Continuing our series unearthing the secrets of Xeneta’s successful, fully automated, outbound marketing campaign, Fernando Nicolić Director of Demand Generation at Xeneta shares the all-important details on the metrics – from conversion to revenue and more.
Alex: Walk us through the conversion rates that you’re seeing.
Fernando: Right now, I would say; from lead to MQL conversion is between 5% and 10% and from MQL to SQL 20%.
Because the funnel filters low ROI leads out, those 20% are very important for us because at that point they should have high lead scoring and be super duper qualified. The probability of conversion to customer becomes very high.
Alex: What’s the point in that 30 day cycle where you see the most conversions happening?
Fernando: I would say the third touch point has the most conversions for prospects in the lead life cycle stage. We usually get some traction at the first and second touch points but the third is where we see higher open rates, click rates and reply rates.
For MQLs, the point of most traction depends on where they are on the lead scoring. It’s also important to recognise that it might not be the content that is contributing to any lack of traction. It could be that your email is just being sent at the wrong time and you just need to send it again in order to get a response.
We’re being very active on having a lot of touch points because we’re seeing that the engagement comes much later on than the case studies and blogs tend to suggest.
Alex: Walk us through the costs typically associated with generating a new meeting
Fernando: This was an entirely organic strategy – no paid ads at all. The cost was really just the cost of the tools (Phantom Buster, HubSpot, Salesforce and premium LinkedIn profiles), the infrastructure and the combined team salary.
Alex: Were costs the key driver?
Fernando: Time is really the big driver here and also the cost of opportunity – what opportunities would you be sacrificing if you were to do everything manually?
Being fully automated gives us the time freedom to be more creative and really hone down on the quality of the copywriting, emails and subject lines. We’re able to afford time to experiment with A/B and multivariate testing across landing pages and throughout our digital footprint. I would say that is where the real ROI is.
Alex: What about the revenue influenced, does the ROI speak for itself?
Fernando: For this year’s activities’, revenue is at $848k US from conversions. When you really think about how small the team is and the impact of these automation activities that’s a great return. I would say the revenue influence is a very strong indicator on how successful this whole approach is.
It’s also a reflection of our target audience. What we are offering is very novel – the industry as a whole, historically, don’t really mess with SaaS platforms or digital products. It’s still mostly Excel sheets… and faxes! Many of our prospects have worked in the industry for decades and have done things a certain way. So, if they see a paid ad, even with great copywriting, it still won’t immediately resonate with them.
There are also no competitors already doing this and therefore no landscape to reference. This makes direct contact channels like LinkedIn and email crucial for us because they enable us to open up a dialogue with these people and to slowly convince them of the value of our platform before taking them through our prospecting engine.
Most inboxes are jammed full of marketing newsletters. The vast majority of them remain unopened, either until the recipient has enough time to read them or enough time to unsubscribe. The latest figures from Mailchimp show an average open rate of just 21.33%. Remember, that’s for recipients who have given permission and opted in before receiving any emails.
In other words, even though people sign up for newsletters, they’re still not opening them. Many companies realize that email marketing can be extremely powerful, but then go and send out newsletters that look the same as everyone else’s and offer no value.
Fortunately, there are still newsletters that stand out for the right reasons, emails that people can’t wait to read.
These people are true pioneers in the newsletter space, they are changing it up, and it works.
Nathan Latka is best known for his daily podcast interviews with CEOs and founders where he digs into the data behind their SasS businesses.
Why it’s on the list
The Latka newsletter serves a very specific audience and serves them well. If you’re interested in the inner workings of B2B SaaS companies, the newsletter is a goldmine, without trying to appeal to different audiences.
Each email has plenty to offer in terms of value, with advice on different growth channels, strategies, and business models. You’ll also get the latest news in the SaaS space, with interviews and events. There’s also a regular Deal or Bust show, where SaaS founders try to sell shares in their company to investors, live on YouTube.
Throughout it all, solid data is always at the core of the email. Rather than sharing opinions and vague advice, this newsletter is full of the latest facts and figures, making it a valuable resource.
You don’t have to please everyone with your newsletter. Know what your specific audience is interested in, then provide them with outstanding and tangible value.
With more than 2 million subscribers, the Morning Brew is a daily newsletter for young professionals.
Why it’s on the list
The Morning Brew show’s it’s possible to create a newsletter that covers a wide variety of topics without sacrificing quality.
Each email collates the day’s headlines, keeping it concise and easy to scan. The newsletter is well-written with an easy-going sense of humor, sounding more like a relaxed chat with a friend than a formal news briefing. As a result, you might find yourself reading about subjects you never realized you were interested in..
The Morning Brew was created for millennials as an alternative to the dry long-form news providers. By knowing your audience and finding your unique angle, you can still stand out from other newsletters in your space.
