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B2B Content Marketing: Smart Hacks to Accelerate Funnel Velocity 

Olin Hyde

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Podcast Transcript

Today we're discussing alternative approaches to top-of-funnel media, including programmatic display advertising, and how to leverage as much goodness as possible out of that media spend. Also, we talk about why demand generation marketing should probably own the branding budget, particularly as it applies to programmatic. LeadCrunch[ai] uses artificial intelligence to drastically improve the performance of B2B demand generation campaigns through account-based "lookalike" modeling. Click the link for more information. https://leadcrunch.com/solutions/

Posted by LeadCrunch on Thursday, June 6, 2019

Hosts: Dave Green & Jonathan Greene

Guest(s): NA

Topic: B2B Content Marketing 

Subtopic: Programmatic Ads 

Duration: 23 minutes

In this episode of the Green & Greene Show, the LeadCrunch B2B podcast, seasoned marketing experts discuss B2B content marketing and programmatic ads.


  • Reframing the Value of Programmatic Ads for Demand Gen 
  • Beyond Brand Awareness – Getting Return on ToFu 
  • Consider Your Audience – Meet Them at Their Pain Points
  • Using Banner Ad CTR to Accelerate Your Pipeline (And Prove ROI)
  • Creating a Qualified Audience for a More Robust MoFu
  • Why Do You Have to Make Things So Complicated? 
  • Why Your Demand Gen Targeting Still Sucks, And How to Fix it 
  • The Power of Thinking Differently About Targeting 
  • Discovering a Multi-Million Dollar Correlation 

Podcast Transcript


[0:00:05.1] ANNOUNCER: Live from the city with the most perfect weather ever, San Diego, California. All the way to the gleaming shores of Jacksonville, Florida, it’s the Green & Greene show. Here are your hosts, Dave Green and Jonathan Greene, goofing off instead of working, while unlocking the mysteries of demand gen. The Green & Greene show is brought to you by LeadCrunch, which creates B2B lookalike audiences.


[0:00:39.2] DG: Jonathan, I thought we were going to have that “goofing off” part edited out, man? What if other people hear this and they actually find out that we really are goofing off instead of working?

[0:00:52.9] JG: Hey, truer words have never been spoken. I can’t take it out. My conscience will not allow it. We goof off a little bit, but it’s constructive goofing off.

[0:01:00.9] DG: Yeah. We’re in marketing, and that’s all it is. Goofing off.

[0:01:08.9] JG: If you’re not in sales anyway.

Reframing the Value of Programmatic Ads for Demand Gen 

[0:01:14.3] DG: Anyway, I was telling you that I was at the Sirius Decision Summit and started having conversations with a bunch of demand gen marketers about using programmatic advertising. I was surprised, and I wasn’t surprised after they started saying it, but really, a lot of fairly sophisticated demand gen marketers don’t see that as something they ought to do. They are so judged by how many MQLs you get and how many SQLs you get, they don’t want to do any of that stuff that doesn’t directly lead to that kind of connection and outcome.

You know, you’re a mad genius at this and I thought you could help them out, tell them what you do and why you do it, and kind of break it down for them. Maybe other demand gen marketers might be able to use programmatic ads in conjunction with their other lead programs.

[0:02:14.9] JG: Yeah. Let’s clarify first. I think in a lot of organizations, the demand gen function doesn’t even own the budget for top-of-funnel programmatic. Who do you find besides demand gen typically owns that?

[0:02:30.0] DG: Well, it’s those rascals that are over in advertising and branding. They’re really not held to the kind of revenue standards that demand gen marketers are, in my opinion. I think demand gen marketers ought to go over there, conk them on the head, get all their money, and actually put it to good use. What do you think?

[0:02:46.2] JG: Yeah, that’s problem number one. As a personal character trait of my personality, I can’t stand things that are done to no end. If you do things with no intention of ever measuring it for whatever reason, that drives me absolutely crazy.

