The client offered conversion rate optimization software but had recently expanded their business model to include a strategic consulting product. The company was doubling in size year over year, and they had earned the reputation of being leaders in their specialty.
Historically, they had had a lot of success finding customer bases of startups and small businesses. Now they were getting ready to move into legacy organizations: Fortune 500 companies, banks, and highly regulated industries. This meant going up against more complex sales cycles and decision cycles where the stakes were significantly higher. They needed to expedite those sales cycles and overcome friction on behalf of multiple buyers in the decision process.
They needed my help in making sure that their messaging and narratives could help buyers and decision-makers achieve a level of consensus faster with an understanding of the project.
I've worked across marketing functions, had a hand in sales, and am trained in formal data science and analytics methods. So I have a cross-functional skillset and could therefore understand not only the complexity of the product, but what it would take to convince an executive audience to implement it with fewer perceived challenges.
A theme in my strengths is my ability to balance multiple perspectives. I maintained a focus on ground-level execution, avoiding wasted time and trial and error. I could anticipate buyers' concerns and motivations from many different decision-making perspectives. And, finally, I was able to align narratives with both short-term transactional motives and long-term business outcomes.
In order to set a strategy, I needed to clarify where the client was and where they wanted to go.
This initiative impacted the entire business from sales to marketing to product development; I was dealing with many different people who all wanted to feel heard. So, I created a brief for the project to get internal stakeholders aligned around a shared objective. This way, everybody was aware of what we were striving for and nobody felt excluded.
To do this, I needed to align the language of technologists with the more front-facing brand marketing objectives. I used qualitative research to make sure we were hearing everyone's ideas and creating a plan that would address multiple moving parts of the organization. As you might imagine, this also saved time further down the line.
Then I interviewed sales teams in-depth to understand what was holding back the sales process.
I worked with the client to identify a panel of stakeholders, and from there created tailored forty-five minute interviews to understand their perspective on every day in the business. We talked through common reasons prospects turn away from a particular conversation or get bogged down in their own decision-making. I tried to identify every reason somebody might say 'no' in an effort to understand what would lead them to say 'yes'.
This step allowed me to uncover the nuances of the sales process, getting a sense of situational dynamics. Perhaps there was a CTO involved in making a particular decision, a CRO in another. The people evaluating the product were looking at it from all different angles. It became clear that in many cases, a unified message and value proposition would go a long way.
The company already had customer interviews conducted, so I read through the documentation to glean the hidden value propositions of the product. I tried to identify themes that spoke directly to the friction points in the sales cycles.
I was surprised to learn how many people were not using the platform to its full potential. Customers had a very basic knowledge of how to set up experiments with A/B testing programs but didn't know how to create a continuous testing and optimization program. There was an opportunity in the brand messaging and communication strategy to provide a more conceptual level of education.
This was a very powerful insight that contributed to the business's overarching user education strategy down the road. They hosted more conferences and created more user education hubs.
The next step was figuring out exactly what case studies, e-books, guides, blog posts, and landing pages to create to speak to the client's very real messaging needs.
It involved going through the research footage I had collected and ideating around topics that would solve their communication challenges.
I also created a wish list. In conversations, a sales team member would say, for example, “I wish I had a story that communicated more specifics around technical implementation”. That would go on the list and in that instance, we made a guide explaining the technical implementation of the product.
A learned a couple of crucial and surprising things: first, the amount of rigor that went into the technical development; second, that there was an entire engineering story to tell that the company hadn't brought to the surface.
Next, we outlined all the different assets to check the messaging would reflect the substance.
I interviewed engineers on the team to get a deeper understanding of that subject in particular. Because there was so much internal knowledge, it was possible over the 5 years I worked with the company to seriously influence methodology and testing across the market.
It became clear that this opportunity was more ambitious than I had originally realized. I discovered how much space they had for broader education around best practices and it was great to see that potential for brand leadership and thought leadership.
I then transformed our source material into functional assets and reading materials for prospective buyers. These included case studies, blog posts, a landing page, e-books, and guides.
Case studies were interview-based pieces detailing how customers had solved common problems and, in doing so, created better personalization, optimization, and website testing. I partnered with company solutions experts in producing them.
E-books translated internal best practices into clear steps for customers to follow. Blog posts and landing page were used to build awareness of and crystallize the need for this technology.
The core asset I created was a thirty-five-page e-book that went into extensive detail around code snippets, how the code was functioning, and how the software sits within an overall technology stack. This helped unify marketing technology and I.T. leaders around the software's value and how to implement it. It was crucial to address concerns around security and how the solution cooperates with other platforms in the technology stack. It helped turn 'no's into 'yes's and close big contracts faster.
By the editing stage, stakeholders were so enthusiastic and proud to share their ideas that it almost didn't feel like work for them anymore.
The content produced contributed to the company's ability to quadruple their sales efforts over some aggressive growth milestones. They expanded the team dramatically and were able to enter highly regulated industry segments like banking, which hadn't been possible before.
It also helped the content marketing team create one of the largest collections of case studies on optimization and testing that exists. Many people now describe themselves as conversion rate optimization experts and revenue optimization experts, but at the time we were defining what that meant for the industry.
The company raised upwards of $100M in funding, and this project was instrumental in sustaining that level of growth in such a short timeframe. The content influenced every aspect of the business — was involved in every single sales touchpoint — and helped fortify an internal team of content marketers.
The core asset that I created was the highest-performing asset in the company's history. Furthermore, I aligned everyone at the company around a shared story and created timeless resources that supported multiple high-stakes marketing and demand generation initiatives.
The content contained fast amounts of foundational knowledge, so if I could do anything differently, I would ramp up the educational focus and repurpose some of it into online courses. This could have kick-started a new line of business.