Product Hunt curates the latest and greatest products in tech, whether they’re apps, websites, or hardware.
Why it’s on the list
Product Hunt’s strength is successfully building a strong community around creators and their products. It’s an entrepreneur’s dream, with users enthusiastically providing feedback and voting on the products that actually serve a need.
After the headline story, you get to see the latest ‘Top Hunts.’ At a glance, you can see what the product is, a one-line description, and how many upvotes it has. The whole newsletter is simple, highlighting the best products without overwhelming you with information. For any products that capture your interest, you can simply click through and join in the conversation.
Your audience is a great resource, and Product Hunt has produced a newsletter that is primarily curated by their community. If you have a strong customer base, use them to create a newsletter that they’ll actually want to read.
Seth Godin is a marketing thought-leader who shares his thoughts and insights in a daily blog.
Why it’s on the list
The above email is just 40 words, from start to finish. That’s far from unusual for the newsletter; the average email is no more than a couple of hundred words. Yet, in that brief space, Seth Godin can make you think about something you take for granted in a whole new light.
Each message is unmistakably Seth Godin, without the generic advice repeated by other marketers. This makes the emails not only original but also extremely difficult for anyone else to copy, resulting in a truly unique newsletter with content you won’t find anywhere else.
Newsletters don’t have to be long to be effective. By choosing each word carefully, you can convey complex ideas and provide unique value in a short, easy to read, email.
Hubspot is a software platform for marketing, sales, and customer service.
Why it’s on the list
The team at Hubspot works hard to make their content comprehensive, going into every last detail for any subject related to sales/marketing. You’ll find a wide selection of ultimate guides and templates, all designed to help readers succeed.
This attention to detail comes across in their emails, with each one packed full of value. Even their product updates always add significant value, proving that they take customer feedback seriously.
On top of their various how-to guides, they also regularly share ‘state of the industry’ reports, with the data-driven insights you need to make smart decisions.
If you’re talking about a familiar subject, you can provide value by going into greater depth than the competition. HubSpot’s newsletters and content ensure that their readers have all the information they could possibly need on any given subject.
It’s true that a lot of newsletters are boring and never get opened. However, these examples prove that doesn’t have to be the case with your newsletter.
By providing genuine value (and not just another sales pitch), by knowing your readers, and by writing emails that are unique and interesting to those readers, you can send an email newsletter that benefits you and your customers.
To craft your own killer emails, learn how to activate intent data to reach the right people with the topics they care about.
Alex Field, LeadSift’s Head of Growth spoke with Fernando Nicolić Director of Demand Generation at Xeneta (a crowdsourced freight rate platform catering to the ocean and air freight industry) and asked him how he built a highly effective automated outbound prospecting engine – at scale – that feels personalized.
Fernando leads a small, newly formed, team of highly talented marketers, account development managers, and demand generation specialists. He is the BEST of BEST in the “outbound game” so we couldn’t wait to hear how he created Xeneta’s outbound engine.
Here he shares how his Demand Generation team came up with the fully automated strategy and how they identified their key prospects.
Alex: Thank you for joining us today Fernando. Walk us through your initial goal when you started out with the campaign
Fernando: We focused on how, as a small team, we could make our impact felt as if we were a larger team. Our thoughts naturally turned to automation. So, we created a plan around how to leverage different channels to automate every single step of the campaign. This was the first time that we used automation operationally rather than for data analysis.
Alex: What criteria did you use in order to determine who to target?
Fernando: Demand Generation and Sales got together to identify our top 100 accounts. Demand Generation then identified five to six key decision-makers within each account that fitted our ICP. This created a list of 500-600 prospects.
Our strategy went beyond a pure ‘ABM’ ‘harpooning strategy’ with the running of a parallel ‘netting strategy’ at the foundation of the automations. The netting strategy was set around the following three strict criteria:
Using our LinkedIn Sales Navigator list as a starting point, we automated the process of identifying only prospects who fitted the ICP. Being so strict on the criteria maximized our ROI. Sending weird messages to the wrong people at a weird time doesn’t equate to good ROI!
Alex: What were the main targeting criteria that you used to determine different messaging?
Fernando: For each vertical market, the job titles are all the same, and, from a day-to-day operational standpoint, the pain points for those prospects are also pretty much the same. So, for example, a Procurement Manager in one company will be doing a lot of the same things as any other procurement manager does. The vertical market is really the thing that separates the same job titles. They have different challenges such as seniority, company size, and geolocation. We made sure that we addressed those challenges when we reached out to them.
Once the Demand Generation team had identified their strategy and created the target list, their automated system then did the hard work for them. We’ll be sharing exactly how they did that in our next post or you can listen to the full podcast audio of this interview on your favourite podcast platform.
