MongoDB's CMO, Meagen Eisenberg, took the stage at Recur 2018 to talk about how to improve the number and quality of our leads, especially in the self-serve space. Meagen is also the former VP of Demand Gen at DocuSign and a tech advisor at several companies, so she knows how to drive leads.
During Meagen 's time at MongoDB, the company has grown from 400 to 1,200 people and from 50 million to 200 million users. In her talk at Recur, Meagen went through the three things you need to focus on in order to optimize your funnel at every stage, fuel your growth as a company, and get more leads: people, technology and process.
In this article, we'll recap Meagen's talk as she walks us through the entire funnel and the different ways to optimize your funnel and increase leads with great people, tech and process.
Your people are your funnel
This is a typical marketing funnel that most companies, including MongoDB, use in order to get more leads. “This is one of my favorite slides that I've had for a very long time,” says Meagen. “Marketing is all about attracting [customers], converting them, keeping them and then delighting them, and that's what this funnel is showing you."
But a surface-level reading of a marketing and sales funnel means you miss what is really underneath and what matters in the funnel — people.
If you are a self-serve company, this means making sure marketing and engineering are aligned so that you can track and understand the user's experience. For sales-focused B2B companies, the alignment needs to be across marketing and sales to improve conversions. Your people have to be in constant communication to consider the roadblocks that come up at any stage and know how to solve them. As Meagen puts it: “What are the common questions you are getting that you have to answer over and over and over again in order to get the deal closed?”
When Meagen was at DocuSign, every lead always had the same question on sales calls: “Is e-signature legal?” The reps were able to channel this worry back to the marketing team, which wrote up docs about the E-Sign Act. Now either the leads have read that before getting on the call, or the reps can point them in that direction and get on with the more specific needs of the prospect.
Your people are engaging with customers at every step through emails, webinars, and white papers for self-serve and through demos or dinners for sales teams. Conversations can move them towards conversion. Even beyond the funnel, you have customer success and partners that make sure you are “keeping them and delighting them.”
People are the core of your business; they make sure that your customers are engaged and move forward in the funnel. Customer success depends on them, so make sure you have open communication channels with your different teams and a unified direction. Your people are the embodiment of what the funnel represents.
Tech allows you to optimize for all your users
The second topic Meagen approached in her talk was technology. SaaS is a tech ecosystem, but we are missing ways to use all these tools to our advantage. Website and content optimization sound generic, but they are often overlooked. Meagen points out that: “If most of your traffic comes from your website, have you done all you can to optimize it?”
Optimize your website for each audience. You need to understand each of your audiences. Only then can you optimize your site for each audience. At MongoDB, they use IP addresses and enrichment to personalize the site for every user in real-time. An enterprise company gets one landing page, a startup another. Make sure that your audiences see what they need to see in order to buy your product.
Keep your forms basic. Only ask for crucial information that you don't already have through tracking. Don't ask for phone numbers, if you don't have a sales team. Keep it basic, but validate the data. Think about your audience and personalize their experience. Self-serve forms shouldn't look like enterprise forms and vice versa. Use them to gate information like white papers, but keep product information or customer material free for all. But if you can use them to find vital information, do so. At DocuSign, it had 20 different personas. For sales reps, being able to use role and title information from forms were critical to getting the lead the information they needed.
Use CRMs to their full extent. Understand the system and use it to your advantage. Most companies don't know there is a campaign module in Salesforce that needs to be turned on. Things like that make you lose money. Research and learn all you can about your CMS. Make sure you filter the data that goes through the CMS to help your sales team. As Meagen puts it, “You'll hear a lot of: Marketing only gives me junk. I don't want to follow up." Use CRMs to your advantage by tweaking everything you can to improve the funnel.
Small things matter. Optimize and monitor your website. Use A/B testing. Personalize website elements in real-time in order to create a unique journey built on user data. Keep your forms free of roadblocks and personalized for each audience type. Know your audience! Validate the data you're getting and tap into everything tracking gives you about website visitors. Know your CRM inside out and use it to its full potential. Technology is your partner; use it!
Understand and use the process to your advantage
People are the face of your marketing funnel, but you have to understand the process from the technical side to really put things into perspective. Meagen explains how important it is to know how leads go from the website to the CRM or other systems that you have. Understanding this process helps you know how and why bottlenecks happen and what can you do to solve them.
