Evy Lyons
April 1, 2022

Traackr CMO on Interactive, Data-Driven Content

Guest: Evy Lyons - CMO, Traackr

Subscribe to the Podcast

As the world of influencer marketing has evolved, so has Traackr, an influencer marketing platform that’s been around since before Instagram and TikTok. In the early days, the brand was all about answering: What is influencer marketing and why should you care? Now, they’re hyper-focused on enabling word-of-mouth marketing at scale for their customers.

How? Via interactive, data-driven content. In this episode, Traackr CMO Evy Lyons shares how the marketing team transformed their State of Influence report into an interactive app, creating an experience that prospects and customers couldn’t ignore.

She describes the development as a “hack”—a hack that has become a vertical marketing tool with a 40%-win rate, that is. No wonder, too, as one survey found that CMOs who invest in interactive content are 72% more likely to meet or exceed their sales and marketing targets.

Tune into this episode to learn more about what it takes to develop a B2B marketing strategy that proves business value, enables sales, and engages audiences all in one.

What you’ll learn:

  • How Traackr is making marketing more human
  • The business value of interactive, data-driven content
  • Why marketers should be thinking like product managers

Resources Mentioned

Highlights

  • [00:00] Get a free chapter from Drew’s book
  • [03:00] What B2B can learn from B2C influencer marketing
  • [06:26] Traackr’s brand evolution: To sell a category, start with content
  • [13:07] Proving business value via data-driven insights
  • [18:07] What is CMO Huddles?
  • [19:44] The State of the Influence as a vertical marketing tool
  • [24:07] Think like a product person
  • [31:24] How experimentation can become a company strategy
  • [38:07] Evy’s tips to up your content game

Highlighted Quotes

If you're creating a category where people don't fully understand the practice and thus what technology might be able to do for them, you have to start with content marketing and with education. —@evylyons @traackr Click To Tweet How can we show more versus tell? How can we let you experience this product through marketing in a way that helps you understand the value and brings that to life? —@evylyons @traackr Click To Tweet There was a recent study that came out that they surveyed over 170 CMOs and found that those that invested in interactive content were 72% likely to meet or exceed their sales and marketing targets. —@evylyons @traackr Click To Tweet As a marketer, you really have to think like a product person. —@evylyons @traackr Click To Tweet Whatever is working today in marketing is not going to work in three months. And if you don't have that steady source of experimenting, it's scary. —@evylyons @traackr Click To Tweet

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 286 on YouTube

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Evy Lyons

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. You may know that I have a new book out called Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands that is now available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio. Crammed with fun-to-read stories and hard-earned insights I’ve gleaned as both an interviewer and practitioner, I can’t wait for you to check it out. In fact, for listeners of this show, I’d be happy to share an entire chapter for free. Just hit me up on LinkedIn and we’ll give you Chapter One: Clear Away the Clutter or request a different chapter and our 12-Step Cheat Sheet. Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Hello, Renegade Marketers! As I’ve referenced on this show many times and crystallize in my new book Renegade Marketing, being a CMO today is really, really hard. But the successful ones are truly the cool CATS of marketing. CATS being an acronym for courageous, artful, thoughtful, and scientific. And lest you think the CATS framework only applies to previous guests, I’m thrilled to introduce you to today’s guest, Evy Lyons, the CMO of Traackr an influencer marketing platform. Hello, Evy!

Evy Lyons: Hi, Drew. How are you?

Drew Neisser: I’m great. I’m great. So where are you?

Evy Lyons: I am in Denver where it is very snowy and beautiful.

Drew Neisser: Nice. Nice. Well, we’re having a crazy spring here in New York City. It’s sunny, warm, and no snow to be seen, so who knows? So let’s start with explaining Traackr to my 95 year old dad. How would you describe the company without using any technical terms?

Evy Lyons: Oh, yeah. Oh, wow! Okay, so I would say to your dad, “What was the last thing you bought?” And maybe he would tell me about a tool that he bought for woodworking or something for his car, and I would say, “Where did you hear about that?” And he might say, you know, “Oh, my neighbor had been using this wax on his car and his car looked great and I asked him where he got it.” And I said, “Well, that’s what Traackr does.” We enable the wax companies to be able to create that word-of-mouth marketing at scale on the social networks that have taken over the word-of-mouth channel today.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so just to be clear, a lot of—probably most of your customers—are B2C brands, I noticed you have a lot of cosmetic brands. Is there anything that the B2C brands are doing in influencer marketing that the B2B marketers should be thinking about?