ABM sounds pretty daunting to most…particularly if you’re a start up. So, we sat down with “ABM Ninja” Stephanie Cox to learn how the pros do it. We also really wanted to hear the story behind Lumavate using baseball cards in one of their most successful ABM campaigns.
Stephanie is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Lumavate. Lumavate helps marketers to build apps quickly – no code required.
Why choose ABM Marketing?
Having used ABM for most of her career (even before it was known as ABM) Stephanie says that it works for B2B sales because B2B marketers should be focusing on their ICP and not trying to sell to everyone.
She attributes Lumavate’s typical 35% ABM conversion to meeting rate, in part, to the way that they personalise their outreach. It’s not what everyone else is doing and that’s what gets them the all important meeting.
A crucial and unique aspect of that outreach is the use of personalised video –the key to Lumavate’s success in terms of converting their target account list into qualified opportunities. Over 90% of their initial meetings turn into qualified opportunities.
Start with what you already know
With each ABM campaign, Lumavate looks to their knowledge of existing customers in the same space as the campaign prospects.
It was starting there that contributed to their successful baseball card campaign. Stephanie says:
“We wanted to go after more sporting venues. We really focused on how to replicate existing use cases for other teams.
We started by really looking at who the big players were. There was lots of Googling and we created a list of all the different team types.
We looked at what the NFL was doing, NHL, Major League Soccer and whittled it down to which groups would make sense for us. Then we went after all the different accounts.
Our goal was to help source qualified marketing meetings. The goal in terms of ABM is that after an initial meeting, sales says ‘there’s a real opportunity here’.”
Assign Budget to the ABM Campaign
Lumavate didn’t have a huge budget to spend besides internal time and resources. So, they turned their focus to what would be most impactful and came up with a really creative, low cost, Direct Mail campaign.
“We decided to do something fun. We noticed during our research that a lot of people that we’d be reaching out to were in their mid 30’s to 40’s and grew up during the 80’s when baseball cards were really hot. So, we created baseball cards for different use cases – how they could use our platform. We included players stats and had them printed just like real baseball cards – including a foil envelope. We sent them out with Big League Chew Gum. The overall cost was something like $6.00
It was super creative and also resonated with the demographic of who we were going after and because they’re also sporting venues – it was kind of cool.
We didn’t use a ton of budget there but it was still super impactful.”
Not only had Lumavate created a truly unique ABM campaign on a low budget, but that campaign really resonated with its recipients.
Identify the most likely qualified opportunities
Lumavate waited until the third outreach before they sent the baseball cards. In this way they had whittled down their prospects so that cards were going to the people most likely to become qualified opportunities.
“ Very few people respond to the first contact. The second outreach is a personalised video for every single contact we reach out to. We try to find one to two things specifically about them and why we’re reaching out. We add those specific things to the more boiler-plate content for every video. We see a large number of conversions from our videos.
By the time we get to the third outreach with Direct Mail, we’ve typically cut 30%-40% of the list of contacts. Those left get the Direct Mail. That helps us reduce cost. Of, say, 300 initial contacts, we might only end up sending it to 200 people because we have been able to clean up the list in the first two rounds.”
Plan the ABM campaign timeline
Lumavate begins stimulating brand awareness about six weeks before they launch a campaign. They work with a combination of brand awareness ads and LinkedIn targeting. This is a low cost approach and Stephanie doesn’t expect any conversions.The purpose of this phase is about getting the name in front of prospects so that they’ve heard of or see Lumavate before the campaign starts.
Their campaign process usually looks like this:
If the prospect can’t be reached leave voicemail talking about the video that they are going to send them
About five days later send a personalized video.
2-3 days later follow up if the video hasn’t been watched e.g. “hey, just shoving this up to the top of your inbox”
4 days later drop the direct mail and send a “YouTube unboxing video”
SDR’s will call once the direct mail has arrived (timing depends on the size of the organization and how quickly the post is likely to get to them)
3-4 further outreaches after the direct mail has arrived
Switch to sharing useful resources to position Lumavate as the resource for the prospect
If a prospect has engaged highly with emails and visited the website, send a handwritten note with a low-cost incentive – like stickers
Following this last attempt to convert, switch to a nurture track that sends more content every two weeks for the next two months
Switch to a standard nurture track
Lumavate didn’t stop at sending highly personalized video and direct mail. They further enhanced strategy what Stephanie calls ‘The YouTube unboxing strategy’:
“The YouTube unboxing strategy creates this really cool “waiting for it effect”.
The day we drop the direct mail in the mail we’ll send them an email with a video that says “hey something’s headed your way” including a video of our SDR opening the box that they’re going to get and showing them what’s inside. We will have people that are literally waiting to get this box of this item even though it’s only worth a couple of dollars. They’re contacting us and saying ‘oh I haven’t seen it yet’ or ‘oh I think you may have had our address wrong, can you ship me a new one?’
