About the episode
We’re quickly realizing that unaligned demand generation and content marketing teams are a universal struggle at B2B SaaS companies. Understanding how content marketing leads to revenue and growth is something we know intuitively, but for most, it’s still more art than science.
Brandi Smith is the VP of Demand Generation and Marketing at Uberflip. She sits down with us to talk about how the company pushes customers through its content funnel, and how they use their tools to target different personas with unique content. But, the journey doesn’t end there. At Uberflip, multi-touch attribution is the key to unlocking the insight the company needs to understand how content marketing is making an impact where it matters most -- the company’s bottom line.
Don’t have 30 minutes to spare? Jump ahead to key sections outlined below, or keep scrolling for a full transcript of the episode.
- [03:42] What’s your day-to-day as the VP of demand generation?
- [07:10] What kind of content are you currently using in your funnel throughout various stages?
- [10:22] Tell me a little bit about how you push people across the funnel via content whether it’s a webinar or podcast, how are you moving them from one stage to another?
- [11:50] What metrics are you tracking?
- [14:44] So you push somebody in through content, you get them through the funnel, where do you attribute the value for that actual conversion?
- [21:26] How do you use Uberflip to target those different personas with different content?
- [27:07] How do you break content marketing and demand generation silos?
"Marketing is now really ultimately a science. We have to prove what it is that we’re doing and prove out that the budget we’re requesting and asking for is going to make an impact on the business and get approval for it."
Episode is brought to you by
Matthew KammererShow Host
Matthew: How did you first get started in marketing?
Brandi: So, I actually went to school specifically to major in marketing, and the rest is essentially history. I’ve been in B2B technology marketing primarily with startups and high-growth organizations for 18 years and really haven’t looked back. I love the challenge behind establishing that right marketing foundation and strategy to meet aggressive growth goals and really ultimately looking at everything I’m doing and how it’s truly driving impact for an organization.
Matthew: It’s so rare that people get started in that formal route. Did you feel what you learned there was more textbook or real world, and how did that help you?
Brandi: So, I’ve found textbook has been somewhat handy but really the real world experience is what has driven me and where I am today. I had a really solid mentor really early on in my career. He’s probably the most phenomenal marketer that I’ve worked with, and because of him I’m where I am today.
He took the time and the patience and exuded all of his experience and strategic mindset down to me through all of the various programs and strategies that we were working on together in a very small tech startup organization. I think I was employee number 30, and he and I were a team of two. Ultimately his mentorship and guidance is what springboarded me to the next step of my career.
Matthew: That’s awesome. Tell me a bit more about what Uberflip does.
Brandi: That’s a great question. Sometimes we’re trying to figure that out ourselves and how we fit into all of these great marketing trends that marketers are focusing on today. Ultimately, at the end of the day we’re a cloud-based content experience platform. We’re empowering B2B marketers to create personalized content experiences at scale.
What we do is enable marketers to better leverage their content to meet their goals by providing the tools they need to boost engagement, generate leads, and ultimately fuel demand generation for their organization.
Matthew: How long has Uberflip been around?
Brandi: Since 2012, so we’re in our seventh year now. Going back to how we’re assisting marketers, where we help them personalize those content experiences and that scale is really across demand generation programs, account-based marketing programs, sales enablement, and ultimately their content marketing and inbound strategies.
Matthew: Solid. This is going to be a perfect fit. So, what’s your day-to-day as the VP of demand generation?
Brandi: Well, I’m directing a lot of functions within my team and all of them are very heavily focused on driving pipeline and revenue growth. My day like most execs’ tends to be filled with meetings, unfortunately, and it doesn’t leave room for much else. I spend a lot of my evenings kind of catching up.
But, I focus on strategy but also on mentoring my team of five amazing marketers that focus on demand generation, account-based marketing, field marketing, and events. Really, we spend a lot of our day collaborating on strategic program development, discussing our programs and campaigns and their results, how to continuously optimize. We have multiple connects with the sales team each week across our various functions to ensure continuous alignment between our two groups and more. There’s really never a dull moment.
Matthew: I want to hop back to the mentor question just a little bit. How did you find your mentor originally?
