Published June 12-18, 2023
As I was reflecting on my experience at Shoptalk (the premier ecommerce and retail trade show in the US), I concluded that there had to be a better way to sell. The event had 10,000 attendees. Assuming that there was an even distribution between vendors and buyers, it meant that there were 5,000 who we could have an interest in. We ended the show with a few hundred scans – people who had stopped by the booth or we had otherwise interacted with. This was a drop in the ocean. Persuading people walking by to come into our booth and talk to us was not easy. While we did get some very good leads, I started wondering if there was a better way to sell. Instead of us chasing customers, how could we get customers to chase us? How do we drive demand generation, and do so with near-zero acquisition costs and get scale in the incoming leads? In other words, what would it take to have Inbound@Scale where the right buyers (who would be in our target list) would reach out to us? While this has been solved by many successful brands who spend very little on marketing, I needed to consider this from the lens of our industry and products: B2B SaaS and customer engagement solutions.
In my first company, IndiaWorld (1995-99), I did not face the problem of Inbound@Scale. The B2C portals (Samachar, Khoj, Khel, Bawarchi, and many others) got traffic which included decision-makers at corporations. The content of the consumer sites also spread word-of-mouth which created a flywheel for inbound. Once we had some corporate websites done, referrals started coming in. That was how we ensured exponential profitable growth.
In Netcore, during the first years of our growth for the SMS and email businesses, we had our sales team reach out to potential buyers in India. There was a network of connections, and it wasn’t difficult getting the introductions for the first conversations. We built a similar outreach in Southeast Asia, working with partners in some countries and using events as an attractor. In the US and Europe, the same playbook of trade shows like eTail West and Shoptalk is helping bring in leads. But the problem is the scale. The inbound we were getting was a fraction of what the potential was.
The obvious marketing solutions for B2B companies are content marketing (which takes long), search engine marketing (can be very expensive), doing more events and mixers (the costs add up rapidly), having sales development representatives (SDRs) do cold calls and emails (very low response rate), and account-based marketing (more targeted, but it is hit-and-miss).
Most of the SaaS success stories have come with companies splurging tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing spending. As a company focused on profitability, that is a luxury we did not have. So how does a new entrant into a market like the US manage to get Inbound@Scale without spending a lot of money? This is the question I will explore in this series.
B2B marketing has been around for a long time. Mention provides an overview:
B2B marketing is the process of promoting a product or service to businesses that will then resell or use that product or service. B2B marketing is different from other marketing schools because it requires a different approach.
For one, B2B marketers need to target their audiences more precisely. Businesses are not monolithic entities – different departments within each company have different needs. B2B marketers need to be able to identify these needs and target their marketing accordingly.
Another key difference is the sales cycle. B2B products and services often have a longer sales cycle than B2C products. This means that B2B marketers need to be patient and focused on building relationships rather than making a quick sale.
Further, B2B products and services are usually more expensive and have a higher level of features. B2B marketers must communicate the value of their product and service in a way that resonates with their audience.
It lists 14 strategies:
- Invest in content marketing
- Determine your brand positioning
- Use account-based marketing
- Develop a strong lead nurturing strategy
- Invest heavily in Search Engine Optimization
- Research customer pain points
- Reviews, Testimonials & Case studies
- Harness the power of social media
- Develop targeted content
- Marketing automation & CRM
- Develop a strong website
- Referral marketing
- Target customers with Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Mix up your marketing channel
Respona adds: “The main difference between B2B SaaS marketing and other forms of marketing is the fact that SaaS products are usually subscription-based, as opposed to the single-purchase nature of traditional products. This creates a challenge for SaaS businesses: to turn a profit, they need to constantly prove that their products are worth renewing the subscription for months on end. Also, a SaaS product is never really in its final form: to keep users engaged, new updates constantly need to be developed to introduce new features, improve user experience, and simply keep up with the competition. This leads SaaS companies into an everlasting battle with customer churn and competition.” It outlines the necessity for product-market fit:
Divbyzero brings in the element of buyer personas: “What you’re gonna sell is as important as who you’re gonna sell to. Before spending a single dollar the marketing team should define its buyer personas. Don’t worry if they look a little blurry at the beginning. As you test your marketing engine, crunch the data and talk with more customers they’ll become more clear and well defined. Buyer personas or ICP, Ideal Customer Profile, should drive most of your marketing activities. When you create an ad, a landing page, or write a blog post, you should have a clear idea of the target buyer persona. What drives them? What is their pain point? How do they define success? What language do they speak? These are all questions that deserve an answer.”
