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Growth is harder than ever: What I learned attending Metadata’s DEMAND event

Stewart Hillhouse
Posted by Stewart Hillhouse|Published on October 21, 2022
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Thousands of B2B marketers attended DEMAND to hear from a massive lineup of speakers that did a great job of covering the spectrum of the marketing landscape.

There were too many sessions for me to attend them all, so this will by no means be a comprehensive summary of the whole event. But I couldn’t help but take notice of a recurring theme that appeared in the sessions I did attend. 

In a single sentence, Patrick Campbell, founder and CEO of ProfitWell captured the essence of what many marketers across the industry are feeling right now: 

Growth is harder than ever.

Why is growth harder than ever?

According to Campbell’s research, he believes that it’s harder to grow a business now for a few reasons:

  • Competition: There are 15.8x more companies competing in the SaaS landscape. More competition, more alternatives, more noise.

  • Cost of acquisition: CAC has increased 128%, making it much harder to build profitable SaaS businesses. 

  • Team tenure: With ~16x more companies to choose from, the average tenure of employees is now 34% less, resulting in more time spent onboarding and loss of internal knowledge.

  • Tech wages: The last few years have seen an influx of cheap capital to fund businesses, inflating wages 27% and making it that much harder for early-stage startups to afford the talent required to bring a product to market.

Growth metrics according to ProfitWell

For marketing leaders and GTM teams, this translates into stalled growth and difficulty hitting revenue targets. And with marketing budgets getting slashed due to uncertain economic conditions, marketing and growth teams are being expected to do more with less.

When Mutiny hosted over 80 CMOs last month for a roundtable discussion, we heard similar observations from SaaS executives. The conversation kept circling back around to how to reign in spending, understand program-specific CAC, and achieve profitable growth

Even with the best team, the best toolset, and the best product, Campbell argues that growth is still not guaranteed. 

Tactical excellence is now just the entry fee for a chance at rapid growth.

Following traditional demand best practices aren’t going to cut it

Following best practices and playbooks that worked in 2020 isn’t going to deliver the same results in the current landscape. Buyer expectations have shifted, channels have evolved, and budgets are tighter.

Campbell went on to explain that most resources (budget, headcount, tools) are traditionally spent at the top and bottom of the marketing funnel. Campbell calls this the Demand Gen Continuum, where demand gen and sales gets most of the focus.

Demand gen continuum

Why? Because the old SaaS GTM model was to drive as much demand as possible and trust that a certain percentage would convert into revenue. 

So long as there was the budget to buy ads, the machine kept working. Unfortunately, that budget has since dried up and the growth machine has stalled. Now executives are scrambling to re-write the growth playbook that used to work.

This observation was echoed by acquisition strategist Eden Bidani during her session on creating high-converting ads and landing pages. Following best practices might increase the impressions of your ads, but that’s a long way from revenue. 

Now that capital is expensive, marketing teams need to develop control and command over every step in their buyer's journey. Instead of focusing purely on generating more traffic and hoping it converts into customers down the line, every marketing program needs to have a direct line-of-sight to how it generates revenue, or risk having their budget or whole program dropped. 

At Mutiny we’ve seen the companies we work with take the same approach by re-strategizing their marketing programs to focus on converting their existing demand at a higher rate before spending precious cash. 

What they’re finding is that investing in conversion makes all their existing marketing efforts more effective and makes it possible to prove how their conversion program drives leads, target accounts, pipeline, and revenue. 

How to drive conversions at every step in the buyer journey

Sara Pion, Head of Marketing Strategy at Dandy shared her conversion rate maturity model that shows how you can begin taking control of conversion rates at every step of the marketing funnel.

Conversion rate optimization used to only be available to massive companies like Uber and Netflix because it was expensive and technical to run. That barrier to entry has now been removed.

Here's what the conversion maturity model looks like according to Pion:

Level 1 Conversion Maturity: Ad hoc testing on general website audience.

  • No project plan

  • No change to base site once an experiment has been proven successful

  • Baseline tooling

Level 2: Improving existing buying experience for buyer segments.

Focus is on UX UI improvements like:

  • Content length

  • Mobile vs. desktop experiences

  • Additional CTAs

  • Typography and design

This is when relevancy experiments also start coming online:

  • H2 headline variations

  • Hero image

  • CTA text

  • Social proof

  • On-page copy

Level 3: Optimizing conversion points for specific buyer segments.

With a highly optimized site, now the focus turns to conversion point experiences:

  • Form experience

  • Navigation experience

  • Copy on form fields

Once those are optimized, adding additional conversion points like:

  • Adding in-line CTAs

  • Adding in-line promotional

  • Adding pop ups

  • Test dual CTAs above the fold

Level 4: Creating personalized buying experiences for every buyer segment.

This means tweaking the entire page experience by moving around the page and showing different pages based on user behavior:

  • Content offer

  • Social proof

  • Product info

  • Returning visitor CTA copy

  • Headline variations for enterprise visitor vs. mid market

  • Page experience for user who just attended a webinar vs. first time visitor

Level 5: See your website as a standalone revenue channel to influence and nurture buyers over time.

Pion said that she hasn’t seen many companies reach level 5 maturity. A few companies that we've seen take control of their website as a revenue channel include Notion, 6sense, Carta, and Brex

But merely beginning a conversion optimization transformation will deliver meaningful revenue if you haven’t started yet. 

Thanks to the Metadata team for putting on an amazing event and each speaker provided a ton of value. And a special thanks to all the speakers for sharing your insights and challenging us all to continually evolve as the landscape shifts.

Be sure to signup for our Conversion newsletter – it where we'll be sharing the strategies and tactics being used by the fastest growing companies.

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