Highlights from The Revenue Ring below. For complete conversation, check out the episode on YouTube or Spotify.
Ron: Hey Austin, welcome to the Revenue Ring. I'm Ron Fisher, CEO and co-founder of Mesh Analytics. Austin, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself.
Austin: Thanks Ron and thanks for having me. I lead marketing at Arc, a series A FinTech startup, providing capital and cash management to startups.
I oversee field and events, social media, PR and comms, email and lifecycle, paid media, the whole gamut. I have agency partners to help execute the strategy. I'm responsible for the strategy, budget, and execution against our organizational OKRs.
Ron: How do you shape your marketing strategy in today's climate? What's top of mind for you today?
Austin: A few things. The first is there is a lack of resources available to most startups. At Bolt, we had hundreds of millions of dollars for go-to-market efforts, focusing on top-of-the-funnel leads. As the market has shifted, we shifted towards revenue targets, aligning marketing with driving opportunities, pipeline value, and top-line revenue and margin. At Arc, we solely focus on driving revenue with marketing and sales aligned under one revenue organization.
And being efficient with spend is crucial. In bull markets, it's easy to be a lazy marketer, but now, every dollar spent must drive net positive cash flow. It's a completely different environment that requires selectivity and cutting ineffective tactics.
Ron: When resources are limited and tied to revenue, how does that change your approach?
Austin: The biggest thing is our approach to brand. It's harder to directly quantify the revenue tied to brand activities. For example, running a brand campaign through out-of-home ads can increase website traffic, but it's challenging to connect it directly to revenue because we can't identify individuals who saw those ads.
You can't say in the CRM that the brand activity was part of their journey, so it's become less prioritized. Paid ads in branded search can appear ROI positive, but it's important to question whether they are truly necessary when someone is already searching for your brand organically. We cut brand spending and saw no drop in revenue, demonstrating the need for more discernment in spending.
Ron: When you aim to have more common sense in where we allocate our budget, what would you say to those who argue that tying B2B marketing initiatives to revenue is not possible and that it's a fool's errand to track 100% of activities?
Austin: I would say that I agree with to some extent that there is a dark funnel and you cannot see 100% of all your activities. For example, a lead seeing your social post then coming to the website. On the other hand though it goes back to whether or not you're maximizing your attribution as best you can. Are you using UTM's and all your links to track back to what source it was? We have UTM's attached to all of the campaigns so for outreach, Salesfore marketing cloud, Marketo we are covered.
When it comes to events are you keeping a list of people who were at the event? Did people sign in when they attended or not? When someone arrives to a demo did you ask how did you hear about us? Now you combine that with a third party perspective of the salesperson, listening to what that individual said in that sales call, now you can start to map that back together and start to share more light on that dark funnel.
To a degree you never get it perfectly complete, but you are able to get enough data to understand the majority of what is working and not working for your business.
Ron: Once you have that in place, and you're applying a revenue marketing strategy, how do you take that and ensure you are working with sales effectively?
Austin: Sales is the front line. They're the ones interacting with customers every day. And so on a weekly cadence, I meet with every member of our sales team and ask them three simple questions. What are the objections you've heard this week? Meaning, what are the things that have stopped deals from coming in?
What are the questions prospects have asked you? If you see any themes and things that aren't people aren't sure about, they don't quite understand. What are the pain points or what are the things that are keeping founders up at night? Like, what is, what is the actual reason for why we're having this conversation?
And by understanding what do people care about and what are they worried about? Why they actually decided to have this conversation. And then ultimately, what's stopping them from getting to the deal, then that carries out across our entire marketing strategy. So in content it means developing things that help support whatever initiatives we have.
For example, when SVB failed, all anybody wanted to talk about were two things. First was cash sweep.
What a cash sweep did was allow you to consolidate your funds with a single bank while still spreading them across multiple banks to maximize FDIC coverage. We created various guides and sequences to address this issue.
We launched multiple marketing campaigns on platforms like paid search, LinkedIn ads, and feed ads. This was because it was a common pain point for people transitioning from SVB. Another example is treasury bills and how to optimize their yield through ladder strategies.
