SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Remco De Vries

demio saas breakthrough featuring remco de vriesAbout Remco De Vries:

Remco De Vries is the Head Of Marketing at InSided, the only Customer Success Community Platform.

Remco is a demand generation enthusiast.



Show Notes:
02:30
Pivoting To Focus On Customer Success Teams In SaaS And Subscription-Based Companies
04:35
Joining To Set Up An Inbound Demand Strategy
05:50
Switching From Doing All Outbound To Doing It All Inbound
08:50
The Evolution And Journey Of The Online Customer Community
11:15
How To Build A Successful Community And Create Community Gold
"Just offering a platform is never enough. Even if you have the traffic or if you have 10,000 customers you need to make sure that there is value to be gained for end users, for them to also then get into the habit of logging onto it and participating in community discussions or at least engaging with your content."
"They are also the ones that should be able to give you the best insights into how they're using them and maybe even changes that you then should be making to the product. And if you take those from a community, actually pick them up and develop, create them, develop them, build them into your products and then close the loop and report back to those users. That is just, that is community gold in a way that will stimulate them, but also other users to just log on and do the same."
13:20
Using Paid Incentives, Gamification And Other Initiatives
14:30
Mistakes To Avoid When Launching And Building A Community
16:10
The Role Of The Community Manager
17:55
Measuring The Impact And ROI Of Your Community
"It sort of depends on the use case. So if you have a support driven community, it's super easy to measure ticket deflection through the community, no contact rates. But if your community is more focused around engagement, then you would probably build an integration with your CRM system and see how many accounts are engaged, in what parts of the community are they engaged and with who do they engage a lot. If they contribute new ideas. You can then segment those ideas and basically put them in different types of user groups and try and learn from that or just find differences in MPS scores from accounts that are active in the community versus accounts that are not active in the community and don't engage with all the types of content. Yeah, there's multiple ways of trying to dedicate ROI."
20:45
Building Up A Demand Gen Engine
22:20
Making Event Sponsorships Really Work
"We played a little prank on SaaS as most of the people that were there also working at SaaS companies. And we sort of mixed it with a little bit of a childish approach where we designed swag that just featured unicorns with customer success tattoos and a bunch of other things. And that took off like crazy, at some point I think the whole event walked around in inSided attire with unicorns everywhere and people were asking where did you get them? Even the security and camera people showed up at our booth, wanting, wanting all of this stuff."
30:30
The Evolution Of KPIs With The Marketing Changes
32:30
Tracking Both Wins And Fails
"So even though we had motive and opportunity if you then don't spend the time to really figure out how you're going to get these customers and know which ones they are and set up a really, really sort of, a good big ABM strategy around them, then it might also not be worth the time like it was in this case."
37:05
The Need For Communities Created By Everyone's Being Remote Right Now
"I think a lot more emphasis now goes out to creating this tech touch, sort of one to many strategy. Where everyone stays engaged and feels that they're still engaged with your customer and that you're still reaching out to them enough, but you don't have to do all of it yourself manually."
40:00
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA (02:30):
Hello. Hello and welcome to the podcast Remco. So excited to have you here, on SaaS breakthrough. Excited to talk about InSided, what you guys are doing in the marketplace. How are you doing today?

RV (02:41):
Good. Good. I'm good. How are you?

DA (02:43):
I'm doing great. I'm doing great. Really a nice week here. Restrictions are beginning to lift in the United States, which is always a good thing. So lots of positivity over here. And I know we have a great episode lined up here. So before we jump into marketing tactics, initiatives, that kind of stuff, why don't you give us a breakdown about the company when it was founded, who your customers are and what you're doing uniquely in the marketplace?

RV (03:09):
Sure. InSided was founded in 2010, so this year is actually our 10th year anniversary which we also decided to postpone to year 11 I guess given the whole situation going on, no celebratory 10th year anniversary this year. Both our founders have a very technical background and they used to purpose built forums by themselves within the telecom industry. So customers with problems could basically just help each other and talk about different telcos amongst each other. Eventually that was picked up by T-Mobile when them became their first customer with a real branded community as we sort of also have them still today. And their main use case was scaling support. A lot of other enterprise customers followed afterwards. And I think two years ago we finally then decided that we wanted to grow quicker.

RV (04:01):
And we've pivoted to B2B SaaS and subscription based companies, specifically customer success teams. And as you can imagine, that was a massive transition, especially for the marketing team as well as we needed to redo all existing content, great tons of new stuff to be able to sell into these new types of companies. And I think the pivot to customer success is also what makes us unique right now. I think we're the only community vender that's specifically developing for these use cases and these customer success and product teams. So we've got quite a nice story to tell there.

