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Scaling up your marketing strategy: tips from 2 top marketers

November 16, 2021

Want to create a super B2B marketing team so you can scale up your business?

Look no further!

We’ve got the secrets to creating a lean, mean super marketing team that drives ROI with high-quality campaigns.  

And they can all be found in this article.

We spoke to Alice de Courcy, CMO of Cognism and Pete Van Neste, Head of Marketing at Pinpoint, about all the tips and techniques you need if you want to scale your marketing team.

From reducing customer acquisition cost and building a strong marketing team to KPIs for account growth and reducing churn - that’s just naming a few!

Find your favourite topic below 👇 and click to head straight there or scroll to start reading.

Maintaining growth rate | The verdict on splitting inbound and outbound | Building a strong marketing team to reach revenue targets | Creating demand with ungated content | Getting targeting right | Sales and marketing working better together | Scaling your marketing team | Listen to the podcast

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Maintaining growth rate 📈

Pinpoint is Hubspot for recruitment, a talent acquisition platform that helps recruiters do better marketing and improve their talent acquisition processes.

Since it's a heavily congested market, Pinpoint has a number of competitors, and it's up to their marketing team to ensure their growth rate is maintained.  

And they're doing just that with Pete's expert marketing guidance.

They’re currently growing at around 10% a month, and 100% of incoming revenue is marketing sourced to date.

For Cognism, maintaining growth is a bit different:

“Our marketing team at Cognism is targeted on 50% of new business revenue, but when I ran the figures for last quarter, we were at 56%, so we're actually outperforming that number significantly. So, that's how we base our plan - marketing contributes 50% with a big focus on outbound.” - Alice

When Alice joined Cognism, there wasn't much predictability to the way we did marketing.

The only channels we had working were events, so sponsored events strategy and outbound lead generation were the core purposes of our marketing team.

Alice was charged with creating a predictable engine that could get us to the 50%, and we started to hit that target about six months into the journey with no revenue coming from events:

“COVID played a big role in us scaling back events, but we'd already decided to pull back from them before the pandemic hit. What we're doing now is optimising and building our channels so we can get to a place that's predictable for us to scale.” - Alice

But the thing that really will play a significant role in whether we continue to grow our marketing team beyond outbound is efficiency and that all comes down to which channel is working best for our CAC.

For us, we've been able to keep it down to about 2.5%, which comes down to thinking ahead and staying consistent, as Alice explains:

“I'm always thinking about whether or not something will influence our CAC. Whether it's a new piece of tech or an experiment we want to try - I need to know it's going to make us more efficient and give us more opportunities in the pipeline. If it's not, I won't pursue it.”

This goes back to when Cognism's core focus was events:

“Every time there was an event, our CAC would spike, and outbound would suffer. This is why staying consistent and making every decision with your CAC in mind is important, especially when you want to maintain your growth.”

How can you reduce your Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)?

Alice shares this practical example:

“We recently onboarded LeanData to route all of our inbound leads straight to reps, and the whole idea around this was speed to lead. We wanted to call a prospect back within five minutes because we knew this would improve our CAC. Not only have we achieved this, but our sales team's process has become more streamlined so we can give them more content leads for an increase in conversions.”

The verdict on splitting inbound and outbound 👩‍⚖️

Pinpoint is currently looking at capturing demand in the US because it's such a large audience. In the UK, they’re utilising a mix of creating and capturing demand because it's a market Pete wants to push into. He says:

“When we looked at doing outbound in the UK, we realised it's a much smaller market, and we'd quickly burn through our target accounts. They'd be great prospects for us over the next six months if we made a big outbound effort, but whether to split inbound and outbound is the question.”

When it comes to splitting the two, it’s not a matter of your TAM volume. Rather look at it from a mid-market/enterprise outbound sales perspective.

Alice says:

“They’ll have about 200 accounts to work a month, and they don’t get allocated new accounts unless an outcome has come from those accounts, which give us more runway and less wastage.”

