Hey Adam, thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast, excited to have you and Help Scout here. How are you doing today?
I'm doing well. How are you, David?
I'm doing good. I'm doing good. It is hot, hot, hot out here in Florida, but other than other than not doing very well.
Yes. I'm a little bit cooler here in Chicago, but not, not too far I think behind you.
Yeah. It's going to be a crazy summer and lots going on in the world. But you guys are doing some amazing things over at Help Scout. And before we jump into some of the marketing tactics and strategies, would love to learn a little bit more about the company Help Scout, when it was founded, who the customers are and what you're doing uniquely in the marketplace.
Yeah. So Help Scout was founded in 2011. And so it's help desk software is like the most easiest, most common way to refer to it as. We have about 10,000 customers in about 140 different countries. And it's a really, the company was founded with this idea of customer service is often viewed as a cost center and not as a way to really enhance the business. And so we built a platform that's super easy to use. That's more customer centric, getting people the right answers the right time. And so in terms of our customers, it's a little bit all over the board, right? We have some major SaaS companies using it. We also have, you know, smaller, more consumer focused companies like, you know, King Arthur flour and a bunch of companies like that. So all across the board, I think our big thing for the product is really something that's well-designed and easy-to-use and get up and running versus this big bulky kind of system that everyone thinks of when they think of help desk software.
So for you guys, your differentiator, unique selling proposition is more of the experience itself, the simplicity and the feature sets that you have.
Agreed. Yeah. And you know, on G2, we were just recently named easiest admin, easiest to get up and running, best ROI. So it's really about the simplicity of just getting up and running with a system. And the easy of use.
I love to hear that cause that's a very similar USP and differentiator that we're trying to build at Demi or we have built at Demio. And I heard a few years ago when we really wanted to dig into that, someone told us that that's not a differentiator, that's not a USP that you can build into. So it's great validation to hear that you guys have done that, that you can do that even in a competitive marketplace. But cool. But you joined Help Scout recently right I think past April, right in the middle of, or the start of kind of this COVID pandemic in the United States, at least. But coming in during that time, what's your initial focus coming in? Did you find it hard getting set up in kind of this crazy period that was really going on?
Yeah, it's definitely an odd time to switch jobs and that wasn't kind of intentional, honestly, like I think like the scariness of it didn't really set in, cause like you said, it was super early and I already accepted and all this sort of stuff. So it was definitely a weird time to be joining because of just everything going on in the world. But then also for our business, it was very like unclear what was gonna happen. So marketing budgets got pulled back, right? Like the first day I started and I was just like figuring out the world. So my big focus has been on efficiencies. So where do we gain efficiencies for what we have? What's our tech stack? What tools are we using? Where do we have gaps and how do we just get like super efficient at some of the stuff we're doing?
Before we worry about spending more money and building up our budgets again and stuff like that. So I would say like, where are the efficiencies to be had and then the team building piece of it as well. So we've made a couple of key hires since I've joined. We have a new director of content starting at the end of this month. We have a new director of growth who just started about a month ago. So it's been building out the team and kind of building out some of those, those muscles in terms of like efficiencies and processes.
How are you getting the budget to add new people? If you had a marketing roll back on like your, your budgetary constraints there or is that mostly for systems and processes and how are you finding the right time to say, Hey, you know, although maybe our spend is down here, we need to hire X, Y and Z?
Yeah. So I think there's kind of two ways to look at like marketing hires right now. I think in some ways it's, it's a scary time to go out and make hires and stuff like that. So most of our cuts were in actual like program spend. And the interesting thing is because we gained a lot of efficiency in what we cut. We're actually seeing better results than we were when we were spending a lot more. So it's kind of that natural like you just figure it out and you make it work thing that happens. In terms of like the hires and stuff, we've identified a few hires that were critical for us to be successful, right. And so one was a backfill and the other one was an open role that we wanted to fill. And, and so I think like my view on it was like, Hey, it's actually a great time to look for those opportunistic hires of people who are in market, who maybe otherwise wouldn't be, right. There is a ton of talent out there right now looking for jobs because companies have had to make those tough cutbacks.