Brandi: It was actually through a job that I applied for. He was looking for an assistant marketing manager and I was in contract position and I wanted something permanent. I simply applied for it, and I managed to land the gig. I hate to say it, but it was sheer dumb luck that I was able to land a great job and function with a man who ended up being a true mentor. I don’t think that happens very often.
Matthew: Have you picked up any mentees yourself?
Brandi: I think I have, actually. There’s one woman who I’ve worked with in a couple of different companies and who comes to me on a regular basis asking for some guidance or input or my thoughts on various things here or there. I tend to try to do that with my team as well. I always try to push them beyond what they feel what their limits are and help them see that they have so much more potential and guide them down that potential road. And really ultimately look to constantly explore the unknown and extend themselves past the limits that they think they’re capable of.
Matthew: I want to talk about content marketing because it’s part of your job at Uberflip, but also because your product helps team better use content in the marketing and sales funnels. So, how does content fit into demand generation at Uberflip?
Brandi: Content fuels and is the basis to all of our marketing programs and strategies, and ultimately is for any marketing department. We have a variety of content available for any stage in the buyer journey, so we’re delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.
We’ve actually created and follow what we call the content experience framework, which helps and arms marketers with a scalable approach to creating personalized content experiences at any stage of the buyer journey. The framework outlines five easy steps to help create focus, team alignment, and truly deliver meaningful experiences across all B2B marketing strategies including inbound or content marketing, demand gen, account-based marketing, and sales enablement.
So at the end of the day we leverage this framework and we leverage content to fuel all of our different programs and strategies. It’s really the basis of everything we do.
Matthew: When we say content it’s a really broad term, right? So what kind of content are you currently using in your funnel throughout various stages?
Brandi: We’re actually using a really broad range of content types simply because every individual and prospect has a preferred method of interaction with our brand or any brand, really. We look to leverage that broad range of content to ensure that we engage our audience in a manner in which they prefer.
We have a variety of content designed to fit every stage of that buyer’s journey, as I mentioned earlier. Whether they’re top, middle, or bottom of funnel, we have everything from email nurtures, ebooks, videos, podcasts, infographics, blogs, webinars, Slideshares, customer stories, assessments, quizzes. Again, we have a broad range and it’s geared toward what our potential buyer prefers in terms of an interaction and touchpoint.
Matthew: It’s so preferential based on individual folks who are consuming that. Overall, which is performing best?
Brandi: Actually, we’re seeing a lot of great traction from our webinars. When I came in, we very much had to build out a good solid metrics foundation. So I’ve been doing a lot of that over the last several months. We got a good foundation in place this past summer and now being a couple of quarters in, we can actually dig in to see what specific webinars are driving the best results or what specific pieces of content are.
We’re not 100% there yet, but we’re getting to that point with our attribution and reporting structure and Salesforce, how we’re tracking campaigns through our Marketo, UTM parameters for various things we’re doing across the web, paid ad strategies and what not. We’re just getting to that point.
So I don’t have a specific answer aside from we have noticed some of our webinars are performing exceptionally well, and we’re now drilling in to see exactly what that looks like at a far more granular level so we can focus on what is working and eliminate what isn’t and continue to look at ways to drive better results.
Matthew: That infrastructure is such a challenge. It’s so hard, but it’s so valuable to lay that groundwork.
Brandi: It really is. When you look at Scott Brinker’s MarTech landscape, I think there’s almost 7,000 pieces of technology that are classified in various ways out there. And it’s truly really challenging for a CMO or a VP of marketing to wrap their head around what’s available within that landscape and what they truly actually need within their organization to understand how they’re impacting the business.
Matthew: It’s true. I’m just thinking about that budget line item. Gets a little wild.
Brandi: It does, and marketing is now really ultimately a science. We have to prove what it is that we’re doing and prove out that the budget we’re requesting and asking for is going to make an impact on the business and get approval for it.
Matthew: Tell me a little bit about how you push people across the funnel via content whether it’s a webinar or podcast, how are you moving them from one stage to another?
