Six takeaways & tidbits from the Hard Corps Marketing Show

That's Casey, not me

That's Casey, not me

Thanks to Casey Cheshire and Jamie Taylor for having me as a guest on Casey’s podcast, the Hard Corps Marketing Show.

I met Casey a couple years back as Bedrock Data expanded into the Pardot ecosystem for integrations, and we bonded at last year’s OpenView Go-to-Market Forum; we moderated different panel discussions and were among a small group going back and forth on social media at the event. And then I discovered Casey and I also have a shared affection for podcasts, with Casey starting his own recently.

Why “Hard Corps”? Not only is Casey a badass demand generation marketer, he is a United States Marine Corps veteran - hence the name of the show.

You can find the podcast on Podbean or YouTube, plus you can search for it on iTunes, the Apple Podcast App, Stitcher or Overcast.

It was an organic discussion and these were some of the things I covered:

Marketing attribution:

Avoid the word “credit” as it’s not about crediting one specific action, and that will  set the wrong tone with sales. Educate that marketing is a multi-touch game and therefore measure multiple influencing factors in customer acquisition and revenue generation.

Approach to Closed loop reporting:

It’s not necessarily about ROI (e.g. saying XYZ investment will generate XYZ return), but rather to rank your marketing programs & activities by revenue influence. This will help you to identify which types of activities you want to invest more in, which are promising but need to be improved/fixed, and which you should likely divest from / drop.

Run Marketing like a Business:

Frame decisions this way when analyzing results, with sales, finance and executive teams. For both internal resources and program $, ask where should we be investing more, where should we be investing less and how do we get better results. Always strive to make the best possible business decision, and communicate why those are the best decisions.

It’s okay to say “We need to improve X”:

As a marketing leader, don’t shy away from pointing to things that need to improve. This can help build confidence from others around you, that you have the awareness to know when things are working, and not working. The first step to improving something is acknowledging “there is a problem”, right?

How to align with sales on funnel numbers:

I talked about when presenting marketing outcome metrics like MQLs, Opportunities created or Pipeline side by side with Sales bookings numbers - to both give perspective on what was created that’s impacting the current sales booking period (e.g. with sales cycle built in) and the current period. This can help give perspective on why, say for example, a growth in marketing performance is not immediately showing up in sales numbers. It’s a win for both sales & marketing to present this clearly.

All in all, be transparent, accountable, & thoughtful:

To earn the respect of colleagues across departments.

Casey is always pointing out I can be found at many B2B marketing events, so he asked what I have in store the rest of the year. I told him I’ll be speaking at both MarTech West in April and the Data Summit in Boston in May, and I’m sure I can be found at both Hypergrowth and Inbound in the fall.

We also got into some of my earlier career stories including the genesis of the Moneyball moniker based on my work with the NBA, plus what it was like growing the first marketing technology software within Omnicom Group while traveling around the world.

Give it a listen!

What I Think - Drift’s ABM Release

After a few weeks of suspense with their teaser campaign, Drift announced the release of their latest addition to their conversational marketing product this morning, with Drift ABM.

Here’s what I think:

#1 - Thank you Drift, ABM should be embedded into all marketing software

The beauty of account-based marketing is, it’s just common sense.  It’s so obvious good marketers sometimes make fun of it, asking, “Is it really something new?”

That said, one of the opportunity drivers for ABM software is the fact that the preeminent sales & marketing software, (what are they up to this week?), did a really bad job of enabling account-based marketing. Two huge flaws included:

  • No automated way to connect a “lead” to an existing account for its sales users

  • No automated way to track (like a lead is tracked with statuses & therefore built-in reporting) an incremental “lead” on an account - thus discouraging use of the account objects for managing prospect accounts

So it’s refreshing to have a company like Drift build account-based marketing right into their conversational marketing software. It’s logical. It’s useful. It helps their customers - which Drift is all about.

#2 - Sometimes the simplest use cases are the most powerful

You work hard to target your target accounts, through both inbound & outbound channels. When they get to your website, you want alarm bells going off for your sales team to capitalize on this, especially if the account is engaging in product specific or “higher intent” content.

