Optimise the B2B funnel with Nick Roberts, Marketing Director at Global App Testing

Nick Roberts is the Marketing Director of Global App Testing, an innovative quality assurance and testing platform that brings together humans and technology to provide testing services to websites, apps, and other digital platforms.

FINITE podcast host Alex Price sat down with Nick to explore his role as Marketing Director and the data driven approach to optimising the B2B funnel and buyer journey.

This episode covers:

  • Nick’s career transition from sales to marketing 
  • Nick’s role at Global App Testing and their marketing structure
  • Global App Testing’s response to Coronavirus and lockdown measures 
  • A breakdown of the B2B funnel and the complexity of a B2B buyer’s journey 
  • How a data driven approach improves a business overall  
  • How to start using data to scale a business 
  • How to find the area of a block in a sales funnel 
  • How being too focused on data can be an issue 
  • The tools Nick uses for data management 
  • The challenge of staying resilient throughout a downturn 

& once you’re done listening, check out our other episodes here!

Full Transcript

Alex (00:07):

Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of the FINITE podcast. Today I’m going to be sitting down with Nick Roberts. Nick is the Marketing Director of Global App Testing. A really interesting business that kind of fuses human beings and technology in order to deliver quality assurance and testing all around the world for all kinds of different companies. But if you’ve got a website or a digital product, an app, anything that needs some degree of quality assurance and testing then Global App Testing can help. Nick’s got a really interesting background, starting sales side and moving into marketing, which we’ll dig into, but we’re going to be talking about optimising the B2B funnel and how data can support that. I should add that this is the first recording that I’ve done in the middle of Coronavirus season. I’m sure many of you are already working from home and getting used to a slightly new reality for who knows how long. So apologies if the audio quality is not as good as it often is, in that we’ll be recording this one over Zoom, but I hope nonetheless that the content is as quality as ever. So I hope you enjoy.

FINITE (01:09):

The FINITE community and podcast are kindly supported by 93x, the digital agency working exclusively with ambitious fast growth B2B technology companies. Visit 93x.agency to find out about how they partner with marketing team and B2B technology companies to drive digital growth.

Alex (01:31):

Hi Nick, thanks for joining us.

Nick (01:32):

Thanks. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Alex (01:34):

I’m looking forward to talking very much. I know we’ve got some interesting stuff to talk to around optimising the B2B funnel, which is, I guess, an interesting subject for everyone in some form. I guess, as we always do, should we start with a bit of an intro to yourself and background and experience, and I guess how you got into the world of marketing and all that kind of stuff.

About Nick’s career

Nick (01:53):

Absolutely. I’m more than happy to do that. So, I’ve had a bit of a weird career. I spent some time in sales out in the States. I was a sales manager for Telecom and then did that for a few years and actually founded a business with my partner and scaled that to about a million in revenue and about 25 employees or so. And that was kind of at the peak of the, right as the housing market started to crash, which was a really exciting and scary time all in one. And not the best time to start a business, but once you’re there you can’t do much there, but I did all the sales and all the marketing for that, which, you know, kind of really is what got me into the marketing side of things, building websites and SEO, and doing all that stuff in the early days. You know, it was maybe even a bit easier back then. And after I closed that business, went on and did sales at GoDaddy for a while. And then, really what kickstarted my marketing career was working as a web developer and content marketing manager out in Seattle for a small startup outside of a hospital basically. And yeah, I did that for a couple of years and then moved on to a cybersecurity tech startup where I was the Senior Marketing Manager. And that was a lot more of a traditional SaaS kind of technology platform called DefenseStorm. And it’s still going strong and yeah, I worked there for again a couple of years, worked there and then was given an opportunity to move out to London. Actually, I was born here originally and so had a chance to move out here to head up the marketing for Global App Testing.

Alex (03:32):

Cool. That sounds interesting. And actually a number of people that we’ve had on the podcast recently have had a background that started on the sales side of things. I don’t know whether that’s a theme for a particular reason, but I think obvious alignments. And would you say that what you did and what you learned in your career on the sales side is a big driver of what you do now in the marketing side and how the two work together? And I guess how you see sales and business function within Global App Testing now?