Brandi: A lot of that is nurture. We have nurture campaigns where individuals come in through a variety of different avenues or pieces of content and we’re pushing them through nurture. But it’s not just through our Marketo instance as an example. We’re also looking at nurturing them through paid ads, paid social. We have a variety of different ways that we’re sending out those various messages based on where they are in the pipeline and funnel.
Matthew: Who’s leading the charge on the nurturing side? Is it the person who’s doing paid ads is also leading nurturing, or is it living under one specific person?
Brandi: No, so that is sitting with our marketing programs manager. She runs all of our nurture programs, all of our nurture strategy, builds them out, executes on them, A/B tests everything so we’re constantly optimizing that way.
But she’s also managing our paid ads strategy, too, so that way it’s all interconnected and integrated. She has visibility into what’s going out at any particular point in time and with having access and experience in that tech stack, she can also push out those key messages based on where they are in the journey at the right time as well.
Matthew: That makes a lot of sense. When you’re measuring these things with the foundation you laid over the summer, what metrics are you tracking?
Brandi: We’re tracking things like the number of MQLs that we’re bringing in on a fiscal quarter, what our MQL to sales accepted lead conversion rates are, how many of those sales accepted leads are actually converting into qualified leads and then opportunities. We’re monitoring what our MQL sources are by date, the percentage of pipeline that marketing is actually influencing, what sales is sourcing vs what marketing is sourcing, what our lead sources are month over month. Things of that nature.
As we go a little more granular with a couple more quarters of data under our belt, now we’re starting to look at what MQLs are going to potentially be coming in. Predicting what that MQL volume is across various programs because we’re planning a quarter in advance. So our Q4 is fueling our Q1 MQLs, as an example. So now Q1, we’re going to be able to look at our lead sources and predict where our MQLs are going to come from.
We’re digging into really understanding what specific programs are working and which are not so we can start allocating more spend to what is working, remove spend from what isn’t. We’re getting granular on our cost per lead and cost per MQL so we can better predict that. Ultimately, we want to have visibility into all of the programs and functions and our spend into those, but again we’re kind of getting there.
Matthew: In the nurture process, what are the active stages you can push them through? Is it just paid ads, or is it just emails? What are the real action points you can use to drive someone through that?
Brandi: I actually believe that it’s truly a multichannel approach. Having that multichannel strategy in place. You can nurture someone, but are they paying attention to your emails? Or are they actually paying attention more on what you’re putting out over LinkedIn or some of your social profiles? Or are they paying attention to the paid ad programs that you have in place, like retargeting after they visit your website? So having content syndication programs running and doing those webinars with third parties or your partners.
We ultimately look to take more of a multichannel approach to make sure we’re getting them from every angle, and we’re constantly having that visibility. So yes it’s nurture, yes it’s paid ads, yes it’s also various third-party programming and partnership programs as well. By having that multichannel approach, you’re guaranteed to get them on a spectrum in which they’re willing to be engaged, but you’re also visible to them wherever they are on the web or wherever they are in a given day.
Matthew: So you push somebody in through content, you get them through the funnel, where do you attribute the value for that actual conversion?
Brandi: We are actually leveraging multi-touch attribution. We’re looking at that first touch and then all of the touches between that last touch as well before it actually converts and goes over to sales.
What we haven’t actually done yet is put in programs with sales where we nurture through content once they become an actual opportunity. We’re nurturing with content ahead of them becoming a sales opportunity. What we are working toward is having that touch point when it’s also with sales. We’re not quite there yet, we had to get some foundational stuff with nurture in place. But ultimately it’s the multi-touch attribution piece where we’re monitoring every single touch that we’re having with our marketing content with our prospects and buyers and taking a look at which pieces of content are actually driving results and value and those conversions.
Matthew: Yeah, that’s the same conversation I’m having with so many marketers right now. Something like a network that we operate that’s largely a native network, Carbon Ads, where you show a single image on whether it’s a web documentation page for developers or a design community that designers go to, we lean so heavily on first touch to influence somebody. But largely these are research-based decisions that are happening. So this contextual, first-touch spurs a decision but I see so many conversions come in through the tail end through just an organic search term or even paid search. It’s a challenge we’re seeing on our side as well.