Beyond Brand Awareness – Getting Return on ToFu 

I would say the first thing that I would do if I was in that situation would be to advocate that demand gen should own the budget for that and the authority to spend money for top-of-funnel programmatic. I think most people try to use it for branding.

[0:03:16.8] DG: Yup.

[0:03:17.6] JG: Or awareness. Which is funny because if you then go look at the benchmark reports around top-of-funnel programmatic display, the most commonly cited reason for using it is branding or awareness and the most commonly cited measurement of it is lead generation. How many leads did you generate? That is funny because they’re putting no effort at all into actually using that to create pipeline in any way, shape, or form.

Then they’re trying to measure pipeline. Which makes me laugh. You can do that. That’s fine, but you need to take a sort of more measured approach at the very top of the situation.

[0:03:54.3] DG: Well, in fairness to the kings and queens of branding, I think that they would say that they do measure things. They go out and have studies done on things like brand recall and stuff like that. I’m not saying that’s not a reasonable thing to do, but if you’re IBM or Microsoft or Google, lots of people just know your brand. You don’t really have to do anything else to advertise who you are.There’s just tons of branding. That brand awareness is out there already. 

It’s the companies that are below that, that most people have never heard of for whom I think that’s a much different kind of job. What you often hear is you’ve got to hit people with like a billion ads before they remember anything. It kind of gives you a lot of slack.

[0:04:45.8] JG: Yeah, I think if you’re Coca-Cola, this is a much different problem. If you have such market saturation and now your goal is to put one of your products within arm’s reach of everybody on the planet, we’re probably talking about different thing. If you’re still trying to create demand, and part of that is awareness (i.e., people don’t know about you), then this is probably something that you ought to control in the demand gen space if you can. How you brand, or ultimately, how you present to the market will create opportunities for you.

A prime example is that I see a lot of top-of-funnel programmatic display messaging that’s just pure branding. It doesn’t even attempt to approach a pain point of any sort. It just says, “Here’s who we are,  get to know us,” or something like that. That’s almost a complete waste of everything, in my opinion.

[0:05:44.1] DG: Well, the media companies like it. I wouldn’t say it’s a complete waste.

[0:05:48.1] JG: Sure, it will make the media rep very happy when they come to town once a year and buy you a steak dinner, that’s what you just paid for. Pay however much branding budget you have for your steak dinner. 

[0:06:00.4] DG: Talk a little bit about the way you integrate programmatic into the overall demand gen stuff that you’re doing.

Consider Your Audience – Meet Them at Their Pain Points

[0:06:10.2] JG: The first thing is to sit back and take a good hard look at where people are mentally. Especially if they don’t know you, you have to give a compelling enough reason for them to want to engage with your branding to begin with.

The first thing I try to do is, in a very visceral, very low-brow way, say, “Hey, here’s what your problem is.” When people resonate with that and click through, that’s sort of the culmination of step one. I use programmatic display at the top of funnel to say things like, “Your targeting sucks.” People go, “Wait a minute!” I think they might actually be bordering on being offended for a minute and then they go, “Well, my targeting does suck.”

Your ROI is crap, and everybody knows it. That’s literally what the banner is going to say: The ROI is crap, and everybody knows it. You’ll be like, “Man, my ROI is crap.” Now they’re curious. Now the banner ads are doing way more than putting your logo in front of everybody’s face. They’re actually starting to do a little bit of the heavy lifting of building pipeline at the very top of funnel.

Now we’re causing people to actually click, whether through curiosity, they want to know who is talking to them this way and what they could possibly be saying, or because you’ve nailed their pain and they just have to figure out what you’re offering. I look for high-quality traffic indicators, and some of the indicators that I use to determine traffic quality are page depth, number of pages they visit once they hit your site, time on page, things of that nature.

