SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Paul Schmidt

demio saas breakthrough featuring paul schmidtAbout Paul Schmidt:

Paul Schmidt is a Senior Marketing Strategist at SmartBug Media, where he plays a major role in goal setting, building out marketing strategy and plans, and integrating complex marketing/sales/CS technology stacks.

In 2018 and 2019, he received multiple MarCom awards for creative marketing campaigns and has been featured in several well-known industry publications, including Search Engine Journal, HubSpot, FitSmallBusiness, Sales4Life, Databox, WebsiteMagazine, and Business2Community.

Prior to his current role at SmartBug Media, Paul worked as an Inbound Marketing Consultant for HubSpot, helping onboard and build out inbound marketing plans for over 200 customers. Before joining the HubSpot team, he was a search marketing specialist for multiple Fortune 500 companies.

meetdemio · How SmartBug Media Is Helping SaaS Become Savvier With SEO in 2020

Show Notes:
3:00
Helping SaaS As An Experienced Full-Service Inbound Agency
10:55
Clients Moving Towards Owned media In A More Holistic Approach
"More organizations being more willing to drive resources towards being found, not just from their own website, but in other review sites and other channels that are showing up in search."
13:50
Identifying The Right Opportunities By Looking At The Data
"First of, there's a bit of data wrangling and clean up that, an analysis that goes into saying, look, these are the five tactics that you've been doing the last year. You know, these two have been doing really well. These other three, maybe you need to rethink or remove from your marketing mix. From there that kind of informs the decision that we're where we go next. And that's a, that's a big part of working with SaaS clients is like building out a really good dashboarding solution to help them understand where our dollars are going. "
15:55
The Right Toolset From A Data Visualization Reporting Perspective
17:05
Understand The Conversion Rate And Fix The Sieve To Stop Losing Sales And Customers
"What are your conversion rates between visitor to lead, to trial, to customer, to a customer that buys additional products? I think understanding that conversion rate, like right away, that's what you, it's where you should focus on. Because from there you can see, you know, where are people falling out of the sales funnel? Or where are people, if it's a churn issue on the other hand, like, why are so many of these customers like churning from our trial or churning from our subscription? So I think that is definitely where we start. And once you can kind of, you know, fix that sieve, if you think about from churn perspective as sieve people, customers, or trial people leaving your product, you can fix that sieve or fix those conversion rate issues."
19:45
Marketers Are Getting Savvier About SEO
"A big thing is seeing clients being a little bit more savvy on that and thinking about their website as broken into sort of like pillars of different topical areas and not just like specific keywords that they're trying to rank for."
21:15
Understanding Your Topics And Then Understanding User Intent
"First identify the topic for which you need to have a larger search footprint.(...) is as long form content aligned with what the user intent is for that topic. So sometimes (...) we create long form, a pillar page content ungated content where we provide 10,000 word article out there related to a topic and we make it, you know, engaging, interactive. We add video to it. We add chaptering, so people can jump around to where people, the type of content people are looking to to learn more about. And so I think that's, you know, that's one big area is just like experimenting with lengths of content, types of formats that you use to to share with your audience (...) also think about just like the structure and format of your content now."
23:15
Experimenting With Content Lenght, Structure and Format
25:40
The Blink Test For Your Website And Conversion Experiences
"The blink test is when you come to a website, you know, within three seconds, when you land on the website, do you understand who they are, what they sell, who they're selling it to. So I think that's a big part of when we first started coming to clients' websites is like, does their website pass the blink test on some of their core pages?"
"Experimenting with just going away from the standard approach of, you know, taking people from your website to a landing page to get their, you know, fill out a form and then get their information. We see people, we see clients experimenting a lot of different ways now, I think it's, there's not like a right way to do this, but I think it's really about experimenting, trying different channels, trying chat, try popups, try forms on your website pages. You need to try these different things. And you're not going to know what's going to work until you, until you've done those tests."
30:00
SaaS Need To Become More Sophisticated About Marketing Automation
"SaaS organizations that are really successful at this, they use marketing automation and then they layer on that sales enablement so that their sales teams is actively involved in their, they know what what's happening with those leads as well. And they're not just in the sales, people are not just getting involved when somebody fills out the demo form. They're, they're getting more involved a little bit earlier on."
"We're on our way to release our Demio Marketo integration, which is going to be an awesome kind of native integration there. And so many people do things like send out specific sequences for those that attend webinars, or don't attend, with specific amounts of attendance. And then again, sales teams can come in at certain points of, you know, messaging being watched or messaging being heard."
33:00
Sales Teams, Lead Scoring Models And Lead Volume
35:00
Reducing Churn By Investing In Analytics To Understand User Segments
"Invest more dollars into one analytics so they can understand do a segmentation of their customer base and see, look, this section of customers are active users of my product. If they are active users of your product, and it's, it's become part of their life, they're not going to churn. Unless they have like this really poor experience or somebody, some competitor comes by and undercuts them with as, you know, identical product."
36:15
Investing More In Customer Success Solutions
38:40
Companies Are More Open To Diversifying Their Approaches To Bringing In New Business
40:45
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA (02:56):
Hey Paul, thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. Excited to have you here. How you doing today?

