Unlocking the Secrets of Acquiring Your Ideal Customers

Meg Gowell


Director of Growth Marketing


Meg Gowell
Meg Gowell

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Meg Gowell, the Director of Growth Marketing at Appcues.

In this episode, Meg shares her experience in understanding and acquiring the ideal customer profile.

She discusses the importance of knowing what "good" looks like in your customer base and using conversion data to optimize ad campaigns.

Meg also talks about the process of defining the ideal customer profile and leveraging organic content to drive paid strategy. Furthermore, she explains how Appcues uses lead scoring and conversion tracking to work together with their sales team for effective pipeline management.

Tune in to learn more about unlocking the secrets of acquiring your ideal customer profile with Meg Gowell.

As usual, I'm excited to hear what you think of this episode, and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly at Andrew@churn.fm. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.

Atomic Habits

Mentioned Resources



Good conversion data drives success00:03:30
Understanding your ideal customer profile00:05:12
Take a step back to look forward00:09:30
Paid strategy tailored to organic content00:17:23
Conversion tracking is crucial00:21:02
Qualified page views improve ad efficiency00:23:01
Aligning marketing and sales collaboration00:27:45
Understanding customer behavior is crucial00:35:29


00:00:00 Meg Gowell:  The number one thing that I have seen make a difference is really, really good conversion data. So the better job you can do giving ad platforms really specific signals on the type of people you want, the better you're going to do performing well in terms of ad campaigns and getting the right people in the door. 

00:00:16 VO: How do you build a habit-forming products? And you saw this different… Don't just gun for revenue in the door.

00:00:23 Andrew Michael: This is Churn.FM, the podcast for subscription economy pros. Each week we hear how the world's fastest growing companies are tackling churn and using retention to fuel their growth.

00:00:36 VO: How do you build a habit-forming products? We crossed over that magic threshold to negative churn. You need to invest in customer success. It always comes down to retention and engagement. Completely bootstrap, profitable, and growing. 

00:00:49 Andrew Michael: Strategies, tactics and ideas brought together to help your business thrive in the subscription economy. I'm your host, Andrew Michael, and here's today's episode.

00:01:00 Andrew Michael: Hey Meg, welcome to the show. 

00:01:02 Meg Gowell: Thanks, I'm excited to be here. 

00:01:03 Andrew Michael: It's great to have you. For the listeners, Meg is the director of growth marketing and Appcues, a B2B startup that empowers non-technical users to design and serve personalized on-brand product experience to the end users. So let's get started with a quick overview of your current role in Appcues. As the director of growth marketing, what are you responsible for?

00:01:23 Meg Gowell: Yeah, so it's kind of a wide group of things. One of my biggest focuses is our kind of paid acquisition side. So driving new users, new business. I have a pipeline target that I'm tied to as well as an inbound lead target that I'm tied to. And then I also manage everything to do with conversion rate optimization. Both on page as well as working with sales to rethink offers that we have throughout the conversion process. And then I do a lot of cross-functional work with our product team in terms of our free trial and how we're kind of optimizing that to convert more users into paying customers. So a bit of everything. And then also just general in the marketing team, we're a very collaborative team. So a lot of times we'll jump in on different areas that maybe aren't our direct focus.

00:02:08 Andrew Michael: And this was exactly one of the reasons I thought would be interesting to chat to you today a topic we haven't touched on a whole lot on the show is really talking about, like the very first stage. I think we're actually churn can start and retention is really understanding who are the users that we're acquiring and how we go about doing that. And I've seen that's been a big part of your roles and responsibility at Appcues is really understanding like are we acquiring our ideal customer profile. And how can we ensure that we have a certain level of quality of users that we're driving through the door? So today I'd love to dive into that into your process to understand a little bit how you go about doing this, how you go about understanding. And maybe you can just give us a little bit of an overview of this specific topic. So where do you get started? Like let's say today I'm running ads, but I'm just doing a really crappy job. What would be some of the first areas that you would want to come in and take a look and advise to change?