I know that I’m beginning to capture their pain point once I have them clicking through programmatic ads at top of funnel, landing on the pages I want them to land on. When the traffic quality indicators are high, I go ahead and start building retargeting audiences out of that page traffic.

My goal for my top-of-funnel, programmatic advertising is to fill up those retargeting audiences with people who are resonating with the pain that I’m talking about. That gives me some unique opportunities with my retargeting. I’m not just talking to general population. I can segment that very highly.

Using Banner Ad CTR to Accelerate Your Pipeline (And Prove ROI) 

I’ll give you an example. If I want to create some banner ads that are talking to marketing practitioners, I might very well say, “Hey, your targeting sucks.” And that marketing practitioner’s going to sit there and go, “Yes, it does.” Then they’re going to click through on that ad and then I know, because of the response, that they’re a marketing practitioner.

If I want to talk to marketing vice president and above, I’m going to approach that in a slightly different way. I’m going to say, “Hey, you want to win the next battle with your CFO when it comes to ROI? You want to have something actually show them?” That’s the problem that they’re facing in very real time.

“Oh God, my quarterly budget review’s coming up and I have nothing to show for all this money and creating top of the funnel.” That’s a very real pain for them but because of the nature of the top-of-funnel messaging, I know who is responding to it. Then, when I build my retargeting audiences, I can be very granular and very specific about what I say to them next and what content I curate to them.

With the net effect of accelerating pipeline. That’s what we always want: people just to fly through the sequence if at all possible.

[0:09:34.9] DG: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, this approach that you take about kind of meeting them where they are, their pain points. If you just kind of forget all this marketing stuff and just think about any person, if I walked up to you and I said, “I’m Dave, I’m a VP in a tech startup,” and I gave you a bunch of other stuff about me. It’s kind of boring, right? 

However, if I make some observation about them and say, “Hey, those are awesome shoes you’re wearing, I love those,” that’s about them. They care about them, they don’t care about you until you start to care about them first. The pain is the thing that hopefully you know what the pains are that you can help solve, and so speaking to those is the way you’re going to attract them. I love that.

You get the clicks and stuff but I’m a demand gen marketer and I’ve got to get actual leads captured and MQLs and SQLs and all that stuff. How do you get them from just visiting to just filling out lead forms?

Creating a Qualified Audience for a More Robust MoFu 

[0:10:50.4] JG: Well, there are a couple of ways. The first thing I would say is that, I think most demand generation marketers approach the market in an unsegmented way and offer their white paper or their ebook or whatever that they’re going to use to capture leads. Then they find that the cost of acquisition for that is very high because they’ve not done any prior segmentation or work in terms of ferreting out quality. You’re showing it to a billion eyeballs, three quarters of which are never going to be interested in your product at all. The first thing that using programmatic media at the top of funnel in this way does is it gives me very qualified audiences to work with.

[0:11:29.5] DG: Yup.

[0:11:31.0] JG: “Exchange collateral” is what I call it, but we’re talking about white papers, ebooks, video series, whatever you’re going to use to capture actual lead information, name, address, phone number. I move that way further down in the funnel than most people do. I don’t use that at top of funnel for lead generation because I find that the money is more or less wasted, the cost of acquisition is way higher, et cetera. 

I use my top-of-funnel media for that, and you know, I take that budget from PR or advertising or branding or whoever owns it and I spend that money in a tactical way so that I am building an audience that, when I do turn them onto that middle-of-funnel exchange media, is going to convert at a much higher rate. 

[0:12:15.2] DG: When you say you are building an audience, but you are not capturing their names, how does that work? 

[0:12:19.6] JG: I think most people in my position who would be watching us would understand that, but I guess I would be remiss if I don’t explain it. You know just pixeling people using any basic platform. Ad Roll is one of my favorites for executing this stuff, but I also do it on Facebook as well, believe it or not.  Facebook works perfectly well as a B2B medium. Don’t let anybody tell you it doesn’t. It is like the Super Bowl. Everybody is there. You just have to know what you are doing, right? 