For those unfamiliar, treasury bills are one of the highest yielding asset classes for startups. We heard from founders asking how to obtain and structure T-bills to meet their capital requirements. From an operational perspective, they wanted to know what's my headcount? And then ultimately, now that i've decided how i want to balance it, and at what tenure I want them, they needed guidance on execution.
So, we built an entire product that allowed people to purchase T-bills, money market funds, ETFs, and more. We created content sequences and ad campaigns to support this. We provided an educational course on T-bills and why they matter, along with tips on maximizing liquidity and yield. Users could then purchase the product.
This was a start-to-finish marketing campaign, so somebody could come in, have never head or Arc, get an entire education course on what T-bills are, why they matter and why do you care about them. We applied similar strategies to cash sweeps and T-bill ladders. We have more products launching soon, and we will follow the same content rollout approach.
Ron: What you are saying is sales acts as the eyes and ears and have direct contact with clients and the market. You take these insights and use them to generate content that will resonate with potential customers searching for us and visiting our website, consuming whatever you are putting out there.
Austin: Once the assets are in the market, we gather feedback on how they are being received. We assess how people interpret our value propositions and use this information to refine our messaging. We focus on finding the specific message that resonates with our audience. Once we understand what people care about, we can scale our efforts and promote it further.
Many people make the mistake of pouring gasoline on an idea without considering how they present and market it. They end up wondering why it didn't work. We take the exact opposite approach. We take a lot of different data points from both current customers as well as prospects. Flip the script on its head. What are all the different things we could talk about? What are the things people care about? And you keep drilling down into what's the one thing that they care about. Positioning and communication are crucial factors in successful marketing.
Ron: When you are creating these campaigns what are the KPI's you are going to use to assess the effectiveness of the campaign?
Austin: KPI's really depend on what channel or tactic you are going after. For content for example, so for cash sweeps we looked at a keyword cluster around it and analyzed how we rank on average for cash sweeps, which was at that point nothing. Then you start developing collatoral and release content to rank on those terms so you can start to improve your position. here's the specific keywords that led to opportunities and revenue. So it's really about connecting the dots and understanding the full customer journey, from awareness to conversion. That's how we assess the effectiveness of our campaigns and measure our KPIs.
Many marketers look at what keywords drive clicks and impressions and that's where they stop. You need to then see which specific keywords drove opportunities, which drove revenue, and actually go down the funnel and say where's the campaigns that drove revenue and opportunities. Then turn off everything that doesn't drive revenue.
Overall, it's about being data-driven and continuously analyzing our campaigns to identify areas of improvement and optimize our strategies. By focusing on the right KPIs and using the right tools and methodologies, we can ensure that our campaigns are effective and drive the desired outcomes.
Here are the campaigns that drove opportunities and revenue. We analyze how much we spent on each keyword and turn off the ones that don't drive revenue. We focus on the keywords that generate results and examine how those deals convert.
When thinking about the impact of paid advertising on revenue outcomes, especially in B2B with longer sales cycles, it can be challenging to determine if the ad actually drove the sale. In e-commerce, it's more straightforward, as customers either buy or don't after seeing a Facebook ad. But in B2B, the sales cycle is more complex, involving multiple touch points like attending events, reading ebooks, interacting on social media, receiving sales outreach, and clicking ads. All of these activities can contribute to the conversion, so relying solely on last touch attribution is lazy. Instead, we aim to create a comprehensive buyer's journey that considers all activations and initiatives and assesses their impact on conversion.
Although similar to lead scoring, our approach is still in its early stages. Currently, we examine the activity history of closed opportunities to understand which activities they engaged with and assign value to those activities. This is different from lead scoring, which typically focuses on later stages and metrics that impact pipeline and conversion.
It's much less about looking at our overall performance and more about analyzing each deal individually.
Ron: Regarding the attribution side of our analysis, when do you employ multi-touch and first touch? How often do you use attribution models?
