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A Blueprint for Persona-Based Campaigns

Author - Dave Cook and Jake Meltzer
Dave Cook and Jake MeltzerVP Growth Marketing & Director of Lifecycle Marketing
Company - Slack
What you’ll learnWhat you’ll needThe ProblemThe HypothesisThe Solution
Get to know your buyers
Create the building blocks of your campaign
Find the right time to bring in sales touchpoints
Collaborate... a lot! 
Launch, measure, and optimize
The ImpactNext playbook
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What you’ll learn

  • How to deeply understand your buyer personas
  • How to apply persona research to your marketing campaigns

What you’ll need

  • Quantitative and qualitative data about your buyers
  • A (virtual) whiteboarding solution to collaborate on your buyer journey
  • A marketing automation system
Article Headline Icon - The Problem

The Problem

There’s no question Slack is good at growth. But with new users signing up organically every day, the marketing team had a unique challenge. Rather than focusing on driving more top-of-funnel, they realized their time (and budget) was better spent converting that massive demand into deeper usage and ultimately revenue.

Dave Cook and Jake Meltzer—Slack’s VP of Growth Marketing, and Director of Lifecycle Marketing respectively—started by questioning everything they’d been doing so far.

As Dave explains it: “Growth-minded teams don’t presume they know how anything works out of the gate. They run a lot of experiments. So when I joined Slack, I looked around and said ‘Why are we driving top-of-funnel signups? What problems are we solving? And are they the right problems to be solving right now?'

What he found was an opportunity to refocus marketing’s attention onto converting all that Slack awareness into consideration, conversion, and ultimately, enterprise demand. At the time, most of their enterprise leads were coming from their current user base—customers who’d started as self-service and expanded their usage as their businesses grew. 

“We are lucky to have so many people showing up on our front door every day, every week, every quarter, and knocking on it and actually going through and continuing their journey. We didn't feel like we needed to spend a lot of money on acquiring new users of the product. So we decided to really ramp that down and shift the budget over to user education and enterprise demand.”

Article Headline Icon - The Hypothesis

The Hypothesis

Slack is a very malleable product with many use cases, and our marketing tried to address them all at once,” Dave admits. “We weren't speaking to any specific persona.” 

So it was time to go persona-hunting. The demand and interest was clear, and the next step was finding the biggest pockets of revenue opportunity within that demand and nurturing them until they converted. And no group had more revenue potential than the enterprise. The plan was to build out evergreen, multi-channel persona-led campaigns that could address each persona in a much more focused way than they had ever done before.

Our hypothesis was that we would have a big revenue opportunity if we could effectively segment out specialized buyers and take them on a much more white glove journey,” says Jake.

Article Headline Icon - The Solution

The Solution

Get to know your buyers

It's so intuitive probably for most marketers, but you’ve got to know who your buyer is,” says Jake. “What are the pain points that these groups feel and what is not working about their current solutions? How can we help them have a better day at work?” 

That’s exactly where the Slack team started. They studied the roles and departments that were signing the checks to determine who to target. In Dave's words:

“Reverse engineering the deal cycle was a huge effort from our product marketing, sales strategy, and research teams. We had to talk a lot with the sales reps and ask ‘Who's influencing the deals?’ ‘What are the use cases that we’re really trying to solve for?’ ‘Which teams are requesting Slack?’”

Mining their CRM for quantitative insights and validating the data with their account executives, they created enterprise buyer personas. 

Then they worked with product marketing to deeply understand the needs of each enterprise persona. Now it was time to put it to work. They had the who and the what and were ready to add the where and when. This is an example of how the team defined their Decision Maker (DM) personas:

Slack personas

Don't know where to start with creating personas at your company?

Create the building blocks of your campaign

The next phase: put together the building blocks you’ll need to target your new personas.

Jake explains: “We looked at it as a multichannel approach from day one. It wasn't just email, but what are the retargeting ads that we're going to fire off when people hit a landing page because they clicked through on an email? How are we going to integrate events?

To accomplish their goals, they segmented their database and integrated it with their marketing automation tool. They built custom nurture paths with email sequences, targeted ads and event marketing curated to help each persona understand how Slack can help them work better in their own role. 

Here’s what the journey looked like:

slack diagram

Find the right time to bring in sales touchpoints

Marketing emails and ads alone are not enough to convert enterprise buyers. Jake needed a smart system that incorporates personalized sales touch points at the right moment in time. The sweet spot for conversion is when the prospect finds the conversation helpful and not intrusive or annoying. 

Jake used a scoring system to automate when human outreach (aka sales) should step in. For example, clicking through on an email may be worth 2 points and joining an event could be worth 10 points. When the prospect hit a certain threshold, they would automatically be moved into a sales-driven flow. 

Remember - no decision should be made without heavy experimentation! Always test and optimize for the right trigger events and timing. 

Collaborate... a lot! 

Not surprisingly, Slack—the tool—played a large role in putting all of the pieces together. Dave and Jake used it to create a cross-collaborative team, drive the campaign forward and keep an eye on shared goals.  

Dave says: “We have well-established internal collaboration systems with project channels, collaboration channels, and update channels. In the work-from-home era, Slack made it easy to collaborate with dozens of cross-functional colleagues - creative and design, copywriters, marketing automation specialists, and data analysts.

Launch, measure, and optimize

Once all of the creative was ready to go, marketing operations queued it up. Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot, as well as home-grown solutions for analytics and lead scoring, made this possible. 

After testing for any errors, they were ready to go.

Slack Eng Persona Journey

An example of Slack's user journey for the "Eng DM" persona

Slack dashboard

But the launch was just the start. From there, the Slack team measured the impact of their efforts, iterating and optimizing the campaign based on the results.

The Impact

Slack saw a 4.5x increase in the amount of pipeline they influenced in their enterprise segment. Open rates and click rates went up as well, and their MQL-to-opportunity conversion rate increased by 80%.

The campaign has also helped Slack create a new baseline for future engagement. As Dave puts it:

“This has really set the rails for how we do our enterprise marketing going forward. We call it the unified go-to-market, where everything we're doing from a product marketing perspective, a content perspective, a sales enablement perspective—lead follow-up, events, everything—it's all mapped to these personas and this blueprint for prospect communications.” 

Next playbook

Learn from Benoit Leggieri at Livestorm how to approach segmenting your self-serve and enterprise visitors.

Read Benoit's product-led growth playbook
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