DA (04:34):
That's amazing. I think that's been a big kind of takeaway from a lot of these episodes is kind of honing in on that product market fit, that unique marketplace where you kind of fit in and we'll talk about that in a second here, but just for reference, when did you join the team? It has been around for 10 years.

RV (04:49):
I joined about two years ago. And that was right at the point when the decision was made to focus on these SaaS and subscription based companies only. So I got to experience still whole process and make all of the mistakes but also learn, yeah, learn a ton during that journey. And my initial focus was setting up an inbound demand strategy. So before I joined, everything was still outbound, just sales and BDRs reaching out to companies and hopefully getting traction, getting that initial call. And yeah, afterwards. So we've been able to build a bit more of an inbound only strategy up until the point where we don't have any outbound currently. We're completely inbound only. And obviously that was, it's been great and it's been more of a lead gen sort of strategy at the start. So trying to figure out we can get product market fit quickly and also make sure that we are able to drive enough sort of awareness in the market. But along the way we've also learned how to drive actual demand force to just generate more leads. So it's been quite nice.

DA (05:52):
That's fantastic. So let's talk about that process. About two years ago you're coming in, you guys are making the switch, you're realizing you need to go a little bit, maybe deeper. You want to go with the subscription business customer success focus. What did that process look like to make that switch? It was obviously an enormous switch from doing all outbound to inbound, changing your market, changing your focus, changing the marketing copy. Like what was the process that you guys had to go through?

RV (06:15):
There were a lot of changes at the same time. And I think that's also the thing that I would do differently. If I have to do it all over again. Cause we started a new marketing team which had only been present for about three months before I joined. So marketing was also relatively new with the company. We then changed market, changed buyer. Changed all of our message. It was a lot to comprehend at the beginning. And it was also a lot of trial and error afterwards.

RV (06:43):
So after we made the decision to pivot to B2B SaaS and subscription, I think we had about a year trying different things, different positioning strategies, different messaging tactics, speaking to a lot and a lot and a lot of VPs of customer success and VPs of product before we finally settled at a sort of base messaging and positioning that really fits. And that really worked.

DA (07:10):
So would you recommend from the perspective of you are going to go about a market pivot, it's having the conversations with those people, build the data, maybe build up languaging, task languaging with those different conversations while keeping your pipeline open so you're not like killing momentum. Then doing things like changing website language to see if you can attract it. Then doing lead generation and then doing pricing platform, major changes afterwards. Is that kind of the order that you would do?

RV (07:37):
Yeah, I guess. And just space it out a little, make sure that you finish something before you start the next thing.

DA (07:45):
Yeah, definitely. I can see also how like momentum would probably get halted too with the new team coming in and everyone's trying to get up to speed. Maybe the lead drops you know, lead drops from just new prospects and stuff like that. That can kind of be kind of a tough moment there. But when you got out of it, were you seeing some really strong product market fit once you kind of have those conversations after that first year?

RV (08:05):
Yeah, we did. So after all of those conversations and research, I think we had a good grasp on, on the buyer and the market. Traditionally InSided was bought by support teams and we knew that in SaaS and subscription based companies support was largely either closely connected to customer success or bell into customer success teams. So yeah, I think we knew that there was a bit there intrinsically and that we could sell to them. We also had our initial sort of 10 customers that we set out to achieve. So all we needed to do was basically find a way to scale it and scale it quicker and make sure that we could use all those learnings to to appeal to other VPs of customer success and other software companies.

DA (08:52):
Yeah, that's fantastic. Now I think in SaaS, one of the big things I often hear is, you know, creating a moat in your SaaS company is a really powerful thing. You can do that with technology. You can do that with brand, but one of the keywords you also hear is community, right? Like, you can build a community with your SaaS, build a good moat. Be unique and have a strong position just with that. And like you mentioned about 10 years ago, the key word for community was forums. I was a place everyone went and then it became Facebook groups. Like we have a Facebook group as quote unquote our community. But how has this all changed? How have you guys been a part of this journey for like online customer community to evolve and what have you seen as kind of the big changes there?

RV (09:35):
Yeah, I think there's been a lot of changes but also there haven't been. So I guess most people if you talk to them and you tell them about community or ask them about community, their first thought will still be those really old forums from back in the days of people either playing games together and posting about it or just, I don't know, car fanatics on a message board for a specific brand or type or something like that. Just really sort of like conversation around a subject with people that are subject matter experts, sort of steering the discussion. And I think now sort of 10 years ago or maybe even more, that was also picked up by larger organizations as an attempt to scale customer support. Or create content and basically own the discussion about their brand on a product or platform that they also owned.

