Thought Leadership Interview #8: The Jason Stewart Show: Demand Gen from the Demandbases’ Chief Blogger

This interview was a late grab for me.  I read demandblog: Best Practices in B2B Demand Generation frequently and decided I would just contact the author, Jason Stewart, and see if he wanted in. He did, and we got a great interview out of it. Jason leads online marketing programs for Demandbase Inc.  He founded and leads the user group in San Francisco and was one of the first 500 people to complete the Certified Administrator process. He has a great real-world background in B2B telesales, demand generation, lead management and marketing operations with a variety of public and privately held software companies.  Demandbase is hot and Jason’s blog is top-notch, so I’m excited to have him aboard.

Here’s what he had to say:

1.    What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?

The first trend is that marketing budgets are going to shift more toward online and inbound marketing, and by “inbound marketing” I mean those prospects that are out there proactively searching for your products or solutions. B2B marketers are paying closer attention to inbound marketing in a number of ways – focusing on organic search optimization and creating more content that’s going to capture the eye of that long-tail searcher with a specific need, right now. Improving online conversion rates is also key, and I think closer attention is going to be paid to the “silent majority” of folks who visit a site but don’t convert. What sorts of businesses do they represent, what were they looking for and what do I need to do to get them to take the next step and identify themselves?

The second thing is an increased adoption of social-network marketing . Businesses are beginning to figure out how to get the word out about themselves in a very tricky landscape filled with dos and don’ts – and more importantly how to track the effectiveness of  campaigns they might run on Twitter or Facebook.

The third is an increase in the need to measure and account for the effectiveness of every dollar spent on marketing. ROI (return on investment) is key, and while businesses might be excited to try new things the tools need to be in place to measure return quickly and efficiently so that marketers can make changes on the fly.

2.    What are the biggest challenges for 2009?

Budgets may shrink, but performance expectations rarely do. We’re all going to need to do more with less.

3.    What are three metrics that B2B marketers should care about and why?

This is a hard one, and I might defer to one general metric that changes from Web page to landing page to email campaign. What was the goal, and how successful were you at accomplishing it?

For example, if you’re running an email campaign with a goal of getting people to register for a Webinar, set your goal for the number of registrations in advance and don’t sweat open rates or click-throughs – as long as you hit your goal. Let’s be clear – I’m not suggesting that you mass email irrelevant contacts in order to hit you goal. Rather, with the right messaging to the right people your goal will come naturally even if your open rates are lower than you are used to. I receive online communications every day with no clear call to action, sent out by marketers who are just “spraying and praying.” If I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, then how are you going to measure whether or not I did it?

4.    What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?

This ties back to the previous question, as the most obvious mistake is focusing on the wrong metrics. For example, looking at the cost per conversion of a pay-per-click campaign rather than the quality of the conversion (or how much closed business can be attributed to that specific keyword or ad group) is a big mistake.

Also, not understanding the demographics of the businesses visiting your Web site or landing page – or even in your list rentals or email campaigns –  is a big problem. What if you have a high CPM for an email campaign, or you are paying for a lot of expensive clicks but it turns out the people who are responding are nowhere near your target markets? Insight into that can lead to simple adjustments in list composition or ad copy or keywords that could not only save a lot of money but improve performance of your campaigns.

5.    What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?

Test and measure, test and measure – and then test and measure some more. There are simply too many great tools out there helping B2B marketers understand what is working and what isn’t for us to have any excuse to keep throwing money at marketing mediums without proven return.

6.    What three Web 2.0 applications, cutting-edge technologies or lead generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?

I’ll share four:

  • Marketing automation or lead management systems are becoming vital to maintaining that constant drip of attention that prospects need in order to mature into viable selling opportunities.
  • My CRM/SFA (sales force automation) system has become irreplaceable in helping me to understand which lead sources or marketing campaigns are actually driving revenue. If you’re not tying your marketing campaigns directly to your sales opportunities, you’re missing the boat.
  • A healthy inbound marketing strategy is vital, with realistic social network marketing  and content creation aspects woven in to it. Business blogging is a great forum for content creation as long as it is not limited to product pitching and provides helpful and relevant content in which your prospects are interested. And a simple search on Twitter might uncover dozens of people asking their social network about you or your company. Are you there to answer their questions?
  • Finally, an improved post-click strategy that includes tools like Demandbase Professional, helping to better understand more about the “silent majority” of your Web-site or landing-page visitors that don’t convert, and put mechanisms in place to identify, reach and convert more of them.

7.    What do you hope for in B2B sales and marketing for the new year?

My sincere hope is that tighter budgets will spawn creativity, and not handcuff marketers into “tried and true” types of messaging. While there is more pressure than ever to prove ROI, that doesn’t mean you aren’t obligated to try and be creative. I hope to be wowed this year.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Great interview. I worry, though, about inbound marketing being thought of as a magic bullet to solve all revenue problems. Its a good additional to existing “lead generation tools” but it cannot replace sales people closing deals – that will still need a huge amount of proactive sales efforts, especially in B2B segments where the buyers may not be necessarily social media savvy.

    A strong rich data-driven marketing and nurturing strategy will be a bigger contributor to revenue – which I believe is the first point Jason mentions to the tools question.

    Vaibhav Domkundwar