Growth Marketing Camp
Growth Marketing Camp

Episode 36 · 10 months ago

PandaDoc’s Secret Mission to Empower SMB Davids to Take on the Goliaths

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

If someone knows digital documents, it’s PandaDoc. Their jam is all about helping teams quickly create, manage, and sign digital documents. And they’ve been on a mission to empower SMB companies that are like the Davids to take on the Goliaths. In this episode, we are joined by Shawn Herring, VP Marketing at PandaDoc, a 20+ year veteran of marketing technology that puts his science learnings to use in his everyday business. He shares the story behind the power of forcing function on a company level, a brand new way of looking at new channels, and how his time at PandaDoc has changed his portfolio approach to marketing.

Welcome to growth marketing camp, where we sit down with our favorite marketers to de mystify growth and give you the insights to help turn your next campaign into a major success. Let's get into it already. Ladies and gentlemen, this is bobby and Rangue, cohost of growth marketing camp. I'm incredibly excited today to be joined by Shawn Herring, VP of marketing at PANDADOC. Shawn, nice to meet you. Bobby, great to meet you. preciate you joining us today. Would love to kind of just start with some of the basics. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Tell me a little bit about Pantadoc. A little bit about myself. I'm a twenty plus year veteran of marketing technology, or the combination of marketing and technology. I studied a lot of science in college and thought I would never use it when I started getting into the business world and realized actually, marketing is a constant experiment, and so I proved to my parents that that money was worth it. We spent to lunch, because marketing for me is is not always being right, it's just being less wrong. You got a place, Bets, you got to learn, you got to iterate, and so I take that kind of mentality with my career. I've been in Sass for the last ten to twelve years. Prior to that I was in healthcare and but just say science speak, okay, and you could not have two more different in industries of software and healthcare. So I've seen all kinds of myriads between long regulated cycles and short sprints that are days if not ours. So it's tiring. That's where a lot of the great hair comes from. But it's been great and honestly, panted doc. I've been with painted doc with coming up on three years, and painted doc honestly, it's to take the work out a document workflow like we're just my optically focused on simplifying the process to help people get documents done and we've been on that mission really from the SMB perspective, to empower companies that are like the David's to take on the goliaths. Absolutely and so far it's been it's been painting up pretty well. I'm really happy to hear that and I love that description of the company's mission. You touched on a couple things there that I just want to start with today, and actually it's about you, so bear with me on this. But you know, you mention your career starting off sort of on the the sort of healthcare side and then sort of obviously transitioning more into Sass and now you're kind of in this SMB space. Your scientific method, your scientific approach, has that had to change as you you mark it into industry by Industry and cycle by cycle? Or maybe can just more broadly speak to me about how you as a marketer, what approaches you've brought to say healthcare, that maybe have worked great or haven't worked, bringing to be tob versus, you know, SMB it. I just think you have such a disparate experience and across different types of sales. How does marketing, how is it supported those different types of sales? Yeah, I would actually classify it. I started my career really, really far away from the end user. So when you think about healthcare there's multiple layers and when I was in healthcare, I didn e Commerce, which was somewhat of at the time a hybrid between the business and the technology side of things. I moved into the marketing team, but even then I was multiple layers away from the end consumer, the user, and as you get closer to Sass and software, you get a little bit closer. So you go through a sales team, right. So I was doing enterprise software and mostly what I found in the last I'd say, five to eight years was my proximity to the customer was through a person, right, and so I could market to people, but the reality was as I had to market through a team and as you get to where I'm at now, I can market to a customer and have an interaction directly to a customer. And so my life cycle of a marketer has gone from so far away from the customer you can't see...