RV (10:23):
And that was also branded by themselves. And I guess that works really well, especially if you have really large volumes of customers or tickets. Mainly in B2C I guess, B2B is a bit more difficult. B2B support questions are usually more technical. So I think it took them a longer spirit of time for it to pick up in B2B. And I think also B2B needs a wider range of options to make sure that those questions or conversations are dealt with correctly. It's less about peer to peer support and more about sharing best practices or about education and knowledge management. Which then of course plays right into the hands of customer success teams as they are sort of ever focused on staying hyper-connected to their customers or building relationships, measuring engagement, adoption. I don't know, looking for a tech touch way of scaling one to many communication. So we decided to give them the tools to do that.

DA (11:18):
How do you actually build that successful community? Obviously the tool like InSided will do that, like kind of building out the different methods and strategies to do that. But are there things that you need to do to, to push engagement? Is there a system that a customer success team should, should use for product feedback support? Like how have you seen this work the best way for SaaS teams.

RV (11:41):
Yeah, I think there's a lot. So I think it starts with traffic and efficacy and activation. But yeah, usually the discussion we have is that just offering a platform is never enough. Even if you have the traffic or if you have 10,000 customers you need to make sure that there is value to be gained for end users, for them to also then get into the habit of logging onto it and participating in community discussions or at least engaging with your content. So you for example, need to be offering a lot of self service or educational content onboarding content, maybe even, or just shared best practices from some of your biggest customers or most successful customers basically. Just giving them an insight into how they could or should be running their own community or at least inspire them to change their ways or what is really effective I think as well.

RV (12:37):
It's just offer them ways to give feedback on your product. I mean, they are your users, they are your experts, they are using your product hopefully on a daily basis. So they are also the ones that should be able to give you the best insights into how they're using them and maybe even changes that you then should be making to the product. And if you take those from a community, actually pick them up and develop, create them, develop them, build them into your products and then close the loop and report back to those users. That is just, that is community gold in a way that will stimulate them, but also other users to just log on and do the same. It's about unique propositions, events, gamification. There's a lot of ways to keep things going these days.

DA (13:21):
Are you guys doing any type of do you ever see like paid offerings? Like if you give us feedback, you get X or Y or like some type of benefit for adding feedback? Or are you seeing like community is just intrinsically adding this because they're involved in the product themselves?

RV (13:35):
Yeah, we don't see, I think we have one customer that sometimes uses paid incentive to get community users to do something or help them test out a certain feature or, or something like that. But most customers don't. I think in, in most communities it's just sort of common practice that if you get invited to be in a beta test group or something like that, that's already enough to make them feel special and just help you out and test, test a specific feature or product. And yeah, most community platforms and also ours have a lot of gamification options. So by being engaged and being subject matter experts or helping each other out they can also win or get badges, get a better status ranks. There's leaderboards, there's a whole sort of gamification type field going on that also helps.

DA (14:29):
Yeah, definitely. I love that idea of gamification, the reward process that is basically built into the product already. What about mistakes to avoid? Have you seen maybe, you know, backfire when you don't have your team there to constantly update or if there isn't those feedback loops, do you see the community getting upset? Can it kind of go the wrong way and if not, you know, kind of being a big part of that community?

RV (14:54):
Yeah, so there's, there's so many. We've also ourselves made so many. I think one of the most prevalent ones is that when companies start a community, they have this big massive launch campaign, just like a huge sort of launch event and are then super disappointed with the results after that. I think community is a thing that needs to grow organically. That's also, I think the best and easiest pace way to get your users involved. But I mean there's also companies, communities are really great for SEO, but they really, really don't replace your marketing campaigns. We also see that a couple of times. You absolutely need a community manager. Self-Regulating communities don't work. They absolutely don't work. And then finally, we also see that sometimes companies misinterpret motivation. So just offering a platform, doesn't mean that users that log on will be there to help you with the platform, to contribute in the way that you would like them to. That's something that you need to work at. That's something that you need to create by having a community manager that either stimulates that behavior or making sure that you have to content or the ability to do so. It's a, it's a little work. You need to put in the work yourself as well.

DA (16:08):
Just because I'm very interested in this and I want, you know, I want to make our community better. The community manager, what are roles or responsibilities that they'd be doing on a daily basis, that's just going in making posts to the team that's following up on feedback loops, that's responding to every comment, making new topics, making it engaging and exciting. Are they just in there on a daily basis just using it as almost a social network there?

