About Edward Ford:
Edward Ford is Marketing Director at Supermetrics, a marketing analytics SaaS product used by over half a million marketers.
Edward is also host of The Growth Hub Podcast, the podcast for all things B2B SaaS marketing.
About Edward Ford:
Edward Ford is Marketing Director at Supermetrics, a marketing analytics SaaS product used by over half a million marketers.
Edward is also host of The Growth Hub Podcast, the podcast for all things B2B SaaS marketing.
Hey Edward, thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. Excited to have you here and Supermetrics. How are you doing today?
I am good. Thanks. And thank you so much for having me on the podcast.
Yeah, it's a pleasure. We got a lot of fun things to talk about today. So why don't you just kick it off? Tell us a little bit about Supermetrics when it was founded, who the customers are and what you're doing uniquely in the marketplace?
So just a quick intro to Supermetrics. It's basically the easiest way to move your marketing data from all your different marketing platforms into analytics reporting and storage platform. So we integrate with around 50 to 60 different marketing platforms like Facebook, Facebook ads, Google analytics, and so forth. And you can just move that data directly into spreadsheets, Google Data Studio dashboards, data warehouses, and so forth. So it's a really simple product just based on the movement of data. And it was started in around 2009 when our CEO and founder Mikael, he basically wanted to win a Google t-shirt. So someone posted on forum that the first person to move Google analytics data into Excel would win a t-shirt. So they just launched the Google analytics API, and he was working as a marketing data analyst at that time and really wanted the tee shirt and also want it to solve a big pain point that he had.
Cause he was manually moving a lot of data from Google analytics and other platforms into spreadsheets. And he basically built Supermetrics and he realized a lot of people were using the product he shared, and the code online, and he essentially started a company. He started charging money for it and set up the organization in 2013 as a side hobby and then made the first hire around 2015/16. And now we've grown to around hundred, hundred and 20 people with three offices around the world. It's a, it's a pretty cool story. And customers are mainly marketers. So a lot of performance, marketers, SEOs, web analytics, marketers, and social media marketers. And then we also work a lot with data analysts now and engineers who are doing a lot more heavy lifting, moving data into data warehouses and so forth. And I think one thing that we do uniquely is that we just make it possible to get any data you need from your most popular marketing platform. So we have really good connectors and with Supermetrics, you can actually find data points and metrics that you won't find within native reporting, but it's available only through the API. So if you really need that specific KPI or metric from one of your marketing platforms, I think with Supermetrics you would be able to get it. If it's available on the API, then we make it happen.
That's a hilarious starting story by your founder. That's amazing. Did he win the tshirt?
There you go. That's what made it all. Do you consider you guys in a red ocean space or would you say you're still relatively, relatively blue ocean? Not a lot of competitors. I know there's some, we've had some on the podcast.
Yeah. I think we're now in the red ocean. I think when Mikael started Supermetrics and shared his solution, it was pretty blue ocean and he was smart enough to set up the company and start charging for the product early enough. So that laid a good foundation, but obviously now the product has developed, but there are also other competitors out there. And so it's, it's more red ocean these days. That's for sure.
No, that definitely makes sense. I was just kind of wondering how you felt about that positioning. What about finding product market fit? So you talked about a couple of different segments that you go after, you know, for the founder as he was going through, it sounds like there were some early customers. How did that develop? How did you guys find who the right people to talk to were, or the gatekeepers along the way, I mean, obviously you have a wide range product that kind of fits a lot of, a lot of different businesses can use it.
So I think the fact that Mikael had this problem himself and he built a product to solve it meant that that was a pretty good level of product market fit from the very beginning and particularly early audience of marketers, digital marketers, performance marketers, they are the core users of Supermetrics and product market fit hasn't really been a huge issue. But now as we've moved into the enterprise side and we've started adding new products to our portfolio. So instead of just being able to move marketing data into a Google sheet spreadsheet or data studio, if you want to move your data into a data warehouse like Google Big Query or Snowflake, which is our newest product, there, it's a very different audience.
It's more enterprise oriented companies. It's data analysts, heads of data, CTOs are involved. It's higher deal sizes. There are questions around security and so forth use of data. And really the old inbound self-serve playbook doesn't really work here. And it's not just about getting a huge amount of trials per month, but kind of rethinking that, working with the sales team, thinking about things like ABM, outbound, and so forth and figuring out how do we make that transition. So, so there it's definitely been a little more difficult, but always good problems to try and figure out.
