STEPHANIE: Hello, and welcome to the Lobcast Podcast: Mixers and Marketing. I'm Stephanie Donelson, your hostess with the marketing mostess. And I'm the senior content marketing manager here at Lob. I'm thrilled to be joined by Scott McKeighen, Lob's senior marketing operations manager. Scott, do you mind introducing yourself to our listeners?
SCOTT: Sure, my name's Scott McKeighen, longtime MOPS person, email nerd, recovering graphic designer, junk mail person from like a long time ago. Mixed drink and bourbon enthusiast. Ask me about D&D.
STEPHANIE: We'll see how much time we have left.
SCOTT: Right we'll talk about armor, class and whatnot if we have time. But yeah, really happy to be here and talking about all things marking operations and how they serve you, the good folks in marketing.
STEPHANIEWell, thank you for joining us today. And I'm glad you're a mixed drink enthusiast. I tried to pick a good one for you.
SCOTT: You did indeed.
STEPHANIE: Listeners, if you do want to make the complementary cocktail at home, you're going to need two ounces of bourbon, 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice, 3/4 ounce of simple syrup, half an orange wheel and one maraschino cherry. Or if you're me three because I wanted those in mine. You're going to combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, add ice, cover, shake, and then strain the cocktail into a glass filled with ice, garnish with the orange wheel and the cherry or cherries. So cheers. And again, welcome to the show, Scott!
SCOTT: Cheers, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE: All right. So, like we said today, we're focused on marketing ops. Scott, can you give us a quick definition of marketing operations or what's your definition of it?
SCOTT: A quick definition? I mean, so yeah, in my lifetime as a MOps person, it's really kind of grown up around me as a discipline. And then the good folks, Edward Unthank and the Etumos agency really kind of organized the definition that I think is most commonly referred to now. And there are really four pillars that I think most companies would identify with marketing operations. So you have platform operations, campaign operations, analysis and marketing intelligence and in development are like dev MOps. So like the equivalent in marketing of like DevOps for an engineering team. Sure and so all of that really translates to things like day-to-day technology and tool management. So someone who's like the Marketo admin, you know, or someone who's, you know, running the Sierra in as the case may be, campaign ops would be things like who's deploying, you know, Marketo emails or running HubSpot for you and your marketing team. If it's not you, the marketer yourself, it's all going to be things like building automation and triggers, right? So data value, normalization and all the other fun things that get all the attention, right? All those things. But it's also things like doing, you know, deep analysis, right? Depending upon how big your team is. So trying to guide the marketing team to make really, truly data-driven decisions, strategic plays, using data, and then having those strategic conversations and steering the marketing team using the data, right? Like I said, it kind of depends on the size of the org. A lot of teams are like a team of one for it's like one MOps person supporting a lot of marketers and yeah, Yeah. But depending upon the size of your company that that's we start to see more specialization so you'll see a lot less kind of like, well, you associate unicorns, right? But you'll see a lot more of our specialized focus teams where we have my ops, the market intelligence ops folks along with backend devs alongside the platform folks and the campaign operations folks all rolling into one big organization. But yeah, really it's, it's a pretty big sandbox, you know, to play in and it's, it's situationally dependent. Look at a lot of things, you know, depending upon who you are and what your skill set is, you know, you can find a pretty good, pretty good gig in there. You know, you might be writing code, right? You know, a lot of marketers themselves might be doing code writing. But in MOps you'll, you'll be definitely writing code at some points in your life. Yeah even if it's just HTML you might be dabbling but it might be something more esoteric. Like if you're in a Marketo instance at some point writing velocity template language, you know, which is such a joy.
STEPHANIE: Take a drink.
SCOTT: Yeah there you go.
STEPHANIE: Thank you for that. That's a great definition. You know, when I think of marketing operations, a few keywords typically just come to mind. For me, you know, the attribution segmentation, lead scoring is a big one, the optimization and budgeting. I think a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that captures the results of the marketing campaigns that the rest of the team is putting out there. It's collecting the data or the customer or prospect behavior with a campaign and then understanding the result of that, such as revenue-generated, MQLs, SQLs, so we can understand what campaigns worked, what didn't. We can make those refinements, and then you guys can help us automate it and make sure it's doing what it's supposed to do, right?
SCOTT: Exactly. I mean, a lot of what falls to marketing operations. One of my own, I began out here as a Merlin Mann. And one of the terms that I've heard him use a lot is being an information janitor. Right like you don't show up until there's kind of a problem. And a lot of operations are just sits in the background like you don't you don't appear until there's an issue, right? Like so you kind of sometimes don't want to see the operations person come by your team and say, 'hey, your campaign sucks. Right? Here are the 27 specific reasons why.' But as good partners, right? When we do to that point, as you're raising, right, bring those signals to you and say, hey, actually, here are the ways that you could optimize your campaign for success. Here are the things that we are suggesting is what we're seeing.
SCOTT: Based on the performance data, like that's one of the key strategic functions that we can play. Now obviously depends on the org. Depends like depends on the day. Depends on how much time we have, you know, and how much involvement you and see to the marketing I've seen. But when, when, when that engine is really firing on all cylinders, you know, to use another metaphor like it's, it's, it's quite good. So yeah.