Stephanie says that the majority of the conversions to meetings happened as a result of the video and the direct mail – the two most personalised elements of the ABM campaign.
How personalized should a personalized video be?
We were really intrigued by Lumavate’s use of personalised video, so we asked Stephanie how personalised the videos are.
Having tested both tailored to the company and tailored to the individual, Stephanie has shown that ABM campaigns using video are more effective if personalised to the actual individual. She stresses:
“If you are wanting someone to watch the video, make the extra effort.”
This is where the whiteboard comes in. Lumavate typically adds the individual’s name to a whiteboard and collects information about what products, sports teams etc they like. Stephanie acknowledges that there is a fine line between creepy and cool though! Know enough information about someone that they know you’ve done your homework. Don’t leave them wondering “why do you know so much about me?”.
What Stephanie loves about video is that it creates a different level of personalisation:
“Anyone can send you a video specific to your company but it’s very different if I send you a video and the first things I say was ‘hey I noticed in this LinkedIn post you wrote last week, it said this, that’s a really interesting concept’ – I’d love to talk to you more about that. Or ‘hey I watched this speech that you did at this digital marketing conference and this is the two takeaways I got from it.’
Going beyond ‘hey I noticed you went to this School’ or ‘we know the same people’ is very specific and clear that I’ve dug into who you are. I know something that’s unique about you and I really want to have a conversation with you.
These little things make it very clear that I am not trying to just get a meeting with the company. I’m trying to get a meeting with you.It feels really special when someone doesn’t want to talk to your company, they want to talk specifically to you at your company.”
What’s really interesting about the personalised videos is that Lumavate sends one video to one individual and then they will notice a hundred views of it. The recipient is not watching it a hundred times. They have forwarded it to other people, it’s going ‘office viral’. Stephanie has lost count of the number of times that prospects tell her they have been asking their own sales teams why they aren’t doing the same!
A successful ABM doesn’t require heavy investment
With ABM there’s often a misconception that it needs to be a “bloated tech stack” and very expensive. Lumavate’s baseball card campaign created a meaningful impact and shows just how much is possible with a small budget. They didn’t invest heavily in ads or new tech.
In addition to the baseball cards, Lumavate:
Spent a couple hundred dollars per campaign for brand awareness.
Personalised their email signature banners to the target company.
Matched the theme of the direct mail with LinkedIn ad and their email signatures.
There was no huge financial investment. Lumavate were simply strategic about the timeframe so, to their prospects, it felt like they were everywhere – and that’s what the prospects were actually telling them.
Where Lumavate stood out was in the impact of creative direct mail. No one else was doing what Lumavate was doing. Even Stephanie was blown away by the impact that the baseball campaign had. As a result, when planning new direct mail campaigns, Lumavate always tries to find ways to send something that their prospects have never received before – and something that they would actually use.
“It doesn’t matter what money you can spend. What really matters is the creativity behind it and whether or not someone’s going to get it and say: “Alright, they’ve earned 30 minutes of my time”. Because that’s what we’re trying to do – to get 30 minutes of your time.”
Before getting started with LeadSift, Atlantic Growth Solutions (AGS) manually identified their target prospects for ABM lists then imported the list into their CRM with minimal account and contact prioritization. Without a process to score and prioritize accounts, it was difficult to understand which accounts were more likely to buy so the team could focus their efforts there first. Fast outreach to interested leads is crucial to an efficient sales process, resulting in a 50% more likely closed deal over the competitor who came second, and with a manual process and no prioritization, it’s hard to get there first.
How AGS Uses LeadSift
AGS uses LeadSift to gain insights into their target accounts and prioritize their activity cadence daily. LeadSift’s data scores each account and provides insights into accounts based on intent. This way, AGS could set a clear prioritization and cadence for how to action their most relevant leads first in their multi-channel approach.
With LeadSift, AGS now prioritizes accounts with confidence. By validating the quality of a prospect and triggers for a campaign before kick-off, they are able to target the right people with the right message.
Their ABM campaigns have been even more successful because now not only are the lists prioritized and backed by intent data, but they have insights into triggers and topics their prospects care about. With contacts opening emails with personalized subject lines at a 50% higher rate, AGS now leverages these insights for high-conversion conversation starters with prospects.
Atlantic Growth Solutions (AGS) works with companies in all industries who are focused on driving sustainable repeatable growth. We do this by applying process, expertise , rigor and focus to all areas of the sales , marketing and business development realm. In the end our clients experience more qualified leads, bigger pipelines, higher close rates and in turn more revenue and profits.
LeadSift is a contact-level intent data platform for leading B2B technologies companies helping them identify in-market customers and engage with them with relevant messaging. Moving beyond targeting by static profile elements like title or company size, we show you who is engaging with competitors, keywords, and events in a dynamic way that is relevant and actionable.