In this Marketing in Challenging Times video, ESG’s Dave Gruber steps in to talk with Nathan Burke, CMO at Axonius, about the importance of experimenting with different strategies in these uncertain times—including some specific marketing successes and failures.
Dave: Hi, I'm Dave Gruber from ESG, and I'm joined today by Nathan Burke, from Axonius, and we're going to chat just a little bit about marketing during this interesting time. And it's been enough time to experiment a little differently with some of the things from a demand gen perspective, looking at, sort of, the top of funnel, mid-funnel kinds of things.
Maybe you could start by sharing some of the approaches that you've been using, some of the activities and things that you've been thinking about during this period.
Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. Happy to. So, one of the things that we've been seeing is that more people are at home, more people are interacting with content, and you see things like more attendees on webinars, and a lot more downloads, more visitors to your website. So you see more activity, but that doesn't necessarily mean that these are people that are ready to do anything or become part of a sales cycle, and what you really need to do is get very, very good at qualification and at nurturing.
Dave: You know, we think about nurturing campaigns or drip campaigns and things to try to narrow down the funnel a bit and understand people's intent better. What kinds of activities are you doing to make that happen?
Nathan: So, we're doing a lot. And I think you mentioned at the beginning, which is this idea of you just have to experiment a lot. And so we're trying a lot of new things, and in fact, one thing I just tried is this idea of an invisible webinar. So, my thought was, when you go to someone's website and see that button that's "Request a Demo," that really means, "get me on the phone with a sales person for 30 minutes," and then you get a bunch of emails from guys like me, hounding you until you become a customer, and so the bar's pretty high, right, for you to give your information to say I'm willing to do that call.
So I tried to reverse engineer it and said we have all these people interacting with Axonius' content, but they might not be ready for a call with a sales person. Why not try something completely different? Instead of putting a form in front of everything and capturing them, we had this idea of a webinar where all I would do is, I give a demo, just like I would with a prospect, but there's no registration.
Anyone can just show up on our site, we put up a recording of it, and we had more people requesting a demo because they saw that than any day we've ever had. It was like a 10X multiple.
Dave: I love the self-service aspects of what you're talking about here. Are there more things that we could do potentially on people's websites, or on your website, to make it that much easier for people to self serve, to be able to go in and learn more about your offerings, learn more about your products, at a pace that has no barriers?
Nathan: We want anybody to be able to experience our product, and so we're building that right now, and thinking a lot through that, of how much guidance do they need? What can we do to make it really easy for someone to do it on their own? And this is something relatively new to B2B, right? It used to be, put a form on everything, never show the product, and just get them to sales, where, that's just not how we behave anymore as consumers.
We want to try the thing, and you've got to prove it to us that there's value before I'm willing to talk to you. So that's really top of mind for us, is figuring out what we build in the experience to get someone to that moment where they really see the value, and not only that, but finding ways to capture the data, so the data can guide us. So, we can so something where I see where someone drops off. What can we fix in the product, what do we need to do in nurturing, and when do we contact them to try to help them out?
Nathan: I've been very impressed with just your willingness to experiment. We're in a time when we don't know precisely what's going to work and what isn't going to work, and this idea of rapid experimentation of things feels very new in the marketing world. It's something that we're doing often in the product side of the house, where we have short iterations and we implement short cycles of development, and we get features out and we test them and we see what sticks and what doesn't.
In the world of marketing, that's not really been the case so much. What do you have to do to be that agile in marketing? What changes do you have to make in your organization?
Nathan: We built that in from the beginning, the idea that anyone on my team can say to me, "Nate, that's a stupid idea. We really shouldn't do that." And in fact, they say it often, which I think is a good thing, right, because I want to try a lot of different things. And so, one of our things that we tried is we actually gave away a car. It didn't work.
It was just not worth it. It was terrible, and people remind me of that every day, and I'm happy with that. And then, on the other side, we did something where everyone that did a trial, or signed up for a trial, we then redirected them to a page where they can pick a charity, and we would just give a $25 donation to any charity of their choice. That worked really well. So, it's funny to see that giving $25 to a charity is better than giving away a $100,000 car.
Dave: Yeah, Nate. Super compelling there. Hey, so if there's one activity maybe that you could talk about recently that's been particularly effective, what would that be?
Nathan: All of the vendors out there are just putting out so much noise, right? And any vendor, like us, can say anything they want about their product, but having third-party validation is huge, and so, these are things like customer testimonials, but one thing that was really the anchor of our content for the majority of this year is the survey we did with ESG.
And the nice thing about that is instead of just making a claim about your product, you're actually talking about objective facts, right? We're talking about these numbers, and then we're putting our spin and our interpretation on what that means, and we've done several webinars out of this. We had a three-part webinar series. We have that content on our site. We use it in nurturing. But having something that's validated by someone else, that's really objective, and then really trying to interpret those facts that you find, I think that's really, really compelling for the end user, and it gives us a reason to reach out to someone and give them something of value, that isn't just tied to our product, and we plan to do this every year.
We get a lot of content around it. We had our highest attended webinar of all time based on this, just yesterday. And so, I think having that third-party validation is really key, and I would suggest any marketer invest their time there. It's totally worth it.
Dave: That's terrific to hear. Thanks for bringing that up. I've been super impressed, and continue to be, with your creativity as a marketer, and just, you're willing to be honest with people and share your experiences. So, that's what I wanted to do here as well, and I encourage other people to share their experiences during these interesting times, as well. So Nathan, thanks so much.
Nathan: Great. Thanks for having me. This was fun.