As part of our planning series, we interviewed the CMO of Uberflip, Randy Frisch.
Uberflip pushes marketers to think beyond content creation and truly put their customers first by focusing on the experience. Randy was named one of the Top 50 Fearless Marketers in the world by Marketo. He is the best-selling author of F#ck Content Marketing: Focus on Content Experience.
Randy takes us through the planning, goal setting, and customer marketing strategies that he uses over at Uberflip. Here are some key insights from the interview:
- There is no longer a fixed yearly plan or budget. While the yearly budget is known, it is not tied down to a fixed plan. Budgets keep evolving as new opportunities arise.
- Customer marketing. Going to your existing customer base and exploring new opportunities there has become a key driver of revenue.
- Revenue goal setting. Divide your revenue goals into new opportunities, upsells and expansion. This will allow you to plan the pipeline based on the expected close rate for each bucket.
- Switching from MQLs to SQLs. While this is a good idea, you don’t want to totally drop MQLs from your metrics. You may not depend a lot on MQLs but you’ll still need to keep track of them.
- Sales and Marketing Alignment. Randy details what marketing can influence to ensure maximum impact. He also talks about how they continue to support the sales team throughout the sales cycle.
- Leverage content efforts. Uberflip identifies specific content pieces that move the needle for specific customers in specific funnel stages. This way, they can surface content to accelerate the customer’s journey through different stages of the funnel.
What is your marketing planning process for 2022?
We no longer have the mindset of a plan for the year ahead. Instead, we adjust the plan on at least a quarterly basis, if not monthly. And that’s been a shift just in terms of our ability to look at the data and understand what’s working, what’s moving the needle, and what areas we can pour gas on.
So, we’ve moved away from this mindset of here’s our 2022 plan and here’s everything we’re going to do. Instead, we take the approach of here’s what we’re able to look at from the most recent cohorts. And in turn, this is what we’re going to do.
Now, to answer your question, we absolutely do know our budget going into the upcoming year, and we have a rough idea of how we’re going to break that budget up in terms of the top of the funnel and lead generation versus more of an ABM or journey flow into content buckets and product marketing buckets.
And the biggest area that I’ve seen grow in terms of the budget is what we’re doing from a customer marketing perspective.
I really believe the pandemic pushed a lot of marketers to double down on customer marketing.
And I think elements of that just come from the reality that a lot of businesses have struggled to grow throughout the pandemic. Fortunately for us, that wasn’t quite the case, but a lot of people weren’t able to create new growth by going to their existing customer base or user base—however you label it.
For us, this became the real key, especially in terms of retention. It became more important than ever. At times when we couldn’t grow, we at least got to retain our customers at a better rate. In addition, expansion opportunities might exist inside of that user base. At Uberflip, we have some amazing customers who have grown with us.
In some cases, we work with the same business group inside of an organization, so we can show them other ways to use our product. This means we have some people who will come in and start using us, say, for inbound marketing, which is fantastic.
ABM to TOFU and back
We help these users grab the content that’s being uncovered via SEO and SEM campaigns that they are running, so really, it’s a top-of-the-funnel approach. At the same time, we have people who are using us either only for or eventually for account-based marketing. For those focused on account-based marketing, it is more about moving deeper into that funnel.
It’s about more one-to-one engagement in collaboration with sales, not just marketing. So that’s one instance where we can go to a customer and say, “Now you can not only use us for inbound, but also for ABM.” And we have about five different primary use cases like those two that I just mentioned.
Other business groups within the same organization
The other reality that we see a lot is that we can go into the business group and look for other similar business groups, especially when we are working with a true enterprise.
So, we work with some amazing brands and companies that have other business units, either tied to different product lines or sometimes with a different geographical focus or units that are operating vertically in terms of how they go to market.
Our ability to demonstrate that we were able to help their peers and colleagues in another business unit is crucial. How can we do the same for them? So, to give you an example, one of the companies that uses us in the transportation space, a massive organization, actually helped us coordinate a one-day learning conference for their own team.
Now, this wasn’t just the team that was using us. These were other business units. What was fantastic was the heroes who were using us were able to demonstrate their results, the impact they were able to make, and not just with our software, but in the business. And then other business units were able to see this.
All of a sudden, we had more opportunities to leverage our software. These are just a couple of ways that we can embrace customer marketing to really double down.
How do you connect activities to revenue goals?
We break up our revenue goals into different buckets, some of which we’ve just discussed. So, one of our goals, touch, is tied to our internal term. This means that we have to go out and engage with that new opportunity.
Then, we have an expansion bucket and an upsell bucket. Expansion is more the type of opportunity I was talking about with that one-day event.
Whereas upsell is more that the existing business unit we mentioned wants to use our product more. And the reason that we break up our revenue goals in this way is that we have different close rates on each of those different buckets.
As a result, we want to make sure we fully understand not just how much pipeline we need in the business as a whole, but also how much pipeline we need according to the different types of pipelines that are coming in.
