How G2 structures its marketing team to accelerate growth and increase retention
Today on the show we have Ryan Bonnici one of the World's Most Influential CMOs as named by Forbes currently leading the marketing team at G2.
In this episode, we talked about Ryan’s responsibilities as CMO at G2, how he and his team split their focus, and how G2’s Product team mirrors their marketing team’s structure.
We also discussed G2’s Buyer Intent and how it arms companies to predict churn, how their retention team measures success, and how they guide their free users into their paid funnel.
Andrew Michael 0:00
Hey Ryan, welcome to the show.
Ryan Bonnici 0:02
Hey, Andrew, thanks for having me.
Andrew Michael 0:04
It's a pleasure for listeners. Ryan is the CMO of GE to a community of over 5 million monthly buyers, where users submit reviews and business solutions to help professionals make more informed purchase decisions. Forbes also rated him as one the most influential CEOs of 2019. And prior to jitsu, Ryan was the Senior Director of Global Marketing and HubSpot, and served as the head of marketing for the Asia Pacific region at Salesforce. So my first question for you, Ryan is like, what are you responsible for as a CMO? What is your day to day look like?
Ryan Bonnici 0:35
So what am I responsible for? G2 so it's a little different from other marketing roles and probably from other CMOS because, you know, we obviously have a few different sides of our business and were a marketplace right so I'm responsible for attracting buyers to outside so if you think of kind of jitsu, right, yeah, you mentioned we have 5 million monthly buys. We then have around 100,000
Thousand sellers on our site. And those hundred thousand sellers have maybe around 150,000 products listed on our site. And so it's my job to attract buyers to attract sellers and to connect buyers with sellers. So it's kind of multifaceted and really complex because what attracts buyers is our review content. So, you know, I guess the currency of gq.com is essentially the fact that we have more reviews than any other review site out there. And we and we don't just have more in the volume sense, we have a lot more depth to our reviews, right. So an average review on G two takes, you know, anywhere from seven to 10 minutes, so, so I'm responsible for getting buyers to our site. I'm responsible for a good portion of the sales pipeline for sellers and then I'm also responsible for driving all the reviews on our site. So it's um, it's definitely one of the mostexcitingvaluable jobs I've ever had in my career, but also one of the most challenging because imagine in double where it's kind of even more complex in a double sided marketplace, but in marketplaces, there are so many leavers at play at any point in time. And it's definitely been the role that I've had to work most closely with product. You know, if I think of when I was, you know, the marketing team at HubSpot doesn't really have to work very closely with product obviously, they do and they share a tonne of feedback on you know, what's happening in the marketing world because our product is building products for marketers, so naturally a really good person to connect with the product is so central to everything that my team is responsible for. And were the ones that are responsible for the numbers. So the traffic number sits on the even the review numbers, it's on the and then you know, portion of the revenue numbers. It's on me So yeah, I guess based on that, that's sort of what what the role looks like my day to day. I wish I could tell you, Andrew.
Ryan Bonnici 3:01
You know, I think now I've got it, I've got a really great team. I'm really fortunate. So now I think my day looks quite different to what it looked like in the past. Now I spend most of my time working really closely with my team trying to, you know, move away roadblocks that are stopping them from, you know, reaching their own goals, and being their cheerleader ultimately. So I'd say like it is a good portion of my time has been really working closely with my team and supporting them, as well as obviously finding new people to join to the team as well. Something I'm really passionate about. I'd say the other big portion of my time is working with how leadership team at GE to and I almost think that, you know, my number one and first Tinder team. And so I almost view them as the team that I need to spend most of my time with. And then I view the marketing team as my second team. Because at the end of the day, if the leadership isn't aligned, and if we're not all giving each other enough attention and focusing on the things that we all need, you know, none of us will achieve what we want to achieve.
Andrew Michael 3:58
Absolutely. I think Or even more. So like you touched on the points of the second marketplace but even a little bit more complicated you have, in some ways, like sort of three sets of customer segments to satisfy and marketing to those segments to I think must be a challenge. I think also like part of this as well, like, when we think about the concept of churn and retention, it's definitely one of the hardest places to be is in the marketplaces. Because I think early days until you get sort of that tipping point, and it feels that each side feels one another. It is really like that chicken and egg sort of scenario, trying to keep pushing backwards and forwards on the side. So in your role, like at the moment, like how do you balance between the attraction between both sides? Do you see sort of a point in time where you need to shift energy and for a quarter just like try getting buyers and in front of the quarter dragon reviewers or is it really like spread throughout and you have a good pace now where you're acquiring on both ends?