Salesken offers this helpful chart:
Inturact shows the SaaS marketing journey:
Gartner provides a deeper insight into the content that buyers want:
Gartner also provides an overview of the ABM strategy:
ChatGPT – 1
I then turned to ChatGPT. What follows is the transcript of the conversation. As in any chat, the questions (prompts) are important, so I have reproduced my questions in the sequence I asked them. I have lightly edited the responses to remove some repetition.
I run a B2B SaaS company selling customer engagement solutions for mid-market and enterprise B2C cos. What are the best marketing and sales strategies for me to grow my business globally?”
- Define your target market: Research and identify the specific industries, company sizes, and regions that can benefit most from your customer engagement solutions. Create detailed buyer personas to better understand the needs and pain points of your target customers.
- Develop a strong value proposition: Clearly articulate the unique benefits and advantages of your customer engagement solutions, focusing on the specific needs and challenges of your target market.
- Content marketing: Create high-quality, valuable content that addresses the needs and challenges of your target audience. Blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, webinars, and videos are all effective formats. Make sure your content is SEO-optimized to improve your search engine rankings.
- Social media marketing: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and other relevant social media platforms to engage with potential clients, share valuable content, and showcase your expertise in the industry.
- Account-based marketing (ABM): Identify and target high-value accounts by creating personalized campaigns and content tailored to their specific needs. This focused approach will help you to build stronger relationships and close more deals.
- Leverage partnerships: Partner with other companies in complementary industries to expand your reach and offer more comprehensive solutions to clients. This could include integrations, co-marketing initiatives, or joint sales efforts.
- Attend industry events and conferences: Participate in relevant industry events, conferences, and trade shows to showcase your solutions, network with potential clients, and stay up-to-date on industry trends.
- Build a strong sales team: Hire and train a skilled sales team that understands your target market and is equipped to handle complex B2B sales cycles. Invest in ongoing training to keep your team knowledgeable about your product and the industry.
- Use a CRM system: Implement a CRM system to manage your leads, track sales activities, and streamline communication between your sales and marketing teams. This will help ensure a seamless customer journey and improve sales efficiency.
- Offer excellent customer support: Provide exceptional customer support to retain existing clients and turn them into brand advocates. Offer comprehensive onboarding, ongoing assistance, and regular check-ins to ensure clients are getting the most out of your solution.
I have a limited marketing budget and am looking for inbound leads at scale. How do I get customers to chase my company instead of us going after customers which can be quite expensive?”
- Content marketing: Create and share high-quality, valuable, and relevant content that addresses your target audience’s pain points and interests. Blog posts, articles, infographics, e-books, whitepapers, and videos are all effective content formats. Consistently producing valuable content will help you establish your brand as a thought leader and attract potential customers.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Optimize your website and content for search engines to improve your visibility in organic search results. This includes keyword research, on-page optimization, technical SEO, and link building. A strong SEO strategy will help you attract more targeted traffic, increasing your chances of generating inbound leads.
- Social media marketing: Engage with your target audience on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Share your content, participate in relevant discussions, and join industry groups to increase your brand visibility and attract potential customers.
- Guest posting and collaborations: Contribute high-quality content to industry-related blogs, websites, and publications. This will help you reach new audiences, establish your authority, and generate inbound leads. You can also collaborate with influencers or complementary businesses to co-create content and expand your reach.