Austin: We use a combination of first touch and last touch, and then some. We track everything we can online by adding them to an event, which is then added to a campaign in Salesforce and is then in their activity history.
For example, a lead may click on an outreach sequence, which is then tied to their Salesforce activity history. They may then meet with a rep, and the Calendly meeting they had is logged in Salesforce. If they download an ebook, their lead form is added to the ebook campaign, which also goes into the Salesforce sequence.
All these activities are entered into the activity history. When deals close, we analyze where they came from, including all the various activities involved. The same applies to opportunities in flight - we identify their sources, whether it be channels, tactics, or activities. This helps us determine future spending decisions.
For instance, we discovered that paid marketing was ineffective for treasury and cash management, so we stopped that campaign. It generated leads and activity, but didn't convert into enough closed business to justify the investment. Instead, we focused on events, which have been very successful. By spending a few thousand dollars on an event, we were able to drive millions in assets under management (AUM) because attendees engaged in correct follow-up sequences.
Ron: To run this analysis you mentioned you lean on various tools, I’m curious which tools you are seeing as essential and where do you see Mesh falling into that picture?
Austin: First and foremost, a robust CRM with customized fields to capture all necessary information. We also utilize UTMs for tracked activities, such as ad campaigns. Google Analytics provides high-level insights on traffic sources and keywords. Outreach has its own analytics as well. As for Mesh, it allows us to consolidate and analyze cross-functional campaigns spanning multiple channels.
Currently, I manually pull reports from Salesforce to gather all activities and leads from different channels. I then analyze their progress in the funnel. At the end of the campaign, I evaluate the total spend, activity, and revenue generated.
It's super manual. Where Mesh fits in is to analyze campaigns and channel activations, and determine their impact on pipeline. This is especially useful for SaaS businesses. It allows you to track activations, demos, conversion rates, and revenue generated. However, for our business, it's more complex because there are a lot more steps in the sales process and the there is not subscription revenue for a bank.
Determining the revenue generated for every dollar from loan or arc advances is challenging. It's not as straightforward as a subscription revenue. We have to consider factors like assuming money is kept in an account earning a certain yield for a certain time.
Ron: Reflecting on your career as a marketer, what are the top lessons you would say to keep in mind for those trying to advance themselves or get to a position like yours?
Austin: In terms of advice for marketers in the field, the first step is figuring out in your organization who has holds the keys to the castle. At Bolt it was legal. Building a good relationship with them accelerated our processes. The finance function is now the gatekeeper at Arc, determining fund allocation and resource allocation.
The next step is getting close to sales and understanding customer needs and objections. Crafting a strategy that addresses these pain points and speaks directly to their goals is crucial. Lastly, being involved in the details of deals is necessary to understand how campaigns are performing and the revenue they generate. This is important because the dark funnel makes it difficult to know where leads come from without analyzing data.
The piece of advice I would leave for marketers is that it's challenging today. You have different expectations, need to do more with less, be hyper efficient, and understand the full funnel. After this era of hardship, it'll be the golden era again, but you'll be better because of it.
Once you figure out what works, you can accelerate your growth. While it's hard to be a marketer now, when we come out of this era and go into the next golden era of VC (venture capital) in the next year, having developed skills in attribution, cross-functional collaboration, and working with sales and other teams will make you an asset to any organization. Learning to function in both bear and bull markets means you can win in any situation.
Ron: Now is the time to learn and get the tools you need to succeed. Keeping that in mind, how do you keep your team motivated today and inspired to deliver exceptional results, considering the effort it took to turn around the content on treasury bills within a week?
Austin: The biggest thing is aligning on our goals and the opportunity. Every day, you can choose to be good or great. Good companies excel at what they are already good at. I tell my team to focus on our weaknesses and improve them. If we can excel in those areas while maintaining our strengths, we will succeed. Setting stretch goals, pursuing uncomfortable initiatives, and pushing ourselves to be great motivates us. Do you want to be good or great?
If you want to be great, it's time to dig in and do the hard work. We will all come out the other side better because of it.
Ron: Thank you, Austin. We loved having you.
Austin: Thanks, Ron.