How to Scale Digital Marketing for B2B SaaS Companies

digital marketing for B2B saas companies

Bob Tripathi: All right folks welcome. This is Bob Tripathi with Digital Sparx Marketing. And we have a great guest today. Aaron Doherty. Aaron welcome. Yeah and you know we thought we’d talk a little bit about of course marketing but marketing for B2B and I know you Aaron have worked in a lot of different places but mostly in marketing for B2B tech. So I know right now your V.P. marketing at Hermann but. Yeah. If you can give us a little all of you about your background that would be great. So our audience know you are.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Sure yeah. I guess it’s kind of a funny story how I got started I didn’t study marketing in college I studied mathematics and philosophy actually. That was like in 2008. So the market crashes and there’s no actual jobs or anything to be had and I’m out there looking and I’m like well I did this thing in college where I used to be the old very old Google Ads interface to sort of like do some understanding of how markets work and that sort of stuff and you managed to convince a company that if they would give me a small budget and three months time where I can drive a whole bunch of new business for them. This crazy thing called search. And it did and continued to do that and sort of just grew this this love of marketing. Beyond that right. I worked for a predictive analytics company in the early days worked for Salsify one of Boston’s greatest startups right now I think they’re valued over a billion dollars. Currently WordStream another big Boston startup acquired by CNET. And now I’m done with Hermann helping this 30 year old company consulting company sort of transition to a world where they’re going to be offering their services through software and traditional B2B stuff. So it’s been a lot of fun work a lot of great people.

Transformation of B2B Digital Marketing

Bob Tripathi: That’s great. Great. I can see you are an out and out Boston New England guy but I will stop and we won’t go into those side of things. But yeah that’s great. Yeah I know this is great. I mean you know the best carry is ones where you actually fall accidentally you love it and you do more of it. So what have you seen in terms of transition like you started from search and what you do right now as B2B marketing so what have you seen change over the last 10 years.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Well I guess that’s a hard question. I think you know 10 years from marketers will give you 10 different answers. For me I think the one thing that I’ve noticed is that you I sort of join marketing when content was king when content marketing was the thing that everybody was really really excited about. And now there seems to be more of a focus on the user experience. So content is part of that experience. But it’s it’s really how the content is delivered. So video versus e-book how the content comes out to you.

It is all about user experience and content is part of that experience. It's really how the content is delivered Click To Tweet

I mean you’re just talking about chat boards versus like traditional lead pages and forms and how the content is consumed right. I mean some some sites have just taken to posting their e-books in these interactive sort of visual experiences and there’s nothing to download right in the old days would have been you download and sits on your desktop for a month and a half and you never read it. So definitely. So I think it’s the shift from the sort of number of content to companies producing and pushing downloads for to the experience to driving a really really unique experience.

Difference between B2B and B2C marketing

Bob Tripathi: It’s interesting it’s just I mean you know like the whole evolution right back in the early 2000s it was a search which was everyone’s you know boy genius right. Everyone’s favorite child. And then off goes search and then content and experience comes along as you’re saying. But yeah it’s great when you see that. But one of the big things that I see from your career is you’ve worked a lot and B2B marketing. So what according to you differentiates B2B marketing with the B2C marketing. Of course one is super dynamic. People buy it or they don’t buy it. What have you seen as a difference between the two.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: That’s again a tough question to answer. I think there’s personalization is a big thing in B2B so so account-based marketing is this big thing. I’m a big fan of that. It definitely takes a more data heavy approach to measuring what your campaigns are delivering and targeting who your audience is up front and being really specific and really personal when you reach out and we get more of like creating a customer experience for those people and consumers the opposite consumer is like how can we do a thing that’s going to catch fire on its own and then sort of take on a life you know in and of itself right.

Personalization is a big thing in B2B account-based marketing Click To Tweet

How do you create this. This. Idea and get it out to the world or have people sort of share that idea for you. The marketing is more like I need to reach you by where you are and give you the thing that you’re looking for right before you know you’re looking for it right. And have this opportunity to create a conversation so I want to see scale but it really feels like personalization is the major differentiating factor.

Bob Tripathi: So basically a network effect and giving you the resource at the right time at the right place kind of a thing you’d say right.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Yeah yeah maybe that’s my bias I you know I’m big on On Demand and ultra hard data backs.