I’ve previously made the point that this type of interaction is one of the intersection points between Inbound Marketing & Account Based Marketing, and Drift is taking that to another level by not only providing sales reps with the insight, but the ability to take immediate action and engage in conversation with that target account.   

Target account on our website. Alarm bells should be going off!!!!!
Target account on our website. Alarm bells should be going off!!!!!
...and give the account a personalized greeting
...and give the account a personalized greeting

It’s so simple. That’s the beauty of it though. How many businesses are actually doing this? Very few.

Which makes it a massive opportunity. Win for Marketing. Win for Sales. Win for Drift.

#3 - “Shipping” has massive value to company momentum

Drift ABM represents Drift’s second major product release in the past month, on the heels of the announcement of Drift email at the Hypergrowth show.

These releases are not just about the added product capabilities, it’s about setting the tone for the business. It’s a major statement from Craig Daniel’s product team and Elias Torres’ engineering team, which in turn builds more confidence for the sales & marketing teams to have the confidence to execute and deliver.

#4 - Put Drift on your shopping list

If you haven’t already done so from reading my “Five Ways Drift Helped Us Engage with More Web Visitors - in the First Week” blog or amazing recent articles from Jera Brown or Andy Raskin, put Drift on your company to watch list.

They have up-leveled the website chat product game to conversational marketing, and it’s an immediate way to 1) generate more leads from your website, 2) accelerate the velocity of those leads engaging with your sales team and 3) give sales & marketing teams a win-win that just makes sense, not to mention 4) be part of the rise of a company that is firing on all cylinders.

#5 - Drift’s big strategic question going forward

Drift has reinvented the live chat category. Cancel talks about his company's growth strategy is about finding a commodity category, and then winning in that category by building a better brand.

I expect Drift to be able to dominate customer acquisition in stealing share from other chat products, and winning over customers who are adding chat to their website for the first time. At a price point comparable to other chat vendors, the decision to add Drift should be a no-brainer at $250 per month or thereabout.

Here’s the big question though: will that be enough for Drift? Or are they going to take aim at eating the lunch of the marketing automation vendors?  They’ve gone out and said marketing automation is broken, after all.

That’s going to be closely related to the price point Drift wants to aim for to drive the greatest return for its investors such as Sequoia & General Catalyst. If it pushes up into the thousands of $ per month, marketers will be forced to think about Drift vs. Marketing Automation, and that will add a lot more friction to the sales process (short term) but present massive upside to the company (long term).

What’s for sure -  Drift could build a better marketing automation product. This is the team that rebuilt HubSpot and provided the product foundation for the multi-billion company HubSpot has turned into today.  I’m sure the team could build a better marketing platform.

As a marketing technologist, I’m rooting for it.

Online advertising is the newest oldest marketing investment to include in your mix (& now there’s proof)

When David Guerra at HG Data asked me to join their webinar earlier this week to talk about some of Bedrock Data’s success stories around targeted account digital marketing, I was happy to participate.

What I didn’t realize at the time – I was going to learn about some amazing research from my co-presenter, John Steinert, CMO of TechTarget.

I’ve been advocating for online advertising as a medium that should deliver payoff for most marketers – in this Inbound Marketing & ABM article, I characterized well targeted, on-message, relevant online advertising as the intersection point between Inbound & ABM.

Think about it this way – what’s so great about Inbound Marketing? It's that prospects discover you at a point when you can be of value to them, and then you create more, ongoing value for them through useful content.

But not everyone is going to find you. Well targeted online marketing helps you in two ways with your audience:

#1 - You may have some relevant content for your audience at that moment where they can take action (click through) or soon thereafter (view through). 


#2 – You expand the awareness of your brand/company, so that over time your prospect is more likely to turn to your company as it develops the need for the types of problems you solve.

Number two can be extremely difficult to measure.

In some regard, you just need to have the conviction that delivering the right message to the right audience consistently is going to lead to positive results. For me, spending a decade with the top advertising agencies in the world at Omnicom Group has me pre-disposed with this conviction.

So back to the webinar: “Steiny” brought facts to the table to back this up.