Evy Lyons: Well, the biggest difference by far I think between B2C and B2B influencer marketing is this scale. There are just so many more influencers covering topics related to consumer products. Whether that is cosmetics, fashion, fitness, you name it. And also, I think in many of those domains, there are truly experts, but it is a lot easier to become an expert. When you look at B2B and we’re talking about IT or security or FinTech, it takes a lot of time to build up that expertise and so there’s just a lot less. However, what I think B2B has been trying to do more and more of in general is become more creative, become more bold, and find those opportunities to stand out because everybody is sort of using the same tactics these days. And so, I think that a B2B brand looking at a B2C company doing influencer marketing can get some ideas about how to creatively partner with folks outside of their organization to create interesting content and experiences to reach their audience in an engaging way.

Drew Neisser: The B2B influencer is actually a subject that I know a fair amount about and I’m just going to pipe in here because I have been approached many times and actually worked as an influencer for a number of companies on a very up and up basis. They will call and say, “Hey Drew, come to our conference and just write about it, participate, do whatever you want to do.” What I have found for the B2B brands that really do it well is they do a couple things. One, they bring you information that has been hard for you to get. So that’s part one. So you have access. And then part two, they bring you together with other influencers who helped build community. Just thinking about a program I was part of with IBM, maybe 10 years ago. They even gave it a name and it was a wonderful, you know, we were like thought leaders, or we were something genius-like. And it was cool to be part of it. Since then, I’ve seen it evolve and you see a lot more micro influencers in B2B, who have just one little niche. Again though, what I find is, the senior marketer actually engages and really does think about: Where’s the win-win for the person? Anyway, we’re not here to talk about that. What exactly we’re not talking about.

We’re going to talk about your brand strategy. We’re going to start with courageous strategy, and you’ve been there five years or so. So talk a little bit about how the strategy for the company has changed and where you’ve landed in the last, say, 18 months?

Evy Lyons: Yeah, absolutely. So, I have been back at Traackr for five years. What’s interesting is, I was actually with the company in 2012 in the early days for a period of time. And honestly, I think it’s interesting because the philosophy for what I’m doing today started then. And also, a little bit of context, Traackr was founded over 10 years ago, which was before Instagram existed. So, if you can just think about the journey of influencer marketing in your own life, over the last 10 years, and then imagine how much this practice has evolved… and also, obviously, the technologies to support it. So oftentimes, marketers when they’re launching a new company and they’re part of an early stage, everyone’s first assumption is that you should invest in product marketing. And in many cases, that is the right move. But if you are creating a category, as we were with influencer marketing, where people don’t even fully understand the practice and thus what technology might be able to do for them, you have to start with content marketing. You have to start with education. And that is really the foundation of what we do at Traackr.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. So having watched it evolve—I mean, obviously it has changed tremendously. I mean, you’re right. When I think about consumer influencer today, Instagram has got to be—well maybe and Tik Tok—are two of the leading categories or channels, right?

Evy Lyons: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’ve got YouTube as well, which was quite a big player then. And Twitter also, which has come in ebbs and flows. And then, of course, the bloggers and other sort of non-social platform platforms, if you will. So yeah, I mean it’s changed a lot. And when we started, people were like, “Wait, what is influencer marketing?” And so the strategy originally, it was all around explaining what is influencer marketing and why should you care. Once we got to that point, so when I came back, so five years ago, things had completely changed and our buyer had completely changed. We had gone from selling very small value contracts to agencies, which were admittedly, the first to get on board with influencer marketing and really saw the potential to selling to the enterprise, the global enterprise and specifically consumer facing brands. And that’s a really hard segment to stand out in. They are bombarded, they have great spam filters. Your emails, your SDR emails aren’t getting through. They’re just very busy people and everyone wants their business, so how can you break through? And I looked in—you know, I was like, “Okay, well what at Traackr truly sets us apart?”

