“Our organization hadn't really spent a lot of focus, time, energy, or money on marketing ourselves,” explains Nick Belenky, EVP Sales at Top of Mind Networks. As the leading mortgage CRM, the team knew this was an ironic situation to be in. Top of Mind had been so focused on giving a great product experience and helping customers market their businesses that they weren’t maximizing the marketing opportunities for their own solution.
This isn’t an unusual position for SaaS companies to find themselves in. Often, marketing to existing customers and supporting Product and Customer Success takes priority while the potential for marketing-led growth takes a back seat.
The Top of Mind team knew they needed to build their web presence and make it easier for new customers to find them. But they didn't want to waste time on haphazard experimentation without knowing what outcomes to expect or which KPIs to track.
Following a recommendation from their private equity company, Primus, Top of Mind started working with How To SaaS. Going into the engagement, “what we lacked was confidence,” Nick explains. “We knew the concepts that we were going for, and we even had an idea of the path forward to increase our SEO and increase the number of leads coming in. But we didn't know how much we needed to do, and we didn’t know how to do it or what to expect.”
Read on to learn how the engagement with How To SaaS helped Top of Mind to:
Plus Nick's advice on how to get the most from a How To SaaS engagement.
At the core of How To SaaS's recommendations for Top of Mind's marketing was a stronger foundation of data. Without comprehensive marketing data, it's almost impossible to see the patterns that should inform your strategic decisions. In Top of Mind's case, they hadn’t previously devoted much time to tracking marketing data, so they weren’t sure which KPIs to track to measure campaign and channel success.
To guide the next steps and identify areas for potential growth, How To SaaS started the engagement by working with Top of Mind to get a full picture of their activities and performance. This was a process of discovery: “The first time we answered those questions, it was a little bit embarrassing,” Nick admits. Top of Mind knew they needed to do some work on the corporate marketing side, but they hadn’t realized how many questions they didn’t have the data to hand to answer.
Building out the marketing analytics helped Top of Mind understand which marketing activities were working well and which weren't, without having to waste months on experimentation. Instead of spending time and effort on establishing a baseline of metrics to work from, Top of Mind could quickly start focusing on finding opportunities and improving their performance on those metrics. Plus, having this historical data to hand allowed them to confidently predict the right marketing targets and budgets to guide their marketing expansion.
Top of Mind knew they wanted to focus on increasing their organic search volume, including updating their website and making it more SEO-friendly. However, based on How To SaaS’s recommendations, the Top of Mind team also diversified their demand generation. They expanded their paid search activities, including review sites, software sites, displays ads, and Google ads—channels they hadn’t explored before.
A year on from the start of the engagement, Top of Mind has built on the foundation How To SaaS helped them set up and has now grown to have the largest organic digital footprint of any of their mortgage CRM competitors.
Following How To SaaS's recommendations, Top of Mind also started using Capterra and applied similar strategies to use Software Advice and G2 as well. “Sure enough, this month we've got leads coming in from Capterra, which is something we never even considered at the beginning of the year,” Nick says. The leads from these new sources on top of those from organic search and direct traffic have been enough to hire another salesperson, Nick explains: “It makes a measurable difference.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Top of Mind—like many businesses—paused hiring. But with How To SaaS’s support, Top of Mind had the data they needed to justify hiring business development representatives and inside sales reps again by the end of the summer. Plus, they could show a sustainable trajectory of leads to support this investment going forward.
“What the engagement did was let us prove to our board that the investment in the marketing team (which had not existed in the past) could pay measurable dividends," Nick explains. "As long as the dividends were measured and measurable, the board was happy to invest in marketing. They did invest, and they got their return very quickly. I think that’s the primary contribution from How To SaaS: The measurability of those investments.”
Top of Mind went from knowing that they needed to build their marketing to understanding why they were taking specific actions and being able to explain this to the board. This also allowed Top of Mind to justify not spending time and money on activities that didn't lift their demand generation or support thought leadership.
The steep learning curve at the start of the engagement quickly led to incremental improvements. Once they started following How To SaaS’s recommendations for their website, “we got almost immediate results!” Nick recalls.
Because the How To SaaS advisors had already been through several iterations of this marketing journey, they could offer guidance on strategy and give Top of Mind the confidence they needed. “How To SaaS helped us set our expectations appropriately because we didn't know what success would look like,” Nick explains. “Is this a good result? Have we invested enough? Are we dedicating enough marketing resources? Just getting a sense for what we should expect was extremely helpful and was worth the investment in How To SaaS.”
Soon, the team was looking forward to their meetings with How To SaaS: “It was really pleasant to work with How To SaaS," Nick says, "because even though we were working with a third party, they got to know our business well enough that it was just like talking with someone else on our team.”
“I think if you approach the engagement with extreme caution then you're not going to get everything out of it,” Nick says. Instead, he recommends working on several different initiatives at the same time, getting maximum measurement and assistance to run multiple initiatives in parallel.
In fact, Nick explains, having seen the results they got from their How To SaaS engagement, his team would spend even more time, energy, and focus on some of the initiatives to speed up the changes and take greater advantage of what they learned.
“If, as in our case, you’re going from very little web presence, I would be ready to apply a lot of marketing horsepower with the expectation that you will get a positive result,” Nick advises. “What you're measuring by the end of the project is the degree to which you want to invest more, not whether it's going to make an impact. Because, yes, it will make a positive impact.”
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