00:03:07 Meg Gowell: Yeah, so I think the first thing really is understanding what good looks like from your customer base, right? So that's looking at your current customers and identifying, as you said, that ideal customer profile, what is it that I'm looking for? And that's both from a graphic things as well as behavioral, like what kind of behavior these customers exhibit, what are their problems? And then from the paid side, I think that there's a lot of talk about structuring things perfectly and great ad creative and making sure you're changing it and all that stuff can't have value. But from my background on the agency side, the number one thing that I have seen make a difference is really, really good conversion data. So the better job you can do giving ad platforms really specific signals on the type of people you want, the better you're going to do performing well in terms of ad campaigns and getting the right people in the door. So that's finding ways to make sure you're identifying not just anybody who raises their hands, but the people that you want to raise their hands. 

00:03:58 Meg Gowell: A lot of times that means things like maybe personalized thank you pages, so you can have a tracking picture on different ones, depending on who they are and stuff like that. So you can really identify at the moment of conversion, like this is what good looks like, give me more of these, right? And that's going to be the biggest thing that's going to drive your campaigns kind of performing better and starting to optimize and grow over time. So when I come in, I usually try to figure out that internally, what do we think? What do we think good looks like? And then does the data match up to that? So does the customer retention data match up to what maybe the marketing team wants our ICP to be? Maybe that is our ICP, maybe it's not. Let's make sure that the data kind of matches our dream there. And then how can we go find people who look like that? And how can we really show all of our acquisition programs, all the paid stuff, all the algorithms? That's what they want to see. They really need to see what good looks like, which can be really hard in B2B because the numbers are so much smaller than B2C. A lot of my background is actually much more B2C. And I think the first thing I've realized is like, wow, when the numbers are smaller, it gets a lot harder to have enough data to really give that signal back.

00:05:03 Andrew Michael: So you pretty much laid it all out. And now I think we need to go a little bit deeper and unpack a lot of what you said, because there's a lot of great stuff there. You said the first step really is understanding what does good look like and what are our ICP that's looking at data. You mentioned things like looking at thermographic and usage behavioral data as well. Maybe talk us through a little bit about that early analysis and how that goes. Who are you talking to within the team and the company? Are you setting certain sort of criteria when you're looking at your audience and to define this ICP? Let's go a little bit deeper on the data and defining side.

00:05:41 Meg Gowell: Yeah. So I was lucky when I started with AppCues that actually a lot of work around our ICP had happened kind of right a little bit before I was starting. So I didn't have to do as much of the initial stage work there. A lot of that was driven by our product marketing team. We look at retention. What do these customers look like? And the main thing we found is we do best with B2B customers as opposed to B2C. Part of the reason for that has to do with how many end users they have, how many are identified, so things like that. Realizing, okay, what does your product do and what makes it the most efficient? What use of it makes it the most efficient for people that can really help. So from there, that's, I think, where they really got started on the ICP of what type of businesses are we going after? And then in terms of size, that kind of came down to what's our price point? Do we think it's reasonable for a five-person business to be able to afford us? Maybe not. And then also, what are our goals? That's kind of balancing how quickly we can sell into something, right? An enterprise company that's really big, it's going to take a really long time to sell and maybe we just don't have that muscle internally, so why go after it? So some of it was efficiency-focused. 

00:06:53 Meg Gowell: And then on the behavior side, that's something that I think we're still working on now. And that's something that I kind of looked at more as I came in. What kinds of behaviors do people exhibit when they get into our trial? And then what kinds of behaviors do really good customers exhibit? So some things are, how often are they logging in? How often are they creating new experiences? And how many people from their team are in? A big part of Appcues is we're all about products like growth as a team sport. You should have a lot of people in here looking at things. And not that it needs to be too many cooks in the kitchen, but everyone needs to be bought in. And so we've realized that the more we can see everyone's bought in, the more likely it is you're going to be able to keep buying us over time. And less likely it is that if one champion leaves, we lose you completely, right? And so things like that are signals that we've kind of looked at over time, just kind of tracking different behavioral metrics against long-term retention. 

