Take this five-minute assessment to understand your current level of integrated marketing maturity—and what you can do to move to the next level.
Leverage more of your marketing stack.
You don’t have to use 100% of the features in every product in your stack, but take full advantage of the features you do use. SaaS companies are constantly adding to their offerings, so you’re likely paying for something that didn’t exist when you first signed up.
Reuse and recycle the processes and content assets that already work.
Mine your analytics to find the resources that best speak to your audience and use those lessons to expand. Iterate on your highest performing content and keep looking for even better results.
Lean in to the relationships you already have.
Partnerships don’t need a purchase order, just time, relationships, trust, and accountability. Reach out to current partners to work on new ways to collaborate that benefit you both.
It’s about taking stock of the technology that you have at your fingertips. Whether you’re using that 5% of the time, 42% of the time, or 100% of the time, it’s so important to know the tech you have and have training for your team to use it.
Ellen is a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager at Iron Horse specializing in demand generation, integrated marketing campaigns, and virtual events. Before Iron Horse, Ellen accumulated experience in various roles, including account management at a worldwide advertising company, marketing operations at a large SaaS company, and growth marketing for a tech start-up.
Josh Baez is a customer-driven B2B professional who has worked across marketing, sales, and customer success. He is a creative, passionate, goal-driven marketer who thinks strategically and holistically to overcome challenges–big and small–with expediency and efficiency. He works to not only drive engagement, but also to craft meaningful experiences that create long-term, loyal customers for the business.
Josh: Hi everyone, and thank you so much for joining us for today's session. We are here to talk to you about how you can build, motivate and scale your team to achieve more with the resources and headcount that you already have. I am your host, Josh Baez, Senior Manager of Corporate Marketing here at ON24, and we are the technology powering today's entire event experience.
Before we get started, I want to make sure that you all have these reminders to get the most out of today's event. Everything in this experience can be customized, so you can move things around or resize your windows. You can also ask us questions in the Q&A and our team behind the scenes will respond to what they can. And lastly, feel free to find any related resources for the session today below if you're keen to learn more about today's topics.
We've also got some prizes for you to win. If you attend at least one breakout session, so something like this and the closing keynote during today's event, you'll have a chance to win a set of AirPod Pros. And if you complete just one session survey today, we'd really appreciate it, and as a thank you, we'll send you a little thank you gift.
But let's go ahead and get this started. I'm very excited to talk about this today because this is such an important part of the conversation when it comes to B2B tech. So joining me today is Ellen Smoley, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Iron Horse. Ellen, I'm so glad that you could join me. I love having these kinds of conversations with you and I'd love to give you a chance to introduce yourself. And while you do, I want to ask our audience a poll question to warm things up. So they're going to answer this, is your marketing team set up effectively to plan, execute, and scale engaging programs and experiences. And while they're answering that, Ellen, the floor is yours.
Ellen: Thank you. Thanks Josh. Thanks for having me on today. I also love this topic. Hello everyone, I am Ellen Smoley, Growth Marketing Manager here at Iron Horse. Iron Horse is a growth marketing agency focused on B2B tech companies. And at Iron Horse I am doing the behind the scenes of the campaign planning, the marketing strategy and the execution of our programs working with our team. So super excited to be here with y'all and feel very passionate about this topic, so ready to get started.
Josh: And I think that because you are so impactful in the planning and the coordination within the team, Ellen, I think that that's a big reason why we wanted to have this conversation because I think that in today's landscape where there are a lot of tech layoffs happening and layoffs just around headcount and resources and budgets, and there's a lot of cuts happening right now. And so I think a lot of marketers are left with the question of, how do we not only maintain where we are, but also maintain that momentum moving forward and scaling that. So I think that thinking about the internal scale and how you set up your teams for that success is such a critical part of that.
Josh: So I'm really excited to talk. Today's agenda is going to cover the importance of an agile team, how you get more out of the tech that you pay for, very important part of today's conversation. And then finally, how you put all this together to build this integrated campaign plan. I think that as the output of scaling a team internally is an important thing to cover too.
So let's start with this first question for you, Ellen, and that is, in 2023, what does it mean for a team to be agile, and is it different from how marketing teams have had to be agile in the past?