- Webinars and online events: Host webinars, workshops, or online events on topics relevant to your target audience. These events can help you showcase your expertise, connect with potential customers, and generate leads. Make sure to promote your events across social media and email campaigns to maximize attendance.
- Email marketing: Build an email list by offering valuable resources (e-books, whitepapers, etc.) in exchange for contact information. Send regular newsletters, product updates, and personalized content to keep your audience engaged and encourage them to share your content or recommend your services to others.
- Referral and affiliate programs: Encourage your satisfied customers to refer your product or service to others. Implement a referral program with incentives for both the referrer and the new customer. You can also partner with affiliates who will promote your product in exchange for a commission.
- Online reviews and testimonials: Encourage your customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google My Business, Capterra, and G2 Crowd. Positive reviews and testimonials can help you build trust with your target audience and attract more leads.
- Participate in online communities: Join relevant online communities, forums, and discussion groups to share your expertise and engage with potential customers. Be helpful and provide value without being overly promotional.
- Optimize your website for conversions: Ensure your website is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and has clear calls-to-action (CTAs). Make it easy for visitors to request demos, sign up for newsletters, or contact your sales team.
Which are companies which have built successful B2B SaaS businesses without spending a lot of money on marketing and sales?
Several B2B SaaS companies have achieved success with minimal marketing and sales budgets by focusing on product quality, word-of-mouth, and organic growth. Here are a few examples:
- Atlassian: The Australian software company, known for products like Jira, Confluence, and Trello, achieved remarkable success with minimal marketing spend. Atlassian focused on product quality, community engagement, and a self-service model, which helped them grow organically through word-of-mouth and a strong developer community.
- MailChimp: This email marketing platform experienced significant growth primarily through organic channels, focusing on delivering a quality product with a freemium model that encouraged users to upgrade as their needs grew. MailChimp also leveraged content marketing and SEO strategies to attract users to their platform.
- Basecamp: Basecamp, a popular project management tool, relied on content marketing, blogging, and word-of-mouth to grow their user base. The company’s founders, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, frequently shared their insights and experiences through blog posts, books, and speaking engagements, which helped them build a loyal audience and attract customers.
- Zapier: Zapier, a platform that connects and automates different apps, achieved success by focusing on creating a quality product and leveraging integrations with popular tools. They also utilized content marketing, SEO, and online communities to attract users and generate organic growth.
- Buffer: Buffer, a social media management tool, initially gained traction by offering a free trial and leveraging content marketing, social media, and word-of-mouth to grow their user base. The company’s transparent approach to sharing their journey, including revenue numbers, has also helped them build a loyal following.
These companies demonstrate that it’s possible to build successful B2B SaaS businesses without spending heavily on marketing and sales. By focusing on product quality, organic growth strategies, and building strong communities, these companies have been able to achieve significant success while keeping their budgets in check.
Many of the companies above target other B2B companies. I want success stories of B2B companies targeting B2C companies.
It’s important to note that B2B companies targeting B2C companies still operate within the B2B sphere, as their primary customers are businesses that serve end consumers. With that in mind, here are some B2B SaaS companies that have successfully targeted B2C companies without heavy spending on marketing and sales:
- Shopify: Shopify is an e-commerce platform that enables B2C businesses to set up and manage online stores. They have experienced significant growth by focusing on providing a user-friendly product and leveraging content marketing, SEO, and strategic partnerships. Shopify’s app store also encourages developers to create integrations, which in turn attracts more B2C customers.
- SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey is an online survey platform used by B2C businesses to collect customer feedback and gain insights into consumer preferences. Their freemium model and user-friendly interface have contributed to their organic growth. Additionally, they have utilized content marketing, social media, and partnerships to reach their target audience.
- Yotpo: Yotpo is a customer review and marketing platform that helps B2C businesses collect, manage, and display customer reviews, as well as offer referral programs and loyalty solutions. Yotpo has focused on creating a robust product and used content marketing, SEO, and strategic partnerships to grow its customer base.