Yeah, no, that's a great again, great validation to hear. Cause I'm kind of thinking the same thing, we're looking to possibly bring on a new marketer and really thought this could be a good opportunity, but I love to hear that any major tools or major wins that you found, you talked about some of that efficiency giving you benefits in the department itself, any of those swaps that you want to mention that really stood out to you?
Yeah, I think from just a pure like paid marketing standpoint, one of the big swaps we made was pulling out all of our branded spend. I know a lot of companies who have done that. What we found is like, we were capturing about 8% of that anyways. Right. So it was one of those things where it's like, we're protecting the name to get that other 20%, but when we actually pull it out, we saw most of it just shift over to organic and that, that saved us a lot of money just pulling that back out without really impacting the results. So that was a big one for us. And then I think it's also from a paid perspective just getting hyper efficient who we're targeting and, and looking at like trial scores and what people are doing within the trial, then feeding that back into our system. So rather than just like targeting VPs of customer success in a blanket world, right. Where it's like for all I know they have this tool inserted and they just signed a contract a month ago. I'm going to spend now a year targeting a person who has no interest in buying. And right now, like I need the efficiency to try to figure out like who's in market. So we're doing a lot more with retargeting campaigns, stuff like that. So we've just gained a lot of efficiencies with a limited budget.
I love that. So just making smart priority decisions based on where you think you can get the most bang for your buck, which is a really smart exercise. And I wanted to ask you about that kind of product.market fit. You had mentioned before that Help Scout does have that wide range of customer types that come in. How do you handle building your ICPs and how do you actively decide which ones are the key targets to go after?
Yeah. We're actually in the process right now of re kind of reassessing it a little bit. And so I think like we, in the past, we had this idea of here's who our ICP is, and I think we've realized it's, it's starting to shift. Right. So we have a lot of e-commerce type companies that are using us. And so we're kind of in the process of just re-evaluating you know, we have a big self-serve model. We also have a smaller sales team that, that lands some of our larger deals. So we're kind of right now actually evaluating, like, not only is like, where are customers coming from today and what is our customer base look like? But where we see the biggest opportunities moving forward, like, what are the markets we want to play some bigger bets in and not say like we would abandon one or the other. So we're kind of going through a whole re-evaluation process of that right now. So yeah.
It makes sense. And this is definitely, definitely a different world kind of COVID pandemic era and obviously a lot of new influx of probably customer types you haven't had before, people getting hit in unexpected ways, certain types of companies that you said e-commerce, you know, some SaaS companies got hit really hard, some didn't and you might have seen some of that major influx. How have you guys seen, I guess, just being on the customer support side, you know, SaaS companies dealing with this influx, has that been something that has been a major problem? Have you guys had to approach new education with this or is it kind of just been a, you know, new signups basically as on your end?
Yeah. So it's, it kind of falls into one of two camps, right? It's it's we, we're not seeing a lot of replacement. Cause I think where we're positioned in the market is actually really, really strong position. Right? We have super high customer satisfaction, really high ROI, really high reviews. We're also not like crazy expensive. So there's a lot of, much more expensive tools in the world out there today that you could go and buy. And so I think like what's happening a little bit in the SaaS world is like people are evaluating their tech stack and saying like, do I need to be spending $60,000 on this tool? Are there cheaper options out there that'll still do all the things we actually needed to do. Right. Cause when you originally bought it for maybe all these bells and whistles, and then you look at it, it's like, what am I actually using?
And within this product. And so I don't think that's a unique to Help Scout. I think that's happening kind of across. And I feel like the ripple effect of that might not even have been felt yet by some of these companies. Because a lot of them people are locked to year-long contracts, but there's this new kind of a way of look. People are like really being looking into their, spend a lot tighter and figuring out where, where can they gain efficiencies? So that's, that's one thing happening. And so we seen from our customer's standpoint more contraction than anything else. So people just removing headcount versus like rip and replace or like just removing the software completely cause like help desk software is pretty critical piece of any business. Right. So it's not usually something someone just gets rid of whereas like ad spend and some of these ad platforms, like you can actually just get rid of some of that stuff. Right. And so so we're seeing contraction in certain companies and then we're actually seeing pretty high growth in other companies. Right. Where there's suddenly, like I mentioned, like the flour company, right. Everyone's at home now everyone's baking bread, everyone's doing all these things. So they've seen like a big influx in the amount of customer service inquiries they're getting and have actually had to hire. So it's, it depends a little bit on the industry that you're in.