00:07:48 Andrew Michael: Very nice. And so interesting, you said like early days, product marketing before you arrived, had sort of done some of this initial analysis, taking a look at thermographic properties and demographic properties, understanding what do they make up? What do these companies and things look like? I think one of the interesting, we also did a similar exercise at Hot Jar in the early days. And we put together a similar analysis, trying to look at retained customers, we set criteria for ourselves. So we said those that had retained for longer than 12 months and had a certain level of monthly spend. We considered those to be like an ideal customer profile. We also similarly did later on behavioral data. So that said they needed to do X, Y or Z activity as well, because we wouldn't want to make sure that they're actually getting value from the product. And they're not just dormant. And from there, we sort of had an understanding, like you sort of narrowed down in your case, which was like, I'm guessing medium-sized businesses, B2B, SaaS predominantly perhaps, and getting a little bit more specific on those elements. We did a similar case. And the one of the things I found fascinating as well, and like it only occurred like a year or two later, once we had done this initial analysis was we were working with an external consultant and they came to us and like, oh, this is fantastic what you guys have done. 

00:09:03 Andrew Michael: But what you have in the ICP that you've defined is a direct result of the marketing that you've done and the product that you've built up until today. And it may not necessarily represent the best opportunity for your business. And if you think about it as well, like now you've defined this ICP and what you're going on now is you're creating ads to target this ICP and then product is thinking about the product they're going to build for this ICP. And it seems like the most obvious thing to do. And I think at the early stage it is, but as soon as you get to a certain level of scale, I think there comes a time where you need to actually take a step back and say, “Okay, we're not only looking at what we have today and what we've done up until now, but let's take a look at like, where is the market going? How is it moving? Where is the opportunity going to be like two years, five years from now? And are we going in that right direction? Are we meeting it or are we drifting apart?” And yeah, I just always found that interesting. Because it was one of those moments where I was like, shit, we sort of had our blinders on and like it made so much sense, but sometimes also good to take a step back. But I guess it's the stage.

00:10:03 Meg Gowell: Yeah. No, and I think we're even doing some of that now. In terms of thinking about like when I came in, it was very much like, okay, we speak to PMs, like that's who we talk to. And we're like, “Okay, but do we always?” And like who comes in the door first? That's a big question we've had recently of like, who is starting the trial first? Is it the person who's going to be building? Or is it the person who's going to be signing off? And the general theory is like the person who's building an app queue is like that end user, right? Is the person who's going to sign up be interested? And so a lot of our content is for that person because we want to get them in the door. But recently we've found a couple cases where we're like, okay, but sometimes maybe like a CEO or a VP happens to see us, signs up, and then forwards the email onto the PM and is like, go figure this out. And then we mostly just talk to the PM. But we sometimes miss that early touch point with the decision maker that we think is really interesting. 

00:10:51 Meg Gowell: So we're trying to do more around that and better understand like as, and this is, you know, comes down to the questions you asked during sign up of like, how can we better understand as someone comes in the door? Like what kind of experience they need? What are they looking for? Like, are they looking for like, what is time to value look like for them? Because what is value for them? It's different for different people, right? Like, regardless of what you do. So we've been looking a lot at that. And then we've also been looking a lot at that, like, you know, bird's eye view down the road, five to 10 years, like, what is it that makes our product something that is hard to turn from that is hard to get rid of? And that means integrating, we think, with more things. And so we've really put in a push to increase our number of integrations and to like increase the awareness around them. Because the more things that we're connected to, the more data we have, more you can do with Appcues, and the harder it is down the line to get rid of us if we're integrated with everything else that she is.

00:11:40 Andrew Michael: So absolutely. Going on then from there. So you've defined this now, you've got a good grasp of who your customers are, who you're trying to target. You mentioned as well that specifically, like in B2B space, it is a little bit more challenging finding these users. How do you go about sort of setting out the strategy from a paid perspective of understanding, okay, which channels do we want to start going after? How do we start testing? Is it sort of like a spray and pray across the board? Do you have any concentrated efforts for your testing and then iterating? What does your process look like?

00:12:14 Meg Gowell: Yeah. So I was very lucky starting with app use because they had a huge bank of content and they had a huge organic search and it's been a huge inbound channel for us for years. And that's partially due because they've just committed to it for so long. They've had that investment there. Great when I started because it meant that I could test a few more paid things. They were not putting as much money or time into paid. And so it meant I could test paid while still having this channel that I knew I could count on to perform and like to bring me leads every month. And that was great. And then obviously all this new stuff with Google search has been happening, which means that this channel that we have that's like this bedrock, all of a sudden we have to kind of rethink. And so I think that that's a big challenge. I know a lot of people are facing, saw something on LinkedIn the other day. It was like it used to be this flex to be like, oh, 70 to 80% of my inbound volume is from organic. And it's not anymore. This is a liability now. We need to rethink it. 

