I’ll take any chance I can get to preach the value of sound marketing data and insights. That’s a huge focus for us here at PathFactory and what our service really revolves around because it’s quality insights that allow you to best serve your buyer—to remove the friction slowing down their buying process and enable them to self-educate and progress through their journey.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with two exceptionally smart guys, Jeremy Roberts and Sameer Khan, from the AnalyticsToday Podcast. We spent 1-hr nerding out about B2B marketing data and how to use it to transform your marketing funnel from top to bottom (and even beyond the close.) Have a listen and check out some highlights below.
Are there any special things going on in the marketing world?
Sameer Khan: I think there are lots of amazing things that are happening today in the content world in terms of how marketers are using content, how people are getting beyond the basics of the content and starting to utilize content across the entire journey of the customer. So that’s the reason why we have Nick here, and the topic of today is very, very relevant, which is How To Transform Your Marketing Funnel Using Content Consumption Data with Nick Edouard. So I’m real excited and I’m pretty sure, Jeremy, you are as well.
Jeremy Roberts: I’m pumped because, I think for me, I’ve always said that content is the lifeblood of any business. And with good marketing, you know, it’s hard to fail. There was a Forbes study that I remember that says successful companies that really make it as they’re growing have 4X the amount of content than other ones don’t. 4X.
Sameer Khan: That’s amazing
Nick Edouard: Wow. That is good.
Before we start talking about PathFactory, tell us about you.
Nick Edouard: Yeah, what’s interesting about me? So, I’m the co-founder and president of PathFactory. What’s interesting? I’m British. You probably have already picked up on that because I’ve got a bit of a funny accent. It’s a bit easier since Downtown Abbey became quite popular and-
Jeremy Roberts: Nice and Hugh Grant.
Nick Edouard: And Hugh Grant, yes. So, yeah I’d be much like Hugh Grant. I did four years at Oxford. I have a particularly useless degree in something called Literary Humanities, which is classics and philosophy. Now I’m doing data, so go figure. Interesting jobs… I did spend some time at QinetiQ, which was the UK Ministry of Defense defense evaluation research agencies, basically like three and a half thousand people with PhDs and beards and sandals in a secure facility in England.
Jeremy Roberts: Looks like NASA.
Nick Edouard: It’s kind of like NASA. So they’re called QinetiQ, which is a ridiculous name, but they’re called QinetiQ because they are basically the Q in the Bond films. It’s just three and a half thousand, so that was pretty fun. Claim to fame is I went to school and university with Coldplay, which I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing in your guys’ books.
Jeremy Roberts: I have a few of their songs.
Nick Edouard: So, some of that’s my fault, although I can’t take a lot of credit for the music or the creativity.
Tell us about PathFactory and, you know, what is your job there. Are you the chief people herder or do you have a weird title or are you just co-founder CEO?
Nick Edouard: Yes, I’m the co-founder and president. I’m a chief product officer, but we probably should have someone way more competent than me that’s running product and engineering on a day-to-day basis.
Jeremy Roberts: Nice.
Nick Edouard: Yes, we are a marketing software company based here in Toronto, about 100 employees. We work with a lot of leading B2B enterprise and mid-market companies, Adobe being one of them, for example. Others include ADP, Cisco, Thompson Reuters etc. What do we do? How do we help them? Well, our mission is to help their buyers buy. We do that by removing friction for the B2B buyers by enabling to find and consume the right content whenever and wherever we see them, so across different channels, and we call that buyer enablement.
Nick Edouard: We think it’s a very big idea. We think its phenomenally important in part because—and I’m sure we’re going to touch on this multiple times—the B2B buyer has changed more rapidly than B2B marketing has changed. And I think that probably the biggest tension, the biggest problem facing marketing is that our B2B buyers are consumerized. So, what do I mean by that? Well, I’ll give you an example, I’m going to go to San Francisco next week and I know already when I get back from the bay, when I land in Toronto we use Uber to get home. I’ll probably use UberEats for some good quality, easy, Friday night food and then after a couple of days on the road, I’ll definitely sit in front of Netflix and probably finish watching Season 4 of Line of Duty (which is awesome.)
Jeremy Roberts: Nice.
Nick Edouard: And, I will undoubtedly binge on it too and then probably, hopefully, pass out. Those are all very different services, right? But I go back to them repeatedly because they do one thing really well, in a frictionless way. They matched my demand with supply. Suite of cars, restaurants, films and movies, etc. That’s the experience that we’ve come to expect in our lives, and the good thing about working at B2B is that we all have this B2C life in theory outside of our 9 to 5. So, Then you kind of come across to the B2B buying experience and it’s like, well, it’s riddled with friction. We make it really hard for demand, me, my buyer, to find the supply, the information that I’m looking for. And, that’s the problem with B2B marketing. Does that make sense, chaps?
Jeremy Roberts: It does, yeah.