Do you think that's kind of affect where you want to put your marketing spend for those ICPs or where you want to dig in more for brand and messaging? I mean, is that a trend you think it, you want to dig into or is that kind of just, Hey, we're going to see how this goes for this year and you know, maybe we'll go back to the norm within a certain amount of time. I mean, there's a lot of unknowns here, but I'm just interested in your thoughts.
Yeah. We actually, we were not including the last like 90 days of data just because it's so, one it's not a big enough gap of data to actually like have in depth analysis and it's all over the place. Right. And so, we also to your point, like don't know when, if, how things will return to normal, right? Like, so it's a little bit up in the air, so it's hard to do any like major bets on that sort of thing. So we've kind of just taken a more holistic approach to say, like, what are the industries? Is it B2B tech, B2B software? Is it more e-commerce type shops? And then like, who are the other players in the market? Where do we feel like we have the best chance to win? What's our feature set compared to theirs? Trying to almost, I don't wanna say ignore, but like kind of like these last 90 days are a little bit like it's too much volatility to actually like read into any of the data.
That totally makes sense. And to your point, you're kind of trying to figure out where those holes are in the marketplace that you can attack, have that differentiating message. And you guys already have a great brand. I mean, I think a lot of SaaS companies know you guys, you have a great content blog and a content marketing plan, but you know, during these times, are you, are you really trying to hone in or change any of that brand messaging? Are you trying to leverage more maybe about your pricing or the simplicity? You know, do you have to adapt to times or do you just, again, continue to play the long term game and just say, you know, with things going on, we're just going to try to find those holes and you know, we'll be the same in 2021.
We're probably trying to play the long term a little bit more. I think like, I think fundamentally we, Help Scout was a company that was kind of built for this. Right. Because it's like, everyone says, like what works now, and the reason I'm able to turn off a lot of like branded spent and do a lot of these things is like we have a really strong brand. Right. And so that's something that was built before I joined the company. So there's a really strong brand. And as a result of that, we get a lot of organic traffic. We get a lot of organic signups, so we could tomorrow cut all marketing budget and we would still see hundreds of thousands of trials come in every single month just because of the brand we've built up. And so I think like if anything gets validated, like, Hey, building a brand and building a company and content and all these things that at the time might seem like you're not getting the short wins is actually the better long term play, especially when things like what's going on in the world is happening today.
And this is more of a personal question, but when you took the job there in April, was that built in brand, was that organic traffic and the knowledge that, you know, Help Scout was already so, so dug in the marketplace, part of the reason why you wanted to take the job, is that something that's helpful for brands to think about when they're looking to bring in top marketers?
Yeah, a hundred percent. So it definitely played a big piece of me wanting to join the company. Right. My background's more actually demand gen I fall more onto the other side and building that piece up and the idea of like, I, I've lived in both worlds, one where there's no brand and you try out and go, go out and do demand gen and then how much easier it is as a marketing leader, when you actually have a brand there as well power, and then you layer demand gen on top of it. The impact and the results you get are always going to be so much better. Right. Great examples that is G2, right. Where I worked, where they had an amazing brand and they have people talking about their brand because they're talking about themselves with their customer reviews and all these sorts of things. So adding on a demand gen element on top of that was super easy in some ways, because like everyone knows who G2 is. And so having that brand recognition with Help Scout and, and that, that sound base was definitely a big part of my decision to join the company.
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And then when you were coming in, you know, were you excited to bring, or did you have like a favorite marketing tactic or strategy that you wanted to bring from G2 into Help Scout to really try to, to drive that more, obviously you already had some great base and you wanted to do efficiency when you first came in, or was there anything you were really excited about maybe you haven't implemented yet, oryou already started on?
I think the big things I've worked on implementing are a couple. One is just like from a just workload standpoint this is going to be like a really boring answer. Not like amazing campaign, but just like building out processes for how we do things. Right. And so we have the team now working in marketing sprints. So two weeks we're doing a new sprint and it's aligning up to the goals we want to actually go out and hit. And so I feel like that's been a big win in terms of like, you know, when you're a smaller team, it's hard to actually sometimes to prioritize, what's going to drive the biggest impact. And, and so you also get a lot of asks. So I think what happens is it's hard for the team to prioritize what matters most. And so working in sprints has helped us all stay aligned in terms of like, what are the things we want to do and what are the things we want to say no to, or not right now. So that's actually had a huge impact, I think, in the team's efficiency and the ability to just get things done.