...them, to right in front of them where you can make a change and feel the direct impact in a minute, in an hour, in a day, Yep. And so that shift has been I could tell you it's taken lessons learned. It is not something that I was like, Oh, I'm pre prescribing, I know this is going to happen. This is me looking back and going all right, Hind Science two thousand and twenty. I can get much closer, I can have much more of an impact, but but also comes with a massive amount of responsibility. Of the closer you are to the customer, the more. You owe them. Absolutely. And you asked one thing about healthcare, like what I took from healthcare? What I took from healthcare was there's a very long planning cycle, there's a very large amount of buying in consensus, there's a lot of things that have to happen before something actually gets done. And what I noticed was, whether it was on the ECOMMERCE side or the marketing side, you spent ninety percent of your time getting buy in on something versus the ten percent of actually doing what you got find to do. And so I learned really quickly on what to do and a whole lot of what not to do, on how to get by and get consensus work through teams, and I carried that into software, which software works much more in on real time. Yep, state. But you still have the larger the company, you still have a buy it process that has to happen and every company that I've been a part of, the goes from one milestone to another. They have to learn that buy in process the hard way. Absolutely, thankfully I can shake myself into that pretty quickly, but you still hit speed bumps. We're like, Oh, we're at that stage of company. Yeah, I like okay, we had a like check a few things before we just roll things out. And that's where your stage of company, especially in software, you feel mean when you go from start up to scale up, when things you see, things start breaking or you start to have people go hey, next time, you know you're inching into that next phase. Yeah, I'd say that's what I carried with me. I wouldn't say I'm the expert at it, but it's helped me a lot well. But I think it's so fascinating about that is that your experience in healthcare has allowed you to become a better marketer, not only perhaps because of the inherent distance between you and the customer and sort of navigating that, but because in that organization you have to be able to navigate internally in order to do the things that you wanted to do as a marketer. And it's interesting because we never really talk so much about hey, it's not just about having great ideas, it's about how effective can you be at selling those ideas internally and getting the buy in? And it's interesting because, like, I don't know, I'm lighting up a little bit because I in in my conversations with marketers thus far, it hasn't even crossed my mind that it's not just about being the most creative and the most effective and and having the highest ry. I mean you got to be able to sell it internally to actually make it happen. Like you got to sell your vision, which I think is is quite interesting. But May I ask, though, I mean this concept of distance from the customer, I think is really fascinating one. When you have that distance, what works versus on the other end of this the spectrum, when you're almost directly in contact? I mean, are there key sort of plays? And I know it's kind of a ridiculous question because there's not one thing that you're doing, but I guess, generally speaking, what types of marketing would you say works with the great amount of distance, say in healthcare, versus, you know, the type that perhaps is more relevant to your work at Panda doc today? Yeah, looking back, it was really hard to see what work and what didn't work. When you're dealing with a highly regulated, yes, very large customers that has so many pieces that have to move together, that take twelve months to do it. You're planning for the next year. You're not planning for the next day, for the next week or the next month. What I've noticed with that one is in it. I'll take it out of healthcare and I'll just go to larger companies. But you find is you have a lot of do a lot of what you know already works and try to make it a little bit better. Yeah, just don't, don't mess it up. Yeah, right, and then you have the...