- Klaviyo: Klaviyo is an email marketing and automation platform tailored for e-commerce and B2C businesses. They have experienced success through a focus on product quality, content marketing, and by providing integrations with popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
- Zendesk: Zendesk offers customer support and engagement solutions for businesses, including many B2C companies. They’ve grown by providing a user-friendly product, focusing on content marketing, and offering a freemium model to attract users. Strategic partnerships and integration with popular platforms have also played a role in their success.
These success stories showcase that B2B SaaS companies targeting B2C businesses can achieve growth without heavy spending on marketing and sales. By focusing on product quality, organic growth strategies, and strategic partnerships, these companies have managed to reach their target audience and gain traction.
ChatGPT – 2
This is a good start. Most of these companies target the SMB market. I want examples of companies targeting mid-market and enterprise B2C companies.
Apologies for the confusion. Here are some examples of B2B SaaS companies that target mid-market and enterprise B2C companies and have found success with lean marketing and sales strategies:
- Qualtrics: Qualtrics, an experience management platform, focuses on helping B2C businesses gather customer feedback and improve customer experience. They have built a strong reputation through thought leadership, content marketing, and word-of-mouth referrals. Their success led to their acquisition by SAP in 2018.
- Braze: Braze is a customer engagement platform that provides B2C companies with tools for personalized messaging, automation, and analytics. They have grown by focusing on product quality, content marketing, and strategic partnerships with complementary technology providers.
- Optimizely: Optimizely is a platform for digital experience optimization, allowing B2C companies to conduct A/B testing, multivariate testing, and personalize user experiences. They have successfully targeted mid-market and enterprise B2C companies through thought leadership, content marketing, and strategic partnerships.
- Segment: Segment is a customer data platform that helps B2C businesses collect, clean, and route customer data across various marketing, analytics, and data warehousing tools. They have successfully targeted larger B2C companies by offering a robust product, focusing on content marketing, and forming strategic partnerships with other technology providers.
- Sprinklr: Sprinklr is a customer experience management platform that enables B2C businesses to manage their social media, content marketing, and customer engagement efforts. They have grown by focusing on product quality, thought leadership, and strategic partnerships with other technology providers and social media platforms.
These B2B SaaS companies have successfully targeted mid-market and enterprise B2C businesses by emphasizing product quality, thought leadership, content marketing, and strategic partnerships. By focusing on these strategies, they’ve managed to grow their businesses without heavy investments in marketing and sales.
These companies have all spent a lot of marketing dollars. I want companies like these but which have been frugal in their spending. Any examples?
It is indeed challenging to find examples of companies targeting mid-market and enterprise B2C businesses that have spent minimally on marketing. However, there are companies that have been relatively frugal in their marketing and sales spending compared to others in the same market segment:
- Mixpanel: Mixpanel is a product analytics platform that helps businesses, including mid-market and enterprise B2C companies, understand and improve their user experience. They have been relatively frugal in their marketing spend by leveraging content marketing, SEO, and community engagement to drive organic growth.
- Intercom: Intercom offers a suite of messaging, support, and engagement tools for businesses, including B2C companies. They have grown through a combination of product quality, thought leadership (including their blog and podcast), and word-of-mouth referrals, reducing the need for massive marketing spend compared to their competitors.
- Amplitude: Amplitude is a product analytics platform targeting mid-market and enterprise B2C businesses. They have utilized content marketing, webinars, and strategic partnerships to drive growth, keeping their marketing and sales spending relatively lean compared to other players in their space.
- Baremetrics: Baremetrics is a subscription analytics and insights platform used by B2B and B2C SaaS companies. They’ve managed to grow by emphasizing product quality, transparently sharing their journey through blog posts, and relying on organic growth strategies such as content marketing and SEO.
- Drift: Drift is a conversational marketing and sales platform used by B2C companies, among others. While they have invested in marketing, their approach has been relatively frugal compared to larger competitors. They’ve relied on thought leadership, content marketing, and word-of-mouth referrals to grow their customer base.