Nick’s transition from sales to marketing 

Nick (04:04):

I’ve got a huge love for sales and sales teams and sales management and sales leaders, and how marketing is essentially a servant function to the sales teams at large. And I think, yeah, being in the trenches, being on the front line in sales, and then moving up into sales management and understanding the need for them to have what’s necessary to close the deals and make revenue. I think intrinsically there’s a part where everyone, every sales person makes a decision where they say, okay, I’m in this now for the long haul and sales is it. Where they say, I’m actually going to make this split or I’m going to choose something else. And that happened for me after, after I left GoDaddy, I made that decision to go into marketing and I think everyone maybe has that decision. Maybe I’m wrong about that. And so yeah, I’ve got a special love now for all the sales guys.

Alex (04:52):

I imagine, that makes sense. So tell us a bit about the role now and what Global App Testing does.

About Global App Testing

Nick (04:56):

So I joined, like I said, I joined Global App Testing about three years ago and came in to head up the marketing function for us. And basically it’s simplest expression is that we’re a crowd source tech enabled solution of testers around the world. And we are a crowd based testing platform that enables companies to test in 105 locations, any time, any place, 24/7. So it’s like a combination of people and technology solving QA problems. So, you know, we work with all types of clients and if you need to test your app or website in Brazil tomorrow, we can do that for you. And you don’t have to fly your testing team out to Brazil to do it. Cause we’ve got testers in Brazil, which seems especially poignant going with what’s going on around the world today. There’s kind of a duality side to that.

So yeah, I was brought in to head up the marketing function. When I joined, there was no marketing. We had a website and a couple of pages and a demo request form, which was front and centre all the time. And, yeah, from there on out, I’ve built out a team of marketing professionals and we’re now a large contributor to the sales success that we’ve had over the last three years.

Alex (06:05):

Cool. And what does that structure look like now in terms of the marketing function?

Nick (06:09):

So in marketing, we’ve got somebody dedicated to content. We’ve got somebody dedicated to events. It used to be in person events. Now it’s mostly digital events, an SEO expert as well. And we’ve got a Digital Marketing Manager that, you know, kind of provides a lot of campaigns for email nurturing, those kinds of things. And then for a lot of other things, we rely on agencies to support with graphic design, PPC, paid search, those kinds of things we typically outsource for.

Alex (06:38):

And I guess it’s worth touching on a single view. We’ve lightly referenced that a couple of times, but we’re recording this on Wednesday, March the 18th, we’re about, at least here in London, three days into semi lockdown. Thanks to Coronavirus. We were talking a little bit about this before we started recording, but how are you looking at it? How is it impacting your marketing? Obviously you’re working with all kinds of different businesses, but generally technology teams. So as long as those projects are moving forwards, you know, there’s opportunity for you. And as you point out, given the weird kind of paradigms of borders going up, but at the same time, borders, digitally being broken down, there’s actually potentially lots of opportunity for you guys. So yeah. Give us your outlook cause I’m sure everyone listening to this is kind of in the same phase of like, now what?

Global App Testing’s response to Coronavirus

Nick (07:25):

I think you hit the head on the nail there, the phrase ‘now what?’ And I think there is a short timeframe horizon that you’ve got to be looking at and adjusting pretty dynamically daily. You know, there’s the sudden need for communications out to our customers. There’s a sudden need for ensuring that the people that need to know what we’re doing to support them is there. And then there is kind of the wider business support and making sure that the people in your business are supportive with whatever they need as they go through this. And then, you know, we have a duty of care to our testers around the world.

So I think from a marketer’s perspective, there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot to digest. And I think that, you know, you have to be really careful between walking that line of being viewed as cashing in on something and actually raising your hand and saying, look, we have something that can help. We have something that can support your company during this time so that it doesn’t derail projects. It doesn’t derail software projects and that you can continue to deliver to your end customers. That’s a fine line between saying, you’re profiteering off of this humanitarian disaster basically at this point. So it’s a refinement of that message. And I think it changes daily. I think you can’t be locked in and then, you know I’ve looked back through my inbox and I see messages from a couple of weeks ago and I think that hasn’t aged very well. You know, that tweet or that message hasn’t aged very well.

