Five Powerful Metrics to support your Closed Loop Marketing in an Inbound Marketing and Lead Nurturing World

The first challenge of closed loop marketing is getting a system and process in place to enable your closed loop reporting. I’ve covered how to do that in multiple posts and most succinctly you can read about that in my CMO Essentials article “Six Essentials to Setting up a Closed Loop Marketing System.”

Once you done that, you’ll encounter a new set of challenges --- how do you navigate through a set of metrics and reports and use the ones that are the most important? Reporting for the sake of reporting helps nobody – the key is identify the right metrics that help you measure against your strategies and indicate if you are headed in the right direction or have issues that need to be addressed.

In a world where inbound marketing and lead nurturing are critical to building a high volume and repeatable demand generation machine, these are five metrics I’ve found to be particularly useful:

#1 - Active Marketing Database

Your active marketing database represents your ‘cookied population’ of MQIs whom you are using nurturing programs to try to advance to MQL. A growing active marketing database is a signal that your top of funnel inbound programs are growing and your nurturing practices are not serving to turn off your audience. Active marketing database grows each month based on adding additional MQIs, and falling out each month are unsubscribes, bouncebacks who have not been matched to a new email address and those who have not engaged with you via a web page visit in over 12 months.

#2 - MQIs by Medium

This measures how each of your mediums are contributing to MQI growth. One of Adam Barker’s best practices is that each team member owns a metric, and these are key metrics to have ownership by team members. The most scalable MQI mediums to grow are Inbound (Website, Blog, Social Media) and Digital (Paid Search, Retargeting, Email). As a side note I am at a point where I don’t even want to consider content syndication leads as MQIs because of the massive quality difference between syndication MQIs and those from inbound & digital channels.  

#3 - % of MQLs that “graduate” from MQIs

This metric give you a single measure of the performance of your MQI-to-MQL nurturing programs… how much are they contributing to your MQL production? A higher number indicates you are driving performance out of your active database, whereas a lower number indicates prospects are identifying themselves to you for the first time as they visit your website for a later stage call to action such as free trial or contact sales – which signifies a missed opportunity to have more influence as they move through their buying process, or cast a wider net. The best in class number for this percentage for mature demand generation organizations is 50%.

#4 - Of MQLs advancing from MQIs, what were the MQI Lead Sources?

Building on the concept from #3, the next question becomes which sources are yielding MQIs that are then after nurturing graduating to MQLs? This should help to identify which sources to spend more time on driving volume to scale your MQL numbers.

#5 - MQL to Opp Conversion Rate by MQL Source & Medium

As you scale MQLs you also need to keep an eye on quality, and a key quality metric is the conversion rate from MQLs to Opportunities.  Monitor these rates to ensure you don’t see any red flags. The most common red flags to watch for are quality issues within paid search particularly the Google content network and that if you are using scoring programs or content triggers to pass leads to sales, that sales team has everything they need to best convert those MQLs to Opportunities.

How HubSpot can improve its tele-program through the principles of inbound marketing (they did invent it after all)

I didn’t appreciate the interruption on my cell phone – especially when I found out WHO had interrupted me.

On the other end of the line was HubSpot – the company who literally wrote the book defining Inbound Marketing and trashing interruption tactics such as cold calling. Yes, it was a HubSpot tele rep calling me on my cell phone on this Friday afternoon – to me, the epitome of disruption.

I pointed out the irony to the rep – “Is this really representative of the HubSpot brand, the company that Brian and Dharmesh built?” I asked.

The conversation drove  me to Tweet this –  when HubSpot chooses to interrupt me on my cell phone, I hold them to a higher standard:

True story: @HubSpot tele rep interrupts me with call to my cell phone, I said this isn't #inboundmarketing is it?

The funny thing is that it wasn’t the disruption that bothered me the most  - it was the low quality of the touch from HubSpot.

HubSpot, with all of their means and resources – and content – and all the rep had to offer in terms of conversation was: “It would be great to take you through how we compare to Marketo.”

A feature / function comparison – no thank you.

The issue cuts deep – the principles of inbound marketing upon which HubSpot has built its business (and a $100 million IPO and now near-$1 billion valuation) – should not be limited to the lead acquisition phase upon which HubSpot initially brought their focus.

These are five ways HubSpot can improve its teleprospecting program – through applying its very own principles of inbound marketing to the middle stages of the buying process.

#1 - Lead with insight

The same principles of inbound marketing apply to touches from teleprospecting – insight is the currency. Reps should establish credibility and earn the right for deeper conversation through sharing insight that establishes they have a subject expertise in an area of importance to their prospect.

#2 - Appeal to problems/issues/pain

The feature/function proposition from the HubSpot rep was not something that I had interest in going deep into. If he had focused the conversation on solving issues that were of high priority to me, that would have been a much better way to start a conversation and convince me that further conversation could be of value to me.

#3 - Be relevant based on content consumed

Perhaps most striking – I’ve been consuming HubSpot content for years – so there should be some strong clues around topics of interest to me – but there was no attempt from the rep to make such connections. That tells me either the HubSpot product isn’t oriented around that, or the company’s thinking around helping buyers doesn’t naturally extend from an inbound lead to a tele lead. 

#4 - Incorporate social media research

If you are reading this you know that I’m not a hard person to find on social media. The best teleprospecting reps incorporate social media intelligence to their conversation. This can either be done on a 1:1 basis, or part of where the predictive lead scoring vendors are going is doing this at scale by helping customers incorporate social intelligence into their lead scoring and the data passed to sales as part of a lead handoff.

#5 - Add value by organizing content for your buyers

HubSpot has contributed to building a world overloaded with digital content – and most buyers are challenged by how to organize that content for themselves and their buying teams.  Teleprospecters can add value through personal pages organized around content as they reach out to customers (see more on this in example #2 in this article), or offer to help a prospect to organize content based on a specific issue – and the content that they then deliver and how they organize it can then help them earn the right for the next conversation, the next positive touch. Tools such as Postwire are worth looking at to help reps deliver content to buying teams – and in fact a HubSpot or Marketo or Pardot would benefit from adding that functionality to their repertoire as it sits at the intersection of content marketing and sales enablement which is where the marketing automation vendors should be headed next.

For more resources on how to create a winning teleprospecting program:

"Everyone on the team owns a metric" and 11 other best practices to support a data-driven, high velocity marketing process

Marketing is a team sport. I’ve come to admire and relish being part of marketing teams that operate as a team – where team members excel in their roles and support each other, and the team evolves and improves and ultimately creates market impact “greater than the sum of the parts”.

One such team is a group of modern Boston-area marketers who are now on their third venture together – first an initial group at HubSpot, then a larger group at SmartBear Software and now at Continuum Managed Services.

You have to figure that if the team has stayed together over the years through multiple company moves (from Cambridge to Beverly to Boston), the recipe must be working and they must have figured out plenty of best practices along the way.

So when I learned that Adam Barker, the Director of Demand Generation at Continuum, was going to be sharing his best practices around reporting and marketing process at the MassTLC Demand Gen Peer Group, that meant “Must Attend” for me.

And Adam delivered the goods.

These were 12 best practices that Adam shared, that he and his colleagues apply to building and operating their data-driven, high velocity marketing process

1.       Hire “T-shaped” individuals

They look for marketers who can go deep in a specific area of specialty, but also have a breadth of experiences and interests and the flexibility to operate in multiple areas.

2.       Everyone on the team owns a metric

The team is structured such that everyone owns a metric that represents the impact of that particular  marketing area, usually a specific medium. When I asked Adam for examples he said that the team is broken down into owners of:

  • Blog / Organic Web Traffic
  • Paid Search
  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Programs
  • Prospect Emails
  • Customer Emails

These metrics represent approximately 50% of quarterly MBOs tied to individual bonuses.

 3.       Cross-train the team

There are regularly scheduled “lunch and learn” sessions where each team members presents a “how to” in their area, e.g. “writing a great blog post” or “running a PPC campaign”. This serves to both further develop skills as well as build team camaraderie, and is also a component of the MBOs for each team member.

4.       Report on how marketing is doing, not what marketing is doing

This is also a principle I’ve employed, which is reporting on activity alone sends the wrong message – because it’s not about activity, it’s about the results. Adam made the point that reporting on activity can actually serve to cloud or create confusion around performance and take away focus.