Ryan Bonnici 4:58
Yeah. So I mean, the probably worth stating that I was really fortunate in that when I joined G2, we were way past the chicken or the egg issue, right we already had. We know I think right now we're at about 1.2 million reviews when I joined, I want to say we had at least 500,000. So we were well, on our way there, we were generating probably a million visitors a month. So we've taken the visitors from about a million a month to now 6 million a month. And obviously, we've taken reviews from about 500,000 to 1.2 million. I think one of the things that I set up kind of early on was I just have a very distinct teams were very distinct goals. So, you know, there's essentially four core teams within my team. So I have a team that's very focused on attracting buyers. And that team is made up of content marketers. It's made up of search engine optimization folks that not only do on site optimizations of our website as well as content, but they also do off site optimizations for link building. So that's sort of my buyer team, they're focused and they're totally compensated on attracting more and more buyers to our site. Then I have a separate team again, which is really focused on reviewers. So getting more and more reviews on our site. And what's interesting about reviews and our which is kind of different from a Yelp or different from consumer review sites like trustpilot. Is that, excuse me, the big difference is essentially, that software is changing all the time. Right? Like, and I don't mean, as an industry, I literally mean, like, the tools themselves are changing, right? So like, you know, you and I are using zoom for this call right now, on a weekly basis, zoom is changing. And a feature that might have bothered people two months ago, may not bother people anymore. And so that's just so fundamentally different about about the b2b software review space, which is why it takes so long to leave a b2b software review, because you're really getting into the details when you're reviewing something and the reason why That is because you know, we don't care just about net you refuse, but we care about like the freshness of reviews. And so if someone comes back to our site, we're not only trying to get them to leave more reviews, we're trying to get them to update their previous reviews. Because that is factored in weighted differently in our algorithm as well. So I have like that set team focused on generating reviews. And then I have a third team that's focused on building the seller side of the marketplace. So this is your more traditional enterprise b2b marketing team, which is essentially kind of what we would have had at HubSpot and at Salesforce so a team focused on generating leads that convert to mq ELLs mq, ELLs that convert the sales opportunity and opportunities that convert to marketing source pipeline. And so that's pretty traditional in that we have field marketing, we have events, we have digital campaigns.
Again, pretty traditional sort of database as marketing team. And then that's the third team, I think, and then The fourth team is we have them brand marketing, Product Marketing and internal creative agency agito. And so, for those first three teams, I guess what's really nice about them is because they're distinct and they have distinct goals, it's less about needing to do scrums or Sprint's on whatever the focus is right now. They're always always focusing on their area. But we at times will obviously, you know, adjust their focus in terms of different things. So as an example, you know, in since it's going into quarantine, we just started to see messages of traffic and buyers to our site for software categories that were fundamental to allowing businesses to work from home. So you know, categories like video conferencing and collaboration and productivity all boomed and so naturally when they were booming, we then did sales campaigns on the back end to make sure that sellers in those capitals And knew that we have more buyers than ever before, to try and convert those folks into revenue faster. On the flip side, though, because we had all these new buyers coming to our site, we were generating lots more organic free reviews for those same categories, because people were typically swapping from maybe a tool that they no longer life, but now they had to rely on and they wanted to move across to another tool that they preferred, like zoom like what we're using right now. Yeah. And so naturally, when we see these sorts of environmental shifts, then we start to focus our reviews a bit differently. So you know, at that point in time, my team stopped doing anything proactively to generate reviews for those categories, because they were already generating enough of their own reviews. So yeah, I guess we're kind of like always pivoting and learning and I think we ultimately we're at a point right now where we think of all these different goals as a bit of a category model. So we kind of view it as like our leading indicators for success are essentially reviews or reviews the currency reviews, help us generate UGC, which helps us drive traffic, once we have traffic from buyers, then it makes it easier for us to attract sellers and sellers naturally are coming there because they start to see their reviews. And so at that point in time, then we then try and get the sales team involved. So we've built this really amazing model in the last maybe six months that's based on a whole lot of data way too smart for me to totally understand. I'm lucky I release smart data people that I work with. But it basically kind of looks at like, what are the tipping points that each of these categories where a category moves from, like nice to have to must have. Because once we you know, own the majority of Share of Voice for a certain category, let's say CRM software, then, you know, more buyers are coming to that category, because we're ranking number one for those terms. And because we're ranking for all those terms, more sellers are coming to our site. So yeah, it's kind of like an interesting sort of evolution for our model.
