March 23, 2023

Adapting B2B Digital in a Downturn

How are B2B marketers adapting their digital experiences in a down economy? We covered the topic with two superstar marketing execs based across the pond from our NYC studio: Tom Bianchi of Acquia and Warren Daniels of Bynder.  

Are you creating knock-your-socks-off content? Do you have a clickable demo for your business? How are you connecting digital and physical experiences for customers, employees, and partners? We answer all of this and more—tune in for an episode full of practical tips and tactics to keep your business thriving despite the economic challenges at hand.

What You’ll Learn  

  • How to adapt your digital content in a downturn
  • How to increase conversion rates in a down economy
  • How to engage customers, employees, partners in a downturn

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 337 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned 

Highlights

  • [3:59] Tom Bianchi: Pilot to B2B CMO   
  • [5:41] “Focus on your customer’s desired outcomes”  
  • [8:36] Democratizing content internally   
  • [10:19] Less content, better (knock-your-socks-off) content  
  • [12:41] Video is winning  
  • [14:20] Warren Daniels: CCTV operator to B2B CMO  
  • [16:49] “Understand how sales cycles are adjusting”  
  • [21:03] Core content that’s a tentpole (and reusable!)  
  • [23:33] On CMO Huddles  
  • [26:22] What to cut first & last in a down economy  
  • [30:01] Increase your conversion rates  
  • [32:29] Connecting digital & physical experiences  
  • [37:33] Internal communication   
  • [44:36] Two dos and a don’t: Adapting for a downturn

Highlighted Quotes  

“Less is more. There's no need to have 4000 blogs out there, you just need 200 to 300 amazing blogs that perform really well from an SEO perspective.” —Tom Bianchi @acquia Click To Tweet

“We found that different buyers wanted different outcomes from the demo experience, so we put work into updating our user experience for our demo request form. Now you have like a choose your own adventure process.” —Tom Bianchi @acquia Click To Tweet

“Of our three options, the clickable demo is the top converting one. We get more conversions where people want to get hands on and be shown how to use it without talking to a human.” —Tom Bianchi @acquia Click To Tweet 

“Lean into your team. Make sure they've got everything they need to be successful, and try to avoid change wherever possible. That's going to help them feel more secure and ultimately become more productive.” —Tom Bianchi @acquia Click To Tweet “Taking the time to learn how sales cycles and economic buyers are adjusting to this down economy is critical.” —Warren Daniels @bynder Click To Tweet

“As marketing leaders, we have to be on the front foot was showing that we're looking for optimization and efficiency. It’s a massive opportunity for us to partner with the CFO and finance during these times.” —Warren Daniels @bynder Click To Tweet

“We've added more reference to high value CTA—demos, pricing, requests—to those pieces of content, so that more folks are consuming our messaging and our content. We've seen about a 20% uplift in engagement.” —Warren Daniels @bynder Click To Tweet

“Start talking the language of business and ROI—Marketing CAC, ratio of spend to pipeline, & ARR—to demonstrate to the business that we need to continue to invest in marketing.” —Warren Daniels @bynder Click To Tweet 

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Tom Bianchi & Warren Daniels

 

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audio book by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.

And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months ago to make this show even better, and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you.

Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals.

You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddle Studio, our live show featuring the CMOS of CMO Huddles, a community that sharing caring and daring each other to greatness every day of the week.

This time, we’ve got a conversation with Huddlers Tom Bianchi of Acquia and Warren Daniels of Bynder on how to adapt your digital experiences for a downturn. An extremely timely topic for today. So let’s dive in.

I’m your host, Drew Neisser. Live from my home in New York City. As the moderator for CMO Huddles, I have the privilege of speaking with scores of CMOs every month. And one thing I can say with certainty, most B2B marketers are anticipating a tough slog in 2023, having already experienced budget cuts and longer sales cycles. In the face of these challenges, marketers are scrutinizing every aspect of their sales and marketing activities, all with the eye of squeezing more out of less and maximizing every opportunity. One area of particular importance is your brand’s digital experience. If it’s awesome, you have a chance of getting on the shortlist of those prospects who are actually ready to buy. If it’s not, as they say in New York, “Forget about it!” Which brings us to today’s show and our special guests, two gents from across the pond, who are in the business of making or enhancing digital experiences. So with that, let’s bring on Tom Bianchi, VP of corporate marketing at Acquia. Hello, Tom, how are you?

Tom Bianchi: I’m doing great how you doing?

Drew Neisser: I am fine. Thank you and where exactly are you?

Tom Bianchi: So as you kind of hinted at—the accent is hopefully giving that awa—I am in England and I’m in a little town called Woking, which is just to the west of London. And yeah pleased to be here. Thanks.

Drew Neisser: So is it a town full of woke people?