RV (16:33):
I think so, yeah. Their primary goal is to make sure that it's a, it's sort of the community stays healthy and engaged and I think in a way they're also part of the customer success team in that they need to make sure that all of the, basically the most or best, all of your customers are active on the community engaging with your content. They don't need to do everything though. Cause we also, we also always advocate that you need to get other stakeholders on the community as well. So for example, your product team definitely should have an account, be involved in the community, be interacting with users when it comes to product feedback or ideation requests or something like that. Ideally, they are also the ones that close the feedback loop and tell you that they built your suggestion into the product and ask you to test it.

RV (17:21):
That kind of stuff. To me that doesn't necessarily have to be the community manager, but they are one, they are the ones that are sort of responsible for the general health and feel and vibe in the community and make sure that everyone basically gets his say and is involved. And if they're not, is the one that finds out why not. So for example, if you have a user that used to be logging on every day for the past six months and now for the last month hasn't logged in at all, the community manager is the ideal person as they have interacted with them before to go after them and see what's up.

DA (17:53):
Got it. So very much a relationship builder, someone who opening great doors and kind of building those positive loops with your customers. Which makes a lot of sense. But from like a historical standpoint, this is always like, you know, not everything in marketing has like direct ROI or direct, you know, bottom line impact. But a lot of times your leadership team does want to see that. Especially if you have someone like a community manager being paid on a monthly basis to do this stuff. Like what are you guys utilizing maybe internally yourselves to kind of measure the impact and ROI of your community? How do you know it's going the right way? How do you know it's impacting the business the right way? What are those benchmarks you use?

RV (18:34):
Yeah, so I think it's two answers. So for the community, we mainly look at growth, engagement levels. What percentage of your user base is active on the community? Are they really active in the whole ideation process? You can also link that through CRM integrations back into adoption. Check. Basically see how much ARR is backing a certain ideation request. So there's a whole bunch of stuff that you can do there, but ROI wise, so if it's impacting the business, I guess it sort of depends on the use case. So if you have a support driven community, it's super easy to measure ticket deflection through the community, no contact rates. But if your a community is more focused around engagement, then you would probably build an integration with your CRM system and see how many accounts are engaged, in what parts of the community are they engaged and with who do they engage a lot. If they contribute new ideas. You can then segment those ideas and basically put them in different types of user groups and try and learn from that or just find differences in MPS scores from accounts that are active in the community versus accounts that are not active in the community and don't engage with all the types of content. Yeah, there's multiple ways of trying to dedicate ROI.

DA (19:50):
Yeah. I love that. And I get there's different use cases there. Are there any benchmarks that you would give people if they're like getting started with this stuff that you would say, Hey, this is kind of a good starting line to aim for as far as an engagement rate that you should be aiming for in your community?

RV (20:06):
Yeah, we have, we have benchmarks that we take from our own customer base and then we try and segment the benchmarks a little bit into. This is basically what you should be expecting the first year. This is what you should be expecting the second year in terms of average user growth. I think we have those types of benchmarks that we usually would share them.

DA (20:28):
Got it. And where can we find some of that stuff?

RV (20:31):
Yeah. So on our own inSpired community, we share all that data, all those all those benchmarks.

DA (20:37):
Perfect. We'll link to that in our resources.

RV (20:39):
I would mention them by head right now, but I have no idea to be honest. So I would have to look for them myself as well.

DA (20:46):
No, no, it's totally fine. It's like you said, lots of different use cases and stuff like that as well. But kind of shifting gears and learning, obviously we're learning more about like what your product does and the community aspect and how powerful that is for marketing and customer success and retention and activation, all that stuff. But when you guys were switching about two years ago and then you built up this demand gen engine, this kind of inbound process, what have you seen as far as like winning initiatives that have actively been a positive ROI to bring in those solid leads at different SaaS companies that are actively bringing in and building the communities into their business? Has it been mostly leveraging content? Are you guys looking at advertising? Has it been you know, mostly display? What have you guys seen work?