...sense of well, maybe we by making it better, maybe I can get a little sliver of innovation. And I've just noticed the larger the company, the more that becomes status quo. Is your eighty percent and if you're lucky, that innovation or that ability to kind of like poke around and do something different might be the twenty percent. If you're lucky. Yep, in verse that when you get into software in particular, but when you get into smaller companies and larger companies, it's actually you don't know what works. You're constantly spending your yes, that figuring out what works and trying and testing, and that's where my going back to college, like a science or biology degree or whatever, is on. It's honestly a constant like my hypothesis. Here's what I think my then am I right or wrong? And then keep going. Yeah, we call it agile. Now I just call it like it's a scientific framework. Absolutely. I have been guilty more than once of forgetting that right and just going with a blanket assumption of my gut tells me this will work, so I don't really need to set up a test. Let's just go do it. Yeah, and let's put a lot of stuff behind it, and then you realize quickly, look, if I'm not taking innerative approach, yeah, I'm putting a lot of eggs into that basket. And sometimes, more more often than not, on software, you're going to learn something you absolutely didn't expect, Yep, which could have you digging out of a whole versus adding on top of a hill you've built. And so that's one of the biggest things I've noticed coming into software. Yeah, you have to take that intertive approach. Yeah, yeah, the twenty example that you're describing, where eighty percent status quo and larger organizations verse, eighty percent experimentation and smaller. I totally understand that. You know as a you know, a startup founder myself. That makes a ton of sense, feel it. Yeah, it's probably it's more like ninety eight percent probably yeah, start up exactly. And and actually I'm glad you mentioned this because it reminds me of a post of yours on Linkedin and I just want to compliment you because I think you have a very authentic voice on Linkedin and for listeners that are listening, Shans of tremendous follow so I would highly recommend it. But when I bring it up here, and I just kind of want you to sort of talk about this concept that you describe, you so you're marketing initiative should represent a balance portfolio similar to an investment strategy. Conservative return with low risk, moderate return of medium risk, aggressive return with high risk. conceptually, I kind of understand what you're saying there, but can you put some some context around that, like maybe some examples, perhaps some ways that you've leveraged that particular mindset or strategy and in your career thus far? Yeah, we've done a lot of that here, Pand DOC and I've taken this kind of portfolio approach of when you roll everything up to the top, I always look for a dollar and gives me what out. Yeah, I learned that early in my career. Like the best marketers can somehow figure that out. In some shape or form, and sometimes it's not as mystical as it needs to be. I think it's sometimes just take your marketing spend and take what you what you can influence our directly source and just compare them. Well, when you start to do that, you can then click down layers and what you find in your portfolio is generally it's a channel kind of view. Of certain channels will perform really, really well, and I would consider that a conservative risk. Right, if you know it's pretty consistent and I can say a dollar and gives me this much out almost repeatably, then you have a conservative risk. And if it's overperforming, if it's getting you more than what you expected, then you've got a little wiggle room to invest. And so you can take, let's say a dollar and gives me two and a half dollars out with also, I'll say Seo. For us, like our our search capabilities on Sel and director phenomenal, and so that gives me some wiggle room to say look, if I'm getting in, this number ups and hold me to it, but sure if I put a dollar in and and I get two and a half to three dollars out in Arr that's phenomenal for organic. Yep, I can't control organic. I'm at. I'm subject to WHO's looking for stuff. Right. So I'm comfortable with a dollar in, a dollar fifty out. So what do I do with that extra dollar to dollar fifty that I've got flexibility in? I put it into something more risky and it might be...

...yeah, we've been talking about ABM, let's start investing. We've been talking about doing paid video. Maybe we should start investing. But I invest to the level that allows me to go. Even if everything goes wrong, my portfolio still gets me at the top line. A dollar into, a dollar fifty out, and so you can start to balance things out when you you know I'm placing two or three things that, if they don't pay off, and I have a consistent return on the ones that do my job, my team, the company is not at risk and depending on your relationship with finance, you can go. Well, we're all ready to take a little bit more of a risk tolerance because we know next year we got to get way ahead of building new channels or we got to get way ahead of building new segments or new audiences. You might have to dip your risk tolerance to be a little bit lower than what you're used to, but that approach is served extremely well and where I've made mistakes I didn't have a balance portfolio. And where I did really, really well is I was able to say I got flex I got a lot of flex because this is overperforming. It also allows me that twenty approach. I can take the twenty, any percent and just go I don't need to think about this. If you can make this one to two to three points better than what it's currently performing, you win and I could just let that team run autonomously while I focus all my effort on the stuff that's not working. And if you look at an investment portfolio, that's genuinely what people with a really good portfolio have is a diversification. Absolutely, and they can move things from high risk into low risk. But that doesn't mean the way to return is any less, Yep, it just means it's more predictable, Yep, and so you want to get things to pull those through in that portfolio. You adding more and more to that. I don't say conservative, but yes, risky, yeah, Yep, more predictable rate of return. You may have answered this and in your answer where you talk about having a great relationship with finance, but when it comes to Seo or paid sert, your your ability to measure your return, I think is fairly problematic. Right. I mean you you have a system that I'll basically tell you. How are you, or to what extent is it important for you to be able to tell that that type of Oroy story in the risk your channels that you're investing in? Because I feel like a problem I hear from marketers with some regularity is just that attribution or how are you, as basically able to tie the impact of some of the more risky investments to dollar amount? And it may just be that you get the good grace of the CFO and you have some flexible ability there and you're just looking at bottom line. But but I guess, how do you think about that? I think it's relevant because, you know, a portfolio does have your kind of you know, your Roi sort associated with it. So how do you think about that is and it's that something that's important to you? Yeah, I always start with the bottom line, but yeah, actually I rolled it all the way to the top. Like what are we willing to accept as a best case? In worst case scenario. Yeah, you know, if we're doing better than best case, then we've underinvested. And we've had scenarios where we've underinvested where I'm like, man, I didn't spend all my budget and we saw this return. Imagine if I actually did right. So I've had those conversations with the CFO, but I always start with that top part of what's the rift? Where are we at? Because that's what I always end up talking to the executive team about. Is, at the end of the day, I'm looking at a dollar and gets US how much out? And because we're in SNB, marketing has a lot more control over that versus having to depend on all of the sales team. Yeah, done, are all of a partner team, so we have a little bit more of a direct influence. But when you talk about the what's that discussion look like? I'm having a lot of those discussions because when things are working well, you do often have a huge bias with people that have are used toeing returns that are a little bit in gets us a lot out. Or I can directly see, oh seo it converted because they search for this, versus display ads might be...