TechTarget has just completed research-- which isn’t formally released but which is also covered here -- and the upshot is:

  • TechTarget studied 111,000 planned IT projects, and 1,675 ad campaigns covering 700 million banner impressions
  • For these planned IT projects, TechTarget found out from these companies which vendors were part of the consideration set for that project
  • The analysis after aggregating this data showed that the companies consistently advertising had a +25% lift on being considered as vendors for these projects vs. non-advertisers. Those inconsistently advertising saw a +10% lift.

I wondered though about the chicken vs. egg question.

Were these companies being considered in more projects because they were more well known companies, and because they were more well known companies they had more marketing budget available to invest in online advertising?

Or, are the companies investing in online advertising getting considered for more projects because of the impact on awareness?

I asked John about this, and he said to correct for this "already well known" effective, the large brands that had been long-time advertisers were removed from the study. So most likely then the advertising investment was the "cause" and not the "effect" at play. 

So solid evidence to back the case for consistently running online advertising programs.

That said, doing online advertising right is difficult. Like most marketing mediums, it can get a bad rap based on mis-execution. If you are considering online advertising (or doing it but questioning your results so far), these are five things you  can do to best ensure success.

#1 – Target the right audience

Leverage account-based targeting to run advertising to the companies that matter to you. This is a great way to stretch your budget, and much rather have 25 ad impressions to 1,000 companies that matter to you, than 1 ad impression to a mixed bag of 25,000 companies.

#2 – Include context as part of your targeting strategy

The Google Display Network used to terrify me, because I often felt the context for my ads was going to be misaligned with the message -- and tracking Google Display Network results through to pipelines or deals usually disappointed. Now you can get much more granular with targeting and reporting on your ads by context, so choose the right context. Choose the topics that best align to both the problems you solve and the messaging for ads. That should continue to provide to be a winning recipe.

#3 – Build cross-channel marketing programs

Although I’m advocating for online advertising specifically here, it’s really as part of an integrated online mix. Your marketing programs should deliver a consistent message progressing through a storyline across multiple channels including online ads (multiple destinations), social media and email.

#4 – Look for successes and merchandise them

Look for successes – whether they are tracked through tracking a digital visitor through conversion, or looking at the pool of companies who are advertising to and connecting that to lead and opportunity data in your CRM. As you have successes, share those internally with marketing and sales teams to build confidence in the medium.

#5 – Be patient and skeptical at the same time

It will take time to see the full impact of online advertising, so you can’t expect immediate results. A three-month time window is the right time frame for a pilot. But at the same time be skeptical. If you are working with vendors or internal resources, work through the data to make sure it’s being executed correctly, and that you have good indicates that your targeting is hitting the mark-- click through rates vs. benchmarks, view through rates vs. benchmarks, reviewing the site URLs for fidelity to your plan. 

Want more insights like this on driving growth through integrated marketing?
Follow me on Twitter @MoneyballMktr

Standing out in a sea of MarTech vendors

The MarTech conference this past week at Hynes Convention Center in Boston acted as the live, in-person experience of Scott Brinker’s now famous MarTech infographic. 

After walking the vendor hall and seeing lots and lots of overlapping messages and value propositions, you can only be left thinking “Wow, there’s a lot of noise out there.” To witness:

Which begs the question – what’s a MarTech vendor to do to stand out from the pack?

Don't read on for best practices. Don't read on for secrets to success. Don't read on for guarantees to drive XXX ROI. 

These are just the things that I've found are key to giving yourself the best shot at meaningful market impact and the illusive "predictable growth engine" the 5,000+ MarTech vendors should all be after. 

#1 - Find your movement

Find the rallying cry that has an emotional connection that your target audience can relate and rally around. This is easier said than done. A good way to get to this raison d'etre will be intense customer interviews to get inside the mind of your target audience.

The ultimate example of this is HubSpot creating the Inbound movement (which, interestingly, was how I spent last week in this fall season of marketing technology Boston events). Other recent examples are Drift building a rallying cry around marketing automation vendors having lost their way (and specifically #NoForms), and Terminus with Flip My Funnel.

The criteria for the movement are it needs:

  • An emotional underpinning
  • Something that audience hears about and “gets them nodding” (see Andy Raskin’s approach for 'the Story is the Strategy' and this Never Split the Difference anecdote from former FBI negotiator Chris Voss) 
  • Aligns in some way with your product and problems it solves

Finding this movement creates the connection between your marketing programs and your ability to generate demand. It provides a brand foundation that helps you stand out from the crowd. It aligns your content and marketing programs around a purpose.

