SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Mark Kilens

demio saas breakthrough featuring mark kilensAbout Mark Kilens:

Mark Kilens is VP of Content and Community at Drift where he leads the blogging, editorial, social, and events teams.

Prior to joining Drift, he served as VP and founder of HubSpot Academy. As an enthusiastic former customer, Mark joined HubSpot in 2010 as an Inbound Marketing Consultant, where he spent two years working with thousands of HubSpot customers to scale their inbound strategy.

From there, he went on to build HubSpot Academy from the ground up, and in doing so, educated millions of people and created a best-in-class hub for marketing and sales content and training.

When he’s not at Drift, Mark enjoys plenty of steak and lobster, a round of golf or two, and loves being on snow or in the ocean.

 

meetdemio · How Drift Shapes The Future of Marketing With Cornerstone Content And Community Building

Show Notes:
03:20
Helping Shape The Future Of Marketing And Sales
"Marketing has become more important than ever. Like marketers are now so important from the perspective of looking at it from a messaging human level, the empathetic side of marketing, which I think marketers, including myself, can all work on and get better at. All the way down to the deep tactics of conversion optimization to generating that pipeline and turning it into revenue."
05:05
Moving Into An Integrated Campaigns Approach
06:20
Joining A Hypergrowth Company Starting To Scale The Marketing Team
"We've worked on this integrated campaigns approach and it's, again, it's been huge for our team. And it really helps you make sure that like you're creating consistent experiences, messaging, both from like a visual standpoint, a copy standpoint across all the channels you're using to generate interest and turn that interest into buying, into buyers I should say, into demand."
08:10
It All Starts With The Who
09:40
Shifting Into Value-Based Marketing And Selling Value
"We've also been shifting into this value based marketing and sales motion focusing on selling value instead of just, you know, a one off kind of like tool or use case."
10:50
Going Really Deep Into Persona Research
12:15
Always Be Building Up Your Branded Community
13:35
Time-To-Value Is A Really Important Metric
" How do we use different programs, different channels, definitely different content, and also enable our Drift team, the onboarding specialists and customer success managers with the right training and knowledge to make sure our customers are really successful. And those customers become super fans, become big advocates, and it starts to create that kind of flywheel effect for us, where the word of mouth that we're getting from our customers is driving so much more of the brand and demand."
14:25
Building A Voice Of The Customer Type Of Program
"Focused someone's full time job responsibilities on being the voice of the customer. So what, what does that mean? That means getting as close to the customers as they can. So talking to them all the time, reading every single review that comes in to one of the third party platforms where people can leave reviews. Listening and partnering to the product team and using surveys to understand customer sentiment, customer behaviors, and the overall customer experience. And there's, there's many other things that this person does, but at a high level she at Drift is focused on using all these inputs and gathering implicit and explicit data to tell us a few things."
17:10
Building Community With Events And Drift Insider
19:20
Using Content For Community And Brand Building
"Cornerstone content is content that takes a good amount of time to create, but the amount of value you and your customers are going to get from it is very high."
21:30
The Five Categories Of Cornerstone Content
"The first type of cornerstone content is just books, either a physical book (..) or digital books, AKA eBooks (...) The next piece is research. Research reports or presentations. (...) Third type, shows. (...) Fourth type of cornerstone content, events. In person events, which, you know, limited now, but in person events and virtual events. (...) final fifth cornerstone piece of content I use is courses. Courses with or without a certification."
"The amount of ways you can reuse repackage and reposition your cornerstone content (...) my 3R's, reuse, repackage, reposition cornerstone content."
25:50
Prioritizing Cornerstone Content Creation
"It's definitely about your ICP and personas, but it's also about your business' goals. (...) So if you're trying to generate demand and revenue, which most businesses are and you're doing that through a inbound you know, paid motion mostly, then your books, the books piece, the research piece, the show piece, pick one of those three, (...) It's going to be a lot of evergreen content."
"If you have field sales, more outbound, you're going after enterprises, you probably want to do events, research, and maybe, maybe books or shows. I don't know, but definitely events and research, right? Because you're trying to go out to probably personas that are VP and above that, you know, you're talking, you know, large, large deal sizes, average contract values of over a hundred thousand."
27:35
Including The Community In The Content
"Figure out as you pick that content format, how to get people to help you build it, like meaning include the community in the content. Like 75% of your content should be from the voices of other people David. People think it's kind of crazy when I say that, but 75 to 80% of all content that Drift creates, it's created because we've empowered, enabled other people inside Drift or outside of Drift to create content. Fun fact, the Drift content marketing team is five people."
28:40
Leveraging Virtual Events
"We're still figuring out what is the future of these virtual events. But we do know that at the end of the day, content and the messaging and the copy in which you use to generate interest for that event is super important. And you really want to make sure you partner with different, amazing speakers and businesses to execute that event because together you will make a better experience versus you just trying to do it on your own."
33:07
Setting Goals And Choosing KPIs
36:20
More Is Not Always Better
38:40
Revenue Teams And The Growing Importance Of Your Website
"Your website is more important than ever before David. If, if you, as a marketer are not spending multiple hours a week, if not a day focused on your website from the, from the copy to the optimization efforts for search for, from the content, the conversion paths, how do people engage with it? How do you connect the buyer who comes to your website with your sales team? How do you qualify people? How do you personalize the website experience? How do you curate the website experience? If you're not focused on that, you are going to be missing, just you're going to be missing out on revenue, missing on dollars. So I think the website, man, there's a lot more we can do to help marketers and salespeople use their website more effectively."
40:30
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA (03:22):
Hey Mark. Thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. Super excited to have Drift back on the podcast. How are you doing today?