So I just pixel them and build audiences out of the landing pages. As that number increases, like I said, I look at the quality indicators of the traffic, and if it pleases me and I feel like it is more or less high-quality traffic and the average time on the page is three or four minutes and they are viewing two, three, four pages on average, then I am going to say, “Okay, that is a pretty high quality audience and I will use that audience to target my middle-of-funnel exchange media point,” ebooks, and white papers, stuff like that. 

Why Do You Have to Make Things So Complicated? 

[0:13:17.1] DG: With retargeting, perfect. Well, Jonathan, I hope this is educational. I was actually a little bit surprised at the wide number of demand gen marketers at Sirius Decisions, which I think, generally speaking, those are more sophisticated marketers that are going to those kinds of events and that event in particular. It was interesting to find out that a lot of them hadn’t tried to do this in a way that you are. I hope it is helpful there for everybody. 

[0:13:52.0] JG: Well, I came out of that B2C space where this is sort of a common tactic. You use your top-of-funnel media to filter into a much more robust middle of funnel. With most B2B companies, I don’t see that sort of robustness with funnel buildout, and when I do see it, it becomes so complex that it can’t be effectively managed. There’s no way to do this that has real simplicity to it so the complexity monster doesn’t eat all of your hard work but have them caught out, right? 

You have to know who your personas are, and you have to sit down and really segment your list top of funnel. One key point that we didn’t mention is when I go to programmatic media in the first place, I am not going there with firmographic, demographic targeting. I am taking an ABM list to programmatic land to start with. I am always serving programmatic impression just to people I already know or at least already have some idea are in the right space. 

My click-per rates on programmatic are going to stomp yours 100%, and it is not close at all. For the people who are not doing that, that’s probably step one. You have to be an adult and do a real segmentation of your market and know who you are trying to reach, none of which is easy to do. 

[0:15:15.1] DG: Yeah, I am glad you brought that up because the thing that almost always gets overlooked, and when I have seen this a lot of times, people kind of delegate down to someone who is pretty junior, the selection of the audience. It is probably the single biggest factor next to the value proposition that you have with a product in a company and even ABM, which I think is a step in the right direction, a lot of times, it is still just people’s intuition.

About the best accounts, I am a big advocate of making it data-driven. Go find out and work with your finance team and your customer success team to find out some group of best customers for a product or whatever, and use that to go model out who everyone else is as at least a starting point with this. Rather than, “Oh I am going to go after these titles and these industries and these sized company.” That  is like driving on a dirt road when there are supersonic jets that are available. It’s just way behind the times. 

Why Your Demand Gen Targeting Still Sucks, And How to Fix it 

[0:16:31.2] JG: You guys understand if you are watching this that that is the underlying cause of all the problems, more or less, that we have in B2B marketing in the demand generation space, right? Targeting is the number one culprit for why everything sucks. That is why we have so much technological advancement. That’s why we have new marketing tech and new marketing software and new marketing tactics that are constantly emerging, and we are really no better than we were with billboards 30 years ago, but that’s why. 

The underlying targeting is bad. Like these SIC codes or whatever any CF codes. They’re not intended to be used for targeting. These are for governmental reporting, essentially. The demographics and firmographics, you know all the firmographic platforms I’ve seen still think that LeadCrunch is a company with five employees, and here we are extensively taking over the marketing universe being here. 

It is wildly inaccurate, and it is complex beyond that. People leave their job title. They leave their position and move to another company and now your data is out of sync. You know you have to refresh that stuff so frequently, it is nearly impossible and the underlying complexities and problems with that targeting is why nothing works. If only there were a company that had a fresh approach to how to do this and how to look at current customers and model that data. 

People are sitting here and they are going, “Well, that sounds easy. I’ll just take my best customers and just model that.” Sure. 

