When you’re a brand-new tech startup, how do you get in front of your audience? And as your organization grows, how do you turn that strategy from branding to solid demand generation for your sales team?
The marketing team at Uberflip has survived that journey. I’m a big fan of their content experience platform (I think of it as a way to turn a laundry list of content into a curated magazine), and a big fan of their marketing. I talked to Shannon Dougal, VP of marketing at Uberflip, to learn how she has lead her team to meet the rapidly evolving needs of a growing brand.
Moving from Brand Awareness to Demand Gen
Shannon says that in the early days at Uberflip, the marketing team was in startup mode. “Our strategy was market awareness — letting people know we were here,” she says. “We were targeting small businesses, and our audience was primarily content marketers — the users of our solution. Our goal was to get as many people into the database as possible.”
That strategy was extremely successful. The team increased the cadence of blog posts, sent new blog posts out to the growing database and shared content through partners and other blogs.
But then, as Uberflip grew and moved beyond startup status, the marketing strategy shifted too. “We started to talk to a different market,” Shannon says. “That required our content strategy to change.” The team knew they needed to talk to audiences beyond just content marketers to make sure their content fit their new customer profile. That profile included demand-gen specialists, marketing generalists and leaders like directors, VPs and CMOs.
“We had to step back, figure out who we were talking to, what they wanted to hear and when they needed to hear it during the buying cycle,” she says. Shannon and her team interviewed customers and prospects, and talked to internal partners in sales and customer success. Together they came up with four personas.
“We aligned those people along the buyer journey and figured out what kind of content they needed when they first find us, then what they need further along the journey,” she says. “We looked at our content: What did we have already? Where were the gaps? How could we create more sophisticated content for our audience?”
Even though the big-picture strategy shifted, Shannon says, the beautiful thing is that the strategy still includes their original, core audience: content marketers and Uberflip users. “That content wasn’t going to waste,” she says. “A lot of that tactical content is still our best-performing for our audiences at the top of the funnel.”
Scaling Up Through an Emphasis on Quality
As the target audiences changed, the team’s demand-gen goals changed, too. Instead of just trying to build the list, Shannon says, the team moved into “scaling mode.” Now, she says, “we’re making sure we’re bringing in the right leads so we’re not spinning our wheels talking to people who aren’t the right fit.”
To do that, the Uberflip team focused on quality. They audited their marketing activity to find out:
- Which channels were bringing in the best leads that converted?
- Which content was converting, and which wasn’t?
- What’s contributing to revenue?
- How could they avoid wasting resources on channels and content that weren’t converting?
She says the team used a combination of technology and processes to answer those questions. “We use our own tool (Uberflip) to figure out which content is best-performing. And we use Bizible, a multi-attribution tool set, to connect all our content, channels and campaigns. It helps us see which content has the best conversion,” Shannon says. She notes that the team also uses Marketo and Salesforce to connect the dots all the way through the buyer’s journey.
Some of their discoveries were surprising, she says. The team would launch an e-book with the expectation of driving a ton of quality leads, but when they audited results they’d find discover it needed tweaks to perform — such as optimizing the landing page or improving the call-to-action messaging.
Connecting Marketing and Sales Through Content
I met the Uberflip sales team last fall at a conference in Boston. I was impressed with the follow-up I got from them: content-based, helpful, relevant information that felt like it was chosen just for me. Even when I decided not to move forward with a purchase, the rep sent me a helpful blog post about the challenge I’d described to him. I felt understood and cared for, beyond my status as a lead.
I asked Shannon how Uberflip has used content to connect marketing and sales. “When you think about the traditional buyer journey,” she says, “you hear the voice of the marketer, and then suddenly you get a different voice from sales. That’s a disjointed experience.”
The Uberflip marketing team’s goal is to create a great experience for prospects, from beginning to end. “We use our own platform to create targeted streams of content that we share with the sales team,” she says. “Then salespeople have access to content to send it out to prospects. Sales reps are getting the right content for the right people at the right time. They can also track who’s opening it and who’s clicking it, and the prospect is directed into a targeted stream of content selected just for them. Marketers have always had a hard time sharing content across the organization, so Uberflip is enabling marketers to share it intelligently.”
Looking ahead, Shannon says she’s focused on content personalization. “We as consumers expect the personalized experience, but B2B companies still aren’t getting to that point,” she says, so Uberflip will be working on delivering the right content at the right time to the right people.