Jackie Davis's career as an analyst ended when her boss sat her down and said, "Jackie, I love you. But you belong in marketing."
Since then, she has led digital marketing for some of B2B tech's fastest-growing companies including New Relic and Atlassian. Today, Davis is the Director of Marketing, Campaigns and Operations at HelloSign, the world's leading eSignature platform.
Now, Davis is sharing her best tips for getting started with digital marketing campaigns and scaling them over time to fit growth goals.
How to Scale Marketing Campaigns
Knowing how to spend your first few months in a role is the difference between treading water and walking on it.
After working at several companies set up to scale quickly, Davis outlined the following four steps to make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.
1) Clean up your data
Scalable growth is impossible without reliable databases, yet many marketers still don’t prioritize data cleaning or organization when they start a new job.
This is a huge mistake that often hurts marketers later on, according to Davis. That’s why she spent her first six months at HelloSign rebuilding infrastructure and creating a universal database for the company's revenue models. Her goal was to create a "truth teller" database to measure and track marketing results.
If you think this sounds like a monumental task, you're right. It can take a year or two to calibrate everything just so, but the upfront work is worth it once your company starts growing, she said.
"It's going to be hard no matter what to get to that scale and get the rigor and build the practices of it," she says. "But I've seen it happen where if you wait too long, it just never gets prioritized and then the more accountability you have, the less time you have to just stop and fix everything."
"The bigger you are, the bigger that fix is going to be."
2) Take on paid channels one at a time
When she takes on a new role, Davis always starts by going after in-market demand with paid search campaigns. "Any time you start at a new company, you need to look for your low-hanging fruit first," she says. "If people are already looking for a solution, just get in front of them."
Beyond grabbing in-market attention, Davis likes starting with paid search because campaigns are easily maintained over time, it provides historical cost per acquisition data to weigh other channels against, and it leaves you breathing room to experiment with other platforms.
Next up, Davis suggests remarketing campaigns if you have the website traffic to support it.
To get the most impact, she recommends using them to pull people through the sales cycle instead of simply promoting a certain page on your website.
Davis used this strategy while at Atlassian. The company was retargeting product page visitors and sending them to a top-funnel microsite. Realizing this was bouncing people to the top of the sales funnel, she flipped the targeting and saw huge conversion results.
Another benefit: remarketing campaigns are “set it and forget it”, she says. Update your creative now and then, but otherwise leave it running so you can focus on your next win.
After search and remarketing are set up, Davis turns her attention to prospecting. This is normally done through two approaches:
- Target people on general platforms by using user data (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Ads, etc.)
- Advertise on relevant websites or partner with an ad network that targets specific audiences
She says the second option is the "most meaningful" type of prospecting. Davis has been marketing to developers for most of her career, making Carbon a go-to network in her media plans.
3) Optimize campaigns with budget in mind
Davis's past life as an analyst shines when it comes time to optimize digital marketing campaigns.
Knowing what to look for and understanding metrics is pivotal to growth yet something that many marketers struggle with. This is where your clean data comes in handy, she says.
"Starting with an awesome data structure and having great naming conventions for your UTMs and roping off what those channels are going to be upfront is super important."
When optimizing campaigns, Davis starts by sorting channels from best to worst performing. Then, she takes her budget and figures out spend for each channel. This is normally done by maxing out channels that perform best, and then decreasing spend as she moves down the list.
As you run experiments and optimize over time, retire the worst performing channels to free up spend and allow for more growth, she says. Just don't get too obsessed with experiments when you’re trying to move the needle.
"I always say just because you can doesn't mean you should. You can run 10 experiments but if you're running them on a segment that only contributes a max 2% increase, then you shouldn't be looking at it," she says. "You should look at all of your metrics throughout the funnel and identify where you'll have the most overall impact and prioritize those things first."
"You're never going to hit all of your numbers. It's impossible... And if you're hitting everything 100%, that means you're definitely not trying enough stuff."
4) Be your own cheerleader
Davis’s strategy of focusing on quick wins before dabbling in experimental channels will help you create a foundation of trust with management.
But what happens if you don't hit your numbers? She suggests mitigating against fallout with weekly reports on how campaigns are pacing, what things are underperforming, and how you plan on compensating for them. This tactic helps everyone feel in the loop and assures them that you have a plan to do things differently in the future.
"You're never going to hit all of your numbers. It's impossible. There's too many assumptions, too many variables, seasonality, all sorts of stuff. And if you're hitting everything 100%, that means you're definitely not trying enough stuff."
Davis also stresses the importance of communicating wins to gain credibility and trust across the company. You can do this by framing successes as exciting news, and sharing exactly what thoughts and strategies made it happen.
"You have to be your own cheerleader, but you have to learn how to talk to it the right way so you're gaining trust," she said. "Make sure everyone knows that you're an expert and that you want to be trusted."
Hear about all of this and a bunch more:
Listen to our full podcast to hear Davis go into detail on all of the above plus:
- Where content marketing fits into B2B growth strategies
- How to prepare marketing strategies for an upcoming IPO
- How B2B companies can get "mind blowing" results from sponsored content
- The secrets to keeping sales and marketing happy