#2 - Eat your own g*d d*mn dogfood

The first point above is incredibly hard to discover and get right. Few do. The ones who do, will crush it. 

Number two though is something that every company must do – it’s essential. And there's no excuse for missing it. 

Invest your time and resources in using your own product, and proving out what you do. There’s no more convincing an experience for a prospect than being impacted by a company’s marketing, and then realizing they are practicing what they preach.

On the flipside, the “cobbler’s children have no shoes” argument no longer works – you need to demonstrate the value of your tool yourself.

If you are a targeted account advertising solution, then you better have the #1 targeted account advertising program.

If you are a content marketing resource center, you better have the #1 content marketing resource center.

Many things contributed to HubSpot’s growth (and as I write this today $3.15B market cap), but the tipping point came when Mike Volpe’s marketing team worked with David Cancel’s product team to ensure that HubSpot was using its very own product to the max to drive results.

#3 - Know your customer (talk to them, a lot!)

I have covered this separately here – Arms Tied Behind My Back, If I Could Do Only One Marketing Activity, It Would be This.

These customer interviews are not only going to provide the key insights around identifying your movement, but they are also going to provide the foundational pieces for a content program that can scale.

#4 - Build the right content in the right way

Content is key, we all know that. The differentiator comes in building the right content across the entire buying process, in the right way. Some key points here:

  • Podcasts can be a great way to bring your brand personality to life, and communicate it to a wide audience. The best podcasts are going to tap into the Movement from #1 so that they can 1) Step outside of your product story but at the same time and 2) Connect back, emotionally, to what you do. For more on this check out the great Jay Acunzo’s Unthinkable.

  • Use case driven content can simultaneously fuel SEO and the sales team, while helping your buyer
  • Customer stories (in multiple formats, and increasingly audio & video) can authentically help your buyers while continuously reinforcing the value of what you do, and your product’s credibility for having done it
  • Build late stage content that answers specific buyer questions. The format here can be as simple as blog posts. The ultimate measure for this content: is it helping your sales team to close deals?
  • Apply your content production at scale – transcribed webinars, repurpose to blog posts, package blog posts to longer form content, etc.

#5 - Be as targeted as possible to reach your audience

If there’s one lesson from Account Based Marketing (which I may sometimes poke fun at), it’s to be as targeted as possible to relate to and stand out for your audience.  For some, that will be a vertical strategy. For others, technographics is increasingly an effective technique if you can identify other tech communities that you want to spawn off of.

Work with sales to identify the right accounts and the right approach for reaching those accounts with an integrated approach.  See my Stop debating Inbound vs. ABM and start integrating your marketing (& that means with sales too) for five specific techniques for doing this that I shared at last month's Engagio user group meeting.

#6 - Affiliate yourself with great brands or partners to scale demand more quickly

This could mean co-marketing programs with larger partners whose users are your target audience. Or if that’s not possible, it could mean featuring those companies or people as part of your content - in depth stories on how they became successful, interviews with influential team members.

#7 - Experiment, measure & continuously improve

The aforementioned Drift team, Jay Acunzo and Mike Volpe are all excellent at reminders at a few key points: there is no silver bullet; the techniques that are effective for you are going to be based on your business, not someone else; and there are no true best practices because you want to do things that are unique and stand out and work for you, not what “everyone else is doing”.

Take a moment to hear it from Mike:

So the real takeaway is – you need to experiment and figure out what works for you. Experiment, measure (so you can identify what has potential, and make bigger bets) and continuously improve.

The pic to start this article was a busy hallway shot to kickoff the show, but there’s also gonna be quiet times like this one here at the morning of Day 3. The vendors that stand out from the crowd are going to do so because they are different and not the same.

Five Ways Drift Helped Us Engage With More Web Visitors - In the First Week

As our Bedrock Data marketing team prioritized growth initiatives for Q2, improving engagement and conversions on our website was a key priority.

We decided to implement Drift on as a key step towards that goal (cc Gabi Altunes).