And I actually think in many cases, this is true for many of the marketers listening: Our platforms are a huge source of data and insights. In fact, in many cases, our platforms offer technology to accomplish a workflow but also in that process help generate data or insights on data that you have already. At Traackr, we have a large database of global influencers across all different segments and all social platforms and all these different countries.

So, I was like, “Okay, how can we leverage that data to show instead of tell the value of Traackr.” That was what I really leaned into and we created a program called The State of Influence, which we have used to—we use our own data to create insight reports on different industries and produce those on a regular basis and use them across all of our marketing channels. And we can dig deeper into this if you want but that speaks to the account-based or the verticalized focus we’ve taken as well.

Drew Neisser: Okay, a lot to unpack there, so we’re gonna go back to a few things. First, it was interesting, as you were talking and talking about early days, you were selling the category because that was what—you had to get people in there. That was an interesting observation and things when, for folks, whenever you’re in the situation where you’re trying to get people to change behavior and they haven’t done it before, you’re often selling the category and that’s a little bit tricky. Okay, part two, you mentioned marketing to marketers and how challenging that is. By the way, I have so much admiration for marketers to marketers, and we have several in CMO Huddles, because they’re really good. You have to be really good. You can’t blow smoke at smoke blowers. You have to find the insight and the value that will get their attention. You started to talk about The State of Influence report, and then you talked about vertical. Talk about how those two things come together.

Evy Lyons: Yeah, absolutely. I believe you have to be very specific to your audience. You have to meet them where they’re at, you have to figure out what questions are they asking and how can you uniquely answer them and bring them value? It’s really hard to do that if you’re not getting specifically into their heads, into their industry, so that’s why I decided to take a very verticalized, and ultimately, it was an account-based strategy to our demand generation, which was fueled by—the fuel in that machine was this content The State of Influence. So what we did was, we gathered up all the accounts we wanted to go after, we benchmarked them among influencer content, and we pulled out insights in terms of what’s working for you, what’s working for your competitors, and what can you learn from that. And hey, by the way, what if this data was at your fingertips every single day as you were making decisions about your influencer program? We admittedly started this off as quite the hack. It was just the two of us on the marketing team trying to pull this together with very little support. And all of a sudden our cost per lead, you know, we put these reports out and our cost per leads on LinkedIn were like $15 a lead and the quality was off the charts and our sales team was like, “More and more and more!” That’s an exciting moment as a marketer.

Drew Neisser: So I want to make sure—I’m going to dig in a little bit deeper. You have this data already because of your system, right?

Evy Lyons: Yes.

Drew Neisser: And so you’re taking this data, and I know that—what’s one of your largest clients, cosmetics?

Evy Lyons: L’Oreal.

Drew Neisser: L’Oreal, right. So you’re going to, let’s just say, Revlon, for example, and you’re saying, “Hey, here’s some really cool information that’s happening in your category.” I guess the question is—there’s no doubt you have the information, but how are you getting that information in front of those folks? And actually, I shouldn’t go there yet, because that’s execution. As we wrap up the strategic portion of this area, what do you think differentiates Traackr? I mean, in theory, every other influencer platform has information and so forth that they can use and so forth. What is differentiating your brand?

Evy Lyons: I think it’s, you know, it is the depth and the breath of the data that we’ve created. It comes from a couple of different technological choices that we’ve made in terms of how influencers get into the Traackr database, the platforms that we’ve chosen to include, and just the fact that, hey, we’ve been around for 10 years, so we have a lot more to work with. And also I would say, it’s a benefit, it’s a really nice, virtuous circle: The larger customers you have, the more influencers they want to work with, the more data that you start to amass as well. But anybody can have the data. It’s about figuring out what in the data is interesting and how in your application—this speaks to the value of our product, of course, but like the product team figuring out how to add the most value to your customer. What are they looking for, and how do they surface that in the product? I think a challenge in B2B marketing especially in the enterprise is that as marketers we don’t have the luxury of allowing people a free trial. Or we don’t have, you know, we can’t necessarily let you in. And you have to talk to a salesperson to find out more. And that might be changing. There’s certainly a lot of buying dynamics and I think that’s really important as marketers for us to stay on top of and figure out how can we evolve and meet buyers where they are. But that’s a challenge and that’s a limitation that I have to face. And so I’m always asking, strategically, how can we show more versus tell? How can we let you experience this product through marketing in a way that helps you understand the value and brings that to life. And so, you know, I do want to just touch a little bit more on the strategy. What started as a report and a PDF has evolved over time into an interactive content experience. Which now allows you to, as the receiver of this content, to explore on your own and sort of dig deeper versus just reading an insight report. I think that that evolution is really interesting.