PS (03:01):
Yeah, doing great. Thanks so much for having me really excited to jump into some of this material today.

DA (03:06):
Yeah, we got a lot of good stuff to talk about. I know you guys are doing some amazing things over there and you have a great deal of SaaS marketing in your background. So lots of things to talk about, but before we do that, why don't you explain a bit about SmartBug media when it was founded who the customers are and what you're doing uniquely in the marketplace?

PS (03:25):
Yeah, so smart bug media was started 10 years ago by Ryan Malone and we are a globally award-winning intelligent inbound marketing agency. We help our clients grow revenue through lead generation lead, nurturing, engaging accounts through ABM models building brand loyalty through some of our clients who already have a good customer base. We also help clients with sales enablement, web development, digital strategy, marketing automation, PR, paid media so full service inbound agency,

DA (04:04):
Definitely in the gamut of all those marketing experiments, right?

PS (04:08):
Yeah. Pretty much everything. We are based, US based. We have a 80 and some employees and we are a hundred percent remote and have been a hundred percent remote from the beginning, which has made it, you know, going through this whole COVID environment, you know, less challenging. And the fact that we're not really having to move from offices and back to some non to all to go remote that way.

DA (04:34):
Yeah. That's definitely helpful. And I guess my question would be like, what is the main differentiator for you guys from other maybe SaaS marketing or just marketing agencies in general?

PS (04:43):
Yeah. So a few differentiators from SmartBug to other agencies is that you know, the types of, the way that we staff our accounts, that's one big differentiator with the way we staff accounts is we, or the people that we hire to staff accounts are people that are seasoned marketing professionals that have been working in the industry for five, 10 years. And those are the people that help our clients really strategize and work out a plan towards their goals. You know, when you see some agencies out there they're either way that they can be staffed. And many times they are staff is they'll, there'll be pulling in in sales process. They'll pull in the really smart cookies to help get a prospect excited in the sales process. But once they come over and they sign the contract.

PS (05:28):
And many times you'll see some agencies will just staff it with maybe somebody who doesn't really have experience in managing a marketing team or working on, you know, several years of agency experience. And so that's a big, one of the big factors is the way that, the experience that we bring to our client teams is people that are working in the field, people that have been solving these types of problems for years. We don't have account managers here. We don't have middlemen that bring, that stand in the way between the client and the agency. We, you know, I'm a strategist here at SmartBug media. I work not only on the client management side and working face to face with my clients, but I also build out strategies that help them work towards their goals. So I think that's one of the big, big areas is that, the level of experience that we bring to, to our client teams is a big differentiator.

DA (06:19):
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I know you have a big background as well, working at HubSpot and a lot of other great SaaS companies. When did you actually join SmartBug Media team and what was your, actually your focus coming in? Were you in this role initially coming in?

PS (06:33):
Yeah, so I joined SmartBug five years ago from HubSpot. I joined because, you know, SmartBug is really the big, one of the big agency partners from HubSpot in, I had come previously from the agency side prior to HubSpot. So really in coming to SmartBug I saw that these were, this is the agency you want to be working with, as it relates to, you know, the whole inbound world. And so coming into SmartBug media, you know, I saw this as an opportunity to after working at HubSpot to be able to apply all these skills of strategy and implementation that I worked on with over 150 clients there, and bring, be able to bring that expertise to the SmartBug team. And so that's, I started as a a strategist back in five years ago. And now I've moved on to senior strategist role where it's, it's both working with clients and it's also mentoring other strategists on the team and helping them help their clients you know, reach their goals. So, yeah, I've been doing the strategy side the whole time and now just helping other strategists as well be successful here.

DA (07:43):
That's great. So almost in that mentory role and kind of helping people get caught up over those five years, have you seen SmartBug media have to change product market fit or has the agency been created from scratch for SaaS marketing, specifically?