It’s important to note that while these companies may have been relatively frugal compared to others in their segment, they have still invested in marketing and sales to some extent. Growing a B2B SaaS company targeting mid-market and enterprise B2C businesses without any marketing or sales spend is challenging, but focusing on product quality, content marketing, thought leadership, and strategic partnerships can help keep those costs in check.
I then decided to sharpen the focus around Netcore.
My company is Netcore. We have had very good success with direct selling in India and Southeast Asia. How can Netcore create a winning sales and marketing strategy in the US where we are a new entrant? We want to do this on a very low marketing budget.
Entering a new market like the US can be challenging, especially with a limited marketing budget. However, by leveraging targeted strategies and focusing on your strengths, you can create a winning sales and marketing strategy for Netcore in the US. Here are some steps to consider:
- Identify your target market: Start by clearly defining the specific industries, company sizes, and regions in the US that can benefit the most from Netcore’s customer engagement solutions. Create detailed buyer personas to better understand the needs and pain points of your target customers.
- Leverage your success stories: Showcase your success in India and Southeast Asia by sharing case studies and testimonials from satisfied clients. This will help build credibility and trust among potential US customers.
- Develop a strong value proposition: Clearly articulate the unique benefits and advantages of your customer engagement solutions, focusing on the specific needs and challenges of your target market in the US.
- Content marketing: Create high-quality, valuable content that addresses the needs and challenges of your US target audience. Blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, webinars, and videos are all effective formats. Make sure your content is SEO-optimized to improve your search engine rankings in the US.
- Social media marketing: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and other relevant social media platforms to engage with potential clients, share valuable content, and showcase your expertise in the industry. This will help you build brand awareness and attract leads organically.
- Strategic partnerships: Establish partnerships with US-based companies in complementary industries to expand your reach and offer more comprehensive solutions to clients. This could include integrations, co-marketing initiatives, or joint sales efforts.
- Attend industry events and conferences: Participate in relevant industry events, conferences, and trade shows in the US to showcase your solutions, network with potential clients, and stay up-to-date on industry trends.
- Leverage existing clients: Reach out to your current clients with operations in the US and ask for referrals, introductions, or testimonials. These existing relationships can help you gain a foothold in the new market.
- Hire local talent: Consider hiring a small, skilled sales and marketing team with experience in the US market. Local team members will have a better understanding of the market dynamics, competition, and cultural nuances.
- Offer excellent customer support: Provide exceptional customer support to retain existing clients and turn them into brand advocates. Offer comprehensive onboarding, ongoing assistance, and regular check-ins to ensure clients are getting the most out of your solution.
By implementing these strategies, you can create a winning sales and marketing strategy for Netcore in the US market while maintaining a low marketing budget. This will help you establish a presence, build trust with potential customers, and ultimately grow your business in the US.
From all these ideas, if I had to pick 3 strategies to begin with, which one would they be? And for these 3 strategies, what first 3 actions would I do for each of them?
If you had to pick three strategies to begin with, I would suggest focusing on content marketing, strategic partnerships, and leveraging existing clients. These strategies can provide a solid foundation for building brand awareness and generating leads in the US market.
- Content marketing: a: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify topics that resonate with your US target audience, addressing their specific pain points and challenges. b. Create a content calendar to plan, schedule, and track your content marketing efforts, including blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, and videos. c. Develop high-quality, SEO-optimized content, and publish it consistently on your company blog and other relevant platforms to improve search engine rankings and drive organic traffic.
- Strategic partnerships: a. Identify US-based companies in complementary industries that share a similar target market and can help you expand your reach or enhance your offering. b. Reach out to potential partners to discuss opportunities for collaboration, such as integrations, co-marketing initiatives, or joint sales efforts. c. Formalize partnerships through agreements and develop joint marketing materials, such as co-branded content, webinars, or case studies, to showcase your partnership to potential clients.
- Leverage existing clients: a. Identify current clients with operations in the US or those that can provide introductions or referrals to US-based companies in your target market. b. Request testimonials or case studies from satisfied clients to showcase your success and build credibility with potential US customers. c. Engage with your existing clients through regular check-ins, ask for referrals, and encourage them to share their positive experiences with your solution within their networks.