00:13:09 Meg Gowell: So when I started, I was able to really start looking at the channels we were running at the time, which was Google search, display, and then a little bit on paid social, Facebook and LinkedIn, and look for opportunities to make them more efficient and potentially to put more money into them. But B2B is pretty expensive. And so it was hard to really justify costs until we could really get stuff rolling. And I think we're still working on that in some ways. And the main thing that I did was kind of do a better map between inbound volume and kind of close one business and see if we could better see the points along, the touch points along that journey. We don't have perfect attribution. I don't think anybody does. So I'm sure that we are missing things. So there's that balance between science and art, so to speak, of like, this is what I'm seeing in the data. But I also like you have this gut feeling as a marketer, right? Of some things that you see that you're like, I know that this is having an impact. I just know it. And sometimes the only way to test it, right, is to turn it off and turn it on, kind of like TV buys. And so we've done a tiny bit of that. Most of it not on purpose. 

00:14:15 Meg Gowell: But sometimes things happen that are fortuitous and that kind of let you learn something. And so there was a little bit of spray and pray to new channels, but I had this channel that I already knew that was going to perform well, which was organic. So that let me kind of test without the concern of meeting monthly lead volume goals. And then over time, we were able to identify basically display that surprisingly was not performing as well as we wanted to. So we were able to prune a lot of that back, put it into channels that were performing better just from a closed one business perspective, even if it wasn't maybe the cost per lead wasn't there. But we knew we were getting some of that TV awareness on top of actually directly attributed leads. And then I had to cut budget quite significantly at the beginning of this year. So that was, yes, that was a tough one where it was nice because it meant that I got to make the bets that I thought we needed to. And I got to do it because it was a business necessity, right? I got to say, “Okay, this isn't performing. I need to cut something. And so I'm just going to cut this and we're just going to commit to it.” And that was great. 

00:15:17 Meg Gowell: And now I think we're getting to the point of starting to experiment a little bit more again and invest more in specific things that we think are going to have long term, long term impact and also kind of support the loss of organic over time. So those are things like, like LinkedIn, we've really started investing more in LinkedIn and more in presenting our content in new ways via LinkedIn, right? If someone's not going to find us via organic search, it's not like we don't still have all of that great content. It's not like we haven't spent years researching and things like that, but how can we share this content in other ways that will still make an impact that we can still get in front of people? So that's a lot of the experimentation that we're doing now is trying to find more, I guess, like organic and some boosted paid sources of kind of doing organic, not the organic search. It's kind of how I'm thinking about it. And in terms of that, it's honestly hard. A lot of it's kind of hard to measure. A lot of it is just like, we know we need to start and we're going to need to have to see incremental gains over time. 

00:16:17 Andrew Michael: It's so interesting this, how things are evolving as well in the, what you call organic content. And like, I mean, if we think about it as well, Google is no different really to like a LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook, essentially. You've created this content and it's appearing there, but it's in a way, it's like you're sharing it with Google so they can access it and they can present it in their thing. And all of a sudden now things are changing and the rules are moving really rapidly and fast. And it's just like Facebook or Twitter deciding to change their algorithm all of a sudden. So I guess organic content was considered organic for so long, but is it really like a form of organic content or is it just more into like a social? Now you put it out there and you hope people are going to see it just like you put it on LinkedIn or Twitter or anywhere else. Super interesting. Your job must be incredibly difficult trying to figure this out. And the next thing is well then, so I was interested on this continued path. So on the paid side, you obviously had the virtue of having really a lot of content to start from, and you had a good idea of what was working on the content side. How did that play into the paid strategy then and how did you use those insights that you're perhaps gathering from your organic content to drive the paid strategy? 