PS (07:58):
SmartBug started very much so like a marketing agency only as, as you, as you think about agency growth there's different ways that you can go, you can go very niche and you can stay on very few tactical areas that you're good at. So you'll see different agencies out there that are just paid media agencies or just SEO agencies, or they just do branding or something like that. And so there's, SmartBug started out as an inbound marketing agency and in a sense grown to help from the full spectrum of like purchasing cycle from marketing to sales enablement to even customer success. And so we've evolved quite a bit in that, like not only do we help with bringing in new customers to the door and help build awareness but now we help clients think through, okay, now got clients at your, at your front door, in your database.

PS (08:57):
How do you get, how do you move them along? How do you nurture them? How do you get them engaged with the sales process? And then once they're in the sales process, okay, well, how should your salespeople be interacting with these prospects? How should, what kind of data can your sales team lean on in order to make better decisions for outreach for handling that opportunity deal? And then, you know, once they become a customer, then how do you make them a raving fan of yours? You know, what kind of serving do you have in place? How can you use that surveying to understand, you know, your biggest fans that you can then lean on for customer advocacy? So SmartBug has evolved a lot and starting just from a purely marketing agency to doing full service around the whole buyer's journey or the flywheel, or however you want to call that.

DA (09:52):
Yeah. That makes sense. Would you say you guys kind of specialize in that SaaS area or is it because it's a, you know, the whole, whole spectrum there of all the different areas of marketing that it doesn't really matter what type of company comes in as long as you're kind of focusing on one of those areas?

PS (10:08):
A majority of our clients are B2B and of that segment one of our top three industry segments is SaaS. So you know, that, that is one area that we have a special focus on is helping this way of buying software, you know, helping clients you know really move to that model. lot of clients we've seen come in, it came in from, you know, having an on premise solution, and now they're evolving to a SaaS model. And so that is one way that we have adapted and brought in new tools and tactics that really help that specific kind of client be successful. We also do work in other verticals as well. But SaaS is one of our big ones.

DA (10:54):
Awesome. Let's talk about that today. Let's really dig into SaaS strategy, SaaS marketing, maybe some of the topics you've seen from some of your strategists that you mentor all the time. From marketing channels and looking at these growing SaaS organizations. Are you guys seeing any major changes in channels here in 2020? Are you seeing changes in maybe paid media or SEO things that have really stood out, especially during this kind of COVID era of 2020?

PS (11:22):
That's a good question. I think that as it relates to some of our customers and channels that they're looking at. One specifically we think about like owned media with inbound marketing and content marketing and everything like that. I think one big channel that we're seeing you know, clients move towards is not just thinking about like their web presence has in their websites and developing content and, you know, building, building their blog and building website pages and you know, owning web presence just from their own website, but thinking more holistically and, you know, really thinking about, for your own website and for these brands that we're working with, it's like, yeah, you need a great website that converts well, that helps you get found. But there are a lot of different places where SaaS organizations are going to be that they're going to need to get be present.

PS (12:15):
So when you think about especially from a, when you think about froman SEO perspective, which is my background, when somebody is looking for a specific type of topic or a specific category of software, it can be very challenging to outrank a G2 Crowd or a S...e A...e or Ca...a or things like that. And so when you think about like the other people that you're, that are showing up in search, you know, how you can either fight those websites, or you can join them. As we think about trying to be successful as a SaaS organization, if there's, if you're in a competitive vertical, you know, you aren't even thinking about, like, if I can, you know, I only have so many dollars and people on my team to help my media be successful. So I think as we think about from a channel perspective is like, I don't think it's, you know, our website versus some of these other channels that are also showing up for my category.

PS (13:09):
Like I like to, we like to think about helping our clients also be present on these other channels that are out there that are ranking well, that have high visibility from, for prospects that are in the middle of their buying cycle that are now in the place where they're trying to figure out the solution providers that are out there. So I think that that's a big thing that we've seen. I wouldn't say just necessarily within this, you know, since March and COVID and things like that, but I think over the last year or so, it was just more organizations being more willing to drive resources towards being found, not just from their own website, but in other review sites and other channels that are showing up in search.

DA (13:50):
That makes a lot of sense. And I think the big key thing there is just identifying the right opportunities based on priority or your guess etimation on like, where you're gonna get the most bang for your buck. How are you guys setting that precedent? Or how do you guys identify those opportunities? Are you going through like an ice scoring program? Like what do you do when you sit down? Cause there's just a multitude of different options to choose from.