Drew Neisser: It is interesting. One of the advantages that any company like yours which aggregates a lot of data is the data has tremendous value. And part of what you’re selling is, “Hey, if you had this data, you’d be able to make better decisions.” And so, being able to show it one way or another and turning it into marketing makes tremendous sense. Let’s wrap up this section and just—would you say that Traackr is a purpose-driven organization? And if so, what’s your brand purpose?

Evy Lyons: Yes, our purpose is to make marketing better, and that purpose, that starts at the founding of the company. Our CEO and co-founder is a self-described “recovering marketer.” What he means by that is in his early career as a marketer for a large CPG, feels as though marketing was just this push function. “We have a message, we have an advertisement, we want to get in front of it, you in front of it, you’ve got to read it, we’re gonna just bombard you.” And what excites Traackr, what excites him and what excites Traackr, is this idea that marketing can be human-driven.

There’s a lot of different opinions out there about influencer marketing; we have always come from the vantage point of influencer marketing is most effective when it’s authentic, and we’re going to build a technology that enables authentic marketing at scale. So, the purpose is to enable better marketing. That is certainly core to what we do. And I would say that as a marketer of marketing to marketers in a space called influencer marketing, I am very in tune with the challenges that exist out there.

There are issues of diversity in influencer marketing, pay discrepancy, for example. Influencers have tremendous—influencers and brands both have a tremendous ability to dictate societal norms, help us shift societal norms. And so, in our marketing, we do a lot to touch on those really tough topics and make sure that our industry is having important conversations. There’s kind of a two-layer answer there for you.

Drew Neisser: No, it’s great. I actually talked about this too. I believe that marketing can change the world. I believe that marketing at its best is, in the words of McCann Erickson, “The truth well told.” I mean, if you can do it in a way that is actually delivering value along the way, it’s better for everybody. As I think about the purpose of making marketing better, I couldn’t help but wonder, are you guys using influencer marketing to market your influencer platform?

Evy Lyons: That is a great question. You know, we have in the past, especially in the early days. In the early days, a lot of our customers were actually B2B brands. And at the time, if everyone could just kind of go back and remember, it was the rise of the Twitter analyst and the blogger analyst. And everyone was saying, “Oh, like Gartner is not going to exist anymore. Forrester. Oh, they’re all gonna disappear in favor of these new independent analysts who now have a platform.” And we were wrong. Forrester and Gartner are still here. But these independent analysts also have a place too. So in that world, yeah, we definitely did a lot of influencer marketing. Even, I mean, back in the day I worked on a book called The Engagers. It was really cool. We had like Li Odin, for example. Everybody was like a superhero, and what was their superhero, and these people were very formative in the early days of Traackr. And as our customers have evolved, so have our influencers. So today, the types of people that are influencers for Traackr tend to be a lot of independent like agency owners who are very open and talking a lot about the practice of influencer marketing. There’s also this really interesting profile of “influencer marketer by day, influencer by night.” And these are really fun people. They work for a brand that like L’Oreal, for example, or Charlotte Tilbury another cosmetics company, and then on the side, they have like, 10-15,000 Instagram followers, and they have this whole other persona. So those are some of the influencer groups that we go after. There is an elusive one that I don’t think we’ve cracked yet and I call it the “CMO Whisperer.”

Evy Lyons: [Laughter] Who could that be?

Evy Lyons: And I think that that’s a whole group of people who, you know, really have the ear of the CMOs in these larger organizations, advising them and guiding them. And that’s something that we’re working on.

Drew Neisser: Maybe being on this show is part of that initiative. Who knows, who knows? All right, we’re gonna take a break. And when we come back, we’re gonna dive into a little bit more in the executional area.