STEPHANIE: Yeah I mean, nobody wants their campaign to be pointed out is being bad. But I think any marketer or at least any marketer that is truly in it for the right reason, you still want the end user, that end customer or prospect to have the best experience possible. You want them to move through their workflow as easily as possible. You're not trying to make things more complicated or be running bad campaigns that don't serve them, nor help them find the right product that they're looking for. So it really is about coming together and almost lessening that ego and being like, 'Oh no, shoot, what is wrong? Like, help me optimize my campaign so we all get the results we're looking for.'
SCOTT: Yeah, you don't know what you don't know. And so being willing to be wrong, right, is a great position to take, no matter what side of this particular relationship you're on, right? It's especially important if you're in operations, right? It should be. And is, you know, at least in my opinion, by definition, a data-driven, scientifically-minded discipline. Right? So that we should be operating, so to speak, on the premise that you can be wrong and you're going to use data to prove or disprove your hypotheses, right? That's how you should be thinking and operating.
STEPHANIE: Definitely, I love that. You know, we just kind of talked about making sure that the customer gets through the workflow correctly. Topic of the hour is spring cleaning marketing workflows. So Scott, when doing a maintenance check or a spring cleanup of marketing programs or workflows, what should marketers look for or what metrics should they be evaluating to see what programs need special attention?
SCOTT: Well, I mean, every team's, like, a little bit different. You know, that's not to say, like, you're all unique snowflakes in that sense, but, you know, not all touchpoints and MQLs, but, you know, extension are the same, right? Every organization has metrics that they care about.
SCOTT: So the biggest piece of advice is to really take that perspective of intent versus reality. And looking at a historical performance of those workflows that support those key metrics that you care about. So if it truly is like the number or the volume of MQLs, maybe it is those pillar campaigns. So if it's lifecycle marketing campaigns, so maybe it's automated emails, right? Those lifecycle touchpoints, maybe, maybe it is just big pillar campaigns that are driving interest depends on your organization certainly. But you want to start from the premise of you know, as an example, is this middle of funnel email nurture, right? Was it what is it supposed to be doing? Like what is the intent of this thing? Is it supposed to be producing meetings? Is that what it was designed to do and is it doing that? And when we say is it doing that right, can we connect from start to finish? The fact that I, as a recipient of this email, completed that customer journey and actually got to book a meeting.
SCOTT: What's the conversion rate been for that specific touchpoint, that experience month over month for some period of time? In other words, collecting as much data as possible to give yourself the strongest terrafirma right to make a good judgment call, or how is that performing? Because what you don't want to do is just make an assumption that this is wrong or this is bad. It's not working.
STEPHANIE: Hey now! We're marketers. We like to assume a lot of things, right?
SCOTT: Well, what happens when you assume right? You know, it's just, you know, so so anyway, using data as your north star, right? And saying, OK, data says right that this is actually performing pretty well. It changes what you can do and what the actual objective is of spring cleaning, right? As opposed to overhaul. Right it could be optimize. Right so, all right. The engagement of the email itself is lackluster. So now we can turn our energy and make it more efficient and say let's focus on, you know, open rates and getting them out of the inbox and into the booking experience. And then how we reduce form friction. You know, how do we leverage other technology to reduce form friction, say, with the form shortening or something else? That can spawn a whole bunch of the tests that then get you into, you know, the, you know, exponential increases in conversion rates as opposed to saying, well, this entire experience, we need to throw that out or completely rework a channel, you know, something of that nature. So yeah, just having the data in hand lets you craft a plan to test your way into better performance. But one of the things and this comes to a big thing we'll be talking about today, I guess, is QA. Like is the data demonstrably incorrect? Like, did we did we make a goof like six months ago and we're just not collecting the right information? Oops, right? Like you really don't want to, like, come to find out, you know, a while down the road that there's some elementary stuff that was missed that has poisoned your entire well. You know, we all are human and we do make mistakes. But it is crucial that your go to market motion has a QA step. So if your marketing ops function doesn't have one, you absolutely need one. So at Lob we have a very rigorous QA step for our go-to market motions.
STEPHANIE: I believe that knowing you.
SCOTT: Down to checklists and these and it might feel like pedantic it's like 'Really? I've got to follow this checklist for this email?" We've done 1,000 emails. What really how many times have the emails been wrong? Right it's like, you know, and I and I say that knowing Yeah. Sometimes like we've missed a few things.
STEPHANIE: We all have! We've all sent that email that had a wrong fallback token in it or something. So it literally says 'Hello, First Name.' You're like,
SCOTT: Right, exactly. Yeah yeah, that that's a great feeling at like 5:59 on a Tuesday morning as you race to, you know, to log in to see everyone has at least one story, right? Yeah so, so anyway, the point being that with, with a QA step, right, like especially as you go into this, you know, this idea of like, what should I focus on? Ensuring that you're collecting the metrics that you actually need to be performing, making sure that you're doing that initially. OK we are gathering signal so that when you go to the we later on to decide, you know, is this actually something that is having a downstream impact, a positive impact on our customers? Now, we can, you know, talk about what we can do to optimize as opposed to conversely, we have nothing we don't know.
STEPHANIE: Right? So talking about optimizing, do you have any benchmarks that are top of mind that could be Warning signs for marketing ops teams to pay attention to?
SCOTT: Yeah I mean, so the biggest ones, if we're talking about, you know, things are like canary in the coal mine, so to speak. It's like changes in email deliverability are some, right? Conversion rate changes over time. And then like and alluding to earlier is, you know, unexpected results or 0 results, right? So like, oh, it's sort of they're like an unexpected result. Like if this one program out of the multitudes that are like it for whatever reason, it's like a7x returned like, Ah, these struck gold or something's wrong. Yeah, right.