“We call it 80/20.  If 80% of our reps are hitting their number, then we can scale more. As long as we haven’t completely whitewashed our TAM.”

Consider getting strategic with your outbound.

For Cognism, we’re seeing the most value for outbound on enterprise/mid-market accounts where you’ve got to be leveraging five or six decision-makers. This is difficult to do through marketing alone which is why you need that human touch.

Pete adds:

“It’s the same for us when we’re targeting smaller accounts. But you need to be more strategic for mid-market and enterprise accounts. So, I'd invest more in targeting those accounts.”

Building a strong marketing team to reach revenue targets 💪

It’s not just a strong outbound strategy that helps to increase revenue.

It all comes back to your marketing team, and for us, we’ve done things a little differently this year.

We’re known for having an amazing culture of hiring grads and investing in their talent as we scale, but when speed is of the essence and significantly high targets are at play, you need to shortcut the process.

And for Alice, that meant calling in the big guns.

This year, her three key new hires were on the performance side, customer marketing, and a DACH specialist for new markets.

Other changes we've implemented were to our sales team:

“We've split our customer success and account management team, so customer success is now only dealing with servicing customers to ensure they have the very best success with our product. Then, our account management team focuses on account generation, and because this is all a new journey for us, it's going to be a test and learn experience.” - Alice

What’s more, we’ve looked to hire on a global scale from London and Macedonia to South Africa. Alice says:

“We don’t look at specific countries when hiring for a role. Rather we choose the role, benchmark the salary and put it out there as transparently as possible, then, if a candidate comes from another time zone, great! But it needs to work with ours, so these countries are perfect for building our remote team.”

These hiring changes aren’t all for fun and games, though.

There’s a strategic reason behind them - we need a bigger, more experienced team to discover and qualify larger organisations.

Previously, we only focused on SMB markets, but now as we’ve scaled, we feel it’s time to broaden into mid-market and enterprise.

So, we’ve restructured our TAM to fit into three segments: SMB, mid-market and enterprise.

“This means our CAC will likely go up, as the competition is much higher and our sales cycles will increase from 60 days to 90.” - Alice

Creating demand with ungated content 🔓

Something that Alice has grown increasingly concerned about is the reliance on MQLs:

“The content engine we have is very efficient for SMB, but whether that's going to continue as we enter the enterprise market, I'm not sure.”

Thinking ahead, Alice decided to experiment with our marketing funnel by splitting it into two.

A direct demand funnel

A funnel consisting of people who come to the website and request a demo.

We can see they’re converting at a rate of 45% from form fill to opportunity.

An MQL funnel

This funnel consists of people who are coming to the site to download content or follow another marketing initiative CTA.

Here, the conversion rate consists of around 10 to 13%.

From this, it’s quite clear to see where you want to scale and what’s going to be the most effective from a CAC perspective. Alice adds:

“At the moment, we are operating at a 50/50 split. We're trying to change this to be 30% MQL and 70% demand, but a lot of the shift is about changing your mentality so you can focus on more tactical execution.”

This required us to ungate some of our best content pieces and pay to get them in front of our target audience.

By not asking for anything in return, we're measuring our success on engagement rather than leads in.

The result?

A 45% uplift in conversions.

Alice explains further:

“We've been producing fewer MQLs, but sales have been converting more of them. So while it's still an experiment, it seems to be working.”

Will we continue to use this tactic and convert to the full-on dark funnel of b2b marketing and no MQLs?

Only time will tell.

In the meantime, if you’d like to give demand marketing a try, Alice has this advice:

“The best way to do demand marketing is to make educated assumptions. Your core metrics need to stay stable, and you need to increase volume and conversion rates as you progress. Otherwise, this tactic might not be what’s best for your business.”

Pete adds:

“It’s true. While Cognism is years ahead of us in terms of growth, I also like to look at first and last touch. But then I get the sales team clamouring for us to upgrade to enterprise, and from a marketing perspective, multi-touch attribution is the one thing that we would benefit from.”