RV (21:33):
Yeah, so we've, I think we've done most of the standard things or still do. So obviously we also started out with content, made sure that we had a really solid base, that covered all of our sort of strategic vision and narrative and that we started ranking for the right keywords. We started with LinkedIn ads, Google ads. I think LinkedIn has especially been working really well for us because you can just really hone in on that specific target buyer at that specific company that you really want to have. So that has been really good for us. Google has been a trial and error thing, but I think in the end using more of, sort of like smaller keywords, not bidding on the biggest ones, but just long tail type stuff. That's been brilliant, working really well. And obviously remarketing and then, in terms of wins, I think, if I would have to say something that was different we also do sponsorships a lot, especially in customer success. So we went to sponsor a customer success event that's called Pulse. It's Gainsight's customer success event. And Gainsight obviously are the ones that sort of coined the term customer success. So they built this market that we now operate in. So really interesting audience and a really interesting crowd to to target when sponsoring an event. So we did two things there. Of course we closed Gainsight as a customer, so that was already a great start. Yeah, thanks. But then at the event we thought, we're such a relatively small company compared to some of the companies that were there and probably half of themor even more, have never heard of us. So what can we do to just make sure that we have so many conversations?

RV (23:15):
Because we were quite confident that when customers would actually show up to our booth and we could talk to them, that we could swayed them to get into a demo or at least interesting them into what we do. So we had sort of a, we played a little prank on SaaS as most of the people that were there also working at SaaS companies. And we sort of mixed it with a little bit of a childish approach where we designed swag that just featured unicorns with customer success tattoos and a bunch of other things. And that took off like crazy, at some point I think the whole event walked around in inSided attire with unicorns everywhere and people were asking where did you get them? Even the security and camera people showed up at our booth, wanting, wanting all of this stuff.

RV (24:02):
And I think that really worked out well for us at that event because we got a lot of conversations out of it and a lot of opportunities in the end. But also, I think we still get sent pictures from teams that are using the swag or the stickers or whatever we had on scrum walls or sending us pictures with their kids that are using the stickers and this stuff. And that's from a 2K investment that got us so much. It's kind of a, I would say that's a win.

DA (24:28):
Was that a 2K investment for the booth and the swag?

RV (24:32):
Just the swag.

DA (24:33):
So this is a, this is a conversation and just I guess follow up questions that I'm interested in because one, we've done pretty terrible with our sponsorships. We just haven't had great ROI and we haven't had a good like event that really makes sense for us. And then two, I just, I would love to know about the swag stuff cause that's so amazing that you got that. When you sat down to do the sponsorship and you guys said, Hey, this is a great event because it's our, it's our ICP. This is going to be a great place to get conversations. What was the idea behind your ROI? Like were you expecting and just aiming for a certain amount of return? Were you excited at break even? Was it just about the conversations and you were just kind of write off the cost to see how it went? We'll start there and then I'll ask the swag question.

RV (25:17):
So initial business case, very much excited about break even. Cause we had sponsored Gainsight events before. This was this event that I that I was just discussing was November last year. And we also sponsored the Gainsight event in the US in May last year earlier. And that was just a complete bust. That wasn't, that was not even break even ROI. So we were really contemplating should we do this again? Should we go to this event? And if we do, then what can we change about our approach? That will at least, give us the feeling that we might be more successful this time. So a major part in that was also closing Gainsight as a customer. As everyone knows their name and being able to say that we provide the software that they use for their community would obviously be a hook that we didn't have before.

RV (26:07):
So we were also playing off of that hook a little. But then also, the other opportunity, we didn't really have a strategy, we didn't really have a booth, while we had a booth with a small one that we didn't really have a way to draw in the crowd and have all those conversations. We had a few and they were successful. Well, we just needed more of them. So I think planning this event, all we all we did from the marketing team was make sure that we, that we got enough traffic to have all those conversations and everything was aimed at that. So that's why we, I even thought it was a little bit silly. That was why we went crazy on all of the swag and just the visual stuff. So the people would just be interested in walk past and look at our booth and then we would snatch them with a bunch of people at the booth.

DA (26:50):
No, you did that the right way. And I think it's so interesting. Events are so interesting. Like we've had, first of all, Gainsight's been on the podcast, great company. I love what they're doing. But I think we've had a lot of people that have either had massive success at events or you know, loss like we just talked about. And it's always like the small stuff and the strategy that goes behind it, like with any marketing initiative obviously. But you know, from the swag perspective, listen, we've done swag, t-shirts, stickers, all that kind of cool stuff. But you know, never anything too unique from the crowd. It's just like another thing. Why did you guys settle on the unicorns? What was the conversation when you sat down on the creative approach to this and like, Hey, we're going to double down swag, we're going to do something that gets people's attention. Where's that like fine line between like absolutely crazy. Like attention getting at an event that is helpful to have those actual conversations, not just something wacky and wild.