I knew I was intrigued by Drift’s “No Forms” positioning (which I wrote about when they came out with it last year).

I knew Drift runs a phenomenal marketing program with great content from Dave Gerhardt & co.

And I knew the Drift product would be outstanding, coming from David Cancel’s awesome product and engineering team who turned HubSpot’s product from a potential liability to a huge advantage from 2011 to 2014.

What I didn’t know was - would Drift help us drive incremental leads (and opportunities, pipeline & customers) from our website? That’s what our Chief Revenue Officer Alan DiPietro really wanted to know.

If we were just “moving around the furniture” (diverting some would-be forms leads or call-in leads to Drift leads), that wasn’t going to do us much good.

One week - yes one week - into rolling it out, I’m happy to report that we are indeed seeing incremental lift.

I can point my finger at the engagement we’re getting, and while some of it certainly falls in the category of “accelerating leads we would have gotten anyway” (still valuable), there’s a definitive category of website visitors with whom we are engaging & converting whom I’m convinced would have bounced without live chat engagement.

I’ve categorized the impact into five types of website visitors:

#1 - Ms. Urgent

This falls in the category of acceleration. Marketing is about momentum, and if you can carry the momentum of a website visitors into a sales conversation, it’s a win for sales and marketing.

Momentum matters. After a good trade show, the question is can you carry the momentum from the tradeshow floor over to sales & marketing follow-up?  And the same is true for a website visitor - can you carry momentum established on your website over to sales engagement, immediately?

We had a website visitor looking for an urgent solution to their Pardot-NetSuite integration with news hitting that Pardot had dropped their non-Salesforce CRM connectors.

Through the Drift chat I confirmed we did in fact provide that connector, answered several questions and scheduled a meeting for later that day with a rep. I also directed our visitor to several links for expert content including a video walkthrough of what she was looking for. We even joked about how she was really looking to solve this problem quickly because her sales team was upset by the prospect of lost marketing automation-CRM integration.

Interestingly, this Ms. Urgent found us via a paid search ad for Pardot-NetSuite integrations - so if you are asking yourself “Should I put Chat on my paid search landing pages?”, the answer is yes!

By the time that afternoon meeting came around, the questions centered around “how quickly can we get started?” as the entire team had seen the video walkthrough shared from the chat.

#2 - Mr. Ready to Collaborate

This visitor was seeking collaboration - he wanted to know what we could do, and then ask some deeper & deeper questions around the details of, in his case, a Pardot-ConnectWise integration.

Thrilled by the interaction, our Mr. Ready to Collaborate scheduled a follow up call for that afternoon…. and a few days later became our first “Drift to Dollars” customer win.

 #3 - Mr. “Not Ready to Reveal Myself… Yet”

Here’s where we move from acceleration to true incremental engagement.

This is the largest volume of the chats. The chat starts out with a question - and you allow the visitor to do so and remain anonymous. They can ask their question without the overhead of having to identify themselves by name. They’re not quite ready to reveal their identity.

You answer the question - and engage in a conversation. Back and forth, back and forth. Provide clear, expert answers to their questions. Ask a follow-up question. Share a related link.  And then before you know it, the visitor is willing to share their information with you to schedule a follow-up.

It’s a combination of the visitor-driven engagement, a positive experience of chat interaction, and the sharing of expert content - where this magic happens - and back to Alan’s question - I’m convinced this is incremental. Here are some real world examples from Bedrock Data last week:

  • CFO knew his team was looking for a NetSuite-Pardot integration (different company than the one above), was vetting our capabilities after hearing about us from his marketing team

  • Marketer was doing his homework on Marketo-Eventbrite integrations as he built a plan for his team to add Eventbrite as their event management system

  • A web developer was checking on the possibility of connecting Zoho & NetSuite

  • A business development lead was checking on the capabilities of integrating HubSpot and NetSuite as his marketing team considers a HubSpot purchase, so he could refer a solution to his NetSuite power user  

  • A marketer wanted to know how long a Marketo-Zoho integration would take, and confirm the pricing (was surprised Bedrock Data does not charge a setup fee)

 The pattern here is that these web visitors are visiting the site with an intent to learn - and a live chat provides them a pathway to do so - and move them forward in their buying process.