Andrew Michael 10:53
Yeah, so you've got a few different like loops playing into one another. That sort of fuel the growth It's interesting as well definitely like how you've aligned the team to the specific goal and focus. And Was that something like recent, like you said in the last six months or something that's been in place for quite a while.
Ryan Bonnici 11:11
It's something that's actually been in place for quite a while, the bigger difference was that they didn't all live in marketing. And I guess, you know, I think about marketing team as a bit more of like a growth team. To be honest, I think if you look at what we're doing, a small part of it is traditional marketing. And the majority of it is really growth marketing. Yeah. And so and so yeah, when I joined GE, to Gosh, SEO lived in product, content marketing lived in another team called research. Review generation also lived in research, because that was the team that basically was building the algorithm for our website, which was based off of the reviews, so naturally just kind of started there. And it wasn't until we already moved a few of those teams into marketing when I joined. And it wasn't really until the start of this Where we moved our revenue generation team into marketing as well. So now essentially marketing or growth owns all of like the marketplace leavers, except for sales. And obviously, we drive, you know, a good portion of marketing source of revenue. But we're essentially, you know, throwing that over the fence to the sales team. And then we're naturally looking at how that converts into revenue and what the retention looks like of said, revenue.
Andrew Michael 12:25
Nice. And then. So you mentioned as well, in the beginning, you operate very closely with product within these squads, and they're pretty similar to sort of like a growth team. Do you actually have engineers and PMS within them? Or is this like, pathway like your team would maybe collaborate with product to get something to change in product relationship? Okay.
Ryan Bonnici 12:45
Yeah, so we product really nicely mirrors my team. So in the same way that I have my growth squad set up, product has their PMS and their engineering squads set up in a really similar way. So my squad Essentially, I have counterparts on the product squads, and they work really closely together. yeah, so it's not like they're they own the outcome necessarily, like they don't control what the PM? Well, actually, they do control a good portion of what the product teams are driving for their squads, I would probably say around 50% of the product squads, goals and priorities will actually their goals entirely are aligned to ours, because we're not really necessarily setting the high level outcome, right, the company is, but I would say the actual actions typically maybe like a quarter to what the product squads are working on is directly near nothing. So, you know, an example would be, you know, my team that owns regeneration naturally, you know, needs a review form, right. And there is my reviews team really cares obviously, about the efficiency of that form, because if we can make it more efficient, then that will mean more reviews in the long term, but the actual form itself lives in product and so you know, any iterations that come to that part of our product or Completely driven by my team. Similarly even on, on like, if I think of like we have a seller squad. That's so on my side the seller squad is that b2b SaaS, you know, traditional marketing team and on the product side, it's the team that owns the back end of gt comm which is and when I say back end, it's called my jeetu. It's essentially what all of our customers and unpaid customers log into, when they want to reply to their reviews on their profile, or if they want to connect their buyer and the buyer intent data that comes from G to a lot of our customers now connect that up to their CRM so that they can proactively predict which customers are going to churn based on our intent data. So my team really works really closely with product and given my team is also the buyer of that technology. They're all SAS marketers, they're really closely aligned to that team and helping the product team better understand how does my tech look and feel how does sales tech look and feel? How should we you know, visualise dashboards within our products so that it aligns to the way that we know marketers and sales people think.
Andrew Michael 15:07
Nice. Can we rewind just a little bit, which you said is all because I found interesting was the how the product can be used for companies to be able to predict and get signals on if someone's likely to churn like, how does that work? Exactly? What are you doing behind the scenes for companies?