5.       Share updates weekly

As part of the process, each metric owner updates the metrics in their area weekly. These metrics are posted to a shared repository, in their case the company Wiki.

6.       Develop automatic repeatable reports & dashboards

Automated reporting is essentially to feed the process. Having now lived through seeing a product line move from manual to automated reporting, I can tell you that many businesses are still relying on manual reporting, and the shift from manual to automated is a true difference maker – in the visibility its bring and the marketing ownership that it enables.

7.       Meet with Sales weekly

Meet with sales weekly and as part of this review the performance results (see #4). Adam’s group refers to these as “Smarketing” meetings – I first heard Mike Volpe CMO at HubSpot use that term to refer to joint Sales & Marketing sessions when meeting with him in 2009 – and I’ve also referred to this as the revenue team.

8.       Share anecdotal updates    

Adam showed an example of an “anecdotal update” e.g. an email to the sales team with info on the success of a recent program. Everyone is likely doing this in some way, but referring back to #4 and what’s noteworthy about this update is it includes brief highlights of the programs e.g. # of leads or how it compares to results of other programs, to reinforce to the sales team that marketing has its eye on the ball.

9.       Operate in monthly marketing sprints

The marketing team defines deliverables as part of monthly sprints, which both ensures alignment and focus on specific deliverables and minimizes distractions getting in the way.

10.   Weekly marketing leadership meeting

The marketing leadership team stays aligned with a weekly leadership meeting.

11.   End of Quarter retrospective board meeting

This quarterly business review asks questions such as “What did we learn?” and “How will it drive our strategy for the next quarter?”

12.   Rinse & repeat

Each of these steps become more effective as team members get comfortable in the roles and their process. So like many things in marketing, it’s important to remain committed and the results will come through consistent application of the process.

Great list from Adam.

For those looking to understand how to setup and operate a data driven demand generation machine, these are two additional resources I've written that go deeper into these topics:



Why I’m Thrilled that Webinar Attendance Is Down – And What To Do About It (Part 2 – A Framework for Delivering On-Demand Content)

In part 1 of this post I discussed areas to work on to improve webinar attendance. In this post I’ll outline an approach to use to compliment your webinar strategy and take advantage of the growing preference for on-demand content vs. live content.

To explain this will go back to a marketing classic – AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

And to set this up you’ll need a framework that will serve as the underpinning for this program:

  • Identify the most severe pain/problem/issue that an aspect of your solution addresses
  • Create five best practices or insights that advise a prospect on how to address this pain – these insights CANNOT mention your product or service in any way
  • Align each of those best practices to a specific differentiator in your product (doesn’t necessarily need to be a competitor differentiator, could just be a differentiator vs. the status quo)

And with this, we create a on-demand program framework:

  • Attention - Outreach via multiple channels pinging against the pain or issue (e.g. marketing emails, sales emails, social media posts, influencer mentions, text ads, banner ads, website promotion) – links to Landing Page
  • Interest - The landing page starts by stating the Problem or Issue, and then shares the five best practices as insights one can follow to address the problem. There is a Call to Action – a content download (e.g. eGuide) to cover the topic in more depth… there is also a “fast track” conversion e.g. Speak to a Specialist to move the prospect directly to Sales.
  • Desire - After registering for this content, the prospect will receive a series of nurture emails. These emails will take 1-2 of the best practices and map them to how the solution delivers on that best practice -- looking to cement the connection in the prospect’s mind for how this product/service will help them address that core issue.  
  • Action – The emails will offer up to reply and/or a landing page to schedule a conversation with a specialist and/or evaluate the product depending on the preferred buying process.

Unlike a point-in-time webinar, this model is  an “always-on”, evergreen program that you can invest more or less in over time depending on the success that it drives and the relevance of the pain/topic. You can setup multiple programs like this pinging on different pains and see which performs better.

The framework of the pain - best practice / insight - mapped to solution will also make an impactful visual infographic to supplement the program. 

And this story around best practices to address the problem/issue can also be delivered as a live webinar, just without putting all of your eggs in that live webinar basket like you may have in the past. And so we go full circle because to make the most of that live webinar, check out Part 1 of this post if you haven’t already.

Why I’m Thrilled that Webinar Attendance Is Down – And What To Do About It

Webinar attendance is down -- and I couldn’t be happier.

Let’s start with the facts – On24 reports that the average webinar attendance rate is now down to 43% of registrants.

So why am I happy about this?

#1 – It raises the bar for webinar attendance – webinar attendance is now a higher quality metric than ever before. A prospect has to have a significant level of commitment to a topic or company to actually block out the time and show up to a live web event. So attending a webinar on a later stage topic and/or answering webinar questions to indicate readiness are becoming even more effective triggers for marketing qualification.

#2 – It demonstrates there is an increasingly stronger preference for on-demand content – which represents opportunity for marketers who can create programs that align to buying stage and help support buyers move through their buying process.

And, most importantly:

#3 – For those marketers who can figure out how to adjust in this increasingly challenging landscape -- this becomes a massive competitive differentiator.

Which gets us to the “what you should do about it” part.

I’ve grouped this into two sections – steps to take to ensure  your webinars significantly outperform the 43% average, and steps to take to simultaneously take advantage of the strong preference buyers are exhibiting today for on-demand content.

3 Keys to Driving Webinar Attendance and Crushing the 43% Attendee Rate

You need to treat the act of getting a registrant to show up to your webinar after they’ve registered with the same amount of creativity and effort as you apply to getting someone to register in the first place. And to do this, we need to move beyond the 15-year tradition of templated webinar conformation email, templated webinar reminder email without adding intrigue or reasons for that registrant to actually show up to the event.

Here are three strategies to employ to drive webinar attendance and beat that 43%:

1.  Get the registrants invested in attending the webinar

Leverage technology to give the registrants ways to contribute to the webinar programming, and let them know they have done so along the way.

Going to attend just-any-old webinar on a topic? – maybe.

Going to attend a webinar that you’ve contributed to what’s being discussed – much more likely.

This may sound hard to do at scale, but here are two examples of ways to do this – both of which can be introduced in the confirmation email for the event:

  • Invite the attendees to submit questions on the topic in advance, and after they have submitted a question email them two days later to let them know their question will be addressed by the speaker during the webinar
  • Create a section of the webinar which registrants can vote on which topic will be covered… e.g. invite the registrants to choose from 1 of 3 topics that they’d like to see covered at the event (maybe all three end up being covered anyway…).

The more that the prospect feels like he/she is contributing to what is being presented, the more bought in the prospect will be to the event and the more likely they will show up.

2.  Market to your registrants around “Why Attend?”

If like many companies you are using boilerplate copy in confirmation & reminder emails, you are missing a major opportunity to drive webinar attendance. Treat the webinar attendance as a program conversion, and work harder to create value for the registrants and answer the question “Why Attend?”.

Start with the reminder emails -- don’t overdo it, but the reminder emails should include content such as “3 reasons you don’t want to miss this!”.

Also consider alternative ways to reach your audience and get your reminders to stand out from the masses. Do you have a service to map prospects to social media profiles? Send out social media messages e.g. via Twitter the day of the webinar.

And lastly, part of selling the attending is to manage against the concern that “it’s just too much time”. Consider calling your webinars web briefings and let the audience know that (just like TED Talks) they will be 18-minutes in length. If there is an expectation of efficiency, quality and value… you will get more people to show up.

3.  Create an impactful and differentiated webinar experience

We B2B marketers face the same challenge as broadcasters aiming to maximize their advertising revenues via live TV audiences. How do you get someone to watch a TV show live when they can DVR it? The answer to that question is the live experience needs to be unique and “can’t miss”, and we B2B marketers need to do the same. This could take different shape depending on the type of event and your prospect preferences, but areas to consider:

  • Leverage a modern platform such as On24, ReadyTalk, Watchitoo or Google Hangouts to make the online webinar environment as appealing as possible
  • Use video as part of your presentation – does not need to be live video, in fact pre-recorded video will often yield a higher production value
  • Leverage social conversations such as a specific hashtag to make the live event a unique experience
  • Offer webinar attendees something completely unique – a limited time discount offer, a T shirt, whatever it may be – the more unique, the better

The experience here can also be leveraged in #2 as part of the “Why Attend?”, and an improved webinar experience will have a carryover impact of increasing the likelihood that prospect will attend another webinar in the future.


