SPECIAL REPORT

How MarTech Companies Market Themselves

What we learned from our conversations with the ultimate SaaS marketers

What marketing teams look like at MarTech companies today

The typical B2B marketing organizational structure is divided into distinct roles, sometimes criticized for creating silos of untapped potential. However, some MarTech companies are experimenting with non-traditional marketing team structures to increase productivity and collaboration. Marketing teams in the MarTech space appear to be evolving toward: 

  • Blurred lines between sales and marketing functions
  • A shift in the way KPIs are being used
  • Unconventional ways of grouping departments
  • Blended teams comprised of both in-house and external members

The MarTech companies we spoke to yielded some interesting observations leading us to each of these points.

Marketing and sales teams are converging

The increasing blend of marketing and sales teams was one of the biggest trends we noted during our series of MarTech leader interviews. Most people we spoke to brought up alignment between sales and marketing teams as a major part of their work, and several said that the marketing and sales function is handled by just one team now. 

Defying the long history of friction between marketing and sales departments, many leaders in MarTech companies believe that collaboration between the two teams is essential for success—to the point of merging them. And we’re not the first to note this seismic shift. In fact, Gartner predicts that, “By 2023, 25% of organizations will amalgamate Marketing, Sales, and CX into a single function.” 

Here’s what that looks like for the executives we talked to in the MarTech space.

Vincenzo Ruggiero, CEO of Overloop (formerly Prospect.io), said that “there is more and more mixing between sales and marketing. I think it's the end of defining sales and marketing as two separate concepts. And I think a lot of companies are failing with marketing and sales because they still separate the two.”

Qualifio CMO Antonio Molina Cubero told us that the SDR role is “part of the marketing team, not the sales team.” And MadKudu has obliterated the divide between sales and marketing teams entirely, as VP of Marketing Laura Kendall explained: 

“We currently do not have a sales development or qualification team. Our perspective on sales and marketing alignment is that we really think about ourselves as one go-to-market team. So we work very closely together on everything from our messaging to leveraging our own tool for sales prioritization. We really pride ourselves on being able to defy what is commonly referred to as a battle between sales and marketing."

Laura Kendall - VP of Marketing at MadKudu
Laura Kendall
VP of Marketing at MadKudu

Our perspective on sales and marketing alignment is that we really think about ourselves as one go-to-market team.

Other companies who keep sales and marketing as separate functions are finding ways to work closer together. For Catherine Fournier, marketing manager at inwink, this means wholly focusing on supporting the sales team. She said, “We really have this approach that we are here to support the sales teams before anything else.”

Similarly, Tom Kuhr, CMO of Greenfly, told us, “Our goal is to fuel the sales pipeline . . . We work really closely with the SDR team. We've managed the SDRs from a content perspective, where our head of sales manages SDRs from a day-to-day workflow perspective.”

The convergence of sales and marketing teams naturally impacts how marketing departments at MarTech companies measure their performance.

Marketing KPIs are simpler—but more targeted

Given the convergence of sales and marketing functions, it’s not surprising to see marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to sales. Still, if you drill down, there are dozens of KPIs that marketers can measure before a sale happens. 

While it’s important for marketers to measure their success, not every piece of data is relevant or worthwhile. Many that we spoke to are looking for ways to keep their KPIs simple.

Jonathan Wuurman - VP of Marketing at Actito
Jonathan Wuurman
VP of Marketing at Actito

We have just one KPI in marketing, which is MQLs—generating demo requests. A single KPI makes your life so easy.

Jonathan Wuurman, VP of marketing at Actito explained that he has only one KPI, which allows him to focus less on data. “We have just one KPI in marketing, which is MQLs—generating demo requests. A single KPI makes your life so easy. At the beginning of the year, I sat down with the marketing team and I said, ‘Okay, this is the sales target. How much do we want to be accountable for?’ And from that, we can set our lead generation goal. This means we can simply ask ourselves, ‘Did we reach our target—yes or no?’ And this gives us the space to focus less on quantities and more on quality.”

Similarly, Laura Kendall of MadKudu said she’s “primarily measured on opportunities created or pipeline generated for sales.” 

Emilia Korczynska, head of marketing at Userpilot, echoes that sentiment: “My KPIs are very simple: I make sure that we get enough MQLs to hit our revenue targets for the year. And we have a rather conservative definition—we count people who are booking demos and signing up. We don’t really count newsletter signups or ebook downloads.” 

While marketing teams seem to be focused on MQLs to measure their impact, that doesn’t mean they don’t drill down into more granular measurements to ensure they’re on the right track. Korczynska says her team also tracks KPIs for different channels, such as conversions from Google ads or KPIs for the content they create. 

Anupam Dasgupta, VP of marketing at Quintype, also breaks down different KPIs to track demand generation versus branding: “For branding, we focus on a variety of KPIs, such as awards, qualified social media following, and audience engagement with thought leadership pieces.”