Ryan Bonnici 15:24
Yeah, sure. It's really cool part of our product. And what I love actually about it so much is that it was driven by our customers. So we released about it was it was around the time I joined, we released a product that was called buyer intent. And buyer intent, essentially, right. So I mentioned before we have, you know, millions and millions of buyers coming to the site, we have millions of reviews. We know a lot about the people that are coming to our site. We also know what their stocks look like, which is really interesting, right? So we know what tech HubSpot users we know what tech zoom as a company uses. And so when people from those companies come To our side, they have to login via LinkedIn or with a company email address. So we know we have this crazy graph of route or like identity graph around what a company uses. And that company could be a buyer and a seller or both, right? You know, you, you know, work. You're, you're an employee at Hot jar, I'm an employee at GE to, you know, we both have a sass component of our business, but we use sass as users, right? We, you know, we mentioned we're using zoom right now. So we just we realised that we had so much data on companies. And so we started to like, look at, okay, how can we start to, I guess, anonymize this data to a certain degree, so there's no personally identifiable information. But how could we then sell that to sellers that want to learn about who is looking at their products who is comparing hot jar to you know, one of your competitors and so we created this product as a as a way for sales teams and BDR teams, to be able to instead of buying lead lists, like email list that's so old school, right? Like, there's no indication that any of those companies want to buy your software other than they just fit the segment of who you sell to. We offer them a more real time version, which is buyer intent, which is literally companies looking at software like yours, or literally your software. And part of sort of the innovation of how that came about is we have a free product that we give to anyone that creates a seller account on our site, and it's our cookie. So you can put a cookie on your website. And that helps us show you how much of your traffic that's coming direct to your site, from social referral links organic, how much of it was on jeetu before it was on your side? Because what we started to see was that, you know, lots of companies were finding the companies that they were going to buy from from our site first. And so we wanted to show the attribution of like, Hey, you don't realise because, you know, a small portion of those people might directly be clicking through from G to zoom.us. Yeah, they're coming to our site. First. They're searching for video conferencing there. building that shortlist, and then maybe in a week's time they're coming to your site when they're ready to buy. So we have that product. And then we basically realised, hey, like, let's take that to the next level and actually help these sales teams and media teams really focus their energy. And what was really interesting was that we started to hear from some of our really kind of advanced customers, companies like drift and HubSpot, and IBM and Salesforce that use our buyer intent or they're saying, hey, just wanted to let you know, you know, we're kind of using your we're using a tool for how its intended. But we've also found a really cool use case, though, because they have it synced with their CRM, whether that's Salesforce or HubSpot, or whatever they're using. They can then build filters that say if this person is a customer, and that customer has bought our product in this category, so let's maybe use Salesforce as an example. They could set up a rule that says if a customer is on G two and owns our CRM product, and now is looking at the CRM category grid on G two.com. That is a Red flag that they aren't getting the value out of the CRM product that we sold them. So our most advanced customers are now building those intense signals into their own customer happiness index or their their own churn predictive models to then start to have not only, you know, usage data, because usage data is great and all and obviously, if someone's not using your product, right, they're eventually going to churn. Yeah, most likely, but there's obviously that doesn't tell you the whole story, right? And if when you actually see them going out and shopping around and comparing and looking at features and connecting your features to someone else, that's like a really, really clear signal that Whoa, Shawn is on the horizon. Like get on top of that now. Yeah. And so yeah, that was that's kind of where that came essentially.
Andrew Michael 19:51
And yeah, cuz definitely like this. I think trend is obviously a lagging metric. And you can look at things like usage but that only tells half the story because Alternatively, you can still be happy with the product and continue to use it because you're stuck as if you so
Ryan Bonnici 20:06
Yeah, exactly. And I mean, they also think the other part of it is like, someone might, you know, we use, I won't say any, any names. So but you know, we used a few different, a few different knowledge base pieces of software recently, we were using some overlapping software. And, and I never logged into one of these tools, but I loved it right. And so, you know, I think if you were that customer, you could think hey, wow, the decision maker for this tool isn't logging in. This is a bad sign. In fact, it wasn't a bad sign. It's just it's, it's not part of like my job really to be getting into the weeds in that tool. My team is creating all that documentation and sharing that with with sales. But typically, when I'm reviewing that content, I'm reviewing it in Google Docs before it ever gets to the knowledge base. Excuse me, so. So that's really interesting. The other kind of cool thing that came out of all of this that we started to realise was we acquired a company About a year ago called sift three, and C three was similar to G two, but they had this really amazing product called I forget what it was called now now it's called g two track. And it basically allows you to track all of your software spent as a company. And so we were using a few different pieces of overlapping technology recently. And we were coming up to a renewal. So jeetu track, it's a free tool that has a paid component if people want to use it. But it basically allows you it's got this feature called pulse surveys. So when a renewals coming out coming up, track automatically reads your contract and will like work out if it's an auto renewal or if it's not, and based on the time period of renewal, it will send a survey out to all the users of the tool and it'll ask them how they find the tool. And so we were getting really close to like renew on this piece of software, one of the two knowledge bases that I mentioned, and naturally right with everything going on in the economy right now finance team is like, Hey guys, like if there's ever any software that you can consolidate, like YOLO, like now is the time to consolidate. And so I was like, yep, like, we're gonna renew, like, the team loves this software, I love this software. And then I looked at the pulse of a data, my IT guy sent it. And it was horrible sales, who is the main user of this tool wasn't using it, and they were using the other piece of tool. And so that just was a really kind of objective way for us to work out like, okay, like we are now in fact, going to turn from one of these tools, and it was our own tool that kind of helped us realise that which is really interesting.