MK (03:29):
I am great. Thank you for having me, David, how are you doing?

DA (03:33):
I'm doing good. I'm doing good. We were talking before the show here in Tampa Bay, things are getting kind of wonky again with coronavirus. So interesting time in the world and I think makes good for the podcast content that we want to talk about today with Drift. You know, we've had Drift on the podcast before, you guys were part of the SaaS Breakthrough Summit last year in December. And quite honestly, here at Demio, we're huge fans of Drift. We watch what you guys do all the time. We're learning lessons from you guys in marketing, and you are probably the number one brand or business that guests on here talk about when we get to our question about brands and businesses that people admire. You're a huge inspiration to people's marketing in SaaS. So I guess, you know, give us an update on what's been going on behind the scenes this year in Drift's world.

MK (04:22):
Sure. And first off, thank you for those very, very kind words. That means a lot to us and we're in it together, right? We are really trying to help shape the future of marketing and sales with you folks listening, with the whole marketing and sales community. But I think David, to get right into it, marketing has become more important than ever. Like marketers are now so important from the perspective of looking at it from a messaging human level, the empathetic side of marketing, which I think marketers, including myself, can all work on and get better at. All the way down to the deep tactics of conversion optimization to generating that pipeline and turning it into revenue.

MK (05:08):
So the big thing that we've done over the last six months is we've moved into an integrated campaigns approach, which has been hugely helpful to align our messaging, align the campaigns we're running for the year, align those to the programs we do each quarter. Every program has a specific set of offers we're using in it. Those offers could be content, events, some type of direct mail experience. I can go deep into those offers and then we target different channels with those offers. Everything from paid search to email, to nurturing, to account based marketing tactics. So using this integrated campaigns approach, we have really aligned the team when everyone for the most part is, is working home. So communication is more imperative than ever, and this framework has helped us simplify, yet also get ahead of how we're delivering different messages, delivering different valuable offers to our audiences throughout the channels we use.

DA (06:16):
That's super exciting. Interesting. I want to dig into that a little bit more, get tactical, get detailed here, but just for brief context, when did you join the team and was this not going on when you first joined?

DA (06:29):
Great question. So Drift is a hypergrowth company. We are, we are growing faster than, than almost any company. I've, I've studied or been part of like first for context, I was at HubSpot for eight and a half years. And, and Drift is growing faster than HubSpot. So I joined Drift 18 months ago. And I joined right when we were starting to really, really scale the marketing team and focus on marketing from both a demand gen standpoint and a brand standpoint and content education standpoint. Before that it was mostly built off of the amazing work Dave Gerhardt had done from like a brand standpoint, setting up and creating a conversational marketing category. I joined along with Kate Adams, who's had leader of demand gen, actually on the same day. And since then, for those last 18 months, we've been really working on aligning the team around how to create a predictable pipeline and revenue.

MK (07:31):
So what we've also done is we brought on this amazing marketing leader, Tricia Gellman. She joined as our CMO at the end of 2019. And really from that point on, we've worked on this integrated campaigns approach and it's, again, it's been huge for our team. And it really helps you make sure that like you're creating consistent experiences, messaging, both from like a visual standpoint, a copy standpoint across all the channels you're using to generate interest and turn that interest into buying, into buyers I should say, into demand. Does that help David give it some more context?