Yeah. Like you said, that's a good problem to solve. It probably was a transformational kind of time for going from like the smaller deal sizes to those big enterprise deals. And I could definitely see that, that customer type being very focused on security and privacy of that data and those big companies. When did you join the team actually?
So I joined Supermetrics at the very beginning of 2019. So it's coming up to two years now while we're recording this episode, at least.
Wow. That's incredible. Okay. So been there for about two years and I know based on a blog article that you had that in 2019 and February 2019, you guys passed 10 million in ARR and literally in February, 2020 this year, you guys passed 20 million in ARR. So you basically doubled in about 12 months, which is phenomenal, amazing growth. We'd love to just dig in and, and see what kind of takeaways we could figure out from your strategy to basically have that predictable growth, that great growth curve that you guys were able to do. And you were there basically for this whole time.
Yeah. It's been fun. That's for sure. So when I joined Supermetrics in January 2019, there was about 13. I was, I was number 32 and now we're 120, so we've definitely grown the team and scaled and the company's changed quite a bit in that time. That's for sure. But in terms of how did we do it? A lot of people have asked me that question since we wrote that article and I don't think there was any one single initiative or strategy that just magically made it happen. So there's no silver bullets here, but I think there were a few things we did quite well that definitely impacted that.
So I spoke earlier about the transition from a self-serve, low-touch mindset to a sales assisted, more traditional higher-touch B2B sales process. So we built out a world class sales team that is for sure one thing. So the first sales person had been hired about six months before I joined. There were three people in the sales team and really it was about giving people the option to purchase through the sales team rather than just going self-serve. So I think a lot of people who are new to Supermetrics or the late majority of marketing analysts, they might not be familiar with the product. They want to have a bit more handholding instead of just buying directly with a credit card and trying to figure things out themselves. So having a sales team there has definitely helped, and we've been able to scale that sales team to around 30 people now, both here in Helsinki, Finland, and then we also have a team based out of Atlanta in the US.
And they're actually selling some of that self-serve part of the system too?
Yeah. So we give people the option when you start a trial, whether you would want to talk to anyone in our sales team at any point. So there's always the option for people to discuss with sales and to get a demo, see how the product works in action, but then on the backend as well. We also want to make sure the good opportunities go to the sales team because we had these issues earlier on that it was almost a split, or like a chance who went through sales assisted and who didn't. So we had our lowest price product back when I started was $19 per month, if you just wanted to single connect to, into Data Studio. And it was tough luck on the sales rep who had to work that deal. It made no sense for them to work on a $20 per month deal.
So obviously we have things to do to get, get smarter with our lead scoring and looking at product-based activity. So if people are very heavily using the product during the trial, if they're connecting to multiple data sources, or if they're using data sources that are on our more premium enterprise package, then of course, we want to make sure that the sales team get to work those deals. So there's a lot of things we did there to, to improve on how we work with sales. And I think for marketing, that was a, a mind, a change in mindset was needed because we'd been thinking self-serve all day long. And a lot of things that had been set up on the marketing side were built around that self-serve slash we don't have a sales team thinking to then, okay, we actually have a sales team. We need to provide them training on our different products.
We are obviously marketing to marketers. So we have to know the products quite well. We need to provide comparisons to our competitors, battle calls, all these things. So require a change in mindset from, from the marketing team. So that was definitely been one of the main, main reasons. And then I think on a marketing side, some other things that I could bring up that have really helped has been basically the product is built on destinations and sources. So you move data from all your marketing sources and you move them into destinations. So we have networks and partnerships on both the source and destination side. So distributing on the G-Suite marketplace, through Microsoft, on the data studio connect to gallery. And then when we integrate with products like HubSpot, they obviously have their new app marketplace. So benefiting from those distributing through partner networks with Twitter, Facebook, and so forth.
So that's been a big factor for us in, in growing the business. And we really think about product like marketing a lot. So building the product into our marketing search first high-intent content strategy. So making sure when people are finding out ways of how they can move Google analytics data into Google sheets, that Supermetrics pops up. And then I think the other one has been paid acquisition. So we're, we're quite heavy users of performance marketing. So I think those are a few things that have really helped us grow that quickly over the last year or so.
Some fantastic advice and response there, their different ideas you tried. It was, I'm really glad that you kind of explained more of the change in that sales team too. Cause that was kind of my question was how are you, you know, giving commissions to salespeople, doing those lower end you know, lower ARPU ticketed programs, but that makes sense that you have to really shift your mindset, build those products, get them all the things that they need so that they can go after the bigger customers and ones that actively need it. So that really makes a lot of sense. As you guys have been building you also have been starting to play with webinars I know, which is obviously near and dear for us at Demio. I know you recently did a Facebook Ads Masterclass experiment, love to hear about the strategy you use there, why you did that, why you swapped into webinars all of a sudden here?
