Posts Tagged ‘Demand Generation’

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This is Edition 9 of Overdraft. Signup here if you feel like it.

Edition 9: Demand Generation Funnel

Hey friends and family,

I’ve read a series of articles on Medium about lead scoring, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) & Product Qualified Lead (PQL).

My head is buzzing so I will try to keep this coherent.

First of all, this article talks about building a predictive lead scoring model. It’s quite the buzz these days in B2B Marketing circles, with different vendors with hefty price tags and ominous black boxes selling their wares. However let’s break it down; B2B technology vendors are notorious for vague copy on their website, without actually explaining what or how they do it. I guess that helps them fuel the ‘demo request’ forms.

Traditional lead scoring is based on 2 dimensions:
– Straight up things like job title, company size (a proxy for revenue which means ‘disposable money to spend on technologies’) and mostly country and other such things.
– Behaviour, which means if they’ve actually been to your website/blog a couple of times and read or downloaded some eBooks and such.

Note: Remember to have negative scoring for things like email bounced, blank title, unsubscribed from marketing emails and such. Otherwise you’re lead score will, in theory, trend towards infinity.

Where lead scoring falls short? A couple of things, the world isn’t perfect and data isn’t clean. Someone might self identify as a VP of Marketing but in reality they might be a Marketing Manager. It’s all user generated anyway. Secondly if you use a third party data service to augment your lead records, you have a single point of failure. If the third party returns null or wrong data, your whole model is thrown off. 

So what is predictive lead scoring? It’s the idea (data science anyone?) that you look at a sample size of all the customers you got and look for similarities. If you have a large enough sample size and enough data points, there might be some commonalities like certain industries, behaviours (attended your webinar twice around ‘Lead Management for High Performing Marketing Teams’), spent 3 minutes look around your pricing page, had job titles within a certain area or other overlaps. These themes give you data points on what your ideal customer profile looks like and instead of having a linear lead scoring model, you have a weighted one. After all, not all behaviours are created equal, some are more equal then others. The challenge of-course that the process from visit to customer isn’t linear or simple. But a large enough sample size offers insights.
Should you then drop a hefty sum on a predictive lead scoring tool? Nope – Hubspot already offers it in built into their tool and you can build one yourself using excel by using regression analysis. What is regression analysis is a project for me for next week.

The second article talked about how traditional excel sales/revenue growth models often are based on historical funnel conversion rates which leads to total lead/MQL target madness. Yes, I’ve been there. But historical conversion rates aren’t predictive of the future, they’re an opportunity of improvement. If you MQL targets or lead targets are 8000 a month, then there’s definitely something leaky in your funnel and it’s better to fix that. What is the bottle neck? is it the Sales Qualified stage? Is that because of head count? Or is there a broken process? For example your funnel looks like this:

Lead -> MQL = 90%
MQL -> SAL = 40%
SAL -> SQL = 8%
SQL -> Opp = 50%
Opp -> Customer = 60%

It’s clear that there’s a 8% conversion rate that is causing the MQL/Lead number to inflate beyond control. What is causing that? What can be improved? If only 8% of the leads are being qualified by sales, what is happening to the rest of the 92%? Are they thrown out and replaces by new MQLs? Why not recycle them? Or is it simply that the MQL’s are not true MQL’s and hence not replying or engaging with sales? Can the channels/messaging and positioning be shuffled to better explain what the product does for whom so those who do fill out a form actually know what they’re getting into? One too many B2B SaaS products have vague ambiguous copy on their website, but interesting blog/ebooks that someone will download with no intention of buying the product or rather no idea what the product does. 

Process is essential but hard to get right but essential to the demand generation funnel. Hard to get right because there’s two ‘departments’ on a constant head butt with each other: sales & marketing. Traditionally, marketing is responsible for Leads -> MQL and Sales is SQL -> Customer. But both have varying incentives in places. I am all for SDR/BDR teams being under the Demand Generation/Marketing teams, to help simplify the process changes and align goals. 

Last thing: Product Qualified leads. This is a concept on freemium products, where a user has a free trial or free version and hits a ‘wall’. The wall can be a premium feature leading to a landing page or hitting the max quota on their plan or something of the sort. However I find this only works in the case of freemium products, if your product has no entry point to a account and usage, this model would not work.