Sameer Khan: Yeah, totally makes sense.
B2B companies are not changing as rapidly as B2B buyers are. What is PathFactory doing to enable that change?
Nick Edouard: That’s a great question. So, let’s look at the way B2B marketing works. I have enormous empathy for B2B marketers these days. It’s not an easy job and I can’t think of any area of business that’s changed as rapidly as B2B marketing has in like the last 10 years.
Jeremy Roberts: It’s complex.
Nick Edouard: Yeah, it really is complex, right? We’ve gone well beyond supporting sales in a trade show with some glossy pamphlets, right? I think that the MarTech stack is focused around channels. We don’t focus on really what is ultimately our weapon of choice as a marketer, which is the content, right? Bob doesn’t buy because he clicks on emails or display ads or visits a website. Bob buys because we educate him about moving through awareness, consideration, purchase, evaluation.
And so, we’ve invested in things that were channels and from a data perspective, these channels were fundamentally fueled first and foremost by binary data, clicks, visits, forum polls, things that did or did not happen, so they tell us stuff about quantity. We had 100 people click on the email we just sent with Marketo. Great. What’s the quality of the interaction on the destination side of the click?
We’d all agree there’s a fundamental difference between Bob and Sall if Bob spends six seconds post-click and Sally spends six minutes, and then goes on to engage with two more content assets and gives us 12 minutes of her precious time. That’s a fundamentally different quality of engagement. That’s what we track.
Jeremy Roberts: People talk about KPIs, metrics. You have these people that are so uber-focused on just the data and they read the data, but they don’t look at the other side of it, the qualitative side.
I like the idea where you’re mixing the quantitative and the qualitative, the art and science of the content of the data. How does PathFactory take that on?
Nick Edouard: How do we work, basically? How do we do it?
Well let’s come back to my Bob and Sally example. So we’ve got an offer in the email that we just sent them and on this layout that we shared. So if they click on that to engage with the video, for example, Bob spends six seconds, disappears on us. Sally watches the whole video. Now, how people naturally consume content is not in a stop-start way, right? We set apart time to do research, to engage with something that piques our interest but we’ve got a meeting tomorrow so we’ve got half an hour to do the research that we need to bring to that meeting.
Think about the last time you guys made a considered purchase like buying a car. You don’t just show up at the dealership once a week.
Jeremy Roberts: You hope not.
Nick Edouard: That’s how we’ve marketed historically, right? On our schedule and not on the buyer’s schedule. So kind of back to what we do: Sally clicks through and watches all of that video. Where does she go now? What’s she do next? That’s what we do. We serve more, relevant content in-session. We do that in a variety of different ways and we’ll have different looks and feels and different types of experiences, but fundamentally we’re trying to accommodate a very natural behavior from an engaged prospect if they’re in this educational mode.
How do we feed their appetite for more content? We use AI to do that. Sometimes we don’t have to. The marketer might have a very specific audience. In that case, they might curate the content journey.
If you look at what’s inherent in a lead nurture program: You send email one. Advertise content offer A to maybe 12 000 people tomorrow morning at 10 am. Then wait two weeks. Then you send that again at 10 am to 12 000 people because that’s a good time for all of them. I’m trying to tell this story over six weeks. With a 2% click-through rate, I’m going to get the chance to engage Bob and Sally six times, right?
We need to take this habit of operating on the marketer’s schedule and turn it into something that works for Sally’s schedule. Serve her up the thing that we’re going to email her about in two weeks time, but we do it here and now while she’s engaging. Accommodating this natural behavior and identifying and capturing that data is what PathFactory is all about. Pushing it back into the map or into the CRM so sales can have a meaningful conversation with someone. Not just “I see you filled in the form on our website to download that e-book. This is why I’m ringing.” Because that person may not even have read it or be ready to have that conversation.
Jeremy Roberts: I completely agree and Sameer and I both have been in both the startup and the corporate world and yes, we’ve seen all forms of that.
In the old days, we didn’t have any uber sophisticated algorithms. So how has the modern version of content surfacing and recommendation changed compared to what it used to be like 10 years ago?
Nick Edouard: First and foremost, we’ve evolved quite a lot over the last six years or so. The primary reason for that was the data set didn’t exist. We had to invent it in the first instance on behalf of our customers, and we’ve been continuing to improve the recommendation service. We can do that because we’ve got better quality data.
Fundamentally we think about the data modelers as three main pillars. There’s information about the visitor. There’s information about the content, and then there’s information about engagement, how do they hit it off? What we try to do is like B2B matchmaking, right? Like engaged prospect would love to meet interesting content on subject X. So that’s really what we do.
We’ll take the information about our visitor from wherever we can get it and they’re associated with a contact in Salesforce for your CRM. For the content side of things, we have a content library in our application. What we do is aggregate it. It can include things like third-party content and videos etc. We translate everything of that into a machine-readable format and then we do quite a lot of different things with it. We’re language processing, I guess. We do topic clustering and really understand the distance between the content assets.
