell, “Show me the money.”

Because at some point, no matter how engaging and air-tight your copy and promotional strategy is, your audience will expect to see how this thing works.

If your educational content was effective, your buyers were ready to hear about your new product. If your product launch was effective, they are now ready and wanting to see the damn thing.

But if you don’t have a plan for layering a seamless, gorgeous, meet-them-where-they-already-are user experience waiting on the other end of that form fill, not only will your promotional strategy be for naught, you’ll lose credibility with your most captive audience — and your sales org — in one fell swoop.

And if you’re anything like me, you care way too much about what people think about you to handle that level of widespread disappointment. So to avoid being public product marketing enemy #1, be sure in this stage you are able to answer:

  • Does this product integrate?
  • How do buyers use this product?
  • What resources do they need to support the implementation and use of this product?
  • What is the experience like using this product?

By the end of this stage, you’ll want your buyers to not only feel like they understand and want your product but that they’re equipped to implement it, too.

So let’s build a plan for delivering a product experience your buyers — and your sales org — can sink their teeth into:

No live demos

By this stage, your sales team has no doubt a lot of qualified leads in their pipe asking for a demo.

YOU DID IT! You won! Except for two problems:

  1. We sell technology
  2. Technology has a funny way of not working only when it’s absolutely critical it actually does

And a friendly reminder:

It’s #productlaunchszn and there’s a good chance (unless you built out a long beta with internal user testing and training) that most of your sales org hasn’t had enough time to really get comfy using this product in a high-pressure situation yet.

Enable your Sales team

Want to knock this thing out of the park?

It’s going to require money and time, but the higher quality these enablement assets are the more effective and experiential they’ll be.

Create your team some high-fidelity technical assets including:

  • Pre-recorded videos, featuring several use-case-based “day in the life of” walk-throughs for sales to share with their buyers
  • A “safe” demo instance, jam-packed with prefilled dummy data, prebuilt workflows, and safe-guarded from big edits or foundational changes
  • A free trial for buyers to use on their own! As long as sales has provided them with the tools they need to try to use this thing, let them drive for a bit, and check-in after a week

On a budget and time crunch? These assets will get the job done, too:

  • Technical documentation that breaks down every, single, granular, detail with corresponding images
  • Infographics that articulate the workflows based on each use case
  • Hi-fi screenshots of the product — from setup to implementation to (if applicable) end-user experience
  • GIFs! Use a tool like CloudApp to bring that documentation to life by turning those screenshots into little mini-movies

Integrate as a part of launch

You have one chance to get a product launch RIGHT.

There will be no time (unless something goes horribly wrong, Elizabeth Holmes), that this large of an audience will be talking about and looking into buying your product all at once. Take this opportunity to make it easier than ever: integrate it!

Remember that whole, ‘you can’t be everything to everybody all the time’ advice from Alice?

Remember and focus on what you ARE good at: your core solutions. And seek help at what you AREN’T as good at: operationalizing your core solutions.

Not only will integrating your core product with your buyers’ existing tech stacks make it that much easier for them to consider buying from an implementation side, it’ll lend incredible credibility and trust to your brand and product.

So don’t be shy, ride those integration partner coattails and make implementing, accessing, and getting the most value out of your product as enjoyable and seamless as possible, right from the start.

And that, my friends, is how you launch a product.

“But wait,” said the product marketer.

“That’s it!? Where’s the thought leadership? Where’s the assessment? You started this whole series off talking about being a teacher — and when I was in school we didn’t just stop the metamorphosis unit after we saw that butterfly sneak out of the cocoon. There were tests! There were projects! I demand a recount!”

Ah yes, young grasshoppers, nothing gets past you.

Rest assured, there will be more to come in the final part of this series, where we’ll tackle how to flawlessly and comprehensively drive maximum adoption (arguably our most critical KPI) through tools and content that will turn your buyers not just into adopters, but super users (and connectors) of your business for years to come.

Meet Aubyn Casady

Principal Product Marketing Manager, G2

Aubyn Casady runs partner marketing in her role as Principal Product Marketing Manager for G2. She has spent her marketing career launching campaigns, products, and partnerships for some of Chicago’s top SaaS companies while moonlighting as a freelance content writer and product marketing consultant.

Outside of her full-and-a-half-time marketing responsibilities, Aubyn manages and sings every weekend with Chicago’s premium event band, Rush Street Rhythm.

