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Best Practices

PathFactory’s 5 Best Marketing Campaigns of 2018

Starting a fresh, new year is the perfect time to reflect. Taking note of your hits and misses from the last 365 days allows you to take stock of what worked (and what didn’t) and use those learnings to make the following year even better. It doesn’t hurt to see what worked well (and not so well) for other marketing teams either.

That’s why we’d like to share some of our best marketing campaigns of 2018 along with some key learnings you can take with you into 2019.

Q1 2018: The Great Gate Debate

We started 2018 off with a bang with The Great Gate Debate (GGD). GGD was an hour-long, live debate between some of the industry’s top B2B marketing leaders. To form or not to form? That was the question our experts discussed.

The panel included Mimi Rosenheim (Director of Web Marketing at Demandbase), Tyler Lessard (VP of Marketing at Vidyard), Dave Gerhardt (Director of Marketing at Drift), and Mark Bornstein (VP of Content Marketing at ON24), and was moderated by our VP of Marketing, Elle Woulfe. All formidable forces with a lot of insight to contribute.

Each partner had a registration quota that would earn them the entire list of registrants. We used ON24’s webinar platform to host the debate in a branded instance with a live Twitter feed and chat. We encouraged audience members to jump in and participate as much as possible via the chat and on social using #greatgatedebate.

It was the first time we ran a webinar in this format, so we were very pleasantly surprised to see how well it resonated with our audience:

  • The Great Gate Debate had an audience 222% larger than comparable programs that quarter
  • And it generated 307% more pipeline than average compared to similar programs

Key learnings:

  • Live online events (which aren’t standard webinars) can be a great way to attract and engage target personas
  • Spending time to create a thorough a Partner Promo Kit including social and email copy, visual assets, and speaker resources is key
  • Choose your partners carefully to ensure you generate a lead list that benefits everyone

Q2 2018: GDPR Wars

To email inboxes everywhere, 2018 will forever be known as “The Year of GDPR.” For marketing teams across countless industries, deploying an opt-in email was not optional. The stakes were high so the typical approach was a dry email that satisfied all the legal requirements. Instead, the PathFactory marketing team took a different approach, which we called GDPR Wars.

Cartoon Title Image with a Star Wars them with the text "GDPR WARS" on a blue and yellow background including cartoon spaceships include the Deathstar and fighter ships.

PathFactory’s GDPR Wars email positioned the regulation as the “new hope” for email inboxes everywhere, and we gave our audience a choice: opt-in and join the fight against inbox infamy, or go to the dark side.

By positioning GDPR in a fun email, we didn’t just ask for our database to opt-in to our future marketing – the unique campaign gave them a reason want to opt in.

And it worked.

Benchmarking against the average success rate for opt-in emails (1.32%), our success rate was a whopping 4.5%. That’s 241% better!

GDPR Wars was also featured by B2BNN and is a finalist for Demand Gen Report’s first-ever B2B’s Choice Award. To view the whole email (and cast your vote!), click here.

Key Learnings:

  • Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with potentially dry topics! Your audience will appreciate it.

Q3 2018: The Channel Panel

When it comes to sourcing leads, B2B marketers are increasingly focused on quality over quantity. According to a Demand Gen Report survey, 75% of B2B marketers listed generating higher quality leads as their top priority. Yet with a seemingly bottomless list of marketing channels available and not-so-bottomless budgets, it can be difficult to narrow in on the marketing mix that will reach your ideal customers most effectively and efficiently. It’s the million dollar question that keeps many marketers up at night. We designed The Channel Panel to answer this burning question.

Summers are typically ‘slower months’ for marketing teams… but not for us! We took advantage of the extra space in our calendar to try and recreate the magic of The Great Gate Debate and run a 6-part live webinar series spanning from July to September. During each hour-long live webinar, industry experts, customers, and partners discussed best practices, tips, and tricks on how to best leverage major marketing channels including:

  • Email
  • Paid ads and social
  • Live and online events
  • Website
  • Content syndication
  • Measurement across channels

We set registration goals for each partner (which, considering the time of year, were quite aspirational) and got pretty granular on what would be considered ‘qualified’ registrations, as we wanted to attract a smaller but high-quality audience to the panels.

Overall, we saw a combined attendance of 475% more than past summer webinars. Which is fantastic; however, it took 6 live webinars to accomplish this, which required lots of time and resources. We also ended up lowering the registration goals to be more realistic as summer is a hard time to ask people to commit to things.