 #4 - Ms. “I Need Help”

Another pattern that emerged was a type of visitor who was legitimately looking for help - as they were very unfamiliar with the subject because they had been asked to do research by someone else. Sometimes these visitors remained anonymous (after helping them out), or sometimes they self-identified.

 Some examples here include a procurement person doing research into options for a HubSpot-SugarCRM integration - and looking to report options back to their marketing team. Another example was a junior member of a marketing team asked to look into HubSpot-ConnectWise integrations by his boss.

 Without chat engagement, these visitors would not have been likely to self-identify, and would have left the site without a solid grasp on the information they were looking for. It was natural for them to ask a question via chat, but likely would not have been natural for them to “formally request something” (see what I did there - formally) as they were outside of their comfort zone with a new subject matter.  

#5 - Mr. International

Due to our capabilities of rapidly implemented integrations which can be self-managed by business users, we do a lot of business with international based customers looking to connect SaaS systems without a traditional IT integration project.

 We wanted to take advantage of chat engagement for our international site visitors as well, thinking it would be a nice touch to reinforce we are easy to do business with even though we are not located in their local country.

We came up with an approach we dubbed “Drift After Hours”, where we have a chat sidebar letting our visitors know we are not online but to share their details and we’ll be back to them as soon as possible. Still far better than having to find and fill out a contact us form.

Even better, when we get an after-hours chat engagement (like all Drift inquiries) we route them via Slack - so in the event a team member is available they can respond in real time.

So Wednesday night a little before 9:00, I’m sitting on the couch watching a baseball game and Slack lights up. A web visitor from Australia (where they are starting their next work day) wants to talk about his need to connect Marketo for marketing automation, HubSpot as CRM for his BDR team, and NetSuite as their back office CRM.

Yes we can do it!  

We engage in a great chat - answer his questions on capabilities, on-boarding time and pricing.

I’m on my couch, watching a baseball game and having a Slack conversation with a marketer in Australia about integrating Marketo, HubSpot & NetSuite. Drift is awesome!


My Only Pain Point

The only significant pain point so far is… integrations. Of course I would complain about that since I spend all day at Bedrock Data helping companies better integrate their sales & marketing systems!  

My issue is that although after a chat, Drift can push a lead into Salesforce (good), it can only bring over the HubSpot source data from HubSpot if that record also converts on a HubSpot form. Ahem, ahem - doesn’t quite align to the no form approach.

Since most visitors aren’t going to follow up a chat with a form-fill - at least not right away - then the tradeoff of bringing these leads in via Drift is losing your baseline metrics on conversions by channel - organic, referrals, direct, etc. That record exists in HubSpot, but it’s anonymous and not connected to the lead record in Salesforce - so the data is effectively lost.

I’m sure the wizards at Drift will figure it out soon. They built HubSpot after all.

Pain Point? Drift's on it! 

(Update June 26) - Drift is all about being custom-obsessed and customer-centric. Check out what Elias said in that post above if you want to hear more about that. 

I experienced that first hand. I published this post on Saturday, and by Sunday I heard from Drift's CEO David Cancel to express interest in learning more about the HubSpot integration challenge, and by Monday Drift's VP of Product Craig Daniel was in our office to talk about it. Craig told us that Drift's on the case, along with sharing some other cool upcoming features around reporting and routing. 

Customer Issue? Drift listens & solves

(Update 2 August 17) - After back and forth with me to test, happy to report Drift has firmly addressed the above issue - and now HubSpot source data flows cleanly into Salesforce. Here's an example of a Bedrock Data lead from yesterday using this new & improved integration. You can see critical digital marketing data such as the lead sourced from Organic Search and in this specific case They've also made the Conversion Event descriptions much cleaner.


This has been a great experience of providing a positive review of a product, but with one issue - and the CEO and VP Product Management jumping all over the issue - and coming up with a nice product improvement in a rapid time frame.  As I said here:

I'd be buying Drift stock if I could. 

What’s Next?

Next up at Bedrock Data is rolling it out for our customer success and support teams, including interface via our help site and in-product. Given the back and forth our support team typically has with customers, it’s sure to improve the customer experience for that interaction - and help to resolve questions more quickly.

So stop by and say hello - we’re open for business over at