STEPHANIE: Let's hope it's the former.
SCOTT: Right? So let's, let's eliminate the fact that it's wrong, right? Like let's, let's go through the, the exercise of, of literally like reverse engineering and make sure we didn't make some mistake. Like, and that mistake could be down to the atomic level, like, oops, you know, we have a filter here for a trigger that says, you know, these data states happened and now we are accrediting the wrong things and saying that's a success metric. So eliminating those elementary things. And maybe it is true. OK this thing actually is amazing. Successful yeah, it's great. Well, then again, that gives you ammunition to talk to leadership and say like, there's something about this specific ad, this cohort that we're targeting, whatever it might be that we want to, you know, further explore, we can invest more money in it, right? Maybe it's a new ad platform.
STEPHANIE: Bust out that checkbook.
SCOTT: Right? You know, it gives you information. Information's critical. Conversion rate changes over time, especially if there's like no change to the audience. Right? If, right if, if there's nothing different about, you know, the audience in particular, then that might be a signal of things like, you know, inbox fatigue, gray boxing, or something else that you're not considering. So that would be like a good signal for--
STEPHANIE: Messaging, content format.
SCOTT: Yeah oh, but yeah, a lot of stuff. So and tools like Marketo or not, you know, intrinsically poised to tell you, hey, like there's something wrong with this that you should probably pay attention to. So it's, it's on you. And it's not just the marking I've seen, but also that the marketing manager in particular to really like be at the forefront of their marketing.
STEPHANIE: Asking for that data.
SCOTT: Yeah being super curious like why is this, why is this not asking those questions? Right and then yet like, like I mentioned of topics email, deliverability in particular, like sender reputation is one of the most crucial things to keep at like a really good, really good level, you know, and it's extremely hard to rehabilitate if you get it wrong, right? So it can have, you know, not only long lasting impacts, but it can affect your entire company. So, yeah, having really good sender billing practices, you know, obviously CAN SPAM compliant in those things, but keeping healthy list and then monitoring, you know, bounce rates and things like that. But just making sure that you're keeping clean lists and not sending to habitual bouncers, if you can, scrubbing out bad actors when you can, just make sure you have solid reputation. Those are the things that I would start with. There's a lot more that you could say. There are so many metrics that you could just pour yourself over like there's so many things. So you can have to stop, you know, depending on how big your team is, right? You could spend forever doing it if you have the budget, right. To set up, you know, a lot of automated tooling, right. To look at things. That's also a really good idea. But that requires a lot of, you know, upfront cost. There are some tools that can do that. And you know, as an example, I want specifically in the tool, but it can essentially make sure that the data flows between your systems are still functioning, almost like a anatomy test to say like, yep, we're still passing data between these two systems. There aren't any delays are tiny failures. So there are things that you can do to give yourself early Warning systems, essentially. Yeah so they are looking at historic reports and 'Oh yeah, we stop sending MQLs to you also three months ago.' That's probably a problem, right?
STEPHANIE: No wonder sales is mad, right?
SCOTT: I mean, they're kind of always mad, but.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's a conversation for another Lobcast!
SCOTT: Yeah, exactly. Another drink.
STEPHANIE: Right. OK so you just kind of talked about some of the warning signs people should look for, you know, just to make sure that they're maintaining their workflows. But how often do you recommend those working in marketing ops to do a deep clean of their programs or workflows?
SCOTT: Honestly, again, a lot of things are situationally dependent. But, you know, honestly, what I would say is that should decide what that. Regular, you know, meeting schedule looks like there are a lot of things that I tend to look at weekly. And so those are the most crucial things. So that would be things such as lead lifecycle campaigns. And I'm not talking about in this specific instance, I'm not talking about coms, I'm talking about the actual lifecycle itself. So lifecycle stage changes, the lead scoring system, the data routing, lead routing, all of these things I'm ensuring on at least a weekly basis now that we are still passing data.
SCOTT: And a lot of that is because things like this tend to fail silently. Again, there's, you know, without, you know, extra tooling.
SCOTT: There are a lot of points in the chain, a very complex one that will just fail and not alert you that there's an issue, right? And so it's crucial to just keep a weather eye on those things. So addition to that, you know, you just want to make sure that this, like I said, the data is passing back and forth, make notes and it looks strange. It might be oh, it may not even be that data is not flowing. Maybe you see an uptick in bot clicks or, or, you know, like, like junk coming in from PPC ads or something similar in terms of a deep clean, you know, you should look at historic and expect the performance, you know, with a given workflow again to know is it behaving the way that it should be. Tools like Marketo, I'll mention again, will allow you to see membership trends week over week as well as by month. So you can see as an example, if you have a centralized processor for MQLs, is the trend consistent over time? So you can see if you're, you know, like you may know, like when did we change our lead scoring model? Did that correlate with an uptick or not of the number of marketing qualified leads? So are you seeing the same volume of MQLs? That might be a good indicator if there's an issue, you know, but I think one of the things to also understand or at least appreciate is, you know, that old expression, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
SCOTT: If it's working, like don't sign yourself up. Yeah just like, don't break. Like, there's no reason to fix it if it's, you know, there's just nothing to do. But, you know, if not suddenly stop flowing, right? Like, that's a good sign too. Like, I need to go in there and start making some changes here, but honestly, it's because you're impacting your potential revenue anyway. I would say for a lot of things quarterly is probably like a good idea to start with. You know, if it's something like an automated lifecycle communication that leads to a regular like a quarterly check and it's again, I hate to like, you know, quite often my answers with like it's a choice dependent, but it really is. You know, it's like, you know, for something like a marketing gauge nurture. I'm not going to check on that more than maybe once a month personally. I'm going to rely on the marketing manager instead to tell me that there's something up with it that would be worthy of my attention. I will be looking at overall email performance and that would include, you know, lifecycle touches. So if I see something at the topmost level that would like what caught my attention that I don't also get from my counterpart in marketing, I might, you know, do like a spike in one of my sprints to figure out if there's something that I need to go and pay attention to. And then, you know, again, paying attention to the larger picture with regards to lifecycle, making sure those things are flowing as expected. But, you know, ultimately on that front, like, just don't forget to maintain your sanity because there's more than just one engagement program inside any Marketo instance or any HubSpot or whatever tool of choice for your organization. So you can spend forever refactoring these things. You can refine until forever. So there aren't any medals for, you know, making your marketing automation super duper efficient, you know, every single month. So like, just don't kill yourself out there. Right?