...surround sound like I don't understand how that works. Yep, let's you have a little bit of art, a little bit of science. I wouldn't say I've nailed this, but what I've found that works well is if you can find signals around those. I'll just call it new channels because that's where I'm focused as trying to figure out new, predictable and repeatable channels. Yep, they are not going to have the same semblance as the ones that currently work. It's not going to be first touch attribution. It's not like ABM. If you want to use that as a Zam. Sure there's no first touch attribution for you. They already came in in some way or you're going after them. So what I try to do is translated into language that makes sense of what we're currently doing. And an example I would use as we push brand awareness. We get a big push in q two to q three of trying to reach a larger SIB audience and we did certain things that were out of the regular realm of just PPC and Seo and review sites. We did a little bit more outside of that and what we saw was our brand searches that do come in through direct that do come in through PPC to give direct attribution to doubled. Sure. Okay, so I was able to just fly that signal to go look, I can't say this equals this. Yeah, you can see an investment here resulted in this heres. And you guys know how this works. Correct and there's a little bit of a correlation. But you have to have a good relationship for someone to trust you. But I have learned you got to tie it to something's known you, even if it is a little bit of a stretch on on theory, but that helps cement people into okay, I get it. The other thing that I've noticed is sometimes a pictures worth a thousand words, okay, and sometimes you just need to draw it out and go these channels don't act like those channels, and when I do something over here, it might come in through an existing channel. So you might think our PPC is amazing. Why are we spending money over here? It's like, well, it it probably is feeding in. Yeah, people see those ads, they finally ready to click on them and take out right. So that's that's I wouldn't say that's absolutely the best way, but I've learned that drawing, yeah, drawing out a flow, just like point point things out, as well as acclimating people to what's known. Those two things seem to anchor people into an understanding of what will let your run with it as yeah, it go below that bottom line we all agree to. Right. Okay, so there's multip multiple things here, but I don't want to lose my thought because there's multiple interesting things that you said to me in that response. But basically the idea of if you can attain internal buy in, that let's say inbound demo request or free trial requests, is a number we know is an important driver for bottom line. You know new customers are whatever and that we are seeing an increase in this number. And yes, I can't say specifically this click came from this ad that was served here, but we see a thirty or forty percent increase. You know that. I'll correspond with the spend that we have in these other channels. That's actually like a really smart and doing is the wrong way, simple way to kind of deal with what I hear all the time about attribution issues, which is, look, what are we actually trying to what are we trying to work towards here, and are we increasing that number or is that number? Is that increasing at the right rate, so on and so forth. So I think that is absolutely brilliant and I appreciate you you sort of sharing that that insight. One of the thing I'm going to ask you, and feel free to tell me no, but you know you're looking for new channels. Obviously in bound is an incredibly important one, but for SMB businesses, what are the next most important channels that you've you've sort of encountered in your experience, and I understand if some of that is proprietary and maybe not want to share, but I guess what should a marketer be thinking about outside of inbound next? I mean, where are SNB buyers today? It's funny. There isn't the secret source. I've learned. That is what I'm going to say. Is Not going to shock any marketer. Okay, I don't do this...

