Dear Enterprise Marketer, Stop Growth Hacking!

Talk to Your Salespeople Instead.

Let me share my biggest pain, the nightmare that is still keeping me up at night.

Two years ago, when we launched Influ2, winning the first few customers was easy. Our product, person-based ads, was new and exciting. No one had ever done it before, so naturally many enterprise marketers were anxious to take it for a spin.

But, these “wins” were delusions.

What do you do as a digital marketer when you come across a new technology? You conduct an experiment. Spending a few thousand bucks on a new tool is no biggie for an enterprise marketer.

So, you set up a low-budget ad campaign with a lead form at the landing page. You determine the success of the campaign by conversions — the number of people who fill in the form.

Seems right, doesn’t it? Well, I can promise you with this metric you will get zero or almost zero conversions with person-based ads. In fact, you can run pretty much the same campaign targeting your CRM audience directly on social networks or online media — no need for a new trendy tool to do it.

The idea to measure conversions by running experiments came from the e-commerce industry and found broad adoption among low-priced SaaS platforms like Slack, Twilio or Intercom.

Now, every growth hacker will tell you to experiment with Google AdWords, Quora ads, LinkedIn promos, and the list goes on. Set up an experiment, run a campaign, track conversions, tune, repeat — that’s what thousands of marketers do, and since everyone does it, it must be right…

Now, dear enterprise marketer, let’s think.

Do you expect the CMO of Adobe to fill out a lead form to download your e-book? Is your e-book worth Ann Lewnes’s time and valuable contact details? Does she want your SDR to start bombarding her with drip sequences?

I hear this over and over from our customers: No matter how good your targeting is, enterprise decision-makers don’t go for the lead forms. (Side note: If you got an enterprise CxO to fill out your lead form, let me know, and I’ll buy you dinner at the restaurant of your choice.)

Recommended: Is Person-Based Marketing an Upgrade to ABM?

This approach might work for selling sneakers to the mass market or $20 software subscriptions to SMBs, but it is very wrong for enterprise marketing. So, don’t listen to growth hackers. Your audience is fundamentally different.

Who do you listen to then? Sorry, but it’s time to break your silo and talk to not-so-easy-going salespeople. Marketing spend pays off when it serves as an air cover for your sales team, especially for the sales development folks.

Today, when launching proof-of-concept campaigns, we always ask new clients to talk to their sales department first. Ask them what accounts they are working on. These are your target audience. It’s so much easier for an SDR to talk to somebody who has recently seen your ads and who is aware of your product offering. When a prospect finds an email from your SDR and reacts with “I think I know these guys, it looks relevant, let’s talk” it’s simply because you’ve built an awareness with person-based ads.

People don’t click on ads most of the time. So, when they do click, you know you got their attention; they are engaged. Imagine your outbound email goes to somebody who read an article about your company in Forbes yesterday. We are witnessing 3 – 5x better response rates from sales outreach that is in sync with person-based engagement signals compared to cold emails.

Now, coming back to my nightmare. In marketing, you often defer to the “brand awareness” excuse when you can’t say if something worked or not but you know it should have. With person-based ads, we usually see around 30% improvement in SDRs’ productivity as a result of the air cover campaign. Our clients typically witness this within 3 months after the launch. However, we keep getting asked why there are no conversions from the lead forms over these 3 months… so my nightmare will recur.

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