Tom Bianchi: It’s not a town full of woke people. It’s an old English market town about 30 miles to the west of London. And today, it’s actually sunny, which is good for this time of year.

Drew Neisser: There you go. Yes. Yes, indeed. Okay, so now I did some digging into your LinkedIn profile and saw that you had a BSc in aviation technology and pilot studies from the University of Leeds and that you have a pilot’s license. At one point did you think you’d be flying in the in the Royal Air Force?

Tom Bianchi: The story goes a little bit like this. I’ll try and keep it short. As a kid I always wanted to be a pilot. There’s a kind of almost like the scouting movement. There’s a there’s a Air Cadets here in the UK, which is like a baby Royal Air Force if you like. So I joined the Air Cadets at age 12 with the hope of one day being a fighter pilot, and then it’s difficult to see on Zoom, but I’m actually 6’4”. And I’m not a small gentleman. I’m a bit stocky as we say here in England. I don’t fit in a fighter plane, basically. So then I thought, Okay, I’m going to be a commercial pilot. And I actually did my first solo age 16 before I went to college, then went to college to study it with a total intention of becoming a pilot. I graduated not that long after 9/11. So when I graduated, there were not lots of pilot jobs. And then the rest is kind of history. I went into B2B marketing instead.

Drew Neisser: It’s just flying to B2B. It’s such a natural extension.

Tom Bianchi: Exactly. Yeah.

Drew Neisser: But I love that. I mean, the fact that you sort of sized out of fighter pilots is, yeah, I guess as when you think about it, they’re all 6′ or maybe even shorter. That makes a lot of sense. All right, is your license still active?

Tom Bianchi: My license is not still active. I do go flying from time to time. But I need to take an instructor with me now, so.

Drew Neisser: All right, well, let’s get on to the subject at hand. It’s flying in its own kind of way. We all know that this has been a tough 6 months for B2B. And I’m curious what you have been doing it Acquia not for your customers yet. But what you’ve been doing to prep your own digital experience for this sort of dicey period we’re in?

Tom Bianchi: Yeah, great question. Bizarrely, not for our customers, but involving our customers. And I think this is the best practice that anybody could apply when thinking about their digital experience. We focus our digital experience on our customer’s desired outcomes. So think about somebody who might be a customer of Acquia, they’re probably a website builder, they might be in the marketing team, they might be on the IT team, but either way, they have at least a website. And so they’re trying to make that better. They’re trying to do that for the right price. And they’re trying to get to their end business results through their website, which could be driving sales, if you have a commerce proposition, it could be just around, you know, driving traffic and promoting the products that you have. But either way, that’s their desired outcome with their digital experience. So we’ve restructured our website very recently to focus on our desired customer outcomes, or the desired customer outcomes that our customers have, right? Where do they want to get to. And then written out content in that same way.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. So can we be specific? So imagining then for the ecommerce people—which is probably a big portion of the folks that you do business with—what did you do? Did you look at it by persona and then design sort of—here’s the portal, the gateway for you, mister ecommerce person and for you mister trying to convert B2B. How did you approach it, Tom?

Tom Bianchi: Yeah, so half a level up from that if you like. So, there’s so many different use cases that our customers have, of course, and if we create a whole section of our website, for every single use case, would then have a massive navigation at the top that nobody would know where to find. So we just brought it up a little bit higher than that, and talked about the sorts of things that people are trying to do. And mostly, that’s either you’re a website builder, you’re a content creator, or you might be then focused on the more business outcomes of things like revenue through digital experience. And so we’ve brought our content up to that level, which then takes off a couple of personas and a couple of use cases, in each circumstance. But you’ve got to remember, for each one of those—we call them landing zones—for each one of those landing zones on our website, we then have hundreds of blog posts, dozens of pages, we relate our products to it. And so it’s not a small effort by any stretch of the imagination. And that gives those people browsing to those sites and to those landing zones are really comprehensive set of materials to help them solve their problems.

Drew Neisser: And I’m imagining—I was just thinking about because you’re selling to people who are building websites and using the websites as effective, there’s got to be a lot of pressure on you to have a killer world class website, right?

Tom Bianchi: Yeah, exactly right. And actually, about 2 or 3 years ago, I worked with Matt Wetmore, who leads our Digital and Web team—shout out, Matt, you do a great job every day—to make a big leap in upgrading our platform to the latest version of Drupal. And I can talk more about Drupal and the relationship between Acquia and Drupal later on for anyone who’s geeking out on that. And that was a game changer for us, because one of the key features of using our own technology actually is we have a low code site development tool that sits next to the core CMS. So you don’t need to be a developer to create content at scale. And one of our challenges historically was that we’re a decent sized software company, but we don’t have a team of 400 developers just, you know, coding our website every day. And so we democratize the ability for people to create content very quickly within our own marketing team. Kind of, you know, drinking your own kool aid if you like, because this is how we help our customers too. But that meant that the rest of my marketing team can go create pages create content and get that updated. Which has helped bring our website on dramatically in the past few as it means our content is more relevant. And then it allows the developers to focus on how does the website perform? What does it look like? What’s the user experience look like. And so, you know, I’m pretty proud. But our CEO said just a few weeks ago, Acquia.com is the best it’s ever looked.