The specifics here are almost not as important as the essence of what I’m saying – which is to treat the attendance at the event as important as the registration itself…. Which few marketers have (again, if you don’t believe that just look at the blah-blah confirmation and reminder emails that 99% of companies are using).

The act of attending the webinar is a much more significant step forward in a buying process than in the past -- because it is such a significant commitment and fewer are doing it. You will differentiate your brand on the experience you provide during the live event, and you also create the opportunity to ask questions during that live event and get spontaneous answers, to qualify the prospect and where they are in the buying process.

In part two of this post I describe how to create on-demand landing page experiences which can supplement your webinar programs in driving demand with an “always on” approach.

Seven-Step Plan to a Demand Generation Turnaround

As boards, shareholders and executive teams seek predictable revenue, they apply pressure on sales and marketing leaders to drive sustainable growth. Today with buyers  in control and sales organizations increasingly blind to the first two-thirds of the buying process, demand generation teams have moved front and center as the key driver of this growth. And most have a ways to go in putting a demand generation machine in place to predictably drive growth requirements.

This is a seven-step revenue growth marketing approach to provide a measured, well-paced and action-oriented blueprint for the demand gen turnaround that so many businesses are demanding today.

1.       Agree to Lead Definitions

Maribeth Ross covers the key revenue stages in this article; the Marketing Qualified Lead definition is absolutely vital. By establishing a joint MQL definition with Sales, marketers create a quality metric for leads and establish a clear handoff point to the sales team, which in turns helps sales perform better with the MQLs that marketing generates.

I find that most struggling demand gen teams have a lack of clarity around this definition which therefore means there are wild fluctuations historically in lead quality that make results difficult to measure, and also make sales’ job more difficult in following up the leads they receive.  The MQL definition  provides a building block foundation from which to grow.

The second crucial definition that is a consistent Opportunity definition, which will enable you to use the MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate to identify top quality lead sources. 

2.       Get Quick Wins On Board – Here’s Five to Get You Started

While most of these steps work sequentially, this one should occur in parallel to the rest. As a Demand Generation leader, you want to make short term impact to support the sales organization and demonstrate that you are able to simultaneously consider short term lead and revenue objectives while building long-term marketing strength.

These are five “quick-wins” that can bridge the gap while demand generation fundamentals are being developed

Quick Win #1 – Late Stage Content

In a Demand Gen turnaround you can’t do everything all at once. So I first prioritize late stage content to help identify and move prospects entering a buying process closer to sales. Look to reface or repackage late stage content, feature it on your website as a means to capture MQLs and drive these assets through syndication programs to bring in later stage prospects. Late stage content include vendor comparisons, evaluation guides and product webinars both live and on-demand.

Quick Win #2 – Website Conversions

Your website is your last step in converting leads for sales, so any improvements you can drive there will have immediate impact. Look at forms and user paths to eliminate friction and improve conversion rates. Ensure forms driving MQLs to sales don’t have any extraneous fields or unnecessary distractions.

 Quick Win #3 – Invest in a Paid Search Agency

If you have been running your paid search account in-house, chances are you would benefit from bringing in an agency expert to help you improve performance. I find some marketers are reluctant to pay the 13-15% management fee, however with the ever growing complexity of paid search and varied opportunities within it, don’t be short sighted and rather challenge an agency to double your paid search performance for the 15% investment you make with them.

Quick Win #4 – Align Webinar and Content Topics to the Problems You Solve

Lead Gen webinar topics need to walk a fine line. It’s well understood today that lead gen (earlier stage) webinars can’t be about you and your products… they need to center around compelling topics of interest to your prospects. However I find some marketers swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, whereby the webinar topic will fail to connect it to the problems their company/product solves so therefore it’s ineffective in driving leads for sales. Adjusting webinar topics (as well as other content including PR) to speak to broad topics and connect these topics to the problems you solve should increase yield from these programs by a multiple.

Quick Win #5 – Nurture New MQIs

If you don’t have a lead nurturing program in place to nurture new MQIs, put one in place. Start simple – it can be a series of emails driving to a single landing page or microsite, as having that initial nurture program in place is essential to establish a baseline from which you can grow. You will need lead nurturing in place to extract full value out of your lead gen programs.

3.       Benchmark Performance by Channel

Benchmark your historical performance to create the picture of how demand is being generated today and what metrics need to move and by how much to drive the required business growth. Benchmarks should include:

  • MQL to opportunity conversion rate
  • Opportunity to win rate
  • Website traffic by channel (organic, referral, direct) and conversion rate
  • Size of active marketing database and conversion rate
  • Paid Search account performance, split out by branded & non-branded search, retargeting and display network ads

4.       Build a Revenue Growth Calculator

Using the benchmarks you’ve established, build a revenue growth calculator which shows how these numbers need to move in order to meet the revenue growth plan for the business.  To do this you will also need to know the required future bookings (based on average sales cycle), the average order value and the % of business you are looking to drive from net new vs. existing customer.

Take the current baseline, and create an outward plan showing to where the metrics need to move. Ideally you can do this such that you set metrics that exceed your MQL requirements by 10-20%. This becomes a plan which sales and marketing can partner on with clear ownership and accountability.

5.       Closed Loop Tracking of Lead Stages & Programs

To manage the metrics you set out in #4, you will need a closed loop marketing system to track the effectiveness of programs and lead progression in general. I discussed the ‘how’ around this in a previous article Six essentials to setting up a closed loop marketing system.

6.       Help the Sales Team “Beyond Just Leads”

This is a parallel set of activities which will help in establishing demand generation as “more than just leads” and driving impact on demand at all stages of the buying process. The types of programs are crucial as they can help the sales organization overcome a near term lead shortfall, and as leads grow ensure that are best converting leads into opportunities and wins. 

Areas to consider helping sales include:

  • LinkedIn Coaching – Encourage sales to connect with all customers on LinkedIn so as customers switch jobs the reps are the first to know; this also grows their network so they can best leverage LinkedIn as a prospecting tool; encourage the rep to set up their profile from a consultative, customer-centric standpoint so when prospects view their profile, the rep leaves a strong impression.
  • Personalized Landing Pages for the rep to use with prospects and customers – Build a personalized landing page such as this one which puts the Rep front and center and wraps useful content around the rep. This is a page a rep can use and apply at various stages of the buying process including their own prospecting activities.
  • Coaching on Asking for Referrals – Remind the Reps that they, via the products and services the company provides, add immense value to customers, so asking for a referral is helping and not selling, and part of the sales process should include a follow up process to ask for referrals.
  • Help Sales Improve MQL to Opportunity Rate – Ensure system handoff on MQLs is clean, ensure reps are armed with questions to ask to establish pain and value, and consider automated nurturing programs for free trial evaluations.
  • Help Sales Improve Win Rate – Inventory and improve the content sales uses during the opportunity phase; look at interactive content such as assessment tools to take this to the next level, and also consider web-based tools that sales can use to share content and best support their buyer champion during the opportunity phase.

7.       Drive Towards the Revenue Growth Plan

With the plan via the Growth Calculator established in #4, the tracking of programs in #5 and the holistic view of helping the reps in #6, now monitor and measure performance towards these goals. Identify high and low performing activities through your closed loop tracking – slice and dice including program types, lead sources, calls to action, and segments by vertical, size, geography, job function or buyer characteristics.

As you identify top performers, assess the possibility of shifting investments in time or resources into these top performers. And as you identify low performers, make decisions to either invest in improving these low performers, or drop them.

The metrics based approach and visibility should ensure you get buy-in and support for the steps needed along the way and keep you well aligned with sales as you build the demand generation required to best drive the business.

Predictive lead scoring and your targeting stack – making sense of the options for reaching your target buyer

Targeting. Retargeting. Firmographic… demographic... behavioral… psychographic... targeting.

We see more and more technologies and techniques to reach a target audience emerge, seemingly by the minute.

