Zak: What is the target audience you are marketing/selling to?
Rachel: HealthcareSource provides talent management software and educational content to U.S. healthcare organizations, so we target a very specific market. Within this market, there are a number of different segments that we target.
Zak: OK so how do you segment your audience?
Rachel: While our target market is very specific, the roles within each organization vary significantly depending on the type and size of organization. While the majority of our audience is hospitals, HealthcareSource also sells to acute care centers, physician practices, and continuing care organizations which include long term care communities, home health agencies and hospice providers, so these organizations may vary in size from hundreds to tens-of-thousands of employees.
Within these organizations, the talent management function includes professionals focused on employee recruiting, performance management, compensation, education, and organizational development. Our products align with these functions in the areas of Recruiting, Retention, and Learning, and within each function we segment by individual contributors/managers who are typically the users and directors/VPs/ CXOs who are typically the decision-makers accountable for the budget.
Our messaging, sales tools, marketing campaigns and calls to action are specific to each function and level within the organization, because often the software purchases for each function are decentralized and we need to be sure we are working with all of the appropriate contacts within an organization.
Zak: Interesting – I think that’s the widest net of personas I’ve heard so far from the all-stars. With so many potentially on the buying team, what is your approach to lead stages?
Rachel: HealthcareSource has adopted the waterfall approach designed by Sirius Decisions which gives us visibility in to each stage of our lead funnel from response through closed won deals. When responses come in via inbound or outbound marketing campaigns, they are dispositioned one of 3 ways: 1) sent to Sales for immediate follow-up 2) sent to BDRs for further qualification 3) entered in to a nurture campaign that is targeted by the respondent’s function and level in the organization.
Depending on the disposition, each response eventually follows the path to lead -> opportunity -> closed won deal. At each stage of the funnel, the response may be dispositioned out of the funnel. The Sirius Decisions waterfall approach gives us visibility in to the volume of leads that are moving through each stage, as well as the conversion percentage. By monitoring the funnel on a regular basis -- for us it’s monthly, depending on your sales cycle it may be different -- we are able to identify areas where the leads are getting stuck and not moving through the funnel and areas where leads are getting dispositioned out of the funnel. This enables us to target specific funnel stages that need improvement in order to achieve our overall goals.
Zak: What does your “technology stack” look like?
Rachel: At HealthcareSource we use Salesforce.com for CRM, Marketo for marketing automation, and Google Analytics for web activity reporting – pretty standard stuff. We also use a product called Litmus for testing our emails on various browsers, we use Brainshark and Slideshare for content creation, we use Beep! directed voice mail for lead gen, and we try to experiment with as many tools a possible to stay in top of the latest trends, in fact we’re just about to pilot a tool called SproutSocial to further leverage social media for lead gen activities and we’re really excited to see how it’s going to impact our results.
Zak: What aspect of demand generation do you see as particularly ‘hot’ over the next year?
Rachel: The effective use of social media to generate leads will continue to gain traction. I specifically say “effective use” because many companies are using social media to share content and engage with their audience, but I’ve encountered very few that know how to quantify its value. That’s something I’m excited to dive further in to this year.
Personalization and behavioral targeting are the other areas that interest me particularly. There are so many new technology solutions emerging that address these areas, and it’s a significant investment of time to research and evaluate all of the various solutions and determine which one is the best fit for our business, but it’s something I am hoping to focus on at some point in 2015.
Zak: We all know content creation is critical to demand generation? How does your marketing team approach content creation? Who owns it? Who contributes?
Rachel: Content creation is a huge part of our marketing strategy. We have a content marketing specialist on the team who is responsible for the HealthcareSource blog, white papers, PR articles, and leveraging contributed content from HealthcareSource clients, partners, and staff. She works with product marketing and sales to prioritize content creation in response to client and prospect requests, and develops a quarterly list of topics. Depending on the topic and whether or not she wants to include input from clients or other contributors, she will determine what type of asset she will create and what channels she will leverage to distribute it. We almost always distribute all of our content via the blog -- if the asset is a white paper or an article, for example, she will write an excerpt for the blog and link to the full asset -- and our key social channels. She launched a guest blogger program from which we’ve published blogs by HealthcareSource staff, clients and partners, so that has been extremely successful, and our blog offers a great balance of educational content and fun content. Shameless plug inserted here: http://education.healthcaresource.com. We also leverage email for content distribution.
Zak: Hey, you’ve earned the right to do shameless plugs, so go right ahead. What are the top social media platforms you’ve found to reach your audience?
Rachel: We have both experimented with a variety of social media platforms and surveyed our audience to understand where they are doing their social networking and we’ve found LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to be the most popular platforms. It’s so important to know your audience and engage them where they are already spending time – we post to Twitter through Buffer, our social media management platform, but our audience isn’t really on Twitter so we don’t spend too much time thinking about how it impacts our social media strategy overall. Other audiences will have different preferences for their social networking.
Zak: Switching gears to the personal side, how did you get your start in marketing?
Rachel: I was an English major in college, so I’ve always been a writer. My first job was at a start-up medical device company and while I was primarily the receptionist/office manager, executives would come to me for proofreading and editing because of my background. Eventually my role evolved in to working with print vendors on product collateral and packaging, which eventually lead to my first job in marketing communications. I think start-ups are a great way for new professionals to get exposed to a wide variety of tasks and functions and figure out what career path to pursue for the long term.
Zak: What do you most enjoy about marketing and demand generation?
I love working with cross-functional teams, so marketing is a great way to do that. While we primarily support sales for demand gen, we work with product marketing and management, professional services, HR, and the executive team regularly on lead gen campaigns and branding initiatives. Marketing, to me, has always felt like the hub of every company I’ve been at, perhaps because most marketers are very social by nature and get to plan corporate outings and events!
Zak: What skills do you see as most important for a demand generation marketer?
Rachel: Marketing is much more analytics-driven today than ever before. There are so many great tools that enable marketers to dive deep in to the data of campaigns that the science of marketing has superseded the art. Creativity is still important – both design and content – but now more than ever success in marketing requires a data-driven mindset and the ability to drive activities and results based on supporting data and analytics.
Zak: What advice would you give to any aspiring demand generation marketers?
Rachel: Based on my experience and personal preference for smaller companies, I advise all new job seekers to work in a small company early in their career. Small companies offer so much exposure and opportunity to learn about all aspects of the business whereas larger companies tend to silo people and departments in to very specific roles. In addition to the company size, the company culture is so important. Job seekers can learn about a company’s culture by visiting sites like Glassdoor for employee reviews, doing research on LinkedIn for mutual connections, and asking questions about training and professional development opportunities, mentoring philosophies, what the company does to recognize and reward employees.
Specific to aspiring demand gen marketers, I would suggest leveraging the myriad of great resources that exist online to learn as much as you can about marketing best practices, marketing automation, marketing analytics, and new and emerging technologies from places like SiriusDecisions, LinkedIn professional groups, MarketingProfs, the list goes on and on….
Zak: Where can we find you on social media?
Rachel: Connect with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-weeks/0/80/1b7/en
Zak: Rachel, thanks for your very insights here – very thoughtful and comprehensive.