STEPHANIE: I'm going to get with our design team and we'll make you a medal.
SCOTT: Right I want the medal that chewy got in episode four. It it was the special edition. Right you got a medal in the new version, but. I want
STEPHANIE: To be honest I've seen like all the "Star Wars" movies like once.
SCOTT: Yeah well in the, in the special edition the heretical one that. Right but the one that George Lucas read it right then up here when they finally get it should be a medal. That's the medal that I won.
STEPHANIE: OK, I'll do my best! But do you think, you know, you kind of bring up a really good point about. Because I think marketing is always a marathon. It's not a sprint. You have to give your prospects time's time to engage with your nurture campaigns or all of your different marketing touchpoints. So you want to give programs time to collect that data. So again, going back to what we were talking about earlier, you can set those benchmarks. You can understand like, well, typically in a quarter, here's how people have engaged or how they've moved through the workflow. Hey, it takes typically this long to go from an MQL to an SQL, but if we add these touch points, they convert a little bit faster. But you have to let those programs run so you get that data back to.
SCOTT: Yeah well, and, you know, your MOps team or an analytics team or both, depending on how your, you know, how your company is organized, should be able to tell you that information to either by request or because they're bringing it to you. Right to say, hey, you know, when you add these touch points, right? You're seeing this decrease in energy will change the stage. Right you know, at least in an ideal situation, that's the kind of information that you can expect as possible. You know, it's not always something that comes to mind just because of, you know, how things are imitated or in which we work. But it's just one of those great reports, by the way, that was like is fantastic, is seeing it's almost like an age of money report, you know, it's like it's the reverse of that. It's like, how much time does it take for sales to get to an MQL? Well, right. And the quality and speed to lead. Right it's all of those things that indicate that marketing is feeding the other side of the revenue team sufficient, uh, you know, quality leads that can turn into potential revenue for all of us.
STEPHANIE: And I think that's a hard pill to swallow, because I've worked at organizations before where they're like, Oh yeah, our MQL rate is through the roof. And then when we change our lead scoring, our sales team was like, well, these leads are so much better than the ones before, but like we saw a huge drop. But it's like it's all about the quality though, right? You really want to get that quality versus sending in tons of unqualified people just to be like, oh, look at our numbers.
SCOTT: Yeah, I could. I could turn the lead scoring threshold down to, like, nothing tomorrow. You know, we all find each other, all right? It wouldn't mean much, right? So yeah, exactly.
STEPHANIE: And I think part of getting those qualified leads is capturing the right information on form fills. So what about spring cleaning forms? How often should those and marketing ops be cleaning up fields, adding or deleting fields, or investigating new technology to help with form fills?
SCOTT: Yeah well, I mean, with fields in particular, regardless of forms. Right like data structure and all that stuff. Like marketing ops should be leading the charge here along with their, depending upon again, how your organization is organized partnering with their RevOps counterparts sales ops dependent. It's all situationally situationally dependent. But you should be making those forms global resources if you can. Right one of the big traps that a lot of places fall into is making a ton of forms that do the same job.
SCOTT: So a good example of that might be, you know, a content download form for every single individual piece of content. And suddenly, you know, after you turn around and there are sixty forms that look very similar and do the exact same job. Right and then someone says, "Well, now we use this other technology." Maybe it's, you know, maybe it's marketing ops. And, you know, now we're going to now now we're going to, you know, change how we track UTM parameters. And so we need to go in and adjust the fields instead of adjusting one form. Now we're adjusting 60. Right and that's a great point where errors can crop up, because now we have know, we have multiplied the surface area of the problem by many times. So so first order of business is to reduce the surface area of the problem and globalize your forms first. Then as far as like reducing the number form fields. Right and going in there and actually having that conversation, it is a negotiation with marketing, because marketing wants to once to solicit this information from their prospects. Right? But no one wants to I don't want to tell you what, like my mother's maiden name is, you know, to download this e-book like no,
STEPHANIE: I don't know what my budget is yet for this. That's why I'm trying to get the e-book to understand what my budget should be.