Drew Neisser: Which is great. And you are really, you have to be your own best case history. So as I think about this, and again, we’re in this weird moment where there might be a lot fewer shoppers out there thinking about content specifically changed what you’re doing for yourself. And you know, how that is sort of ripples out to your customers from a content standpoint.

Tom Bianchi: Yeah, so we’re kind of following this approach of less is more. And that’s really about quality, right? There’s no need to have 4000 blogs out there, you just need 200 to 300 amazing blogs that perform really well from an SEO perspective. So as part of this shift, we’ve actually spent a lot of time removing content from our website. So I talked about being able to develop content quickly by democratizing it. And that’s very different from volumes of content. So I just wanted to underscore that point, first of all, and then secondly, it’s about focusing on a value exchange. So when we create a piece of content created with purpose.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it’s such a important thought, because it’s funny, in a couple hours, we’re doing a Bonus Huddle on ChatGPT, and generative AI, and there’s gonna be this notion that you can just flood the market with more content. And that’s really not what it’s about right now, right?

Tom Bianchi: Nope, not at all. Not at all. We were playing around with this actually, I was just talking with Steve, who’s our CEO. And this is how much attention he’s playing to that. We challenged, you know, the AI engine to create an article that describe the differences between Acquia and Drupal. And it did an amazing job. But it was a bit vanilla. I think is the fair way to say it. It was 100% accurate and it had some character in it. But it wasn’t a knock your socks off kind of piece of content.

Drew Neisser: No, because it’s just pulling what is out there already. So it’s amazing. And this just not to get lost in that one, because we’re going to have that conversation in a couple of hours. But what I find is, what you discover through using that tool is what everybody already knows. And so now it becomes okay, that’s the obvious, you better step up from there. So less content, better content, because the better content is actually going to drive engagement and get folks involved. And is there any particular form of content that you’ve done or put an increased emphasis on in, say, the last 6 months versus the prior period when business was booming and everybody was winning?

Tom Bianchi: Yeah, video coldly. It’s not necessarily some trade secret or anything like that. But we were struggling with capacity to generate video at the rate that we needed to when we were trying to keep up with the content conveyor belt. As soon as we started thinking more carefully about that, and producing the right levels of content, it actually freed up some resources to then go and put some effort into the medium that we know that everybody likes to consume. And that’s video.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s just been that’s come up over and over again in Huddles. By the way, I love the expression, “content conveyor belt,” I have considered content calendar. One of those things that everybody has, but you become a slave to it is not necessarily a great way to get to better content.

All right. With that, thank you. We’ll be back with you. We’re going to talk to Warren Daniels right now, who is the CMO of Bynder. Hello, Warren. Wonderful to see you again.

Warren Daniels: Hello Drew. Thanks for having me.

Drew Neisser: And where are you today?

Warren Daniels: Yes, I’m actually not that far away from Tom. I’m probably about 20-25 miles away from him. I’m in a place called Weybridge in Surrey. It’s about 20 miles outside of London.

Drew Neisser: Amazing, amazing. Yes, I will not don an English accent for this show. Because it would probably come out as bad Monty Python.

I see that you’ve been in B2B marketing for a couple of decades. And you were at IBM and SAP. Take us back a little bit further—maybe high school or college—was there an early job that you had that really tested you?

Warren Daniels: Well, listen, I think the question tests me so far back I can barely remember. Drew, yeah, so during my college days, actually, I worked at this great British retail institution called Marks and Spencer. So there’s a number of shop floor jobs there customer services, as well. But I got this job and the most enjoyable job I had there was as a CCTV operator. So my job was, in effect, to catch shoplifters. And actually, I’ve learned a lot of things there that I’ve carried forward into my career or that tested me. I managed 130 cameras, 6 screens, 2 stores, 6 different floors of merchandise, and seeing who was coming in and out of the store and covering the high value items was, in effect,  my first pass at developing a strategy. So I got a little bit of strategy from that there, in terms of catching shoplifters it’s actually incredibly difficult to catch shoplifters, just given the volume of traffic and the floor space that I was covering. And there’s a lot of things you got to see, in view of the camera, and uninterrupted before you can apprehend anyone. So I started to look for signals of people who were looking at the cameras as they passed them, folks that didn’t look like your average Marks and Spencer shopper, people carrying oversize shopping bags with absolutely nothing in them. That was my first pass if you like identifying an ICP if ya like. And then last, but by no means least, wasn’t unusual for a whole day to go by. And you’re not seeing anything or not catching any ones. So you have to imagine this kind of darkened room, not too dissimilar to the room I’m in now, but with plenty more screens around me. When something did happen, the adrenaline rush was absolutely incredible. But you had to be right on your game in that moment. So it heightened my ability to deal with pressure moments in the moment.