Even though The Channel Panel wasn’t the most ‘successful’ by the numbers, it makes the list of one of our favorites because we were able to build and strengthen our relationships with 20+ influencers, customers, and partners which has led to other amazing opportunities like guest blog posts, lots of social shout-outs, and features in various articles.

You can check out all 6 Channel Panel recordings here.

Key Learnings:

  • Summer can be a tough time to run a big campaign. You will have to work harder to generate the same results you would get if you ran the campaign during a busier time of year. It’s important to set a realistic registration goal based on the time of the year.
  • Trying to coordinate summer schedules for over 20 industry leaders is challenging, to say the least!
  • Having everyone log on earlier in the week for a ‘dry run’ to smooth out any technical kinks pre-panel is a must.

Q3 2018: Good Path/Bad Path Direct Mail Campaign

Over the last couple of years, the PathFactory marketing team has brought direct mail campaigns back in a big way. Our award-winning campaign of 2017 included of a fun, interactive direct mail component of a ViewMaster that not only drummed up some 1980s nostalgia but also told our story in a fun, interactive way.

We knew we needed to keep the momentum going in 2018. The Good Path/Bad Path concept came about during one of our weekly marketing meetings. From there our Content and Creative teams ran with it. The result was an oversized ‘map’ with a different buyer’s journey outline on each side. The ‘Bad Path’ was full of barriers and potholes, such as forms and dead-end content assets, while the ‘Good Path’ illustrates how smooth and seamless the buyer’s journey can be like using Content Activation made possible by PathFactory. The direct mailer came with an inductive toy car that can follow a solid line (see it in action below!).

The map came rolled up in a rectangular-shaped tube with PathFactory branding. Because the only thing better than getting mail is getting uniquely-shaped mail, amirite?!

The Good Path/Bad Path Campaign received a lot of engagement from high-value prospects and was:

  • 2.9X more effective at generating SQLs
  • 4.06X more effective at generating SQOs
  • Recognized by Content4Demand for being an inspirational ‘next generation’ direct mail campaign!

Key Learnings:

  • People love receiving snail mail. The feeling of excitement they get from receiving a physical item can’t be replaced by anything digital.
  • When designing your direct mail, pay close attention to how you package it. The package is almost as important as what’s inside.
  • Monitor your social channels closely to see and respond when prospects inevitably share your cool direct mail piece with their followers.

Q4: The 2018 Holiday Campaign

The Holiday Video was a fan favorite among Pathies this year. Not only was it a blast to produce but it was also a total team effort:

  • I revised the lyrics of Mariah Carey’s classic holiday tune.
  • Evan, our Marketing Programs Specialist, turned a meeting room into a recording studio so our super talented Solutions Architect, Carcia, could record her incredible voice singing the track.
  • Art Director Meredith and Graphic Designer Kristie spent a week crafting their hearts out to create 4 colorful ‘worlds’ to serve as the video’s backdrop.
  • 6 employees across all departments learned the lyrics and lip-synced for their lives during a full day shoot with a professional videographer.

Watch the holiday magic for yourself:

Employee participation and engagement was key for us. We wanted everyone to feel ownership over the campaign and get excited about it. We launched the video internally first and invited staff (both local and remote) to view the video over a cup of hot chocolate (hot chocolate station provided, marshmallows and all!). This way, when it came time to launch to the public, employees were ready, willing, and excited to share the video with their followers.

Despite some hesitation around creating a 4 min+ long video, our efforts paid off:

  • The holiday campaign email had a 71.4% higher open rate and a 142% higher click-through rate than average.
  • Our BDRs booked 8 meetings (and counting) as a result of conversations sparked and reignited by the video.

When it came to organic social, we had Elle Woulfe, our VP of Marketing, upload the video to LinkedIn before posting to our company page. We know the algorithm favors personal profiles over business ones and wanted to put it to the test. Elle’s post received over 17K views, 84 comments, and 253 likes in just the first week, proving our hypothesis correct!

Key Learnings:

  • Creativity pays off! If you put the work in to make your content fun and interesting, your audience will repay you with their time (and social love).
  • Don’t be afraid to create longer videos, just make sure there is value in every second.
  • When you have a high-potential piece of content, pay just as much attention to internal distribution as external. Employee advocacy can be a powerful lever.
  • Leverage your C-Suite’s social accounts, especially for video content.

And that’s a wrap on 2018! Can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store. Did you run any memorable campaigns over the last year? Let us know in the comments below.