Marketo's "Secret Sauce" Case Study - Michael Berger


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Michael Berger, Director of Product Marketing at Marketo, dives into Marketo's "secret sauce" and how to achieve better marketing results.

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  • Case study of how Marketo using Marketo to drive our business.
    One of the fastest growing software companies of all time. So doing something right.
    Showing examples of our actual campaigns.
  • Marketo’s success is based on a philosophy, based on a belief that the way digitally empowered people buy products has changed dramatically. And therefore we need to change the way we need to market and sell to these buyers must also change.

    And this should be pretty obvious to us. Just think about how you bought a car 10 or 15 years ago…

    I am always blown away by the fact that Google was founded 7 years AFTER I graduated college. And before anyone starts cracking jokes, I’m not really THAT old.

    Not that long ago, there were few 3rd party sources of information – information scarcity – which meant that a buyer had to get most of their information from sales.

    In this world, it made perfect sense for marketing to pass all leads over to sales. It also meant we lived in a world of attention abundance, with fewer channels competing for a buyer’s attention. Traditional marketing, characterized by Mad Men-style marketing, grew up in this era.

  • Seattle hotels search on Google – (102M results in .39 seconds)

    But now, there is an explosion of readily available information… According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data 
    — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.

    This is a recent phenomenon…
    When Marketo was founded in 2006, the iPhone didn’t exist, Twitter had not launched, and Facebook was only for college students.

    All this data = buyers today are more empowered. The Web provides them with instant information gratification. They can access detailed specs, pricing, and reviews about goods and services 24/7 with a few flicks of their thumbs. Meanwhile, social media encourages them to share and compare, while mobile devices add a wherever/whenever dimension to every aspect of the experience.

    Result: Forrester Reports that 65-90% of buying process is complete when consumer is walks into store/branch/dealer, or contacts sales

    Requires deep changes in how we market to consumers.

    That’s how we approached our marketing process at Marketo.
  • Lots of research available that supports this shift.
  • If you look across all sorts of studies, you’ll find that people today are somewhere between 50 and 90% done with their buying process before they want to engage with a salesperson. They have so much access to information, that they are actively resisting sales interactions until they feel they have equal information to what the sales person has.

    1,500 customers from 22 large B2B companies.

    So at Marketo, what we said, “ok, if the buyer doesn’t want to talk to sales until let’s say they are 2/3 done with the process, then Marketing needs to step up and “own” that 2/3 of the buyer’s journey.

    Sales still has the last 1/3, but marketing has to have a more explicit role in the revenue process. In the old days, maybe marketing had about 10% and then sales took over. Today it’s a very different process. “Marketing needs to step into the void.”

    So everything we do at Marketo is based on this foundation of don’t pass leads to sales people until they’re ready, and in the meantime, marketing owns the relationship until that happens.
  • Therefore, strive for these three things!
  • So how do we segment at Marketo. Well, first of all, we do it across 2 primary dimensions on a regional basis. One dimension we use is the buying stage, which maps really well to our overall revenue model, both to the high level funnel stages, TOFU, MOFU and BOFU, and also happens to map to the way we segment our content, EARLY, MID, LATE and CUSTOMER. The other dimension is the buying profile, which we typically define by personas.

    And by the way, we’ve kept it to 2 because even moving to 3 adds an exponential level of complexity. For instance, if we have 4 buy stages and 3 profiles, that’s 12 segments. If we add a 3rd dimension to segment off of, and that dimension had 3 options, now all of a sudden your taking your original 12, and muliplying it by 3, and now instead of 12 segments, we have 36.
  • So how do we segment at Marketo. Well, first of all, we do it across 2 primary dimensions on a regional basis. One dimension we use is the buying stage, which maps really well to our overall revenue model, both to the high level funnel stages, TOFU, MOFU and BOFU, and also happens to map to the way we segment our content, EARLY, MID, LATE and CUSTOMER. The other dimension is the buying profile, which we typically define by personas.