So I would always caution people to, you can feel prompted to act immediately and say something, but really consider how quickly things are shifting and whether or not that might make sense in, you know, like you said, we’re in semi lockdown, we could be in lockdown by the time people actually listen to this message and there could be all manner of things that have changed. So, you know, I’m hesitant to say go hog wild on anything. But I think it does raise an interesting question. And I think, you know, the content that we talked about for this podcast was actually about measuring the funnel and measuring your data. And I think even more so this is a great indication if you’ve got a healthy dataset that you’re, that you’re using to make decisions, you can spot trends and you can spot things happening and then react to those based on data. And not just, not because you saw a tweet online that showed tanks rolling into London or something.

Alex (09:59):

Exactly. Yeah. Let’s hope we don’t get to that stage. Yeah, I wrote a post on LinkedIn about how I saw the next few months of B2B marketing. And it was kind of exactly along those lines and those companies I think have really armed with their data in a nice clean way that they can draw insights from are pretty well placed, because any ongoing marketing activity is going to be more and more digital and more and more insights driven. So yeah, let’s get into the meat of the subject, breaking down the funnel. I mean, you’ve kind of touched on what we’re talking about just now, but I guess, do you want to set the scene a bit more in terms of what that means to you and your kind of top level outlook on optimising the funnel, breaking down the B2B funnel?

Breakdown of the B2B funnel

Nick (10:41):

Yeah, I’m happy to. So, I mean, I thought I was data-driven because I was looking at reports, you know, I was looking at Google Analytics and I was looking at traffic and I knew when MQLs, I knew how many MQLs I was getting or sales qualified leads. You know, I can track that, but a couple of years ago I was introduced to a guy named David Skok, not introduced to him personally, but his videos on getting inside the buyer’s head. And I think there’s some presentations he could get at SaaStock a few years ago around how to understand what levers to pull and why. And that becomes the most important function essentially of a, of a demand generation or marketing team in conjunction with sales. And it was this realisation that, actually, I wasn’t really looking at the cohort. I wasn’t really looking at how things were materialising and happening in the funnel.

We were kind of making decisions that felt data-driven because we had the numbers, but there wasn’t really any correlation between stage one in the funnel or stage seven in the funnel. And where were things getting blocked? How could we unblock those things? Cause everyone says we need more top of the funnel leads, leads, leads are the most important thing. Well, that might be true, but if you are shoving a ton of leads in at the top and they’re not converting, then it doesn’t really matter how many leads you’re shoving in to the top. And I’d rather have 10 amazing leads with, you know, nine of them that are converting to sales every month, then 10,000 leads with only nine converting because then you’ve got a problem in other stages of the funnel.

You can’t see that information typically in B2B. It’s not something that is always done, especially when you’re selling a complex sale or a complex product. If you’re slack and you know, when a customer signs up for a trial and how long they’ve got for the trial and how to optimise that, you know your funnel very clearly, but for complex technology solution sales, you don’t always get that. If a sales cycle is six months long, nine months long, you’ve got to go back and you’ve got to look at cohorts and you’re not getting data that is always fresh. So that’s kind of where, where I really came to the realisation that, Oh, actually there’s a lot of stuff that we can be doing to shift different leavers in the funnel. And then that’s how you become very data driven because that’s essentially how you deliver value to the rest of the organisation.

Alex (13:14):

That makes sense. So I guess one question would be in terms of what we refer to now as a funnel, I guess we’ve seen kind of buyer journeys and sometimes funnels that look pretty straightforward and quite linear. And you, you know, the HubSpot kind of step by step you’re in phase one, you move to step two, you move to step three. And then on the flip side, you see, I’m kind of remembering a diagram I saw from Gartner recently, which is, which was, I think the new B2B buying journey, which was just arrows going in all directions as different group buying decisions are made and people are aligned and people search online and then people go back and look for a certain bit of content. Actually the complexity of B2B selling generally is significant and not always a kind of straight linear line. And I guess, how do you look at that part of the funnel as such? 

The complexity of the B2B buyer’s journey

Nick (14:05):

So I think, yeah. I mean, certainly you’re touching on this concept of attribution, right? And how do you assign attribution to the different parts of the funnel? And there’s, I think Gartner has this amazing image of the, of the current B2B buying journey and there’s, you know, hundreds of different touch points in there, then there’s a few that marketing… that document just shows that, you know, the sheer amount of content that the average buyer is consuming, the number of times they’re visiting your website and those things. And if you’re not capturing that information and you don’t understand where it aligns in the funnel and you don’t understand what’s happening at that stage, you can’t do anything to affect that.

