The SaaS industry lives and dies at hyper-speed. Existing at the volatile, high-pressure pinnacle of the tech industry, SaaS startups are incapable of a slow, steady state of growth. Instead, they exist in a perpetually intense state of existence that is only possible in the tech world.
Many successful SaaS unicorns find themselves scrambling to cobble together marketing strategies as they navigate skyrocketing growth and increasing demand.
Many successful SaaS unicorns find themselves scrambling to cobble together marketing strategies as … [+]
Most marketing agencies focus on specific areas, such as strategy, tactics, or creatives. Matter Made avoids these presets, morphing to the needs of each client, from marketing strategy and leadership through to execution and results. Their end goal is to help companies drive demand efficiency; reduce customer acquisition cost (CAC) and find efficient paths to reach scale.
I recently had a chance to chat with Matter Made founder and CEO Elias Rubel, where we discussed recent changes in post-pandemic marketing strategies, how millennials factor into the marketing mix, and what marketing trends we can look forward to in the next few years.
Jeff Fromm: How have marketing strategies or tactics shifted since the start of 2020?
Elias Rubel: It has been one wild ride since early 2020 in terms of what strategies and tactics have made sense for the ever-changing market conditions. In mid-to-late 2020, we saw the Covid-19 ‘bounce back’ in venture funding and valuations, and as such, companies shifted into ‘growth at all costs’ mode, frequently prioritizing market share capture regardless of CAC or lifetime value potential.
This was a self-fulfilling cycle, where companies were investing aggressively at the urging of their board, growing their customer bases, and pumping valuations to sky-high multiples. At a certain point, the previously elusive and prestigious ‘unicorn’ title began to lose its luster, with more unicorns being minted every day across the tech sector.
During the growth at all costs phase, companies would frequently plow capital into top-of-funnel acquisition without taking the time to run through messaging tests, optimizing landing pages for a seamless buyer journey, or having adequate nurture programs in place for leads that weren’t ready to buy. Tracking and measurement for many companies was a second class priority to growth, which ultimately led many companies to grow without a clear understanding of what underlying strategies and tactics were driving their success.
The tides shifted aggressively in early Q3 of 2022 when growing macro concerns, coupled with the realization that valuations were reaching unsustainable levels, led the VC market to pull the preverbal rug. Boards cracked down and companies were forced to reassess their acquisition strategy. This led to a fundamental shift from growth at all costs to an emphasis on Demand Efficiency. Teams found themselves with budgets cut in half. In many cases, in-house teams were stripped down to the bare minimum and left asking how they could produce the same growth with half the budget.
In lockstep with these motions, a general changing of the guard started taking place amongst the ranks as many millennials began to take on higher levels of decision-making leadership positions within prominent, high-growth tech companies. Future stars were making names for themselves and for a new style of marketing that would serve as the answer to navigating this fundamental market shift. The answer for them was to shift strategies and tactics to focus on demand efficiency, which, for many of these teams, was a major transition.
Demand Efficiency is a North Star metric focused on the top two-thirds of the revenue funnel and is a strong leading indicator for teams working to reduce CAC. The Demand Efficiency Framework, initially coined by the growth team at Matter Made, scores key pieces of the revenue funnel such as: total addressable market, revenue orchestration, top-of-funnel activities, mid-funnel activities, messaging alignment, and experimentation. The goal is to unearth inefficiencies that ultimately lead to CAC reduction.
We’ll continue to see more emphasis on demand efficiency as teams shift their strategies and tactics to support a more sustainable growth model amidst market changes, and as more millennials step into decision-making leadership roles across prominent high growth technology companies.
Fromm: What excites you about the next 2-5 years?
Rubel: The next 2-5 years will be an exciting time for the B2B tech sector. The old days of webinars and boring advertising are quickly becoming a thing of the past. A general realization that business consumers are no different than regular consumers has finally found a foothold, and markers are quickly shifting strategies from the usual B2B playbooks to more novel, personal, and interesting B2C style strategies and tactics.
Technology has also kept pace to support highly complex and well-orchestrated buying experiences. With platforms like 6Sense, Mutiny, ChiliPiper, and others, companies are able to stitch together highly personalized, consumer-like funnels to educate and acquire customers.
It will be exciting to see the increased use of machine learning to help make effective marketing decisions. Revenue and retention are always top-of-mind for any good marketer or operator, but without dependable AI and precise forecasting, decisions about how to create and capture demand efficiently will be arbitrary. AI and machine learning will be useful in ideal customer profile (ICP) development, customer targeting, messaging, and creating personalized experiences across the marketing funnel.
Look for companies to lean into dark social tactics to create awareness, nurture leads, and gain trust across their ICP. The rise of dark social and clickbacks on dark social shares are increasing, likely due to the fact that this data gives a detailed representation of a consumer’s interests, which is extremely valuable for digital marketers. The emergence of dark social creates an atmosphere where consumers are being delivered content that’s timely, relevant, and helpful. The days of being delivered clickbait-driven content and advertisements will be a tactic of the past.
Perhaps most exciting though, is on the creative front. Historically B2B has been one of the least aesthetic and interesting places to spend time. Boring ads, boring assets, boring sales collateral — there’s been no shortage of boring in B2B. However, with these winds of consumer change, comes a new wave of B2B creative.
Companies, even large ones like ServiceNow, are investing heavily in consumer-level creative campaigns, and new agencies such as NoBoringDesign are cropping up to help companies like Loom, Yelp for Restaurants, and Productboard transition from status-quo B2B design to creative B2C advertising. This is just the beginning of the wave. As more B2B companies realize people are people, the tides of creative change will produce an exciting shift in what we can expect from B2B in the next 2-5 years.