DA (08:12):
Yeah, absolutely. So I was just trying to get to the bay, like bottom of was this a 2020 pivot? Was this something that had to come up this year, but it sounds like it's just been a marketing focus. So looking at it, you know, let's go into the details and the nitty gritty of this. When you're sitting down to create an integrated marketing campaign, what's the approach to, to choose the methodology, to choose the channel. Like how does this whole process works? Maybe, maybe you can give us an example of one.

MK (08:39):
Yeah. I mean, it all starts with the who. Like we talk a lot about the who at Drift and from my past you know job, you know, the who is basically basically like your personas. When you think about, think about your persona, you think about your ideal customer profiles. So I think of like personas as the people and the behaviors and, you know, demographic type things. Ideal customer profiles is more like firmographic, it's the business side. That your personas are at these ideal customer you know, profile that these businesses that make up your total, total addressable market. So it all starts with the who David. So we did a lot of refresh on our personas, understanding them, doing research through surveys, through conversations and really tried to get a deep understanding of their challenges, their pains, their goal, the places they look for or look to for information and the things that they are trying to think more about and get better about.

MK (09:46):
So like it's the who. And then what we do David, is we take that, that understanding of who we're trying to go after and where they might be talking online. What things they're particularly interested in, in checking out on a regular basis. And we then start to map these narratives, these, these high level narratives to these personas to help them understand what makes Drift, Drift you know, what is our unique value propositions? How does their challenges align to our solutions? So we've also been shifting into this value based marketing and sales motion focusing on selling value instead of just, you know, a one off kind of like tool or use case. And it's really those two things that value based approach and integrating into a campaign structure through programs, channels, and offers has allowed us to then study, using data. What things are most effective in driving our different goals from the very top of the funnel to the bottom of funnel.

DA (10:52):
So in this case, let's say you have, well, you guys serve so many different audiences when you're coming up with an ICP list. Let me just start there. Do you judge them based on where you think the most impact is? Like, how are you choosing which ones to go after first, is my first question.

MK (11:09):
Yeah. So that starts with ICP. That's like the company's like what, what's a good fit for Drift. Like what type of business would, would want to buy Drift? So, you know, we sell to SMBs, mid-market and enterprises, so it's pretty wide, right? It's a pretty wide grouping. But there are some characteristics that make for good fits for Drift. You know, we look at different things that are helpful in us understanding will the solution, the Drift platform deliver the value that we're going to promise up front. So anything from like their technographic information the amount of like website traffic and engagement that they might be getting, things like that that really help us gauge you know, what types of businesses would benefit from using conversational marketing and sales and using the Drift platform. And then we look at the people and we really go, we're really going out to two audiences now, David, which is marketers and salespeople. And we get really deep doing that persona research and understanding those different people at those businesses.

DA (12:15):
So once you have the segment you're going after, let's say it's small business marketers, you're then saying, where are the channels? Where are these people? Like, what would, what would make you choose maybe a virtual event or a live event in that case? Is that just saying, Hey, we're seeing most of our data that, you know, most marketers are in these areas?

MK (12:36):
It's kind of two philosophies that we have that I think every marketer should, should probably use. There's really like three philosophies, in my opinion. So like, or three approaches, maybe not philosophies, but one is you always want to be building up your branded community. So like, what are you going to do to continue to engage and educate people and get them to become fans of the brand, get them to, give them an ability or a reason why they should create some type of affinity to your brand. So that's like one motion. So if you think about how we should do that on an ongoing basis, we think about then how should we generate demand? How should we generate qualified buyers for our sales team to talk to them as soon as possible, as fast as possible and help them buy. Help them understand again, how Drifts, you know, solution and platform can, can help them solve their challenges and deliver outsized value to them.

MK (13:36):
And then we think about it from like a customer marketing standpoint. And actually, I would love to talk to you more about this David maybe today or later, but I think customer marketing and customer retention is so important and probably more important than ever because of the pandemic. That how do we help someone as a new customer get to value as fast as possible. So time to value is a really important metric. How do we use different programs, different channels, definitely different content, and also enable our Drift team, the onboarding specialists and customer success managers with the right training and knowledge to make sure our customers are really successful. And those customers become super fans, become big advocates, and it starts to create that kind of flywheel effect for us, where the word of mouth that we're getting from our customers is driving so much more of the brand and demand.