    And by the way, we’ve kept it to 2 because even moving to 3 adds an exponential level of complexity. For instance, if we have 4 buy stages and 3 profiles, that’s 12 segments. If we add a 3rd dimension to segment off of, and that dimension had 3 options, now all of a sudden your taking your original 12, and muliplying it by 3, and now instead of 12 segments, we have 36.
  • So what we do is, for each segment, send relevant content to them over time. This is what it looks like inside Marketo, with our innovative Customer Engagement engine. In this case, you can see that we have a different stream for each buying stage. With the CEE, it’s really easy to keep these streams fresh because they don’t work like traditional drip campaigns. They are smarter than that. So for example, when the newest Sirius Decisions report on MA was released, we created a mid-stage content offer for it, and simply dragged it and dropped it to the top of the mid-stage stream. And unlike a drip campaign,in which people can only travel one way down the drip, in this case everyone in the stream will get the sieius decisions report next - because we’ve put it at the top and made it the #1 priority. This makes life for a content marketer pretty easy, and allows us to update our nurturing really quickly.

    Now, we have another set of streams for each buyer profile, in our case, sales, marketing and an exec. In some cases, we re-use the same content, and maybe the same message. Or we might use the same content, and tweak the message. Or in some cases, the content just doesn’t fit, and we might not use it, or we may use different content.

    So this is one way we personalize.
  • One of the ways we increase relevance at Marketo is to focus on segmentation, which then allows us to send messages that are relevant for each segment. For example, a VP of Sales and a VP of Marketing would fall into two separate segments, and we would therefore be able to send a different, more relevant message to each.

    So this analysis compares how engaging an email is to the size of the send. And to measure engagement, we are using Marketo’s proprietary metric called an Engagement Score, which essentially does what a FICO score does for lending, combines a bunch of data attributes into one number to easily measure how engaging one email is compared to another.

    What you see is that there is a direct correlation between the size of the send and engagement. More to the point, smaller sends are typically more engaging than large ones.

    Now, we’ve all heard that batch and blast emails doesn’t work. Well, here’s some proof that they are much less effective.
  • Now, the way we get really relevant, is through behavioral targeting. So things like your role, or industry tell us what you might be interested in, behaviors tell us what you ARE ACTUALLY interested in. And this data from MarketingSherpa shows that triggering and segmenting emails based on behaviors aret the top two tactics that marketers use to increase email engagement.

    When behavioral cues are not used, email can be experienced as a dissonant interruption. What the sender considers a coordinated "drip campaign" may feel more like water torture to the receiver.

    So what we do at Marketo, is listen for your behaviors. In fact, Marketo listened to billions of behaviors across our customer base last year. It listens for what events do you attend, what content do you download, what web pages you visit. And these behaviors tell us specifically what your interested in.

    Some examples of our interest streams are email, social, content marketing and technology. So when we see that you have a specific interest, we pull you out of the default stream, and place you into the stream that matches your specific interest.

    And these streams tend to have less content, so once you go through them, we place you back into the default stream, and fortunately, the system is smart enough to simply resume you from where you left off, unless new content has been placed, in which case you’d get that first.
  • So the results of using behaviors in order to increase relevance are pretty compelling. Here are email engagement statistics for standard nurture versus nurture triggered by behaviors to determine interest. You can see there is almost a 60% lift in terms of open and click to open rates.

    And there’s a huge lift for click rate, which is a much more meaningful conversion rate than the open rate, assuming of course there is a call to action in the email. For click rate, we saw around a 150% lift, or 2.5 times better performance compared to the click rate of the standard nurture.

    Business As Usual (BAU) Email Trends The quarterly analysis is compiled from 7.0 billion emails sent by Epsilon in October, November and December 2013 across multiple industries and approximately 140 participating clients. The analysis combines data from Epsilon’s proprietary platforms.
    Triggered Message Email Trends Triggered message benchmarks are compiled from more than 297 million triggered emails sent by Epsilon in Q4 2013 across multiple industries. Results track campaigns deployed as a result of an action or trigger such as Welcome, Abandon Shopping Cart, Thank You and Anniversary.
  • Okay, so we’ve generated targets, we’ve nurtured them, so let’s talk about how we identify which of our targets are ready to be sent to the sales team as leads. And that’s what scoring and lead management is all about.