00:17:30 Meg Gowell: Yeah, so I think understanding which organic content was performing best really helped tailor ad copy and ad messaging. So figuring out, okay, like obviously there are a ton of topics that we talk about that are related to a product and growth and product adoption and all of these things. But the one that people are really interested in and seems the most catchy is anything to do with onboarding. That is the big buzzword and we've seen that both in organic and then as we started to incorporate it more in paid, we saw it work really well. And then we've also seen a ton, I mean, I'm not the only, this is not like a new takeaway and hot take or anything, but using stats and being able to really show people the impact of things has made a big difference too. And so if we could figure out when we've been able to identify the content assets that are performing well and understand what's performing well about them, where is it people are spending time, what are they clicking on next, that's helped us tailor ad copy to match those similar topics. 

00:18:31 Meg Gowell: And then the challenge is writing it in 10 words rather than 2,000. But that's the part that I enjoy the most. But it's meant that I've worked a lot with our organic SEO person in terms of thinking back through that. We've also spent some time doing a little bit of testing around making paid ads almost look like organic search results in search and seeing if we can fake our way into getting more people to click or even also just providing more value. You think about the search results at the top of the page and they're like, “Oh, here's a landing page with our three value props and a button for you to go get a demo.” And then all the search results are like, you know, listicles with like a ton of information about the topic and the mismatch there is truly incredible. And so we've looked at ways of how can we make a landing page something that is actually valuable and informative to your question and not just, you know, a push to convert. So that's been kind of an interesting test to do over time as well.

00:19:25 Andrew Michael: Yeah, it's interesting. And I think as well, like thinking through in like specifically in search, you have like the add-ons that you can add to the search and add additional links. And traditionally, most people will just be doing things like pricing, about us, contact. That's just given me an idea, like maybe there's different ways you can experiment with that to create a different kind of experience for users that is more valuable. 

00:19:50 Meg Gowell: Yeah, no, and we haven't done it. We haven't done a ton of that. We've done a few things, like a few things that were like, okay, like the launch of Appcues is mobile, which is like, you know, it's our same product, right? Like it just means you can do it on both web and mobile apps. But it has meant that we've had to do some interesting things like that just to introduce it, but also kind of like give value over time. But I have not explored that further. That's an interesting one. 

00:20:13 Andrew Michael: Very nice. Well, I guess we'll both be exploring. I'll share some notes if I get to try. The next thing as well, so we've identified our ideal customer profile. We've developed a strategy for paid and we understand it as well. We've leveraged the knowledge we have from our inbound content. And now we've started to fill the top of the funnel. We're acquiring users. You mentioned a couple of things and one of those was like tracking and conversion tracking specifically. I'm interested to understand, like, what does that process look like for you when it comes to conversions? What are you tracking specifically and how are you feeding that back to Google, to LinkedIn or wherever else you're advertising? 

00:20:56 Meg Gowell: Yeah. So when we started, when I started rather, it was very much, you know, we're going to track trial signups, all of them. We're going to track all the demos. We're going to track anything, you know, any high value content download. And then we'll also use offline conversions to send, you know, opportunities created back to Google as well as we have a lead rating system. Internally, we use Madkudu for lead rating. And so that's kind of that quality signal for us. And when I came in, the first thing that I wanted that I still do not have fully implemented yet, we're still working on getting this through because it is non-trivial. I have to say conversion tracking is like the least sexy topic in terms of performance marketing, but I also think it's like one of the most valuable if you can really get it there. So where we're trying to get to is a better ability to identify in real time, the lead rating basically of a lead as it comes in and send that signal back to Google basically in real time. So that means like as a lead comes in, it's going to be scored immediately, which is scored pretty immediately, but it's not fast enough that we can have it pixeled with like the, in real time. So we have to use an offline conversion. But now we're going to be able to do that in real time, basically, which is going to make that feedback loop with the ad platforms a lot faster. And then the other problem right with conversions is you have not only sending a signal of true quality, but you also have the problem of getting enough volume. 

00:22:17 Meg Gowell: Because if you don't have enough volume, the campaigns can't really learn anything, right? And so sometimes because we don't get enough volume just in straight trial signups that are rated highly enough, we're taking a step back down the funnel, basically, it's page views. And so I've come up with this concept of basically like a qualified page view. So we're looking at all of the possible companies, so to speak, that would rate well, because our rating system is mostly from a graphic, it's not really persona based. So if we look at all of the companies that would rate well, we're working right now on creating a conversion for like if anyone from those companies visits the website, that is a signal that I can use in real time. And not that every campaign would be optimized based on that. But in terms of awareness campaign, that's the kind of thing that's going to make our ad spend a lot more efficient is being able to say, Yes, this is good, and I want more of this. And it can make our remarketing more efficient as well.