So speaking of CMO Whisper, if you don’t mind I’d like to plug CMO Huddles for a second. Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment, while another called it a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session. If you’re a B2B CMO that can share care and dare with the best of them, visit cmohuddles.com or hit me up on LinkedIn to see if you qualify for a guest pass.

Okay, we’re back, and we’re talking about influencer marketing. We’re talking about whether or not Traackr needs to be doing more influencer marketing on their own, but of course, they’re on this show, so maybe they are; I don’t know. We started to get into this bridge from strategy to execution in this world of ideation and you talked about the State of Influencer as more than just a study but as like a platform, if you will, for a lot of your marketing activities. Talk a little bit more about how you take that—and you talked about ABM, if you will, and vertical markets—talk about how you would use that from a vertical marketing standpoint.

Evy Lyons: Yeah, absolutely. So basically, we had this idea of using our data to create insight reports by vertical. We called it The State of Influence, and we did The State of Influence in beauty, in skincare, in you know, whiskies—that was a very popular one. We did them in all of the different areas. And at first we were flaring, right? We had nine verticals we were testing out at one point and we were looking for where we would get that traction. And it was tricky, because it was not just marketing traction, but also pipeline and sales. Because we could, we actually, this program was incredibly successful. When you have interesting data, you’ve got to find a way to share it because that is the easiest way for you to break through the noise and reach your target audience. But of course, the question isn’t: Can you generate leads? It’s: Can you generate pipeline that converts? And so as we followed that chain, we noticed that the beauty industry, in particular, and personal care was one of the top performing for us, so we really decided to triple down on that. It’s been really interesting to see how that happened. But I think what’s interesting is to talk a little bit about how the content itself evolved.

Drew Neisser: Go for it.

Evy Lyons: Alright, so like I said, this started off as quite the hack. We found hacky ways to export the content, begging for help from the data team for example. Because the content that, the data isn’t necessarily going to be super accessible to you in the way that we needed it. So we would create these reports in Keynote and they looked good, but they certainly weren’t, I wouldn’t call them professional. And they started this lead gen program. As we saw the success, one of the things that we decided to do was to, “Okay, how can we turn this instead of a PDF into an interactive app?” And actually, there was a recent study that came out, I think that they interviewed over—or they surveyed over 170 CMOs and found that those that invested in interactive content were 72% likely to meet or exceed their targets, their sales and marketing targets. I thought that was really interesting. I think a lot of people think about content as an e-book, as a report, and I think for me what’s been really important is to think about content as an experience. And that experience might be a white paper, it might be an event, but it might be an interactive app. What we did, we went and built an app. You can check it out at leaderboard.traackr.com if you want to see an example. But we took that beauty data and we turned it into a ranking where anybody can come and compare themselves to a couple of their competitors and dig into like, “Well, what’s working there, what could work for me?” I think that this execution is really interesting because it’s like marketing is starting to own products as an asset and that is really exciting to me.

Drew Neisser: I now want to zero really in on this in detail because I so agree with you that data can be used and turned into an experience, and I’m just so tired of reports. And honestly, we do a lot of research at Renegade for a lot of clients. We find really good information, but it tends to stop at the written report. Maybe we’ll do an infographic, there’ll be PR around it—and look, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of value, but if you can take it one step further and turn it into something that the site visitor can then search, find, and customize… Let’s get into the nitty gritty of this. You started saying it was a hack, but if I were to go to leaderboard.traackr.com, take us back to… How long did it take to build it? What were some of the things that you learned on the way to create interactive data?

Evy Lyons: Yeah, I think that it’s really important to—my team is probably going to roll their eyes when they hear this, but like, I am a huge believer in the brief. You need to start with a very clear vision of what you’re attempting to accomplish. And so we started with a brief, we described the end state, what do we want to happen here? We had to work internally to figure out a way to get the data. So you know, in a dream, you have an API and you can maybe connect these two systems and it’s seamless. We couldn’t negotiate for engineering resources, and I understand that, but we were able to figure out a way to export the data. What ended up in the end is every month we have to export and then upload it to our own app. It’s a little bit manual, but it’s down to about an hour a month of time for somebody. So, you know, as you’re trying to figure things out, as you run into roadblocks… “Oh, hey, engineering is not going to do that for us. Okay, what else can we do?” You have to be able to push through those obstacles and find solutions and I think you have to be okay with a little bit of manual work as well. But we were describing what we wanted, we were troubleshooting things. We found a developer to work with. Again, I think as a marketer, you really have to think like a product person. And that’s a whole other skill set but I think it is really important for marketers to add to their arsenal, having that product management mindset to be able to think about all the different pieces. And I think in general marketers have that intuitively because doing anything, even an event for example, is like this major lift that you can compare in many ways to launching a product. But yeah, we defined the people to help us build it, we have a consultant who works with us on all of our brand assets. He was able to design the interface, and I would say from idea to launch was three months.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so it’s three months. It’s essentially, as you described it, it’s an application that lives on the web, that you continually update with new data, right? And prospects or customers can go in and essentially run their own reports?