Ellen: Yeah, yeah, I love the question. So in 2023, being agile means being really flexible and being able to adapt. So flexibility and adaptability are two big things. Yes, it is different than we have ever had to work in the past because of a couple different reasons. There are more complex buyer journeys, and there's more buyers in that journey. So there are 11 plus people involved in a buying decision, and that is more than ever. So we've got to figure out a way to talk to all of those buyers.
The need for real time data is greater than ever. We've got a lot of people asking us to see that data and to have it to them quickly, so that's super important. And then of course the macroeconomic environment, we don't need to go there, we don't need to talk about it, but it certainly keeps us on our toes, not knowing what's going to be happening in the next 3, 6, 9 months. So a lot is different than the way we've had to operate in the past, and I think the pandemic really set us up to being more agile, for sure. But there's a couple different things we can think of in how to structure our teams to have that agility.
And first is being just super flexible, so being quick on our feet, testing and optimizing and being quick to make those optimizations. So there's some cool tech out there that helps enable us to do some of that testing and optimizing. Certainly being collaborative with our teams, so accepting of feedback is a huge one. Even sometimes it's hard to hear, but that's the way that we're going to help our teams get better is being really open to that feedback.
One thing in Iron Horse that we love to do, because a lot of us are really remote, is to have workshops and brainstorms. So we've heard it, but really just if we're not able to get in the room together to sit on our computers and open up a mural board and all kind of get on the same page with what we're trying to do. So whether it's some AB tests that we're trying to run, or whether it's new personas, we're trying to figure out what their journeys are, working together, being collaborative on just getting everyone on the same page there.
Another thing that Iron Horse does is on a biweekly basis, we have a Level Up series, where we bring everyone together that can join for a lunch and learn, and we think through marketing topics that are going to help us all get on the same page with what's going on. So whether that's persona building, whether that's listening to successful customer stories that we've recently had, what is marketing strategy, what are some of the pain points that our clients are having? So we are all understanding those things that are going to help us be smarter about some of the decisions that we make.
Really being transparent. So it goes along with being collaborative, it's really understanding those roles and responsibilities that we're playing. What are the roles of my job? What's the roles of our operations? What's the roles of our sales team? So making sure that we all understand that so then we can be equipped to make some of those decisions. Being transparent with sales for better alignment is super important, and I think you'll hear me say that a couple times. We're only going to be able to move as fast as all of those that are on board. So really just working with our sales team for better alignment. And then transparent with our data sets. So having that same data set that we're all looking at, the need for real-time data is even greater. So really just being transparent with the data that we're all looking at.
And last but not least, having passion, being passionate. This is passionate about data, understanding what's working, what's not, so then we can turn on some of those quick optimizations to make. Passionate about growth, not only our company's success and the company's growth, but our department goals and growth, and then also our professional growth as well. And lastly here, really being passionate about technology. So nerding out on some of those powerful tools that we have to enable success. And so I know we'll get into those tools with technologies, but really having a passion for the tech that makes us be better marketers.
Josh: Yeah, I love that. I mean, there's a few things that I want to dig into a little bit more that you had mentioned, but I think that this list is such a nice way to describe an agile team. And I think ultimately, what we're getting at is that an agile team really is a team that is ready for scale. And obviously that is the whole theme of this event.
You mentioned adaptability and data readiness, and it's funny that you mentioned that because in our closing keynote, we're talking with Denise Pearson of Snowflake, and she will also be talking about the importance of data to enable adaptability, so I think it's a nice link. I think that without real-time data, you're spending a lot of time doing things that may not be impactful.
Josh: And you don't know that until you get the data back. And if you're waiting, that's lost time, that's lost resources.
Ellen: Exactly. Yeah.
Josh: I also really loved what you said about aligning with your sales team. I think that driving that alignment is critical. If you just came from the demand-based session, we were talking with Chris Moody who helped enable their entire sales team at RKO, and we were talking all about alignment with that as well. So I think, again, another great link, Ellen, with other sessions at this event, but I think driving that alignment is super critical, because if you are not aligned with the different teams that you are going to market with, you are losing a lot of the impact and a lot of that momentum gets lost in the mix.