Here are all the links:
Stop the Lead Scoring Madness.
Lead Scoring Models [Slide Share]
Product Qualified Lead
Before You Widen The Top of the Funnel

Before I go, here’s a fantastic read by Erin from Fortune on Cruise Automation that sold to GM Motors for a a mind boggling amount of money and how GM and Cruise is keeping things alive.

It’s been a while. I hope you’ve all been well. 


This is Edition 9 of Overdraft. Signup here if you feel like it.

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As with any system, there’s learning curves and pleasant surprises. Some come after a while of head banging against table, while others present themselves more gracefully.

After moving to Marketo and getting the basics up and running we ran into some challenges.

In an effort to optimize the spend of our demand generation programs, we needed to ensure that we weren’t duplicating leads from Accounts & Customers that were already won or at 90% in the Opp stage. There’s a case to be made for expanding current accounts but for now we wanted to ensure we’re not wasting our money getting more leads from accounts that are customers.

To create a ‘check’ against leads from existing accounts & customers, first step is to create a suppression list of domains. Easy enough in Marketo — create a smart list of all current customers or ‘Opps’ that have been won and download it as an excel file. Use a formula like” =RIGHT(email,LEN(email)-FIND(“@”,email)) to get the domains from a list of emails.

Now you have a domain suppression list.

Now for the fun part. Within Marketo, you can’t directly set up a script that says:

‘Anytime a new lead is created in the system, check against these domains to see if it already exists and then flag it’

But you can create something that does that using Programs & Smart campaigns:

  1. Create a Smart Campaign. Call it ‘existing opp/customer check’
  2. Add a trigger ‘Person Created’ so it fires everytime a new person is created. This is important otherwise you’ll have to set it on a recurring schedule. Marketo smart campaigns need a trigger to fire automagically.
  3. Create a condition based on how you upload/add leads to your Marketo instance. In our case, we add them to Channel Master Lists. So the condition is ‘If person was added to list within the last 30 days’.

This is the bit where you check against domains.

Note: Since within Marketo you can check with ‘contains’ you should concatenate ‘@’ before the domains. Otherwise if by random chance someone’s name is the same as a domain name on your list, it would flag those as well.

In the flow step:

  1. Add ‘Add to List’
  2. Create a condition within ‘Add to List”
  3. If ‘email address’ contains (copy paste list of domains with @ appended before them)
  4. Create a local program list and set the flow step to add them to the list.

Here’s what happens. If a person is created in Marketo, it will fire the smart campaign to check if the email address contains the @domain from your suppression list. If yes, they get routed to the list.

Questions? kamil[dot]rextin[at]gmail[dot]com

Written in collaboration with Sibil Samuel and Tara Robertson.

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Sometimes we as marketers need a little help getting our content into the right hands. Emailing our databases, pushing on social, and manually sending out content to partner sites (with no guarantee that it’ll get shared) can only go so far.

Enter: content syndication. To help reach your lead goals, syndicating your content can help you reach potential customers who you may not have ever had access to.

Don’t want to read the entire essay? Book a time: https://calendly.com/kamilrextin

So what is content syndication?

Content syndication is essentially when you give your content away to someone else to use and promote while you retain the full copyrights for the sole purpose of driving traffic or conversions to your site. A popular content syndication technique is cross-posting blog posts to sites like Medium, Quora, or LinkedIn with a tagline at the bottom such as, “This post first appeared on ___.”

Conversely, publishers like Fortune & Huffington Post will grab content from Quora to use in their articles & essays.

On a more tactical level, if you are scratching your head about demand generation campaigns, paid content syndication networks are worth a closer look.

Content syndication networks operate by hosting your content like eBooks, white papers, or other assets on their own site and libraries and leveraging their existing network and reach to drive people to those assets. The content is gated so visitors have to fill out a form in order to gain access.

Created by Quentin Zancanaro.

At Uberflip, we work extensively with content syndication networks to generate inbound leads. Our major Content Syndication partner is NetLine and we also work with other vendors like Demand Works, Integrate, True Influence & Madison Logic. We also work with a Webinar Syndication network, BrightTalk, to exclusively distribute and generate leads from our webinars — which we do a lot of.

Update: Because of the questions I have gotten here is a bit more about NetLine:

  • You can create a self service account (think Adwords) with hyper-targeting and generate leads starting as low as $9. Signup here (Affiliate link)
  • For dedicated account management with enterprise-level spends and strategy consultants you can request a NetLine walk through here. (Both options offer a real-time leads connector)

Targeting your content syndication for success

Content syndication isn’t automatically flowers and rainbows. It’s extremely important to have very tight targeting for content syndication networks (like any other marketing campaigns) otherwise, you run the risk of inflating your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) while not really scaling your LTV (Lifetime Value).