00:23:09 Andrew Michael: I love this. I love this. There's a few things to go back and dive into. So the the lead scoring using MadKudu for this, and I'm assuming obviously, there's some form of enrichment being done when somebody visits the sites, either through the signup form that they're filling in or through something like a clear bit. 

00:23:31 Meg Gowell: Clear bit, yep. 

00:23:32 Andrew Michael: Where you're understanding sort of the thermographic properties of this user, the company, the size and so forth. You mentioned earlier around your ICP. So you know what those variables are. And essentially, as somebody visits a site gets enriched, you measure that against what your ICP is, they get a score. And then you're sending that score back as sort of like a conversion metric back to Google or to other platforms with a weight?

00:23:57 Meg Gowell: Yeah, so it basically would be like, you know, funny people use page view as a conversion, depending on your campaign. So it's basically page view, but qualified, meaning like, good page view. 

00:24:08 Andrew Michael: Would you send it with a specific weight as well? So like, and you obviously have like, with the conversion, you have price and you can add that like, would you score the conversions back as well in that way? 

00:24:19 Meg Gowell: Yeah, so I think we're going to what we need in order to determine that first is we need a better idea of volume, which we don't know right now, really, we need to know how many of these people there are, right, so that we can get a better idea of like, we know the rate at which leads that are scored three. So we are scoring systems on one through four, four is the best. So threes and fours are basically considered good. So we know the conversion rate to close one of threes and fours. Taking a step back, right, we need to understand the pool of how many three and four visitors do we have, and then we can probably get a back of the napkin idea of what the value of a three or four page view would be. 

00:24:55 Andrew Michael: Yeah, super cool. And the next thing that I was also interested in, so like that's obviously page views and visitors, that's like a good quality sign of the traffic you're bringing. Are they a good fit again? So, and going back to the beginning, like the whole reason we're talking about this is if you're bringing the right customers through the door, and they're signing up, ultimately, you're going to retain them for longer. The next thing that you mentioned early on was around sort of the activity and the usage behavior that users were taking. Are you using any of that usage behavior to send back those signals then again to Google in terms of like when maybe perhaps when somebody becomes a customer, not only using thermographic properties, but also what they've done in the product to the score? Is that something that you're doing or on the roadmap? Or the volume is done? 

00:25:39 Meg Gowell: So we haven't done a ton of that yet. I will say once we start this integrations work we're doing will be interesting if we can have more of that happening in real time. Like, so I think over time as we add more integrations, the signup process is going to change, obviously. So what it is now is we try to get people building an Appcues and kind of like experiencing what it's like to build as fast as possible because that's kind of our activation moment and we have a very strong correlation between folks who've downloaded the builder to Chrome extension and folks who later buy. And so pushing people to that gets them to value, right? As we incorporate more integrations into the product, there is a lot more opportunity for you to pull in other data sources and for that to be valuable as well, right? To understand, okay, like how many users do I have? How many people could I target with something via app queues? What are ways I could target them? Things like that. So I think at that point we maybe would, we haven't road mapped it yet, but it would be interesting to think about like other behavioral indicators that we could use to better kind of show what good looks like over time, so to speak. 

00:26:44 Andrew Michael: Yeah, I love that. And I 100% agree as well on terms of like the best thing you can really do for platforms is feed them this conversion data and let them know what it looks like. Because maybe like five years ago, you could have had like a much better chance of feeding some data and optimizing your campaigns in a specific way and beating the algorithm if you like inverted comments. But it's just got to the point where like all of these channels are so incredibly good at optimizing their campaigns. And I previously had a startup which we try to make Facebook ads stupidly simple before it wasn't stupidly simple. And at some point we went to like a Facebook developers conference and they basically said to us like, it's pretty futile you trying to optimize your ads anymore on Facebook. Just like give us the conversion data and like we outperform almost anything and everything that people try on these systems. 