The crossover between these different options is becoming overwhelming – how are they the same, how are they different, and how should a demand generation marketer figure out which ones to use?

I set out to bring some order to this mish-mosh of targeting options that demand generation marketers have today. And here’s what I got (so far).

Why has targeting become all the rage?

While there at least a dozen solid reasons, here are four I see driving it:

1. Content marketing best practices are demanding it

As companies build personas and target strategies to specific roles and verticals, the next logical step is to build programs that reach those target audiences in the most efficient way.

2. Email isn’t enough

Email is just one marketing channel and has significant limitations, the biggest one being that you can only email those you have in your database. Additional marketing channels are required beyond email to reach new audiences, extend your reach and meet demand generation requirements.

3. Closed loop marketing systems optimize for effectiveness

As marketers build closed loop marketing systems, they can hone in on the elements of what makes their most effective marketing investments. This drives the insights that feedback additional targeting requirements to make future investments more effective.

4. Vendor innovation

VC investments in marketing technologies continue to grow  -- many of the companies mentioned in this article have received significant investments as they look to capture their share of the marketing budget.

What are the different ways to target?

I have split these out as five techniques to reach an external audience, three techniques to target visitors on your website and then a final emerging category all to itself.

External Audience

1. Retargeting Via Cookie

How it’s done:  Visitors to a website are cookied and then targeted with banner ads as they visit other sites.

Advantages: Tend to be cost effective compared to other techniques.

Disadvantages: Limited to those who have already visited your website, so it’s really a method of conversion optimization and not reaching a net new audience.



2. Targeting Specific Database of Prospects, through Publishers

How it’s done: Provide the publisher with your prospect database and then target programs to those specific individuals. 

Advantages: Can supplement active nurturing programs to laser target those participating in nurture streams with additional content impressions in a credible context – reach your audience where “they spend their time.”

Disadvantages: Limited only to those only in your database, so it’s a method of enhanced nurturing not reaching a net new audience.


I could not find specific examples but I have to believe publishers today are offering this by requesting “house databases” from marketers; in addition I wonder if any of the social networks allow for this 1:1 targeting. If you are aware of specific offerings that fit this profile, please share that info in the comments section and I’ll update


3. Targeting via Demographic (e.g. Vertical)

How it’s done: Marketer provides target information and programs focus in specifically on those targets to take best advantage of spend.

Advantages: Now we are getting to the sweet spot of this list where the targeting capabilities should offer significant advantages to marketers.

Disadvantages: Not so much a disadvantage, but if leveraging display ads you will need to invest in message/creative for the display ads and the content for the landing page conversion to maximize the effectiveness of these investments.



4. Targeting Via Named Account

How it’s done: Supply a specific named account list to a publisher, and run programs directly to that set of companies.

Advantages: Phenomenal way to align with sales programs by targeting to the specific accounts sales is going after and supporting outbound efforts – so for example we have a outbound calling/email program targeting the same named accounts supported by targeted display ads to those accounts – integrated with a capital I!

Disadvantages: I haven’t seen these programs offered with a role-based targeting overlay, so they tend to target via company and some level of page content but not guaranteed to be reaching the right roles within your segmentation.



5. Targeting via Contextual Content

How it’s done: Targeting an audience based on contextually relevant content, Google has been doing this for years with ads through their content/display network, and now the latest fad has evolved to distributing blog & article content via a similar manner.

Advantages: Can be a cost effective way to reach a new, relevant audience. In the case of the contextual content promotion, it provides a means to grow traffic to supplement traditional SEO efforts.

Disadvantages: Google’s content network has long been plagued with quality issues, and that same issues applies to contextual content promotion. Marketers can grow their traffic but is it above your quality bar?


  • Google’s Display Network – banner ads based on page content
  • Reactor Media – editorial posts as “you might also like” boxes based on contextually relevant content  
  • Outbrain – contextual content promotion via publishers through


On Your Website

6. Targeting Anonymous Visitors by Industry or Company

How it’s done: These companies have mapped IP addresses to companies and then categorized those businesses by industry to allow for real-time targeting of content by industry or other company based demographics such as revenue.

Advantages: For a first-time visitor without even being cookie or registered on your site, content relevance by industry can lead to significantly higher engagement and conversion.

Disadvantages: Not so much a disadvantage but a challenge – requires close work with content creators to ensure the right industry-specific content exists to leverage these capabilities. You can create industry-specific versions of your website – messaging, case studies, content and offers all industry specific.



7. Targeting Known Visitors

How it’s done: This requires a personalization engine to be directly connected to the marketing automation platform holding the lead specific data. So for example, if you had customers identified and wanted to communicate with them a certain way on the website. The possibilities are endless.

Advantages: Truly powerful, only limitation I suppose is that you need to have the individuals cookied via your marketing automation which means having them click an email from you or fill out a form to get the cookie down.

Disadvantages: Again, not so much a disadvantage but with all the possibilities need to have strong internal know-how to prioritize what you are trying to accomplish and manage it.


  • Marketo Real-Time Personalization (formerly Insightera and now referred to by Marketo as "RTP") – Individual personalization based on lead record data from the Marketo Lead Management platform. RTP syncs this data to enable real-time personalized website content based on that known lead’s data. (I confirmed this with David Myers, the Product Manager for RTP).

8. Behavioral Targeting

How it’s done: An engine which collects history of click patterns by prospects and connects it to at least one outcome (e.g. Page View, MQL, Opportunity) to then determine relevant related content or next action for future site visitors  

Advantages: Can be a powerful addition to a website to drive engagement based on past data

Disadvantages: Behavioral targeting based on past click patterns (e.g. most popular next content from past visitors to a specific piece of content) does not connect the viewing of that content to a positive outcome, so the most effective engines will also factor in attaining a marketing goal such as MQL or Opportunity.


  • Marketo Real-Time Personalization (formerly Insightera) – This can be accomplished both with the content recommendation engine as well as leveraging the RTP platform for targeting rules. For example a targeting rule could be based on behavioral segmetns e.g. clicks, visits, referral, search term or specific page visits - powerful stuff.
  • Evergage – Also Website Personalization- although hard to tell exactly how they do it from their website and what the targeting is based on - need to learn more about these guys.
  • I’m sure there are more out there but I can’t place any right now, so this is another area where I’d welcome feedback


Predictive Lead Scoring

9. Predictive Targeting aka “Predictive Lead Scoring”

How it’s done: Such a hot topic that I gave it a category all to itself, these “big data” vendors are collecting some aforementioned data (marketing automation, CRM, website) and coupling that with additional data sources including product usage logs, customer support history and social websites to then predict high probability qualified leads for targeting purposes. At that point, what happens? Most likely the data is then fed into a marketing automation tool to trigger a campaign or program to target that lead or in some cases these vendors own web personalization engine to target web content based on these predictive models.

Advantages: Instead of guessing at a lead scoring model which ultimately misses many key factors, the promise of these systems is achieve the benefits of lead scoring to your demand generation without the pain and hassle of building your own model.

Disadvantages: If these leads are being handed off to Sales or Teleprospecting team, need to build confidence in the “black box” so that these predictive scored leads are pursued with the same belief in the leads as others.

Examples: These companies are all “talking the talk” and at the same time SiriusDecisions is seeing adoption of these technologies accelerating.

Conclusions & key takeaways

Having sifted through this, three key points stand out:

#1 – Options are plentiful, consider your needs and choose wisely

The more integrated your solutions, the more you will be able to ensure you are managing a closed loop system with clear measurement and reporting. It’s okay to use multiple platforms but where you can, standardize on a smaller set of vendors, and ensure you have a marketing automation platform which can serve as the hub of your targeting tools.

#2 - Marketo Real Time Personalization stands out as an emerging player

Looking at the options for web personalization in this way helped show the true potential of Marketo’s Real-Time Personalization platform, formerly Insightera. Tying web personalization to the Marketo database can be a truly unique capability, and on-site behavioral targeting based on content consumption is another area where Marketo can stand out.