Ellen: Yeah, and it's as high level as aligning on strategy, your go-to-market strategy, and it's as tactical as aligning on those messages that you're going to send to the MQLs that just hit your inbox. So it's really working very closely together to make sure that we know the steps and the processes of what's going to happen when, and also how we should be communicating to those 11 plus buyers that we're seeing in the journey.
Josh: Yeah, I love it. Well, this is a great way to set us up. Let's move into our next section around utilizing the tools and the tech. So when it comes to the technologies that we have, I think that it's very clear that the tech that we use is what either enables or prevents us from being cross-functional. I think that tech, if anything, it either heightens our ability to be cross-functional, or it hinders it because it creates more silos than maybe we would otherwise have. So my question for you, Ellen, is what can marketers do to make the best use of those existing tools and technologies?
Ellen: Yep. Okay, great question. So the average enterprise has 90 tools in the MarTech stack, which is insane.
Josh: That's wild.
Ellen: It is wild. And the stat here says marketers utilize just 42% of their MarTech stack capabilities. So with that being said, I think first and foremost, it's taking stock of the technology that you have at your fingertips. Whether you're using that tech 5% of the time, 42% of the time, or 100% of the time, making sure that you have a running list, or you just know the technology that you have at your fingertips.
It's also having training and education for your teams to be able to use that technology. It's aligning resources so you have an expert on those tools and techs, so you know when new features are released, you know when integrations are new to that tech. Otherwise, a lot of times what we see is that we, as marketers, have a problem and we go to find a new piece of technology to solve that one problem. Whereas we could already have a piece of tech in our stack that has recently released a new feature that might do what we need it to do, that we're already paying for, that's already integrated. So we should be using some of those features that are maybe new or maybe we haven't tapped into yet.
A big piece of this is integration. I probably have already said it five times, and I'll continue to say it throughout this conversation, but just making sure that as much as you can, you have integrated tools and tech, that way it will help you understand your customer's journey. So without this integration, we're working in silos. We may have a customer come to our website and chat with the chatbot and then come to our webinar. And if those things aren't integrated or we're not looking at the same dataset, we'll never know that those two interactions happened.
So we've got to make sure that the integration happens so that way, when they come back to the site, our chatbot says a message that is going to help them move down the funnel. It's not going to show them a piece of content that they've already interacted with because they've already interacted with it. So we need to really spend a lot of time and resources here on the integration to make sure that those tools and techs that we're, hopefully, using 90 plus percent of the time is doing what we need it to do for us.
And then lastly that we have here is just holding our teams responsible for the usability and adoption of the tech. It's really easy to adopt a new piece of technology, to throw it over the fence and say, this is how we should be using it, but that's all we do. So it's really spending a lot of time with those people who are going to be using it to make sure that we're using it for the best use case, and we've got playbooks and tools to help, office hours, whatever that might be, to help us understand exactly how we should be using this technology to the best of our ability.
Josh: Yeah, I think that one of the stats also on this slide is that the usage actually has gone down, also.
Ellen: Right, yes.
Josh: That, I think, speaks volumes too, because in today's landscape where we are making budget cuts, there's a lot of churn happening just in general. Making better use and fuller use of the tools that you have, whether it be your email marketing platform, a webinar platform, digital experiences, you need to be making sure that you're using everything that you possibly can to get the most out of it, because I think otherwise there's a lot of wasted spend and wasted budgets.
Similarly to what we were just talking about with the teams, when you're not aligned with your sales teams, with your other marketing counterparts, you're losing a lot of momentum when it comes to planning and executing this kind of stuff. Do you have any other thoughts on the implications that you've seen in your experience, of companies that maybe aren't using tech to its fullest extent, and what usually happens, what breaks down?
Ellen: Yeah, of course. What we see is just a lot of creation of noise within the IT team. Maybe a little frustration there too. A lot of noise in marketing departments, security risk. If we've got technology out there that's just has customer data sitting in it, that poses a security risk if it's just kind of floating out there.
So creation of noise and creation of additional spend that may not need to be there. Really the lack of robust data sets. So if we're only using technology 5% of the time, we are enabling that tech to give us the data that it's wanting to give us, that it can give us, in order to be able to feed that customer journey, enable to feed some of our data sets in order to do those tests and optimizations. So lack of robust data sets, and siloed campaigns. If we aren't using our tech to the fullest, we have the opportunity to really have siloed campaigns working at different speeds, not talking together, and therefore our customer journey is going to be broken.