Can you explain a sprint, like what would be a sprint that you could do in two weeks, from a marketing side?
Yeah. Yeah. So there's a lot, there's some that's span over. So basically we have, we use Asana, we have a backlog of all the different projects, things we want to do. And then every two weeks we meet for about two hours and we go through the board and say like, what are we going to prioritize for these next two weeks? Some of these are things could be carry over from the last sprint where it's like, Hey, I'm now on part two of this project. So this is what I'm working on. And from a marketing or like demand gen growth standpoint, it might be like, Hey, we want to launch a new campaign on Facebook testing, bringing people in for as content leads and then putting them into a nurture series to try to get them to convert to trials, because if we can get them in at, you know, 10 bucks as a, as a content lead and then we're able to actually convert one out of every five, will be getting trials for 50 bucks and that would work.
And so like, okay, let's stand that up in the next two weeks. Like, what do we need to do? And so then it's like, we just kind of like size it up to say, like, this will take 30 hours of work. Right. Whatever it might be like, okay, who's taking it. And we basically have an allotment of hours everyone's can work on any given projects in those times. And so that's kind of how we just prioritize, like where do we think would have the biggest impact? And so I think like it's been helpful for us because, you know, things like that get talked a lot about in marketing sometimes. And you, like, everyone's kinda worked at those companies where it's like, every company talks about like the podcasts they want to do or the thing they want to do. And it's like, they spend months talking about it and they just never prioritize it.
So if anything is just a sanity check, like, are we working on the right things? And then what you find is like, some people are really good at assessing how much time things are gonna take. Most people are pretty bad at it right off the bat. Right. They either think like, things aren't take way longer or they think things are gonna take way less. Right. And so they say like, Oh, I'm gonna do all these things. And then suddenly at the end of the two weeks sprint it's like, Hey, I only got three of these 10 things done because this took way longer than I think. So it also helps, I think in terms of like balancing, figuring out, like what can we actually go out and achieve in a two week sprint?
Yeah. So we, we do this a little bit in our engineering process. We call it our shape and pitch process where we go through and we just try to like hone it down and get as narrow as we can on timelines, resources needed all that stuff, so we can keep those sprints together. So I love the idea of doing that in marketing, I guess, a tough question here or something that I'm just interested in hearing your viewpoint on is, you know, when do you on these two week kind of meetings in sprint, sprint sit downs, are you saying, Hey, let's do a new one. Versus, you know, just saying let's optimize this campaign. I mean, how often are you moving into doing multiple and then how many do you have at one time campaigns going on? Does it ever get overwhelming or do you try to, to keep your priority of the number of, of things going on to, you know, three or five, and then when one fails, then you move something else.
Yeah. So it's not necessarily, I don't really look at it as a way of like three or five projects as a team. It's more of like the individual's sprint from like a one person standpoint. So like the person who runs our paid campaigns, they might say like, I'm launching these five tests. And I'm doing these launch, get standing up this new channel that we're going to test out over the next two weeks. And that's what she's working on in sprint. Our content team might be trying something completely different. They might be publishing five articles and doing this, this and this. So as long as it ties into one of our major goals that we're trying to achieve for the quarter, it makes total sense. Right. So that kinda answer the question. I don't view it necessarily as like a marketing team as a whole. But I think one part of that though, too, is we also do like we have a brainstorming meeting where we throw in ideas and actually pitch new ideas completely. And then occasionally we'll just pull those ideas into the backlog. And then so every, every meeting we're kind of reviewing and figuring out like, what is the priority?
Yeah, no, it does make sense. And it does help, you know, I guess to your point earlier, it's you only have so much time. So I often wonder when it's best to say, you know, let's refocus our attention on X experiment or Y experiment. Cause you already have things going on, you already have optimizations going. So how are you just kind of looking at total time in a week or is it just, you know, touching base with each team member and saying, you know, are you feeling overwhelmed? How much time do you have each week kind of stuff like that?