...right. Okay, and I look at this as it's just it's based on the audience that you're going after and knowing how they go through their buying process. And I look at this and I go events are a new channel that we need to open up and every market out there we like. Well, no kidding, yeah, you'd everybody does events. We need to do events, but in a slightly different way. We need to do events that allow us to have of a local presence. That might be like you, this might seem old school, but now that the physical events are starting to come back online, how do we sponsor things that get us into a local market that we don't need to be at the top? But there's local businesses and small businesses are working with them and I've seen places go to not trade associations but like the better business bewer, small business er. See. Yeah, go back to fundamentals. That's sometimes like events are one that we're trying to open up. We've never had to do them. We've done them here and there, but they are not like the lifeblood like most enterprise companies. Enterprise companies, I can tell you, you bank a lot of your resources, money and time on doing events, whether it's a dream force or in bound or you name it. Right, yeah, because your that is where your buyers are going to get influenced. That's one thing is I would look at new channels as it's there's no shock and awe. I'm going to tell you, like where we're focuses. I'm trying to discover our events are right, the right place, and it could be virtual, could be in person, but it's not going to be at a large tech conference. That's not where my buyers are going to be in this. They are actively searching, they're actively doing different things, and where they're looking as video, Yep. So I'm going to say something that's an obvious but video on like you have the second largest search engine in the world, owned by the first one, Youtube. So why, I would you not produce content? If you're good at Seo, I would you not be using video in a way to talk to your customers? That's where a lot of our customers are going, sure, a lot of them, and they're looking for bite size, Yep, adjustable chunks. And if you look at things that have taken off from a social standpoint, it's the incorporation of video, it's incorporation of digestible, smaller piece. So I look at video as an example of depending on how you frame it, it could be an asset of a channel, but I look at how you get digestible video out there that can be found. That's another channel we're looking at and I think another one that I've looked at from new channels is we're finding that sometimes your new channels are all of the stuff that already fell on the floor that you have not picked back up. Think about how many leads come in and out of those twenty percent maybe convert, sure, and out of that maybe twenty percent closes. Yep, right. So out of a hundred people that come in, five one of your new channels might be doing a better job going back absolutely on things that already came in and just doing it a slightly different way. Yep. And so I think a lot of companies talk about resurrection campaigns or close lost or whatever else. They doesn't even have to be close lost. It might just be they showed a little bit of intent and you have a longer time to warm them up. Don't treat them like a transactor, especially in this snbts. A lot of the actional yeah, go back after a yeah, in a different way. Absolutely, and that, I think, is is one of those things that we have. We Are Shiny Object Syndrome. Yeah, that's right and center. When it comes to marketers, I'm one of the biggest. I look at I'm like, I spent how much to get this in? Yeah, and we only convert x percent of it to close one. That means there's a whole lot left. That showed in batter that showed intent. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, and so it sounds like a simple once again, every market out there's gonna be like, okay, events and video and going through existing needs. That's your big idea. I'm like, it's not a big idea, it's just you got to execute well. I mean, look the goals that shows to demonstify, and I think that's an important way to kind...