You can create all of it there, but you don’t know how somebody is moving through it and whether or not that piece of content or, you know, that podcast you did, or that webinar that you ran, or a piece of sales enablement content that you created has had any effect or even when to use it. And also you need to have a sales team that understands when to use those pieces of content, you know, with flexibility, you don’t want to introduce something too rigid and the same goes for nurturing campaigns.

It’s impossible to nurture somebody if you don’t know what stage of the funnel that you’re in or they’re in and how much of that content they’ve consumed or what content they need to consume in order to help them make the buying decision. Because, it’s very easy for us to say, yeah, let’s just shove them into the funnel and keep trying to push them through. And I think people have moved away from that and they’re understanding, let’s help nurture them. We’ll nurture them through that funnel and give them whatever they need. But they’re the ones that are going to take the next step typically.

Alex (15:44):

Yeah. I guess it’s a, maybe a bit of an obvious question, but like, why do we think this is important and why is it important for you? I’m always keen to dig into, particularly in your own business how this works and we’ll talk a bit more about that, but obviously there’s benefits for just general marketing performance and ROI, but are there other areas in which this kind of data driven approach and a granular understanding of the journey and the funnel overall helps with other aspects of marketing, but the business in general?

A data driven approach to business in general

Nick (16:14):

I think maybe my CFO would disagree or maybe he’d agree I’m not sure, I’d have to ask him. But I think that what it provides is, you know, we’re a venture backed company and it helps obviously when you’re going to a board or when you’re going to a meeting and you need to provide evidence of what’s happening and how things are going and where things are in certain stages. It’s a lot easier to come in with a ton of data that says, actually, we’re really quite religious about this and we track it. And we’re very clear about where things are and where things fall off. I think that helps keep people happy from that perspective.

And I think also being, we’re very transparent about it. I go about testing. So that means anybody really can look at where the funnel is and what, what efforts we are taking to check various things. And then, you know, we hired a new CRO this year and helped to onboard him to the business. He can see visually in that funnel and he can see where things are breaking down and where things are happening. So from a, from that perspective as well, it helps, helps give people greater clarity.

So you can go to a sales team and say, you know, the most important thing we can do is actually work on this stage and this, this thing, cause that’s actually going to change the central pipeline, right? So it’s going to change the velocity of sales later on. And we might not feel it for a month or two, but that will change the velocity later on. So I think from a marketing side as well, we get to go out and say, you know, based on this channel and what we’ve had in this channel today, we’d like to experiment and, you know, give us this level of experimentation, budget and we should produce based on the evidence thus far X amount of revenue or opportunities or whatever it is.

Alex (17:59):

Yeah. It makes sense. I guess a question that people will be thinking is like, this all sounds great and really advanced, but like how do I make a start and if they’re startup, or on the way to scale up. And they’re still kind of getting the house in order on the data front and they might have just started using it as a tool like HubSpot for marketing automation, CRM. I mean, how did you get started? And what do you think is the base level needed in terms of data and tools and just things to begin thinking and working in this way?

How to get started with data 

Nick (18:29):

I think the most important thing you can do is just get started and whack it into a Google Sheet. And I say that because that’s what I did, the first version of it was, and I tell people, like, if you look back at that first version, that’s very wavy. It’s very shaky. And I wouldn’t use that to model anything. But what I would say is it gave me the experience of understanding how to craft all of this, how to collect it, how to put it into a Google Sheet. And then the next cohort was okay, you know what? I’m going to make this data more solid by, you know, doing this, this, this, and this, and then I’m going to do this. And then now we’re at a stage where it’s actually quite automated and it takes a couple minutes to update every week.

And I’m sure there’s another layer of automation I could bring in that eliminates even me having to pull anything or download anything. And so, A – get started, but, you know, before you do that, make sure you understand and detail out what stages of the funnel are in your business and really document that out and get everyone’s agreement that they understand what it takes for something to move from marketing qualified, to sales qualified, from sales qualified to fully qualified, or you know, any of the different stages. So define them, write them down and get agreement on those things and then figure out using whatever tool you have, how you can identify when someone’s in that stage.