Our expansion deals and our upsell deals naturally close at a much higher rate than what we call our “net new touch” deals. And that allows us to make sure we don’t just create a whole bunch of pipelines, thinking it’s all going to close at the same rate and then end up falling short.
So, that allows us to really plan beyond just our revenue goals. We can also back it out to the pipeline and to the activities that we have to do to support those goals.
Where do you stand regarding the shift from MQL to SQL?
So, first off, we’re buying into that like everyone is. But I think it’s more about where we can have an impact, which has changed.
There’s still no question that we need MQLs. In fact, I think every business still needs MQLs. If you want to call it something else, great. But the idea is asking yourself what your marketing can influence and how you can get it to a point where it’s ready to be nurtured in more of an account-based marketing type of way.
Now, we also use a platform called 6sense here, which you may be familiar with, and that gives us different views of a client’s maturity level. In other words, the different stages of where they are in terms of their engagement. But we’re usually tracking that after the MQL stage so we can understand how mature they are in terms of that qualification and whether they are peaking in terms of different degrees of interest.
So, I wouldn’t say that we rally day-to-day around the MQL in the same way we may have a few years ago, but it’s still a metric that we’re tracking.
How do you plan for organic and brand channels?
How can we understand the role of content in moving someone along the buyer journey?
There are two different ways that we can look at it: the macro level and the micro level. By macro, what I mean is we create an amazing asset—an eBook, a video, an amazing blog post—and we’re able to understand how much of an impact that’s having at a macro level.
How many people are visiting that? What is their next move after that? What’s the bounce rate? These are all important metrics that we need to know as marketers. The other way to look at this, though, is more than the micro view. And that’s getting more into an attribution model. Here, we can understand the role content plays in moving someone through that buyer journey.
Depending on how many accounts we’re looking to close.10 accounts in one year versus 10,000 accounts in one year. There’s a different degree of how we’re able to look into the weeds of that. So, that’s when we have to look at the trends.
We need to understand the role content plays at each of the different stages. The more we learn from that, the more we can take that input and use it to build a better and more repeatable journey for each customer.
So, if we know that customers move from 60% opportunity in Salesforce to 80% opportunity in Salesforce, and it’s 70% of them who engage with a certain eBook, then let’s start to feed that eBook to others on a repeatable basis.
Let’s say there are two people at that 60% stage. By looking at them, we can learn what’s helping to move prospects through that journey. So, with that in mind, we can start to use that micro-data in a couple of ways in order to understand the flow of the deal. And that’s a great exercise to do with your marketing team: pull up a deal and look at it closely.
You can do this by using Salesforce or another tool to see the flow that a prospect is going through as they engage with that content.
How do you incorporate sales and marketing alignment in your planning?
I think a big part of it is understanding some of the verticals and accounts that we’re going after and having product marketing assets to help in those verticals. For us, as an example, we have four key verticals that we go after in addition to our more mainstream go-to-market.
We have some specialties, such as, for example, financial services. So, understanding what that rep is going to encounter in terms of knowledge is important. And a lot of that happens through research, as well as collateral that we put together, both for internal use and for customer-facing use.
The best way to start that is to get on the phone with some of your existing customers in that industry, right? Make sure marketing is doing so to learn about the nuances of what’s going on there. Another thing you can do is leverage analyst relations.
We were talking about the insights from analysts who are covering that vertical. They understand some of the trends. Make sure you have the right collateral for internal use, like a Wiki, where they can learn the nuances of how your language is best interpreted by that vertical. But make sure that you have product pages so you can either run individual campaigns or you can direct people to them—it’s all part of that nurturing process that they’re going to go through.
Do you use forecasting in your budget planning?
Forecasting, for us, doesn’t come down to purely marketing or purely sales. We’re fortunate to have a revenue operations team that creates a holistic view of the entire operation and what we’re trying to do. This also removes a little bit of that finger-pointing that we talked about earlier.
The rev ops team is going to be that single source of truth. They’re going to use our various system insights. From these insights, they pull together dashboards for us to rely on. These dashboards help us understand what we can count on.
How frequently do you revisit your planning?
From a budget perspective, we try to really lock in the budget at the beginning of the year.
That’s from a department perspective. We trust the executives in the different areas of the business, including marketing, to handle fluctuations all year long. If more money belongs in a more ABM bucket than a TOFU bucket, there shouldn’t be any hard and fast rules about that.
But coming in saying, “I need another headcount at this point, and we didn’t budget for that,” is a lot harder to do. It’s working within the confines of the budget that you set on an annual basis. We think of it more quarterly, to be fair, but I honestly believe it should be daily.
One really important insight from this interview is that there are many unexplored opportunities within your existing customer base. If you are not digging into these, you are leaving money on the table. Splitting revenue goals into separate buckets to take into account different close rates is another valuable takeaway. Finally, marketing needs to continuously provide the necessary support to sales throughout the sales cycle.