[0:18:10.3] DG: I’ll just get ahold of my data science team. “Can you guys whip up a quick model?” 

[0:18:16.6] JG: Hey, you know I am bored. It is a Saturday. I think I will bust out my laptop and model some customers. Like what are you even talking about? But it can be done, and it can be done smartly and not stupidly. I mean that is what we are majoring in here at LeadCrunch is figuring out how to do that smartly. 

The Power of Thinking Differently About Targeting 

[0:18:34.3] DG: Yeah, if you think about targeting, let me just give you one simple example of I think the power of thinking differently about targeting data. If you go on LinkedIn, you can go do queries, and you can find out, “Oh, there are a thousand people in the company.” Well, that is useful, but you find out that they have a really significant number of people in marketing and a whole lot of people with the word “digital” that begin to filter in there over the last two years. 

That tells you something if you are trying to sell marketing technology to companies. “Hey, let’s go after the companies that have this different kind of functional mix that is different than other companies,” where if you go to them, there is not anyone with the words “digital marketing” in their title at all. That is one small example of the kind of richness that I think is being lost on people in terms of targeting. There are just really better ways to do this than people have imagined. 

And you know talking about negs, just to make one point, you can’t even distinguish between B2B and B2C. A banking negs or SIC code is the same for B2B as B2C, and if that matters to you, you have no choice but to market to a whole bunch of people that aren’t in your market space.

[0:20:01.6] JG: And that’s what turns your CFO into a fire-breathing dragon. You walk into his office at the end of the quarter with your little return on investment documents and he singes the hair off your forehead like that is his problem. If he sees the waste, he is looking at what you are doing, and he is seeing the waste and it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s actually not that difficult to go ahead and cut that waste right out of there using modern technology, artificial intelligence, things like text. 

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Real language processing can go and scrape the actual websites of the competitors that you are thinking about targeting and can look at the real language on the website and use that and corollary factors and all these different things to determine if this is a good fit or not. These are datasets that a human being could never crunch in a thousand years. 

We eat our own dog food here, so when we ran this analysis on our marketing and came up with a list, we found some really interesting stuff. Keywords that were on almost all of our best customers’ websites, that we had never considered and never would, never could have cognitively arrived at that place where we would have thought, “Now here is the common denominator between our customers.” The AI spit that out and we were like, “Oh.” It was obvious. 

Discovering a Multi-Million Dollar Correlation 

[0:21:25.3] DG: Yeah, by the way, folks, the word was “Gartner”, like the technology research firm. If people have “Gartner” on their website, it tended to mean that they were doing a lot of content marketing, and that make them a good fit for us. It made perfect sense, but to your point, Jonathan, I wouldn’t have thought about it and you wouldn’t have thought about it, and even if they hired two smart guys, I don’t think they would have thought about it either.

[0:21:52.8] JG: Yeah, well we tend to hire good looking people around here, just like marketing — 

[0:21:58.2] DG: Yeah, that’s what marketing is. It is not about being smart. It is about being good looking. 

[0:22:03.4] JG: Definitely, talking point to you. Well, that’s targeting in a nutshell. You got any more on the theory behind what I do on top of funnel? I don’t know that it is that complex, it is just maybe not obvious to people.

[0:22:17.8] DG: Yeah, it is actually simple. All right, no, I have nothing else, man, except you guys should subscribe and tune in because we have a lot more cool stuff coming. 

[0:22:30.7] JG: Word. My contributions are deep today. All right, I am playing the music. You all have a good day. 

[0:22:39.7] DG: All right. 

[0:22:44.3] JG: Play the music!


[0:22:45.8] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for tuning in to the Green & Greene Show by LeadCrunch. Green & Greene think differently about B2B and are starting a movement to transform demand gen. If you have ideas for topics or would like to be a guest, send an e-mail to david.green@leadcrunch.ai. If you’d like to find more customers, visit our website to talk to one of our demand gen guides, www.leadcrunch.com.