Drew Neisser: I love it. What a great story. Thank you. Yes, the ideal customer profile in reverse. So all right, we’re gonna make the switch to Bynder and the challenging times that there just aren’t as many buyers out there right now. So I’m curious how you looked at the digital experience that you were providing and what changes or things that you’ve done to sort of try to help Bynder compete in a challenging environment?

Warren Daniels: Sure. Yeah. No, absolutely. And before we talk about digital experience, and the content experiences that that power those actually, I think, first and foremost, just to take it one, one level higher, I think first and foremost, understanding what your buyers want, and taking the time to learn how sales cycles, and economic buyers are adjusting to this down economy is critical. So you can’t do anything without understanding your buyers, and the impact of the downturn on their thinking and their perspective on tech in investment. So the first thing that we did was to hit up our customers. And because we sell marketing technology, to marketeers, we’ve got a lot of peers in our networks. So you don’t need to spend a bunch of time and money on deep research and consultants to do this. I think the principle of thin slicing appears applies here. But what what we wanted to understand was, is there a change in what’s driving purchase decisions? does that differ from the periods in which we’ve been in a bull economy? And what we got back with some really clear and consistent feedback from a messaging perspective. How can I gain efficiency and reduce unnecessary or ineffective spend? How can I increase speed of execution to gain competitive advantage? And then the other piece of feedback that we got Drew was that MarTech and ecommerce investments are now having to go through additional layers of approval folks, so finance, or CEO approval. So demonstrably showing value in our ROI becomes increasingly critical. So job number one has been to put up our messaging, a narrative to be centered more heavily on tangible ROI, and value creation, and at the same time to identify new personas that we typically wouldn’t have had to engage with a sales cycle, but now absolutely have to include in what we do so just to understand the buyer, first and foremost, and I would recommend that to absolutely everyone. I think a lot of marketing organizations often jumped to conclusions around what is the right thing, by buyers, speaking to them, you’ll get a very, very different perspective. The second thing that we did, and you hit on it right, it’s clear that businesses are going to be competing more fiercely for less wallet share in the short term. We’ve thought very carefully about how we drive cut through in terms of content and engagement in the market and where differentiation is becoming going to become increasingly important. And when we thought about, what drives that? It’s all about content. Because it’s content that drives clicks. It’s content that drives engagement and ultimately conversion. It’s that that catches eyeballs,  and drives action.

Drew Neisser: I’m going to unpack a few of the things you said and then come back to the content thing, you never go wrong talking to your customers, period. The notion that everybody is looking for tools that will help them save money, a powerful place to be, speed in this context matters because if you’re saving money in 18 months, I don’t have 18 months, I’m looking to save money in three months. So that and then the layers of approval is something that has come up a lot and Huddles and how you anticipate oh, gosh, suddenly, not just the head of the junior person in IT, but the senior person in IT and the CIO, and the CFO, and maybe even HR and compliance are involved. So suddenly, there’s a lot more content that you actually have to create to help those, help whoever your champion is in the organization, sell those other people. But I want to go back to so specifically when it came to Bynder’s content strategy, what content, what have you found that it’s been working or resonating more in that you’ve been emphasizing in the last six months?

Warren Daniels: We’ve made some adaptations to our content strategy as a result of these changes in the marketplace. And let me call on some of the key tenants of the changes that we’ve made. First of all, we’ve we’ve moved to place greater emphasis on a derivatives strategy. So rather than generating lots of content, and Tom referenced this earlier, what we’ve moved towards is how can we quickly pivot to one piece of core content that carries consistent ROI and value based messaging, and then shatter that for the purposes of the different channels that we’re going to execute through, and the audience’s that consume through that channel as well. The second thing that we’ve done is personalization. And I think just a very simple example of that is, I talked about CFOs and FDs is now being significant contributors to buying committees. And you don’t need to create lots of new content for new audiences. What we’ve done is we’ve started to be smart and clever around looking at the existing content that we’ve got. And simply renaming and repurposing that for this new purpose and this new audience. So just an example of that in in real terms, Drew, we have an ROI guide for Digital Asset Management, or DAM is the abbreviation, we change that. And we change the title to the CFO guide to DAM ROI. And then we made some minor amendments to the text and the content in between so that we’ve got a piece of hero content that was then relevant for that individual. So they’re just a couple of examples of things that we’ve done to address that very challenge.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, this is, it’s really interesting that has come up a lot and Huddles, which is, if you have content that is high value, well written, well done, whether it’s is you know, take that slice and dice it as you rake it up into pieces and really leverage that even go back into your archives. And if you can just update it a little bit. It was probably pretty good. It can use some refreshment. All right, we’re gonna we’re gonna take a quick break while I talk about CMO Huddles. Then we’re going to dive into this a lot more so that we get to some action plans that folks that are listening can do to enhance their digital experience. Okay, it’s time for me to talk about CMO Huddles. Launched in 2020. CMO Huddles is an exclusive community of over 100 highly effective B2B CMOs, who share care and dare each other to greatness every month. One CMO describe Huddles as a cross between an executive workshop and a therapy session. And given how hard things are getting out there who doesn’t need a little reassurance that they’re not alone. Everything about CMO Huddles is designed to be a force multiplier, helping you to make faster better and more informed decisions. Since no CMO can outwork this crazy job, CMO Huddles is here to help you outsmart it. So Tom, Warren, here’s the first question. Are you guys on the therapy side or the executive workshop side of CMO Huddles?