Andrew Michael 22:36
And that is pretty cool. Because I think is really interesting. It's come up on the show question a few times, I think is how many, how much of like, customers that companies have in SAS businesses actually dormant where nobody's really using the tool, but you just keep paying it and like you said, like, in this case, like making assumptions that you are loving the tool, everyone's using it, but ultimately, it's, you know, deriving the value from it. I think it's definitely a missing step. In the market to try and understand, like, what percentage of products are being painful but not being used? Yeah, absolutely. It will be fucking doing actually.
Ryan Bonnici 23:09
Yeah. And that's why I'm a massive fan of like slacks model, right? It's based out of usage. And so they like your average number of users and then stop charging, you know, based on that. And, and that doesn't work for all businesses, I guess. But I personally as a buyer, and as a user, I think that's just the most humane and the most honest way. It's also great because it incentivizes the whole team around creating a really great product that people want to use as,
Andrew Michael 23:34
yeah, absolutely, I think actually was Netflix recently as well, not to the same degree that slack is genuine and shut up. But they also think that they automatically cancel your subscription, if you haven't logged in for a year. And they want to make sure that you actually using the product, I think like more and more companies may be moving in this direction as well as really aligning that, like the payment with the value. And yeah, you're not getting value added products. Don't pass And I think like with that you build trust and transparency. But at the same time, you want to best catch 22 scenarios where you, you want to use that as to fuel the growth as well and get to the point of readiness as well. So,
Ryan Bonnici 24:12
and I would say it's not just like trust and transparency. But I think internally, it builds predictability for your business right in your own revenue. Because if you're relying on unpredictable, Predictable Revenue like that, that is going to change because you're not getting a value. Like you're kind of setting yourself up for failure, or you're setting yourself up to miss your goals in the future.
Andrew Michael 24:31
Yeah, makes a lot of sense. And definitely, I think it's one of those things even with COVID, where it's sort of accelerated the inevitable. So like in your case, like you're probably going to turn from their product at some point. But when COVID came around, they're just sort of, Okay, this is a wake up call. We're not using that. Let's get rid of it. So it's scenarios like this so unpredictable, that sort of, you wake up one day and then you have a big hole and you wonder where it was gone. Now, so the next thing is what you mentioned is From the perspective of your team, the one that operates a bit more on enterprise sort of side of things with sales and delivering leads to sales and cures. And one of those goals is retention. You mentioned, I think, for this team, how do you go about sort of setting these targets for the team? What are the actual goals that you have in mind when you're driving leads through the door for them?
Ryan Bonnici 25:21
Yes, I mean, that's certainly something that we've really focused on more recently, if I'm fully honest, and I think part of that is because we have, we have quite a, depending on our segment, we have a longer sales cycle for our enterprise segments. And and so I think, you know, it took us a bit of time to get enough data and enough and enough leads and then mq ELLs and then opportunities and then customers to start to really refine, I guess, our our lead scoring and our account scoring and just how we think about, you know, what is the best fit lead for us in the future. And so, you know, that's something that I think we're still you know, very early on. On in the journey of but for us really what it comes down to is looking at, ultimately, who are the people that are coming through the funnel. And when, you know, we look back at, you know, 12 months time and you know, 24 months time we start to see you know which of those different sources, which of those different segments are actually retaining and becoming high users of the platform. And so I say early on, my team was really much more compensated on driving just a net new pipeline for the business. And now, as you know, as revenue has grown significantly, you know, it's not just important for us to drive net new revenue, but also to make sure that that revenue that we're generating actually retains and so, you know, long term revenue is really how I think about measuring that team's success. There's a few other things that we look at. So I'd say like the revenue, you know, is the lagging metric, right? We, that team's really responsible for making sure that you people are getting usage and have high quality usage out of the tools whether there are costs Not so I kind of think of it as like a freemium. It's not a technical issue, I guess technically it is a freemium funnel. So we you know, you can, you can be a seller on G two.com, you can come, you can claim your profile. You don't have to pay JT for anything, you can update your logo, your description, you can respond to reviews. And so we have a lot of free customers, right, that are using the platform and aren't paying. And so it's my team's job. And this is where it kind of like overlaps of product in some senses. But we're really lucky that our product team allows my marketing team to instal lots of apps on the back end of our tools so that we can control the in app experience to drive CTAs and upsells and cross sells. But it's important, I guess, to get my team thinking about like, what are the different aspects of the map that is our sell our product, and how do we make sure that, you know, a freemium user of our tool is, you know, using all of the free components and then how do we get them to try out some of the Paid components. And we've done a bunch of testing around, you know, do we give them 100% of the free product for a month? Or do we give them unlimited access to the product in a limited capacity. And we've found so far that the limited capacity example works better. Because it It allows him to not just get that for a short period of time. And I find what happens in a lot of those 30 day trials when you do a premium to kind of freemium to premium upgrade, is if something uses life and they're busy and another project take they they run out of time in that project, and then they don't actually get to use the full Valley. So we actually have found that giving them like the product for free indefinitely but only like but limiting the amount of data they can get. So we give buyer intent away for free but we only give I think, you know a handful of companies every day. So if you want to keep accessing that tool and getting value out of it, you have to keep coming back. And every time you come back you see a big fat CTA that says like, Hey upgrade for unlimited access, linking it to your CRM and so that teams can have much more responsible than for those leading engagement metrics within the tool, even if they're an unpaid user. And then they would try and push them from an unpaid user into a paid funnel whereby they would raise their hand and schedule time with a salesperson and then move through the traditional sales funnel.