Connect with Aubyn on LinkedIn here.  

Launching a Campaign? Avoid Expensive Mistakes With the DAB Framework

This is the seventh post in our new content series, No Fluffs Given. We’re tired of the fluffy content in our LinkedIn feeds, with no real substance or actionable takeaways. So we’re teaming up with some of the best B2B marketers we know. People who have ACTUALLY done this stuff before. And giving you new, actionable tactics to implement today.

Things that give me goosebumps:

  • “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel (Hello darkness, my old friend.)
  • When I’m half asleep in the middle of the night and my kid’s standing beside the bed staring at me 
  • Really cold weather (Duh.)
  • This cat:
  • That moment after a campaign goes live when someone says, “Uh, I think the form’s broken/I clicked the button, but I never received an email/I got a 404 error.

If you’re running a marketing campaign, you need flawless execution. Or else you’re flushing time and money down the toilet—while giving prospects a sloppy first impression. 

I’m gonna share a framework that will help you avoid expensive, sloppy mistakes. 

But first, I need you to understand something:

If something goes wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself

You’ve orchestrated the most brilliant marketing campaign on Earth. You’re sure it’s gonna make a big splash—like a grown man cannonballing into a pool. 

But campaigns have lots of moving parts and lots of room for error. If you don’t set clear expectations for everyone involved, you could find yourself in a pickle

Like the time I realized nobody set up the Pardot form handler (because I never said who was responsible for doing it). And we found out a few minutes before the campaign went live (because I never said who was responsible for testing the page). 

As we raced around in a panic to get everything fixed, I realized an important lesson: This wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I had created unnecessary stress for my team—and myself—by assuming people knew who was responsible for what.

From that day on, I stopped assuming and started dabbing. 

Introducing The DAB Framework

OK, so Migos might have popularized dabbing, but The DAB Framework was all me, baby. It consists of three steps: Discuss, Analyze, and Better.

DAB whenever you run a campaign to set clear expectations and minimize human error.

D is for Discuss

Imagine a long line of dominoes. Flick the first one, and the rest come tumbling down in sequential order. Remove a single domino, and you, my friend, are screwed. 

Likewise, a marketing campaign is a planned sequence of activities. Your job is to make sure each step happens when and how it’s supposed to. Success requires collective clarity.

Hold a kickoff before the work starts to discuss campaign goals, tasks, and timeline so that everyone’s on the same page. 

At the kickoff, talk through a campaign brief that includes the following:

  • The why: Marketing leaders struggle to align diverse teams around a shared goal—and it’s even harder when you have a remote or hybrid team. One way to get everyone fired up and moving in sync is tying their work to the business strategy. Kick off the debrief by explaining Who’s this for? and Why are we doing it?
  • Project board with timeline: At The Predictive Index, we use Asana. Within my Content Team Portfolio, I create a new project board for every cross-functional campaign. At the debrief, I talk through tasks, assignees, and due dates. I also ask people to raise concerns ahead of time. Like Hey, I’ll be on PTO next month. Can you move the due date back a week or assign the task to someone else?
This is the project board I used to manage the 2021 CEO Report campaign.
  • RACI chart: Here are a few things I never want my employees to say to me: “I quit,” “You have chia seeds in your teeth,” and “I don’t know who’s doing what.” Luckily, there’s an easy fix for that last one: a simple RACI chart. It outlines who’s responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed for each task or decision. 


Note: Most of the time, skill sets and job titles determine who does what—but consider behavioral drives, too. Each team has its own personality. If a workgroup is task-oriented (vs. people-oriented), it can be prone to conflict. You might add a people-oriented employee to that workgroup to improve team cohesion.

This is the RACI chart I used for that same campaign.
  • KPIs: You already set the stage for how the work contributes to the overarching business strategy. Now it’s time to share specific direct and indirect metrics you’ll be measuring to determine campaign success. Working toward shared KPIs also builds camaraderie and motivation. Woot!
  • Premortem: Back when I was playing with She-Ra and He-Man dolls, researchers found that you can increase your ability to predict future outcomes by 30% by imagining the event already happened. Henceforth, the project premortem was born. After you’ve briefed your team on the plan, ask: “Fast forward to the future and imagine that this campaign was a failure. What did we get wrong?” 