Tom Bianchi: Probably a bit of both right. I think it depends on I think it depends on the day. We’ve all had those tough days where it definitely becomes a therapy session. And it’s greatly appreciated to know that people go through the same things that you go through every day. But I also like the workshop element of it, too. I think you get to brainstorm a lot of great ideas with your peers and colleagues across the industry.

Drew Neisser: So I’m wondering if either of you have a specific example of maybe how Huddles, and I know, Warren, you’re relatively new to Huddles, and you know, anything that you picked up that that has helped you think about something a little bit differently, perhaps?

Warren Daniels: Yeah, no, absolutely. We revised our brand narrative around the middle of last year, a lot of the input and best practice that we use for that came from a number of Huddle sessions that I listened to, and consumed. And then more recently, I don’t know about a specific example. But certainly I dig into the Huddle Slack channel, every single day. And I found that incredibly powerful in supporting me make good decisions, or at least reinforce the decisions that I’m making. As we’ve been going through some of the challenges of this down economy.

Drew Neisser: I really appreciate that, Tom, anything else? Because we’ll just keep moving.

Tom Bianchi: Or just a quick one, I think on the down economy stuff when we were when I was going through the 23 planning process to be able to talk about potentially some of those trade offs we were making in the in the budget planning process? Sure. Is this better than that? Or is that better than this? Or which would you prioritize that, for me was incredibly useful.

Drew Neisser: I love it. All right. Well, if you’re a B2B CMO who can share care and dare with the best of them, please check out cmohuddles.com. All right, we’ve got a little speed round now. So what’s one of the issues? We’re talking about a downturn? What’s the first thing you would recommend cutting in a downturn? And what’s the last, Warren?

Warren Daniels: I feel like I’m gonna give a politician’s answer to this question. I think so many, yeah Tom’s laughing, I’m sure there’s a lot of other people laughing out there. Because there’s so many of us are at the behest of attribution models that give us some ability to measure ROI, but are always dangerously incomplete. So actually, my recommendation would be to look at the major investments and what the data and your instinct tells you about whether or not that’s essential or nice to have in the context of the down economy and to make really tough choices about what you do. And what you don’t do. And for me, it’s just about identifying where the waste is, and reducing or cutting it or augmenting your approach to it, it’s going to be different for different organizations. So I don’t know whether you’re gonna get let me get away with that, Drew.

Drew Neisser: Let’s see if your associate Tom will have an answer.

Tom Bianchi: And we talked about this actually, in one of the Huddles Drew, but tech that you don’t use. So that might sound controversial coming from a MarTech vendor. But we went through a tech audit ourselves to make sure that we had, you know, only the tools that we were still getting value from kind of similar similar to your point, I guess Warren in one sense, and then, you know, looked at what we could eliminate from the tools that we’re just either not getting value from or just not using enough. Right, so that was the first thing. And then the last thing, great people. If you’ve got great people in your team, that’s the one that always time and time again, I will try my best to save. The reason being, if you have a great person, they can actually be a force multiplier, and take advantage of the tech stack that you’ve got to take advantage of the program dollars that you’ve got to spend and really, you know, make a big impact in the market. So that’s my last.