By starting with these three strategies, you can begin to build a presence in the US market, establish trust with potential customers, and generate leads while maintaining a low marketing budget.
ChatGPT – 3
What could be a good landing product for Netcore in the US market? Our products include: Email API, cross-channel campaign management, customer engagement, personalisation. In other words, we have products similar to Twilio, Braze, and some of the marketing clouds in the US market.
Based on your product offerings and the US market landscape, a good landing product for Netcore could be the cross-channel campaign management solution. Here are the reasons why this might be a strong choice:
- Comprehensive solution: Cross-channel campaign management covers a wide range of marketing activities and channels, allowing you to showcase the full spectrum of your capabilities to US prospects.
- High demand: As businesses in the US continue to look for ways to streamline their marketing efforts and engage with their customers effectively, there is a growing demand for solutions that can manage and optimize campaigns across multiple channels.
- Differentiation: While there are established players in the market, such as Twilio and Braze, focusing on the cross-channel campaign management solution could enable you to differentiate Netcore by emphasizing unique features, advanced analytics, ease of use, and competitive pricing.
To successfully launch your cross-channel campaign management solution in the US market, consider the following actions:
- Tailor your offering: Customize your solution to cater to the specific needs and preferences of the US market. This may include localization, addressing industry-specific requirements, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, such as data privacy laws.
- Develop case studies: Highlight successful implementations of your cross-channel campaign management solution with clients in India and Southeast Asia to demonstrate its effectiveness and versatility. This will help build credibility and trust with potential US customers.
- Position your product: Clearly articulate your product’s unique selling points and advantages over competitors in your content marketing, sales materials, and website copy. Emphasize the benefits of your solution, such as improved customer engagement, streamlined campaign management, and better ROI on marketing spend.
By focusing on the cross-channel campaign management solution as your landing product, you can leverage its comprehensive nature and the growing demand in the US market to establish a strong presence and attract potential customers.
Can you summarise the strategy for Netcore to drive Inbound@Scale in a cost-effective manner for the US market? I want to be able to give this as an action plan to Netcore’s CMO.
Here’s a summarized action plan for Netcore’s CMO to drive Inbound@Scale in a cost-effective manner for the US market:
- Focus on the cross-channel campaign management solution as your landing product to address the growing demand for comprehensive marketing tools in the US market.
- Customize your solution to cater to the specific needs and preferences of the US market, including localization, industry-specific requirements, and compliance with relevant regulations.
- Develop a content marketing strategy that targets the US audience, focusing on their pain points and challenges. Conduct keyword research, create a content calendar, and consistently publish high-quality, SEO-optimized content on your company blog and other relevant platforms.
- Establish strategic partnerships with US-based companies in complementary industries to expand your reach and enhance your offering. Identify potential partners, discuss collaboration opportunities, and develop joint marketing materials to showcase your partnership.
- Leverage existing clients with operations in the US or those that can provide introductions or referrals to US-based companies. Request testimonials, case studies, and referrals from satisfied clients to build credibility in the new market.
- Attend industry events, conferences, and trade shows in the US to network with potential clients, showcase your solution, and stay up-to-date on industry trends.
- Utilize social media marketing, especially LinkedIn and Twitter, to engage with potential clients, share valuable content, and showcase your expertise in the industry.
- Consider hiring local sales and marketing talent with experience in the US market to better navigate market dynamics, competition, and cultural nuances.
- Offer excellent customer support to retain existing clients and turn them into brand advocates. Provide comprehensive onboarding, ongoing assistance, and regular check-ins to ensure clients get the most out of your solution.
By following this action plan, Netcore can effectively drive Inbound@Scale in the US market while maintaining a low marketing budget, ultimately growing the business and establishing a strong presence in the competitive landscape.
What a fascinating conversation and masterclass in the basics of B2B marketing! All of this in just about 20 minutes with most of that time spent by me thinking and reading the responses.