Building Blocks Of B2B Marketing For SaaS Companies

Bob Tripathi: You worked with some of the biggest tech companies in New England Boston area. What have you seen some of the building blocks of B2B marketing for tech companies for SaaS (Software as a Service) companies like South sapphire or even road stream which with little later stage or what have you seen that differentiates those marketing organizations or was this somebody who’s not focused on marketing.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: It’s funny because I think it’s the team and the way that the team works right. So if a team has and it does need to be like super defined it does need to be I think like a way of working that incorporates the skills that you have and that gets those people to stay engaged in a way that’s sort of natural to them right. Everybody is going to have a different way of engaging. So building a core team and then building a way of working that really really helps that team to amplify their contributions. That’s key in any of our. What do you have zero dollars budget for acquisition or six million dollar budget for acquisition or 100 million or all the technology in the world or none of the technology. If you have the right team and they’re engaged and they’re contributing in a way that is natural for them you’re going to be going to take over the world. Right. Right.

Building a B2B Digital Marketing Team

Bob Tripathi: Right. So you know that’s what it is right. Like building a team especially. But the goal would be to be marketers. In this market. And you know because not everyone would know every skill. How do you go about building and looking for those superstars if you will even B players that you can make them into A players.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Yeah. It’s funny you ask because I’ve actually had a lot of expertise recruiting by teams you know and I mean literally like sending out invites on on LinkedIn or reaching out to my network and saying hey I’ve got this job I think you should consider your background looks like it’s a good fit. I guess I guess what I look for is. One a different perspective. So I think diversity of experience is essential right. A lot of times I think in this market you see this sort of need for over specialization. So we need one person to do this very narrow function and to do that thing only and to never do anything different right. I tend to look for people who have. Passion about what they do and then find a way for them to connect with the need. Right.

Look for people who have passion about what they do and then find a way to connect with the need Click To Tweet

So give me an example at WordStream. Social was fairly problematic. So we had a very large type paid acquisition budget and in a pretty company team placing ads creating ads and creating a bunch of engaging media tend to sort of deliver on those things. But what we lacked was a strong organic presence. And here’s why that’s important right. So when I’m talking about brand building we’re talking about creating this really cool thing that Facebook and Twitter do automatically called engaged with Page audience, engage your profile audience. Right. Facebook creates this automatically and it’s all of the people who have clicked or reacted rather on Facebook, shared , viewed or liked your page right to engage with your content. Suddenly it’s the sort of pre qualified organic level.

b2b marketing channel ad

And what you do is you remark to that audience you don’t create these net new programs you just remarket day on and so you get insanely low click rates like a dollar per click on a B2B sale right that is going to run you know several thousand dollars beyond that. And so in this way you can really aggressively scale marketing programs and WordStream lacked someone with the time one, and the sort of user deep experience in that community engagement aspect of that would be needed to drive and engage with page audience. So hit the brakes on LinkedIn I reached out to a number of folks and ultimately sort of found a bunch of qualified candidates here in the Boston area and settled on someone who presented so that each one of the candidates were asked to create a presentation similar to someone who presented on not just all the things that we’re doing wrong today but on all the opportunities that we could capture tomorrow right. This is in the interview process and anyone who’s seen really had a passion about what they were doing and had that sort of vision about what we can do next. And that to me says that this person is entrepreneurial. They’re engaged they’re informed about the things that they’re going to work not and they can sort of be trusted to manage it with not a lot of handholding. I think teams are a way of scaling a function right and the more you can find these people that are are capable you can scale your your overall function. And so we have made an offer they accepted brought them on board and it’s been well. I mean while I was there it was very awesome to work with them. We did a lot of great things and a lot of efficiencies for the funnel as a result.

Bob Tripathi: Now that’s good. I mean what you’re mentioning it exactly is I think number one business that should know what the problem area is that they want to hire for or look for generalists. I think even from somebody who’s building a career I think it’s more apt to be a generalist as opposed to being a specialist. I mean I’ve been interviewing recently for a digital position where we needed a generalist and we had candidates so ready like six years and paid search for example right. At many levels you want to give the underdog the chance but then how would you justify that. And so and so I think a generalist will be way better. So when you bring people on board and you know you build your team the core team that you mentioned about oh what are some of the still B2B marketing tactics for example that look for SFI or your core tactics like you know this is the first thing which is go to you know what are you up to speed on.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Agile agile agile methodology it’s typically employed by product teams engineering teams make it easy for a number of years. Marketing is an B2B marketing and in particular is just sort of. Sort of testing the waters on using the. Agile methodology in the delivery of marketing materials and sort of the advancement of the overall marketing vision. And it’s I mean the artifacts here are like sprains and scrum and retrospectives and that sort of stuff and we’ll get too deep into that. But bringing somebody on one I think you want to inform them about the product. You also want to greet them in the culture and so spending a lot of one on one time even though they need your direct word is is great to build that relationship. But to be honest you’re gonna have a lot of time to build that relationship. What what I found successful is to connect them with their peers or with the other members of the team right. Help them to feel at home feel welcome feel like they made a good decision moving through this company and Don and how we work right. A lot of the talk I find is is both how can we improve the way we’re working and what are we working on. Right. So very rarely is this sort of team level chatter about the details of a particular content marketing or something like that. It’s usually how can we do this faster or how can we make sure that we don’t miss this next time or something like that. And so onboarding new hires to that vocabulary that way of working which for me has been agile since. Since also by really. Getting them familiar with the terminology there is is absolutely essential right.