Note: We also do pre-parades. These are similar to premortems … but instead of imagining what went wrong, we imagine what went right. And we use the list to strengthen our plan. 

A is for Analyze

After the campaign is over, hold a post-mortem to analyze the campaign’s success … or failure. (In step three, you’ll use these learnings to strengthen future campaigns.)

First, pull your metrics, highlighting wins in green and losses in red. 

Next, get everyone who was part of the campaign in a room—or on the Zoom. Share the campaign results, then ask two questions: “What went right?” and “What went wrong?” 

Encourage them to think not only about channels and tactics but also teamwork and process. 

Let them know the exercise isn’t about placing blame on anyone. It’s to help you work better together.

Even if you hit your goals, there’s usually something that went wrong. Like an SME didn’t review the copy until the night before launch day then asked for revisions, causing the writer and designer to work into the wee hours of the morning. As the campaign leader, you have the power and the responsibility to stop that from happening next time. 

I try to be sensitive to the fact that people have different needs and preferences based on how they are behaviorally wired. While some employees are comfortable brainstorming out loud and sharing ideas on the fly, others break out in hives at the mere thought of it

That said, when I’m running a group activity—whether it’s a premortem, a postmortem, or anything else—I optimize for different behavioral styles. You can do the same. 

Give the group a heads up that everyone will be expected to share an idea at the meeting. This way, the people who like to prepare their thoughts in advance can. And everyone else can wing it. 

B is for Better

“Fool me one time, shame on you. Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you.” – J. Cole

I take the same approach when it comes to making mistakes at work. Drop the ball once, that’s OK … I’m gonna learn from it. But hell WILL freeze over before I drop the same ball twice. That’s because I use my failures to refine my processes. 

Process is errrrrrything. 

As a final step, better your campaign process by implementing post-mortem learnings.

It might be as simple as adding a new task to your project board template. 

Or you might find you need to rethink and refine an entire process. 

Here are a few examples of how I’ve bettered my process:

  • I knew I dropped the ball by forgetting to assign someone to set up the Pardot form handler. I fessed up to my mistake at a post-mortem then added a “set up form handler” task to my project board template so it wouldn’t happen again.
  • At a post-mortem, someone said, “We had new people doing things for the first time. People were unclear on how to move forward, and people had lots of questions.” Afterwards, I refined my campaign process by adding a new step: walking the group through the project board step-by-step before beginning work so they could ask questions up front. 

OK, imagine I’m yelling this next bit from the mountaintop … because that’s how important it is.

Make improvements right after the post-mortem. Like most things in life, if you save it for “later,” you might never get around to it. Bettering your process needs to be a priority. 

Setting clear expectations is an act of love

At a live show in 1966, Art Garfunkel told the crowd that “The Sound Of Silence” is about “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly intentionally, but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”

The inability to communicate clear expectations underpins many campaign failures. It also underpins many dysfunctional teams. 

When you don’t communicate clear expectations, you set your co-workers up to fail. 

When you do communicate clear expectations, you set them up to succeed. 

In that way, setting clear expectations is an act of love. 

If you love your team, set them up to succeed. 

Go the extra mile. Do the extra prep. 

I promise it’ll pay off.

Meet Erin Balsa

Marketing Director, The Predictive Index

Erin Balsa is a writer, editor, and content marketer. At The Predictive Index, she helped launch a new market category and create demand for a blue ocean product to secure a $50M Series A. She’s also written for leading B2B SaaS companies, including HubSpot, Drift, G2, and Greenhouse.

Connect with Erin on LinkedIn here.  

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy Metadata

Hey there.

If you’re reading this, you probably fit the Metadata audience. If we’re lucky, you might even fit our ICP. (If you don’t, we don’t hold it against you.) 

Instead of just selling you on all things Metadata, we want to take this space to give an honest (if not unbiased) breakdown of when it makes sense to buy Metadata—and when it doesn’t.

We honestly believe that most demand gen teams will see a major impact by using Metadata. But, if I’ve learned anything from BANT and living in Chicago, it’s that there’s a season to everything. 

Our goal for this guide is to let you accurately gauge whether you’re in the right season for Metadata. If you are, great—let’s talk. If you’re not, keep coming back here to talk shop

We’ll spare you the pitch slap.

1. You don’t spend (or aren’t planning to spend) $20k/month+ in paid social ads

Why is money talk always so uncomfortable? 

