How Metadata Fundamentally Changed My Approach to B2B Marketing

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Abdallah Al-Hakim

I used Metadata for the first time in 2021 when I worked at Armorblox (now a part of Cisco), and it instantly made me a better B2B marketer.

Seriously: our lead-to-conversion rate increased by 15X and our cost per opportunity (CPO) went from $40k to $800.

I was instantly hooked.

As a user for three years and now Metadata’s Head of Growth, I’ve seen firsthand how our platform can help B2B marketers of all stripes move the needle with smarter audience targeting, more accurate measurement, and optimizations aimed at actual dollar signs.

Here’s a closer look at my journey, why I joined the Metadata team, and how our users can realize Metadata’s total value.

My life before Metadata

My path to Metadata as a user and employee was far from ordinary. Back in the early 2000s, you could find me in the United Kingdom working toward my Ph.D. in biochemistry, which eventually led me to Toronto, Canada and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, where I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

After a few years, I decided it was time for a change, so I made a big one and started my career in marketing at a company called Influitive, which is the technology behind the customer communities at companies like Adobe, ADP, and IBM. I wore many hats there, but the core of my role was developing and executing their paid ad strategy.

Fast forward a few years, and I landed a gig at Armorblox (now a part of Cisco), which was a cybersecurity start-up at the time. I ran demand and operations, so my job was simple: generate and optimize leads. This was when Metadata entered my life.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but I want to pull back the curtain some since my time at Armborblox influenced my career at Metadata.

When I joined Armorblox in 2021, my marching orders were to run paid campaigns, primarily on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that this was my first time running any sort of paid social campaign, but from what I knew about B2B marketing, a LinkedIn-first strategy was par for the course.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a return on that spend. In fact, the ROI was so bad that I started asking myself whether my target audience of IT and security professionals even had active LinkedIn profiles.

I was pretty sure the answer was “no,” but to make sure, I teamed up with a small agency—after all, maybe I just didn’t know enough about LinkedIn ads to execute my strategy correctly.

Fast forward a few months, and I was more convinced than ever that LinkedIn wasn’t the answer. To be honest, I was a nail away from shutting paid social’s coffin for good when I heard about Metadata from a colleague. I wasn’t any less skeptical of paid social, I knew a test run of Metadata wouldn’t hurt.

Within weeks of using Metadata to build and launch my campaigns, my doubts about paid social were gone. Not only were qualified prospects filling our pipeline, but they were coming in at a great price. For context, our cost per lead (CPL) was around $1,000 before we started using Metadata. With Metadata, our CPL dropped to about $50.

Not only were the leads coming in more consistently and at a better rate, but I also could actually see which ads were doing the most heavy lifting. I could lift up the hood and see every optimization happening and all the metrics I could ever need to make the most of my ad dollars.

For someone with an ops background, this clarity made me fall in love with Metadata, especially after struggling to get any concrete insights from the native ad channels.

It also helped me learn the B2B marketing ropes quickly and served as my “oh shit” moment that kicked off an ROI-rich relationship with Metadata, which eventually led me down the path to becoming their Head of Growth.

The biggest lesson I learned as a Metadata user

If you take one lesson away from my time as a Metadata user at Armorblox, let it be this: don’t let anyone—even the “experts” on LinkedIn—tell you how to spend your budget. I continue to see so many marketers fall into this trap, and it’s holding them back from maximizing their budget.

Facebook isn’t good for B2B marketers (or paid social in general)…

Ungated content will piss off your Sales team…

Text-based ads, like LinkedIn’s Conversation Ads, won’t catch anyone’s attention…

The list goes on and will only grow as more B2B marketers fall in line and buy in to what’s theoretically “working” for their peers. I don’t blame them, either. While the economy will hopefully rebound this year, buyers will almost certainly remain cautious with their budgets. When times are tough, it’s easy to stick to the “safer” channels that have “walked the walk” before.

I understand this cautious mindset, but here’s my advice: ignore the noise around you and experiment as much as your budget allows, even if the channel, tactic, and strategy aren’t #trending. Give those experiments a chance to shine, figure out what works for your business, and double down in those areas.