SCOTT: No, I don't want to tell you that. So so really, it's a matter of like, well, where is there a happy medium if you can't invest in technology that allows you to completely circumvent this with something like form shortening? So name a vendor, I will say Clearbit like if you can, if you have the ability to bring on a vendor such as Clearbit for, you know, for form shortening. Great because then you sort of can have your cake and eat it too. You can ask for a single field or as many fields as like your minimum threshold. You're right, you know, and then everything else is essentially hidden from the user. And then you're still gathering information, albeit passively and not, you know, explicitly from the person getting the e-book, you know. So that's one way to do it. If you can't do that, then have those that tough conversation with not just yourself as a marketer, but also with your marketing team and leadership. Like are there versions of these forms where we are OK getting less information, you know, further, you know, farther up the funnel is an e-book. Do I really need to have estimated annual revenue attached to this e-book like or this case study you know so need that we know that we'll need it eventually. Like on a critical forum like a sales demo. Is that is that the only place we need it or do we need it elsewhere? So making those do those business decisions I think is, is like a good place to start. And marketing ops can help you with that, you know, and give you ideas in terms of where we are seeing heavy traffic and informed conversions and you can run tests, right? Say, here's how much your conversion rate increases, right? When we reduce form friction in this way and by virtue of increasing your conversion, now you have this increase in leads you can nurture and you can then leverage progressive profiling, right? You can.
STEPHANIE: What I was going to say!
SCOTT: Yeah, you can use other techniques to gather that information. Right so there's more than one way to, you know, to get somebody, you know, employee count. Then by just asking them that right now. And if you don't want to do that, then fine. I mean, just add it to your form and, you know, maybe your conversion rates are fine and none of this applies to you like I I'd love to know more. You know.
STEPHANIE: I think with some of those because again, like I'm a marketer when I land on a gated landing page, I know what you're looking for. And sometimes if there's too many, like I just pick whatever drops down first and it's like you can also get people like me that are just Messing up the data you're collecting just because I'm trying to get through the form as fast as possible. So it's like you have zero employees at your company like? Yes, I do, because I didn't want to take the time to fill this form out. Like I'm literally downloading a one to one e-book. I just want the information. Then you should nurture me. And then the next time it can be like, hey, we already captured this information. Do you mind telling us about this specific thing next, building that relationship up?
SCOTT: Yeah, and it's fine. It signals to the prospects that you are paying attention and that you're sensitive to the fact that, like, you really don't. It's who wants to fill out the same new patient form every time they go to the doctor, right? Like that's it's a labor-intensive thing to do. The other things to consider, too, there's two of the things, you know, information you're not collecting in some way before you pass them on to sales become sales' job. Right
SCOTT: So if you're not collecting it through technology or progressive profiling, then if it and if it's critical to the sales motion, then it becomes a sales task to find out. Right so they either become creepy, right. And they're going to go and stalk, you know, on LinkedIn or and they are very good at their jobs and can find out in a really smooth way during a conversation, to be clear. So I'm only joking. But they will find out, you know, some way. Right whatever their means. But that's extra work for them that they probably didn't have to do. Which is why tools like data enrichment exist in the first place. The other thing is to remember the human behind the inbox. So this is one thing that a lot of companies, in my estimation, kind of get wrong, a lot, which is demanding like a corporate address for really lightweight content. I know we do it a lot, you know, depending upon the situation. And honestly, it depends on how much is that the hill you're going to die on is a phrase we use in my family and one that I think applies to a lot of compromise. Right it's a decision that only you and your company can make. It's like, do you need to have this corporate address for someone to download this two-pager or this, you know, this interesting, like awareness piece? Do you really need that? Because what this person is telling you is that this address over here, this Gmail address or whatever is important to them because this is where they want to receive content. Right it's also active. It tells you two really important pieces of information. Right they receive email here and they. So it's valid for one, and two they pay attention to it. So while it might not be great for routing, right. Like it's not going to say, oh, I know that it's associated with, you know, big corporation over here with like $10 billion in revenue. We know that it belongs to a human being who's interested in the brand. Yeah so just something to consider when you think about your intake strategy with regards to forms.
STEPHANIE: No, I think that's a fantastic point because yeah, it really shouldn't matter how they get in because they are still indicating that interest in the content you're producing or at least your brand on a high level. And then it's up to you to take that data and do that, what you will. Which kind of leads me to my next question. We're going to talk a little bit about segmentation, because segmentation is kind of the name of the game in marketing. So what things should marketers evaluate to improve segmentation in their databases?