Several years ago when I looked up the content that our customers were seeking to activate to get their buyers to engagement, it wasn’t very well tagged, to be honest. Tagging is hard and also we’ve always felt biased in tagging, right? Because I wrote this, therefore it needs to do with this. If we have 500 content assets sort of tagged as payroll. So Bob’s engaging with content asset one, which has to do with payroll. Which of the other 499 do we possibly think he should be engaging with next? We do a couple of things, but the first thing is that we look at the distance. We read the content, then establish well, what is the distance? How similar is this to other content? What cluster is it part of? You start to map the distance between the content assets. So you can combine that with engagement data, as to what’s actually worked and how you resonated and you’ve got yourself a recommendation service.
What is the biggest challenge that B2B marketers have today when it comes to just marketing and what can they do? Where should they start?
Nick Edouard: That is a good and a very big question. I saw something this morning that said 63% of marketers have been challenged with attribution, ROI, etc.
That is, to me, our biggest challenge. Say we’re spending 12% of our revenue on marketing. Does that give us a return or not? But really the only easy way to do kind of ROI is from a campaign-centric perspective, right?
Jeremy Roberts: So I guess my translation to all this: The biggest challenges the B2B marketer has is really looking at their data. Don’t go out and spend a whole bunch of money unless you know what’s going on with your data.
Go in. Look at your data. Break it down. Understand where you have your problems and then you can start to figure out how to fix your challenges, you know what to focus on because you can’t just spray and pray. You can’t just say “I’m going to start doing a whole bunch of great content. I’m going to spend a whole bunch of money on branding and I’m going to start using AI and I’m going to fix everything.” I call BS on that.
Nick Edouard: Yes. Know your data. You need to have the right data to answer the right questions for stuff. One of the things that we’re doing is building a very holistic view of how your audience engages with content and the role that it plays. So being able to identify that for a particular content asset maybe 97% of leads generated from a campaign spent meaningful time with. If they did do that their propensity to engage with more content was a 3X. And so all the pipeline came from this. Now when you look into the content type, this content type was woefully unrepresented in the rest of their content. So they were spending a lot of money producing long-form content that no one was engaging with unless they had actually already spent time engaging with this, essentially an infographic.
Now we’re actually giving the teams the evidence to say, we don’t need to start writing white papers. There’s a time and a place, right? But we do actually get better engagement from this to get a better return on that. Now we can literally influence pipeline, look at closed won revenue and trace back the content that actually drove those decisions, that helped Bob become an MQL, and then progress through the rest of the funnel.
And without that kind of level of visibility, we’re flying blind. I’ll give you another example while I’m on it. I’m talking about channels. So, this is actually for our own marketing team, and I can think of three or four customers that have the exact same use case. We’re a reasonably small marketing team. Our display budget is somewhat constrained. Last year we ran three display providers, LinkedIn, AdGrow. I won’t name the third. Now the third drove twice the volume of traffic as LinkedIn and AdRoll for the same amount of money combined. So on the face of it, number three is winning. However, each ad drove to a PathFactory Content Track and we can see that, while high in volume, visitors only spent two, three, four, five, six seconds with our content before disappearing. By comparison, those who were driven from ads by LinkedIn and AdGrow were spending about two and a half minutes, going on to binge on content. We had a very respectable binge rate from the audiences. These people were progressing in the funnel. So we took money from the third one and doubled down on these LinkedIn and AdRoll. Because why on earth do I want to spend fifteen bucks a click if Bob is spending two seconds with the content? It’s not meaningful.
Can you share more examples where a customer came in. They were really scrambling when it comes to their content marketing. They start using PathFactory and their end result they got?
Nick Edouard: Yes. You go to www.PathFactory.com/customers and you can see an awful lot of those exact use cases. One of the things that we’re most proud of is in the last 12 months, 54% of customers have performed a major act of advocacy for us. So, speaking at Adobe Summit, for example, or getting on a customer reference call.
TIBCO uses us in their ABM campaigns. They saw 27% increase in their MQL conversion rate, a 5% increase in the sales accepted leads through SQL and a 5X increase in opportunities. On a particular campaign, they saw a 92% increase in their sale qualified opportunities.
Jeremy Roberts: Wow.
Nick Edouard: I’ll give you a customer marketing example. Because people don’t use products if they don’t educate themselves about how to use it, right? Cisco saw a 3.5X increase in adoption linked to content engagement. Now, shock, horror again as I mentioned, if people read about your product, they’re more likely to use it. So this resulted in a 24% increase in the yearly revenue for a particular product buy. It’s like $12.6 billion in revenue for Cisco. So it’s big, and I think over the space of kind of 12 months they delivered about a hundred thousand highly personalized engagements, and that’s where things like the AI come in.
Interested in learning more? Listen to the full jam-packed hour here.