Evy Lyons: Yeah, they can basically… The data is available there. They can see a ranking of their industry, and they can sort it by different KPIs that are important in their industry. So things like, we have a score called a “Brand Vitality Score.” It’s sort of this overarching metric of how your brand is doing among influencer content. You can rank it by who has the best influence or loyalty, for example. So which brands are mentioned the most number of times per influencer, things like that. They can sort by different categories to see who’s performing the best and then they can also select themselves plus others to compare and then dive into, “Okay, well, specifically, how many influencers is Revlon working with? And of those influencers, how many are small, medium, large, extra-large celebrity kind of style?” You know, and get these types of insights of “Oh, okay, they’re heavily investing in mid size influencers. Maybe that’s something I should do. Or maybe I would like to know more about that.” “Oh, great. Well, we can do that. Talk to us.” So yeah, that’s how it works.

Drew Neisser: So, you know, I started with the CATS framework, and T is for Thoughtful Execution. And this is like a quintessential example of thoughtful execution. I mean, if you start and just say, “Is this of value to your customers?” The answer is yes. “Is this of value to your prospects?” The answer is yes. And what I love about it—there’s also sort of this—if you go in there, and you get your, what was it called, your, your Traackr score or your influencer loyalty score and it’s low, you can help them self identify the problem. And so in many ways then, once they go in there and they see that data and they say, “Oh, we’re not where we want to be,” I’m imagining they want to talk to you.

Evy Lyons: Yeah, they do. It was really exciting to see the impact of this. In the first six months, we generated a million in pipeline of that, and our win rate on that is about 40%, so you can see the impact of that. And that was just—I’m just looking at the first six months, it’s been more since then as well. I will also step back and say like, that’s great, and that might seem small to some folks depending on the size of their company. For us, that’s very significant. But I think also, we took one segment and we tested this out with one segment. So imagine doing that across your segments. Obviously, that’s something that we’re working on now is expanding this as well. Another benefit that I think if you kind of just keep peeling back, like, how did we drive that pipeline? This type of asset is a huge benefit to your sales development team who, you know, these teams are out there grinding, trying to break through. And they often—they only have, for the most part, what marketing gives them to work with and, of course, their own creativity. But they need assets to work with, and they need to be able to show value. Can you imagine being an SDR who can just say, “Hey, I want to just show you some of this data. Did you know you’re performing here and that your competitors are here? Would you like to find out why?” That type of email is opened, it’s responded to. We have SDRs emailing CEOs and CMOs and getting: “Hey, yes, absolutely. I would like you to talk to my team,” passing that along. And that’s exceptional.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. It’s like, how can you pass up that opportunity for someone to tell you an insight about your business that you didn’t know? The other thing that—it’s funny, a lot of different things are coming together in my mind, I want to break them down. One, you mentioned 40% win rate. We did a—for CMO Huddles, we had a bonus huddle with Andy Paul, who wrote a new book called Sell Without Selling Out. And he was lamenting the fact that the average in the industry in a close rate is one in five. And so when you think about pipeline, you say, “We’ve got to get five opportunities into pipeline because sales is only going to close 1 in 20.” And that’s so problematic because, first of all, it means you’re failing 80% of the time. It’s so depressing. No wonder SDRs—these are sales development reps just in case you’re not keeping up with the acronyms at home. You know, you’re losing 80% of the time. That’s no fun. That’s why you quit your job after a year and go into another career because that sucks. 40% a lot better. And what that means is that now you only need 1 in 3 leads, really, and you maybe it’s like 1 in 2.5 per SDR. So there are several good things that are happening that are of value in this value chain. You’re taking information that you already have and reprocessing it so that it’s easy for a salesperson to put it in front of a customer or prospect. You have it online in a way that they can discover on their own… And this speaks to, you know, let’s face it, Amazon has affected all of us. We all want to be, for the most part, we’ll do everything ourselves up until the end where we go, “Okay, we need to talk to a sales rep because we have questions.” But we really don’t want to talk to a sales rep. We want to talk to an expert who has information that will help us make the decision. And so it’s funny, I think it probably changed the nature of the conversation that you’re having. It’s like, how could we do influencer marketing better? Not, what platform should we be buying?

