LinkedIn Marketing can play an important role for B2B startups looking to scale. But what are the learnings and strategies fueling their growth? We’re excited to help answer this question with our new Growth Series: an inside look at startup marketers’ approach to successful growth. As your team builds your own marketing strategy, perhaps the perspectives shared here will help you optimize, learn, and grow faster.
In this installment of our Growth Series, we’ve interviewed Claudia Ring, Head of Growth at Deepgram.
LinkedIn: In a sentence, tell us about Deepgram. What is a fun fact we wouldn’t find on your LinkedIn Page or website?
Claudia: Deepgram is the first and only end-to-end, AI speech recognition platform that delivers insanely fast, actually usable transcriptions, with practically zero lag. Our fun fact: Deepgram has a long-standing company culture with spicy food, particularly peppers and hot sauce…. there is a video of our CEO, Scott, eating a hot pepper, and many Deepgrammers grow peppers, make their own hot sauce and travel to taste various spicy foods together.
LinkedIn: What does growth mean to your team? How does your team measure growth?
Claudia: We look at growth as sustainable scale that we discover through a mix of performance marketing, brand awareness and multichannel experimentation. The key to our growth strategy is growing both the quantity and quality of all of our topline metrics through that combination. We can’t have one without the other, and while our first priority is increasing leads, sales qualified leads, and opportunities and revenue, we are making sure that our conversions and cost of acquisition are trending in the right direction.
LinkedIn: What’s something you wish you knew when first getting started with your paid growth strategy?
Claudia: That failure is as valuable as success as long as you can understand why something failed, and that structured experimentation is key to this idea. I think a lot of performance marketers feel guilty about “wasting money” if a certain ad doesn’t work, but if you are learning how to adjust your audience, or which offers resonate, or what messaging is most appealing, none of it is a waste. Success also has its limits — an asset typically has a shelf life and once an audience is saturated, you need to rebrand or repackage it to continue to generate leads.
LinkedIn: How did your team identify and optimize your ICP's buyer’s journey?
Claudia: We are still optimizing, but as far as identifying it was a mix of having a really sharp sales team and an agile product marketing and demand gen team that listened to each other’s feedback and, most importantly, leveraged that into those experiments against different audiences and offers. When you are a young and growing company, your sales team is the front line.They have the most prospect and customer interaction, and if they are good about sharing both the quantifiable data (via CRM (Customer Relationship Manager), MAT (Marketing Automation Technology), spreadsheets, anything reportable) and even more importantly, the qualitative data, you can refine your targeting much more quickly and smoothly. But there are plenty of things you can test in every paid channel even when you do have your ICP criteria nailed and have a handle on the buyer's journey.
LinkedIn: What key adjustments have you made to your growth strategy over time and what impact did these have on results?
Claudia: I started three months ago, so a lot of the legwork was done when I arrived by our amazing marketing team, including our Marketing Manager, Alexa De La Torre, who is now part of the Growth team, but we first adjusted how we look at our ICP. We moved away from primarily firmographic criteria and towards the likelihood of an active use case where the company would be searching for a solution. This is achieved through a combination of intent data and market research on the specific sub-industries that are most likely to leverage voice as a key component of their application. We then organized campaigns around known and likely use cases (short term wins with high intent offers), near term use cases (medium term wins with mid intent offers) and long term use cases (brand awareness and educational offers).
LinkedIn: How do you balance your sales cycle and measuring ROI from paid marketing initiatives?
Claudia: There are leading indicators and near-term metrics that we use like lead quality (i.e., lead to meeting conversion rate) that we use to make sure we are balancing quality and quantity at the top of the funnel. We also look at how many of those meetings are progressing to pipeline to give us an indicator of true lead quality as a first meeting isn’t always indicative of intent to purchase. If we are seeing positive patterns there, we add budget or increase efforts around those paid ads. When it comes to downfunnel metrics and late stage opportunities or wins, there’s no real way to tell what is working until it does or doesn’t. We certainly keep an eye on positive trends and look at deal velocity. If we see any channels or ads that are generating quick wins, that’s an easy spot to add more budget, but most of the time the hardest thing about the “what’s working and what’s not” discussion is waiting for the final results in the form of closed won or closed lost deals.
LinkedIn: How do you achieve and measure successful alignment between sales and marketing?
Claudia: On the hard metrics side, how quickly are the SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) responding to inbound leads (we time and track our SLAs – Service Level Agreements), how many leads are rejected or disqualified (lead quality, in line with lead – meeting conversions) and of course, how many marketing generated leads are turning into meetings and revenue? On the qualitative side, we meet regularly and make sure everyone on the sales side knows what marketing is up to. We keep the line of communication and feedback wide open — if a campaign isn’t going well or the team doesn’t like what’s coming their way, we are there to incorporate that feedback. The sales team is our customer and we really try to build up the trust between our teams so they want to jump on the leads we generate, which creates a positive cycle.
LinkedIn: How does content marketing fuel your lead gen strategy?
Claudia: It’s the core of our lead gen strategy, shout out Keith Lam, our Head of Product Marketing. We try to give away educational and brand level content and restrict gating to assets that are super high value or high intent. We want people to find our content and come to our site. The bigger the funnel we can build up of people who know us, the more likely they are to reach out when they are ready or give us their information when they are in market. We don’t want our reps wasting time on leads that are a year out from buying, so we really do see content as the long term and short term core of lead gen.
LinkedIn: What type of content have you seen perform well on LinkedIn?
Claudia: We have a pretty technical audience, but depending on their buying stage, eBooks or market reports work well, white papers are a consistent hit, and customer stories in video or written format are typically attractive. It really is about the content of the offer. Product offers perform sometimes (and may signal intent), but educational or “how to” offers consistently work.
LinkedIn: What tools or resources do you use to plan and execute your content marketing strategy?
Claudia: We use a mix of reporting from our MAT and CRM to see what has been working combined with project planning tools and good old fashioned spreadsheets to map campaigns and see what content is missing or needed to achieve our goals. We are going to (if all goes according to plan) launch Q4 with some new assets and primary tests and then adjust on the fly as we run through the quarter to see what tweaks we should make to end 2021 on a high note.
To keep pace with the latest thinking in digital marketing, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Blog today.