Andrew Michael 29:20
So it definitely sounds like you're operating very much like a growth team with all the different initiatives that you've got going on and working towards. Overall, I think you reminded me as well of a really interesting episode I think we had with Jenna Vesta from where they also started out with a 30 day trial. And then they said, Why do we have 30 days? Like, let's shorten it, they cut it to 15. And they found conversion increased. And then they said, Well, what happens if we cut it even further, and they cut it, I think, to seven days and conversion increase, and then it was sort of diminishing returns. But then what they did on the flip side of that was exactly as you said, like, people are busy. They don't always have time to take advantage of a trial. But what they did was if you had taken key actions within the app, they To extend the trial for X amount of days, so depending on those actions, they want to drive and get the users to use that we're giving them more an extension
Andrew Michael 30:08
And it's probably one of the best onboarding like sort of stories I've heard so far on the show and definitely, like see much success for them. So, yeah. But it's using like onboarding, to drive those corrections that you want to see, and then ultimately taking into those upsell paths and becoming customer. Cool. So I have a question that I asked everyone that joins the show. I want to ask you as well, obviously. So let's imagine a hypothetical scenario. Now. You join in your company, you arrived at this company, General retention has not been great. And the CEO wants to try to turn things around. He is given a timeframe of three months to sort of see some results. And he's asked you to take the challenge on what would you want to be doing these first 90 days to try and turn things around for the company. I mean, I
Ryan Bonnici 30:58
love data. So I think For me, the first and most important thing I would be doing is diving into everything that they have data on and better understanding what the funnels look like today. I think alongside doing that, because I think that will help me that'll help support my arguments. I think separate to that, though. It's like actually using the tool. And I think, you know, if you have been hired to do that job, you probably know what a good user experience looks like on a website, you probably know what a good onboarding experience looks like, you know, what a good onboarding experience looks like. And so I would be digging deep into kind of my own experience there as well as looking at all of the competitors in the space. I'm like a massive fan of not reinventing the wheel. I think, too many people try and like, focus on the data and then dream up all the big ideas and actually, like some of the easiest things to do is actually just go out to all of the companies that are in a similar space to your company, how do they you know, create a really engaging experience. Right. So like one of the things that when I took this on at GE to one of the things that I did really quickly was I went to, I went to like I think it's called porch calm and it's like porch i think is like a, it's a, it's a marketplace where you can kind of get connected to people that can help you fix things around your house. You know, Zillow is obviously a rental in a home buying marketplace. And I went to all of those sites and looked at how they, you know, attracted me and then how they converted me through and one of the things that I was so impressed that Zillow did, which I loved was and it helped us kind of understand a problem that we were facing that was that when you go on Zillow, so a good example of this is the house that I'm in right now. I bought it I was on vacation with a with my wife and we were at a friend's house. I was thinking to myself, well like I would love to have a house near them in Michigan. That'd be really nice to like, you know, get away on the weekend from Chicago. And so I found a place on Zillow. I started and literally a second later I get an SMS and it's like, hey, the realtor is ready to chat to you about like The home that you're interested in, and that's complete and utter BS. Like if the realtor wasn't ready, Zillow calls you automatically they then use a recorded and connected line and then they proactively connect you with the realtor and the realtor knows that like when their phone number rings, like it's someone from Zillow, and they need to answer it quickly. And if they don't answer it, they'll go to another house seller and, and I and it just literally like four weeks later, like we moved into our house, outside house in Michigan. And I was like, wow, like this process that like, I wasn't planning on just happens so fast. And but if it wasn't for the SMS, I wouldn't have like, I wouldn't have been in that mindset of like, we need a house in Michigan, right to the point where I would have visited it so quickly. And after that SMS, I literally visited a house like 60 minutes later, it was wild how fast it was. And so I think by just like going through those experiences of looking at other marketplaces and seeing how they convert people and that kind of learning that I had with Zillow helped us solve some of the challenges we Sometimes when we send a lead to a seller, so sometimes someone will come to jeetu. And they'll request a demo on our site to be connected to a Salesforce or a HubSpot. And sometimes like the sales reps that those teams don't respond as quickly to the leads that come through jeetu. Because it comes to them via an email if they don't have it integrated with their CRM. And if they're not looking at their emails, and they're just looking at a lead list in Salesforce, they won't kind of be as up to date. And so it was kind of hurting our conversion rate. And so we then did more testing and kind of integrated telephony into into the system. And it helped dramatically by just directly calling the BDR sales line automatically for the person that was buying so so I'd say like, sorry, that's a really fucking long way to answer your question. But I would say it's like a combo of like looking at the data and really understanding the conversion from top to bottom, and by my main retention, and then while you were doing that, like there will be some glaring things that you We'll just see when you actually get into the funnel. And so I think it's like a little bit of art and a little bit of science to be honest. And then I think you just iterate from there.