Evy Lyons: Absolutely. And that’s the conversation that we want to be having. And that is, you know, as in any market, especially those of us who are in saturated markets with a lot of different providers… That’s the game you want to play. You don’t want to be having a feature battle. You want to be talking about, “Hey, this is the expertise we’ve built up, and we can help you achieve your dreams and your goals and let’s talk about that.” And that’s a really exciting conversation to have.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and I’m imagining that certain categories are all in. And other categories—I mean like, cosmetics is one that’s so obvious that, you know, let’s face it influencers are huge. It is why celebrities and celebrity models are in every ad and I’m thinking perfumes and those things. Any of those, sort of the Health and Beauty world. But you started to say that you’re expanding this and I wanted to make two points about that. One is, in my book, I talk about Test to Triumph, it’s Chapter 12, and really the whole idea is take 10-20% of your budget for experimentation. When you started this thing you didn’t know if it would be big or not. It was a hack as you described it. But now it’s working, so you’re investing more in it. Talk about the growth of this program and how many verticals are you starting to develop the content for?

Evy Lyons: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the key investments we’ve made was bringing in a content marketing director who had this experience with data analysis, which it’s a unique skill set, and not something that you necessarily think about when you’re hiring for content marketing. So that was one of the big investments that I realized we needed to make in order to scale this program. Because, you know, in addition to the app, we also produce all sorts of ancillary content. Whether that’s for social, or its events and presentations, or blogs and white papers of course, yes, I mean, I think that’s another page that B2B can take from B2C. You need all the content, you need a lot of formats, and you need to keep up with that. That’s a whole other conversation. But, you know, the people are important when you’re developing the content, that’s for sure. In terms of expanding to other verticals, it’s actually become—and this is really exciting for me. It’s become very much a company strategy. And so what started as marketing testing out like, “Wait, we have this kind of maybe too broad of an ICP, let’s start narrowing this down a little bit and doing that through trial and error,” has now become a company-wide initiative where the entire—whether you’re product, sales, marketing, engineering—we’re all aligned in trying to figure out where is that next vertical for us to really double down on. So that’s been interesting too. I love what you say, though, about having 20%. I think 20 on the high end, we should go high end for experimenting. Whatever is working today in marketing is not going to work in three months, and if you don’t have that steady source of experimenting, it’s scary.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it really is. There are a couple of things that I could sort of summarize, I’m going to use the CATS framework for a second. So if we start with courageous strategy, and we say, part one of courageous strategy is you’re recognizing that marketing can be good it doesn’t have to be bludgeoned saturation message, message, message. It can actually bring value and that stems from a purpose as an organization. When we got to the artful ideation, I thought it was so interesting, “Oh, well, let’s see if we can stretch this data into something that’s a little more interesting and present it in a way…” But you have your brand guy to make sure it’s still on brand. And then when you got to thoughtful execution, this thing became a homerun to me. I got it completely in that if you can provide value, and again, I’m repeating myself, but it’s so interesting… This is a program that started small that is becoming bigger and bigger and bigger. One of the reasons it’s successful, and this goes back to strategy is, you said, “We’re going to go after one vertical and we’re going to deliver information to them that they probably can’t ignore.” Because you’re giving him a score that says, “You’re not doing as well as you thought.” And then, you know, that’s something that that irritates… I mean, that wakes you up. And then we get to scientific method, and you gave us the data on your win rate and the deal flow that has resulted in this. Now I’m imagining, there’s a lot of business that’s happening elsewhere that isn’t through this program. And so it might be an exaggeration to say that the program was driving a huge percentage of pipe. But as you look at why it worked, you’re saying, “Oh, we could replicate this and we can expand it. And the way you’re expanding it vertical market to vertical market makes so much sense. And I think really, vertical has been around forever from a B2B standpoint. But it’s a discipline to stick with because if you’ve got a bunch of salespeople who are out there hunting, they might go out of that ICP ideal customer profile. They might go, “Well, these guys will talk to me.” And that doesn’t help, right? Because if you can get 10 cosmetic brands, you own the category. Suddenly, you know more than anybody else, and you are the brand and similarly as you work your way through it. So many things I admire. Is there anything that you’ve tried in this program that didn’t work that you’re fixing in iterations future?