The recommendations from others and ChatGPT cover the gamut of the ideas out there. In fact, we are trying most of these strategies in some way or another. And of course, so is every other B2B SaaS company out there. I decided I needed to think differently – create a parallel path which can achieve the outcome of Inbound@Scale in a cost-effective manner. Could I do better than ChatGPT?
Here is a summary of some of my recent writing which provides the foundation for thinking about the parallel strategy for Inbound@Scale:
A Long US Visit: “The focus for us [at eTail West and Shoptalk] was on two innovations: AMP in Email (what we termed as All-in-Email) and AI-enriched catalog (which is the key to getting product discovery and personalisation right)…The absolute amazement that I saw time and again when I showed the demos of search and payments inside emails was most heartening. The challenge now is to convert this “wow” to a “win”. It means switching brands away from their existing ESP and martech stack to Netcore. I am hopeful because what we have is a real game changing innovation which can do wonders for conversions.”
LEMMMA: A Playbook for US SaaS Success at Scale: A few Indian SaaS companies have succeeded and scaled up in the US, but they are more the exception than the norm. I know Netcore can grow 20-25% consistently in India and emerging markets, but if we have to get to higher growth rates (40-50%), we need to win in the US. This has been the question I have been thinking about for some time. LEMMMA is one possible answer: land, expand, maximise, moat, monopoly, acquire…To take Netcore’s example, the ideal outcome is for an enterprise to switch 100% of their email traffic to Netcore. But that has a lot of friction associated with it: lists, segments, creatives, journeys, historical data – all have to be migrated. An enterprise will not undertake that exercise unless it is absolutely convinced that there is big RoI to be gained from the transition. So, a landing approach could focus on three stages: show value with the email program without making a switch (what I call the 0% solution), then get some emails sent via Netcore (1-30% solution), and finally a pathway for the full switch (31-100% solution)… The 0% phase needs to have product-led growth (PLG). A developer or marketer must be able to use the utility without much friction – and the resulting RoI must be big enough that there is word-of-mouth spread to help drive growth.”
ProfitXL: Selling A System: “ProfitXL is more than a single point solution or even a stack (multiple interconnected solutions); it is a bigger idea that the marketing industry has forgotten – how to ensure existing customers come back for more and bring their friends. ProfitXL is about creating a disciplined process which can deliver 25% year-on-year growth for long periods of time and at the same time cut marketing spending by 50%, leading to a dramatic improvement in profitability… For ProfitXL to succeed, I will have to make the problem visible and then talk about the system which leads to the solutions. In fact, more than talk, I realised I have to “show”… The question that I started to think about: could I create a (virtual) Broadway-like show to persuade decision-makers about the power of the ProfitXL system, and thus create a “landing idea” before the product-centric “land-and-expand” approach kicks in?”
Inbox Commerce: “For long, it has been assumed that brands must bring their buyers to their websites and apps for completing transactions. This has been a point of friction since unidirectional push messages (like emails and SMSes) had to persuade consumers to click and change context to the brand properties. Now, the interactivity that is coming in the push channels can ensure that commerce can be done right inside the inbox. Netcore’s early customers for AMP in Email have seen an increase of 5-15 times (500-1500%) in actions being performed inside the email when the option is provided to consumers. While engagement has been the primary use case so far, the next obvious step is to enable shopping. Once the payment layer gets streamlined and embedded inside the messages, frictionless commerce will be here – right inside the inbox where all of us spend so much time each day… The premise and promise of inbox commerce lies in the fact that it brings the conversion funnel closer to customers. Every friction point that is removed can lead to a magnitude increase in actions. What’s exciting is that almost all the push channels are now moving to becoming two-way, evolving from simply being communication channels to powering conversation and commerce.”