RV (27:45):
So I guess it was two things. So one, we're, we're a bit of a crazy company, we like to joke around. So the first, the first sort of mission was to play around on or to have a little bit of a play on SaaS and SaaS terms that are used a lot. So for example, unicorns, roadmaps, all those kinds of things that they played a major part in the swag as well because it's recognizable for everyone. Everyone wants to be a unicorn riding SaaS. So we just thought we played, we play on that a little. And the second one was that we had the mission that even if they didn't, even if the event attendees didn't like it for themselves, then at least it should be cool enough so that they would, for example, come and pick it up for the children.

RV (28:27):
So the whole unicorn stickers and bags and shirts and all that kind of stuff, they were just aimed at if they weren't going to wear it themselves, then at least someone else from their household or company was going to wear it because they thought it was a little bit cool or freaky or weird. And especially the unicorns really paid off there. I think we also had Labradors and those kinds of things, but that was a little bit mad, but the unicorns really were a hit.

DA (28:50):
So it's kind of knowing your target market, finding something that will stand out. But realistically it's about getting attention, like most of marketing, getting eyeballs to open the conversation, but it wasn't too wacky and wild that people came over for something different. It fit into what they were looking for. So then when you had that conversation, it was like a seamless transition back into the SaaS.

RV (29:07):
And I do think, and I think that's one thing with events, if you're going to do them then don't, don't try and fit in with the rest. I mean it can, it can get really crazy. I think I was at an event at SaaStr last year somewhere and it was this, there was this company, I don't remember what they were. Well, they went all out. They were, everyone was wearing Hawaiian t-shirts. They were selling those, they were throwing basketballs through the room. Like the smaller bouncy things American American football kind of balls that they were absolutely insane. And at first I, well, it's kind of a cheapish attention grab, but it so worked for them. So I think we also learned a little bit from that. Because their booth and stand it was full the entire day because they had so much crap that people just wanted to pick up. And I thought that was really smart. So we did a miniature version of that, but we tried to achieve the same result level.

DA (30:01):
I love it. Yeah. And that's awesome. It's like such a, it's such a balance between being too cheesy, like I've been to the events where people are like dressed up in mascots and they're getting attention, but it's the wrong kind of attention and it's a fine line there. It's a tough balance.

RV (30:15):
Yeah. And obviously your story afterwards when you get to speak to people needs to be really good as well because yeah, you can draw them in with really funny stuff, but if you don't have a really cool conversation with them that eventually leads to opportunities, then it's all wasted effort as well.

DA (30:28):
Right. Again, and I also like the expectation of we're aiming for break even and like that's the goal, break even going with a strategy, kind of having that pipeline in mind. And then you're building the, you know, the initiative from that. So that's fantastic. And I guess just as a marketing organization as a whole, from the demand gen side, what kind of KPIs are you looking at on a monthly basis? You said you, you kind of made that switch into inbound, you have all of these different initiatives kind of going on at the same time. Do you guys all align on, you know SQLs or like what's the, what's the KPIs that kind of keep the team going?

RV (30:59):
Yeah, so at the beginning we were mostly working on creating enough awareness in the new space. So I think at that point we were mainly reporting on traffic conversion leads, MQLs basically all of the basic leading indicators that we were getting somewhere or top of the funnel, I guess, if you would call it basically. But as we evolved, I think we saw numbers of leads grow and we saw traffic grow and we saw more interactions with our content, that kind of stuff. But we then eventually got into that tipping point where you don't really need more leads for just needing more leads, but you need more leads that actually convert into a sales cycle. Sales conversations. SQLs, that kind of stuff. So we now measure all of that, but I think we started to approach things a little bit differently, especially around paid and content to focus a little bit more on creating demand versus just creating more leads.

RV (31:50):
So I, I would say that now our leads are a little bit less important to us. The numbers still grow fortunately, but I guess it's, no, it's no longer a goal to just have those numbers grow. We're now focused more on having a unique, a unique thing to say customer content, talking to thought leaders, making sure that we actually know what people want to see and want to read. Focusing on consumption, I guess versus just focusing on gathering an email as quickly as possible. Because that just led to a whole lot of leads that weren't ready for a conversation and needed a year of nurturing before, before they finally work.

DA (32:27):
Not all leads are created equal, they say, and it's about the quality over the quantity there. But that's, you know, a lesson that we all learn. And it's a good problem to have in the early days when you're kind of siphoning things out. But it sounds like you're definitely maturing and evolving. I mean, you've really only been in that kind of inbound process for about a year since it took you a year to kind of switch over. But as you look over the past year and all these different initiatives you've done and tests you've run, are there any lessons you've learned from things that didn't work out, missed opportunities or things you could do again? Wish you could do again?