Josh: Yeah, it's super fragmented at that point.
Ellen: Super fragmented. Exactly. That's a great word. Yeah.
Josh: Yeah. Well then I guess the wrap up question for this section is then, what are your takeaways or things that a marketer could start doing today to start rectifying or addressing situations where maybe tech isn't being fully utilized?
Ellen: Yeah, exactly. So this is a little plug on Iron Horse, but Iron Horse can kind of come in as a third party to look at the way that the tech is being used or not being used, and understand it from what your dimension goals are, what your overall marketing strategy is to help you understand how to move forward with some of the usage of those tools and tech.
It really involves change management too. So thinking through what we talked about a little bit earlier is instead of just throwing the piece of tech over to the other team, your revenue team, and saying, "Here, we think you should use this", it's really sitting down with them to build those playbooks to understand if we're going to roll this out to 400 sales reps, they all need to be on the same page. So let's build a playbook that allows them to do the same repeatable process and then we'll take stock. And in two months if things are changing or that's not working, we'll update that playbook that all of those sales reps are looking at to make sure we continue to be on the same page.
So I think it's definitely making sure that we've got some good change management processes out there, building playbooks, and then really if you're struggling with how to not have siloed campaigns or how to look at robust data sets, you can start by looking at how do we integrate some of these together so we can start feeding in the data into one system so we know how to tell a more cohesive customer journey. So just a few things there to help rectify.
Josh: Yeah, I love it. That's great. Thank you for that. So let's move into our last section. And I'm going to warn people, I love the drawing that's on this next slide. And Ellen, I know that you didn't really want this shown, but I do think that it's a perfect example, that I do think that is valuable. So genuinely love this, but that is how we put this all together. We talked about our teams, we talked about our tools. Let's talk about how we bring those two pieces together to create the output of a campaign plan, and how we use this to build better integrated campaigns.
So I would love for you to walk through this beautiful drawing that you have about this campaign, and talk to us about what the process is when it comes to aligning and making sure that your teams are set up for success.
Ellen: Sure. So I told Josh, I said, "I've been working on something. I've been on my iPad scribbling", and I think my design team will really be upset that I'm using this image, but I think it resonates. So we're doing it anyways.
Josh: We're doing it.
Ellen: We're doing it. So this is just some of my iPad scratch of how we've been thinking about for Iron Horse and for our clients, some of the campaign planning, the marketing strategy. And I think, first, before we even go into this thing, we've got to think about creating our strategy and our plan. So first we've got to take a look at what are our company goals and what are our department targets. First, it's understanding that before we can put anything down on paper, that's actually going to work. So doing those two things, and that's talking with our marketing leaders, that's talking with our sales leaders, that's talking with our CMO, to really figure out what are our company goals, what are our marketing targets? And all right, let's back into that. Let's meet those goals, and here's how we're going to do so.
So this is our campaign framework. We've got our overarching campaign, which is to support our go to market. And then under that, we've got SaaSy Sally, who has an adorable haircut. And Sally is our persona here. So as we think about the campaign and the persona, what are her needs? What are we going to be serving up that's going to help the needs that she has? So it's doing a lot of research here. It's spending a lot of time on knowing who is in your buying unit, what are their needs, what are their roles, influencers, how are they going to be active in your buyer's journey. So spending a lot of time there is really going to do wonders for you.
And then it's thinking about those hero assets. So if we are trying to scale, we're not going to go create a thousand pieces of content for Sally. We are going to think about those hero assets that are going to help drive her down the funnel. And then we're going to talk through, okay, what do we need to do to promote those hero assets through different stages of the journey? So we've got prefrontal awareness, consideration, and evaluation. And within that, we think through the questions, or we do SEO research. We look at buying patterns, we talk to our customers, what were you looking for at this stage? And we start to put questions to different stages of the buying journey. We say, during this time they might be asking X, Y, Z.
And we all know that the buyer's journey is not this simple. There's 11 people involved in it. It is not linear. You can jump from one place to the other. But having this structure will allow you to feel more confident that you are answering your buyer's questions when they need those answers.
So then under the little blue bubbles here, we then think about what do we have to support those questions? In pre-funnel, we've got a really rich paid media, but we don't have any SEM or SEO. So we've got to really start now to think about that plan and how we're going to make that light up, make that turn green. So we're going to work on those tactics.