DA (14:26):
Let's talk about it now. I think it's a very interesting subject. It's something that we're investigating. Like how do we, how do we learn those basically like aha moments, activation moments, moments that, that again, drive referrals. How are you guys tracking that? How are you driving that? I think those are, those are super interesting points.

MK (14:45):
Yeah. I mean, do you, do folks have a, like a voice of the customer type of program or someone focused on a voice of the customer? Do you want me to explain what that means first?

New Speaker (14:55):
Yeah, we don't. Yeah, that'd be awesome to hear. Yeah.

MK (14:58):
So we did this at my past job too. We focused someone's full time job responsibilities on being the voice of the customer. So what, what does that mean? That means getting as close to the customers as they can. So talking to them all the time, reading every single review that comes in to one of the third party platforms where people can leave reviews. Listening and partnering to the product team and using surveys to understand customer sentiment, customer behaviors, and the overall customer experience. And there's, there's many other things that this person does, but at a high level she at Drift is focused on using all these inputs and gathering implicit and explicit data to tell us a few things.

MK (15:53):
One is like, how is the product working for our customers? How should the product evolve? Secondly, what messaging is resonating? Third, what, what questions and education do customers need? And, and really, she's trying to be the biggest customer advocate at Drift. And she's trying to build programs that both address these things and give the leaders and teams at Drift access to this data and understanding of how to action against it. But then also she's also like building programs to generate more reviews, to generate more success. And I think over time, like this type of role is going to grow and grow and grow, and it's gonna be bigger customer marketing teams, bigger customer expansion type teams that are focused on that, you know, time to value and focused on how do we help customers learn from other customers. So I'm a big proponent of like customer evidence, customer stories, customer examples, as a primary way to teach customers, but also how to get these customers to be engaged in the community in some way, and get them to learn from one another, not just where they're learning from you, the business.

DA (17:11):
Are you guys doing this through mostly community? Like, are you doing this in a group? How are you handling, like getting all that feedback, getting them together, talking together, is that an event, a virtual event? How does that work?

MK (17:24):
Yeah, I mean, it's through all the channels, right? So it's definitely through a virtual events, small customer and buyer events recently, we call them Drift Ascend. With these Drift Ascend events that are invite only, that is really like an experiential experience, where there's a wine tasting or a artist reviewing and giving some stories and teachings about a set of, of art. So it's really, it's really unique, but there's also then a conversational component to it where prospects and customers are having a conversation that has a moderator or a facilitator or someone from Drift, who's bringing them together to talk about a really important issue right now, going on in the world where they can all learn from each other and build, you know, these one-to-one connections after the event. We're trying to just bring people together and connect people together.

MK (18:15):
So that's like one really specific example of what we're doing. We also have the Drift community, Drift insider. 28,000 almost 30,000 members have signed up for Drift insider in 15 months. It's a completely free learning community of marketing and sales professionals. And we're having conversations with people in that platform, but we're also using their behaviors and their intend signals that they're giving to us based off of their content consumption habits. And using that to inform this voice of the customer information, along with all the product data we're getting. So it's like, I think David is coming from a number of different spots, but really what we're trying to do is distill down the major themes from this information and give those themes to the different leaders, not just marketing. Marketing, product, sales, customer success, even finance leaders on how we can make the customer experience that much more like personalized, more curated, and just, just easier to do business with Drift.

DA (19:19):
I love that. And all of this makes so much sense. It's really just about to your point, creating the value for that customer really learning from them in the trenches. So you guys are sitting here trying to think of a new way to build community, maybe a new way to build some content. As you mentioned, Drift Insider. I think that's a great initiative. How do you guys distill that into a content strategy? How do you think, Hey, we need to build a brand to bring people together. And then when you're launching that, like how are you actually bringing that audience together? So I guess this is the question about the micro initiative inside of this kind of bigger sphere of building community.

