A Discussion with Dave Smithbury, Head of Marketing at Ruler Analytics
In today’s MarTech conversation, we speak with Dave Smithbury, head of marketing at Ruler Analytics, a company that focuses on connecting inbound leads with revenue metrics. Smithbury explains how his marketing strategy has shifted from outbound to inbound with extraordinary results. He also provides some insights into how his content strategy is all about relevance and community building.
We’re a small team based in Liverpool, UK. We operate in the MarTech B2B space providing marketing attribution software for marketers who have that disconnect between understanding where their leads are being generated from and the revenue that comes from the back of those.
So, typically, our clients are people who have an initial journey for the customer from digital marketing activity that then converts offline. For instance, in the legal industry, someone might search for the requirements online, but then they'll pick up the phone to speak to someone, or they might come in through a form submission or a live chat.
That's why we tend to see the disconnect where marketing is doing its best to generate the lead, but then sales takes over and the revenue information kind of gets lost in the ether. It might go into your CRM, but the data is disconnected.
We're able to track activity when people go onto a website over multiple sessions, so that when they make contact via a form or live chat or call, we’ll match that back to the existing activity. Then, we fire that into the CRM, so when the CRM sales team do their bit on the sales side of it, we tie the revenue back to the initial activity, and then we can push that back into your marketing report, and tools such as Google Analytics, Google Ads or Facebook Ads.
With us, you’re getting the full understanding of your customer journey and we can show you exactly what your marketing efforts are doing in terms of revenue, rather than it being based on vanity metrics like clicks and impressions.
My official title is head of marketing or VP of marketing, but in reality, I'm responsible for all growth. So, I manage the marketing teams; I look after the sales teams and the partnerships team as well.
We've got a team of three other marketers, two sales people, and one person in the partnerships team. I make sure that it all links in together.
This year my role has been about keeping the wheels in motion, especially now that we’re largely locked down and everyone is working from home. We’ve had to learn how to make sure everything's being communicated effectively.
A lot of my time is spent kind of being the conduit between the team and making sure that sales are feeding back any information to help develop our product and that we're creating the right types of content that feeds in the right quality leads. I tend to end up being the CRM admin a lot of the time.
I also work alongside the CEO on strategy on a daily basis. So yeah, day-to-day, it’s a lot of just pushing the wheel, but then I get to do a little bit of blue sky thinking as well, to make sure that we're moving in the right direction.
If we can double our growth year on year, then that's a great achievement for us. But we're not looking for skyrocketing acceleration—we want to be quite conservative in our growth and be able to scale and service our customers that we've got in place already. We want to make sure that we're there to deal with customers on a one-to-one level. We're really keen on making sure we are serving the customer as best as we can.
Revenue growth is definitely the lifeblood of the business. There's been a key focus for this year to drive up our average MRR—that's a key metric for us at the moment.
I think our content strategy has really driven our influx of leads over the last year or two: really drilling down SEO-wise, building a bit more on the community side of it, making sure that we've plugged all the gaps in the customer funnel to make sure we have content that's relevant at each stage of the decision-making process.
[Developing our content] has taken quite a bit of time, but it's been a bit of a labor of love for us, really. It's shifted our sales process from being quite outbound to pretty much being more inbound, thanks to the content we created. I’m really proud of the output the team has built.
The biggest challenge is to understand how we can grow this business and make it scalable and repeatable. We've tried a lot of different things on the sales side, because it's quite a difficult product to go out there and sell. It’s not always easy to find someone who knows they’ve got this specific problem around connecting their activity back to CRM—you need to really know you’ve got that issue.
So, on the outbound side, it's very difficult for our sales team to convey that message using the typical cold methods.
Transforming the business into being more inbound focused has definitely been the way we’ve begun to overcome that.
On a B2B level, there's a shift toward understanding that it's more about marketing to people rather than marketing to a business. Getting to that one-to-one level of really understanding one person's challenges and overcoming them—I think that's really powerful.
B2B is probably the one area where you can actually achieve that level of really getting to know your customer and understanding their obstacles prior to the solution.
I think that probably the biggest shift for me is going from this idea that B2B is that shirt-and-tie stuffy industry, instead it’s about understanding that we're all consumers at the end of the day, and, you know, people buy from people. That's a significant area that we're looking into at the moment. We're looking to create more video content to have that human element included a little bit more.
And we’re looking to build up our community more.
The way we're looking to build up community is by creating a survey lab and more community-led content. We're also creating a lot of training programmes. We're expecting that off the back of that, we’ll get higher engagement from people who are really interested in the topic of attribution.
There's always a balance between thinking about content as a way to rank for keywords and drive in eyeballs and really understanding what the incentives are behind these keywords.
We want to make sure that we’re creating content that is useful and engaging for people. We really want to make sure we're offering solutions to people within that bit of content so they want to find out more. So, ensuring serious intent behind any blog piece that we write is our focus.
It's not necessarily just driving people into a demo straight away; sometimes, our content will focus more on working them through that funnel.
Beyond that, we make sure we are looking at insights as well. So, we'll use our own data to create benchmark reports and we’ll create community reports that bring in expert insight.
My team has created a huge amount of output over the last few months, so that gives us a chance now to step back and really understand what's working effectively.
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