SCOTT: Capture everybody. So like when you think about segmentation, right? It's easy to think about just like the most ideal states. Right you're not considering, you know, literally every outcome. Databases, you know, email platforms, marketing automation platforms, we need to think about segmentation schemes like in Marketo all the way down to literally every record. So what you want to think about are as an example, like your ICPs from the most ideal customer all the way down to the riff raff that you're for sure are going to delete at some point for, you know, definitely like it's a, you know, a complete junk record. Yeah so we want those segmentations in marketing ops to be as efficient as possible. So we need to have as many different criteria kind of spelled out as we can. If they're inefficient or inaccurate, it can cause significant performance issues. So we in MOps really want to partner with you in marketing to understand when you say something like, "I want to target customers." Right? We'll have a perspective on what we think that means, right? But we want to hear from you. What do you mean by that? Right well, that's one of the often, often used refrains, at least in my estimation, between MOps and marketing. What do you mean by that? Like asking for clarity. And it's not to be, like, annoying. It's really to get very crisp. It's to say, well, I mean, it's like, well, you say customer. Do you mean customers who are spending over, you know, over 5 million a year in this region? Right how many different segments do we need to be able to address here are within this segmentation scheme that allows us to then in MOps to create scope to then architect the solution that's going to fit your business. Because if we don't have, you know, if we don't have all the information, what we end up with is something that's less than desirable, like less accurate, which then impacts your ability to target our ability to report. And it just creates rework. No one wants that. So so being as deliberate as possible with segments is, is what for me is the name of the game there. We want records to avoid sort of the dreaded default position, which is like, I didn't think about this at all. And it's, it's actually like a good safety catch in a tool like Marketo, because let's say for the sake of argument, you're talking about seniority. Right? so everything like an individual could trade or contribute all the way up to c-suite. Maybe you're doing it by job titles and not using a CSV to, you know, architects, you know, the extra job titles now you can to break this out. So for however you're organizing, it doesn't really matter. But maybe you forgot about things like head of or like leader. You know, it doesn't matter. But if you don't account for those different scenarios, they'll fall into this bucket of default. It's a good way to do that kind of beta testing and stress testing of those segments before you actually roll that out and use that in production. But if you don't account for those scenarios or if you just ignore them, right. You're going to end up leading potentially like high value targets, you know, in this segment that you're never going to use anyway. And then I think perhaps maybe more seriously, it'd be things like emailability. So we have one of those here at Lob. We're talking about things that are active, database, inactive, unreachable. Right so if we're not being very deliberate as well, what does active mean or what does unreachable mean? You could end up having somebody who is perhaps like an invalid email or like, you know, an invalidated email address or something similar, just finding themselves into an inaccurate segment, which could really have bad effects. Right so all those things said, right? Being as delivered as possible is the biggest thing that I could say.
STEPHANIE: No, I love that. Thank you. That's a really great insight to you because, yeah, I think of it just like, well, I need this list. Can you pull these people? And it's like, well, you know, you probably missed the boat on getting certain customers in that segment.
SCOTT: Yeah, I think the biggest tip I could give everybody, too, is just build your segmentations and reliable data, if at all possible. So if you're building on the feels that, you know, yeah, if you're building segmentations on fields or field sets that don't contain reliable data, then you should, at a minimum, note that a user as accurate as you can make them or suggest. And then MOps would actually probably push back and say, no, we're not going to do the segmentation around this until it's clean. There's no way to ensure that this is accurate. So
STEPHANIE: And any good marketer, marketing manager should be able to say like, yes, that is a valid point. Like, we should not be sending this message to these people if we don't think it's going to resonate.
SCOTT: Yeah, it becomes a good ticket to file. Hey, it is. It is bad. Can you fix it, please?
STEPHANIE: Hey, we thought the open rate on this email was 0.01. Why is that?
STEPHANIE: What marketing or what operations in marketing ops should be automated?
SCOTT: Everything! I mean, I so like candidly and I say this like at if at all possible. You should be automating everything. And if you are. At this point in the evolution of marketing as a discipline if you are not doing marketing the mission, I have a lot of questions about your marketing. And I don't mean that as an insult. I'm deeply curious, like maybe you. I know there are a lot of folks that do ABM completely off line as an example, and I'd be very interested to know more about that. It's like their TAM is like 300 people. So like, why would I automate, you know? But you know, it's so like there is some use case, but for the vast majority of us, right, we should probably be marketing and doing marketing automation right now. But in terms of low-hanging fruit, right? Email marketing, reporting, lead capture, data normalization, post-processing and enrichment, just to name a few. You know, if it's a marketing motion that deals with prospects, providing data to a sales team eventually, or if it's just data that's just going to go into the CRM, it should flow through automation, right? If you imagine, you know, like how things kind of used to be. We'll talk about that I guess. You know, a lot of that was just run through spreadsheets that had to be imported manually.
STEPHANIE: One fat finger and the data is bad.
SCOTT: Yeah, well, and honestly, like, that can happen with automation too. So, yikes. But you know, but like in addition normalization that that's, that's our love language and loops. We want stuff to be standardized because it makes the ability to report segment target score, you know, just that much easier. Right if as we were talking about forms earlier, like nothing is better than turning a text field into a pick list. Right?
STEPHANIE: Right! Standardize everything. These options or maybe even "other."
SCOTT: Yeah, exactly. If I could make names to pick lists somehow and not make a terrible like I would, but yeah. So yeah. In that regard, right. Automation is what makes operations really even a thing. I mean, other than just the distributed task that everyone does poorly.
STEPHANIE: So what are some of the tools or must haves that are your favorites when working in marketing ops? Oh, well, maybe that's a loaded question.
SCOTT: OK well, I mean, for me, like no MOps first, no marketing person should be without some sort of, you know, Excel or sheets. Right you need that. That's table stakes at this point in any any, you know, data-driven job. I prefer G sheets personally just because it's easy to work with it. It saves all the time.
STEPHANIE That is nice!
STEPHANIE: So the hidden one among another one?
SCOTT: Right, exactly. You know, so it's pretty cool.
STEPHANIE: No, thank you. Those are awesome tools. I have definitely have been checking out Drafts because I'm a big Mac girl, so I want my things to play nicely together.
SCOTT: So good. It's so good.
STEPHANIE: I asked Julie this question on episode 6 and you're going to get it to. What attribution model is your favorite or preferred one that you like to use?