Yeah, for sure. I wish I could answer this question by saying we have this beautifully crafted strategy around events and webinars, but there wasn't really one, I think it was driven by many companies earlier this year with the whole COVID pandemic that, okay, we should probably start doing some, some online events. And we had been speaking about doing webinars earlier this year anyway. And so we decided to experiment with a few and we actually got some pretty good results, good traction. And one of them was the Facebook ads Masterclass. So we worked with a good partner friend of ours, Jeff Sauer, who is one of the top experts on Facebook ads. And we were just pinging some ideas back and forth with him over email and came across the idea of, Hey, let's look at a masterclass for Facebook ads and specifically around an end-to-end playbook for generating more leads through Facebook ads campaigns.
And we kind of thought maybe we'll get 500 people to sign up. That was the initial goal I had. And I felt that we could generate some pretty decent results with that amount of people. But then in the end we just maxed out. I had to upgrade our package on (inaudible) cause we had a 5k limit on participants. And then we passed that it was clear we were going to pass that. So, so we had to upgrade and basically we just had around a 30, 40 minute session where Jeff was going through his playbook, really, really good actionable takeaways. But one of the cool things we did is that we actually obviously having had a sneak peek into the content of that webinar, we use the frameworks Jeff was sharing in the webinar to actually promote the webinar itself. So there was some meta promotion going on here and Jeff used three different ad frameworks as a great way to generate leads and that went perfectly well with a webinar.
So we decided to run an experiment and test out those three different campaigns and they all performed really well. And I think we got around two, two and a half thousand signups from paid acquisition then, yeah, through Facebook ads primarily. And then through our own email lists and then a lot of organic social promotion as well. So those were the three channels we did. That was it. And it was a really good success, covered our costs pretty quickly through net new revenues. And we had a lot of our existing customers on there as well. And we noticed a few of them expanded their number of seats quite soon after the webinars as well and had some good discussions around potential upsells into our enterprise product. So it was a really cool experiment. And I think for us, we like to test things out and then see that if there's demand, we might double down.
So we're also looking into recruiting someone who could actually take this on full time instead of having myself and a few others of the members of the team, try and do this on the side, along with all the other things we're doing.
Yeah. I definitely understand. Which is one of the reasons why we've created like at Demio our automated events, our hybrid events, right? So you can kind of run those or have a host that runs them on a daily basis and just bring in those new signups, running ads and just having daily events, which is great. What was the, what was the call to action there? So you were doing an educational event talking about the medic campaigns that you ran to bring them in showing off the campaigns that worked for you, showing them on the event itself. And then at the end were you doing like sign up for a free trial, did you push directly to a package? Like what did you guys decide to close on there?
Yeah, so we were pushing the free trial. That was our main call-to-action and that worked pretty well. So yeah, that was pretty much it basically, the free trial.
I love that. We do the soft close too, I think it's a really nice, easy way to just get someone in. Then use to your point earlier, like your product led growth, a lot of your onboarding activation to get people going, but it's such a great strategy because it's about education and building relationships and then nothing is like hard sold on. It's just, you know, sign up for trial because you're kind of activating those pain points along the way. So wonderfully done. Congratulations. Those are great results. I know another platform you're on is also LinkedIn. You know, it's becoming a bigger and bigger network for B2B. It's, it's getting noisy and a little bit in the DMS, I get like a thousand a day, I think. What's your experience been so far on LinkedIn? What have you guys done that has kind of worked well and you've seen some results from?
Yeah, so I also noticed a lot of similar activities on LinkedIn and I think we've all seen pretty good results individually. Quite a few of us in the marketing team have been quite active on LinkedIn before. And I think it's great for us when you work in Martech, because you can write about marketing all day on LinkedIn and you're still speaking to your audience. Whereas if you're working in marketing in another vertical, you're kind of stuck between, should I focus on industry specific content or should I use this more for my personal brand? But I mean, a lot of us noticed that we just weren't getting any traction with our branded account and it's quite hard and people don't really follow brands on LinkedIn. I think it's more about the people, the network.
We're seeing a lot of the same thing.
