Do you see marketing automation as a tool that can substantially grow your revenue?
According to an Act-On study in 2017, 53% of businesses have implemented some form of marketing automation. However, the same study also reveals that 67% of those businesses use their marketing automation tools only for elementary tasks such as creating forms, landing pages and sending emails to their lists.
The reality is that most companies do not use their marketing automation tools anywhere close to their full potential.
However, Socedo is one company which has successfully used it to triple their revenue within just a year.
Quite an achievement, right?
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to Adam Hutchinson, Head of Marketing at Socedo, about the processes and tools they used to implement marketing automation and 3x their revenue.
Here’s what we will cover:
In this article Adam shares the following details:
- Socedo’s customer acquisition process before they used marketing automation
- Their initial experiments with automation without making any major investments
- The process Socedo developed for:
- Scoring Leads
- Integrating their demand generation tool with the marketing automation tool
- Nurture leads and reach out to them when they are ready to buy
- Aligning with sales
- And more!
A bit about Socedo
Socedo is an AI-based B2B Social Media Demand Generation tool used by companies like Google, Microsoft, Lenovo, Heinz, Mercer as well as startups and social media influencers. It helps grow your twitter following, generates leads from social, drives website traffic and provides audience insights.
Socedo was founded in 2012 by Aseem Badshah (CEO) and Kevin Yu (CTO). The company went through the Microsoft TechStars accelerator and is backed by Divergent Ventures and Vulcan Capital.
Aseem and Kevin had previously founded a digital marketing agency in Los Angeles called Uptown Treehouse, which still works with some of the largest B2C brands today.
How Socedo used Marketing Automation to 3x Revenue
Let’s dive in.
What was your customer acquisition process before you began implementing marketing automation?
Initially, we had a simple process to acquire and convert opportunities.
Socedo has built its pipeline primarily through inbound trial signups.
We used our own product’s lead generation capabilities to fuel early growth. We used Socedo to find everyone on Twitter who had “marketing manager” in their job title and were tweeting about #SocialMedia or #SocialMediaMarketing.
We sent these active prospects links to our content about social media best practices, as well as an invitation into our free trial.
We supplemented Socedo’s social media lead generation with a content marketing strategy to capture organic search interest and generate signups.
In the next step, our sales team would step in and reach out to the free trial users to try and convert them to paid accounts.
Even though this process worked, we faced a couple of challenges which held back our conversion rate.
- It was impossible to prioritize leads. The sales team was manually sifting through the inbound trials and deciding which ones they wanted to work. Not only did this waste time for them, but it also introduced human bias into the equation. Instead of spending the most time on the best leads, we were spreading our time evenly over a wide range of leads, indiscriminately.
- Moreover, not every lead converts right away. We had no way to nurture leads and were missing out on a lot of value.
But before we spun up an expensive tool, we experimented first.
- On the lead scoring side, we started asking a couple of more questions on our trial signup form, including company size and job title. We brought leads in our target market to the top of the queue, so sales worked those first.
- Then, we started experimenting with a free version of MailChimp, so marketing could nurture the leads that sales didn’t get in touch with. The early results told us exactly what we wanted to know: the potential pipeline we could build was huge.
How do you use marketing automation now? What’s the process? What tools do you use?
After we had validated our assumptions around lead scoring and nurturing, we implemented Marketo as our marketing automation system of choice.
The advantage of Marketo was how easily it integrated with our existing systems: Salesforce, GoToWebinar, WordPress, Oktopost for social media management, and our own product Socedo for lead generation. Integration was important because it meant we could centralize our data.
We use marketing automation as the central nervous system of our demand generation strategy. Every lead passes through Marketo, no matter the source or where they are in the buying cycle.
For example, when we find a new lead on Twitter via Socedo, we automatically sync them into Marketo, even before they fill out a form on our website for a trial or a content download.
That way, we can capture their contact information, their social media data, and start tracking them long before we send them to sales.
Socedo’s proprietary database can match social profiles to corporate contact info like email addresses and phone numbers. Using the Socedo-Marketo integration, Socedo sends these leads into our database daily. Instead of constantly buying new lists and uploading them, we have warm leads every day.
With all this data in one place, we started to run programs to unlock the pain points in our pipeline.