    So lead scoring is how we rank the best ones from the not so good ones.
  • So let’s talk about interests. That’s where we turn to behaviors, because your actions speak much louder than words.

    So we look at what emails you click, what web pages you visit, what events you attend, and more.

    There are a specific set of behaviors that have been shown to highly correlate with buying intent, things like going to our pricing pages, or filling out a form to watch a detailed demo. So if you want to be guaranteed to get an SDR from someone at Marketo, go to our website, watch the detailed demo and then visit our pricing page, and then be prepared for a phone call or email.
  • And we score across 3 dimensions. Fit, interest and where they are in their buying journey.

    Fit tells me, am I interested in you.
    Interest tells me, are you interested in me.

    So they need to be interested in me (or my company), and I need to be interested in them. Actually, this is starting to sound a lot like dating, and that’s because it is. And in dating, timing also plays a role. So, maybe they are locked into another solution. Maybe they don’t have the budget. And this all relates to where they are in the buying stage.

    So when we think about passing a lead to sales, we need to look at fit, interest and timing (or buying stage).
  • Okay, now that we have a lead, we need to get it to the sales team in a way that is easily digestible. So we have a sales intelligence tool called Marketo Sales Insight that lives natively within the CRM. We use SFDC. And it essentially provides the sales reps with a prioritized list of leads, with their best bets on top…which is why we call this the best bets list. The more stars and flames a lead has, the higher the quality. Stars measure relative lead score, and the flames is a measure of how quickly the score increased over time, which is essentially telling the rep how “hot” the lead is. So a lead with a very high score that has been doing a lot of research on the website over the past few days is someone that is likely to show up very high on their list.
  • Okay, so we’ve generated targets, we’ve nurtured them, so let’s talk about how we identify which of our targets are ready to be sent to the sales team as leads. And that’s what scoring and lead management is all about.

    So lead scoring is how we rank the best ones from the not so good ones.
  • What happens after the purchase? Well, in most cases, marketers have goals for that too. But many marketers aren’t executing on them. Those goals could be to drive someone to become a repeat purchaser, to become an active user, or to be an active visitor. And in most business, retaining that customer is far more important than capturing him the first time.
  • One thing that successful sales organizations have historically done well is break up the sales process into stages, and they often have the technology and sales process to do this – and often it is within the CRM system. They can then say “for my opportunities, I need this many at each stage in order to reach my desired outcome.

    And since marketing is now responsible for a bigger portion of the revenue cycle, it’s important that marketing applies the same rigor to defining our stages of the revenue cycle that sales does for theirs.

    And this is the revenue cycle we use at Marketo, broken into 3 buckets, starting with TOFU, where leads enter the funnel, MOFU is middle of funnel, where the focus is on marketing getting leads ready to have a conversation with sales, and BOFU is bottom of funnel, once sales is engaged.

    This is central to everything we do at Marketo. In fact, define these stages rigorously in alignment with sales was the #1 most important thing we did in building our revenue process at Marketo.

    First stage is awareness, which is all about building our brand. And we do that with content, not with broadly targeted and expensive advertising. And I will show you how we do that.

    The red line is when people enter our database, when we have their contact information. This is where semantics really matter. These people are NOT leads. To a sales person, a lead means something. The CRM systems, and a lot of “lead” vendors get really pumped up when they call these leads.

    Now, when someone throws their business card in your bowl at a tradeshow, or downloads a white paper, doesn’t mean their a lead. They are just a name. Many aren’t interested, and never will be interested in buying from you.

    And the semantics here are really important, because if marketers call these leads, and they aren’t what sales people consider leads, you don’t have alignment. They aren’t leads, they are names.

