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Navigating the vast landscape of marketing channels can be daunting. Every channel, from outbound marketing to content marketing, has its own unique potential and limitations. And with marketing budgets under heavy scrutiny from the finance department to make sure it's being used efficiently, it's important to understand the implications of investing in each marketing channel.
To address this, we've crafted a comprehensive framework that provides clarity on assessing the value of the primary B2B marketing channels: outbound, paid, events, and content.
Dive into the framework below, and learn how to assess what marketing channel makes sense to power your growth.
Outbound marketing is a fundamental channel that can generate pipeline quickly and effectively when done correctly. But like all channels, it has its boundaries.
Two primary factors define the potential and limitations of an outbound program: the number of representatives and their productivity.
Number of Representatives: Start by considering the number of business/sales development representatives (BDRs or SDRs) on your team. The strength of your outbound program is often directly proportional to the number of BDRs or SDRs working on it.
Productivity Levels: Assess how many meetings each representative can book in a week. It's natural for newly hired BDRs to take some time to reach the productivity levels of their more experienced peers. However, with the right training and tools, they should achieve their quotas after a designated ramp-up period.
As your BDRs begin to deliver results predictably, it may be tempting to continually expand the team to increase the pipeline. However, caution is advised. Expanding too rapidly can not only inflate the cost of running the program but also may not be the most efficient allocation of resources.
Why? Because growth in this channel is often linear: each new representative contributes incrementally to the pipeline. In contrast, some other channels, which we will delve into later, have the potential to scale exponentially with similar investments.
You're an early-stage company and have a small marketing team. Even a single BDR will be able to generate meaningful pipeline in a short timeframe. Also, the quick feedback loop from sending outbound emails to your target audience is invaluable in the early days as you're still nailing your marketing and positioning.
You've got a strong list of target accounts that are perfect fits for your product. If this is the case, we'd recommend getting started with an outbound account-based marketing campaign. Here's how to build a revenue generating ABM program.
How 6sense broke into new industry verticals and were able to 5x their leads.
Snowflake used dynamic personalization to increase their average contract value by 80%.
How Brex got a 60% increase in BDR reply rate.
Paid advertising stands out as a dynamic channel capable of yielding swift returns. However, its efficiency and scalability are governed by two main factors: the cost per bid and the size of the audience.
Bid Cost: The amount you'll need to spend for each ad impression can vary significantly depending on the industry and target market. A fundamental principle in the realm of paid advertising is the competitive nature of ad auctions. In essence, the advertiser willing to invest the most often secures the coveted click. Therefore, when strategizing for your paid advertising program, it's vital to determine your maximum expenditure for acquiring a lead. Once established, use this figure as your guiding max bid for your campaigns.
Audience Size: The size and engagement level of your target audience play crucial roles in the success of your paid campaigns. If you're targeting a niche or smaller industry, you'll encounter a ceiling on how much you can scale your ads. The risk here is ad fatigue: seeing the same ad repeatedly can lead to reduced engagement from your audience. Combatting this challenge requires a two-fold approach: frequently refreshing your ad creatives and exploring opportunities to broaden your target audience, ensuring sustained interest and engagement.
You are in a competitive industry with a number of other players. If this is the case, paid advertising should be used an insurance, not as a growth lever. You'll want to be present for your prospects at all times so they don't instead choose your competitor.
If you've got a fast sales process, or have a product-led growth model, paid ads can be an effective way drive trial signups.
How Notion got a 60% lift in trial signups from paid ads.
Attentive drove a 77% lift in conversion by message matching their ads.
How Radar decreased their cost of acquisition from paid.
Organizing events can be an impactful channel to foster brand awareness and generate leads. The strategy for events somewhat mirrors that of paid advertising, balancing costs with expected opportunities.
Cost-per-Opportunity: Start by determining how much you're willing to spend to obtain a single opportunity from an event. This value becomes your cornerstone for event budgeting. For example, if you're prepared to spend $1,000 for each potential lead and anticipate a 10% conversion rate from event attendees to opportunities, hosting a 100-person event implies a budget of $10,000 with the aim of achieving 10 fruitful leads.
Planning and Partnerships: Events demand meticulous planning and can be time-consuming for your team. However, the payoff is substantial, especially when collaborating with like-minded companies. By partnering with non-competitive firms that cater to a similar audience, you open doors to shared expenses, wider audience reach, and combined promotional efforts. Such collaborations not only amplify event outcomes but also foster valuable industry relationships.
You're an early stage company who is not yet established in the market. Events are a terrific way to get a bunch of your ideal buyers in the room at the same time and establish your presence with the right crowd. You can appear much more mature than you really are with a well-curated in-person event.
You're a later stage company who has a strong group of customers. Hosting a customer event is a great way to up-level your product through feedback, understand your customers on a deeper level, and invite prospects to hear real testimonials from your best users.
Content marketing, when executed effectively, can be one of the most scalable channels. However, its success often hinges on understanding audience growth, distribution limits, and the patience required to realize tangible results.
Conversion Rate Optimization: The first step towards maximizing the potential of content marketing is to establish a robust conversion rate. A higher conversion rate means your existing traffic translates into more meaningful engagements, whether that's lead generation, subscriptions, or sales. To enhance this metric, consider using tools like Mutiny, designed for website content personalization, which can elevate user experience and drive conversions.
Boosting Traffic: With a strong conversion foundation in place, the next focus should be on augmenting your website's traffic. This can be achieved through two primary avenues:
Increasing Publishing Cadence
Regular, high-quality content establishes trust with your audience and signals to search engines that your site is an authoritative source in its domain.
Apart from organic reach, allocating a budget for promoting your content can be a game-changer. By understanding the potential returns - estimating anticipated traffic, conversion rates, and the resulting pipeline - you can make informed decisions on content promotion investments.
Remember, while content marketing might not provide immediate results, its long-term benefits in establishing brand authority, trust, and organic growth are invaluable.
Your sales process is longer than 30 days. If this is the case, you're going to want to have content being published that will engage your prospect as they become more familiar with your product.
You're competing in a new product category. This is because content is the best channel for repetitive and consistent messaging around the problem your product solves. If your target audience isn't familiar with your product, educating them on the problem and how it would improve their lives is what will get them to pay more attention.
How Carta delivers personalized content recommendations to each visitor.
Increase blog conversions with this playbook from Gatekeeper.
In the intricate landscape of marketing, understanding the nuances of each channel is imperative. From the linear, predictable growth offered by Outbound Prospecting to the swift results of Paid Advertising, the competitive nature of Events, and the scalable potential of Content Marketing, each avenue presents unique opportunities and challenges.
Invest Wisely in People: Whether it's the number of BDRs or the experts curating your content, the right people can make a significant difference. But they'll also be your biggest expense. If you're unsure whether a channel is right for you, start by doing it yourself to build a playbook. Once proven out, then resource a new teammate, or outsource to a trusted partner.
Always Monitor Costs vs. Returns: In channels like Paid Advertising and Events, knowing what you're willing to spend for a lead or opportunity is essential. But you also need to calibrate what was expected to what the end result was. This will help you to establish a trusting relationship with your financial team who are cutting your checks.
Be Adaptable: Audiences evolve, and so should your strategies, especially in content marketing and paid campaigns. Once the foundations are established, take big bets to have a high upside to the effort you put in.
Collaborate To Expand: Partnering in events or widening your target audience can lead to unexpected growth avenues. Be sure to work with partners who share audience attributes, but who aren't competitive with you.
Harnessing the potential of each channel ensures not only a diversified marketing strategy but also maximizes returns on your investments.
Learn how top B2B marketers are using conversion to grow and apply it yourself.