00:27:33 Andrew Michael: So spending the time like you're doing really to try and understand how can we best send this data in a structured manner so that we can let them know what we're looking for in a better way. I think it's fantastic and aligning it like your ICP and the structure there and then scoring that and then sending it through is brilliant. So what does this look like then at the end of the day? So you've managed now to acquire really good fit customers. How then does this translate as well? I think Appcues is a product led approach as well. I'm assuming you have a self-serve model. I've used it before myself but you also have a sales team. So how does Ural interact in with sales? And obviously there's like the concept of marketing qualified lead and then it starts like a discussion of sales qualified lead. I'm assuming your relationship is much much better with sales like with a strong focus on delivering quality but how do you work together with sales?

00:28:34 Meg Gowell: Yeah so I have to say that that's something when I was looking at roles I guess I was interviewing a little over a year ago because I've only been at Appcues for about a year. And I was looking for a place where the relationship between marketing and sales was positive. I did not want to go into something where I was going to need to like do a lot of work to kind of create trust between the two. And I'm really lucky that you know we work very well with sales team. There's a huge commitment from my boss VP of marketing and making sure that connection is really good. And I work very closely with sales leadership as well and some individual sales reps too. And so we actually don't really have the same concept of an MQL and SQL. This is not like me telling people they shouldn't do it. We just do it slightly differently. And we are using this lead rating system to basically get to kind of an SQL. And the cool thing about it is that it is done automatically. And so we previously when I first started all these were manually rated by reps. Which meant that if I wasn't hitting my number I would go to individual reps and say what the heck why did you rate this as well this way right. So there was a lot of like feedback that way. 

00:29:42 Meg Gowell: Now that it's kind of automatically done so to speak there's a little bit less kind of you know I guess distance between the two plus there's a little bit less friction because it's another system that's doing it right. It's not like it's not manually done by you guys. And then over time we improve the model. The model takes in can close one data. So as we kind of close different businesses we can refresh the model and see over time like is it changing how often we convert. Should we change the lead ratings system slightly and stuff like that. And then we do have a small feedback loop where sometimes leads will be rated well that aren't a good fit. And so they will disqualify leads for very specific reasons. And I can see that and I review that on basically a daily basis. And if I have questions about it I'll go to the individual rep and say what's going on here. I don't understand can you explain to me the issue with this potential customer. But it's really helped us think about as we think about refining the model over time. What are the big things. What are the gaps that the model can't see right? Like what things are firmographic that is hard for you know clear bit to identify that we know. So that's kind of helped us figure that out over time. 

00:30:50 Meg Gowell: And then we also look through we kind of have a Slack channel where any new opportunities that are closed want to go into the Slack channel so everybody can see. And there's a bunch of information in there from the rep on like why someone bought and what they were looking for and stuff like that. So that can be another really good feedback loop for me just looking at okay where did this person come from. What were they looking to do. What kind of messaging is kind of seems to be winning with people right now and stuff like that. So those are kind of the main ones we do now. And then we have weekly check-ins to kind of work together on creating more pipelines. 

00:31:24 Andrew Michael: That score again just to grab it's been you've been using that with Mad Kudu and setting that up to rate the score. And again it's probably like in the ICP you might have firmographic that are the ideal properties like just making something up now. Employees 100 to 500 in B2B older than five years company blah blah blah. It doesn't need to hit all of those to be qualified as an ICP but it's a varying score and a degree to how strong of a fit it is versus less. And then is there a threshold where you sort of say okay anything below this number is not a good fit anything above this number we push to sales and we say “Okay like I've had it.” Is that it? 

00:32:02 Meg Gowell: Yeah basically so it is a super complex. Do you see the tree map of it all? It's super complex. I did not set it up. Our marketing ops guy who's a rock star set it all up. But basically you don't you can have things that are outside of ICP as long as you have enough good signals right. So it's like a weighted score right of like how different things. So it's things like what industry are you in. We one of a really good metric for us is how many monthly active users you have on your product. That's really hard to get via enrichment. So as a proxy we kind of look at web visitors which web traffic so that can kind of get us part of the way there. But then things like employee size, recently raised growth stuff like that can help too. And then basically every single lead that is not a free mail so isn't like a Gmail or something like that or a .org or a .gov gets scored and then they all get sent to sales. 