    The next step is engaged. Someone who is engaged is in our database and has had a meaningful interaction with us.

    So they threw their card in the bowl at the tradeshow, but that could have been because they wanted to win an iPad. And they may not even remember throwing their card in when they get home. But let’s say they then respond to a follow-up campaign. Now they aren’t just a name. They’re engaged. And now they know they are in the Marketo database…but they still may not be qualified.

    The target stage represents someone who is engaged and who is also a potential customer - the right kind of person at the right kind of company. Not a student doing research, or a job seeker looking for a new role.

    That target number is the first metric that we really care about. We don’t report on names that much, but we care about targets, because it tells us whether or not our marketing efforts are attracting potential customers, and not just names.

    Now, again, semantics matter…targets are not leads. They are just qualified potential customers. So we need to keep in touch with these people over time until they’re actually ready to become customers. This is the process of nurturing, which we’ll talk about.

    And then, when they show sufficient buying signs, behaviors that indicate that they’re ready to have a conversation with a sales person, their score gets to 100 points, and at this point we call them a lead, or a MQL, and we pass them to a sales development rep, an inside sales person who calls and qualifies the lead.

    There are some interesting economics here. The cost of a false positive, identifying someone as a lead that isn’t really yet a lead, is relatively low – the cost of an additional phone call. But the cost of a false negative, not identifying someone who actually is a lead, is really expensive. Because of this, you want to have a relatively loose definition of a lead, which means that a significant chunk of leads aren’t yet ready to buy and get recycled for additional nurturing.

    Now, having the SDR’s call even when someone isn’t quite ready to buy isn’t a bad thing, because the human touch is actually a part of the overall nurturing process. Lead nurturing isn’t exclusively the job of email or any one channel.
    Now, about 5 to 10% of them do get qualified as being in an active buying cycle, are deemed sales ready (looking to make a purchase in the next 6 months), and get passed to our sales team (an AE) as a sales lead.

    The sales rep at that point has 1 week to determine whether or not an opportunity exists.

    And if they believe an opp exists, they enter the opp in the CRM. Marketing doesn’t do it, the SDR doesn’t do it. Only the sales rep created the opp, and that’s important that they do it, because that is how marketers at marketo get paid. Marketing carries a quota. Not for closed business, but for the number of opps created by our customers, i.e. sales.

    Now, this means that If marketing hits their quota, there should be enough pipeline for sales to hit their quota…and this system of checks and balances is we build very tight alignment between marketing and sales at Marketo.

    So that’s what the high level process looks like. Now let’s go back to the beginning and talk about some of the specific campaigns and metrics that we use along the way.

    So that’s what our end to end revenue cycle looks like, and I am going to talk more about how we market at each of these stages. And by the way, I should mention that where this process really matters is when you’re talking about marketing at scale. If you have a few hundred, or even a few thousand people in your database, you can likely get by without such a clearly defined process, along with the technology to bring it to life, which in our case is marketing automation, and to no one’s surprise, we use Marketo. But when you have hundreds of thousands, or many millions (and we have many customers with tens of millions of names in their db) of names in your db, and if you don’t have the right technology to manage this process, it ends up being like Lucille Ball in chocolate factory. When they move slow, all is good, but when the conveyor belt speeds up, it becomes a mess.
  • Special nurture streams for each nurture goal
  • One example of a goal is upsell/cross sell. One of Marketo’s customers, Dropcam, uses Marketo specifically for this purpose. Dropcam sells small video cameras that record directly to the cloud. They have customers who record different amounts of video in the cloud and access it with varying frequencies. They want to upsell a certain set of those customers to a better subscription, and they want to focus on the customers most likely to take advantage of that plan. So they capture this data in marketo and use it to automate their upsell marketing.
  • We know because we mapped the same pipeline we just saw in our product. This is the revenue cycle modeler in Marketo, and the stages across the green section represent the funnel stages we looked at before, so you see targets, leads and opportunities. Some stages are boxes because people can stay in those stages indefinitely, some are clocks, meaning there are SLA’s. Once this is setup and it begins tracking movement.
  • Customer version
  • We get this report, which is like Google Analytics for revenue. For each of those stages I can see how many people are in there, and what is the flow from stage to stage, as well as the velocity at which people are moving between them. Conversion rates and velocities.