#3 - Predictive Lead Scoring will become a must-have for mature marketing automation users

I don’t love the name, but when you consider that these companies can serve as an engine incorporating many of these aforementioned targeting criteria – web history, content consumption, demographic data plus purchase data, product data and social media – the possibilities are powerful. One of the questions I intend to explore here is understanding how these vendors enable targeting actions – is the standard to simply feed information back to marketing automation that indicates the lead is a key target, or do the capabilities extend beyond that? It may turn out the predictive lead scoring systems only specialize in the data processing and predictive targeting, and that information then feeds into the targeting mechanisms we’ve outlined here.

This is a rapidly evolving space, so please leave additional ideas, comments or corrections via feedback, and I’ll continue to update this post with the latest information.

When is a Blog More Than a Blog, Let's Count the Ways

The value of a company's blog in delivering a steady stream of topical, keyword-rich content for a company’s website to support its inbound marketing strategy (and inbound web traffic) has been well documented and is generally well understood.

But it may not be the most significant benefit a business gets from its blog, especially in the early going.

The blog as a vehicle for low friction, high volume content creation is potentially even more valuable, especially in the first 1-2 years where the blogging program will likely not cause a significant spike in web traffic.

TechValidate has done multiple studies on the challenges of content marketing, and top challenges for the creation of content include “takes too much time” and “too labor intensive.” By providing a medium for more “bite size” content without as heavy an approval process, many business have proven they can produce blog content at a much faster pace than other types of content deliverables such as white papers.

So the true value of the blog extends beyond the incremental inbound web traffic to leveraging the blog as a feeder to other content deliverables. These are 4 Ways to Leverage your Blog, Outside of your Blog that you may not be doing today.

1.       Create a monthly “Top 5 Blog articles” for customers or prospects

Instead of investing time in e-newsletters, you can link to “best of your blog” via email and tailor the articles you choose based on the audience. Apply the time spent creating a newsletter to other content creation activities while generating more audience for the blog.

2.       Create a quarterly Journal or Complication of Articles

Although blogs tend to be short form as standalone articles, if you combine 4-8 articles on related topics (e.g. by topic, vertical) you should end up with an impressive overview looking at a core topic from multiple vantage points. Lay this out into a document and then this can become a higher value asset you leverage for demand generation – content syndication, email offer, website resources – that otherwise might take you several months to produce.

Packaging it as a journal or compilation should also raise the perceived value of the content from “just a blog” for part of your audience.

3.       Lead Nurturing Content

Don’t overthink your content requirements for lead nurturing. If you have a blog on a specific topic, that is a great asset type to include as part of your lead nurturing. With the high volume of content required for lead nurturing, leveraging blog articles is a great way to feed the content beast.

4.       Package for Sales

Mine your blog for articles that sales can leverage… e.g. articles that speak to a specific customer objection, or perhaps those that tell the ROI story. The blog can be a great forum for sales to deliver credible content without as high a formality bar… maybe you don’t have a formal ROI model but you have a blog article with an Analyst discussing approach to ROI.

Sales can get immense value from blog articles but they will need to be “spoon fed” to the sales team with clear direction on when to use them.


So where are you reading this article about ways to leverage your blog, outside of your blog?  If it’s not on-page via an inbound search, now that would be very meta, wouldn’t it?

3 Keys to Making Content Syndication Programs Deliver

At a recent MassTLC DemandGen roundtable, the collective view of a group of 35 demand generation professionals towards content syndication programs was lukewarm. Jonathan Burg of Apperian described it as content advertising (to me implying the impact on metrics like MQLs are much further down the pike), and I’ve heard some of my colleagues describe content syndication as “super top of the funnel”.

Content syndication programs can be very tricky to get right; I have found these 3 Keys to Making Content Syndication Program Deliver as part of a demand generation mix. 

1.       Ensure the publishers are aligned with your metrics

Explain to the publishers you are working with that we have a closed loop marketing system which tracks programs and follows leads through to MQL, SAL and SQL and the opportunity impact, and that the way you determine future investments with publishers is based on the success of the program (hopefully this is the case or you are at least working towards this!).

This immediately aligns the publisher around your business metrics, not their publisher metrics which are typically going to be based on the volume of raw leads they are providing you.

What this also accomplishes is when running into the inevitable lead quality issues, it becomes a very easy conversation to get ‘make-goods’ because it’s in the publishers best interest to provide as much as possible for your program if they know that future investment with them is going to be based on how they perform relative to their peers.

2.       Align topics to those of prospects entering the buying process

For these cost-per-lead programs, publishers are charging you a flat cost per lead, but we demand gen professionals know that “not all leads are created equal.”

It stands to reason that the best way to drive the highest probability of higher quality (later stage) leads with highest probability of becoming MQLs and beyond, is to feature later stage assets for your syndication – Buyer’s Guides, Evaluation Guides, Vendor Landscapes.

These typically are not the first assets that publishers will recommend when constructing a syndication program with you, but that’s where it becomes vital to align the publisher with your objectives. I’ve had publishers say to me “we can use these assets, but we are going to get a lot less leads,” and my answer to that is “that’s okay.” I’d rather run, for example, 5 syndication programs across 5 different publishers that are 1/5 in lead volume but higher quality than a single syndication program of lower quality.

The key is that in a cost per lead program, your goal as the marketer should be quality and not volume. And you’ll unearth more quality with late stage assets than early stage.

3.       It’s okay to use top of the funnel assets but be prepared

If you have a limited budget and short term MQL aspirations, then focus on the late stage asset approach above, but if you have additional budget and looking to build a continuous demand gen program, then add in assets from further up the funnel – but be prepared around what’s happens next for the leads you bring in.

You will need nurture programs for the prospects, and be prepared to closely monitor, measure and evolve these programs. Like many types of programs in marketing, these are hard to get right and you will likely be underwhelmed with your initial results. You’ll want resources focused on continually improving and optimizing these nurture programs to get value out of the top of the funnel syndication leads.

If you can get all three of these pieces in place (alignment with publishers on metrics, a healthy set of late stages assets, and an MQI-to-MQL nurture program), then you can make content syndication a strong contributor to your demand generation. And the good news is you should be able to turn up he dial at that point to drive even more volume through your engine.

How does this compare to your experience with content syndication? Has it be a steady contributor for you and how have your content syndication investments been evaluated?

3 Ways to Jumpstart Marketing and Sales Alignment (MassTLC inspired)

Last week I attended the inaugural MassTLC Demand Gen peer group headed by Christine Nolan of MassTLC and Jonathan Burg of Apperian – it was a vibrant discussion with 35 of the top revenue marketers in the Boston area.

It was striking that with a group of that experience, sales alignment (or lack thereof) was the most common area of frustration shared by many.

We were only able to cover some of the potential remedies in the discussion, so it inspired me to write and share this post – 3 Ways to Jumpstart Marketing and Sales Alignment.

What these three practices have in common is they should help build that alignment by putting marketing on the same side of the table as sales by aligning around common goals.

1.       Build a metrics-based MQL Plan

Also discussed in detail here, you, the demand generation marketer, should work backwards from the revenue forecast and use assumptions around conversion rates to show to both marketing and sales the number of MQLs required to meet the plan.

This accomplishes two things for you:

  • It demonstrates to sales that your demand generation / marketing plan is aligned to their sales plan
  • It solves another problem expressed by a number of the marketers in the room – which is how do you govern processes such as sales acceptance of marketing leads? By building those assumption into your plan, it gives you a leg to stand on when reviewing numbers with sales management… if the metrics such as sales acceptance rates dip below the plan, it should become clear to sales management that the issue should be addressed. It’s not you, marketing, telling sales there is an issue -- it’s a lack of alignment to the plan which should flag the issue.  

2.       Build marketing programs around the sales reps

This next one is a win-win -- make your marketing programs more effective AND build alignment with the sales team.

Here’s an example and here’s how it works:

  • Create “Rep Web Pages” which position each rep as an expert in their field. We demand gen need to remember that -- assuming our products are sold through sales reps -- then we not only need to market our products but also the reps whom prospects need to buy from – because nothing will be bought without a conversation with the rep.
  • The pages include content of value to prospects and provocative questions representing a discovery conversation the rep wants to have with the prospect -- these are both credibility builders for the rep.
  • The page also links to the their LinkedIn profile with similar messaging around the rep for social validation.
  • Email programs both for outbound prospecting and nurturing are emails from the rep (plain text emails with their photo at the bottom), anchored by these rep landing pages aimed to attract the attention of the prospect and move them through the buying process.