Yeah. So I think it's, it's definitely an assessment of like each individual. And so there might be some weeks where like for instance, we have people on the team who have recurring tasks, right? Like, so we don't, we don't say like, Oh, there's two weeks so you have 80 hours of work you can do. It's like, Hey, I have 30 hours of recurring task and meetings and stuff over these two weeks. Usually that does take up some of my time. Right. And so I can take on 50 hours of work, like actual work. Right. And so then it's like some weeks it's like I didn't get to this because these things popped up and prioritize. So as long as we're just aware of what's happening and 50 hours might be a lot for one person, it might be too little for someone person. Right. Cause like someone else who's in operations, for instance, they might only have 20 hours a week to actually do things because half of their week is actually, I know I'm going to have to allot time to all these fire drills that come in the door. Right. And all these different things that I'm constantly working on just to keep the systems moving. So it's kind of individualized in terms of like bandwidth and what people take on on any given sprint.
Right. That makes sense. And in a time like this, where things are a little bit more wonky and you kind of answered this already before, but do you guys reprioritize based on the ongoing issue? So you know, you're looking at the priority list and you're saying, okay, right now with COVID rehab, you know, the opportunity to do X, Y, and Z let's move these around in priority. Or is it again to your point just about the long term. So what would give us the biggest bang for our buck over the next year?
Yeah. Yeah. I think that, I mean, there's always a shifting for more urgent priorities and things that are happening quickly. Like we've been playing with trial length a lot here. We originally offered 90 day trial when all this started happening to give businesses the opportunity still to get up and going and not feeling like, Oh, I gotta pay for this in two weeks time. And we've slowly been moving that back to our more standard trial. So there's a lot of things that are happening obviously within the world that we're adjusting to. So, and I, regardless of craziness going on now, I think that'll always gonna be the case, right. That things pop up that you don't expect or opportunities or problems. So you kind of have to adjust based off of that.
Very agile marketing as, as you do in everything in SaaS. But I know you're a big advocate of video marketing for B2B, you know, is that something that you guys are focusing here on in 2020? I know you guys have an amazing content blog, I mentioned it already, but what about video? How do you see that and where does that fit in for, for HelpScot's marketing?
Yeah. So pretty interesting day yo have this interview on that question specifically. Today, we just actually announced that we launched a new documentary video series. We're, we're calling it Against The Grain. And so this has been about a year in the making and was kind of the vision of our CEO, Nick Francis and basically the whole concept of it is, you know, the idea of hypergrowth companies and companies that are winning it all is so celebrated out there. But nobody's really going out and telling the stories of businesses that put their customers, craft, community, all these things first. Right. And so we actually wanted to go out and celebrate and share those stories. Cause I think like there's so many people who think like of the company they would want to build, it's, it's, it's more about the passion for what they're trying to build than necessarily like chasing hyper-growth and being the next unicorn and all this sort of stuff.
And maybe that comes eventually it turns into that. But we wanted to just share some stories of companies that really like embodied that. And so we actually just launched the first trailer to the first episode today. We're featuring Death Wish Coffee and that's a brand that really almost shouldn't even exist when you think about it with all the Starbucks and crazy giant you know, companies out there in the coffee world and, and their brand that's built up this amazing following and community around their brand and what they do. And so we kind of showcase that over, you know, a 20 minutes episode.
First of all, love it, absolutely love this initiative. I want to be on the show sometime. Okay. We're bootstrap SaaS company kind of in that same vein. But I love it. We had Wistia on, we've had a couple of other companies come on and talk about brand affinity, marketing, you know, talk about these video series that they're doing these kind of longer tail video shows that have been so successful. And so well done. MailChimp comes to mind as well. But congratulations, that's awesome. Looking back on this initiative, and maybe you weren't here for the whole thing, you said it was over a year you know, what were some of the key things that you saw were winning, winning parts of this series coming out? Was it, you know, sitting down and coming up with strategy? Was it the launch process? What were you most excited about? Maybe things that you can share.
Yeah. I think the launch process, we had to adjust a lot because of not, not wanting to appear completely tone deaf to what's going on in the world. Right. And so I think the launch has been like, we've been very fluid with like what's happening and adjusting. And so I think like the launch plan has been pretty critical and I think for us to, a big discussion has been around, like we have these amazing videos. Like, I don't wanna say like, what is the end goal, but like, what do we want people to do after this? Because you can go watch this video. And from a brand standpoint, like you said, there's a brand affinity angle to it, but ultimately like, what do we want people to do from this? How do we kind of build on that momentum? So a lot of the focus has been on like from the launch plan, like how do we actually take excitement around this video series and turn it into something more?
