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Diary of a first-time CMO - Redirection

Hey B2B marketers

Here it is. Four years, $50m+ ARR and 200 pages later… My journey as a first-time CMO.

Covering the key learnings I've gathered in four years of leadership. This diary reveals the lessons that helped me scale Cognism from $3m to $50m ARR, build a team from 3 to 39, and transform our set-up from a classic lead gen function to a demand gen engine.

It’s my handbook for B2B marketers looking to thrive in leadership.

(especially if you’re as daunted as I was when I started out!)

Diary of a first-time CMO by Alice De Courcy
By: Alice de Courcy
1 minute read


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We earnt the right to change direction.

But what happens after you’ve made the decision to make the switch?

Understand the task by getting your reporting in shape.

By splitting out my reporting into three clear funnels: 

  • Direct intent demand demo requests.
  • MQLs (content leads).
  • And blended.

I was able to clearly see the difference in efficiency between the direct declared intent and ebook MQLs.

I needed 25 demo requests to CW 1 deal vs 500 MQLs and MDR support to CW 1 MQL deal.

When you see this, the path forward becomes pretty clear. How can I fill my marketing funnel with more demo requests? And if I do, I can cover the CW gap from MQLs quite easily.

I started to think:

How much would I pay to have my audience actually engage with and consume my content all the time, friction-free, in the places they are already hanging out?

And would this consumption of our content ultimately result in a corresponding uplift in the number of people coming to the website and requesting to talk to us because they actually have intent to buy and have educated themselves?

At this stage we had cracked the code on generating MQLs; we could get an MQL for $10.

So I figured I could reduce our MQL campaigns down to just our highest performers, meaning those campaigns that could generate the most MQLs at the lowest cost.

Then, with the rest of the money, I redeployed it into ungated, engagement-first campaigns that were aimed at educating our prospects in feed, friction-free.

With this switch I wanted to see early indicators of success, e.g. an increase in our direct demo requests month over month as we gradually ramped our create demand spend and reduced our MQL spend.

This is exactly what happened. Inbounds increased 47%.

After three months of this approach, I was able to see the increase in direct inbounds producing the increased revenue needed to bridge the MQL gap.

Not only this, we were closing them faster, at a much better conversion rate and for higher ACVs.

If I was starting over today, I would start with this approach. I wouldn’t go back to the lead gen model.

That is because I believe the way people want to buy and engage with B2B brands has changed and so the MQL playbook is unlikely to be effective for much longer. 

Want to keep up with Alice's latest CMO advice?

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