00:32:55 Meg Gowell: But sales really only puts in the time to work threes and fours. So they can look at a one or a two and they can say “Maybe there's occasionally a gem, a pearl somewhere down here.” But generally the only ones that like they will work so sometimes ones the reason that they're rated so low is because there's no enrichment data. So it's just all unknown. Like maybe they couldn't pull the domain because it was like a weird internal email or something. So those are the cases where sometimes there's like a really valuable lead in a pool that looks trashy so to speak. But otherwise they mostly focus on the highly rated ones. But all the leads are sent to the sales team that are not free mail.org.gov. They get all of them. They just kind of wait their time based on the rating so to speak. 

00:33:39 Andrew Michael: Very cool. And I love it. I think this is a good close and way to end the show as well today. We said we started at the beginning like looking at the top of the funnel like trying to understand like how do we make sure we're bringing through the right customers. And it really starts with knowing who they are, having good channels to acquire them and then the good data for tracking and conversions to sort of feed that loop back in from the start. Is there any final thoughts you'd like to leave the listeners with before we wrap up today? Anything they should be aware of on your end or to get up to speed with your work?

00:34:13 Meg Gowell: I don't think so. I mean I think that the only thing that we didn't touch on as much too is just the value of like onboarding in the whole process. Right? Of like when someone's first getting started, how are you getting them up and running on your app? And so that's something that we work on a ton with sales of making sure that like that onboarding experience, your first kind of taste of Appcues, right? Once you come in the door, not only matches products or like matches products, matches marketing, but also matches sales. Right? So how can we make sure all of that feels really like the exact same experience, both in language and color and branding and all of that. So I think that that's also a really important piece of like knowing you get in the door, getting the right people in the door and then giving them the right experience so that it feels seamless. 

00:34:54 Andrew Michael: I think that was almost like a given when we're interviewing somebody from Appcues that there's going to be a good onboarding experience. 

00:35:01 Meg Gowell: I think I would have been fired if I didn't bring it up again. 

00:35:04 Andrew Michael: And you also mentioned as well, like something around customer champions, which I would have loved to touch on, but obviously we can't keep going for the next hour on these topics. We could definitely have a chat in the future again. The last question I have before we wrap up then today actually is what's one thing that you know today about churn and retention that you wish you knew when you got started with your career? 

00:35:27 Meg Gowell: I think I wish I had understood the behavioral piece as well as I do now. When I started off, I was very much in the lead gen side working for agencies, doing lead generation at scale for a lot of companies. And I think there was a mismatch between us and the clients often because my numbers looked great, their numbers didn't look great, and we didn't understand that goal in between us. And I think it was that behavior piece, not understanding the behavior piece and understanding what the person was doing. And so I think over time, I've learned a lot more about that and both the value of it, how to track it, how to measure it, and how to send those signals back. And so I think that the sooner you can learn that, the better off you'll be. 

00:36:11 Andrew Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I think without that, I think they'd just wanner two metrics at the beginning of the day, like just driving more signups, it means nothing unless they're actually using the product, they're getting activated, they're seeing the value and connecting the two is really important. Meg, it's been a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you so much for joining. For the listeners, everything we've discussed today will be in the show notes. If you want to check out any of the tools or services we've discussed, you'll be able to find them there. And yeah, thanks so much. I wish you best of luck now and trying to navigate and figure out this next chapter, especially on the organic side. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes trying to figure out what's going to be happening now

in this new landscape. 

00:36:51 Meg Gowell: It gives us a chance to be creative. But thank you. You've had a great time. Really enjoyed it. 

00:36:55 Andrew Michael: Thanks, Meg. Cheers.

00:36:57 Andrew Michael: And that's a wrap for the show today with me, Andrew Michael. I really hope you enjoyed it and you were able to pull out something valuable for your business. To keep up to date with Churn.FM and be notified about new episodes, blog posts and more, subscribe to our mailing list by visiting Churn.FM. Also, don't forget to subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you have any feedback, good or bad, I would love to hear from you. And you can provide your blunt, direct feedback by sending it to andrew@churn.fm. Lastly, but most importantly, if you enjoyed this episode, please share it and leave a review as it really helps get the word out and grow the community. Thanks again for listening. See you again next week.


Meg Gowell
Meg Gowell

The show

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.


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