 

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Successful B2B Marketing Strategies

Bob Tripathi: Nice nice. So in terms of tactical stuff you know like lead is the central nervous system of any B2B companies right and you own more leads all the time. What are some of the things that you typically found to be successful I mean ABM is one of them your content. One of them.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: But what other things have you seen that tech companies are seeing more success so brand building and this was back to the experienced in rehab for creating a like a strong brand identity and a strong I mean like everybody in the team sort of understands the values that you’re that you’re putting out in the world that’s become a bigger thing in recent years. Molly cause there are more more discreet ways of right. More discreet ways driving value from a big campaign. You put out. So so personally right I watch Netflix and Hulu and HBO because I absolutely despise commercials. But in the same breath I’m also a connoisseur of commercials right. So when I find a commercial that I that I absolutely love for some reason I share it around with friends and my network in this stuff. And that goes to brand building in a way that engages with your target audience. You don’t need to create something that is for literally everyone. You understand your audiences develop a brand that resonates with what they need in the world. Right beyond your solution. And then and then engage them on that level.

Digital marketing trends for 2019 ad

And so like you can you can thing that I spoke about before with you. You create a video audience on YouTube for example you do pretty roll it at very low budgets and you create this automatic audience on the back end of Google to do it for you automatically of people who watched your video. They didn’t click. They didn’t you know jump right to a sales demo. They watched your video and you paid very very little for them to do that ten cents five cents you do less than that in some cases until this huge audience and then you reengage with them bring them further down the funnel with a slightly higher investment. And before you know it your closing deals that you know 30 dollar you know all in the lead cost. Right. And so. So this is sort of the long answer to getting more or less understanding the way that your your budget is being allocated for the needs that are coming in. It’s absolutely essential. And then breaking it out into into different touch points since you had fifty dollar budget per lead. Right. Why spend fifty dollars on one. Right. Why buy leads for forty nine dollars when what you could do is engage people on this experience where it starts with maybe a social interaction maybe a video interaction movie and e-mail interaction. Right. All of those things which cost a little bit each one maybe take a little bit longer to execute. But doing it you know more and more and more sort of like scaling the experience across a larger audience. You still achieve that 50 dollars GPL what you get out of it is a higher quality. It’s more engaged with your content lead that understands what you’re offering when they come in the door. And my personal favorite is a happy sales team right. Right. Right. Picks up the phone and says oh you’ve heard of us before you’re ready to talk about buying something awesome.

B2B Demand Generation Strategies

Bob Tripathi: And then you already. Yeah. So but I think you already scored them higher too right because you’ve had multiple touch points according to. So is that that becomes a core part of your demand gen strategy is that what it is.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Yeah. Multiple touch points are really essential because you know again if you if you put all your eggs in one basket and one punch one what happens when that touchpoint fails for example I’ve worked with lead vendors on occasion and they’re really great to fill a short term need. The problem is is that that one touchpoint is rarely enough to relate the complexities of a beauty solution. Right. Usually it’s like four. I mean it can be good for example for salsa by right it’s for large scale e-commerce companies with multiple products on multiple retail end points and at that point. Like there’s so much detail in what I’ve just said one touch point is not going to even come close to conveying the value. That’s all I can offer. And yet they do they offer tons of value. Right. But what you need is those multiple touch points of difference in order to reinforce the value to make that lasting impression.

Bob Tripathi: But isn’t the other thought to like you know let’s get let’s acquire the lead in the first place and then we’ll take them and put them on a no show track of some shape or form. Right. And then we’ll engage them on items once we work with an outside vendor to generate that initial lead. Right. I mean that’s easy. Yeah.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Yeah. That’s simply a way. I mean I think it depends on the buyer angle buyers are not great at opening emails. Here’s the United version respond to a merchant program which may just mean that their inboxes are full. Right. And so it’s I wouldn’t say in all cases you know an email based nurture strategy is it bad news. Right it’s great. It’s freedom. You touch points but in the event that doesn’t work for your audience there used to maybe see diversity in or diverse portfolio diversity reaching out to your audience.

