Lauren Brubaker is latest of our Moneyball Marketer Demand Generation All-Stars. Lauren is Director of Demand Generation for NetProspex whose innovative approach to marketing data management was recently recognized with a $125M acquisition by Dun & Bradstreet. Lauren is also the owner of a great Twitter handle – B2BLauren.
Zak: What is the target audience you are marketing/selling to?
Lauren: I’m fortunate to be marketing to my own persona. NetProspex sells to demand gen marketers at high-growth companies, especially those who work in the tech space. We are looking for marketers that care a great deal about being innovative, ahead of the curve, and understand that they can no longer put off investing in marketing data management.
Zak: Yes I am envious – you’re a demand gen marketer marketing to demand gen marketers. So how do you segment “us”?
Lauren: We segment our audience based on persona and stage in the buyer’s journey. We have three different personas that get filtered into MOFU/TOFU/BOFU nurture programs. These nurtures offer a mix of content mapped to their respective stages, along with incentives to push people to the next stage. We also have a customer nurture program that is split between one-time purchasers and our subscription customers.
Zak: What is your approach to lead stages?
Lauren: We follow the SiriusDecisions waterfall method, tracking people at Inquiry, MQL, SAL, SQL, through to Closed Won. MQLs must be accepted and move to SAL within two business days, although ideally they are touched within the first hour. SALs are allowed to remain at that stage for three weeks, as our SDR team tries to book an appointment for a sales rep. Once an appointment is set and there is mutual interest, what we call a “qualifying opportunity” is created. The sales rep then has two weeks to move that opportunity into the discovery stage and associate a potential dollar amount with it. We like to manage momentum as much as possible, by encouraging things to quickly move through the funnel, or return to a nurture program. If they do get returned to nurture, their lead stage is set to RTN, and we evaluate how long it takes for them to pop back up as an MQL.
Zak: Excellent – what I love is the handle you have on the timing, and presumably SLAs, attached to each stage. That’s a best practice right there. So you need to feed those MQLs into the waterfall -- what aspect of demand generation do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year to help you do that?
Lauren: Of course people are buzzing about predictive analytics right now, which is great, but I’m more interested in seeing the evolution of cookie pool data, particularly how it gets paired with firmographic/demographic data for display ads and retargeting. And of course, I’m personally hoping that more B2B marketers begin to see marketing data management as “the new hotness” for their demand gen engine.
Zak: Great stuff. I did recently blog about both predictive lead scoring and retargeting tools so those are on my mind as well. So what does your “technology stack” look like today?
Lauren: We use our own Workbench data management solution to clean and enhance the data that lives in Salesforce and Marketo. We use Triblio for social listening/sharing, and just recently inked a deal with Influitive to create a stronger customer advocacy program. We’re also big fans of Litmus to make sure our emails are rendering properly across key devices.
Zak: I should have known NetProspex was part of your toolset! What technology are you considering that you might add in the next 12 months?
Lauren: I think we will take a look at tools like Invoca to gain better insight into our inbound leads, especially as we increase our inbound efforts over the next six months. We haven’t done a great job creating video content, so we will start looking tools to help with that early in Q2.
Zak: I’ve mentioned to others in these interviews that Jon Miller of Marketo has talked about behavior targeting being an area he expects more marketers to get their head around in 2015. Are you doing any form of behavioral targeting or triggers and what?
Lauren: Our nurture programs are all based around behavior. Any new person that shows interest in NetProspex starts in our top of the funnel nurture stream. We give them background on NetProspex and what we do, and then every few emails, we introduce more middle of the funnel content. If someone downloads, they are bounced to our MOFU nurture program, where we try to get them prepped to talk to an inside sales rep. This process repeats through all our stages of the buyer’s journey. I like to think of it as marketer’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” program.
Zak: What’s a marketing program that you’ve done in the past year that has been particularly effective or innovative?
Lauren: Direct Mail is back! We typically do at least one high-value, highly targeted meeting maker campaign each quarter, and we always get fantastic results. Our sales team picks the folks they haven’t been able to get a meeting with, but they know this is the right buyer for us, and we’ll send them FedEx boxes stuffed with something cool… iPads, spa gift cards, and even a New England clambake for six. I almost hate sharing that, because we have such great results from the program.
Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?
Lauren: Our Director of Product Marketing owns content, but he and I work closely together… we even moved our desks so we could sit next to each other for better alignment. We work off the “content pillar” approach, creating one large piece of content per quarter that can be easily broken down into smaller, snackable pieces. For example, this quarter we are working on our annual State of Marketing Data Benchmark Report, which is a 10-12 page PDF. We take that, and then break it down into blogs, webinars, tweets, tip sheets, and more. We’re still a relatively small marketing team (but we’re hiring!) so we need to maximize ROI for our time. I then take the content and insert it into our demand calendar for social, display, email, etc.
Zak: I’ve seen a lot of success with the content pillar approach – Kapost did a nice job of summarizing content pillar in this post. So then as you are promoting that content, what are the top social media platforms you’ve found to reach your audience?
Lauren: We primarily engage with our audiences through LinkedIn, Twitter, and our blog. Triblio has been a big help in showing us where the key conversations are happening.
Zak: Shifting to the personal side, how did you get your start in marketing?
Lauren: I started in marketing when I was pretty young, getting my first job as a marketing assistant at 19. Email marketing captured my attention immediately, which is great, because Atlanta feels like the marketing automation capital of the world (Marketo, Silverpop, and Pardot all have huge offices there.) It has been incredible to see the changes in the technology over the past ten years. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next ten bring.
Zak: What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?
Lauren: I love the fact that I can help sales close a deal, without actually having to close a deal. Asking people for money gives me serious anxiety… but I love being able to contribute to a company’s bottom line in a measurable way. I have such respect for sales people and the work they do. The rejection they face on a daily basis can be so discouraging, yet they are still able to come in again and do it all over again. If I can help them hit their commits each day, I’m happy.
Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?
Lauren: I think they are many of the same skills that help people succeed in any role in the startup/tech world. Grit, willingness to roll up your sleeves, and a general hustler’s attitude will help you go far. Toss in a love of analytics, and you’ll be set.
Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?
Lauren: Get your hands dirty! There’s nothing like real-world experience to teach you the ropes. Learn the basics of email marketing, get comfortable with simple tools like Constant Contact, and work your way up. There are always local businesses that need help getting their message out there. Once you’re more established, two things are crucial: 1. Make friends with your sales team immediately. They won’t always love you, but if they know you’re genuinely working (and working hard!) for their best interests, the alignment is much better. 2. Find a way to connect with the folks in the C-Suite. It can be through your metrics, your mutual love of scotch (shoutout to Mike Bird!), or helping edit their blog posts. Just find a way to connect. It will help you understand the overall goals of the business outside of demand gen, and give you an avenue to share your (hopefully) awesome results.
Zak: Where can we find you on social media?
Lauren: I can be found on Twitter @B2BLauren, talking about my love of sports, connecting with my fellow marketing nerds, or tweeting with my mom about how she wishes I still lived in Atlanta.
Zak: Lauren this has been great, thank you.