Andrew Michael 35:08
Absolutely. You said a couple of things that I really liked in that as well. I think the one thing obviously was like, with Zillow, that experience like that really fast. process. I think you work. Did you work with Mark Wahlberg at HubSpot at all? Or did you overlap? I think we really love to be Yeah, we recently interviewed him and one of the core metrics that he found as well, like for his experience with all from the sales perspective is really that initial time to contact like once the customers like made that thing like the exponential returns like as to time as the case like, you've just almost lost that after an hour. So like, having that immediacy and having that content like is so huge for conversion. The other thing I thought you were going to say though, and Zillow was one of the things I was thinking in my mind afterwards. Similar to us. You don't buy a house every day, and you don't buy software every day. So I think like That's also one of the things like, How do you stay top of adding new customers? How can you build a frequency to create a habit around your product? And I think Zillow does a really good thing with zestimate or whatever, or whether that's an you're keeping fresh in your mind. Like, how do you view this at? due to like, what are some of the things you're trying to do to stay relevant and up to date? And I guess maybe slightly different because you buy software a little bit more frequently, but still not to the same thing with like a daily habits or like a weekly or monthly even sometimes.
Ryan Bonnici 36:29
Yeah, I'd say there's like probably two parts of that. So the first thing that I noticed when I joined when I was looking at our funnel, I did you know what any kind of like average marketer does, they kind of do like a bit of a content mapping exercise, right? Where I look at like, what is what are the different stages of the buyers journey and you know, how does our website our content, our product offer solutions to those things and what I found was that, you know, we would clearly like the number one when it came to like, when you knew what you wanted. If you knew you needed CRM software, we were number one there, our CRM category ranked number one. And then when you then you would then go from there and learn about Salesforce and HubSpot, and all of the other CRMs out there. And what I realised was that like, and I kind of knew this in intuitively, but I think once I dug into the numbers I it was it showed me much more as that, you know, for every person that knows they need CRM software, like there's 50 X the number of people that that have the problems that CRM software can solve, but they're searched. They're not in that journey yet where they realise they need CRM software, right. So they may be searching for things like, you know, sales, territory planning, or like, you know, sales, email templates, those sorts of things rather indicate like they're they they're indicating the need, and they're a salesperson. And so really quickly, I built a pretty big content team to address the top of the funnel at jeetu and That's been a big part of what helped us go from, you know, our blog traffic was, was, gosh, it was less than I think it was less than like 50,000 visitors a month. And now our blog itself drives you know, two and a half million visitors a month so and then we push people from that blog when they're learning about like, you know, sales territory management into the different CRM tools that can help them plan their sales territories, right. So So content was a big one as part of like, pulling them in when they don't realise they need software because yeah, you're right. The other part of it, which is something that we bought recently and it wasn't, we only did it really we we we didn't only just do it recently because we thought of the idea now we did it recently because we had some technological challenges. But essentially now we we are doing a good a better job at so if you've ever left a review on jitsu, now you'll get you know, a weekly or a monthly email that says hey, you know you've left x many reviews on j two, this is the number of buyers that you have helped by Said software, here are the discussions that people asked you. And, you know, so we're basically like showing them the value of the content, the UGC that they've created on our site. And we see those emails, you know, convert exponentially better than our previous emails at driving the outcome that we want. And in that instance, the outcome is we want them to come back and update their review or leave a new review. So by showing them the people that we're impacting, it's helped us and to be honest, that kind of came from it. Like I'm a big Google Maps user. And whenever I go somewhere, I always write the place. And I get a really slick email from Google once a month. And it says like, Hey, Ryan, here's your timeline of all the places you went to. And here are like, here are all the reviews you'll love to hear how many people you help so again, just like stealing and copying what other great companies are doing that's like my favourite thing to do in marketing is like stealing other people's ideas and, and applying them to our well because I think that's just the quickest way to win.