MK (19:56):
Yeah, it's a really good question. People ask me this all the time. I've had hundreds of conversations with CEOs and marketing leaders about community building and using content to build that community and how that plays into the brand building exercise. The first question you want to ask yourself is what is the business' like long term goals for the next five years? Are you trying to go from 500,000 to a million in revenue? Trying to go from 500,000 to 10 million, a million in revenue to 50 or a hundred million, like depending on how you're trying to scale and grow the business and how quickly and what is your go to market motion like. It's going to really change the answer to that question. So, you know, you have different go to market motions, everything from product growth, product qualified lead to more traditional demand gen, you know, using inbound marketing and paid. Then you also have e-comm or D2C - direct to consumer type models. You have a partnership model to grow, through ecosystems. There's a lot of ways you can go to market with your solution product. And then how fast the business and what the business is trying to do from a growth standpoint, that's going to dictate your content and community strategy.

MK (21:15):
So the thing though that you want to use for all of them though, there's one common thing you want to use David, for all of that, is cornerstone content.

DA (21:25):
Explain that a little bit more cornerstone content. What does that mean?

MK (21:28):
Yeah. Cornerstone content is content that takes a good amount of time to create, but the amount of value you and your customers are going to get from it is very high. So I think of cornerstone content in five different categories and I'm going to, let's get tactical in each of these. I am happy to talk about any of the five, if not all, five. But we use all five at Drift and all five are part of Drift Insider. And it's really how we power our demand machine and our customer marketing and customer success machines. So the first type of cornerstone content is just books, either a physical book like we've, we've created many physical books at Drift.

MK (22:15):
You can check them out at Drift.com/books or digital books, AKA eBooks. I don't know (inaudible) books, David, but you have books and books are so valuable because there's a lot of content in those books. And my recommendation is to create those books with other people, get your customers involved, get your strategic partners involved, get the community involved in writing those books and being part of those books. So that's cornerstone content number one.

DA (22:43):
Love that. Yeah, that's awesome.

MK (22:44):
Yeah, that's a pretty good one, right? It's pretty common, but books, right? And like, and again the amount of ways you can, you can reuse repackage and reposition your cornerstone content is something we should also talk about. It's my four, or is my 3R's, reuse, repackage, reposition cornerstone content. So don't forget that. The next piece is research. Research reports or presentations. You see a ton of smart businesses do this.

MK (23:09):
You, you know, used to be able to put them on like SlideShare, which I think you still can kind of do with LinkedIn, but like Google loves this type of content, both on the book side and the research side and research is awesome because it gets you a lot of typically PR hits. A lot of mentions. A lot of sometimes like earned media. Like it gets a lot of links. Like research reports and presentations, those two types of cornerstone content, super, super valuable. Third type, shows. This is, this is a type of cornerstone content you've got going on right now, David. We have five podcasts. You have a podcast show. We have No Filter which is a video based interview show. That's part of Drift Insider. Shows are incredible. The amount of content you get within 10, within 10 minutes of a podcast is about 2000 words.

MK (24:00):
So 10 minutes of a podcast, 2000 words. Think about all of the ways you can use that copy and content again. It's insane. Fourth type of cornerstone content, events. In person events, which, you know, limited now, but in person events and virtual events. What is an event? It's a guided experience that typically is for the most part, all about some type of content theme or themes that people are drawn to. Yes there's experiences with these events, there's different things you can do as part of a group, as an individual. But at the end of the day, you're going to that event for some type of content, some type of learning. And you can reuse that. I can give you an example of this, of what we've done recently. That event as massive amount of leverage across your community building and brand building efforts.

DA (24:56):
And then final fifth cornerstone piece of content I use is courses. Courses with or without a certification. You could have a certification exam at the end or you don't have to have one. And this is one of the ways, you know, HubSpot, we built HubSpot up to be this mega powerhouse of education and learning, which is core to, you know, inbound obviously. And we're doing very similar things with Drift and Drift Insider. We have three free certification courses, conversational marketing, conversational sales, and the playbook certification course. And this is able, these courses again are big meaty things. You can use them in so many different ways across those programs and channels I talked about. And you can, again, reuse and repackage the content from these courses into smaller offers as well. So I'm happy to dive into any of these five pieces of cornerstone content, but these are my go to ways in which I build content, build community and grow the brand.

DA (25:52):
That's, first of all, it was an amazing segment there. I just learned a ton. I have so many ideas that are going through my head. But my first question is how do you prioritize these? Like, is there a certain cornerstone content piece that you should build before others? Is there one that has more impact than others? Because I'm thinking about teams as we get started with stuff like this, as we start building this stuff out, all five of those, maybe too many to do initially right. So which one is the best one to start with? Is there one or is it more about the ICP?