The Reps not only should feel good about seeing marketing putting them front and center, but the personalized approach to connect with prospects is a highly effective technique to break through today clutter of information overload. 

Other extensions of this including reps adding this page to all of their email signatures, accompanying emails with calls/voicemails directing prospects to their page and providing intelligence to the reps on who has visited their page to prioritize follow up efforts.

3.       Provide more direction for sales on how to best leverage marketing’s content

In his book “The New Rules of Sales Enablement”, Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research quoted an American Marketing Association stat that 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales.

A significant piece of this 90% comes from assets not being packaged and served up with clear direction to sales for how to use them. It’s a pain point for every sales organization and solving that pain point is a great way for marketing to achieve that “same side of the table” status.

I recommend providing both email templates and the related content assets, grouped in categories that are actionable for sales.  The first grouping would be buying stage, then by role, industry and/or topic.

  • Prospecting  – assets used to attract attention and establish need
  • Discovery – assets used to educate prospects during the discovery phase
  • Opportunity – majority of assets for sales use will be during the opportunity phase. An area which marketing can help sales is providing sales with content that reps can provide their primary buyer to share with their buying team – content which help cement the value for the solution for each member of the buying team. Another asset type which sales will appreciate are objection handlers… content that they can share with prospects to address common questions that could otherwise stall out their deals.

So what do you think? Please share other tips and tricks you've found for alignment between marketing and sales.

CEOs and Boards of Directors: Should your marketing team be paid on variable compensation?

Mike Volpe, the CMO of HubSpot, recently published this article entitled “CMO Warning: Don’t Tie Marketing Incentive Compensation to a Metric.” Mike shared six reasons why tying marketing compensation to a metric could have adverse impact on the marketing team and the business.

I shared the article with my Sales Operations colleague who is often championing for metrics-based compensation for marketing, and she asked me “So what do you think?”

When I paused to think about it, what I realized and shared back with her is that for performance-based marketing compensation to have a positive impact, you would need these five things to be in place:

  1. Strong Marketing Leadership - to communicate and manage the program
  2. A clearly documented & agreed to MQL Definition with sales
  3. MQL goals aligned to the business plan, based on revenue targets, forecasted win rate & forecasted MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate – I have discussed a planning process for this here
  4. A plan for how the MQL numbers will be attained – I have discussed building a bottoms-up MQL plan here
  5. Closed loop reporting visibility to measure effectiveness of each vs. goal – in this Aberdeen CMO Essentials article I discussed how to do this with six essentials to setting up a closed loop marketing system.

Now here’s the rub - the marketing organization that has these five components in place should be set up to meet and exceed their target numbers, so the performance based conversation should be seen as a massive positive (not a negative) provided that like Sales there is no cap around the upside marketing can attain based on their performance. So it shouldn’t be seen (by either Marketing or the Business) as attaining a % of your bonus based on meeting MQL objectives, it should be seen as earning a % of the revenue growth driven through marketing’s efforts to meet and exceed the revenue growth plan.

And for those organizations that don’t have the five aforementioned points, any attempts at performance based compensation will surely lead to conflict and negative ramifications like those detailed by Mike Volpe.

So for marketing management, whether or not compensation is tied to specific MQL metrics, having an approach like it is, will help ensure the process and systems are in place to best ensure success.  

And the best case scenario for boards of directors, executive teams and marketing teams alike – and the whole business for that matter –is that marketing drives the pipeline at the pace required for the target business growth (and beyond) and is rewarded for doing so in line with the performance.


Building a bottoms-up MQL Plan

Moneyball Marketers want to take the guesswork out of demand generation. The best way to do this is building a bottoms-up MQL plan to reach and exceed MQL targets. Ideally the plan targets 10-20% lift vs. the MQL target number established in the revenue team’s planning process.

These are metrics you’ll want to benchmark and then establish targets for and monitor.

Website – Recommend approaching traffic measurement as an integrated approach incorporating Digital Marketing, PR & Social resources.

  • Organic Search Traffic
  • Organic Search Conversion Rate
  • Referral Traffic
  • Referral Traffic Conversion Rate
  • Direct Traffic
  • Direct Traffic Conversion Rate

Paid Search – Ensure you are looking at paid search segmented by these four areas as they all behave differently and investment and optimization decisions should be varied for each.

  • Branded Search
  • Non Branded Search
  • Retargeting Ads
  • Display Ads


  • Net New Program MQIs
  • Same-Month Conversion Rate (e.g. from a ‘Burst Nurture’) – this will tell us when we do outreach what % of prospects are ‘ready for sales’, I typically see this as a range between 2-10%


  • Active Nurture Database
  • Monthly Conversion Rate – This is where lead nurturing and teleprospecting to the database pays-off, as it helps bring yield from past marketing programs that helped grow the activity database but leads were not yet ready to engage.  
  • ** Note I would include recycling of closed/lost opportunities in this active database although it also can be split out separately

Outbound Calling

  • Contacts per month
  • Conversion Rate

The bottoms up plan help in multiple ways:

  1. Educate outside the marketing team to various components of the plan and move away from all “all or nothing” measurement – Exec Teams tend to ask questions like “are we hitting the MQL numbers?”… this allows for education to show which areas are growing faster than expected or slower than expected.
  2. Which leads to the second benefit, as it will help guide investment decisions going forward, which is top of mind to both the marketing and exec team. Are there areas growing well whose growth can be accelerated with investment? Are there areas underperforming who require investment to improve and mitigate risk?
  3. Help hold various contributors to the marketing programs accountable – often outside agencies are involved and this allows them to see how they fit in the plan.

And last but not least  -- having a plan greatly increases the chances that you’ll  hit the plan!

Answering the question, “How many MQLs do we need?”

A data driven marketing plan needs to start by answering the question, “How many MQLs do we need?”

Although it can be calculated with straightforward arithmetic, ambiguity around some of the details has thwarted many a marketing team, so let’s walk through it.

Here’s the assumptions that you’ll need – for each product line x country or geographic region.

  • Revenue Target – If it’s a high growth business, you could calculate each month with the appropriate # of leading months based on the average sales cycle. Alternatively if you are planning this annually you could take the monthly average over a 12-month plan.
  • Makeup of Business By – Here’s where this can either get complex or stay simple. Marketing and Sales will want to agree where the source of business is expected to come from these sources, or all that apply to your go-to-market strategy:
  • Net New Customers (Inbound / Marketing Programs)
  • Net New Customers (Outbound) …. Worth splitting out for two reasons – conversion rates and deal size will likely vary, and the responsibility for generating the business will likely vary vs. Inbound/Marketing Programs.
  • Existing Customers
  • Cross Sell (e.g. from other product lines)
  • Partner Driven Deals

For each of the above you will want to then have these assumptions:

  • Average order value (based on how the above number split this will then allow you to calculate # of wins you need over the time frame)
  • Win Rate (this will then allow you to calculate # of opportunities you need)
  • MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate (this will then allow  you to calculate the number of MQLs)

The next step is then taking your MQL target and building a bottoms-up MQL plan.

Marketo’s Latest & Greatest - a Tale of Two Products a.k.a. Some lead and some follow

At the August 12, 2014 Boston Marketo User Group (BMUG) meeting, Marketo representatives shared two areas of their latest product development – Real-Time Personalization (RTP) and Marketo SEO. 

Leaving the session, I was struck by the stark contrast between the two:

  • How they fit into Marketo’s DNA
  • Their origin & motivation (my guess)
  • Their positioning of Marketo as a leader or follower within the category

Product Functionality #1 - Real Time Personalization (in the “Lead” Category)

Marketo’s Real-Time Personalization came across as THE natural extension to everything we have seen from Marketo so far. Take Marketo’s ability to capture user specific data and deliver relevant content, and evolve that from email nurturing streams to contextual messaging during a website visit.

I also envision this evolving even more in the future to incorporate personalized ad retargeting and social marketing, either via further Marketo product development or partnering or purchasing someone like Demandbase, ReachForce or Bizo (although not Bizo themselves because they were just purchased by LinkedIn).