And so we've got a few things, we'll be running, running the video series over the course of the next three months. So we've got some things lined up after that. We're building a community through Facebook, potential podcasts that are gonna be launching. So we have a few things to kind of keep that momentum going, right. So it's not just like a video series that launches and then it kind of ends. Right. Cause when you think of like the amazing companies, you mentioned Wistia, right? They're a video company, they have all these muscles. Help Scout is not right. And so like it was a little bit like part of it was like we realized the skillsets we have and don't have to actually launch something like this over the course of it.
How much of the marketing time in those kind of two week sprints had to go to planning the release ideas behind this? I mean, this is something that's like, you know, 40% of the marketing time is not going to be spent on this initiative alone.
I don't have the percentage, if I had to guess off the top of my head, I would say about 30% of the marketing time has been going into it recently to get this out of the door.
Yeah, no, that makes sense. I mean, it's such a, such a good initiative and I mean, you know, Wistia talks when they talk about brand affinity, how you can utilize, you know, this one video now in 15 different areas with distribution, with ads, with retargeting, and really what they mentioned is that they're measuring a lot of the engagement too, for thisvideo series what did you guys decide? Was the goal, are you going to be doing it for lead generation or is it just branding, education? What, what's the end goal here? What are the KPIs you kind of want to watch from this as it comes out?
So it's more, the, the brand awareness, is definitely not lead gen for us. I mean, we've branded it as something different. It's actually branded as Against The Grain. You wouldn't really outside of our logo on the bottom of the screen, i's not really anything about us, right? It's more celebrating these businesses. So for us, it was more about brand awareness and brand affinity but really just like super compelling content. And when you think about it, right, like I think that the long term play here is like everyone, you talk to marketers that go out and spend a hundred thousand dollars on ad words, right? In a given month. The problem with that is at the end of that month, you have nothing to show. I mean, you get the leads you get from that month, but once you stop that a hundred thousand dollars, you have nothing that can actually be reused beyond that. Right. It's like I got whatever, how many leads a thousand leads through there and that's it, that's all I have to show for this. This is thousand leads for a hundred thousand dollars. And so for us, it's like, well, this is an asset we can use for a long time and build something off of this. And around this, that'll go a lot further than what we would end up in an Adwords campaign. And so for us, it was more about building up the brand and the long term play for it
Since you guys are a remote based company. And again, just kind of a selfish question here, cause I want to learn from you. Did you guys just go out and hire a film crew to fly around to these different businesses to do it? Did you find like local production studios in each city or companies, or did you try to find like a local area and keep everyone in one centralized area?
No. So we're a little bit all over the place. Death Wish is based in upstate New York. There's a, a hair product company that's based out of the Troy I believe. And then there is also a bank that's based in New Hampshire. So we had a film crew that was traveling around to go do these. So yeah, it definitely was not like, Oh, we're doing all the, the ones in a local town.
Yeah, it makes sense. And I know you weren't here probably when the initial marketing campaign was set up, but you know, thinking back on that was there like a budget set for this? How, how did you guys find room in the budget to do this and say, Hey, this is the time to do this campaign, to your point there's so many benefits to doing this. It's a, it's a great idea. It's long term it's very brand driven, but now is the time to do it. Let's invest the money into it. Cause I think that's a hard conversation to have with, with leadership or even your marketing leaders.
Yeah. It is actually not a hard conversation at all. I, so Nick, our founder, I mean, you mentioned Wistia, he's friends with the guys from Wistia and Help Scout was built a lot off of the content that we actually produce, so from a brand perspective, Nick is all in, on content and building a brand and doing something for the long term. So like he's the easiest person to sell on this idea. And actually the whole concept of this was, was his, was his idea. So if anything, it was a little bit like a little scary from a marketing standpoint when you step in and it's like, here's my baby. Like don't F it up. Cause he's like completely invested in this campaign. Which is amazing. It's super exciting.