MK (26:21):
Ah, that's a good question. It's definitely about your ICP and personas, but it's also about your business' goals. So if you're, and your go to market motion, that's why I brought it up. So if you're trying to generate demand and revenue, which most businesses are and you're doing that through a inbound you know, paid motion mostly, then your books, the books piece, the research piece, the show piece, pick one of those three, right? That's awesome. It's going to be a lot of evergreen content. I'm sure most folks have heard that term of the content is like an annuity keeps paying you back. You know, you only have to maybe update it once a year. It's going to build a lot of links. It's going to, it's going to educate the audience, right? Et cetera. If you have, and that's more of an inbound inside sales motion.

DA (27:13):
If you have field sales, more outbound, you're going after enterprises, you probably want to do events, research, and maybe, maybe books or shows. I don't know, but definitely events and research, right? Because you're trying to go out to probably personas that are VP and above that, you know, you're talking, you know, large, large deal sizes, average contract values of over a hundred thousand. So you really gotta think through that, go to market motion, your persona is an ICP, your business' goals. And then pick one or two, maybe three, but one or two to start with cornerstone content formats, and then figure out as you pick that content format, how to get people to help you build it, like meaning include the community in the content. Like 75% of your content should be from the voices of other people David. People think it's kind of crazy when I say that, but 75 to 80% of all content that Drift creates, it's created because we've empowered, enabled other people inside Drift or outside of Drift to create content. Fun fact, the Drift content marketing team is five people. It is five people. And you're like, how is that even possible? How is, how is the content marketing team five people? It's because we use these different frameworks. Some of I've talked about, some I haven't talked about and cornerstone content to really make our content consistent, additive and very helpful.

DA (28:36):
That's fantastic. 75% is a big number, but I can also see to your point and your three R's, how sharing with your audience or having your strategic partners also promote content gives you kind of that big flywheel initiative, that big distribution boost, which is really helpful. So that could be fantastic. One that I want to know about because of just the time, because we're shooting this in corona virus times and the corona virus era is those offline events. I know you guys have been moving these online, doing virtual summits, you've done the RevGrowth Summit. You did another one recently. How are you bringing that same engagement, that same relationship building as a cornerstone content piece right now online, for virtual summits.

MK (29:20):
So we were doing virtual events, like kind of in a larger scale than just like a 45 minute ish webinar before this. So let me give you one example. So if you go to Drift.com and you, and you go to Drift insider, here's an example of how one piece of cornerstone content turned into two more pieces of cornerstone content. Because cornerstone content can become more cornerstone content or cornerstone content can become more, you know, micro kind of just in time content, like a blog article or like a one-off webinar. So we did a virtual summit event, called A New Funnel For A New Decade, on February 27th. This was before technically any of this pandemic stuff starts to really affect the United States at least. It was definitely affecting other countries, I recognize that. And it was not, we're not taking this by any means, from a lighthearted perspective, I know like the European countries were getting hit pretty hard at that point.

MK (30:21):
So what we did though, was even before we knew that this world was going to change, cause we didn't. We were learning, you know, a week or two later. We said, we're going to take this virtual summit event, A New Funnel For A New Decade, and turn that into a digital book. And we have that book on Drift.com/books. We also took the virtual summit event, put that content into Insider and we built a Drift Insider course using all of the content from that event into a choroidal learning experience within Drift Insider. So now from one, one event, one virtual digital event, we now have these two other huge assets that we can use over and over again for the next year plus to build our brand, generate demand and help our customers be more successful and understand what this new decade has in store for businesses that are trying to move away from their MQLs and move into a more human centric, conversational way to do marketing.

MK (31:21):
So that's one example. Then you brought up the point around like RevGrowth and how we had to pivot from our hyper-growth offense that we do all the time in person that are hugely successful. 10,000 plus people came to the hyper-growth events last year. What do we do this time? Well, we had over 8,500 people attend the first RevGrowth. We had over 3,600 people attend the next RevGrowth that happened at the end of June. And what we're doing there is we're trying to, every time we do a RevGrowth, we're going to have another one come down or happen, I should say in most likely August of 2020. We're trying to elevate the experience. So it's definitely not like a webinar, but it's more like a (inaudible) theme of speakers that have content that, that rhymes with each other that also uses elements from an in-person event like exercises or DJs or other experiences such as networking on the side, or having conversations with people and introducing that into the event while also making sure that we recognize that that is like, this is, this is still hard for people to listen to a five-hour live stream event.