...of communicate, like we're not reinventing the wheel here, it's just doing it in a way that aligns with like you talk about your audience, your segments, where they are, and that is probably the hard work, right. I mean it's all hard work, but like being really clear on who the buyer is and and and understanding that they're not going to be at dream force, but maybe they're going to be at, you know, the the National Association of Realtors Conference or whatever the case might be. I think this is is really that. That's the smart part of this. I want to get into a campaign, obviously, because that's what growth marketing camp is about, but I also would be remiss if I didn't use an opportunity to learn something else from you, and this is just referencing another one of your linkedin post which says, for company doesn't believe in the power of a forcing function, you are missing out on something truly amazing. Now I want to know what you mean by that, because I don't know what a forcing function is and I feel like I'm missing out on something amazing. So can you tell me a bit about that? Yeah, I think forcing function can have different levels of meaning. A meeting that you set up with your team as a forcing function. You are making people come together at a specific time to do something specific with each other, as big as you want to make this. You have different I can use a launch as an example. If you set a date and everybody does this already. We're going to launch this by this date, the forcing function is we're going to work backwards from that to figure out how to get there. And often what's successful is when multiple people, multiple departments, know that's the date right and it's not an if you're going to work with us, it's how you're going to do yeah, when you flip the conversation from Hey, if you want to get involved we're going to try to do this or this next month, to a different conversation of we're doing this as a company. How are you going to participate? You will see everybody's behavior change. It becomes no longer a nice to have. It becomes an agenda item on what am I doing to support that launch or that initiative or whatever else. And if you think about things that we've recently gone through, like a forcing function was for us was announcing our valuation and just getting everybody to go like this is important pause, we're going to be doing this on this date. Here's some things that we're going to be doing about it. But we actually had a very intentional approach with the employee base to say we want everybody here, that every person in your network. It's going to be hard for them to not know Pand Doc. Yeah, didn't experience something cool and that worked like we actually got I'll just I'm not going to give the the amounts out, but sure the amount that I would have had to have paid by just getting our employeea's to realize, like we're all doing this on the date. Here's some stuff that you can use. Ask questions ahead of time. Whatever you need to. If we all do this, there's a ripple effect. Absolutely get and that forcing function. Every department participated, multiple employees got involved. It was a it was more than just one day and I saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and paid spend by just having people go, oh, it's Tuesday at x time. Yep, Yep, and we just communicated earlier. We said we're all going to do it, but that's that's a simple example of an announcement, but we've had multiple times where he said, you know, by the end of this year we are going to migrate customers from an older version to a newer version. That's a forcing functions. Yeah, and so you are. You are setting a line and working backwards, and I've never seen at work better than when you have the executive team aligned to all of us are going to be involved. You can't have forcing functions every minute. Yeah, but if you pick a couple of them and you have the executive team from the top down going so, what are we doing? Not Are we? Yeah, yeah, that dynamic changes everything and the priority starts there instead of gets fitted into what you do. I was like, sense it does, and I was going to ask that...

...a prerequisite to being having an effective forcing function is got to be alignment and leadership. I mean truly, and that's basically what you're affirmed. So that does make sense and honestly, as I personally think forward to two thousand and twenty two, I have some ideas of how to potentially apply that and and I'm also thinking about ways that that could have been a more effective, you know, like nice to have, versus we're doing it like that, that kind of approach in certain initiatives that even at open sense we approached this year, could have been managed differently. So that's actually really valuable and I I again I appreciate you taken a minute to kind of share that with me. Let's pivot and let's talk about a campaign, because what I'd love for the audience to walk away from today, in addition to some of the incredible insights of shared of the so far, is an example of how you've taken your experience and your ideals and your education and maybe conceptualized a campaign, whether it was at panda doc or exact target or any time in your career. You do you have one in that comes to mind that that you'd like to talk about with us today. Yeah, actually one that's really relevant to what we're going through today. So it was at panda doc we launched a free product and we did it actually the week after the pandemic started, and it was it's been a company level journey, but there have been so many lessons learned, or a lot of a lot of what I've learned along the way came to fruition, but also a lot of other people really rallied around it. I can't take credit for it, but what I can do is we're still figuring it out a year and a half later. So what we did was pandemic it. Everybody stopped traveling, everybody stopped doing stuff, and one of the biggest things was that kind of helping David's compete against Goliath. We realize documents of a lifeblood of companies, whether it's internal or external documents, like you're signing on a dot of line somewhere, but there's a employment agreement or a sales contract. Well, our customer base was mostly small business at small medium sized businesses. Our concern was there's so many small medium sized businesses that can't get their business done right now because you can't sign in person. Absolutely right, and so our founders were really adamant. They're like look, people before profits, like we have a chance. We have the technology and the capabilities to offer a free product that if you just want to sign a document, we don't want to charge you for it. Want you to actually stay in business. Yeah, we were really concerned. Everybody was concerned that first three months of what does this mean to my business? Yep, and you saw people thank, you saw people spike. We were like know what, people over profit. We're going to a free product that allows you to sign any document that you want, and unlimited documents like keep your business running. We did not know how to monetize it. We did not know how to put it into the funnel. We were barely marketing it. We were just like we're just going to push this out and try to do good. That do good really got picked up by a number of media sources where they're like, okay, they're doing something interesting. People about profit. Tell us a little bit more, and we're just like we just want to make the document isn't valuable for us. It's what happens before, during and after the time. So that's where we see value and what we provide. So if we can just help a company staying in business and it's nothing off of us, why wouldn't we do that? And that really came to the company values just came all the way through into our product. Now what did we do about it? Like, I got to figure out a way to monetize this. Yeah, so we started running campaigns to say all right, out of the hundreds of like we ended up getting hundreds of thousands of companies to sign up. Amazing. That's when you know you've got product market fit. or I've heard it the other way, market problems. It right, like there's a problem out there in the market. If they're finding their way to you, then you got to figure out how to capitalize. We figured out pretty quickly. We saw the spike going up and we didn't spend a lot of money. We just had a little bit of awareness. That really kind of caught...