“However, do I want to invest in a strategy that’s not entirely perfect at this stage, or shouldn’t we stick to what we do know is working and performing and keeping our CAC stable?”

This brings us to Alice’s game-changing conversation with Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs, on our Revenue Champions podcast.

What he said resonated with the whole marketing team, so they got together to talk strategy. Alice says:

I was a complete sceptic when it came to Chris Walker's ideas. I invited him on the Revenue Champions podcast to debate whether or not eBooks are dead. We'd been having some great success with our gated eBooks, and I really wanted to pick his brains on why he thinks they don't work.”

“After speaking with him, going ungated made a lot more sense. So the team and I listened to all of his podcasts and dissected his process as a basis for our new strategy.”

The new strategy consisted of three awareness funnels where we had different videos and CTAs for each.

The problem with this is that it was quite difficult to manage all three campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn, and the budgets were getting smaller and smaller. We weren't sure how this was going to scale effectively without tonnes more spend.

Alice adds:

“One thing Chris mentioned in the podcast was that you can shove it all into the same campaign, which was a huge relief. Plus, it makes more sense from a scale perspective. Now, we could still measure it against what we were doing before, and the budget could increase.”

Alice's main advice for ungated and gated content is not to overthink things.

Instead, choose what works for you:

Ungate 40%, ungate 30% of your content, as long as what you're offering your audience provides them with real value.

Getting targeting right ✔️

Sometimes, being too strict with your targeting might not be the best route for your business.

But, it all depends on your target industry and its size.

At Cognism, we used to split our target industries into red, amber and green.

We’d pull all of our resources into these core industries, with green being the top target accounts.

Then a new B2B sales leader joined us, and his strategy was completely different:

All he wants is for everyone to have more conversations with any B2B business that’s interested in our product.  

However, when it comes to enterprise, we remain account-driven because our sales team has made their list of accounts based on TAM. Alice says:

“Funny enough, their list of accounts are the same as what was originally in our green industries. So we'll get more targeted with these because of the nature of the account they've selected.”

Which is where aligning sales and marketing comes into play:

Marketing should support sales by making sure they have the right information when leads come in.

To help achieve this, we've split out territory into EMEA and AMER, and we have region overlayed on top of segments. This has helped us take our sales enablement to another level.

Our product marketer is reworking our personas so we can know more about what goes into an enterprise SaaS tech organisation.

Then this information is shared with sales because the more info they have, the more they can upsell our product to these accounts.  

Sales and marketing working better together 👨‍💼

“I love the idea of an MDR role. I've always thought that SDRs should be a part of the marketing team because they deal with so many qualified opportunities, and it just takes away any friction or miscommunication between teams.” - Pete

A Marketing Development Representative is a specialised sales role developed to bridge the gap between marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads.

When first implementing this role, we considered placing it in the marketing sphere.

But that idea was quickly scrapped.

MDRs have been trained in sales, and their career trajectory is usually to stay in sales. So, when looking for new positions, other sales reps don’t take them as seriously if they appear to be marketing oriented.

We also thought about filling the role with our underperformers who weren’t great at outbound.

But this was a mistake.

You need to fill new roles with your top performers for the most success.

Then, you need to align your sales and marketing targets.

Of course, this means that if marketing doesn’t work with sales to get them leads, neither of you will meet your targets. So, it takes a lot of teamwork to get right.

Not only have we embraced the MDR role, but we’ve introduced inbound only reps too, as Alice explains:

“Our inbound reps deal with leads that come in through our website and content downloads etc., and we’ve seen a big uplift from this. We’ve also kept the inbound MDR role because we struggled to scale our MDRS for the number of leads we were getting in. So, what we’ve done is implemented LeanData, removed MQL MDRs, and now all of our leads are routed through the SDR team.”