    And I can see this over time so we can understand the trends, and even compare them to previous periods.

    Having this data at your fingertips is so powerful for a marketer, because it really lets us understand the dynamics of the revenue process.

  • Once we understand how the revenue process works, we then use this information to set our budget. So at Marketo, we don’t simply say marketing should be 7% of revenue. What we do is say we need this many wins in order to achieve the revenue targets we set.

    And since we have a deep understanding of how the revenue process works, including conversion rates and velocity, we can simply work backwards. We know how many opps we’ll need, how many SQL’s we’ll need, how many new MQL’s and Targets we’ll need, as some of the wins will come from existing targets and mql’s.

    Then we can budget for a marketing program that drive the wins we need to hit our revenue targets.

    That’s really powerful, because if someone comes to us and says “I need to take 10% out of your budget”, we can say “okay, that will have a 12% impact on revenue next quarter, what do you want to do?”

    Having those numbers let’s you justify your budget.

    It also lets us look forward, it lets us make forecasts. It lets us talk not just about what happened, but what will happen. At board meetings, they talk very little about what has happened in the past compared to how much time they spend talking about the future. And in too many companies, sales, and not marketing, is the only one participating in this conversation. Which might have been fine 10 years ago when they owned 90% of the revenue cycle, but today marketing owns 50 to 80%. If only sales is participating in the forecasting discussion, you’re missing out on a huge piece of visibility as to what the future holds. Marketing can use this data to step up and make forecasts about pipeline
  • So that’s an overview of the marketo secret sauce. So here are some tweetable takeaways.

    The way people buy stuff has changed, and we as marketers need to respond, and market and sell to them differently.
    Build your revenue cycle. Define those stages of the process. At minimum, define what a lead is, in conjunction with sales so you have a common definition, and common SLA’s for what happens when you have a lead.
    Build you content engine, mapped to the buyer’s journey. Educational and entertaining for early stage content, mid-stage content that is bait for lead gen, and late stage content that’s about you.
    And then remember, when you’re generating new “leads”, that there not really leads that are ready for sales, and that you need to keep in touch with them over time.
    And #5, what we just talked about, turn marketing into a revenue driver, and not a cost center, it has to do with the language you use, and the metrics you use.

    Now, I want to wrap with a 6th, and perhaps most important point. I just talked to you about all sorts of cool and sophisticated marketing strategies and tactics, and some of you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. You might be thinking, “I can’t do all that” I don’t have enough people, enough content, enough time. Well, Marketo didn’t start doing all of this right off the bat. It started simple, and got more sophisticated over time.

    Before joining Marketo, I was head of marketing for a small technology company, that ultimately got acquired by a large company. But I deployed Marketo at this company with a team of ONE, and that was me. I started with the basics. Segmenting my database, creating nurture drips, and reporting on basic engagement metrics. I then brought our events manager into the fold, and she used it to drive attendance at our in-person events. And we had a team of 3, and the 3rd team member would use Marketo to automate the way we promoted our webinars. One year later, I was doing more sophisticated things. I had set up the revenue modeler, began to understand the revenue process, and you know what, it really changed the way I was perceived at my company, from the top down. I remember we had a very sarcastic engineer that clearly didn’t take marketing seriously, and in one executive meeting, he unexpectedly blurted out, “you know what, this is really cool, I never thought marketing could be so scientific”, and that’s where marketing is headed. Currently marketing is transforming from an arts and crafts function, to science.

    So if you’re feeling overwhelmed…think big, start small, move quickly. Adopting even some of the basics can produce big time results.

    I hope you found this information helpful. Thanks for joining us today.
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