There are a few pipeline marketing growth hacks we used to grow Bizible significantly in the past year. It ultimately helped us raise $8M in new funding this August. We love helping others, so we decided to share what we learned while implementing our pipeline marketing strategy.
First of all, what is pipeline marketing? As our CEO Aaron Bird recently blogged about, it’s really the next evolution of lead generation. Pipeline marketing goes beyond generating new leads. With pipeline marketing, the goal is to expand the entire sales pipeline and ultimately drive revenue. Instead of optimizing for cost per lead, you optimize for deals and revenue.
Now, on to a few of the growth hacks...
Proactive Live Chat
Any company can improve their lead generation by finding new ways to communicate value early in the sales cycle. We did this using proactive live chat on our website.
Like many SaaS companies, we use live chat on our website to connect visitors with sales. Since site visitors are actively engaging with us, they tend to be highly qualified leads.
Use proactive chat. With proactive chat visitors are prompted with a question in the chat box if they don’t take any action on a page after a predefined number of seconds.
Having an effective proactive chat prompt is key. We tested dozens of chat prompts and one stands out from all the others. It's one that shows the value we can add from our product.
It is simply, “Welcome back! Are you interested in seeing the Bizible tracking history for your visits?”
Bizible tracks all the marketing touches for visitors, so this is both a way to showcase a personalized view of the value of Bizible as well as create a lead for us. If they say “Yes” then we ask for their email address to send them a screenshot of our product in action.
Continuing with live chat, if we get a visitor chatting with us it’s important to capture their contact information, which is routed into Salesforce, creating a lead.
Create new reasons to ask for email information. The second big way we prompt for email contact information in live chat is simply asking, “In case we get disconnected, can I have your email address? Mine is [operator]@bizible.com.”
Results: We found leads from live chat contribute to ~25% of our new monthly revenue each month, making it our #2 sales channel in terms of revenue. In addition, lead to opportunity conversion is 50% higher than average.
Refining the way we use live chat helped tremendously in generating leads for our pipeline marketing campaign.
Warming Leads Using Social
Building on Lincoln Murphy's idea of warming leads before emailing them, here’s how we prime leads before emailing them. First we segmented our prospects into two groups: 1) high-value prospects, and 2) general prospects.
For high-value prospects Bizible uses targeted ads on LinkedIn. For the general prospect group we use Facebook and create custom audience lists.
Here are the tactics used for each group:
- High-value prospects: Target individual companies and job titles on LinkedIn to ensure high hit rates. Test ads that are both direct product CTAs and offers (such as content downloads).
- General prospects: Create a custom audience list to run on Facebook. We generally get about a 20% match rate for work email addresses.
Results: Here’s our LinkedIn ad promoting downloadable content. We found image ads that have the title prominently featured perform approximately 20% better (in terms of cost per lead) than ads that showed the cover of the guide, despite similar front-end metrics (CTR, CPC, etc).
Test Various Demo Call-to-Actions
Like many SaaS companies with a sales team, we send “request a demo” emails to our leads. However, as you might expect, performance declines over time. We decided to change it up by testing different strategies.
We offered one of the following:
1) A free assessment
2) An incentive (in the form of a $25 gift card if qualified)
3) A crowd-sourcing activity (rallying the crowd).
Here are the results:
Subject: Get your complimentary marketing analytics assessment today
Open Rate: 21%
Click Rate: 0.02%
Qualified Demo Rate: 0.2%
Offering an Incentive
Subject: See how Bizible works and get a $25 Amazon gift card
Open Rate: 23%
Click Rate: 2.5%
Qualified Demo Rate: 0.5%
Subject: Watch a 3 minute video to help prove a CEO wrong
Open Rate: 23%
Click Rate: 2.1%
Qualified Demo Rate: 0.05%
We were very reluctant to try the “incentive” email at first. It felt too spammy. However, we saw similar emails from larger B2B SaaS companies, so decided to give it a try. I’m glad we did, as it was the best performing email in terms of creating qualified demos. The worst performing was the “crowd” offer. Now that we look back, the CTA was a little weak.
Here’s a screenshot of the amazon gift card email:
Offer a Free Tool
Our core product use case is connecting search marketing into Salesforce. Wanting a way to generate some buzz and have an ongoing stream of leads, we decided to create a free tool that aligned with our paid offering.
In talking with customers, we realized that many search advertisers wanted an easy way to tag Bing Ads with UTM parameters; it’s actually the 4th most requested feature in terms of votes on the Bing Ads Feedback. So we made a tool that does just that and released it last July.
Releasing a free tool isn’t enough though. We marketed this tool mainly through commenting on Bing Ads forum and submitting feedback posts about auto-tagging. This created over 1,000 sessions and we pitched an exclusive to SearchEngineLand.com which created an additional 1,500 sessions. All of this created such domain authority for our tool that it we received over 1,750 organic search sessions.
In terms of business results, it’s generated dozens of qualified opportunities and tens of thousands in new annual contract value.
Just because your product isn’t self signup and you rely on sales to generate revenue doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of a few growth hacks.
Experimenting with messaging in proactive live chat, warming leads throught social, and testing various CTA offers are great ways to improve lead generation. Leverage what attracts attention in your industry and don't be afraid to try something new!