Yeah, exactly. So this was a discussion we had during the summer just before I went on vacation where we were saying, Hey, we need to just rethink our social strategy instead of trying to create posts for the Supermetrics branded account and putting a lot of effort into those. Let's ask you to just share those with everyone on the team and try to get everyone involved and leverage the personal profiles of all the people in Supermetrics, because we have one brand and account, but we have a hundred people working at the company. So it does makes a lot of sense and in particular, we wanted to support the sales team. They have very ambitious goals and we have a lot of trials coming in each month, but then of course, people need to book meetings, can be easier to sell particular outbound team as well are quite active on LinkedIn.
So what one of my colleagues did, Pinja, who is also a former guest of this show. I think, you know, her as well, David, she
She is amazing.
Yeah. So, so she took the idea and came up with the concept of a LinkedIn bootcamp, which was an eight week program for our sales team. And the goals were to basically help our sales team be more active on LinkedIn as a way to drive more meetings, and then for Supermetrics to generate a bit more awareness and buzz on social. So that was a two hour kickoff with an intro to LinkedIn and social selling and the kind of best practices like link in the comments, all that stuff that is bread-and-butter to marketers, and then everyone was given the option to either write their own posts. Everyone had to commit to two posts per week.
So you could either write your own posts or then have the marketing team creates posts for you. And we just had around 20 people from the sales team sign up for that. We thought maybe four or five people could do it, but almost everyone in the sales team did. We had a few people from marketing as well, jumping in, and it was a really good success. We're actually just about to close the eight week bootcamp. And LinkedIn has been flooded with updates for members of the Supermetrics marketing and sales team over the last couple of months, we've had around 30 meetings booked directly from connections made on LinkedIn with the sales team. One person has booked 19 already, which is insane. And of course we've had a huge increase in our reach. So we're asking everyone to report back on the total reach and engagements of their posts when we have the wrap up.
And I've had quite a few people, like two or three people, message me or saying that Supermetrics is all over my LinkedIn these days. And so it's, it's working and we decided to actually double down on this, so we're going to launch a second bootcamp this fall. We have quite a few new members of the sales team who've joined over the last few months. And then I think a few of those who decided to skip the bootcamp are having a bit of FOMO and might be joining in as well. So that's good. And then we're also setting up a postgrad track for the batch one alumni and kind of giving them more tailored programs for being active on LinkedIn. So that's been good. And I think for us, as our growth is forecast to go through the sales team. That's how we're going to go from like 30 million to a hundred million.
So it's hard to do that through the self-serve funnel. So it's going to be driven through the sales team. And so we in marketing want to support that. And this was one opportunity we saw and we came up with something pretty quickly and Pinja went ahead, came up with the idea, executed, implemented, and it was awesome. It was so funny cause I came back from my holiday and I was like, yeah. So should we come back to think about that social strategy and getting people active and Pinja was like, yeah, well we already set up bootcamp and here's everything. And we're already two weeks into it and so forth. And when Pinja went on vacation, I kind of took over and helped out and was writing posts for everyone. So that has been super, super cool and has generated a lot of buzz internally as well within Supermetrics. And now when we're launching your products, we have a huge team of 20 to 30 people who we can rely on and get, get behind as well. So it's really helping us in marketing too.
Congratulations. I love that you guys move so fast. How great to come back from vacation and see that it's already going and really knocked out, you know, a quarter of the, a quarter of the program already for you, but that's amazing. I think, you know, it was really smart that you guys are just trying to find like, where can we distribute our message? How can we do it in a powerful way, continue to build on that and just experiment in those different areas. So moving fast, just seeing what works, what sticks, but then doubling down on it. I think that's such a great lesson. And then looking back over the past two years, are there any other hard lessons that you've learned or experiments that maybe didn't work out as expected?
Yeah, for sure. I think there's as many hard lessons as there are good lessons. We've done a lot of different things. We've tried experiments where we actually switched off our ads in certain markets to see what happens. We've experimented with packaging tests of how we bundle our products. So we did one in the Nordics where we removed list pricing from our website for that region and then tested bundling more relevant connect to packages instead of requiring a customer to buy one specific thing or everything as we had without prebuilt packages. So we tried that, it didn't really work. We learned that running geo split experiments is, it's pretty difficult because we had some issues with IP mapping and it led to a pretty bad customer experience. And we had to kind of abandon that and we weren't really able to make any conclusions from that based on the lack of statistical significance.
But I think it's good to try these things and our growth team are doing stuff like this on a pretty regular basis because I think for every bad experiment, you're going to get a good one that hits. So, so that's good. And then I think as well, just as you scale that quickly, how do you ensure that the company and the processes scale and getting teams aligned and using models like, OKRs effectively, I've read books and articles on that. And it just sounds so smooth and simple, but then when you try to implement it, it can be quite difficult. So I think in general, as we grow this quickly, trying to keep pace with that and make sure you have processes and everything in place that enables you to scale, because I think you can grow too quickly and if you're not ready for it, that it can cause more pain than harm or more pain than benefits sorry.