PS (14:14):
Yeah. And so when we sit down with the client, first off is like, we need good clean data. And I would say that half the time we're working, or we start to, we start to sit down with the client and, the data is just not clean enough to be able to make the most precise decision on day one about where we need to go. So how we work with clients is first of, there's a bit of data wrangling and clean up that, an analysis that goes into saying, look, these are the five tactics that you've been doing the last year. You know, these two have been doing really well. These other three, maybe you need to rethink or remove from your marketing mix. From there that kind of informs the decision that we're where we go next. And that's a, that's a big part of working with SaaS clients is like building out a really good dashboarding solution to help them understand where our dollars are going. How does each stage of the funnel, how has each stage of the funnel affected by new campaigns that we're launching? So when we think about SaaS, it's like, we're thinking about not only are we thinking about people coming to our website and becoming leads, but how many, how many are then progressing through that funnel? How many are becoming trials? How many are active trial users? How many are non-active trial users? And how many of the trial users are converting to customers and then how many, how many of those customers are really active customers? So I think it's really [inaudible] you're thinking about the data right out of the gate. It's like, it's really hard to make a decision, a marketing decision. If the data is, is just gray murky. And so that's, that's a big part of like before we start suggesting channels to focus on, was like, we like to get their house in order a little bit, before we go that direction.

DA (15:56):
Do you guys have a specialized dashboard or toolkit you use to kind of aggregate all those KPIs?

PS (16:02):
We use a number of different tools. We, you know, we have clients coming from HubSpot and Marketo and different marketing automation platforms. And so we like to use what the client is like, what they're comfortable with. But you know, if, if they are big HubSpot user, then HubSpot's got a great dashboarding solution. If, if the client has tools that are sort of best of breed tools of using maybe a Google analytics and a Marketo and a video tool and this and that. And so if, if it's, if it's something like that where they've got a selection of tools, then using a dashboarding tool, like a Databox, that's something that we use with clients. You know, that that can be an effective solution as well. So we like to bringing us a tool set from a visual data visualization reporting perspective that the client's going to be comfortable using and getting into and use to help make marketing decisions. But there's, there's, there's a lot of tools out there and it's, it's kind of, you know, what's the, what is the client going to be most comfortable with using?

DA (17:06):
Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I guess it's less about the tool and more about the KPIs that you want to focus on. So going back to that initial kind of question of identifying opportunities, you have your dashboard set up, let's say in this case, you're using Databox, you're looking at the right KPIs. Are you looking to just say, where are the holes in this process? Like, it looks like, you know, we're not converting enough leads to MQL or SQLs and you know, vice versa. Is that kind of how you then go back and then start backtracking to the different channels? Or like, where are you finding, you know, the right moments to jump in initially? And I guess the point of this question is to think like, if you were building your own SaaS company and you're in marketing, where should you put your time and energy initially with so many options?

PS (17:49):
Yeah. I think finding those gaps out of the gate and seeing like, what are your conversion rates between visitor to lead, to trial, to customer, to a customer that buys additional products? I think understanding that conversion rate, like right away, that's what you, it's where you should focus on. Because from there you can see, you know, where are people falling out of the sales funnel? Or where are people, if it's a churn issue on the other hand, like, why are so many of these customers like churning from our trial or churning from our subscription? So I think that is definitely where we start. And once you can kind of, you know, fix that sieve, if you think about from churn perspective as sieve people, customers, or trial people leaving your product, you can fix that sieve or fix those conversion rate issues.

PS (18:38):
That's typically where we like to start. That's, you know, if we know a client's really great at generating traffic, but they just are not getting any people into their trial. Why is that, is it too much friction involved in that to start off? Are we asking too much of the prospect in terms of filling out forms and jumping through 25 hoops in order to use our products? So I think that's what we focus on first. And then we think longer term too, and with our clients, some clients like with our clients, we think of short term goals that we want to accomplish out of the gate. And then we think about long term sales goals that we have to hit. And so when we think about long term sales goals, that's where we set up and strategize on broader strategies that are you know, inclusive of, you know, owned media and paid media and earned media. And thinking about that and working on that. So there, we kind of layer it, but yeah, in terms of like right out of the gate, it's really focusing on how do we, how do we make quick wins? So clients are seeing value from, you know, the first week.

DA (19:43):
Right? So definitely a balance between like long term objectives, short term wins, which is finding holes in the data already, seeing what you can tweak instantly, see those wins, then go longer term. So, you know, SEO is definitely a longer term thing. You mentioned that somewhere that you came from, you know, being in the SEO background. Have you seen in 2020 any major changes happening in the SEO world, things that people should know about now or should stop doing in the SEO spectrum?