RV (33:00):
Yeah, a lot. We actually have a fail board in the office. And a win board and both of, like a top 10 fails, top 10 wins when you reach number 10, there is a massive party. I think we've had more fail parties now I think twice as many than win parties. But I guess that's also good, right? Cause it means that you're creating a lot and that you're, or that you're trying a lot and that you're creating a lot of stuff that eventually also doesn't work. Yeah, you can, it's not mine either, so steal away. But I think, there's, there's so many in the, in the B2B space, I think it's also about grasping opportunity and then making sure that you do it well. So an example would be that we at some point learned that a competitor that got acquired would be retiring their platform and then would basically be moving all of the customers that they had on that platform onto the platform of the company that acquired them.

RV (33:56):
Which is yeah, it's, it's like a massive opportunity, right? Cause if people already need to move, then they might also look elsewhere and be less, be less inclined to stick around. So we tried so many campaigns and so many approaches to get conversations with some of those customers but in the end only got to speak to a few. And that was just such a heartbreaking moment because, while we were doing that, we were trying to do a lot of things and do this sort of in between and do this together with all of this stuff that we already doing to, to generate opportunities elsewhere. So we tried beta ads and email and all that kind of stuff. But I think in hindsight, if I were to now do a retrospective on that whole campaign that we started there, I think it was rushed.

RV (34:39):
It wasn't sort of special enough. There was no real special sauce that, that would draw people in. I think we also weren't as forward as we could have been in our messaging. So even though we had motive and opportunity if you then don't spend the time to really figure out how you're going to get these customers and know which ones they are and set up a really, really sort of, a good big ABM strategy around them, then it might also not be worth the time like it was in this case. So.

DA (35:11):
Did you find a lot of that being more in the messaging and the differentiation, like being able to lead with the value change and exchange on these different platforms kind of big thing?

RV (35:21):
I think so. I think, I think so. And I think we didn't do that enough. And I think also because there was now sort of, these companies also needed to move quite quickly. I think this was like a, like a six month period of time. I think we should have been way more forward with our messaging and leading with way of those different changes and extra value and that kind of stuff. And we were sort of, I think it's the Dutch mentality a little bit. We were a little bit careful in our messaging as well and we didn't want to be too forward and didn't want tosSlack off a competitor. So I think this is also the first time that we did it. And yeah, I would definitely change it a lot if the next, the next one comes.

DA (35:58):
Did you guys offer anything like white, white glove service to help them move over or any type of service with it? To get it really easy.

RV (36:06):
Yeah. We offered sort of free migration services. So all, basically we handle everything for you and you have to do nothing. Yeah, I think that's also, it sounds good in theory, but I think when it comes to community also people are just worried about, because community also has a lot of customer data, right? So there's a lot of accounts and a lot of messages and a lot of value built. So they also want to make sure that it's, you don't get to downplay it too much. It's also at some point it also needs to feel like a big move and that you're also sort of focusing on making sure that that big move goes well. So just having the initial statement that we did, like you don't have to worry about anything. We'll just do it. You have to do nothing. I think that maybe that even also was a miss.

DA (36:51):
Yeah. I can definitely see how you guys have a very sticky product. Cause like once that community is built out in there, you don't really want to lose that community. And there's that fear a change could take away some of the momentum that's already been built in there.

RV (37:03):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's super difficult sometimes.

DA (37:05):
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And looking forward this year, this is obviously strange times and global economics and the SaaS community and the SaaS marketplace. But what do you, what do you see out there as far as new opportunities or, or challenges that you might have to approach as kind of move forward here in 2020?

RV (37:23):
Yeah, good question. Yeah, it sounds awful. But if anything, I think this current crisis has sort of boosted our business. It sounds so bad when I say it like this, but I think as CSs teams are now remote, they, we also often find now that they struggle a bit more to stay as sort of hyper-connected as they say to their customers as they like to. So normally they would have been able to just call every, every customer every day or visit them run MBRs QBRs kind of more of like a personal touch model thing. And as everyone's remote now that's some of that is out of the window and has become more difficult. So I think a lot more emphasis now goes out to creating this tech touch, sort of one to many strategy. Where everyone stays engaged and feels that they're still engaged with your customer and that you're still reaching out to them enough, but you don't have to do all of it yourself manually. And we definitely see that in our numbers as well. So I think that at some point, obviously we will all sort of hit the point of returning to normal life. And I have no idea what will happen when we do, cause I think a lot of things will be different. Maybe some companies might even stay remote. I have no idea. So a lot will change. But for now, business wise, we're actually quite optimistic. It's actually going well for us right now.