Yeah. I love that. No, that's awesome. And I mean, when you have that, when you have like a leader behind it, was it just take whatever budget you need or did you guys have to like sit down and kind of look at what that would be from a marketing perspective? Cause that could, is that eating out of like that ad budget?
No, the ad budget was separate. We did one way to pull back on some of our ad spend, we did reallocate some of it into, Against The Grain promotion and launch that we're going to be using it for. But it was very much viewed as a separate thing. So it didn't eat into that budget.
I love that. Yeah. That's amazing. Well, congratulations on that. That sounds fantastic. And I'll have to check it out after this. It sounds amazing. But looking back, I guess you don't have much time here at Help Scout to look back, but you know, maybe hard lessons learned at G2 or other places. Have there been campaigns, experiments, things you did in demand gen that didn't work out as expected, things that you felt you want it to do again, missed opportunities. Those are always a good lesson to learn from.
Yeah. There's been lots of campaigns that haven't worked out for me. I think overall when I think of like campaigns that didn't work, I think the big thing I don't have like a huge like, Oh my God, this campaign was a total disaaster. Because like one of my big things that I think like all enough marketing teams don't necessarily do, it's just testing small before you launch a huge campaign. Right. And so good example is like, you're going to send an email, don't send it to all hundred thousand people you're going to hit at once, right. Send it to 2000 and test the subject lines. And you might see ones like double the open rate. And then the click through rate holds on both of them, but like now, you know which one to send and that's going to be the difference in, you know, if you're sending to a hundred thousand people and you've got a 20% click through or 20% open rate versus 10%, you know, that's 20,000 versus 10,000 people see the email.
And if the click through rate and the conversion rates the same with, from there, like that's a huge impact. That's literally doubled the amount of people. And, and it's not a crazy amount of testing and tweaking that you need to do to get there. So it's kind of that cliche of like fail fast, but almost like fail small first vs you just do it at like a grand scale. Cause it'll limit the exposure you have when you launch those big campaigns I think. But a few that like very tactical ones that jump out to me that we just never saw results from that we launched. The one that I still think would drive results that I wanted to do was at G2 taking out outwards campaigns against CMOs names. So obviously we sold to marketers and ultimately that goes to the COO that signed contracts.
And so part of like an ABM type campaign we wanted to do was taking out ad words campaigns on like these top 50 CMOs we were trying to sell to and the concept was most CMOs or VPs of marketing at these bigger companies probably are searching their name once a month to see what's out there, whether it's in the news or podcasts they're on whatever it might be to see kind of what pops up. And it was an idea. It was like, it was be messaging like, Hey David, like, we finally have your attention and it's an ad taken out against your name. And it goes to G2 landing page built around what we're trying to do for you and your company. So we tested that out and we never got any conversions off of that.
What about doing that like in LinkedIn or Facebook? I mean, where you can do, you know, maybe a similar list uploads or something like that. Did you guys try that? Cause I love that idea.
Yeah, we did do we've done, like, it works on like LinkedIn and we've done the email campaigns that have worked really well. So we use like hyperized personalize emails. So it's like a tool that allow you to personalize images. And so we were actually personalizing like reports and sending it to them with like their logo whatever it might be. So like the idea was like, we're hitting like a CMO with like email, subject line is like weekly buyers researching X company. Right. And you open it and it's actually like a report with their logo. It's like, here are the companies that are researching this. And then the message is pretty much like, imagine if you got this delivered to your inbox every single week, how happy your sales team would be. And it's like, we don't have to imagine, you can just go get that. Right. Like, and this is what we offer. So like, it's almost like taking the concept of like, rather than explaining what buyer intent is and doing all these things. It's like, just show them right. In a very tactical way. Cause then it's like, Oh wow, I want that. Right. So that was like, we saw a lot of success on those types of campaigns, whether it be through like LinkedIn targeting or like on emails specifically.
Yeah. That was, that's a really good idea. I love that. And looking forward here in 2020, I know it's a crazy year, day by day, things are changing, you know, California just rolled back yesterday. Lots of craziness. Are you guys seeing new opportunities, new challenges, anything you're excited about moving forward this year from a marketing point of view?
