When Whitney Slavin joined password manager and vault app LastPass, it was in the process of separating from its parent company and establishing itself as its own entity. Simultaneously, Slavin started to dig into the company’s marketing and sales processes and realized that it had a bad perception of lead generation and content strategies.
“Sales didn’t see the value in lead gen because they didn’t have a lot of strong leads or experience reaching out to those leads,” said Slavin, LastPass’s Sr. Digital Marketing Program Manager. “There also wasn’t much of an emphasis on marketers to demonstrate a positive ROI and high performance. Ultimately, LastPass was struggling to capture real interest from real prospects, measure the results of its programs and make sure prospects were ready to speak to sales. Our prospects are in tech and have a lot of information coming at them all day; the last thing they need is another ad to click.”
Realizing that LastPass needed a solid account-based marketing (ABM) strategy to better align marketing and sales and generate more qualified engagement, Slavin partnered with MRP, an enterprise-class ABM technology and solutions provider, to innovate LastPass’s strategies. When reinventing the LastPass’s lead gen tactics, Slavin explained that the three key steps were:
- Performing an internal audit to see what systems and processes were working;
- Re-thinking intent data usage to ensure LastPass was accurately selecting in-market accounts; and
- Innovating engagement strategies to strengthen and accelerate prospects at the middle and bottom of the sales funnel.
Auditing Internally To Determine Weak Areas
The first task Slavin tackled was internally reviewing the company’s existing data processes and vendors. She explained that she spent weeks “digging” through all the data she could find, and the areas she analyzed included full-funnel metrics, key performance indicators, cost-per-lead, conversion rates, sales-qualified leads and more.
“Marketing isn’t cut-and-dry, especially with demand gen,” she explained. “We can create a story based on data, so I looked beyond the vanity metrics to find out more about the programs to find a starting point. I looked at all the vendors and programs LastPass worked with over the past six years and pulled all of its spend collectively. I wanted to determine how much money each vendor actually spent on lead gen compared to the contracted amount and removed any creative and display costs associated with the partners.”
In short, Slavin only looked at what each provider brought to the table in terms of leads and quality, because “a lot of people base the success of their programs on total spend, but they really should be looking at it as a cohort.” Additionally, she examined data trends to track conversion rates quarter-over-quarter and evaluated pipeline-to-spend to gauge performances.
“I also looked at actual prospect engagement,” said Slavin. “I read a lot of emails, listened to calls and talked to sales reps to understand what the conversation looked like around leads that weren’t ready to convert to determine what we could avoid and how we could weed out unqualified leads. I also tried to find any trends in the data that I could make myself. So, if I saw a big chunk of X, Y and Z converting after three different actions, I inferred that there was a trend happening and I focused on how I could duplicate it and maximize the investment.”
Re-Thinking Intent To Strengthen Lead Quality
The next step was rethinking the use of intent, which LastPass was only using “a little bit here and there,” explained Slavin. She had the unique experience of working with LastPass in a vendor capacity, so she knew intent wasn’t the sole focus of the company’s ABM strategy. Slavin continued that she needed to onboard a partner who coupled predictive analytics with a more contextualized view of intent and geo-relevance, as most intent platforms just rely on keyword search. Enter: MRP.
“If you think about intent, it’s really a backward-looking signal and possibly a topic of interest,” said Mark Ogne, CMO of MRP Prelytix, in the pair’s B2B Marketing Exchange case study. “What you need to become actionable with intent is the propensity to act. If you look up the word ‘intention,’ it means a topic of interest and a plan of action. What we as an industry call ‘intent data’ is really more of a topic of interest.”
Slavin reinforced Ogne’s point through an extended metaphor: She explained that, in theory, every person in the U.S. has the intent to buy car insurance because it’s required by law — but the process is more nuanced than that. Sometimes people purchase it through their spouse or partner, and oftentimes folks just renew their current policy annually without researching. If a marketer was monitoring surface-level intent, they’d be casting an incredibly wide net that generated low conversion rates.
“When constructing the ABM program, I layered intent in different areas, whether it was buying high-intent lists and putting that into programs or asking my sales team for a wish list,” said Slavin. “Then I decided to take it a step further and only go after buying centers within accounts that were showing certain intent as well as the propensity to engage and act, which only MRP was able to help me determine.”
Promoting Omnichannel Engagement Through Content Syndication
Over on the content side, Slavin said that LastPass was leveraging the same tactic in each stage, which provided no differentiation between in-market accounts and potential prospects. Ogne explained that LastPass’s one-touch engagement strategy was common, as marketers often focus on a singular tactic with ABM strategies.
“When people talk about ABM, they often conflate it with display advertising,” continued Ogne. “Advertising is a valuable tactic in certain aspects of account engagement. But when people say, ‘Hey, we’re doing full-funnel ABM,’ it doesn’t mean just using different ad copy on a display uni
Slavin added that all the time, money and emphasis on top-of-funnel, single-touch assets were a major flaw in LastPass’s ABM strategy. She quickly realized she needed to optimize content to provide an omnichannel strategy that would promote more qualified engagement.
“I used to hear omnichannel all the time in every E-book; it was just a buzzword to me,” said Slavin. “But once I started looking at each vendor’s role in our demand gen funnel and saw all these activities being dumped into our funnel, I realized that we had a diversification of tactics, but we weren’t using them in a logical order.”
In general, Slavin explained that LastPass’s engagement strategies feature:
- Display advertising, social media and content syndication at the top of the funnel; and
- Website personalization, email and direct mail for mid- and late-stage sales tactics.
Through the partnership with MRP and Slavin’s efforts, LastPass saw:
- An 84% increase in sales qualified leads;
- 2.5X program ROI;
- 2X conversion rate; and
- 3.5X more opportunities generated.
“I don’t put all my eggs in one basket when I make an investment,” said Slavin. “I just don’t let it run and see how it went at the end of the quarter. When I invest in something, I start with a small test, measure the performance/results, and use those findings to refine and improve the strategy from there. It was that continuous learning and refinement that got us great results in the end, because I was building on momentum and success.”