MK (32:36):
Cause normally when you go to an in-person event, you're walking around, you can go and get lunch, you could do different things. So I think that's where we're still figuring out what is the future of these virtual events. But we do know that at the end of the day, content and the messaging and the copy in which you use to generate interest for that event is super important. And you really want to make sure you partner with different, amazing speakers and businesses to execute that event because together you will make a better experience versus you just trying to do it on your own.

DA (33:07):
Experience being everything there and kind of the key words to building these like very engaging online events. How are you like actively tracking marketing KPIs from them? You know, is it still just about the basic MQLs SQLs or are you measuring bigger kind of macro KPIs things. You guys are always doing conversational marketing across the board. So I just don't know. Do you guys track bigger things? Are you looking for a different level or only again, just that lead basis? What kind of points in an event like this towards success for you?

MK (33:39):
Oh no, we look at. We look at the entire new funnel. So, so we don't call them MQLs. We call them, I don't want to do it. We start with, with interested people. How many people are interested in this event. And, you know, we have interested people that are from our, you know, ICP you know accounts versus the non ICP accounts, right? So we look at it from a target account perspective. Then we look at engagement, you know, how many of those interested people schedule a meeting with us, you know, book a meeting. Great, that's important. How many of those interested people then go on to actually have the meeting? So, you know, how many discoveries happen. Then how much pipeline is created? How many, the number of deals, right? And the amount of pipeline from like an account standpoint.

MK (34:32):
So, you know, number of deals being to create it. But then also from a dollar standpoint. The dollar value of that pipeline. Then we look at it from just all the way down to close revenue. So we look at all of that. And I think what's most important is you, again, set up your goals as part of this integrated campaign strategy with this foresight. So we do like three month planning at Drift. So we're always refreshing and rethinking how we should be thinking about the different offers, which a virtual event, a RevGrowth type of event is an offer. Should we be using in the next quarter to reach our goals? Does that help? Does that help give some context to how we think about it?

DA (35:15):
Yeah, absolutely. And I guess the key thing there is that at the beginning of every quarter, you're setting what those goals are and then you're breaking down kind of the more tactical approaches to get there. So why don't we run two events, stuff like that, kind of, over the quarter.

MK (35:28):
Yeah. Do we run, do we, how many events do we host? Like a RevGrowth? How many events do we go speak at? How many events would we maybe sponsor? Yeah, there's like three or four different ways we think about, think about our heart event strategy alone. Then there's like, okay, what content are we going to use? Or what new content do we need you to create? Or (inaudible) content can be recreated from reusing, repackaging and repositioning the existing content we have. Cause there's 150 free classes in Drift insider. There was hundreds of hours of content and insight we can keep reusing and repackaging that in many different ways. And that's where I think, again, like your business, like you only need a couple, maybe a few, maybe three to five cornerstone pieces of the content, David, to really get a ton of value from them, for your marketing and sales revenue efforts, but also from like a customer perspective too.

DA (36:22):
Yeah. I love that. That's such a good use of time. And to your point, as you said, you only have five content people on the team. So that's, you know, the amount of volume that you guys get from this, you know, it speaks for itself as how these initiatives actively work. And if you were to look back, I guess over the past 18 months, since you've been here, any experiments or initiatives or content pillars that just didn't work the way you expected missed opportunities or things you learned?

MK (36:48):
Yeah. That's a really good question. I think the thing about what we're trying to always instill in the team is you, you set goals, we track weekly progress towards those goals. So you have weekly learnings and insights from those goals. And at the end of the quarter, you do a debrief tear down and reflection of how did that quarter go? What are you going to start, stop, continue for the next quarter, going back to your earlier point. So for us, I think what we've realized is it's really been a lot of lessons learned over the last three months. We've realized that everyone is doing virtual events now. Everyone is doing these virtual events. So we can't just keep doing virtual events like we were doing for the last three months. Like we were just talking to this the other day, like, so how do we continue to push the envelope on that and really set the standard?

MK (37:39):
So that's a big one. Number two, more is not always better. That's so important. More is not always better. How can you use this cornerstone content strategy and the reuse, reposition, repackage exercise to keep your messaging consistent and not burn out the team? I think right now people are gonna, you know, I know from a lot of folks, both at Drift outside of Drift are feeling a sense of like, just my goodness. There's so much emotional, mental things going on, that how can we, how can we not be so stressed at work? How can we do a little bit less? And, and that's, I think super important. In thinking through what data didn't work based off the goals you set is the ultimate way, in my opinion, on to say no to things.