Warren Daniels: I would add to that time as well. I think, can you manage with one less marketing executive face to face meeting? Can you be more efficient with how your staff trade shows? I look at paid digital, if you’re executing on a strategy around optimizing for impression share, perhaps you might want to shift for a period of time that really shifts to a strategy to optimize for art creation, or ARR. And revenue, I think there’s a couple of really tangible things that you can do there. What I will say is, as marketing leaders, we have to be on the front foot with showing that we’re looking for optimization and efficiency. And I think it’s a massive opportunity for us all to partner with the CFO and finance in these times. And the thing that I would cut last is customer marketing, right? You have to manage what you can control. If you’ve got headroom to upsell into existing customers, then that can offset and de-risk any volatility and new business.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, so many good points there. As we talked a lot and Huddles about, we spent a whole month in customer marketing just because that’s not just I mean, you got to protect them because you obviously don’t want to lose them. But so often, particularly in with software company, there’s upsell opportunities, and they’re probably not using the product to the fullest because that’s going back to the audit that we talked about. So many of the CMOs in Huddles found that of the 25 tools in their stack 5 to 10 were underutilized because it takes so many people to take advantage of those things, all right. So we’re gonna keep going because this show is, is not about necessarily cutting, it’s about making the most of what you’ve got, in particular with folks. And so my theory on all this is that there are fewer buyers in the marketplace period. And as a result of that, you got to win more. And that which means if someone is in the market, they’ve got to, you got to, you know, you got to have a higher win rate. And that means having a stickier website because we know they’re doing their homework on their own. They don’t want to talk to a salesperson until they want to talk to somebody who is knowledgeable about the product or service. And so I’m wondering now, as we look at this aspect of, we have someone that is in the market, that’s why they’re coming and checking out your website, what is it in your mind? For a lot of people, it’s the demo, right? If that’s the moment where they say I’m in? And how are you guys looking at those people that are our genuine prospects have genuine intent? And what are you doing to sort of help be as sticky as possible for those folks? And we’ll start with you Warren.

Warren Daniels: Yeah, first and foremost, you’re talking about new business buyers, as well as customers here Drew or customers?

Drew Neisser: I think I’m talking about net new at the moment. Yes, yeah.

Warren Daniels: Well, let me tell tell you about some of the things that that we have done, actually. So we’ve started to ungate a hell of a lot of our educational content, so that we can reduce friction in the buying process and get people educated around DAM and DAM platforms much much easier than they’ve ever done before. What we’ve done instead is we’ve added more reference to what we call high value CTA, so demos, pricing requests and the like to those pieces of content, so that more folks are consuming our messaging, and our content. And we’ve seen about a 20% uplift in engagement with that content since we’ve been engaged in it. And we’ve seen scaling our CTAs during that period of time, as well. So we’ve just removed barriers to engaging with content. And we’ve been testing that in the short term.

Drew Neisser: I love the fact that you tested it, and it’s working because I’ve been like haranguing people about gates for so long. I feel like I’m making a little bit of headway but not as much as as we should. Tom, where are you guys with gates?

Tom Bianchi: Yeah! We’re starting to ungate too. But coming back to your question, one of the main areas that we focused on, which is a really a tipping point through that buyers journey, is that demo experience. And through some of the testing that we did, we found that different buyers actually wanted different things from different outcomes from that demo experience. Some of that comes down to the language of the word demo, right? Obviously, it’s short for demonstration. And some people believe that to mean, hey, I want a real life person to demonstrate a product to me be that you know, our Acquia Cloud platform for web hosting be that our winding down for digital asset management, whatever it is, they want a human being to show them it. For some people demo as a phrase is also sort of synonymous with trial or a hands on experience, right. And that can cause confusion in a user journey as they go through the website. And for some people, they want something that’s kind of in between. So we put a lot of work actually at the end of last year into updating our user experience for our demo requests for a feature. So now you have like a choose your own adventure process. So somebody comes to that part of our website critical for conversion, they can say, hey, I want to speak to a person. Hey, I’d actually like to get hands on with the product. Or the third and final option, we use a clickable demo, which is actually a web mock up of our product that looks remarkably identical. And it’s a guided tour through our products. So you’re not kind of let loose completely on a new platform that you don’t know how to use, and you know, expected to get value from it. But rather we help coach them through that experience with some guided workflows that really makes a difference. And we’ve seen a massive improvement in conversion rate not only in terms of people clicking on the form initially, but actually converting through to qualified pipeline as well. So trying to help them make that decision with really informative content options has been the key for us.

Drew Neisser: Boy, I really want to, as they say, put a pin in that one. And because what the thing that I hadn’t, breaking that down, first of all recognizing that there’s confusion with that name and breaking it. I want a person to show me, I want to play with it, or just let me see it and I want to go talk about that. Just let me see it and click it myself, because we, as human shoppers today, vastly prefer to do it ourselves. We’re trained now to buy our own airline tickets, we buy our own products everywhere. And you know, if we want to dive deep, we’ll go and look at reviews or all those other things. So it just makes sense. I want to make sure that I heard you say that clickable demos are working really well, is that because again, it’s sort of this whole notion of self guided experience. I’m gonna take it as far as I can before I need help.

Tom Bianchi: Correct. That’s actually on top of those three options. That’s the top converting one. So we got more conversions where people want to get hands on and be shown how to use it without talking to a human.