PS (20:10):
Companies are becoming more savvy. Marketers are getting more savvy in the fact that you can no longer rank for a competitive topic or keyword by just, you know, picking a keyword and writing a blog post around it. In, when you think about 2010, 2005, this tactic worked fine. Companies are getting more sophisticated in thinking about their website, their websites [inaudible] many websites. They rank for thousands, hundreds of thousands of keywords. And as we think about our success from a search perspective, we can't be thinking about is this one keyword ranking on the first page of Google and counting that as a success, we need to be thinking about what companies are thinking about is more like a topical footprint about how does, how well do they rank for the key topics in their space and so thinking about it, topic is made of above many keywords.

PS (21:15):
And so we think about clients in that are, that are trying to perform well from a search perspective. They need to look at like the certain topics that they need to own in search and think about that from being able to build up authority within those topics. So if we think of one specific topics made up of hundreds of thousands of keywords, like how many of those hundreds of thousands of keywords are, what percentage of those are ranking on the first page of Google? And so I think from just like initially, it's like, how are, how are you able to think about your brand from just the general core topics that you need to rank for and how do you build upon those core topics to get those in front of search. And so I think that's a big thing is seeing clients being a little bit more savvy on that and thinking about their website as broken into sort of like pillars of different topical areas and not just like specific keywords that they're trying to rank for. And that's really the model that we think about at SmartBug like thinking of helping our clients understand, look these are the five topics that you guys should be owning.

PS (22:20):
Here are the competitors and types of here's the types of content that's ranking w.ell in there for that now here are, if you want to be able to rank for these types of topics, you need to understand the user intent in terms of what people are looking for around that topic, and then helping clients build content that's really aligned with that user intent. So I think those are the big things right there, like it is understanding your topics and then understanding user intent and really getting in there, getting into the search engine result pages and understanding, you know, what people search for this type of topic, what are they looking for? You know, may not be just like this blog post that you wrote, and may be, may need to be a completely different angle in how you think about content. So I think that's from a search perspective, it's, it's not, you can't really game this as much anymore, especially in very competitive verticals. Which, which you know, you may be in.

DA (23:17):
Yeah, I love that. And I was going to ask next about content. I think that's such a unique point. So, and you talked a little bit about the kind of spoke pillar method a lot from HubSpot, right? Like we've had them on talking about that. It's been a fantastic educational experience there, but let's talk about content because I think to your point, that's exactly right. Like it's no longer just about writing, you know, a slew of short keyword focused articles, it's about content quality, content types. Have you seen creative campaigns coming out or have you been a part of anything where you're trying to just find maybe differentiation and the type of content that you can make? Are there things outside of blog posts that you can do? Is it like creating books? Is it creating courses, webinars or is it kind of a combination of all that stuff

PS (24:02):
It's definitely going to depend on the type of SaaS organization you are. I, I think like for, for non-competitive verticals, you can still get away with, you know, improvements in your existing content, you know, and, you know, having a steady cadence of blog content. But I think once you get some more competitive niches, sme things that we think about with some of our clients in some of those competitive verticals is like, again, first identify the topic for which you need to have a larger search footprint. From there once you select that topic, you know, things that you can be thinking about doing is, you know we think about long form content, you know, is that is as long form content aligned with what the user intent is for that topic. So sometimes, you know, sometimes like that kind of content, what you can do, and this is the stuff we do with our clients is we create long form, a pillar page content ungated content where we provide 10,000 word article out there related to a topic and we make it, you know, engaging, interactive.

PS (25:07):
We add video to it. We add chaptering, so people can jump around to where people, the type of content people are looking to to learn more about. And so I think that's, you know, that's one big area is just like experimenting with lengths of content, types of formats that you use to to share with your audience. And then I think, I think also, also think about just like the structure and format of your content now. I mean, I was thinking about search, you know your website can perform really well if you end up with a featured snippet. And so how do you get a featured snippet? Well you can also be thinking about, you know, rich schema that you add to your site also just like structuring the article a certain way or structuring the page a certain way help you get that feature snippet. So those are the types of things we think about. We also look at their website itself too. Like sometimes they've already got the content on their website and it's just about it's about formatting and maybe it's expanding certain sections upon that. And so we don't just think about like, Oh, we just, we know we need to publish blogs and that's going to help us rank, like the full website. Sometimes like starting out with a blog is not even the where you should start. Sometimes it's like, well, like you're missing these three pages. That's why you're not ranking for these topics at all. So let's start there and that's, that's kind of how we look at it. And then from there yeah, I think that's kind of where we think about you know, once we know what kind of content we generate first, then from there, we'll, you know, either go down generating short form content or whatever kind of content we see that it's working.