These are just two of the use cases that seem possible (disclaimer: I am concluding this from a 45-minute large projector demo standing in the back of a poorly ventilated second floor of Papa Razzi, not from actually using the product).

Greatly improved targeting of anonymous traffic – The strongest broad use case for anonymous traffic initially is industry-based targeting. Marketo identifies the anonymous visitor’s company based on IP lookup and categorizes them by vertical, so page content can be tailored by vertical.  Banner messaging, case studies, content and calls to action can be tailored by vertical, without asking for anything from the site visitor. This relevant content should lead to increased engagement (lower bounce rates), deeper site visits (assuming the content to support it) and higher conversion rates.

Tailoring of content for identified users – For any identified traffic (you can become identified based on filling out a form or -- don’t forget, Marketo users -- clicking an email from Marketo), whereby a cookie ties that visitor to a lead record.  Making this connection means marketers can now tailor web content based on any information they have captured around the visitor. Some ideas that come to mind here which can be made possible based on ‘tagging’ users based on their content consumption from previous program interactions:

  • Tagging users based on Key Topics /Issues, so banner messaging can be tailored to solutions to those issues
  • Tagging users based on Buying Stage, so content offers can be tailored by stage (offer an Educational asset to Early Stage; a Solution based asset to Middle Stage; and a Trial Download offer to Late Stage)
  • Categorizing role data and tailoring content by role

We could be gone from the days of rotating five banner messages to see which ones is relevant – as now we already know the primary topic of interest of the site visitor.  And gone are the days of guessing which call to action is right, as it can be tied to their stage based on past behavior.

The excitement in the room was palatable as the Marketo team walked us through these features. The story they told as they presented flowed naturally, and for me it seemed that this product development strategy HAD to be driven straight from Marketo founders Phil Fernandez and Jon Miller. Not only is it a natural extension of everything Marketo has done to date, it matches concepts that Epiphany (Phil and Jon’s previous company) brought to market in the late 1990s when Web Personalization was first introduced.

The difference between what Marketo has now, and the Epiphany pre-Millennial engine is that this Marketo web personalization product can be run by the masses of marketers.  Once tracking code and content deployment code are installed on the website, then the personalization rules can be managed via a user friendly rules based interface that Marketo administrators are used to.

I really like how Marketo is NOT trying to place in the CMS market here, and rather presenting their content targeting more like embed code that marketers use in appropriate sections of the website for messaging, content offers and calls to action.

This has leadership written all over it and I see this extending into retargeting, social marketing and more.

Product Functionality #2 – Marketo SEO (in the “Follow” Category)

Whereas the RTE discussion was vibrant and natural, as the presentation shifted into the SEO topic, the “story” became forced. Should the Marketo folks be educating around SEO vs. SEM? How should they be advising customers to deal with issues like backlinks that are oh-so-important but oh-so-critical to handle correctly? Is this SEO tool to replace other SEO tools or is this an SMB starter kit? A good proof point of the Marketo approach towards this is one of the reps commented “This may be not be for you if you’re using tools like CloudEdge.”  Um, ya mean BrightEdge?  Let's just show it didn't show much understanding of the market they are playing in.

While the RTE presentation told an integrated story, this SEO walkthrough felt disjointed, a periphery tool to Marketo’s core capabilities. Do keywords have a place on Marketo landing pages? I suppose, but very low in priority since we know that the SEO value of sub-domains that Marketo landing pages usually reside on is very limited vs. core website content.

So why did the Marketo build this?  Here’s my guess:

Whereas RTE is driven from the founders and company DNA, Marketo SEO is driven by request from the sales organization.  “We need that checkbox in the features comparison”. They don’t want to show up with a blank in a column where HubSpot has a solid checkmark not to mention owning the concept of Inbound Marketing, and as the two lone marketing automation soloists continue on a Purple vs. Orange collision course, Marketo management wants all i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

So I do get it, it’s just that the contrast struck me hard. One Marketing Automation Platform, 2 Hours of Demos, 2 Product Feature Sets – 1 a strategic platform development, and the other a “me-too” tool.

And whereas I get why Marketo built the SEO tools, especially with INBOUND 2014 around the corner, I just wonder how much investment went into it and could that have been better spent on leadership and not a “me-too” product checkbox.

[Downloadable Tool] Planning and Measuring the Capacity of your Teleprospecting Program

I created this Teleprospecting Capacity Model to help manage a teleprospecting program in four ways:

#1 – Setting daily call targets for the teleprospectors – The model shows the impact that the daily number of calls has on the ability to meet targets, and it sets a clear requirement with indication to the Teleprospecting resources of why driving that number up is important.

#2 – Defining the target number of leads as input to the program – Likewise it provides clarity to the demand generation manager on exactly how many leads per time period the model supports. So programs can be tailored accordingly.

#3 – Creating a framework to define the optimal call treatment – The teleprospecting manager can adjust the number of calls and the frequency of the calls and see what the model will support.

#4 – Create a clear delineation on when additional teleprospecting resources will be required – As assumptions are met, there is a clear distinction where additional leads should drive the requirement for the addition of a new rep.

You can download the Teleprospecting Capacity Model as an Excel spreadsheet. 

There are six inputs to the model:

  1. Daily call capacity
  2. Number of leads (MQIs) passed to reach rep per week
  3. Number of calls made per week to each lead –“1” means one call per week; “2” means two calls per week and “0.5” means a call every other week
  4. Number of calls in calling program – how many calls does each prospect receive as part of the program
  5. Average duration through the program before dispositioned (e.g. moved to qualified, nurture or disqualified) – as a percentage
  6. MQL Targets

The output of the model is two-fold:

  • Coverage – How many calls per week is the rep forecasted to be above/below the number of calls required from the model
  • Required Conversion Rate – The required conversion rate will tell you how many MQIs need to be converted per MQL per month. MQI-to-MQL conversion rates typically range from 2-10% so you want to see where you fare on that spectrum.

In addition to tracking this model over time, the specific performance reports to accompany this are:

  • Each week – looking at the number of leads that came in, and the total number of leads with teleprospecting; and the number of calls I the week and the % of leads called.
  • Each month – looking at the # of leads that came in, and of those leads how many turned to MQLs, Nurture, DQ or as still in progress – along with conversion rates for each. This allows you to measure both the effectiveness of the program over time as well as the quality of leads pushed month to month.

I hope you find value out of this and please share any feedback below.

Teleprospecting example of short-circuiting the RFP aka “It’s fun when something plays out just as you drew it in the huddle”

When a basketball coach draws up a play in the closing seconds of a game, and then watches his team execute the play just as he drew it in the huddle, that’s gotta be an exciting moment.

I had my business example of this occur recently, when a prospect’s buyer journey played out “just as I drew it in the huddle”.

As part of our teleprospecting strategy, one of our objectives is to “short circuit the RFP.” We want our content to help us get out in front of the buying process – knowing that today buyers are on average 70% of the way through their buying process when they engage with a sales rep. To do this we position the teleprospecting team as leading a set of expert resources who help customers get educated on issues and get best prepared for their projects.

An RFP (Request for Proposal) is a means of procuring services where the prospect reaches out to multiple vendors for bids – which leads to price discounts, procurement negotiation, delayed processes and frankly is usually inefficient for both the customer and the vendors. To avoid this outcome, the goal of the teleprospecting program is that our educational materials build such credibility with the prospect that they see no value in an RFP and want to immediately move to working with our company and leveraging our products/services.

And on this day, the scenario played out that way.

After a program of nurturing emails, anchored by educational content, our teleprospecting rep received the below email back to her. I’ve abridged it and changes names to “protect the innocent.”

From: Kenny Lightyear (
Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 6:38 AM
Subject: Information Advocate
Hi Michelle,
Thanks for your numerous messages and patience – sorry it took so long to get back to you.
…. He goes on to introduce himself and explain that they are a new company that recently split off from a larger organization….

One component that will be critical for us will be an XYZ solution.