Drew Neisser: Wow. Okay. So Melissa, our producer, let’s think about what does that look like for CMO Huddles? I mean, is there a clickable demo? I mean, I don’t know what that is. But that’s an interesting thing. And I want everybody who’s listening to this or watching us? How are you creating a clickable demo that makes it easy for your customer to get to know your product or service, and get them to the point where they say, Okay, I’m ready to talk to human being. And Warren, what are you finding in that in that type of approach?

Warren Daniels: Yeah, so we have a free trial and a trial experience that people can download. We don’t have clickable demos, but thanks for the tip, Tom. And now I know it’s high converting CTA, I’ll have a look into it much, much deeper. So we also have an experience where people can get hands on what we find, though, with our target audience, actually, is they prefer to engage with someone directly and talk to someone around their specific requirements. So I think we’re seeing something slightly different to what Tom described, notwithstanding, because we don’t have clip clickable demos right now, maybe we’re missing something that we could add value to in terms of the buyers journey.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. I mean, I think the whole thing here is assume that the person wants to do it themselves. And I mean, one of the great things about having a free trial is that you know that you’ve removed all barriers, they can just sort of download it and check it out. You know, we all love the notion of PLG and Product Lead Growth, and that free trial is one. And free trial is a way of putting a product in someone’s hands. But the notion of a clickable demo anyway, I’m obsessed with that. And I want to think that through now. Thank you for that Tom. Let’s talk about how you also work with partners and employees are involved in this. What kind of adjustments are you making or recommending from a digital experience standpoint for partners? And, Tom, I know that you all have partners.

Tom Bianchi: Yeah, that’s right. It’s, it’s interesting, actually. So we’ve updated our partner finder on our website, first and foremost. And that’s not necessarily exclusively just for our partners, that’s to help our customers find our partners, obviously, too. And then, during the pandemic, we started a series of online boot camps, which have become really successful for us. And so we’re coaching our partners around our technology and around our business strategy through these online interactions. All that said, from a digital perspective, once we were able to do so at the end of the pandemic, we went very quickly back to hosting in person partner meetups and summits, because building those physical relationships with people in a room together, was still really, really valuable. And we’ve seen that work well for us, too. So I know that you asked me about digital experience, but I will say the face to face experience is good, too.

Drew Neisser: So let’s talk about that. I completely agree. I mean, there’s just a tremendous thirst to connect with humans again, and certainly in the context of partners, because you have this shared thing that’s very important to your business. I mean, very few things are more important than one’s website. So what how are you connecting the dots between the digital experience and the physical experience? And is there, do those things come together?

Tom Bianchi: Yes, they do. So we have online portals where our partners can access the materials that they might have been taught in person then to go back and look at afterwards as well. And using some other tech, we also have the ability to share the outcomes of co- marketing activities together in a single place, as well as you know, looking at the target accounts that we’re working on. So it’s all managed and shared through our portal in a digital experience for our partners, which helps the two of those operate more seamlessly together.

Drew Neisser: Right. So Warren we talked a little bit now about partners, I’m curious if you’ve either adjusted for partners or you want to go on and explore the employee area and what you’re doing for them even, I’m going to emphasize that downturns are hard on employees. They really are and there was a period of time just nine months ago where you’re you were every single B2B marketer was watching their staff get bid, particularly the ones who had really strong demand gen experience or tech that people were bidding. And you know, next thing you know, you’ll ask someone for another 50 grand. So we’re, there’s this adjustment period right now. So is there anything in the digital experience that you all are doing Warren are on the employee front?

Warren Daniels: Yeah. So I think you know, what’s really, really experience is how you connect those digital touch points with non digital touch points as well. So really, really simply Drew, whatever the messages are that you’re taking to market through whatever channels, consistency, and relevancy and access to those things for partner audiences and for your internal audiences, is critically important. And let me just give you an example that, so we’re executing upsell, expansion, churn prevention campaigns down sell prevention campaigns into our existing customer base, we’re executing across multiple channels, tactics and programs. But the people that talk to the customers day to day, they’re the CSMs, or the Sam’s, so how are we ensuring that those human all those physical touch points are being covered? And the same way that we’re communicating out to the market, those teams of people are getting the same information so that they’re sharing the same messaging with customers.

Drew Neisser: Yeah amen to that. Because it you know, you as a marketer may be thinking about your next play in the system of plays, but you got to get the employees to catch up and say the same thing so that there is alignment between digital and relevancy, obviously, what’s in it for the employee, but what’s in it for the customer? The one thing that I want to emphasize here is frequency, we’ve got consistency, right? Because the assumption among marketers, well, I sent them an email, or we did the demo with them. You know, one CMO in Huddle, shared seven times seven ways, and boy has that stuck with me in that there is a just an underestimation of what it takes to get an employee audience on board with the story. And I don’t know if you all have experienced that?