DA (26:48):
I love that. It makes a lot of sense. In the last episode, Mark Kilens from Drift was talking about just the importance of focusing your time on optimizing the website to make sure that you are having all the right pages to maximize on revenue and stuff like that. And you just kind of mentioned looking at the website and making sure you have certain pages, not just for SEO, but you know, to make sure you have the proper lead flow. What have you seen in terms of you know, website changes or optimizations or what are kind of like those core things you're looking for when you're doing an audit of that website?

PS (27:19):
I try to come to my client's website thinking as a as a prospect in their industry that is very uneducated, that is coming there seeking more information and that I don't have to kind of read through jargony content to understand what they're trying to sell. And so I think any, you bring up Mark Kilens, his work at the HubSpot Academy when he was over there. I remember him talking about this, the blink test, a blink test. So the blink test is when you come to a website, you know, within three seconds, when you land on the website, do you understand who they are, what they sell, who they're selling it to. So I think that's a big part of when we first started coming to clients' websites is like, does their website pass the blink test on some of their core pages?

PS (28:08):
And I think that's, so that's such a useful exercise to go through because it's like, I think clients are so like, just ingrained in like their own industry and their own content and the website that they've been looking at every day for the last several years of working at their company. And they don't think about the new prospects that are coming to their website and what's on there today. So that's a big thing that I think that is important. It's just really clarifying that message on there, which can be formed by that topical research that you've done from a search perspective. I think the other change though, is also from a conversion perspective, I think about chat bots. We think about forms. There's lots of ways that you can convert on a website. The old methodology of think about inbound and lead generation is driving people to a landing page or a squeeze page.

PS (28:59):
And then you fill your form out and then from there, then they can get their ebook you know, like they have to go through this very rigid approach and, you know, websites are really you know, not, are really changing quite a bit in terms of, look, you don't need to take people to a landing page to give them your premium content. You know, you can just give them your premium content, or you could have a form on your website page that gives them your premium content, or you can have a chat bot that will give them that content. So there's, we see more clients that are experimenting with just going away from the standard approach of, you know, taking people from your website to a landing page to get their, you know, fill out a form and then get their information. We see people, we see clients experimenting a lot of different ways now, I think it's, there's not like a right way to do this, but I think it's really about experimenting, trying different channels, trying chat, try popups, try forms on your website pages. You need to try these different things. And you're not going to know what's going to work until you, until you've done those tests.

DA (30:02):
Have you seen any major changes on the backend of that? The marketing automation side of things, like once they come through a chat bot, have you changed email sequences or is that lead flow kind of similar going through maybe your Marketo sequence?

PS (30:18):
Yeah, so as we think it like on the marketing automation side, I think, you know, clients, SaaS companies need to become more sophisticated in the way that they're segmenting their campaigns. I think it's, I think it's an old school approach that you, you know, you fill out a form on your website for an ebook, for example, and everybody gets the exact same five emails all spaced a week apart or something like that. And so I think we are seeing a lot more sophistication as it relates to segmenting the types of emails that go out using dynamic content within emails that are really aligned with the types of topics that people care about. If we see people, you know, from marketing automation perspective, one thing we work on with our clients is, look, if someone is visiting this section of your website related to this specific topic or product line you know, you should, the nurturing emails that you're sending to them need to align with the paint points and the products that are associated with those pages and not just generic marketing messaging, or just generic kind of paint point messaging, you need to really get specific to what people are looking for.

PS (31:24):
And then also like you brought up sequences is that, getting sales involved in this, and this starts to come in towards like a little bit more on the ABM side too, is like, you've got your marketing automation workflows going with, send out emails to your leads. But then like, you know, you also want to send notifications to your sales team that says, Hey, look like this segment of these emails or these contacts that are being nurtured, you should follow up with these, these folks as well to see if they are, you know, if they want to engage further in the sales process. And you know, you can really lean on the data that you're getting from your marketing automation, that there's a segment of these people that are being nurtured that are really engaged with your content. And so that's why, you know, the SaaS organizations that are really successful at this, they use marketing automation and then they layer on that sales enablement so that their sales teams is actively involved in their, they know what what's happening with those leads as well.

PS (32:20):
And they're not just in the sales, people are not just getting involved when somebody fills out the demo form. They're, they're getting more involved a little bit earlier on.

DA (32:27):
I love that. And I also love a validation for us at Demio cause we're on our way to release our Demio Marketo integration, which is going to be an awesome kind of native integration there. And so many people do things like send out specific sequences for those that attend webinars, or don't attend, with specific amounts of attendance. And then again, sales teams can come in at certain points of, you know, messaging being watched or messaging being heard. In that kind of process, how do you know where the right time is to pull in the sales team? Or is it just about experimentation? You're just setting up a flag at a certain point, looking at the feedback loop from the sales team, if not push it back to, you know, maybe we need them to have more digested information before the sales team comes in.