Jennifer Zapp, head of marketing at SaaSquatch, also mentions that she measures performance of content differently depending on the channel, since goals for a blog, for example, are different from other channels. “On social, for example, we're not as much measuring a piece of content by the clicks or conversions, because we know that social is more of an awareness channel. So, we measure that very differently than we do when we post the same piece of content on our blog or send it out through email.”

At Ontrack Workflow, CMO Brett McCarey is focusing more on customer success metrics this year to “make sure that we continue to keep our clients happy and develop enhancements and products that they would like to see.”

No matter what your KPIs look like or whether or not you believe that marketing and sales should merge, chances are your team looks different than it might have even a few short years ago. 

Some MarTech companies are embracing unconventional structures

Some innovative MarTech startups are ramping up collaboration by doing away with traditional internal structures. Others are making smaller changes to their marketing teams by incorporating in-house designers, developers, or content marketers to maintain the forward momentum of their workflow. 

Take, for instance, Elias Rizk, founder of ebCard, a startup that helps companies manage lead capture data. From the beginning, Rizk has structured his entire company around the idea of King Arthur’s Camelot—as he put it, “a round table where you have everyone in a circle working together to deliver everything.” 

And he views marketing as falling under the bigger role of growth. Elias explained: “The head of growth and head of product are the two pieces that drive the motor. At the heart to connect them and to transform them, you have head of performance and head of operations. Currently, I’m acting as both head of growth and head of performance. So, you have these four pillars that actually drive the company forward and all employees are going to be within these four. Marketing, sales, customer support, and implementation are all growth. Everyone who interacts with the client is part of the growth team.”

Elias Rizk - Founder of ebCard
Elias Rizk
Founder of ebCard

Everyone who interacts with the client is part of the growth team.

For some, it comes down to identifying key roles on their team. For instance, Albacross’s head of growth Marcus Svensson swears by having a developer as part of his marketing team, along with a designer and content marketer. He said, “This allows you to work at an extremely high speed . . . So we can try a lot of things and take bigger risks without needing to wait for other departments or external agencies to fill in the gaps.”

While Svensson has built his in-house team for speed, many are turning to external resources to build their content marketing structure, capitalize on flexibility, and stay competitive.

MarTech companies are blending in-house and outsourced talent

The concept of on-demand workers seems to be here to stay. 2020 research by HBR found that a staggering 90% of companies feel that blending full-time and freelance staff can yield a competitive advantage.

In 2019, the Content Marketing Institute also reported that 50% of B2B organizations outsource some part of their content marketing, with content creation by far the most frequent (84%).

Even so, it may surprise some to see that MarTech companies are enthusiastically incorporating outside help to create hybrid marketing teams. As a content agency, we sometimes encounter the notion that writing must be done by an in-house team or dedicated writer that knows the product inside and out. However, the MarTech sector seems to heartily acknowledge the significant benefits to hiring outside writing help.

Emilia Korczynska of Userpilot described her journey to find their optimal mix of in-house and outsourced talent in content marketing. First, she tried hiring freelance writers. But “working with freelancers was very hard because they didn't get the product, they didn't get the audience—they were writing something that looked like content, but that really brought no value,” she told us. “When you combine that with a very sophisticated, very intelligent audience, it’s a recipe for disaster.” 

But she found that hiring full-time writers didn’t work, either. “We hired a bunch of full-time writers and we found that people would be burning out double-time and we had a very low retention rate in these roles. Because it's so hard—it's really hard to produce high-quality content.”

Emilia Korczynska - Head of Marketing at Userpilot
Emilia Korczynska
Head of Marketing at Userpilot

We switched from hiring full-time writers to hiring full-time editors and just creating briefs—and making sure they are so detailed that any writer can basically paint by numbers.

Eventually, she settled on hiring full-time editors who could create detailed briefs alongside a team of outsourced writers to solve the problem. “We switched from hiring full-time writers to hiring full-time editors and just creating briefs—and making sure they are so detailed that any writer can basically paint by numbers . . . A good editor can write a couple of briefs per day, but they can’t write a couple of blogs per day.” 

Outsourcing blog writing to an agency is a popular way for SaaS companies to keep their content marketing on track. Dan Roche, VP of marketing at Scoro, believes agencies contribute in-depth knowledge and hyper efficiency: “We have an in-house team who are great at what they do. They understand the business and where the business is going. And then that’s enhanced and supported and turbocharged by agency specialists who can get us somewhere faster than we might be able to otherwise do with only internal resources.”

RECAP
What marketing teams look like at MarTech companies today
  • Marketing and sales teams are converging.
  • Marketing KPIs are simpler — but more targeted.
  • Some MarTech companies are embracing unconventional structures.
  • MarTech companies are blending in-house and outsourced talent.

The teams at today’s MarTech companies are evolving, and so are the channels that they use to reach their customers.

Next: Channels