If you’re not spending at least $20k every month in paid social ads, Metadata might not be the right fit just yet. And, no, it’s not because we want you to spend more (our pricing isn’t based on a cut of your ad spend). 

It’s for two other, semi-related reasons:

First, we know that getting truly experimental with your social ads requires a good chunk of change so that you can get statistical significance (and maybe even get a little funky with it as you try new things out). 

The $20k mark isn’t arbitrary: we’ve found that our most innovative customers invest at least $50k to actually learn something (and then do something with what they’ve learned).

Based on our work with these customers, we recommend that you give every experiment at least 2x the spend of your target cost-per-Lead. 

In a phrase: higher spend matched with experimentation means you can improve your messaging, your targeting, and your ad creative.

Second, and a little more simply, we don’t want you to have to pay 40%+ of your total ad spend on our platform (pricing starts at $3,950/month). We’re marketers, too. We wouldn’t spend 40% of our ad budget on a platform, and we want what’s best for you. 

The Metadata price tag is well worth the outcome, but only if you have the ad spend to support experimentation.

2. You don’t have the time (or resources) to refresh your ad creative and content

You know how you always hear the same Ziprecruiter ad read on every podcast you listen to? 

Don’t do that to your audience with your campaigns either.

Letting your ad creative and content go stale will cost you, and you won’t get the results you’re looking for out of your paid campaigns.

Whether they’re in-house, from an agency, or just a really great freelancer, you need access to copywriters and designers who can help you consistently refresh your campaigns. 

Without the updates, you’ll exhaust your audience instead of educating and engaging them. 

To keep your campaigns fresh, we follow a three-part testing philosophy called the 3 As:

  1. Audiences. This is where we help our customers start testing, since targeting is the most important part of this three-part equation. We figure out which audiences are converting and which audiences aren’t by looking at our data sources and how you’re building your targeting. 
  2. Ads. Once we find which audiences are converting, you can start testing different ad variations. We recommend testing the ad concept (the design), variations on the concept (does this red background work better than that blue background?), and then the copy and CTA. Having a wide range of ad creatives at your disposal means you’ll be able to sustain a higher daily budget as you scale your experiments. 
  3. Assets. This is the actual content offer that you’re promoting in your ads. We exhaust testing out targeting and ad creatives first before recommending that you create new content—and you can repurpose your existing content so you don’t always have to come up with new content offers for campaigns.

3. You care more about lead quantity than quality

Say you want to get as many leads as you can with a bunch of different ads (or blasting your budget at the same ad creatives). 

We’re not here to tell you how to run your marketing, but we can tell you one thing: you don’t really need an ABM or demand gen platform for that approach. You can do it natively in the social ad platforms you’re using. 

Here’s why we believe in quality over quantity: when a customer first starts using Metadata, often their lead volume goes down and their CPL goes up. 

It freaks customers out. 

But, with time, they see that better targeting with Metadata means they’re generating much higher quality leads at a lower cost-per-MQL. Even if the cost-per-Lead is a little higher. (Don’t believe me? Check out our conversation with FiveTran.)

Higher quality leads for your sales team means more conversions to pipeline and revenue. 

It’s why one of our main metrics for assessing ROI with Metadata is looking at Lead-to-Opportunity and Lead-to-Customer conversion rates before and after implementing our platform. 

Long story, short: if you’re jamming your funnel with garbage that doesn’t convert, wouldn’t you want to pay more if you knew these leads would actually convert to pipeline and revenue?

4. You want to run 1:1 display ads

1:1 just isn’t our thing.

Yes, it’s highly requested. But we’ve never seen better performance from a 1:1 ad compared to a 1:few or 1:many campaign. 

(Most of the channels we work with don’t support 1:1 display ads anyway, for consumer privacy reasons.)

Since 1:1 campaigns are entirely customized, you can’t truly experiment to learn what can be applied to other accounts and campaigns.

Sure, you can use 1:1 ads and see good results—but the one-off approach clashes with our core experimental philosophy. 

There’s another upcoming complication: with the pending (and much reported) death of cookies, it’ll get even harder to measure the accounts you’ve personalized campaigns for. (Maybe you get impressions and clicks from 1:1 ads, but what revenue impact did that view or click have?) 