Cognism is all about learning and growth - we want our SDRs to learn as much as possible in their roles. The inbound role is fantastic for this because they’re having a lot of conversations with prospects.

This prepares them for an AE position too, but like all roles, everyone has to earn their place, and for our sales team, it all starts with cold calling. Pete asks:

“I’ve been thinking about the SDR split, and what I’m not too keen on is having that initial call with prospects that’s SDR led and very rank-focused, especially since they are inbound and clearly high intent. Is there a qualification call when you contact your inbounds, or does the MDR need to set up a meeting immediately?”

Speed to lead is the way we do it at Cognism.

We want to get in touch with a prospect within five minutes.

But, we also don’t want to make it all about following rank criteria.

Your goal for booking meetings should be centred around creating an amazing experience for every person your reps speak to. Alice says:

“It all feeds into having someone senior in that role. We trust our reps to do what needs to be done, but obviously, we’ll keep an eye on conversions because if they drop too much, it will be bad for the organisation.”

Scaling your marketing team 📊

One thing that’s been a hot topic recently between revenue leaders is whether or not marketing teams should follow the same revenue structure as sales teams.

Alice says:

“Our marketing team has always been measured on revenue and SQOs. It's easy to tie our results back in that way, but we haven't decided to go with the same compensation structure as sales. I'd definitely be in favour of something like that, but then you also have to make sure that the people you're hiring are also comfortable with that.”

Since performance marketing and demand generation are so results-driven, you could definitely tie a similar compensation structure to their roles.

But again, it needs to be something that works for your company and employees.

Not only will it help create more of a competitive salary bracket when it comes to new hires, but it’s a good idea if you want to remove team friction.

For example, if your team feels sales gets all the incentives and commission etc.

With that said, you also need to ensure that when your team scales so does your output. Otherwise, there won’t be any fun incentives or commissions. Alice says:

“We had to hire more people to help with our output, but the one thing we saw when our team grew is the output wasn't as good as when it was just two of us doing everything. So we've had to set particular KPIs for how long each activity should take.”

To tackle this issue, Alice started to run two weekly sprints for demand gen and performance.

Here, our team uses Monday.com, a platform that helps manage workflows and track output.

We’ve found it incredibly useful for workflow transparency across the whole team. Being able to see what everyone is working on and when it’s due helps us ensure each individual has a fair amount of work and that it’s getting done within the set deadlines.  

We’ve seen our output improve as a result.

On top of these sprints, our whole marketing team attends two weekly meetings to track main tasks for the week and what’s been achieved at the end of it. Alice adds:

“Everyone is held accountable for what they’ve achieved each week, and I’ve found that when you know you have to show everyone what you've been working on, it gets done!”

“We have a lot of weekly touchpoints. We’re constantly communicating about what we’re doing and what’s holding us back. This way, we can work together to find solutions to blockers.”

Now, if you’re in a situation where you’d like to scale, but you just don’t have the resources to build up your team right now, you can look to outsourcing talent. Alice goes into more detail:

“Whoever takes charge of your marketing tasks needs to have an in-depth knowledge of your business and products to do it well. I’d suggest only outsourcing if it makes sense from a revenue perspective. Is it going to cost you more to hire someone in house to do specific tasks? Then outsource. But, keep in mind that you get what you pay for.”

“For example, we used to outsource our performance marketing, but it wasn’t worth it. You need someone checking those statistics and numbers every two hours, and that’s going to cost you more to outsource than hiring an experienced person to do it in house.”

Closing thoughts 💭

Many factors go into scaling up your business, but the number one tactic for the best results is to hire experienced people who have proven track records in their roles.

Once you have a great team in place, you can start experimenting with your marketing, compensation structure and targeting to find what works best for you.

Listen to the podcast 🎧

Found this article insightful?

You can listen to the full conversation between Pete and Alice over on our Revenue Champions podcast.

Take a listen on Spotify or Apple.

Click 👇 for your preference.

Apple 

Spotify