DA (38:37):
That's it. And to your point, it's just like a stressful period for everyone in the world, right? Like you gotta figure out that that impact ability, where can we add more without adding more stress on people right now, it's just, it's such an interesting time. And I guess looking forward the rest of the year, we have no idea what's next. It's just been a tough year, but lots of opportunities still abounds, you know, what do you guys see exciting on the horizon, things coming up, you know, in the industry, maybe from a marketing point of view, as you mentioned, you know, the changes to virtual events with so many people doing them, you guys have your eye on anything unique or, or any challenges that you can't wait to get your hands on?

MK (39:16):
I think it's all about, like, if you're not helping a business grow their revenue or reduce costs right now, you gotta really ask yourself like, well why would someone buy from me? Orwhy would someone renew? So I think the concept of like revenue teams is a really interesting one. How are we going to help the marketing, the sales team, become one revenue team that acts together and you'll be hearing a lot more from us about that. And I think that's super important during this time. And the other thing is like, your website is more important than ever before David. If, if you, as a marketer are not spending multiple hours a week, if not a day focused on your website from the, from the copy to the optimization efforts for search for, from the content, the conversion paths, how do people engage with it? How do you connect the buyer who comes to your website with your sales team? How do you qualify people? How do you personalize the website experience? How do you curate the website experience? If you're not focused on that, you are going to be missing, just you're going to be missing out on revenue, missing on dollars. So I think the website, man, there's a lot more we can do to help marketers and salespeople use their website more effectively.

DA (40:29):
That's super interesting. And I totally agree. I think we're missing here at Demio a lot of that opportunity too. I think we could definitely spend more time there. That's super interesting to hear, but based on time, what I want to do here is I want to flip over to our lightning round questions, Mark. Just five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You ready to get started?

MK (40:50):
Let's go.

DA (40:51):
All right, let's do this thing. All right. What advice would you give for an early stage SaaS company starting marketing today?

MK (40:59):
Quick experimentation and get close to your customers.

DA (41:03):
I love that. You've talked about feedback loops from customers all day. It's a fantastic, fantastic piece of advice. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

MK (41:14):
Listening.

DA (41:15):
I like that. That's a good answer. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

MK (41:22):
I'm going to be biased, Drift insider 100% free. Tons of content.

DA (41:28):
Yeah. I definitely think that's a great resource. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

MK (41:34):
Slack, I'm gonna say Slack right now. And I'm also gonna say be biased, Drift, Drift video. Any communication tool generally right now is critical.

DA (41:45):
How crazy is your guy's Slack channels with all the people that you have in the company?

MK (41:50):
I would say it's a good crazy. It's it's not, it's not like overbearing. But I think the reason I say Slack and Drift video, which by the way is also a hundred percent free is one is synchronous, one is asynchronous. Video is asynchronous. Slack is synchronous. We use both a ton at Drift and you know, you want to be thoughtful about which one you pick.

DA (42:14):
I love that. Yeah. It's very important to not overwhelming people, to your point. What about a brand business or team that you admire today?

MK (42:20):
That's a good one. I have a lot of them. I've been studying. I also have a lot of their products. Patagonia. The reason I picked Patagonia is I don't think many businesses, Patagonia might be one of the only businesses that really executes these three things exceptionally well. One is the mind, the heart and the soul. So like what's the soul of the business. What's the heart of the business. What's the mind of the business. That's a whole other thing we could talk about David, but I think Patagonia is one of the few businesses that does all three really well. So yeah, Patagonia.

DA (42:59):
I love that company. It's, it's one that's often mentioned on here because of the point exactly what you just said, that they do that so thoughtfully and so well, but you know, we'll definitely have to have you back. I think there was so much that we didn't even cover today that we could go through, you're a fantastic guest Mark. So, you know, I just want to stop and say, thank you so much for coming on. We don't want these episodes to be too long, so we'll wrap up, but we'll definitely have to have you back for another one. And thanks again for jumping on.

MK (43:24):
Hey, thank you, David. And we'll talk soon.

DA (43:26):
All right. Talk to you soon. Have a great day.

Resources:
Join For Free "Drift Insider":
https://www.drift.com/insider/
Connect With Mark:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/markkilens/
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