PS (33:10):
It's highly dependent on like lead scoring and lead volume. I think lead scoring is a great first step in that, like, if you're, if you have so many leads coming in the door that your sales team can't, doesn't have the time to properly reach out to these prospects and, and give them the time of day. And actually like research the companies a little bit to provide a little bit more contextual information and not make it look like a, just a sort of spammy or really like boiler plate email. You know, if you can't have all of your salespeople reaching out to all of your leads then you need to think about some sort of lead scoring model. And from a lead scoring model perspective, there's not like an exact number that you need to be thinking about like, or like companies to use this specific lead score model.

PS (33:57):
Every organization is going to do a little bit differently. That's really what we help our clients with is thinking about look, you got too many leads, your sales team can't reach out to all of these so let's be thinking about ones that are, that are going to be a little bit more aligned with people that are in the middle to bottom of the funnel. So what we do in that case is if we see that clients have so many leads, what we look at are the leads out of the bottom of the funnel, what are the indicators and what are patterns that we can see through regression analysis and other reporting that these people are a lot more qualified that are really looking at the types of content that's indicative of people that are ready to talk to sales. So I think you have to use a lead scoring model in that case before you can, you know, when you're, when you have so many leads. But we also see new startups that are not pulling in that many leads. And when you're, when you're at a point where you're trying to generate initial sales for your startup, you know have that many leads, like having your sales reach out to everyone is not a bad thing as you're getting started.

DA (34:59):
Yeah, no, that makes sense. And you talked about this before, but you guys are doing a full spectrum of things now from, you know, customer success to acquisition, all that. Are you guys also on the tail end of things, around retention, like helping SaaS companies to do experiments to reduce churn, and have you guys seen any of those working really well here in 2020?

PS (35:19):
Yeah. SaaS companies need to be thinking about churn constantly. This is, this is one of the main levers of growth. And I think as we think about from a churn perspective you know, one of the, one of the core reasons companies churn from their SaaS product is that they're not really getting the full value out of it that they're paying for. And so it's something that we are seeing more clients do is, is be a little bit more, is invest more dollars into one analytics so they can understand do a segmentation of their customer base and see, look, this section of customers are active users of my product. If they are active users of your product, and it's, it's become part of their life, they're not going to churn. Unless they have like this really poor experience or somebody, some competitor comes by and undercuts them with as, you know, identical product.

PS (36:12):
But if that, if your product is like become a part core part of their life, they're not going to leave. And so we definitely see companies investing more in, in analytics to understand segments of their customer base. From there like that, that analytics then feeds into their customer success team, which we see more clients investing in and the customer success team, then we see. You know, if the customer success team has access to those analytics and sees, look, this segment of my customers have very low usage and they're up for renewal in a few months, you know, these, these are the people we need to be focusing on in terms of helping them see more value from your product. So we do see clients now investing in marketing teams, investing now more into some of more like traditional customer success source of toolsets like Zendesk, or like a HubSpot services hub, where you know, before, you know, I would say before five, 10 years ago, like customer marketing and customer service really wasn't on marketing's radar as much.

PS (37:18):
And now we see customer marketing teams, see, look, if we want to generate more sales then we need to be thinking about how can we, how do we build more advocates, you know, from our current customer base. And so we do see SaaS companies investing more in SaaS marketing teams, investing more into customer success solutions because you know, in order to get raving fans to, in order to find, identify like who your raving fans are, you need some sort of surveying tool. You need some sort of analytics tools to understand who those are. And those are the people that sort of fuel that flywheel and are the ones that refer more and more customers. And those referrals are oftentimes the highest converting prospects that you can have. So I think that's the big thing that we're seeing is investment in analytics and investment of customer success tools from marketing teams.

DA (38:11):
That was well said. And couldn't agree more, we've invested in customer support since day one. And quite honestly, it's been part of our biggest growth mechanism, which to your point has been referral marketing, just having a customer success team. That's always there standing by to help people to succeed, or, you know, answer questions, get them educated. It's been such a big win for us and just something we bet on early, but you know, it was an experiment for us and it's paid off dividends. So highly recommend that. And I guess looking forward here, Paul, you know, anything that you're excited for in 2020 from a marketing point of view, any opportunities or things opening up in marketing or any of the strategists, I guess, at the company are excited for?