At some point in the near future, we’ll be sending out a forma RFP to your company and others. However, I would like to take up your offer to talk about XYZ solutions is general. This isn’t an area that I have much experience in. 
The best time for me is next Wednesday, any time after noon EST. If that doesn’t work, suggest some other times and I will do my best to accommodate. 
Kenny Lightyear

What was amazing about this email message:

  • Having never spoke to Michelle before or worked with our company, he started off the message by thanking her for her patience and numerous message – it shows the approach and content of the messages were valuable as he perceived them as positive touches, and not disruptive.
  • He then apologized for the delay in getting back to her – prospective buyers are increasingly busy, and a lack of response does not necessarily mean a lack of interest – teleprospectors and salespeople need to remember this!
  • He states a need which aligns to our products, and acknowledges that the path they were headed on is the RFP

After a conversation, he agreed to take a meeting with a salesperson – positioned as a specialist.  This occurred one week after his initial email was sent, on 3/6. Key highlights from that conversation:

  • He stated a project was likely going to occur in late Q2
  • He detailed his business and technical requirements, which aligned to our product
  • He stated this time that he may issue an RFP, or he may skip it, “not sure”

Fast forward less than one month – this Insurance company became a customer by the first week in April, for a near six figure deal (which is 4x the average order value).

We did in fact, short circuit the RFP.  We went from “we are going to do an RFP” to “we may be doing an RFP” to “No RFP, we’re going with you guys.”

Call it “content driven, teleprospecting enabled buyer acceleration.” Just like we drew it up in the huddle.

Top 43 Lessons Learned from my first year as Director of Marketing

Below is a slightly edited version of an article I wrote at the one-year anniversary of Director of Marketing at Ipswitch File Transfer, sharing the top 43 lessons (tongue in cheek) that I learned. Re-reading the list, most of it can be universally applied.

  1. It’s not a strategy if it hasn’t been written down
  2. It’s not a program if it hasn’t been communicated to sales
  3. The content  doesn’t exist if it’s not in the content inventory
  4. With an inventory number (which means it can be easily updated when it changes)
  5. When presenting to the executive team, don’t tell a long story and summarize it at the end
  6. Start with your conclusions or key takeaways, single slide
  7. Then have the story to back it up & go deeper, as necessary
  8. Make sure your vendors & agencies get this too
  9. There’s power in data and best practices
  10. And we have to leverage it
  11. “I thinks” typically get won by the most senior person
  12. So use data
  13. And third party, best practice insight
  14. Get the VP of Marketing involved early in the process
  15. Talk to Sales. A lot.
  16. And talk to our Customers. Even more.
  17. If you are asked a question, answer the question first.
  18. Then get into the details
  19. We deliver on our commitments
  20. And if a committed date is in jeopardy, we communicate it early
  21. So we can do something about it
  22. If the projected start date has passed and you haven’t started it, that’s probably an issue
  23. Every project need a project manager
  24. Project managers send out meeting agendas ahead of time
  25. And afterwards recap the meeting – what’s been resolved, what’s open, next steps
  26. As part of a project make sure you define how you are going to measure it
  27. And who needs to approve it
  28. Don’t schedule a review meeting if you aren’t ready for it
  29. That can get create a lot of stress 
  30. Stop the Madness
  31. That means we’ve got a lot we want to do, but we need to prioritize based on impact
  32. And first get done the things that will move the needle
  33. Fill your Boat
  34. That means don’t feel you need to solve the difficult problems on your own
  35. Give yourself enough time
  36. And assemble the right team together
  37. Empathy is a really important skill
  38. That helps you put yourself in the head of a prospect as they go through their buying process
  39. It also helps you know where your colleagues are coming from when they give you feedback
  40. Always ask “what about International?”
  41. And “what about Channels”?
  42. Our website is our most important marketing asset
  43. And last but not least:  We have assembled a killer, veteran team over the past year. We are gelling as a group every single day. We are starting to finish each other’s sentences. One of the reasons I took this job was to become part of an outstanding marketing team leading the way forward, and we have created that team. We are well suited to learn from each other, and leverage each other’s strengths in driving the growth of our company and brand. I look forward to a lot of good times ahead together.


Seven Reasons I Love Moneyball Marketing

In the first two posts in this space, I introduced and then defined the term Moneyball Marketing.

You know what the best thing about it is? – it’s a ton of fun. And I love it.

It really makes a difference to do something you love.  In fact, whenever I interview a prospective team member or get introduced to a new team member, one of the questions I ask is “Why do you love marketing?”.

So what’s my answer?  There are many, but here’s Seven Reasons that I Love Moneyball Marketing:

(1) It works “all sides of the brain”

In school I always  had varied interests, and initially I had a hard time choosing “what I wanted to do in life.” Moneyball Marketing requires equal parts analytics, process, people management, information architecture, persuasion and creativity.

(2) You’re truly building something

I’ve heard the term Revenue Architect, and I like it. Software developers are often fulfilled by the act of coding something elegant and effective. Similarly systematic, marketing driven revenue growth requires the build-out of integrated teams, systems and processes. Processes that need to be created and refined include mapping the buyer journey and connecting nurturing programs to it; process for content production at scale; process for program development, integrated across marketing channels and regions; process for tracking the impact of marketing investments across all forms of media; and many more.

I find something fulfilling about the 'architecture' element of revenue architecture, designing something and then seeing how it works out in practice, and then evolving it further.

(3) It requires true teamwork

Revenue growth is a team sport. Four examples of the teamwork required on a daily basis for revenue growth to be operating effectively:

  • Product Marketing and Marketing Programs - to maximize effectiveness of programs leveraging the right strategy and the right content
  • Marketing Programs, Digital Marketing and PR/Social - creating integrated, cross-channel programs
  • Marketing and Sales - ensuring alignment through the generation and leads and creation of opportunities
  • Marketing and IT - ensuring the systems are in place to support closed loop marketing

(4) It’s okay to fail

This may be my favorite. Baseball hitters have a job where if they fail (make an out) 7 times out of 10, that is considered excellent performance as it translates to a .300 batting average.

In Revenue Growth Marketing, a significant part of programs analysis is to identify what isn’t working… and either drop it or fix it. Especially in the first year or working in a new marketing organization, finding out what doesn’t work is just as valuable as finding out what does work.

And we can extend the baseball adage to marketing and saying if you’re not failing at least half the time, then you’re not doing your job. Why? A/B testing is a required component to revenue growth marketing, to ensure you are evolving your understanding of what works best and have empirical data to back it up. If you are A/B testing, then half of what you do is going to ‘fail’, and that’s okay.

On that note, it’s vital to foster a culture amongst the revenue growth marketing team which says that it’s okay to fail, and in fact failure is needed. Encourage teams to fail fast, and to share the failures, and the resulting learnings, with their colleagues.

(5) It’s constantly evolving

There are new companies and technologies emerging every day. There are new techniques and best practices. Of last for me SEO has been a fun area to learn about the various perspectives and point of view, and then formulate a SEO plan that involves the creation of effective web content, the management of effective website hygiene, the development of influencer relationships to drive the seeding of content and the management of best practices around inbound links. There's always something new to learn, someone new to learn form and something to do better. 

(6) It involves helping people - meeting the needs of customers 

Around 2003 I was traveling back to New York from a Procter & Gamble pitch at Targetbase in Dallas with Matt Seiler, then an EVP at Omnciom Group and now Global CEO of IPG Mediabrands. I remember Matt, who had at that point recently had his third child, talking to me about how he explains to his kids what he does, as an advertising executive. I remember only partially understanding what he was talking about, or why he even cared to answer that question. And it was a hard question to answer, especially at that point when looking at it from the lens of an Advertiser, how do you explain to children the benefit of Advertising?

So flash forward 11 years and now I’m the father of three and I find the B2B marketer has a much clearer path to explaining the value they deliver – our job is to help people. Through the content we create, through the programs we develop, we are there to help people do their jobs better and more easily. And that to me adds an element to the job that I couldn’t have made as clear a case for in a 2003 ad pitch.  (PS - Matt is and was brilliant, and he could make the case however!)

(7) You can celebrate along the way

The beauty of measurement is we can monitor the moving of the needle along the way.  Whether it’s something we learn from an A/B test, or an improved conversion rate from a specific web channel or marketing program, or the roll out of a new activity under development… there is a lot to celebrate along the way. Lots of little victories that can boost the team and personal morale, and lead to much bigger victories down the road.