"We need to market our new application in a high-impact, cost-effective way."
Like most technology startups, this is where the HubLink leadership team eventually found itself. By 2018, after sixteen months of product development, the team had exhausted most of its angel funding. But the time had come: they needed to begin raising awareness, building a sales and marketing pipeline, finding new investors, nurturing new evangelists, and converting new users. This had to be done in a high-impact, cost-effective way. The team knew it needed to spend its ad budget wisely, generate actionable data, and demonstrate quantifiable ROI.
"Ok," we said. "Let's take a deep dive into your existing data, build audience and persona models, and use that intel to boost lead generation and ROI."
A deep dive into existing lead information and prospective user data yielded a good bit of actionable intelligence. This intel helped us build eight targeted audiences composed of known and potential investors, evangelists, and users. We used these audiences to boost lead flows and maximize the ROI of paid ad spending.
"Let's also generate actionable intel we can use to decrease wasteful spending and improve HubLink's overall pipeline."
The data we collected helped the HubLink leadership team put upward pressure on awareness and engagement, keep downward pressure on overall spending, establish important benchmarks, and maintain best-practice spending ratios. Contact churn was well controlled, and the value of HubLink’s pipeline soared nearly 400% in two months.
How does LeadOn help?
By combining the self-sufficiency of an application with the expertise of an agency, LeadOn uses four actions to help HubLink quantify results, maximize ROI, and achieve its marketing goals.
LeadOn uses all available data resources — social media intel, Google Analytics, contact information, and other digital signals — to continually fine-tune HubLink’s audiences. We always know whom we’re speaking to and how well we’re resonating with them.
LeadOn uses audience intelligence to build highly-relevant marketing collateral. This helps ensure content topics, social media channels, and ads align with known audience variables. Now, marketing spending has the potential to generate exponential returns.
Lead Generation & Nurturing
We use a series of audience-specific lead-generation tools (go.usehublink.com) to generate a steady stream of investor, evangelist, and user leads. This allows the leadership team to nurture prospects along a well-defined conversion path and creates additional front-line intelligence we can use to fine-tune our various audience hypotheses.
Measuring, Analyzing, Reporting, Learning & Fine Tuning
We use engagement data and other digital signals to constantly learn from our marketing efforts and improve our audience models. This allows us to fine-tune collateral resources, improve lead generation, hone conversion workflows, and improve overall marketing efforts (on- and offline).
Data & Discoveries
Working with LeadOn is an adventure. Our customers usually start with one set of assumptions. Then, working side by side, we discover all sorts of exciting, unanticipated things. Steering into these discoveries helps maximize the ROI of overall marketing spending. This is certainly true in HubLink’s case.
The HubLink leadership team has always had a clear sense of who its target users are: vessel charter companies and offshore operators in the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, Mediterranean, Africa, and APAC. However, they were less certain about where they could find interested investors.
Traditional finance centers like New York, technology centers like San Francisco, and oil and gas centers like Houston and Dallas were intuitive choices. However, after experimenting with other financial and technology centers around the world, we quickly found several other areas were far more engaged with our outreach.
Investors in Riyadh, Qatar, and Tel Aviv contributed more engagements than the US or UK combined. Engagement from these areas dwarfed New York, London, San Francisco, and even Houston and Dallas.
These kinds of insights had profound impacts on our user-, evangelist-, and investor-focused campaigns. They allowed us to focus our paid outreach considerably and boosted campaign performance.
First, average cost per click (red) remained 46-58% below best practice (gray).
Likewise, click through rates (CTR, green) consistently outperformed a 2% best-practice benchmark (gray). We saw CTR spikes as high as 10.20%: over 5x higher than best-practice.
(Note, we didn’t run ads during weeks with 0% CTR’s.)
By quantifying qualitative, often ill-defined terms like “awareness”, “interest”, and “engagement,” LeadOn helps customers become boardroom heroes. In HubLink’s case, we used a simple formula that allowed us to quantify “interest” and track it over time.
First, we calculated “awareness” as
(ad views + marketing email deliveries + sales email sends + website pageviews). Then, we calculated “interest” as:
(ad clicks + email opens + social media followers). Lastly, to get our interest rate, we calculated as follows:
(interest / awareness) * 100 = interest rate (%).
If our interest rate rose, we’d know our outreach efforts were gaining traction. If it fell, we’d know we needed to recalibrate. In HubLink’s case (left), interest grew steadily over time: a good indication that our audience hypotheses were accurate and that our channels, messaging, and content were well aligned.
Further indicating the level of interest in HubLink, we saw negative contact churn (red) that was substantially lower than best practice (0.42-0.58% per month, gray). In other words, as we add leads to HubLink’s pipeline, they tend to stay subscribed to our outreach efforts.
Reflecting the impact of negative contact churn, accurate audience models, and the alignment of channels, messaging, and content, HubLink’s pipeline rose nearly 400% in two months: from $5.7 to $28 million.
The Virtuous Gap
During the HubLink marketing campaign, we were also able to sustain one of our most important abstract models: the “virtuous gap.”
As we fine tune a customer’s audience data and use that intel to improve the alignment of channels, messaging, and creative, we begin minimizing spending (cost per click or “CPC”) and maximizing engagement (click through rate or “CTR”).
This is marketing in its most harmonious state: putting sustained downward pressure on CPC (red) while simultaneously putting upward, even exponential pressure on CTR (gray). More often than not, the virtuous gap has positive collateral effects on lead flows as well.
“How has LeadOn helped HubLink?”
I have a personal interest in seeing both HubLink and LeadOn succeed. As such, when the HubLink leadership team and I found ourselves ready to start marketing the application to potential investors, evangelists, and users, it was natural for me to turn to LeadOn. ‘Drinking your own champagne‘ is the ultimate test of confidence, and I think the results speak for themselves.
LeadOn helped us generate actionable audience insights, drive performance that outpaced best-practice benchmarks, quantify and steadily increase ‘interest,’ boost our pipeline value, and drive user, investor, and evangelist lead flows. I feel confident that any early-stage venture would be thrilled with these results. The HubLink leadership team and I certainly are.