PS (38:52):
Yeah. I think, you know, we work with a lot of mid market companies that are, have traditionally been very much focused on like an own media perspective and inbound marketing and inbound marketing approach. And you know, really what's exciting is that like when you think about account based marketing, account based marketing, isn't a new thing, but it's it's something that has been, traditionally something that only large enterprises have access to account based marketing tool sets or account based marketing analytics or anything like that. And so something that really excites me is that like, we work with clients that like, even though they were very much inbound, like they're starting to look at, well, look, we can take a more targeted approach to the types of companies and accounts that we want to go after. And it doesn't have to be one, one way or the other, like inbound can fuel your ABM growth.

PS (39:47):
So I think what really excites me is that I think that they're, that tool sets and companies are more open to take to diversifying their approaches to bringing in new business. So I think that's something that I look forward to working with more clients is like educating them on this process, showing them, look, if you guys want to meet some of your growth goals, like you need to go after these kinds of accounts too. And so I that's really what excites me is like being able to have those kinds of conversations, teaching upon that, building out those types of systems and helping them reach their goals using multiple methods of marketing.

DA (40:23):
I just think there's been such a big evolution in the marketing process. People's understanding of tools and marketing systems, marketing automation, that it kind of enables you guys to come in with all of these cool, different experiments and people are open for it. So I'm excited to hear how those workout. ABM is a topic we discuss here a lot on the podcast. And we just love to hear how your different SaaS companies are doing over the years with that. But cool. What I want to do now, Paul is switch over to our lightning round questions. Five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You ready to get started?

PS (40:57):
Let's do it.

DA (40:59):
Alright. Alright. You're gonna do great. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

PS (41:06):
Install analytics, Google analytics on your website on every single page. So you can understand what what's the initial traffic and where people are going to when they hit your site.

DA (41:21):
You can't improve what you can't measure, right?

PS (41:23):
Yes, exactly.

DA (41:26):
What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

PS (41:31):
Similarly, data measurement analytics. I see so many companies that are making these, you know, making these educated guesses, but were there's not a lot of great data to back it up on. And so I think where marketing teams need to focus on is like, yeah, maybe you have a really good creative team. You can come out with these cool ads and things like that, but are you measuring it properly? And I think investment in educating your team on how to build a pivot table and how to do the lookup and how to like, be able to run basic analysis, I think is something that I see year after year. It's something that marketing teams need to continually invest in and retrain on.

DA (42:17):
Love that. That's awesome. Some of those things, I don't even know. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

PS (42:24):
Ooh, Twitter is my number one go to follow the subject matter experts in your area. But if, if from there, I think sparktoro.com/trending is one of my favorites to go for the latest and greatest of what marketers are talking about you know, across the Twitter ecosystem.

DA (42:44):
I'm going to have to check that out. That sounds awesome. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

PS (42:49):
Screaming Frog is my favorite tool these days. I love it. It's one of the most powerful technical SEO crawling tools out there. It keeps getting better. It's got great integrations with Google analytics and Google search console and other tool sets. It's something that helps me visualize my client's websites and really pinpoint opportunities on day one.

DA (43:14):
I'm glad you shared that one. I have not heard of it, but I'm looking for a new tool. So that sounds amazing. I will check it out after this episode. And finally, what about a brand business or a team that you admire today?

PS (43:24):
I think the company, that companies that I really admire bring, bring forth a level of data science into what they're doing. Redfin's a company that I've followed for a lot of years. It's something that I used when I was buying a house, it's something that really helps consumers make better purchase decisions. And there's just so much data that helps home buyers home sellers can use to make informed decisions that they don't have to necessarily have to go to hire a realtor, go use MLS for every decision. So I think that's a really cool organization. And I just love that like use of data science and like proprietary data pulling, pulling that on together for really easy consumer, for consumers to easily adopt.

DA (44:11):
Yeah. That's a really good one. And I think a good timing for me off the check that went out too, you said two tools I'll have to checkout, because I'm in the process of thinking about, you know, home buying like you, like you used it for. So that's awesome. I have to check them out, but Paul, thank you so much for jumping on the show with me, for sharing so much. We got to talk about a variety of different topics and experiments and things that are working in the SaaS community as you guys are seeing from your agency. So thanks again for jumping up.

PS (44:36):
Thanks so much, David. That was a lot of fun.

DA (44:38):
It was. And I appreciate your time and we'll talk to you soon.

PS (44:41):
All right. Until the next time.

Resources:
Learn More About SmartBug Media:
https://www.smartbugmedia.com/
Learn more about Capterra:
https://www.capterra.com/
Learn more about Software Advice:
https://www.softwareadvice.com/
Connect With Paul:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/drumming/
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