Our take in more concrete terms: the ROI rarely makes sense for building content, creative, messaging, and execution on a single account unless your deal sizes are 8+ figures or your TAM is <250 accounts. 

5. You’re looking for an all-in-one ABM solution

First: Metadata is not an all-in-one solution for ABM. Second: an all-in-one ABM solution doesn’t actually exist. 

It’s not that we don’t believe in ABM, exactly. It’s more that we think of ABM as a marketing approach, not a marketing technology. You shouldn’t be limited by what an ABM platform can or cannot do. Every marketer has different requirements, so to think that there’s an all-in-one platform that will do everything you need it to is borderline insane. 

Side note as an example: G2’s “ABM” category has a ton of subcategories for each tool, including targeting, advertising, tracking, gifting, and more. 

These are some of the elements ABM platforms tackle, to varying degrees of success:

  1. Account selection and prioritization. Figure out which accounts are a good fit based on historical CRM data, firmographic data, and intent data if it’s included in the platform. With your account lists created, these platforms often help you prioritize accounts. This is what we see as the biggest strength of ABM platforms. 
  2. Intent data. Some ABM platforms have their own, while others rely on third-party data pulled in for your subscription. You can also use standalone tools, like G2 or Bombora, to gather this intent data on your own (we don’t have intent data, but we integrate with both of these tools). We encourage marketers to test out different intent data sources, but you should know that having intent data doesn’t automatically mean you will see value from it. 
  3. Activation and advertising. This is where Metadata shines. ABM platforms typically focus on display ads with limited paid social capabilities, so activating intent data for your target audiences is a more manual approach. In contrast, Metadata helps you launch and automate ad campaigns based on intent data (and a whole lot of other data sources) so you don’t have to manually do all of this on your own. Other ABM platforms rarely offer experimentation, but with Metadata you can test what works and let the platform reallocate your budget for you. 
  4. Reporting. ABM platforms usually report on engagement, with the assumption that more engagement = more revenue. But account engagement doesn’t always have a direct line to revenue, so the best marketers are still looking for the answers that will help them build pipeline and close deals. 

You might have already gotten the sense that we don’t think of Metadata as an ABM platform (it’s not).

Instead, we look at the Metadata platform as an operating system for B2B marketers. 

Metadata sits in between, not on top of, what you have in place.

We connect your systems of record to your systems of action so you can get more use out of your existing technology and advertising channels.

6. You’re just looking for demo requests or trial signups

Everyone (including us) wants qualified hand-raisers.

If only it were that easy. 

Only about 1% of your target audience is actively looking to buy whatever you’re selling, so lighting up “Request a Demo” across all your (cold) audiences just isn’t going to work. 

Whether you believe in funnels or not, you need to be willing to educate your target audience on problems they may or may not be aware of. 

That stands in stark contrast to blasting them with ads about why your company or product is better than any of the alternatives in the market. 

More than 50 years ago, Eugene Schwartz tackled prospect awareness in his classic book Breakthrough Advertising. He breaks awareness down into five distinct phases:

  1. Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”
  2. Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for them.
  3. Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows the result they want, but not that your product provides it.
  4. Problem-Aware: Your prospect senses they have a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
  5. Completely Unaware: No knowledge of anything except, perhaps, their own identity or opinion.

We typically use the three middle stages when we get prospects and customers up to speed with a winning approach to demand gen and account-based marketing. 

Only by moving from problem to solution, and then from solution to product, can you get to the deal. 

This takes time, budget, and a big investment in content. But it also means that when your audience is ready to buy, you’ve already made their shortlist.

7. You don’t want to experiment with your campaigns

Experimentation is usually challenging (and scary) for B2B marketers. Most avoid it.

You spend so much time fighting for new messaging, new designs, and new offers. You’re so confident it’s all going to land until it doesn’t.

It’s frustrating. It’s humbling. It sucks.

If you’re not experimenting because you’re too scared to fail, you’re looking at it the wrong way.

Experimenting with your campaigns helps prove marketing ROI and, even more importantly, prove you’re not wasting money.

It helps you quickly identify what’s working and what’s not. So you can double down on the experiments that do land and kill the ones that don’t.

By killing campaign experiments that don’t land, you get to learnings faster so you can apply them to your next campaign. 

Sure, you can still use Metadata if you don’t want to experiment much with your campaigns. But you’ll 100% miss out on the most important of the platform and leave revenue on the table.