First, we took lead scoring to a whole new level. Now, we could finally introduce behavioral lead scoring, in addition to the demographic and behavioral points that we had been using.
We integrated social data, such as the relevant keyword that a lead tweeted, in order to know which leads were already evaluating our competitors or researching content in our industry.
We also incorporated factors like:
- website actions such as views to our pricing page, form fills, or people spending time reading our blog
- email engagement – opens, clicks, and conversions
- webinar attendance
We used regression analysis to find the most common actions that leads took prior to conversion and weighted all of these actions accordingly.
By prioritizing the best leads, we increased our lead-to-opportunity conversion rate by almost 50%.
Now that sales was more efficient, it was time to scale, which brought us to pain point number two: we needed to drive more leads from the middle of the funnel into the sales cycle.
Types of Nurture Campaigns
Using the same contextual data in our lead scoring model, we built new programs in Marketo to nurture our leads, in three different camps:
- Ongoing nurture campaigns to prep our leads for a successful sales conversation.
- Trigger campaigns to move leads from point A to point B in real-time, when they were showing active interest, such as visiting our pricing page.
- One-off, or occasional, campaigns that we could run when we needed a boost in leads, such as a special offer around an industry event.
Choosing Leads to Nurture
Rather than a top-down approach, we implemented these programs one at a time, based on the biggest areas of opportunity.
For example, not every lead entered a nurture program right away.
We started with a simple five-touch email sequence to our best segment of SMB marketers in the technology industry. Once we found CTAs that worked, we created new variations for different segments.
Optimization with Analytics
Centralizing our data and activities in a marketing automation system improved our analytics drastically. Finally, we could see which pieces of content, which emails, and which webpages were actually driving sales-ready leads.
By optimizing our lead nurturing programs over time, we were able to build 30% more pipeline from each lead generation campaign we were running and spending money on at the top of the funnel.
When does handoff happen from marketing to sales?
We use a combination of demographic and behavioral lead scoring to determine the threshold for MQLs. I like to think about it in terms of two “gates.”
First, a lead must match our Ideal Customer Profile to be considered a “good fit” for our business.
Second, they need to show enough interest in our product and a specific use case in order to be sales-ready.
Some leads sign up for a free trial right away, so we pass them straight to sales. Most take some time, and after they’ve viewed and interacted with our content, they’re ready for a phone call from sales.
Marketing still plays a role after the handoff, though, and that’s why marketing automation has been a big win for us.
Role of Marketing Automation in Sales
The marketing team automates the first couple of emails from the sales team to their new leads, in order to ensure a timely and relevant experience for the buyer. That way, sales can focus on phone calls and conducting the research they need to make the right pitch.
We saw our sales response rate double once we implemented this sales automation.
Can you Describe a Few Failures and What you Learned from Them?
Even with a robust lead nurturing program, some leads still do “go cold” or simply never engage with our content.
We tried to build a reactivation nurture with top-funnel content from different angles to give these leads new reasons to reach out. However, the effort failed because the problem was less about the content and more about timing.
We found that simply keeping some trigger campaigns on for social actions allowed us to connect with leads when the timing was right – sometimes six months later.
Additionally, we found that we could run fewer one-off programs, such as webinars, because we saw the same results with repurposed content.
This saved us a lot of time, but it took us a few months to figure it out because if you see a program working, it’s easy to just keep doing more and more of it.
Summary: What changes contributed to the growth in revenue?
We tackled three main areas of the marketing funnel in order to fuel our growth:
- At the top of the funnel, right after we generate a new lead, we use our nurture programs to make sure no lead goes cold and we get the most value out of every lead generation campaign.
- At the middle of the funnel, we use lead scoring to prioritize the best leads for the sales team.
- After the marketing-sales handoff, we use sales automation emails, as well as passing the sales team contextual data on their leads, to increase response rates.
Overall, implementing these processes allowed us to increase our revenue by 3X within the first year of adopting marketing automation, with every little increase in budget for new lead generation campaigns.
Marketing automation has the potential to help you stop wasting time on leads that won’t buy and focus on the ones who will. Just implementing any of the methods that Socedo implemented can make a substantial difference to your revenue. So why not try this out?