I think, you know, in the end we’ve created so many different custom fields to report on. You can do that within any CRM. Really, it doesn’t have to be anything super complex or advanced. As long as it offers an export to Google Sheet, then you can track it the way that you want. And you, you know, you can then start pairing that with Google Analytics. You can start pairing that with other more complicated tools if you want, but the fundamental data is what you need to collect upfront and make sure everyone’s in agreement on how it’s going to be collected.

And the more that you can rely on automation to collect it for you automatically, like HubSpot does a great job with workflow. So within HubSpot you can create workflows. And when something happens, when a sales person does something on our HubSpot instance, it will timestamp when that happens and that’s through a workflow that I created. And so now I’ve got a timestamp every time it moves through different stages of the funnel, even though HubSpot isn’t designed to work in the way that I want it to I’ve mangled it together so that it does for me. And then I just export it once a week.

Alex (20:51):

Yeah. So give us a sense of how that looked, like that first spreadsheet for you guys when you set this up. I mean, are we literally talking columns of like lead, kind of how many people are at different…?

Nick (21:02):

This is terrible. I’ll raise my hand and say I manually went through, it was more of a fit of rage, essentially because I said, I’m so sick of this. I just want, I want it all in the way that I want it. And I just downloaded all of it and manually counted the stages that they had been, like each account, each company that had come through, no matter the channel, I manually reviewed each one and at one point and I just recorded it. And I just, you know, haphazardly put it into a table myself. And I remember being asked once, can we update this? And I, I must’ve looked like I was going to jump out the window at that point, everyone backed off. But yeah, I mean, it was a long, long, long process into the night, but it was just something that, you know, that’s why I say get started early. Cause if you’re at an early enough stage, you won’t have as many leads to manually count and create, and then you’ve, you’ve solved your problem before you get too far into it.

Alex (22:00):

And so you’re basically saying, okay, this is the number of visitors to our site. For example, this is how many go into MQL. And, and I guess it’s the conversion rate between those stages that you’re looking at in terms of how significant different drop offs are, or where things might slow down in terms of overall kind of velocity. Are those kinds of the numbers that you’re looking for?

Nick (22:19):

Yes. Yeah, yeah. So exactly, exactly that. So that’s kind of stage one is looking at A- the raw data and then B- what’s the conversion rate between those channels? And then however you set up your cohorts or any of your cohorts currently via quarter. So if you’re doing a monthly, you would then start looking at month over month. What are the changes in the cohorts between those things in the conversion rates or even the raw number if you want.

And then, you know, the next stage really is then adding in additional things such as, you know, the cost for sale for that channel, for instance, the average time to close for that channel. So if you’ve noticed a blockage in, from the sales qualified lead to the sales qualified opportunity stage, and you decide, you know, what, what we’re going to do is we’re going to introduce this fancy new on boarding process for everybody. And we’re going to do it very early and you do that, but it slows the length of the sale down.

You then know that, well, actually it was okay that that conversion rate was lower and you’ve got some evidence as to why it’s okay. And because what it does is it shortens the sales cycle overall. Whereas if you don’t and you just introduced this thing, because your gut instinct says to do it, you may find yourself in a situation where actually you’ve thrown the whole sales model out the window inadvertently, and you won’t find that out until later on, in much later on down the funnel, if you ever look at it.

Alex (23:41):

Sure, that makes sense. And I liked your earlier point around making sure that everybody agrees the definitions of these things, I think, and obviously, yourself coming from a sales background, that if these things are out of alignment, it’s probably not going to work. But then when you’re investigating these kinds of blockages, when they come up, obviously we’ve talked about some kind of more data-driven signs that things might not be working, but how much of it’s also about talking to sales and gathering feedback.

And I guess in a world where B2B attribution generally is quite difficult over long and lengthy sales journeys, is it tough to really know sometimes exactly what the issue is? And sometimes you just have to kind of go with the gut feel and use the data as best you can, but that’s more or less it.

How to find where a block is in the funnel

Nick (24:24):

I personally subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s notion of thin slicing. So in other words, getting a little bit of the data and then making a decision. And usually that’s your gut instinct side of things taking over and over time as you develop experience, you’re generally right, because you’ve seen those things. It’s like when you’re driving in a car and you know that idiot’s going to pull out in front of you, you know, because you’ve seen that happen so many times you’ve seen those kinds of things happen that you can thin slice that information. You can apply the brakes earlier.