Resetting ESP and Adtech Industries: By eliminating the (at times, interminable) wait for consumers, marketers can push the conversation, conversion and commerce funnels close to the user. The magic of interactivity and incentives in the inbox is something consumers have not experienced before. The convenience and excitement will help increase engagement by magnitudes. And as existing customers engage and buy more, brands will need to spend less on the adtech platforms acquiring new ones…This is where the All-in-Email solution comes in.
Quizzing in Email: An Innovation in the Inbox: “Quizzes have had some part in our lives – and for some, they probably still do. They educate and entertain, are teaching and learning moments, bring social recognition, and work as filters in recruitment. How can we bring them into our inboxes daily – to fill life’s empty moments and also the know-now ones?…As I was thinking of interesting AMP use cases, I thought of quizzes. None of us has seen a quiz in an email because emails have not been interactive. Clicking through to a landing page and then answering questions creates inertia and we just let the moment pass. Remembering to open an app daily and participate leaves quizzing to the most passionate. I asked myself: what if we combined the power of AMP in email with the attraction of quizzing? Imagine getting a few questions daily in the inbox and answering them – all in a matter of seconds. Could it bring back the excitement we all felt as casual quizzers in the early years of our lives?”
How can we connect these ideas to create solutions for Inbound@Scale?
There are two tracks that could possibly help us build Inbound@Scale in the US and other markets where we don’t yet have a significant presence in: a primary track with ProfitXL as a landing idea and PLG utilities to get marketers and developers started, and a second track showcases the power of AMP via a B2C solution like QuizMails (replicating an idea that had worked in IndiaWorld).
ProfitXL and PLG
As I wrote previously, “In the red ocean of competition, we needed to create our blue ocean where we could create a repeatable sales motion. Instead of us chasing customers, we needed to get customers to chase us for the products which delivered great value to them. And to do this, we needed to change our approach – from thinking about our solutions to solving problems for our customers. We needed to move beyond thinking retention, engagement, and personalization to helping customers grow revenues, cut costs, and supersize their profits – laying a foundation for their exponential, forever, profitable growth. We needed to help them create the best moat in their business – a “profits monopoly” (profipoly). Our ProfitXL idea could help them do just that.”
We need to be able to demonstrate the idea of ProfitXL. We need CMOs, CFOs, and CEOs to think beyond new customer acquisition, retention, and engagement. We need to use “profitable growth” as a landing idea. Perhaps, a Broadway-like show could be used to bring this to life. There still remains the problem of finding the initial audience for such a show, and that will require some marketing. Hopefully, the word of mouth after that can help us create the “Hamilton” equivalent in SaaS marketing!
We then need multiple PLG tools and utilities to convert interest into DIY action. Marketers should be able to get calculators to figure out the impact on their business, see the contribution to profits of their Best Customers, try out utilities like AMPifier and create their own AMPlets to embed in their existing emails.
This will help drive inbound interest which can then work as the target account list (TAL) for our sales team. It is a strategy which many companies have used successfully. Of course, it is easier said than done – the utility must solve an immediate problem and be truly self-serve.
ProfitXL and PLG used well can be the demand generation accelerator which can then provide marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for the sales team to convert into SQLs.
B2C and QuizMails
A second track can drive the popularisation of AMP (and Atomic Rewards) to create further inbound interest. As consumers, we rarely see AMP emails. The purpose of a consumer service like QuizMails is to drive that excitement of interacting with emails in the inbox and then asking: why cannot brand emails do that? Hopefully, marketers and developers will also be among the subscribers and then see the power of what AMP can do.
The big challenge here lies in how to build the B2C business. It must be seeded, and then spread word-of-mouth. Hopefully, quizzing is a horizontal that can work well in its various avatars: general knowledge testing and entrance exams preparation are two possible starting points.
Inbound@Scale is a challenge for every B2B SaaS company. In a world where less money is available for unrestrained marketing spending, marketers will need to be smart about how they drive demand generation and think past the obvious ones – those are just table stakes. There is a need to bring innovation in inbound and think beyond the incremental to increase interest. Done right, a successful Inbound@Scale problem can create a moat and monopoly, the pillars for building an enduring, great SaaS company.