Learning to Love the Top of the Funnel

Learning to Love the Top of the Funnel

Paul Albright, the CEO and Co-Founder of Captora, was a recent guest on our podcast, B2B Nation.

In this episode, we discussed:

    • Why marketers should focus more on their top-of-the-funnel strategy
    • Whether more campaigns are better
    • How top-of-the-funnel campaigns scale
    • How to attribute brand awareness strategies to revenue

Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.*

Back in the 90s, if you wanted to grow fast, you hired more salespeople.

“Nothing could be more stupid, in hindsight. If you just throw salespeople at growth, they have to manage their own funnel, which means you have to expend resources trying to find new buyers. That was back in the days of Salesforce and SuccessFactors‎ getting started in SaaS. We’ve measured this balance of growth vs. budget vs. efficiency in terms of growth percentage, but we also look at a magic number called CAC (customer acquisition cost). CAC shows the productivity of your go-to-market strategy.”


top of the funnel marketing

We used to focus only on the “magic number.”

“In the days when CRM was still fresh and new, we looked for a magic number around .3 – .8. Then moving to the next generation when CRM was fairly stable, we had  a system of record for customers and sales interaction, and marketing automation was born. That created a lot more efficiency. Now we’re able to not only know who you are but develop your interest and do that in an automated way.

“At Marketo, I was able to get our magic number from 1.25 to 1.75 — a much more efficient model where the same salesperson could achieve a much higher quota because they were spending the bulk of their time closing business. Marketing had come deeper into the funnel, generating and qualifying leads for salespeople.”

Now Marketing Automation is mature.

“The inefficiency ball has moved to the top of the funnel. How do we identify anonymous people who are good potential buyers and engage them with our company at scale? When they fill out a form or execute a free trial, they’re now a lead. That lead is logged in a marketing automation platform and nurtured into a buyer and handed over to a CRM. That’s the way I look at it.” 

Most companies want to increase their reach through digital channels.

“There’s more opportunity to learn faster in digital channels than the old print media world. For example, when we talk to companies about their paid strategy, we ask, ‘What are you doing in search advertising and social that you’re paying for?’ What we usually hear is they’re spending $100k a month with a conversion rate of 4 percent. They always say, ‘I’m not going to spend more on my paid campaigns until we get the conversion rates up to 6 or 7 percent.’ The question is, if you have your conversion rates at 6 or 7 percent, would you spend more to unlock more budget and let it become more efficient? The counterargument to that is in SEO.”

On the organic side, there’s a lot of opportunity for learning.

“If I can learn what keywords are working with new pools of buyers I haven’t reached before, I can create a new campaign associated with a dedicated landing page. That’s a lot of wins. The company is going to learn what new content to develop, what new keywords are working, or that old keywords aren’t.

“That input that I’m learning on these virtually free campaigns can help drive my paid strategy. Maybe now I’ve found some new keywords to develop a whitepaper or videos around. I also want to buy new search phrases because they’re less contested and I’m beating my competition to market segments. I also want to rank for certain phrases with a new product release or in a new geography. The most efficient way to do that up front is with organic campaigns that feed a more intelligent paid strategy across search advertising and social.”

TOFU personalization has really been about optimizing a template and account setup.

“In the paid world, the landing page can be dynamic, which obviously is different than SEO where it’s static. I might have 5-6 variables on a page: header, footer, ad copy, etc. That’s five variables, maybe four templates I want to test. Maybe I have seven persona filters and four hundred ad groups. How do I test all of those variables with different content that’s going to drive up conversion rates? That’s been impossible, but now you can put AI against that to figure out what demand is out there and what content to suggest. Then you test it. You can drive up conversion rates and drive out that inefficiency using technology.”

* * *

B2B Nation: Smarketing is a podcast for B2B sales and marketing professionals, featuring expert opinions and advice on the most important topics in the industry. Check out our other episodes on iTunes, or follow us on Twitter: @B2BNation_Smar.


*Some excerpts have been paraphrased to enhance readability.  
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