Deep Dive with Dandrew from Sift Science: Getting 5x the conversions of traditional landing pages, powering account-based marketing with intent data and more
Welcome to the first deep dive interview we have with Dandrew Cruda, Senior Demand Gen Manager at Sift Science and an expert on MonkHD. He previously managed digital demand gen at GoodData and Apttus. In this interview, we dive into how to leverage paid channels for demand generation, how to approach account based marketing and how to set up reporting and attribution for scaling demand gen. Dandrew shares some really new-age inside info on how to use LinkedIn lead gen forms to get 3–5x the conversion rates you get with landing pages and how to use intent data solutions to find companies that are actively looking for a solution like yours for account-based marketing among other things.
Tell me a bit about Sift Science. What do you guys do and who do you sell to?
At Sift Science, we build fraud prevention software. Our sweet spot is the ecommerce industry, whether you are a marketplace or a direct to consumer business. They are fighting a lot of fraud, especially payment fraud.
I have been brought in to take a hold of digital demand gen, particularly paid advertising. I am focused right now on LinkedIn, Google, a little bit of Bing and Facebook.
Tell me more about what you have been doing at Sift Science.
One of my bigger initiatives was to build the foundation and strategy for these channels. Before I joined, there was a lot of money being invested into paid advertising channels, but there was definitely a lot of room for improvement in terms of overall strategy and measuring effectiveness.
The good side was that I had a good budget which is sometimes the harder part. I was able to take what they had and flip it. One of the things I did, and something that a lot of SaaS companies in the $1–2 million ARR stage struggle with, is focus on reporting and attribution to ensure that it is up to par. It was not set up to help them scale. It’s much easier to set it up correctly the first time than going back to fix it.
People like to jump directly to the ad copy and creative which is fun and exciting but they overlook the tech aspects of setting up these campaigns. Before I touch any campaigns or ads, I like to ensure that everything on the marketing ops side is built to help for reporting down the road.
Some people make the mistake of having all Google ads roll up into one SalesForce campaign called Adwords. Breaking this out early and often will help you in the long run. It will help you answer what campaigns, what ads, what channels are working, which is what the C-Suite wants to know.
If I am running one type of offer on Google, say an on-demand demo, it will have its own program in Marketo and campaign in SalesForce so I am able to track people who sign up for that offer all the way down to closing the opportunity. The Marketo and SalesForce integration is pretty friendly.
The landing page will have 2 kinds of pixels, Google Adwords conversion pixel and Google Analytics pixel so we can cookie website visitors and later retarget them. Also, Adwords and Salesforce API integration just came out which is something I am working on to feed data from CRM back to Adwords, so that way the Google algorithm will optimize based on opportunity and sales data as opposed to leads/conversion.
At what stage should SaaS companies start thinking about reporting to the level of detail you mentioned?
The sooner the better but if nothing else, everyone should be using the SalesForce Campaign Influence report, which is a pretty standard report. If someone does not have attribution or advanced reporting set up, you can get away with this report for a quarter or two. Directionally, it gives you a good idea of what channels and campaigns are working.
What about attribution? What model do you recommend?
There’s no one clear cut attribution model that works for everyone, it really depends on your business. If your business is very transactional, say an ecommerce store where people are adding products to cart directly, first touch might make more sense.
B2B SaaS is not as transactional. People are spending tens of thousands of dollars, so obviously the process is much longer. A layered distribution model makes more sense where every single touchpoint along the way gets some credit.
We look at all attribution models at Sift because we have tools that allow us to do it quickly. Our point of truth is a model where first touch, middle and last touch get the most credit and every other activity in between has a standard smaller portion of credit.
Deciding to get an attribution tool depends on your budget. I recommend Bizible because they got acquired by Marketo and have that integration, and it works really well with SalesForce. And the attribution can be as granular as a click on an ad attributed to a sales opportunity.
Let’s talk about channels. How do you decide what channels to use to generate demand at Sift Science?
Fraud prevention is a new space. For VPs and the C-Suite, fraud prevention is a bit of luxury. People are thinking about how they can grow their business, not how are we losing money from fraud.
So a lot of education and thought leadership is needed. We needed to create this category so people can understand this is something important to understand. We created a lot of content and assets and promoted them. Paid advertising helps with the promotion, organic and SEO helps with it as well. Along with digital channels, sponsorships at bigger conferences and smaller intimate events help build thought leadership as well.
We have also partnered with people who already have an audience built. A lot of publishers talk about chargebacks, ecommerce fraud, ecommerce news. We partnered with them by either having them as guest speakers on webinars, having them promote our webinars and doing joint content collaborations, which has helped us propel our message and brand.
The channels that you choose really depends on who you are going after and your industry but LinkedIn is an obvious one for B2B SaaS. The targeting capabilities can be as granular as you want. Title, industry, seniority, you can do it all. People have this conception that LinkedIn is just for brand awareness and brand building but I have leveraged it for lead gen. At Sift, LinkedIn has influenced more pipeline than Google has and it makes sense when you think about it because fraud prevention is a very niche industry so there aren’t a lot of terms you can bid on on Google.
There are API integrations between Marketo and LinkedIn, which allow you to leverage LinkedIn lead gen forms as well. These are embedded forms within the LinkedIn news feed, so you don’t need to send people to a landing page. The form already has a user’s LinkedIn data such as email, title, company etc. pre-populated into the form fields. After a user clicks a few buttons, you have a lead. With a landing page, 10% conversion rate would be great and a lot of landing pages aren’t optimized for mobile. With the LinkedIn lead generation forms, you can see a 25–40% conversion rate. My LinkedIn rep once told me my cost per lead is the lowest he has ever seen at $9.
