If your business already has a mature marketing function that delivers a steady flow of leads, it's tempting to let marketing continue on autopilot while you focus on improving other functions. But, chances are, this approach means you miss out on even higher conversion rates, lower CAC, and more closed-won deals that are easily within reach. As security and automation software company Fortra (formerly HelpSystems) discovered, businesses in this situation are in an ideal position to make low-effort but high-ROI adjustments to existing campaigns and processes.
Although Fortra already had an effective marketing engine in place, they wanted to further increase the number of quality leads they were generating. “While we were continuously patting ourselves on the back for all the great things we were doing, we wondered what else we could be doing,” recalls Mike Devine, CMO at Fortra.
So, when Fortra began an engagement with How To SaaS in early 2020, "I was really intrigued what they could do to tighten and scale our demand gen," Mike says.
To test How To SaaS's capabilities, Mike set the team a challenge: He started off the engagement by setting them to work on a Fortra product line that was already performing well. How To SaaS's analysis of the marketing activities confirmed that many were producing great results and didn't need to be changed. However, it also uncovered some key opportunities that could improve the number of quality leads and, as a result, deliver more wins for HelpSystems. “We gave them what I thought was the ultimate test," Mike says, "and they just crushed it."
Read on to learn how Fortra was able to:
Fortra already had a strong marketing data system in place: "I'm really proud of the demand gen engine we've built and the measurement that goes with that," Mike says. "Everything we do, we measure like crazy because we hate wasting money on things that just don't bring in any leads."
How To SaaS built on this foundation by drilling down even deeper into Fortra' data, revealing not just the number of leads but granular details on which leads were won or lost. "How to SaaS does a really nice job of saying 'In this vertical, you get a lot of SQLs, but you don't win many.' Or, 'In this geography, you don't get many SQLs, but every one you get, you win,'" Mike explains.
"We just hadn't gone that deep, and we should have been doing that," Mike says, "but I think that's the value of bringing in a fresh set of eyes. We're always talking internally now to say 'let's bounce this off the How to SaaS folks and just see if they can find something wrong with it or a way to improve it'."
Working with How To SaaS to dive into the data has led Fortra to set a new standard for marketing metrics. "Especially on the paid search side, the level of granularity that How To SaaS exposed to us is now our benchmark," Mike says. "We refer to it as the How To SaaS spreadsheet."
Based on this in-depth data and the team's experience, How To SaaS presented Fortra with highly specific recommendations of ways to maximize impact.
For example, rather than pushing Fortra to reinvent the wheel in the areas of SEO that were already working, How To SaaS highlighted specific technical SEO opportunities and ways to steal traffic by developing particular keywords. In paid media, the How To SaaS team recommended removing certain campaigns while doubling down on others to use the spend more effectively.
For Mike, it was vital that the recommendations his team executed on were focused on moving the needle. While some of these projects have delivered small improvements, "some of them have been eye-popping," he says, including:
“All the right metrics were happening and it was happening really quickly,” Mike recalls.
This focus on delivering quantifiable marketing results with clear business impact was critically important for both How To SaaS and Fortra. "I'm committed to delivering more pipeline for the business, more wins for the business, and How To SaaS has really helped us with that," Mike says."We've meshed really well, even from a value standpoint, because that's how we believe marketing should function in an organization—especially an organization with exciting growth goals. We believe marketing should be held accountable that way."
Particularly for businesses that already have a full marketing team on board, bringing in a third party to analyze and advise is only successful if there is respect and rapport between the in-house and external teams.
With a lot of consultants, Mike explains, you have to repeat yourself on every call, but “with How to SaaS, I feel like they read everything and discussed everything we talked about on a previous call. There's no refreshing everyone's memory—they just get right to it.”
Since their initial engagement, Fortra has continued to work with How To SaaS on multiple product lines, and, most recently, on a retainer basis. For Mike and his team, this offers a chance to run ideas by the How To SaaS team, gut-check their assumptions, and get an external perspective on the data.
"Whether we were succeeding or not succeeding, we started to develop this mindset of 'let's get that outside view'," Mike explains. In some situations, this relationship has allowed Fortra to validate increasing investment in successful channels to generate a better return. In other cases, Fortra have turned to How To SaaS for recommendations in situations where "we had tried everything, we pulled out all the stops and we just couldn't get the funnel to where we thought it needed to be to support the business," Mike says. "We'd look at each other and say ‘let's call How to SaaS and see if they can look at this—maybe we're missing something'."
"My advice is that no matter where you are in your journey, it's really good to get someone else's perspective," Mike says. Whether you're just starting out and have a small marketing team that focuses on fundamentals, or you're more established and are thinking about adding more ways to engage with customers, every business can benefit from a fresh set of eyes and some direction on how to grow the marketing function.
If you think you've got most of marketing figured out, "don't have that big of an ego that you think you've got it all figured out," Mike laughs. Even if that external perspective does say that you don't need to change a thing, at least you'll know for sure. "But they won't," Mike says. "More than likely, they'll find some zingers for you, and we're all looking to make the best use of our time and our budget." There's a lot we can do if we're focused, Mike emphasizes, "but if we're spending time and money on things that aren't generating results, that's a shame."
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