DA (38:47):
Yeah. You shouldn't feel guilty or anything about it. I feel like we're kind of in the same boat where we've seen this massive growth because of the situation and some verticals, you know, obviously are very much hurting and it's absolutely sad and painful to see, you know, the changes. But I think this whole thing, there's, first of all, there's so many question marks. We have no idea what's going to happen. Three months, six months, even one month, still just so unknown. But you know, I think everything's going to change. This is going to be a new world of how we all operate in, like you said, I think communities and I think that level of engagement online is forever going to change and forever going to be affected here because of this. So you guys are definitely in a good position. I think it's, you know, it's kind of hedging the bets by just believing in some of these trends and stuff that we knew were going to grow in the future. But you know, obviously this kind of whole economic situation you know, flu changes the whole world quickly and makes adaptations very quickly.

RV (39:46):
Yeah. It's, it's also exciting in a way, especially in the, in the digital world and I think speeds up a lot and a lot of processes or, or developments right now. So I think in, in two months we'll be hopefully doing some new things in marketing as well.

DA (39:59):
Yeah, that's definitely true. That's definitely true. But what I want to do now for sake of time is flip over to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. Are you ready to get started?

RV (40:12):
Yeah.

DA (40:13):
Alright. You're gonna do great. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

RV (40:20):
Yeah. So make marketing a sub 10 hire. Start doing your research quickly so that you can get your positioning down early.

DA (40:28):
I love that. Really good advice. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

RV (40:36):
Yeah, my pet peeve, my personal pet peeve, analytics. So as much as HubSpot can do for you these days in terms of calculations and making sure that you have easy to read reports, just interpreting data and figuring out where to go next is such a challenge and also a challenge in hiring the right people. So yeah, definitely analytics.

DA (40:58):
Yeah, I think it's one thing to be able to measure the reports, but then to be able to make the actionable changes and understandings as the next one. That's, that's great. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

RV (41:12):
Jumping on the bandwagon, but probably Dave Gerhardt Patreon. It's probably mentioned before, and he's now trying to build a community out of it. So obviously a fan.

DA (41:21):
That's amazing. We actually have not heard that before, so we'll, we'll link that into the resources and show notes. Obviously Dave has been mentioned but never heard of his Patreon and that's amazing. I'll have to check that out.

RV (41:30):
Yeah, so much content on there. It's definitely a good place to start.

DA (41:35):
That's amazing. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

RV (41:40):
So for me, it's Google sheets. I'm a super data nerd, so I dig the biggest spreadsheets possible. So that's what I spend most of my time in every day probably.

DA (41:49):
That's great. I'm in there all the time as well, so I get it. What about a brand business or a team that you admire today?

RV (41:58):
Yeah, so this is a recent one. Cause and I can't imagine, I can't understand why I didn't find this earlier, but it's Chris Walker's Refine Labs. It's a company that he owns, but he does most of the content for it himself. And I think just they are owning the narrative on demand generation right now. So if you don't, if you haven't heard of Chris Walker, go check it out. All of his thoughts around demand generation are crazy. But also, yeah, the way he creates content and just so much content from just, I think two or three videos that he has on his website is just absolutely brilliant. So definitely one to watch. And yeah, we discussed Gainsight earlier, but also their content team. And the way they're approaching content, especially during this crisis, getting their CEO involved, all that kind of stuff is just amazing. That's just wow. So definitely check that out.

DA (42:45):
Two amazing companies. I'll have to check out Chris Walker and, I have not been there, but we'll link to all this in the show notes and the resources. So for those of you listening you can check that out as well. But I just want to say thank you so much for coming on. It was such a pleasure to talk to you. I appreciate your transparency and you know, all the education on community and where kind of SaaS is going. So it was just a wonderful conversation.

RV (43:08):
Thank you again. Thank you for having me. This has been a lot of fun.

DA (43:11):
It has been and wishing you guys all the best out there. Thanks again for jumping on and we'll talk soon.

DA (43:19):
That was an absolutely fantastic episode and we appreciate you taking the time to listen to this episode and every episode of SaaS Breakthrough. Remco and the entire team at inSided. Hats off to you guys. You're doing some amazing stuff and we're really excited to see what comes next in 2020 for you all (...)

Resources:
Dave Gerhardt's Marketing Group :
https://www.patreon.com/davegerhardt
The InSpired Community From InSided:
https://community.insided.com/
Learn More About InSided:
https://www.insided.com/
Connect With Remco:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/remcodv/
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