You can set up your targeting to be generalized or explicit. To some degree, you can make an assumption that a certain type of content will be geared towards a certain type of lead you want to acquire.

Examples of generalized targeting:

  • eBook about Email Marketing will attract someone who is in a marketing role but variable company size.
  • eBook about Sales Operations will lean towards mid-large sized companies since they’re probably at the stage where they have that type of role.
  • eBook on Marketing Automation would be of interest to B2B companies as opposed to B2C.
  • Case Study on a specific industry would narrow down your audience to that industry.

But you should explicitly define your target audience with your vendor otherwise, you will end up sending non-qualified inbound leads to your sales team and see the effects trickle down the funnel from SQLs to Opps to close.

Examples of explicit targeting:

  • Company size of 100–5000 companies. Company size is also a great proxy for revenue if you don’t ask that question in the form.
  • Define the job titles or departments according to your buyer personas. This will help you map and segment the leads into the various buckets in your database and set up campaigns accordingly. The caveat here being that you also need to keep in mind the site/publisher you are using to syndicating the content. If you’re placing your content on niche site/publisher like MarketingProfs then highly likely that the audience will be marketing related interested in the content marketing. In those cases, it might be a better idea to filter against other criteria like specific challenges they have or tools they use.
  • Check your historical data, does the industry correlate to the close rate? Find out which ones. You can always keep it open but ask them to prioritize those from the leads that come in.

Targeting can get as defined or as broad as it can go. However, it’s important to note that most publishers will charge extra for ‘custom questions’. These custom questions add to the CPL (cost per lead) for the campaign since the publisher will be scrubbing the unqualified ones on your behalf, so it’s best to use them very sparingly.

Working with content syndication networks & publishers

In most cases the publishers will host and gate the content on their side, which means you will not have control over the branding of the context your content resides in. It’s very important to ensure you get proofs from the publisher to make sure your logo is visible and the abstract looks good. Otherwise, it’ll both effect the conversion and the follow-up nurture/sales programs as they go through your funnel.

In some cases, the publisher can host the image/abstract of the content on their side and link back to your Content Hub or landing page for the qualification and conversion. It’s worth noting that not all publishers offer this so it’s important to discuss the flow before hand.

Once everything is set up, the publishers will drive demand and traffic by distributing the content to their subscribers and properties. This can involve email, paid, partner sites, and communities via LinkedIn. As the visitors come and convert on your content, the publishers will collect and scrub the leads and send you a lead file in the form of a spreadsheet.

Lead file delivery is typically weekly but in some cases, you can also set up an integration with the publisher’s back-end system to directly sync any scrubbed leads into your Marketing Automation or CRM.


In terms of pricing, it boils down to a run on a cost-per-lead basis. Most content syndicationpublishers will have a range between $20–$80 CPL, which means that every time someone fills out a form to view/download your content and they meet the targeting parameters you’ve set with the publishers, you will be charged.

It’s worth noting that most publishers do have a minimum spend or term requirement, so you’ll need to either commit to spending a minimum amount or signing up for a 3–6-month campaign duration. However, you can control your spend by capping the lead volumes on a monthly basis. Most, if not all, publishers also accept returns if the lead does not meet your targeting parameters at no extra cost within 30 days of delivery.

Book a time: https://calendly.com/kamilrextin

Key takeaways

Some things to keep in mind during for using content syndication for demand generation campaigns:

  • They are CPL campaigns. Keep this in mind as the lead from each channel progresses through the funnel at each stage and how they convert. If they are not converting well to MQL, SQL or Opps, you may have the wrong targeting parameters in place.
  • Before you upload the lists, double check the data is correct and mapped correctly to your contact fields.
  • Create separate custom fields for the publisher name/asset name and dates so there’s a record of all the leads that were generated from the channels
  • Optimize! Check how these new leads progress through the funnel and always keep an eye out for any leads that don’t meet your filters. They always creep through by mistake!

As with all marketing, you keep testing, measuring, and iterating. But if you are in B2B marketing, content syndication is definitely something to test out and see how it works for your business.

Happy hunting!

This post first appeared on Uberflip.

Thanks to Victoria & Kelly for proof reading and editing this post. Found it useful? Share it or Tweet it 🙂

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