Yeah. From the marketing point of view we're seeing like I said, we're seeing still pretty steady results, so we haven't luckily seen any drastic swings one way or another too bad. So excited about that. I think we're excited. I think, like I mentioned, we did like a 90 day trial when all of this hit. And so, you know, most of our sales are coming through self-serve. So we kind of were without revenue almost for 90 days to take that hit. And so we're starting to see these cohorts of people now convert. So I'm super excited to see kind of all these things coming through and coming to fruition. But for us, I think it's, it's really like back to the efficiencies, like getting these content campaigns out the door that we're doing with, against the grain, launching that and setting ourselves up from a demand gen perspective to be like hyper efficient. So when budgets open back up for us we can scale pretty rapidly cause we know exactly what's working and where we want to place our bets.
I would love to have you guys back on like six months and learn about how the show is going. What kind of promotion strategies and tactics have worked there and some of those efficiencies and what has really been great because I hope no matter what (inaudible) budgets open back up, you guys are able to keep that efficiency and the lessons learned to really just hone in and maximize the rest of the year. But I'm excited for you guys. I love your brand. I love your company and have a lot of great progress ahead of you.
Yeah. Yeah. We have a new head of content joining at the end of this month. Who's who's from Wistia of all places. So Kristen Bryant will be our director of content marketing.
Oh we got her on the podcast. I love Kristen. Yeah.
So she's, she is amazing. So yeah, you should have her back on in six months cause she'll probably take the whole campaign and take her to a way different level as she joins.
Oh my God. That's fantastic. Please tell her hello, she's amazing. She was on the SaaS breakthrough summit last December as well. So a fantastic,fantastic hire for you guys, congratulations.
Yeah. Thank you.
Cool. What I want to do now is flip over to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You ready to get started?
Yes, let's do it.
Alright. You got this. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?
Yes. No vanity metrics. So get very tactical of like demand gen campaigns and focus there.
What would be a vanity metric?
I think vanity metrics, social followers, ad impressions email, open rates, all those sorts of things.
Got it. Makes sense. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
I would say copywriting. I think that's one that I would say up until a few years ago, I probably underestimated how valuable it was and I worked with an amazing copywriter at G2 and taking, having him as a resource to turn some of our landing pages, we literally had converting at like 60% all because of the copy. So it was like, wow, this is, this is how it works. Right. Like I, and I think a lot of companies talk about it, but not many people have that skillset. So I think copywriting is one of those areas.
It's a pretty insane conversion rate. And yet copywriting is almost the core. Right. You could have an ugly page and great copy and still convert. Well, what about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?
I will, so I'll give you two. So one, I'll give you the, the copywriting one. So Eddie Shleyner is the copywriter at G2. He is also the founder of Verygoodcopy. He's got a few courses, one on fascinations. That is, it's awesome. And it's an awesome exercise to go through. So that's one copywriting resource that's free. The other one is I'm actually doing this as a self plug. I'm actually doing a free workshop for, for growth strategies with Jesse Rowe who heads up Growth at G2 six week workshop, completely free. It's on my personal site, marketingmutiny.com.
Well, I'll make sure that's on the resources after the show is up and I will also register myself. I would love to go to that. That sounds fantastic.
What about a favorite tool that you can't live without?
Asana. We use that for everything we're doing and managing all of our projects, so.
What about a brand business or a team that you admire today?
Yeah. So brand, I think Wistia is an amazing brand. We've talked about them a bunch. A team you know, I think the marketing team at G2 is unbelievably talented from, you know, the people leading the brand team over there, Hillary Fortin and Yoni is leading product marketing and Eddie's the copywriter and Jessie's the growth marketerr. They just have just amazing talented team. And Ryan Bonnici is...
We had Ryan on the podcast like last year, he was great.
Yeah. And his superpower, I think is just building teams. He builds like the most amazing team. So everyone who work there. It's like, Oh wow. This is like, there's like literally like 15, like future like rockstar CMOs on that team. So it's amazing team, to kind of work with them to be a part of.
That's awesome. Yeah. That's a fantastic, that's really cool to hear that you have such great talent over there at G2, but amazing Adam, thank you so much for coming on, sharing so much. I know it's been an exciting and probably very chaotic first few months there at Help Scout, but I appreciate you sharing so much with us and taking the time.
Yeah. Thank you very much, David, for having me on. I enjoyed it
Was a pleasure, Adam. Thanks and talk to you soon.