So I tend to think of things in the same way in the funnel. So I’ll do some quantitative information, but often I’ll, well, I would have just gotten up and gone and talked to the sales guy or gal. And so now you’ve just, you’ve got to be open with them and say, what’s, what’s going on? Let’s have an open discussion around what’s happening. What are you seeing? We just had one of these maybe a week or two ago where we brought in some of the sales guys and we’re just like, look, what’s, what’s going on here? You know, what are you thinking? What are you seeing? What are prospects saying about the proposition currently? How are they feeling about, and that’s not something you can always quantify.

So you’ve got to add that qualitative side and you’ve got to, you’ve got to have a little bit of that qualitative side of it as well, because otherwise, everything becomes data-driven and you don’t make any decisions based off of experience or creativity, because you want to include a healthy dose of that as well. So it sounds like everything is only data and that’s the only way we make decisions, but it just allows you to have that level of backing behind you that says come in and do this, here’s our hypothesis, here’s how we’re going to test it. Here’s the data behind it. Here’s the creative thing that we’re going to do to try and solve it.

Alex (26:01):

Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s jump to that point around the risk of potentially becoming too fixed on just the data. Cause I think in like the world of marketing in general, whatever the industry B2B, B2C there’s, I guess B2B is more often a victim of this, but you know, we already are data obsessed. You gave the example earlier of you guys being a venture backed business. And ultimately at the top of every business somewhere, is someone looking at things through a financial or kind of number driven lens. I guess my view is that, and I’ve said this before on different podcasts, is that the markets who are armed with a spreadsheet are always going to beat the marketer armed with a big brave idea.

Is there a risk we lose sight of elements of brand and messaging? And we just get too obsessed with kind of the short term and a slightly myopic view of the next month and conversion rates rather than what’s our net promoter score in five years, for example?

Becoming too focused on data 

Nick (26:59):

Yeah, I think that’s a fantastic point. And I think that, you know, you can become too focused on data and testing and, you know, there’s this kind of a macro example of that right now, if you think about what’s happening with the Coronavirus. And if you just look at search volume and search traffic, global search traffic is down, does that mean you need to go out and try and fix your sales funnel right now? Well, you know, or the web channel, well, there’s not much you can do right now to force people to search for specific organic traffic terms.

So if you just only myopically take that viewpoint, then you’re missing out on the wider trends around you. You’ve either got to have somebody on your team that is the creative big thinker, or you’ve got to recognise when you’re too deep into that. And I don’t know that there’s a perfect balance, but I always tell my team to call me out if there’s, if everything’s become too or any one of us has become too fixated on the data and that we’re not looking, sometimes you’re going to get stuck on the vanity metrics side of things as well. And I think that’s a common thing that we see in marketers, especially on the B2B side is folks that are focused on the vanity metrics side. And so at least this way of measuring the funnel keeps you honest. To the results that you’re delivering to the business, to the wider business, and I think as marketers, we’re paid and employed to be the creative thinkers and to have that underlying data backed assumptions as to back them up. Right?

So we get the data and then we inform everybody of what the data is and everyone gets an understanding of what it is. And then we go in and brainstorm the creative side of doing those things. And then we’re allowed to hypothesise as to what the results might be. And then, and then we can see those in action. So, I mean I think sure you can spend far too much time on it and you can get really fully invested and the bare stuff is important, but you know, there’s also another thing saying around, you know, every interaction with every customer, every potential employee, every potential customer and every message that you’ve put out is the emanation of your brand anyway. So a lot of times marketers aren’t fully in control of that brand to begin with.

Alex (29:19):

Yeah, that makes sense. And you talked about that, and earlier, about how this approach can drive greater transparency and give people visibility of the numbers that matter. Obviously it sounds like you’ve moved way on from your spreadsheet that you started with. So what does it look like now in terms of the tools that you use and how you present that and how easy it is for people to see those numbers that matter?

Tools for data management 

Nick (29:41):

Yup. You know, you’d be surprised. So a good Google Sheet is still the foundation. Now what’s the abstraction layer is tools like Databox. So we use Databox to power our dashboards, and to provide us with scorecards, for sales reps, for providing the interface between… It makes things like Google Analytics, more accessible for people. It allows you to surface it’s key insights in various channels.