Brandi: I think most marketers are seeing it, and not everyone has the luxury of having something like a Bizable in place where they can truly monitor and understand what’s going on across all of their various channels and content. We’re fortunate to have a fairly large tech stack to support a lot of that, so it’s a challenge for most. Even with the tool.
Matthew: We’ll figure it out some day, and then we’ll factor in offline and then it’s all going to get messy again.
Brandi: Yeah, like I said. It’s not a science right?
Matthew: Exactly. So let’s talk about collaboration between teams that are working together on these sorts of things. How do the content and demand generation teams work together to plan the content that’s being developed?
Brandi: I think a lot of organizations are facing that lack of integration between demand and content marketing functions. But as I mentioned earlier, content is what fuels inbound, demand generation, account-based marketing, and sales enablement strategies. At the end of the day, without content, these strategies can’t be executed on.
In my experience, often times the content team is the driver of the types of content being created for the org to use with little input from demand or sales or other functions across the organization on what will engage and inspire target audiences.
But it’s really different here at Uberflip. Our team is integrated and aligned across product marketing, customer marketing, content experience, demand generation, sales, and customer success. Ultimately, we view the content experience team as a critical element to hitting our pipeline and revenue goals.
We’re all working toward a common goal of establishing integrated campaigns that address what our audience wants to achieve regardless of if it’s our customers or our prospects. Our best performing campaigns are those that have that tight alignment across the entire team. If organizations don’t have that cross-functional alignment between their teams, there’s a massive disconnect and there’s ultimately a challenge in gaining buy-in and supporting content delivery to your audiences.
Matthew: How do you fix that? Is it aligning goals, is it housing them in the same department? What should an organization consider if they don’t have that alignment right now?
Brandi: I think it really depends on your team size. Here, we are actually creating common goals and objectives across our entire team. So we are ultimately working toward the same key performance indicators. I’ve found if everyone is working toward that common goal, they’re more likely to shoot for the same set of stars.
We as a collective team have goals and objectives that we’re actually incentivized on on a quarter-by-quarter basis. If one area of the team misses the mark, the whole team misses the mark. We rally together as one to make sure stuff actually gets done.
Then we also schedule regular discussions and brainstorming sessions cross-functionally across our marketing team but also with other groups. We have weekly team marketing meetings, and some of those are brainstorming sessions where someone can come in and say, “I’m working on this, but I need everybody’s ideas and thoughts and input on it.” Or we’re rolling out a new A/B testing strategy and tagging everyone in our team to come to the table with what their test is for the month and how they’re going to measure it and what their hypothesis is and everything. Again, if you’re getting everybody to align and work toward those common goals and objectives, they’re more prone to actually work collaboratively together to make sure it’s done.
Matthew: You’re living the dream being able to be on the same page on some of those things. It’s great.
Brandi: Honestly, it’s a true blessing because I’ve been in a lot of organizations where there’s a really significant disconnect within the marketing team. It just makes things exponentially harder to achieve and get things done.
Matthew: Is it safe to assume that your targeting a few different personas across your lifecycle here?
Brandi: We are, actually. At the end of the day we’re targeting marketers. We’re specifically looking to target marketers that are focused on content marketing, demand generation, and account-based marketing. Demand gen often times is responsible for sales enablement pieces as well. That’s ideally who we want to target, but also the VP and CMO when it comes to marketing teams simply because we’re fuelling support for a lot of different marketing programs and strategies. Having that alignment both at a more senior and admin level is actually really critical within an organization.
Matthew: How do you use Uberflip to target those different personas with different content?
Brandi: We leverage our platform across all of our different marketing strategies and programs. We create personalized content experiences literally at scale for our ABM target accounts with customized content streams to individuals, to companies, to specific industries. What could take an organization 30-60 minutes per landing page to build in marketing automation could actually take use minutes within our own platform.
Our sales team also creates custom content streams for their prospects where they embed into their emails the direct content that’s relevant to them that maps to their job role, their job function. Maybe it’s a custom stream specific to their organization and their areas of interest as it relates to our product, customer stories and so on.