Evy Lyons: Hmm, I think we’re always asking ourselves how it could be better and how can we deliver more value. How can we make it easier to understand to those who are coming in newer to this, right? Like, if you’re talking to an influencer marketing manager, they might get it right away. But the CMO, might need more context or different types of information. We haven’t had anything that has, you know, just not worked at all. Where we’re like, “Oh, my god.” But we are constantly asking, “How can this be better and how can we deliver more?” And I think that’s the important question to me: How can we continue adding more value? Maybe to the point where what we’re doing is a product in and of itself; maybe it’s something that the company decides to actually charge for. Or maybe it’s something that’s always free, but maybe were single handedly turning this into a product-led growth strategy without really trying to do that from the beginning. But it’s just sort of a natural evolution. So you know, one thing I didn’t touch on is that we’ve been doing this for a number of years now, and one of the most exciting results is that these reports generate so much press for us. I keep waiting for it to stop working, and it’s not. I’m still not gonna rest on those laurels, but like, it’s incredible. What it’s helped us do is not just land coverage for these reports, but create relationships with journalists, so that when they have a need for data, they come to us. And I think that, you know, that’s another thing that as B2B marketers and marketing leaders, you know, everybody wants that coverage. They want to be mentioned where it matters most. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal. And that is not easy to get. But we’ve been able to achieve that type of coverage because of the quality of the data, but also the rhythm of the data. It’s become expected now and people wait for it, and they’re excited about it.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I can’t emphasize that enough. If you are going down the road of market research and doing benchmark studies, you’ve got to do it annually at minimum. And when you do it annually, I mean, here’s the thing: You’ll find out initially from the first one whether there’s any PR juice to it. But you can get more coverage the second year and the third year and the fourth year because, as you said, you built relationships, the data is credible. And it gets more credible, year after year, and the story keeps evolving, right? Maybe one brand is winning more this year, made a gain and so forth. And, by the way, given the type of data that you have, your customers and your prospects are involved in it too which is a good thing for them. All right, this has been amazing. I’m wondering, as we wrap it up, and if you were to talk to a bunch of CMOs about developing a data-driven content program that ends up with this kind of interactive experience that generates PR—you know, one big lesson learned is keep doing it year after year. But is there one more big lesson learned that you can share?

Evy Lyons: I think you should act as if you’re the CEO of a small company that’s doing this. And think about it as a product, you’re building a product, and treat it as such. I think that that’s why it’s been so successful. We’ve really approached it the same way that a product leader would approach building a product. And I think, even if you’re not doing interactive content, I think bringing that sort of mentality to your content in general is just going to elevate the quality of it. There’s no shortage of content out there. We all know that. But it is easy to stand out if what you produce is of high quality. I think that, you know, I am still very optimistic about the value of content. I think as marketers, especially marketing to marketers, we have to educate and entertain. But mostly educate and add value. That would be my advice.

Drew Neisser: There it is. Alright, Evy Lyons, thank you so much for being on the show!

Evy Lyons: Thank you, Drew!

Drew Neisser: Renegade. Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser—hey, before I keep going with the rest of the tail end, don’t forget to visit your favorite podcast channel and rate the show. If you enjoyed the show, check out Evy Lyons on LinkedIn and tell her how much you enjoyed being on the show. All right back to the read.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser—hey, that’s me! Audio production is by Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about my new book and the savviest B2B marketing boutique in New York City, visit renegade.com. I’m your host Drew Neisser and until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.

Subscribe

to the Latest in

Renegade Thinking