Andrew Michael 40:00
Yeah, I love that internet as well as not only like looking at your direct competitors, but really outside of your space. What are people doing? Well, I think Julie Hogan from drift in the customer success team what they do as well was I think they went to was like Marriott or Hilton or one of the big hotel chains and they're obviously very big on service and services in gaming they actually bought like people in front there to help them educate the team on what service means to them and like getting in selected stealing ideas from other lovers or other space to bring I went to
Ryan Bonnici 40:31
I went to the can the can lions festival last year in the south of France and and you know, that festival is predominantly for b2c marketers, right, and b2c ad agencies. But it was exactly what you were just talking about, like I wanted to not be in my world with my people I wanted to be learning from, you know, amazing CMOS like Fernando Machado who is does he run he's a CMO. Burger King over Burger King companies. And he just does. He is like the king of social media when it comes to like doing crazy, edgy campaigns. I don't know if you remember that Walmart was like, go to McDonald's and ask for a whopper. And I think you were like you had to share that on social media. And then you would get a free Whopper when you went to Burger King restaurant. And he just is like the king at that. And so I learned so much from these other just remarkable b2c marketers that I would have never have learned if I just looked at our competitors, because our competitors aren't doing any of this stuff.
Andrew Michael 41:32
Yeah, yeah. And I think like sometimes you just sort of get tunnel vision when you focus in on this specifically like sauce industry and looking to what everyone else is doing in copycats. And then I love just having a fresh perspective. It's gonna be a good reminder to keep doing it as well, because I think Yeah,
Ryan Bonnici 41:48
yeah, and the last thing I'd probably say on like the retention front up because we talked a little bit about sort of that b2b team on my team and how they generate leads and then kills and we look at sort of the lifetime value and we basically account like $1 value two leads now based on what we know about how they will convert in the future. One of the things that I found and we I kind of learned this at HubSpot actually was that, you know, back when I was at HubSpot, we were spending about Gosh, a quarter of a million dollars a month on cap Tara, thinking that it was driving really good quality leads for our business. And I think I want to say we did this for about like a year I'm embarrassed to say that now. But it wasn't until we did a massive analyses of all of our leads in the lead sources that we actually realise what we thought we were getting, we thought we were getting a really good CPL and or a good really good CPA. But ultimately, those leads were churning at a freakin dramatic rate. And so actually, the true CPA or the true CPL was horrendous. And so really quickly, we stopped doing any of our cap Tara lead gen. And that was around the time that jeetu was reaching out to me and I was like, Oh, I like that you guys don't go down this dirty lead game that kept Jared has So,
Andrew Michael 43:01
yeah, so what you're saying as well like trying to understand the LTV by channel and like that really helps you sort of understand where you want to be investing and doubling down on as well.
Ryan Bonnici 43:11
Yeah, hundred percent.
Andrew Michael 43:12
Nice. It's been a pleasure chatting, I'm sure we could go on for the next hour as well. But let's see, we have fun time. Is there any sort of Final Thoughts you'd like to leave the listeners with anything that should be aware of or to keep up to date with what you're working on?
Ryan Bonnici 43:24
No, I mean, if the SAS marketer and they're listening, you know, I would say if you're not on G to totally
claim your page, respond to reviews. I'd also say, you know, if you're in a company right now, that's, you know, struggling financially and you're considering having to potentially layoff employees. we released our G to track product for free recently to help companies look at how they could reduce their software spend as a way to avoid reducing headcount spend. So, again, if you go to track g two.com, you can use that free tool that I mentioned that helped us kind of Find where we add overlapping technology that we didn't need and you can use that for free.
Andrew Michael 44:05
Awesome. I think it's a great gesture as well. And it's better given the software than human. So yeah. Ryan, it's been a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you so much and wish you best of luck now going forward.
Ryan Bonnici 44:17
Thanks so much, Andrew, you too. Thanks for having me.
Andrew Michael 44:19
A new episode every week
We’ll send you one episode every Wednesday from a subscription economy pro with insights to help you grow.
My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.
In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.