Performance marketing, if run properly, can be the engine that drives business growth. The problem is that there always seems to be a ceiling to how much performance you can squeeze out. If you’ve got the budget, you can increase your advertising spend, but eventually it plateaus as leads become less qualified. When you’re a large company with a fairly efficient engine, growth isn’t as important. But what if you’re a Series A startup that needs constant growth?
Chris Nguyen, who runs growth marketing at Air, a developer of software for creative and marketing collaboration, knew that need all too well. Inbound lead volume was his primary metric, the one thing that he needed to keep growing.
Air was still a small, 45-person company, and not quite ready for account-based marketing. But they were shifting their focus from product to their go-to-market efforts. As part of that shift, marketing was beginning to get some attention, with investments in brand, organic, and social media. For Chris, that meant finding new ways to increase MQL volume.
“Using consumer social media targeting is kind of a crapshoot.”
But as many a growth marketer knows, the task is easier said than done. “We had very few channels where we found success,” says Chris. “And the one that gave us somewhat decent volume was Facebook. But it wasn’t a huge amount of volume, and the ability to have B2B targeting was limited and pretty dubious. It’s consumer social media, and using that targeting is kind of a crapshoot.”The problem is that when you’re a B2B company, the richness of data on consumer platforms like Facebook is hard to get at. Simply put, while you’ve likely got business contact info for your audience, people primarily use personal contact info for their Facebook accounts. Bridging that gap — finding Chris Nguyen’s Facebook profile when all you’ve got is his Air work email address — is challenging to say the least.
The data to solve this problem is out there, but it’s scattered. While some datasets might be able to connect a person’s work and personal email addresses, they might not have any meaningful information on their company, like industry or number of employees. So he started exploring solutions that could aggregate info from different data sources and allow him to define audience targeting parameters to pass on to ad platforms.
Clearbit came up as an option, but restrictive pricing, a minimum one-year contract, and a lack of a guarantee made it a non-starter. Chris tried other options including Deep Sync, but the volume he was getting was so low, he couldn’t tell if they were effective. There was another option, though, one that Air already had in place before Chris started — Primer.
Until that point, Air’s sales team wasn’t performing any outbound campaigns, and Primer wasn’t getting much attention. Sensing an opportunity, Chris started experimenting with Primer and found the audience targeting machine that he was looking for. So he ran his first campaign, targeting senior marketers in direct-to-consumer businesses like fashion, retail, and consumer goods with 11 or more employees. He synced the audience into Facebook, and… “the results were good” would be an understatement.
“The results were night and day,” says Chris. “The quality of leads on Facebook skyrocketed. Clearly, this little test was the main reason. Once we started using it, our CPL decreased by 55% and our MQLs increased by 34%. We decided that this would be our main prospecting campaign and diverted all of our budget to it. Just a few weeks before, the sales team was complaining about not having enough leads. But now their calendars are packed, and we had to hire out more AEs to take on the leads.” How much were leads improving? As Chris explained, Air was getting 15–20 leads per week in early January. Later that month, they started using Primer and saw that number jump to 30 within a week. From there, 40 and then all the way up to 76. Chris increased qualified leads 280–400% in a matter of weeks.
“The results were night and day. The quality of leads on Facebook skyrocketed.”
From there, he built out two new audiences: brand managers and marketers in the media/entertainment industry. While the audiences themselves were valuable, Chris saw extra value in building lookalike audiences. Taking the audience Primer had built for him, he had the ad platforms he was using build lookalike audiences — looser versions that are a lot larger and help you get greater lead and impression volume. While these lookalikes didn’t fit Air’s ideal customer profile as well, they did help Chris achieve Goal #1: Increase inbound lead volume.
“Our spend goes a lot farther with this type of targeting on Facebook.”
So in the end, what did Primer mean for Chris and the Air team? “Higher volume of quality leads,” he says. “Our spend goes a lot farther with this type of targeting on Facebook. It’s accelerated our performance marketing efforts. As far as pure outputs and results, Primer is one of the most valuable products we use. It’s one of the unlocks of our paid marketing efforts.”