No, you're absolutely right. And we had a little bit of growth this year. Not anywhere near, as large as you guys in as far as like quadrupling your team, but you know, you definitely want to have those systems in place to scale, but it's almost like you can't build those systems too early until you really know what the gross is going to be, what that's gonna look like. So you're almost like building the ladder as you're growing, you know, you kinda just gotta figure it out as you're like hitting the next level. But yeah, that's, it's such a good point though, that you can grow too fast and you, you do have to be very careful of that, but those are all really smart, good lessons. And you know, you've had an incredible couple of years there, so congratulations to you and the entire team and, you know, looking forward in this end of a crazy 2020 going into 2021, any new challenges or opportunities that you guys are excited for?
Yeah, for sure. I think scaling, as I just mentioned there is one, one thing we need to figure out. And I think as well as we grow our average deal size and look towards the enterprise side of the business, that is one of the next big big challenges to crack. And then I think as well on the self serve side. So a lot of our earlier products like our spreadsheets products and data studio, figuring out what other acquisition channels can we tap into andmaking sure that we, we don't plateau. I think that's going to be the next big challenge for that part of the business. And I just think the playbook, when you go from zero to five, five to 10, 10 to 20, 20 to 30, which is kind of where we're at now is how do you then get from 30 to a hundred? And I think that's going to look pretty different and it's something we need to figure out and and work on together. And so I think there's a lot of challenges ahead, a lot of things to figure out. And I think that's also why it's so, so fun to work at this stage in a company like Supermetrics.
Yeah. It's gotta be a great stage because you have a lot of stuff that's working great. It's just about the challenge of how do we get to the next level. And it just reminds me of a quote from Jason Lemkin, who said, you know, if you can get to 10 million, a hundred million is inevitable, you know, you're going to get there. You just got to figure out the systems to do it. And, and things definitely change in that size. So again, congratulations to you guys. It's an exciting place to be, an exciting time. A lot of smart people there, so I'm sure you guys will do great, but what I want to do now for sake of time is just flip over to our lightning round questions. Five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. Are you ready to get started?
Yes, I'll do my best.
I know, you're going to do great. You've been doing great already. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?
Yes. Be super clear on who your customer is and make sure everyone in the company knows exactly who that is.
I love that, alignment communication. And then doing your research early. What about a skill you'd recommend that is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
Yeah. I'm not going to give you one, but I'll give you three. So first is really nailing your positioning and having a clear understanding of where you stand on the market. Second building good go-to-market strategies really important when you're launching your products as well. And then thirdly, marketing analytics and understanding the data piece of the puzzle.
Yeah. The data side is such a critical piece and mistakes we have had made in the past have come from that, like not having enough data or enough you know, insights, really know what's working, what's not working. So it's such a good thing to build on. So three great answers there. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?
Yeah, this one's more SaaS specific and I would recommend Forgetthefunnel by Claire Suellentrop and Georgiana Laudy, super good community with a lot of good SaaS marketers and great content. Great workshops. Highly recommended.
It's a really good one. I love that resource. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?
Yeah, this has been traditional and a bit old school, but it's my pen and notepad. I've tried Evernote. I've tried other solutions like that, but I find that when I get really bogged down with stuff, just get a pen and paper and go find the empty desk and scribble out challenges, goals, plans, most things can be figured out with pen and paper.
I love that answer. I've heard a couple of times on here and it's like literally so true. It's like we live in this technology world, all these tools and resources, but sometimes like you said, the old school just works the best. Gets your your cluttered mind out for sure. And what about a brand business or team that you admire today?
Yeah, I have one that is a brand I admire. It's a business I admire and it's a team I admire and that is Ahrefs. I think they built a great brand, great company. It's performing phenomenally well and their team is fantastic. Particularly the marketing team led by Tim Solo. I think his philosophy and approach to marketing is so simple, but so spot on. And we actually look at a lot of things they do. And I wouldn't say copy, but try to replicate things that they found to work. Cause they've, they've done a phenomenal job growing that business.
They definitely have. It's a great company, a lot of amazing marketing initiatives going over there as well. But I just want to say Edward, thank you so much for coming on to the podcast, for sharing so much, for talking about Supermetrics. Just great to connect and learn. And you know, I thank you for your time.
David. Thank you. It was an absolute pleasure.
It was a pleasure. And we'll talk to you soon. Have a great day.