...on. So we started to run campaigns around it to go, okay, our campaigns are not to try to get people in the funnel. Our campaigns to try to convert people, the classic Plg Right, like we got them in the product and then we were trying to figure out how do we add more value. So they could see your signing documents. That's great, but that's not where the values that the value is the workflow to get the document done. The value is the insights around those documents. It's the speed at which you can move. I could said you a document right now, yes, what we were talking about, and have you sign it before we get off the zoom call. Yeah, and then there's the final piece of experience, right, like we've we've monetize on the experience of you're going to look much more professional if you have panda doc versus bullet points in an email that's all misspelled and different falls and stuff like. Yeah. So we started campaigning into that user base that was already finding its way to us, and so it wasn't an acquisition, was actually a conversion play. Yeah, and we started iterating on different things with the product team. Do we do pay walls? Do we not do pay walls? Should we do show these couple features what we know? Like we know there's a couple key things that really add value out of our system. Let's show them those and say here's what you could get. It would improve your workflow if you use the template right. So could we show them to see the engagement level and we're now at the point, a year and a half later, where we have a predictable I would say it's definitely repeatable and we're getting towards the point of scalable. On out of every person, every company that goes in to the free funnel, we've figured out the conversion mechanisms to get x percent into the revenue file and it has just been methodically taking one step at a time to find the signal. How do we capitalize on it? How do we move them a little bit further? And I can't give a lot of the specifics outre but if I can tell you this, it wasn't do everything all at once. It was very much stage gated. Absolutely if we had problem with acquiring people, than our first campaign would be acquisition. Yep, we didn't have that problem, but now I can put money into acquisition because I know downstream we can convert it. So I'm going back up to the front now and saying all right, I'm going to put money in where I know we can get maybe cheaper traffic. Right, sure, it higher intent, but maybe it's really small companies, but they're going to convert HMM. Now I've got something that I can invest in and I portefully it has gone from super risky to a little bit less rescuer. Yep, and honestly, like right now, that has been a we never expected it to be a new revenue lever for us, sure, and right now we're counting on it as a good growth lever. This is like, really interesting to me, because it's to me, it's almost it's got to be a product, and marketers dream to have a flow of users that you then have the challenge of converting into paid users, and I just think that that's almost it's almost like, not to trivialize it, but it's almost like a game at that point. I mean it's like can you can you win the game, which is get them from Point A to point b? And men, you talk about being close to the customer in this roll versus you know your ecommerce experience. You know way back when. I mean it doesn't get much closer than this, because you're literally observing the points at which people drop off or don't convert, etc. How did this differ from the business model prior I mean, is this a brand new method of converting customers? Okay, interesting. Yeah, if you look at the way that we would acquire and convert customers, it came down to there was a sales touch point. So it was contact sales demo, like the classic got it, Click Button, fill up form, go down the sales path. Then we had a free trial. You had a free trial or it's a two week gated free trial, and then after the two weeks it stops and either you engage with sales or you buy right. So we had those. Those are the two primary mechanisms this offered. It's a product like you can use it full stop, and so this is a third option that...