And I would be remiss here if I did not talk about how important partners are throughout this whole entire journey. It's working together with our partners for better engagement, more reach, more credibility, working with partners if we've got an amazing case study where we're working together to help build that case study, so you're both promoting it and it's reaching different audiences to tell that really robust story of how both of your services, tools, technology work together to help solve a problem.
So partners are so important here. I can't say it enough. It just really helps elevate your conversations, have better reach, and so therefore you can see it spread out throughout the whole journey.
Josh: I love it.
Ellen: So this is my crazy drawing. Hopefully it's a little bit of a takeaway if you're struggling to think through, how can I even structure what we need to go create, maybe this will give you a little bit of inspiration. Just pull out your iPad and start scribbling.
Josh: I love this. Yeah, I think that there's a few things that I want to just touch on too, is that when it comes to building out your campaign plan, I love that you start... I think that everyone, we need to reiterate that we always need to start with our goals and our objectives. I think that without that, we're lost in the wind and we're just moving towards any direction that we deem fit to move into. So I think that starting with your goals and your objectives is always the best place that you need to start from.
And then something that we like to do at ON24 when we plan our strategies is think about, okay, based on these goals and objectives, what are the different sales activations that we are going to need to enable buyers to make those decisions to then achieve those goals? And then based on those sales activations, what are the different types of experiences, whether they be webinars, email nurtures, different tactics in marketing that then allow us to capture the right data to then fuel those sales actions. So I think it's a linear progression, but it's backwards. I think that you always need to think about it from your end goal, what are the dependencies that will enable you to achieve each of those steps?
Ellen: I love that. Yep, absolutely.
Josh: And then I also love the partner play. Obviously partners are a big part of this event. ON24 and Iron Horse are partners. There are partners who are speaking throughout this event too. And we love working with partners too, because like you said, it helps validate, I think, a lot of the work that you do, and it also helps your reach and your impact, because you are able to break into the databases and the followings of the partners that you're working with. And I think that in that way, you're able to scale your message and what your content is without necessarily having to pay in the same traditional sense of advertising or doing some kind of sponsored play. So I do love partner programs in that way as well.
Ellen: Yeah, exactly. And even if you did pay for something, splitting the cost between two partners is going to help you scale too. So that's another way to think if you do have a paid activation, using a partner with you to help with that cost.
Josh: And then if there are co-selling plays, you get to have a little bit more stickiness too, because when tools are integrated together, there's a less likelihood of churning off of one of them, because if one of them gets impacted, the other one gets impacted, and then that starts at chain. So I think that the more you can do to get sticky with the different partners and the integrations and the tools that you have, again, thinking about the tools and the teams and how you align those together, it's becoming more and more important as you create this ecosystem of digital market. Yeah.
Ellen: Great point.
Josh: This is great, Ellen. Thank you so much for going through this. We are starting to wrap up. We have a few minutes left, but before we go, I want to make sure I remind everyone to be sure to attend the closing keynote during today's event, if you're watching this, and you could win a set of AirPod Pros. And be sure to fill out a session survey today, you can find that below in the console, and we will send you a thank you gift if you do. But Ellen, my last question for you then is, what are your top takeaways for our audience today?
Ellen: Yeah, I think we've talked a while, but I definitely think some of the top takeaways are to really test and optimize, even if you don't have a tool to do it, break out an Excel sheet where you are putting in your test and your results and you're looking at them from an Excel point of view. To know your audience inside and out, to really do a lot of research there. To integrate, integrate, integrate. Make one plus one equal three. Spend a lot of time integrating your tools and tech. And then building alignment between your internal teams, which would be your sales teams, your operations teams, and your external as well, so building relationships and alignment with your partners too. Super important. So I think those are the four things that I will leave y'all with.
Josh: Amazing. Well, Ellen, thank you so much for joining today and for talking through all this. You have all been listening to Ellen Smoley of Iron Horse on ways to scale your internal teams, tools and programs to maximize your impact. And thank you so much for everyone who has joined today's session to watch. Be sure to catch us in the closing keynote and feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all from today's presentation. Thank you all so much, and we will see you again soon.
Ellen: Thank you.
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