We even create streams to support our webinars, events, and campaigns which we drive our audience to with content that’s relevant to the topic discussed as an example as well. We distribute our monthly customer newsletter via a stream filled with content relevant to the monthly focus as well. This is actually a living stream, so our customers can continuously access new information that’s being added all of the time.
We also use our platform to centralize, organize, and distribute our content via our website. So visitors coming in can quickly locate and navigate through our resources to access content relevant to their areas of interest while our AI engine continuously serves up content suggestions that are aligned with their intent signals, which then allow for that personalization to be continued.
At the end of the day, there’s so many use cases for Uberflip so we look to continue to leverage our platform across everything we do to really demonstrate the power, the value, and the capabilities it delivers when looking to create that exceptional content experience.
Matthew: That’s wild. Do you use any paid channels right now to get content in front of the right people?
Brandi: We do.
Matthew: Tell me about those channels. Any results or tips you can share?
Brandi: We use a number of paid channels to get our content in front of both prospects and customers. From targeted paid ad and paid social programs, content syndication, third-party webinars, sponsored reports, email, event speaking engagements. It’s anything and everything that you can imagine.
Matthew: Tell me more about the content syndication side. I’m curious about that.
Brandi: We’ve done your typical content syndication with a vendor where it’s just kind of out there for anyone and everyone. But we’re now tapping into some very specific ABM programs where we’re leveraging target accounts. So Madison Logic, as an example, we’re launching a pilot with them for our one to many accounts that is literally just over 9,000 accounts right now where we don’t have a lot of intent signals from these accounts so we’re doing a paid ad strategy that feeds into our content syndication program with them for our various pieces of content and drives them back to our website.
We’re being a bit more specific with our content syndication and launching it more with the accounts that we want to get into as a part of our ABM strategy. We still have some general content syndication programs running with some really great pieces of content that we’ve seen to convert the highest and bring in the best quality style of leads, but it’s more so for ABM and the accounts that we want to attract.
Matthew: After talking with a few guests this season, I’ve started to notice it’s really common to have the unalignment between the content and demand teams. We’ve talked a little bit about that, but have you found that to be the case with your buyer personas or even past teams you’ve worked with?
Brandi: Very much so. Prior to joining Uberflip I was at an organization where the content team really just operated in a silo. They created an editorial calendar but it wasn’t really mapped to what product marketing was working on or what demand gen was working on, or what customer marketing really needed and felt was valuable for customers. They just churned out what they wanted to churn out, which makes all of these other functions exponentially harder. Particularly on the customer or demand marketing side, because ultimately demand is fueled by content.
And if the content is missing the mark in terms of inspiring your target or ideal account profiles and getting them interested and wanting to engage and learn more, you’re spending a lot of dollars on programs that simply ends up being a waste. It really creates a significant challenge both from a team morale standpoint but also how you’re spending your budget and ultimately driving revenue for your organization.
Matthew: How do you break those silos?
Brandi: I think a lot of the time it actually comes from top down. If your marketing leader, your CMO, or your VP of marketing, is really driving you toward that common goal and inspiring you to work collaboratively together, that can typically work. But sometimes at the end of the day, you have hard headed people and you have to evaluate what is truly the right fit for the team. Sometimes you have to make some truly tough decisions.
Matthew: What advice do you have for marketers looking to grow in their careers?
Brandi: I think learning never stops. Whether you’re early into your career or you have 20 years under your belt, it never really stops. Regardless of where you are in your career, you should always look to grow and really seek out a mentor. Attend educational conferences or industry conferences, look to build a solid network of marketers. If you have local user groups and meetups, attend those regularly. Network the heck out of them. Hire people who have strengths in areas that you don’t. There’s strengths that I have in certain areas, but I know that I’m weaker in others and I much prefer to hire people who can fill those gaps for me. Essentially just look to always learn, grow, and evolve.
Matthew: How do you give back as a mentee? I always feel like I take advantage of my mentor.
Brandi: It’s taking everything that you learn, implementing it, sharing those results, and also looking to mentor someone else. Pay it forward.
Matthew: Where can folks find you online?