Warren Daniels: Yeah, no, absolutely. So we actually run a weekly all hands meeting. And in that meeting, a portion of the time is dedicated to cascade of key messages, not just across the customer facing organizations, but across the back office functions of the business as well. And the key purpose of that is to get people on board with these key messages that we’re now taking to market in the context of the current climate and economy that we’re in. And we repeat, we rinse and repeat that over a consistent period of time, because to the point you just made, I think it takes seven to eight times for something to really sink in and people to retain it and be able to, to repeat it, we use our all hands meeting to support some of this messaging.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. Tom, anything to add on that?

Tom Bianchi: I think just purposeful communication, right? When you’re trying to kind of foster growth in this remote working environment. It’s been really purposeful with what you say to the teams to make sure that they hear you loud and clear, and that they understand what’s going on and setting the example really of how you expect them to return that in kind with their purpose for communication back to you so that you can get that feedback loop going.

Drew Neisser: Love it. This is the moment where we ask what would Ben Franklin say? Now Ben Franklin spent actually a remarkable length of time in England in London specifically. And there was a period of time where he was very popular there. And then by 1774, it was pretty much he was considered a traitor and had to sneak out under the cover of darkness. Anyway, what Franklin would say, in this situation, because what we’re really talking about overall is we’re in business, we’re working together, we’re on a goal to generate profit for our organization. So I think he would say “He that has a trade has an office of profit, and honor.” What we’re doing here is good. It’s good. Okay. All right. So speaking of good, we’ve talked a lot about how brands can adapt their digital experience for a downturn. And we’d love some final words of wisdom from you both. Maybe two do’s and a don’t when it comes to adapting for a downturn. We’ll start with Warren.

Warren Daniels: First do, for me, lead from the front foot on demonstrating operational leverage from marketing within the business and partner with the CFO and the finance team. And the second part, I think it’s important that we as marketeers start talking the language of business and ROI. So marketing CAC, ratio of spend to pipeline, and an ARR. I think they’re really, really important metrics that demonstrate to the business that we need to continue to invest in marketing. If we do that it drives opportunities to drive pipeline, it’s going to drive revenue. And then my do is, the key to this is content and content strategy. Content operations become much more important in a down economy, because it’s content that drives engagement, and conversion and it’s that conversion that converts ultimately to revenue. I would say, don’t continue doing the same things that you did during the course of 2022. And before that, and the market has changed so fast, you need to be acutely aware of that, and be and adapt in your strategy as a result.

Drew Neisser: Very cool. All right, Tom, two do’s and don’ts in adapting to a downturn?

Tom Bianchi: Yeah, sure. So the first do for me is, in some ways, hang in there. But what I mean by that is, it’s not just emotional support I’m giving I’m saying watch the tactics that you put in market carefully, and give them a chance to either succeed or fail. One of the things that we very often do when there’s a downturn is go, I’ve tried that it didn’t work. So I’m scrapping it, my question would be, have you really tried it? So hang in there, persevere with something, do it to the best of your operational ability, and watch the data before you say, we’re going to scrap that and we’re going to change tactic. The second is invest in your digital experience. And there’s some data that backs up my statement there for this do and during the ’08 and ’09 downturn, McKinsey did a study of the S&P 500 companies and took 30 of them that specifically said that they were investing in digital transformation, including building out their digital experience. And those companies three years after the downturn, had to 30% higher on average market capitalization. So if you invest in your downturn in your DX, during a downturn, you’re much more likely to outstrip your competition, and you’re much more likely to come on, you know, come out on top three years from now as well. And then my don’t is a well, it was going to be exactly what Warren said. So I need to come up with one on the fly, I guess my don’t is don’t change your team structure too quickly, either. Think about your team, because they’re going to be feeling on, you know, insecure at a time like this when the markets are up and down and left and right. So lean into your team, make sure they’ve got everything that they need to be successful. And, you know, try and avoid change wherever possible, because that’s going to help them feel more secure, and ultimately become more productive for you.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, a lot of really, really good points there. And as I’m digesting them and thinking about their things that you might not be thinking about, presumably you have tests that you’re trying all everywhere, and a few because one of the things we heard in this thing is less is more make the most out of the things that you were doing, because you don’t have it a choice, which we talked about stretching content and breaking it up. We talked about taking gates off so that people can get access to content. All of this is about and we can bring it back to the fact they’re probably going to be fewer buyers in the marketplace. It’s just the way it is. So you’ve got to convert more. So what is it on your website? And if you’re looking at your website, are you making it easy for your prospect to learn the information that they saw it in the first place? And are you bringing them along to the point where they’re ready to talk? And I you know, investing in digital experience, there’s no doubt I mean, I don’t think I’ve made a purchase. And I don’t think any of us have made a purchase that didn’t involve a few site visits both to the existing site competitive site, as well as review sites. So you got it yeah if you’re gonna cut, don’t cut there. All right, Tom, Warren, you’re both great sports. Thank you, audience for staying with us.

To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!