With our second demand generation expert interview (see our first here with Logan Mallory of Jive Communications), I’m proud to welcome Kamil Rextin, Demand Generation Manager at CrowdRIff.
These interviews are a new series we're doing that allows us to connect with experienced demand gen managers who are doing interesting things across the industry. It allows us to see what is working and what isn’t, and to provide context into how fast growing and large SaaS companies are approaching demand generation.
Before we kick things off, Kamil, tell us a little bit about how you got your start in demand generation and about CrowdRiff.
Kamil: I have a background in engineering and then a short program in business. I sort of fell into marketing by accident as I hear most people do. I started out in Waterloo (Canada) in a small startup called Organimi. I was hired to do Customer Success but being a small team, I ended up doing a bunch of stuff including Product Management, Marketing & Sales. We had a freemium product so if anyone ‘interesting’ came along, I would schedule a call with them to give them a walk through of the product. From there it sort of snowballed.
About CrowdRiff - we’re a visual marketing platform that helps travel brands discover great visual UGC photos created around their brand, obtain rights to it and use it across their marketing. A nice way to think of it is that Tourism Toronto can use CrowdRiff to find all the visitors photos taken in Toronto and get the rights to use it in their visitors guide and campaigns promoting Toronto as a tourist destination.
1) Let's talk about the basics. How is your demand generation infrastructure built at CrowdRiff?
Kamil: We were a Marketo/Salesforce shop until January this year when we decided to move to Hubspot. In the past I’ve written about my experiences moving from Hubspot to Marketo so this was definitely interesting. One of the reasons we moved to Hubspot was to be able to have a more user friendly platform. Currently our marketing stack is:
Salesforce (with Lane Four)
Bizible/Full Circle for attribution (pending implementation)
Our key metric is always revenue influenced by marketing. We track it by keeping tabs on the Opps/Demo’s that have been created from marketing sources. We also look at funnel metrics and conversions between stages and always optimizing to improve our lead->MQL->SAL-Opp->Customer conversions but our big metric is always marketing influenced revenue. I think a lot of demand/marketing/growth <?> teams are too focused on MQL/Leads and other stages but those to us are a leading indicator of marketing influenced revenue. If we have a healthy number of Sales Accepted Leads but our revenue number is lagging then it’s a flag for us to dig into why and figure out the bottle neck. I should clarify, when I say marketing influenced revenue, we’re looking at campaigns/programs where marketing sourced the lead (first touch was Inbound, Advertising or Events) and drove it through the funnel, there will always be a sales process involved in taking those folks from curiosity to customer.
I have to give a shoutout to our VP Marketing (Amrita) who empowers us to focus on the marketing influenced revenue. I think at the end of the day, marketing is a revenue generator and this metric really aligns us around the same objective.
2) As a demand generation manager, how have you been able to successfully bridge the gap between Sales & Marketing to process feedback from Sales, report Marketing's efforts/successes to sales and enable Sales to engage in the proper follow up based on a prospect's stage and engagement/score?
Kamil: I understand why there is rift between sales and marketing because usually marketing is seen as ‘lead generation’ and sales is seen as ‘revenue generation’. The key I think is to look it as a whole. Sure, the process is different but the goal is the same - revenue. I think the problem stems from the artificial divide that once a lead is SAL, marketing should not care. We take the opposite approach and we sit with our sales team to figure out how best we can support them all the way to customer and with the Customer Success team on referrals from happy customers.
We have the standard things in place - lead scoring model that we built with input from sales. Critical alerts based on high engagement activity like attending a webinar or downloading some important content. We also have a weekly catch up with the front-line SDR team to get their feeling on how the week has been for them, what content we can create, what the quality was like, what's the common questions they’re coming across that we can address with our content. Recently we’ve taken this a step further and have one marketing team member rotate through the daily sales stand up to keep in sync. We’ve been experimenting with cross functional growth teams which definitely helps.
At the end of the day though, we make sure to celebrate our wins together and socialize. It helps that CrowdRiff has a tremendous culture overall where everyone is down to earth and fantastic to work with across teams.
3) What has been your favorite demand generation hack? (i.e. something you keep in your back pocket that you know will drive additional quality leads, or move MQLs to SQLs faster, etc.)
Kamil: Recently, we started using Drift on our key pages and that’s been fantastic in engaging with prospects right on the website and answering any questions or booking calls. I think we’ve influenced over $100,000 in pipeline with the help of Drift to date.
Despite what everyone says often, email is not dead. It’s a great one:one channel that is scalable.
4) We're always looking for the "next" thing to shake up our day-to-day and allow us to gain that unfair advantage over another competitor. What do you see as that "it" factor that will continue to develop over the next 3-5 years?
Kamil: I have a lot of opinions being a nerd. I think ABM is interesting on how ABM advertising enables us to target based on account parameters rather than personal behaviors and traits. I am really looking forward to trying ABM Ads with LinkedIn’s new custom audience feature that allows for targeting based on Company Name within the LinkedIn feed. But to me ABM is an approach that has existed before 2017 and technology has enabled us to scale it.
I find data enrichment API’s & services like Clearbit & Datanyze to be super helpful; They fetch information that can feed into our lead scoring models & sales processes to give more context.
There’s a big push for chatbots & AI in the marketing space. I follow Drift & Intercom closely in the space. I’ve been using Facebook Messenger Bots & Hubspot’s Growth Bot. We’re basically taking a very consumer behavior and applying it to a business context like communicating through Messenger or chat, which to me is signaling the closing gap between B2B/B2C.
I want to dive deeper into the chabot space and explore it more but I think it’ll still need some time to mature.
Other things are data platforms like Segment, Predictive lead scoring like Madkudu & Everstring.
With all these new technologies I always ask what is the incremental value they bring and what’s the cost of the complexity. Usually you have to integrate them well into existing process/systems for them to add value and that’s an additional amount of man hours spent doing something that can be used in something else of more value.