SCOTT: OK, I don't really have a preferred model, I suppose, because they all do something different. I will say if I was pressed to pick one like today, like you have one day to pick sort of a hot take. It would be the linear even weighted model. OK and, and the reason I pick that is just because it's pretty practical, fairly sensible. You just evenly distribute the credit amongst all touch points. Right it has drawbacks. Right?
SCOTT: Well, what if the journey was like three years long newsletter. The first one. So like, you know, the, like you it we presume a lot I'll say this we presume a lot in marketing and marketing about getting into the headspace of a prospect. It's like, well, well, how could the newsletter from three years ago have any influence now on their buying decision? Well, you don't actually know that it didn't, right? So in terms of how we might divide credit, it is the easiest in terms of setup, right. If there were 20 touchpoints and we divide we divide it 20 ways. Yeah it's also just a matter of fact that like, as far as, like how we decide between linear even weighted time decay, w-shaped, u-shaped, those percentages are we just made that stuff up like as marketing we just we made it up.
STEPHANIE: Fake it till you make it!
SCOTT: Yeah, we, we just decided, OK, well, like, OK, well we'll do 80% for first and last and then the rest of the, you know, the middle for like u-shape. That's OK. Right and those are just attempts that we are. We are. It's like a try know it's a try model. The learning and failing learning again and trying to optimize and understand things. So they're not those aren't that all this is to say none of those are bad, right? They all inform something. But for me, if I had to pick, I would just make the one that's probably the easiest at least to understand. Like, OK, 20 touches on different pieces of credit. Personally.
STEPHANIE: I like that. I mean, I think. Yeah on the actual marketing side of things, we all love to think like, oh, well, my campaign or all my social media posts that like pushed them over the edge, but they all played a role in getting that user to convert at the end of the day. So like it really is, you know, multitouch, omnichannel, whatever kind of marketing you want to call it all works towards the same goal. Everyone carried their weight in getting this prospect over the finish line. So let's all get the credit for it.
SCOTT: For sure. Absolutely.
STEPHANIE: All right. What about reporting? What reports do you find to be the most valuable to guide future programs or setting up new workflows?
SCOTT: So good. I'll start with like MQLl aging reports. So I'm going to focus on MQLS here because I know we're a little short on time, I suppose, but as far as MQL aging. So really it's just lifecycle aging reports. So not specific to the MQL stage but looking at lead velocity report stage two, stage R&;D to know like where are we finding bottlenecks between these two stages if we presume that our average velocity between let's say like unknown stage in a marketing engaged stage is two weeks, right? If it. Let's just say that it is. And we are beginning to see that trend downward. In other words, that we are seeing the age increase. Then there's something up funnel that we need to address, right? That's like a one to one signal that we can begin to address. MQL aging, those little more specific, which is to say that if we have reached a tipping point where it's marketing qualified and we push them to sales, we want to see how long it takes them to go from MQL to like to a decision point thereafter. Right so sales accepted and potentially sales qualified or nurtured or rejected like we want to see that resolution. And how long does it take to go to resolution? Because they're sitting open for too long. Then there's some other thing that's happening and that can be a signal of something else, something other, more technical, like a process problem. And incidentally, it's one of the things that led us to say automate with outreach, right? So that kind of report led us to build a solution, right? Where we had a sales team that in our case was doing all they could but didn't have enough hands. Right so we built some automated hands for them to do things in outreach. And so by doing so, like we used data to lead our decision making, right? And that's something that was not an uncommon decision to make. Oh, OK. Let's, let's automate this, this motion of doing MQL to outreach as an example. Another one is MQLs to bookings or bookings to ops or whatever your North Star metrics are right by channel over time. So someone at a company that worked for a long time ago called these worm charts. And basically it's like a histogram. But what you connect literally the dots of the histogram together with a start and a finish and is really over time. And in this case, what we're measuring is like the rise of a run of the number of let's say it's MQLs to meetings, right, for PPC, just for example in August, September, and October. So a quarter or ish. A quarter. And you can see the trajectory of this worm, right? So, you know, the efficiency and the volume of how things are going, right? It summarizes and visualizes really well.
STEPHANIE: That is nice.
SCOTT: Into how things are performing against a channel. And it's easy to also apply this to multiple different channels themselves. It's the same metrics, right? And we're saying that essentially all MQLs are equal in this case. Right you'd be able to visualize and see quickly if these channels are underperforming, if they're performing at benchmarks. Right if we know that we're getting less volume, but the same conversion rates for email or for referrals and traffic over time and and we're still going up into the right, you know, then that's fine, right? It doesn't it's no cause for concern. But if you see like, Oh crap, we're going like back into the left, you know, something is amiss here and that, that allows those that are accountable for the channel to take action and especially if you're doing it rapidly, right. It doesn't have to be like at a quarterly business review or anything, you know, that infrequent it can be more of a, you know, like a rapid turnaround. So those are the kinds of reports that I tend to think are really helpful in addition to all the other standard ones that we typically refer to.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, Yeah. No, I love that. I mean, I think about, like you've said earlier and many times on the podcast, it's situational, right? It totally depends on how long it takes to actually qualify that lead and pass them off to sales. Because like I've worked in organizations where we are asking people to sign gigantic contracts and it's like they need a lot more nurturing, they need a lot more time to talk to marketing before they get to sales. And then even then, sales can sometimes be a year long conversation. So looking at ours compared to, you know, maybe like an online retailer, it looks like, what the hell are you guys doing? Like, why are you not closing sales? Because like when we do, that's our sales for the year.