...we're offering to people to go. You literally don't even have to talk to us. You could just use this. But what what that enables us to do is see how many companies are, how many people from the same company are using this free product. That's an intense signal. That's all it is, right. So instead of you going and buying buying intent data, we're actually just looking at it on our own platform. Oh yeah, and so you kind of flip it around and you're like, well, why wouldn't I offer a free product? Because now I've basically that people not paying me, but I don't have to pay them to show me the signal that they're interested in a solution that I've got absolutely, and that's one of the things I learned. I was always against. Wasn't always, but I liked trials and I was never, never such an adamant fan of a free product. Yeah, until we had one, because I was like, how do you monetize that? I don't get it. Honestly, when you start to figure out for us, the more documents to get sent, the more eyeballs that see it, more eyeballs that see it, that's brand awareness and have to pay. So the viral loop is going right and that free product has expanded our awareness way beyond anything I could have paid for sure. And so you've got that spinning. You've got we dialed in our SEO and we dialed in the the search terms to point people towards that that we know need to be a little bit warmed up, and now we're figuring out those plays, like hey, if this many people at this company are coming through, maybe it's time for sales to reach out. The other thing that the jumps out to me too, is that this helps you to be really clear on the value of certain features and function now, which you probably were, but like a cute more cutely so, because those are the things that are triggering some of those in APP or inflow conversions, which has to be has have cascading effects within the organization as well. You actually, if you don't mind one yes, you just said they're the value. It actually also gives us a competitive differentiator. When you start to look at our space, there's a couple big companies in our space that have are wellknown do things with digital documents, right, and we're an UPANCOM or where the David against the Goliath. Sure, what this allows us to do is when somebody says, well, how do you compare to x, it's like, well, if you want to see like, will literally let you in the product, because we don't see value and signing a document, like you're going to get charged with the competitor for that. The value is around the document. Yep, we get paid on the number of seats or the documents that you use. Yeah, so does everybody else. But our value to you is we're going to actually show you metrics, yes, around your workflow in site, speed and experience that have nothing to do with number of seats. Absolutely nothing to do with a number of documents. You said that's not the value. Yeah, value is what you're getting out of those documents. Yeah, notice, that is completely different. And we actually do this with our customers. We show them the data. Yeah, it isn't just doccent and it's not just hey, you bought ten seats, you're in losing nine. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, all our competitors, that's exactly what they're their redual processes. Oh, yeah, it's a game changer. I love that, because you could when you're when you're selling in a crowded space, like we do too, like it's so easy for the value prompt to be drowned out in a regular sales call, and so I think, like you know, being able to highlight that and get them in their level the playing field and then make sure you're clear on hey, look, we facilitate all these other things that create value that, frankly, like no one else can can touch. Giving you having opportunity to kind of not just tell them but show them. I think is is a very interesting takeaway from me. Again, I think she I think you're sure think of it this way. The matter who you're selling to. Do you want them in the presentation? Would you rather than be in your product? Yeah, absolutely. Last question for you, because I know we're run up on time. You've been incredibly generous with your time shot. I really do appreciate it. Is this the primary good to market now? Is this been a new sort of acquisition channel? Is this been a fundamental shift into business just if you're able to step our free product? Yeah, it's actually just added...

...to the portfolio. It's still, I would say it's a part of the acquisition play, but it's a balanced portfolio. Like I know that we have seen enough data to tell us it's great at acquiring a certain segment. If we look at our different segment bands of very small business, too small and a medium to I can pretty much dial and I've got predictable, repeatable a dollar and gets me x amount out and it's it's good. It's steady state, but it's not going to change how we do things. Yeah, what it has allowed us to do is go we got to get people in the product much, much more and whether that's free trial or another type of free product, as we get people into the product, that just gives us so much more ammunition to actually convert them to sales. It's made us really rethink all of the the acquisition plays and like right now is a good example that we're we have a free trial and I can tell you that that is where I'm going to be spending a lot of time because of what I've seen out of the other pieces, a couple points of increase in our free trial. I don't need to worry about next year's number. Yeah, right, like that's the kind of mentality. Where I's right now is it's change my portfolio. Roach yeah, I mean you've found a leverage point. I think that is got to be an incredibly exciting place to be. It's like uncovering the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Like you have a leverage point that can change the trajectory of Your Business and certainly I will be paying attention and I know our team will as well. You've been incredibly gracious with your time today, Sean. Really do appreciate it and enjoyed speaking with you. There's a lot of interesting insights here that, like I'm personally going to be taken away. I hope that the audience does as well. We're going to have to keep in touch on this one. Wishing you and your team all the best you round out twenty one and look forward to twenty two. Thanks so much for being with us today. Well, yea, I greatly appreciate it. Thank you all right. Thanks for listening to growth marketing camp. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd love it if you would give it a quick five star rating or share it with a friend or colleague looking to get a little more inspiration for their next campaign. If you want to learn more about the company behind the show, had to open sensecom. That's open, sken skecom. Will catch you on the next episode.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (69)