A Conversation with TrustRadius's Allyson Havener
In today's MarTech leader conversation, we speak with Allyson Havener, the VP of marketing at TrustRadius, a software review platform. We discuss why B2B marketing should always be about building community and building a brand narrative with a cohesive content strategy.
TrustRadius is a B2B software review platform. Our platform helps buyers of software make better decisions. On the other side of the coin, we also help vendors tell their stories, engage with those high-intent buyers, and gain insights from their customers. For vendors, there are tons of reviews and content generated from customers who are using their product—so we help them use that.
We play in the same market as companies like G2, Capterra, and Gartner Insights. I would say there are three buckets that these review platforms sit in. With Capterra or Gartner Insights, you're paying for leads, you're paying for rankings, you're paying for reviews. And then you have the G2s of the world, which are all about how much volume you can drive in terms of your reviews—not so much the quality of it.
The problem with those two approaches is that you're gaming the system and those sites are really built for the vendor, not the buyer. At TrustRadius, we really want to help technology buyers make better decisions for their business goals. It's really hard to do that if you have vendors that are just gaming the system or taking advantage of a pay-to-play model. With TrustRadius, it's all based on merit. So we're much more focused on the buyer and making sure that we are creating a really good experience for them.
I think that our model reflects where the industry is going. Buyers have much more power. We have an in-house research team, and they've found that 57% of buyers don't even talk to a salesperson—they actually go off of review platforms, or they go to their peers. So they're already making buying decisions before they ever engage directly with the company.
I'm the newest on the executive team at TrustRadius and I'm essentially rebuilding the marketing department. It’s about executing on short term-needs while also planning for the long-term growth.
Within the last few months, we’ve applied a phased approach to how we're going to rebuild the marketing function. We've started focusing on our marketing operations. And none of this stuff is the sexy stuff—nobody wants to deal with data issues, lead routing processes, and cleaning up broken links from landing pages. But it's all the unglamorous stuff that you have to do first, because if you start turning on all the sexy stuff like paid media or events and you don't have the proper marketing operations in place, it all falls through the cracks. It was a big mind shift that had to happen within the company to get everyone on board with my marketing strategy.
My ultimate bottom line is pipeline generation. Everything we do on marketing is about creating potential revenue for the business. I want to do that in the most efficient way possible, which is why I focus on marketing operations and integrating all our marketing efforts.
In terms of a typical day, I've been trying to get a little bit more rigorous about having more of a routine. We do a large integrated marketing plan every quarter that is built in order to hit our company goals. We build a full funnel-integrated marketing strategy to take our product to market. We document the narrative that will help our potential buyers realize they have a problem, the solution to their problem, and then how our product can support that solution. From there, we build the content and channel distribution strategy. We meet on a weekly basis: Every Monday, my team gets together for about an hour and we talk through what the priorities are for the week to continually make progress on executing our plan
B2B marketing is getting very, very transactional. It's like, “Hey, download this, sign up for this, request a demo.” This is where I think B2B marketers are falling short. People pick a brand because they want to be part of that community. What's been effective for me in the past is taking a play out of a B2C marketer's playbook. At the end of the day, B2B technology is becoming more and more commoditized, just like B2C, so what's going to differentiate you will not be features; it's actually going to be your story and your brand that will give you a competitive advantage.
One big trend in the B2B space is intent data. Intent data is everywhere right now. But the problem is, as with any kind of trend, there's tons of confusion. There's so much intent data that marketers are not finding it actionable. My recommendation for marketers is to understand the difference between the different types of intent data and how to activate them in different campaigns. The type of data and the source is critical to being successful and more efficient with your marketing.
Content marketing is incredibly important. There's no B2B marketing without content marketing.
I start building our content strategy by first thinking about the cohesive story that I'm trying to tell. Then I think about how to do that across the buyer’s journey and across all pieces of content. You want to make sure your audience is getting that consistent narrative across all your content regardless of how they are interacting with your brand. And then, ultimately, the goal is to have a really primed audience for our sales team to engage with.
The big challenge is to actually do that right. A lot of people just make content in silos. There isn't really that whole narrative that all the content pieces are laddering into. Consistency is key. If you look at really, really good content marketing, it’s essentially saying the same thing in a different way. They're using the same vernacular, the same style, the same tone of voice, and it's all laddering into their brand. The content tells a story across multiple pieces of content.
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