SCOTT: Yeah. Glengarry Glen Ross and just. You know. Yeah, exactly. And so it's important with charts like that, too, and with any of these reports to understand how long that sales motion is as well. It's a very good point that you make, right, because you don't want to browbeat a team that's going to be in a long-form conversation. Right or not, do you think you'll be if it's going to take that long.
STEPHANIE: Especially if they're doing everything they can?!
SCOTT: It's exactly right. Or if the buying committee is like a dozen people.
STEPHANIE: Yeah. Good luck. All right. So we've talked a lot about what you guys do in marketing ops. How can like me, the rest of our team, the rest of the marketing team help in optimizing programs, workflows, or campaigns to make your guys' lives easier?
SCOTT: Yeah, well, the first thing is just be obsessed with your program's performance, right? Like and when I say be obsessed, what I mean is like. Like, I want you to be like your program's biggest cheerleader with regards to its performance, but understand that, like, not every program is going to be like the biggest thing. It's not a goal where some things are OK, good, some things will be demonstrably bad. And when I mean, what I mean by that is that they're not all going to have the best open rates or the best rates of conversion. Don't let the sunk cost fallacy of how much work you put into thinking about it or delivering it or how much work like a MOps team put into way or deploy it, stop it from accepting the reality of it's performance. Like lean on the data that you collected to make a better decision next time, right? Bring us in early to ask us those questions like how is performing against other tactics, tactics that look like it? You know, that's a really good question to ask us. If you don't have an independent analytics team, you know, like generalized MOps, you know, that's a good question to ask folks like me. And then we mentioned templates earlier. This is really critical for speed to market, right? If you do a lot of the same things a lot of the time, work with your mops team to stabilize your stuff. Right you know, you you want everything you produce to have reliable infrastructure and automation behind it. You want to know that when you have a conversion that it's going to set all the right data points in your campaigns, your Salesforce campaigns and programs, if you have them, your lead source, you know, all these things that you're going to want to capture if something is an automated MQL or not, all these things that are crucial for you to get credit and for the sales team to get the right information to be set the right way, the right time every time. So and there's no bigger sin, in my estimation, than repeating yourself, like having to literally redo it over and over again in a way where you're like doing it from scratch, right? So if you can templatize it again, it's been QA'ed at least once or twice. Right? And, and so you reduce that risk of error right down to the bare minimum. And I can't tell you how many nights, like sleepless nights you'll save. It's like, you know, that, like that conversion monitor or whatever it is that's running the background of program, you know, that it's working. And so that data that we talked about, hopefully it's working correctly, we know that's working correctly. So the numbers you're looking at are accurate. Like how crazy making is that? It's like I can't even tell if the conversion numbers that are lower are right or wrong. Like I'm saying, like avoid those scenarios. Right so templatization and especially with a tool like Marketo where you can have tokenization, where you can create these referential things where you don't even have to get into the guts of the automation, you just control them at the program level and make references. That's a huge timesaver. And so it takes things like as an example, it's building a webinar right now on tokenized webinar in Marketo and/or HubSpot or anywhere else takes hours. It can take a tokenized webinar program with like, you know, several emails right now night and with like several invitations, confirmation emails...
SCOTT: All reminders, all those things. 20 minutes. You know, I mean, like, talk about it. I mean, that's a huge time savings, right? Like, all of our things are templated. Right so, like, one. One digital marketing manager can manage all that, right? Barely needs me. I'm there just to keep it right. Make sure that, like all the T's are crossed, all the lowercase Js is are dotted. Like nothing's out of order, you know? That's it, you know. So it. Those things in particular, are things that you could absolutely focus on. And then, you know, I think last but certainly not least, you know, it's. Ask us, you know, like, you know, tell us what you need. Right like, what are you not getting at? What can MOps help you with? You know, we're always here to help. And I mean that, like, not just a, you know...
SCOTT: Yeah, exactly. We truly want to make your lives easier because it makes our lives easier.
STEPHANIE: We appreciate that. We love that you guys make our lives easier and do all the heavy lifting in the background while I get to do the creative stuff up front.
SCOTT: Right? Be creative. Like don't get stuck in, like, is this workflow like sending data? Like, that's not that's not good.
STEPHANIE: Did Joe in sales get the MQL? Great!
SCOTT: Right. Exactly.
STEPHANIE: All right, Scott, do you have any final thoughts that you want to share or anything that we didn't get to today talking about marketing ops?
SCOTT: So I mean, there's plenty, but I guess I'll just close up by saying, like, don't ever let the perfect be the enemy of the good or the good enough. And always prioritize your mental health and well-being. Right? Like there is no marketing tactic that's worth your sanity. There just isn't.
STEPHANIE: I love that.
SCOTT: And just to stay sane up there, everybody. Please. Please and thank you.
STEPHANIE: We're all doing our best.
STEPHANIE: Well, to our listeners, thank you so much for joining us for mixers and marketing. If you're curious how direct mail can fit into your marketing workflow and how other marketing teams are leveraging the channel, find our 2023 State of Direct Mail report at lobdemo.co/directmail2023 that's lobdemo.co/directmail2023. We hope you'll join us again as we talk about all things marketing and enjoy a mixed drink. As always, you can browse our library of episodes over at lobdemo.co/lobcast. Thanks for listening. And that's all, folks.
SCOTT: Thanks, everybody!