Bob Tripathi: So. I mean you know you just can’t just blindly follow one path if you will. So what becomes a part of your core demand. I think multiple touch points but this content your core demand gen content contain social proof is a big one especially for right. Not just the logo wall but quotes testimonials reviews so many people are going to places like G2 crowd and trust radius these days to sort of verify your marketing plan claims that if you’re not monitoring those channels ones or stocking them with good reviews and to using the major features that they offer you’re missing out on a huge touchpoint because.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Nobody is going to enter a sales cycle without reviewing what your company does and how well you do it right.

Bob Tripathi: Right now I know we’re running out but I think one of the things that you’ve done is managing a marketing function a marketing team while the company is being acquired or in the process of acquisition. So I think that was a. One off your earlier companies that you mentioned. So how do you keep your personal performance your performance at on the job bigger. But tomorrow and next week while you know you’re being acquired you will be acquired. How do you manage to. Because if the leadership you know you can see what’s going on but the team bond and you know people get insecure on things right. So how did you manage to get votes.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Yeah a big big change events like that definitely rattled people right. And I can’t see that not everybody is going to be rattled but you know you have to do the proper gives you the preventative maintenance there and symbol for a change event times. I had the advantage of knowing that something like that was going to be on the horizon. You build tight relationships with your team. You keep them open to the idea that change could come and we could be acquired. This is a company that’s doing really really well. One of the possibilities is acquisition. And so then when it actually does happen it’s not this thing that they’ve never heard of that they totally don’t understand. A lot of coordination with with other leadership folks with the CEO with the head of sales like all of those folks. You want to make sure that you’re not only conveying confidence to your team but to the to the to everyone across the organization right. Everyone needs to know that everyone is going to stay in place and that’s what drives the confidence is like. As an individual I feel secure if I see that other people feel secure as an individual I feel less scared if I see other people less scared and being transparent and having the time for one and one’s addressing questions head on I mean all of that stuff it’s it’s it’s really important it’s hard to do. Which makes it sound a little the cliche here but it is very important now.

How to create content ad

Bob Tripathi: I remember a recently I think last year when Marketo got announced that they have shipping Bordeaux that same morning as soon as the release came I got like three or four emails from. I haven’t heard from like three four years. It’s like Oh my God panicking I know this. I know but this is great. So and before we leave. What are some of the tactics technology these days that you’re really excited about and you’re looking forward to I mean. Marty Cole thing is so pervasive but anything in particular that you’re really excited about these days.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: Yeah I mean it goes back to the experience right. So the easier you can make the interaction with the brands you can make that fear for your target market the more likely they are to engage. So I’m most excited about Shumpert I’m most excited about text I’ve ever actually seen horizon through a lot of really cool things with text. I have to work at them or whatever but they’re their customer support and sort of marketing follow up now has a text channel and you can engage with there’s a company in Boston that’s working on e-commerce sales through text. It’s it’s really phenomenal right. And I can just go back to the inbox where we’re talking about a second ago. If your inbox is crowded with virtual e-mails from the thousands of brands that you’ve engaged with that one open channel shop tax Web push notifications like I’ve seen companies start to use those browser notifications as a as a channel. All of those sort of. Forgotten channels are the next big thing. They’re the new inbox is the new way of engaging people. So the more we can see on that front the better.

Bob Tripathi: Nice super nice. Yeah. That’s great. Aaron is anything that you wanted to talk about. I didn’t ask anything that you can think of. I mean I’m only my subtle plug for the use of more and better data in marketing.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: I think there is a tendency for data to be you know the end all and be all. The fact that we now need to reorganize around and there is a way to use data as one of multiple inputs of information right. I think that’s the that’s the right place for data doesn’t need to tell us what to do. But it does need to be something that we include in our understanding of what we should do. What we have done and what we can do better right. Right so the more we can do.

Bob Tripathi: I think data is because I asked I have this conversation with a lot of people and then I’m like give me some example and then we’ll have only one example which is Google Analytics right. Yes. I don’t mean that I’m pretty sure but yeah. But this is great. How do people reach out to just LinkedIn.

Aaron Patrick Doherty: I really do. Yeah I do have a Twitter profile but I’m pretty sure I haven’t used it in a hundred years. The best way to get me is on LinkedIn and finding there Aaron dash P action already.

Bob Tripathi: Nice. And this has been great Aaron. Thank you so much for making that time and sharing your insights. I know it was long overdue but thank you again for doing it. And this has been great. Thank you.


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