And that’s kind of the data abstraction layer that shows off the funnel and we get, we can pipe those into Slack. We can put those into email, into people’s inboxes. We can put them up on TVs. There are websites that you can visit. So there’s always a running pulse of the business available and viewable by most people. And that encourages people to question as well, encourages people to say, you know, I had an idea on this thing, I saw this happen and what’s the thought process here? How are we doing that? Or I saw this in CS today in customer success. I had a customer talk about this. How do you think it would affect this part of what we’re working on? So there’s that, we use that as a data abstraction layer.

Our data guys love using Tableau. And they’ll take that data from, from a Google Sheet and store it there and also we’re trying to build a more sophisticated version of the funnel, taking it directly from HubSpot and throwing it into Tableau, but they’ve always got, you know, the thing about data guys and gals is they’ve always got more important things to work on than the marketing guys reporting. So I try not to, I try not to bother them too much with trying to improve the funnel reporting. Especially if the underlying data is in a CRM anyway, then I can just pull it really quick. So I still prefer putting it in Google Sheets as well.

Alex (31:31):

Cool. Makes sense. And I agree. I think it, yeah, a good Google Sheet can serve everybody well.

Nick (31:35):

It powers many a business.

Alex (31:37):

Probably too many more than we realise, I would say, but hey. Cool. That’s really interesting. And I think some really practical tips for approaching this in a way that doesn’t over complicate it to begin with, which I think is great. I guess the last thing that we usually always talk about is trends or challenges for 2020. I mean, it seems a bit odd to be talking about once we’re all on lockdown and, about to hit the peak of Coronavirus, but I guess Coronavirus potentially to one side, are there things that you think within the world of B2B marketing as a technology business are potentially trends or other challenges aside from the obvious one? 

Being resilient in a downturn 

Nick (32:18):

Aside from the obvious one? I think, you know, when we were talking about this a couple of weeks ago, I think, or even it was a month ago now, this wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t necessarily something that we were thinking would be the biggest challenge or issue. So I think like the actual virus side of things aside and lockdown things aside, I think the biggest challenge for a lot of people who have been in marketing for maybe about 10 years is that you’ve only known a bull market.

There’s only been a good times type of experience for marketers, you know, throwing up ads, you know, justifying ad spend, getting great cost per click on Facebook and manipulating these LinkedIn channels and growth hacks and those kinds of things. And they’ve worked well because there’s been an appetite for buying. There has been cash flowing everywhere and there’s been a lot of VC investment in lots of different places. And consumers generally have had, and I say consumers, even on the business side, cause you’re still selling to people who have had enough discretionary funds to make shifts in purchasing and those kinds of things. So for a lot of marketers, they’ve only known that level of exuberance. And you know, when I opened a business at the start of the recession, the last recession, I feel like I’ve been in a parallel universe. I’m doing it again. Or I’m here again, not doing it again, but here again.

And I’m having a level of resiliency around things and understanding that you may have to chuck out everything that you know, or everything that you’ve done and be evaluating whether or not it still works and not being afraid to take steps quickly, to change things in a way that makes sense for the business. And if you don’t have the data to support it, how are you going to make those changes or make those calls? Because, there is that gut feel, but you know, if you’re not monitoring the performance, you might be too late to make that change. You might not hit the stride early enough and you might get out clipped by a competitor who is.

There now is kind of the time I think, if you’ve got less cycles to work on, or if you’ve got a little bit of time available, is to brush up on that data side of things and make sure that you are ready to come out of the recession on the other side and solidify the business that you work for. Because I think that’s the challenge for a lot of people that have not had to operate in that type of environment. So, you know, thinking back to that environment and understanding what to do, I think is probably a huge challenge.

Alex (34:54):

Wise words and I think everyone will be…

Nick (34:57):

I don’t know. Yeah. We’ll see if it’s wise words.

Alex (35:00):

Well, let’s see how we are in six months, absolutely. I’ll drop you a message in a few months and we can have another chat and reflect on how right you were. But in the meantime it’s been a pleasure talking. Some great insights there that I think people find really tangible and can go away and apply. So, yeah. Thanks for joining us.

Nick (35:19):

Absolutely. Thanks Alex. I really appreciate you having me on.

FINITE (35:22):

Thanks for listening. We’re super busy at finite building the best community possible for marketers working in the B2B technology sector to connect, share, and learn. Along with our podcast, we host a series of events here in London, so make sure you head to finite.community to subscribe and keep up to date with upcoming events.

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