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is if your paid strategy or tactic is helping your company grow. If it is, who cares what anyone else is saying in the LinkedIn echo chamber?

How my time as a Metadata user forever changed my approach to paid advertising

Metadata (and the Metadata team) made me a way better marketer; it fundamentally changed how I think about paid advertising. To explain what I mean, travel back to my time at Armborblox with me again.

When I started using Metadata at Armorblox, the leads were coming in (to an extent), but few were turning into revenue. A lot contributed to our low lead-to-conversion rate, but the Metadata team and I pinned most of the subpar results on the fact that we were aiming our ads at ebook downloads and passing those low-intent leads to Sales.

At the time, downloads seemed like a smart move. With leads coming in, I felt like the Marketing team was doing its job. We held up our end of the bargain—to fill the pipeline with leads—and it was time for the Sales team to hold up theirs. In hindsight, our strategy and my line of thinking were both missing the mark.

Not only did the Metadata team help us realize that we were off track, but they put us on the right path by steering us toward metrics that actually impacted revenue. For the first time in my marketing career, my goal didn’t revolve around MQLs and pipeline (although the latter was still important).

My goal was now all about getting high-intent leads in front of our Sales team and helping them turn those leads into customers. Our ads started looking more like this—and they worked.

The pivot paid dividends almost immediately. Remember: Our lead-to-conversion rate went from around 2% to more than 30%, while our CPO went from $40k to around $800.

We also saw a:

  • 120% increase in triggered opportunities
  • 49% decrease in cost per triggered opportunity
  • 105% increase in lead to triggered opportunity

And the best part? We sustained those numbers and started venturing outside LinkedIn’s trusted walls to uncharted B2B waters like Facebook.

In short, Metadata and their team flipped Armorblox’s paid ad strategy on its head in 3-6 months, pulling our focus away from “vanity” metrics to ones tied to revenue. I’ve carried this revenue-first mindset with me into my role at Metadata and firmly believe that the success of every modern B2B marketer—regardless of their budget, industry, and maturity—relies on their ability to do the same.

The only way they can do that is by remaining open to the road less traveled, running experiments like their lives depend on it, and iterating in the best interest of their audience and budget.

How I carried this experimental mindset from Armorblox to Metadata

Metadata changed how I thought about paid advertising at Armborblox, but I didn’t ditch those learnings when I joined Metadata in 2023 as the Head of Growth. In fact, I embraced what I’d learned more than ever and leaned heavily into Metadata’s commitment to experimentation.

Our incentivized demo ads are a perfect example of that.

Was running incentivized demo ads a risky and out-of-the-box move? Absolutely. At the time, few B2B companies like ours were doing it. But it was worth a try, and the experiment paid off big time.

More recently, we’ve started experimenting with a new channel like Instagram and we’re even looking at ways to use ads as a lever to increase customer retention, reach new personas at companies (upsells), and help our Sales team accelerate deals in the pipeline.

Create value, partner with Ops, and keep experimenting

I’ll leave you with one final piece of advice that every B2B marketer must embrace to be successful moving forward: focus every ounce of energy on generating revenue for your business.

Your job isn’t done when you pass an MQL to the Sales team.

  • MQLs and pipeline are still fine measures of success, but the next phase of B2B will revolve around creating value for your business. That means ditching MQLs and other vanity metrics and turning your attention to revenue-related ones, like CPO. Study how your marketing efforts are accelerating the sales cycle or helping your teams reduce churn. If they’re not doing either of those things, it’s time to adjust how you’re spending your time and money.
  • Partner closely with your ops team to get a better understanding of the sales cycle, friction points along the way, and why you win (and lose) deals. Then, build your strategy around those insights and pivot as you go.
  • While I’m a bigger fan of measurement and attribution than most, don’t feel like you have to perfect your analysis. If you think something is moving the needle for your company, keep doing it. Don’t fall into the fallacy that you have to measure everything…because you don’t.

Want to learn more about how Metadata can make you a better B2B marketer? Reach out today.

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