One caveat you need to be aware of is that you might get a lot of personal email addresses which some sales people don’t like, but others may not care as much. If personal email addresses are an issue, there are definitely workarounds for this — there are various tools out there that focus on supplementing data.
With Facebook, people have a misconception that it has no value in B2B. At GoodData, which is a BI tool which is pretty a widespread software category now, I found success with it when providing thought leadership. At Apttus where we were targeting sales folks who are on Facebook outside of work, we used it to promote blog posts and infographics. On Facebook, you cannot have an offer as hard as a demo request or contact sales. It’s better suited for thought leadership and brand awareness. Once people visit your website or blog, now they are cookie’d and you can retarget them on LinkedIn when they are thinking about business-related things. Then you can go after them with a white paper or demo request.
Figuring out which channels to leverage is sometimes the easier part — the harder thing is knowing how much you need to invest in each channel, how much are you willing to test and iterate per channel, and making sure you’re constantly aware of your target audience and what they need.
You also need to think about how does a channel play into your whole marketing mix. Some campaigns are just for brand awareness, some are for lead generation, and some may simply just support another bigger initiative or sales motion.
Tell me more about how you build your audience.
We already know titles, industry and the company size we want to go after, so we can build off that. But you can also leverage CRM data to build audiences and retarget them on LinkedIn. You can then segment people by industry, by people who are in an opportunity vs those that aren’t, by company size, and so on. You can retarget people who visited your website by a specific page, time period etc as well.
Alright, let’s talk about account-based marketing. What’s your approach to it?
Account based marketing (ABM) is not just one campaign and not solely just the act of sending a direct mail piece. You can’t send a gift to a prospect and say we are doing ABM. It is a total shift in the way your organization thinks. There has to be a total alignment between marketing leaders, sales leaders, sales ops leaders and finance leaders. If the buy in is not there from the sales leader, then your BDR manager won’t take your campaigns or ABM seriously.
I honestly don’t even like to call it account based marketing. The sales team thinks you are doing another marketing project and getting them to buy into it with that name. If you say account based selling instead, it is a term that is more aligned with their vocabulary.
Get the buy in early and get it strong across the org. This to me is step 0.
Then you need to figure out who in the company will be accountable for ABM. You need someone from marketing, someone from sales, finance and sales ops to make the core ABM team. Then you need to figure out what does the tech stack look like? Do we have tools in place to execute ABM? Do we have processes in place? Do we agree on the metrics and KPIs we need to measure?
From there, you get to the things that everyone likes to do. What accounts should we go after, what gifts do we need to send and what marketing tactics should we commit to. If the accounts you are going after are not the right ones, the best ad campaigns, emails or gifts are not going to help. You are just wasting time and money.
How do you select the right accounts?
There are entire tools dedicated to account selection. My favorite one is EverString which you can use to build a model based on your own CRM data and then surface up accounts that fit that model. If you want to find accounts that are similar to customers, EverString can take that demographic, firmographic, technographic data and find hundreds, if not thousands more companies that fit that criteria.
Then there’s intent data which a lot of marketers aren’t leveraging. There are tools to surface intent data which is the strongest signal that sales and marketing teams can leverage. EverString partners with a tool called Bombora that scrubs the Internet and a user’s Internet activity. If you as a user read a fraud prevention article on one of their partner publishing sites, Bombora will track that and tell me that this user was looking at a fraud prevention post and has been looking at it for the past 2 weeks. The intent with that is super high and I can triggers campaigns off of that signal.
There are also intent data solutions from B2B software review websites like G2Crowd, Capterra and TechTarget which owns thousands of websites dedicated to different tech topics. On G2Crowd, you can purchase solutions like x number of people were searching for fraud prevention software and these are the profiles. TechTarget has an intent solution called Priority Engine wherein you can put in different topics/filters and they will surface company and people that are looking at those topics across their websites.
Top companies leveraging ABM today leverage intent data. You can have a company that fits your demographic or firmographic data, have the right company size, revenue etc but one of the biggest reason things fall through the cracks is oh it’s not the right time. Oh we don’t have the budget for it. Oh it’s not on our radar right now. But with intent data, you can stop wasting sales team’s time on those accounts that aren’t ready and spend time on accounts that are actively looking.
Is there a certain size or scale of a company after which they should consider ABM?
You should think about ABM once you are comfortable with where your general demand gen efforts are. Don’t do ABM when your traditional marketing isn’t up to par yet, if your SEO or basic organic efforts aren’t in line, if your Google or LinkedIn ads aren’t set up properly. ABM is the next level up. These things don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be good enough because these are tactics that support your ABM strategy.
I would also consider ABM if your ideal customer is very specific and you need to reach them in a very targeted way.
Is ABM one of your pieces of the marketing puzzle or does it overhaul everything?
My theory is you can have 2 funnels both running in tandem. You can traditional demand gen with inbound and content ruling the world. You can also have ABM supporting outbound efforts at the same time. ABM is essentially outbound on steroids. You don’t have to do one or the other. That’s what companies that are the most successful do.
You can have your target account list, you can have tools that surface accounts to you but there’s always gonna be companies that you have never heard of that are interested in your business where traditional demand gen needs to come into play.
There’s also brand awareness where traditional demand gen helps build your brand and building a brand goes a long way.
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That’s all from Dandrew. If you would like to get advice from him on demand gen, account based marketing or marketing operations for growing your SaaS business faster, he is available as an expert on MonkHD and you can get on a call with him at $120/hour. He’s really passionate about his work and good fun to talk to :) You can know more about him on his LinkedIn.
If you are interested in scheduling a call with him, please get in touch with us here.