Marketing and sales waterfall. This gives you a good view of the entire funnel, not just what goes in and what comes out. You need to create scoring models for each stage, so leads move through the waterfall only if certain actions have been completed. Meagen points out that at MongoDB, she used to use MQL for measuring success but moved up to SAL because it matters more. Make sure sales has an easy way to prioritize leads based on scoring data. Marketing platforms like Eloqua, HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot or even Salesforce can help you automate the process. At the same time, consider if your sales team works out of your CMS and how do they fit in the process. Keep things efficient, and the process will streamline.
Standardize your campaigns. Be specific and assign distinct labels to sources. Sales, marketing, or partner are vague terms that won't help monitor your campaigns effectively. Meagen points out that her Head of Field Marketing runs 300 events a year — each event is a different source that needs to be earmarked accordingly. The same thing goes for things like demos or whitepapers. Create a standard that earmarks sources correctly and gives you accurate reporting.
Optimize the funnel through nurture. Meagen talks about how more than 70 nurture programs helped MongoDB cover more than 200,000 leads a quarter.
Nurture programs offer personalized content for leads at each stage of the buying cycle. Take into account things like their browser language, title and industry to send the right type of content. Meagen points out, “If you're in sales ops, you're not going to get HR content and vice versa. If I start sending you HR content, you're like, this company is not for me. It's an HR solution."
Personalization helps you accurately define a lead and shorten the sales cycle. All of this is automated, so you also save a lot of time and resources. One thing to keep in mind is that the nurture program has to fit the user journey. When they change course, like sign up for a trial, you have to change their nurture program accordingly.
There are also programs for leads lost to competitors. Follow up in 6 or 12 months with a gentle reminder and ask how things are going with the solution they chose. From her experience, Meagen tells us that people do come back and engage with these emails because they didn't make the right choice the first time around or the competitor didn't offer a good enough experience.
Retention can also be improved through nurture. MongoDB has an annual conference, communities, Q&As online and different types of events that cover the post-sale cycle and help the sales team.
Putting the time in so you understand the technical aspects of the process will pay off substantially in the long run. Know the process of your CRM and understand the flow of the marketing and sales waterfall. Create scoring models for leads at each stage and take the reins of the entire process. Standardize your sources to create better reports and build nurture programs that keep leads engaged through this entire process. Add them all up for a better process that gets you more leads.
Measuring success and doing so without any money
To know if you're successful, you have to define your success metrics. Do you know what's working and what's not? It's not just about closing the deal but also about improving success throughout the funnel. You have to define what a win means for you in each stage. This could be:
Click-through rates and open rates to improve the way you're sending email responses
Shortened sales cycles
Higher-quality leads served to your sales team
Conversion from free to paying in a freemium model
Keep in mind your ultimate metric — getting more business — but be aware of all the metrics that show the results of each stage of the process. Tweak things and increase success at each step.
And what if you only have $10k a month?
If you think you can't get things done with a small budget, Meagen has a few suggestions. Use social media and influencers as much as you can. Reach out to people who have a large audience and see if they can give you a quick tweet about your product. Without a lot of money, you have to be creative, and that's a good thing because you get to try different things.
“Be creative. That's the fun part, actually it's more fun, I find, to work with a lot of startups because they don't have a lot of money and they're figuring out these really creative ways to get in front of really large audiences,” says Meagen .
She tells us how at DocuSign she offered the Western sales rep of SiriusDecisions, an influencer for sales op, a free account in DocuSign to help them learn about the product. In exchange, she got a license for SiriusDecisions. These quid pro quos help things move forward for free.
You can move the needle even when you're on a budget. Be creative and find free ways to promote your product by reaching out to influencers, writers, and companies with quid pro quo deals. Use your time, if you don't have the money.
Improve the process and you will get better results
This entire process is meant to bring you more leads, but that's just the end game win. Continual insights allow you to see what works and what doesn't every single week. The nurture programs that you will be implementing will make the funnel more efficient and will help your sales team get a conversion much easier. Meagen tells us that when she joined DocuSign, they had zero nurture programs; when she left, they had more than 100, and that showed in the bottom line.
Conversions will increase because you're making things much easier for your leads throughout the entire process. Serving the right content and the right experience means people will get through the funnel faster. You will also be able to understand your leads more and know who will and won't convert.