Strategy is the name of the game — especially for SAP North America’s Director of Digital Marketing.
As a digital leader for one of the country’s largest companies, Nick Robinson has a lot on his plate. From increasing conversion rates to measuring content performance, he has plenty of wisdom to share when it comes to nurturing a lead. Nick was kind enough to share some of his most effective marketing strategies to help B2B marketers like you tackle demand generation.
Read on as we pick Nick’s brain and explore what’s working and what’s next for B2B marketing.
How does Content Marketing fit into your overall marketing strategy?
Content marketing serves a few functions within our marketing strategy.
- It attracts new companies to have strategic discussions based on deep primary research that we typically do with analyst partners.
- Helps SAP attract the best talent in the world by aligning ourselves to the most pressing causes in the world. We are the leading figure in the conversation about diversity and inclusion. For example, we pioneered a program back in 2013 called Autism at Work. We hired employees on the spectrum, who frankly are some of the most talented individuals that we could hire in their crafts. Another example is Africa Code Week, which is a large initiative across the continent to build the next generation of technical talent to lift up societies and grow economies.
- Because we have so many customers and access to various industries, we have keen insights that other companies might not have access to. We publish this content on digitalistmag.com, which originally was meant to attract new buyers through non brand search traffic. What we quickly realized is that it’s a great avenue to educate and retain our current customers.
- Educates our partner community to adopt next gen business strategies and tech skills. When our partners are leading edge, our customers get the best support possible.
- Maintains community among our large ecosystem of developers. We use content inside of sap.com/community, which is completely produced by and for the community.
What are your top performing pieces over the past year and what are the KPIs used to measure performance of those assets?
The KPIs used to measure content performance are response rate, # of responses from target accounts, # of target titles which downloaded the assets.
The best pieces tend to be about broader topics that are top of mind for our customers. Typically, these are in the form of ebooks and written by 3rd party analyst or research firms. Such as:
- Holistic Approach to Digital Transformation
- 7 Laws of Universal Data
- The Strategic Imperative of the Agile Supply Chain
- Improving the Business Value of Planning and Budgeting Across the Enterprise
- Closing the Experience Gap: How Succession Management and Employee Development Can Prepare Your Workforce for the Future
How has content marketing evolved over the past few years?
It used to be solely focused on bringing new companies into the top of the funnel. This was the old adage of inbound marketing for customer acquisition. Over time we realized that content marketing has multiple roles in our strategy, since we have a diverse set of customers and solutions that relate to various topics across industries.
How do you use NetLine as part of an overall strategy?
We use NetLine to extend the reach of our ebooks and white papers, while also relying on them to generate new marketable contacts within our high propensity, high intent account lists. They are used within Customer Acquisition campaigns, Upsell-Cross Sell Campaigns, and Pipeline Acceleration Campaigns.
In addition to using NetLine, what are your other strategies for lead generation?
We have a growing body of technology that allows us to source signals of engagement from across the many touch points in marketing to route the most engaged contacts from target accounts to our business development team. So far conversion rates are up year over year due to implementing a new scoring model.
We also have relationships with several software comparison websites, which help us source business development ready leads. This is a great place to invest in the mid-market, as many employees of those companies do most of their short listing online.
We still do quite a bit of outbound prospecting into accounts. It is prospecting fueled by a wealth of data to predict which accounts and contacts are most likely to respond favorably to a meeting.
What led you to using NetLine and how has content syndication affected your approach to lead generation?
I came into this role with an established relationship with NetLine. Over the years, I’ve seen the quality and conversion rates of their responders continue to improve over the past 6 years.
What I’ve realized is that you need to go much deeper with fewer, strategic partners to get the most out of content syndication. I see many brands try to spread their budget too thin across many partners, and it simply dilutes your budget and doesn’t have the audience impact that it could.
Describe the normal path a lead follows once it has been captured via one of your gated assets.
They are scored, run through suppressions/exclusion rules, and then the scoring logic determines if they should get routed, or they enter an automated nurture stream based on where they came from, and what the content topic was about. Once they score up enough points over time based on recency, frequency, and engagement types, they are routed to business development teams for qualification.
Of all the marketing approaches available, which one has staying power in your strategy?
We are going all in on account-centric marketing in the upper mid-market and enterprise. Media buying, martech, data science have all caught up to the requirements of a B2B Marketer who works within a complex sale.
Any words of wisdom to share with your marketing peers?
Instead of thinking about channel contribution to pipeline, all marketers need to think about multi-touch attribution and automated marketing mix analytics.
As automation proliferates in the marketing discipline, the best marketers will ask 2 sets of questions.
- The first set: What is the best mix of tactics to realize the goals and objectives of this strategy, and what is the right level of investment across each tactic to generate the greatest pipeline and revenue impact? How long will it take to realize the full impact of the tactic mix? What are the leading indicators that we’re heading in the right direction? How do we shift the mix or investments as the environment changes?
- The second set: Are the rules and inputs properly set in each channel to contribute it’s part of the mix in the best way possible (because remember, most of the actual run execution will be automated to a certain degree, so it’s more about tuning vs doing)
In your marketing career, what has been your greatest marketing success? Why?
I took a risk and pointed us toward account-centric media buying. A lot of the infrastructure wasn’t there to fully support the model, so we had to invent account list development and reporting dashboards from scratch.
At the beginning of 2019, we decided to market heavily to new accounts that we’ve never been able to close in the past. Knowing the role of digital media is to reach new audiences and accounts, we targeted multiple tactics to these accounts.
As a result, we’ve been able to increase web visits from new target accounts by 50% and generated 90% of contact volume from target accounts. When comparing the list of accounts that was in the campaign vs new accounts that were not in the campaign, we realized a 3X lift in pipeline generated.
Describe your workspace.
I work from home in Austin, TX. It’s pretty minimal. All I need is my laptop, lamp, a notebook, and a good cup of coffee.
What productivity tech/app do you rely on the most?
We’re a big Microsoft shop at SAP, so I use the suite of apps in Office 365. We’re big users of Teams, Planner, Outlook (of course), and Sharepoint
Who are your greatest marketing influences?
- Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute is a big one. He’s one smart dude!
- Sirius Decisions
- The team at Demandbase
Coffee or tea?
Definitely Coffee. Black and French Roast.
When are you at your best?
Usually mornings. I like to go for long runs, while listening to business and marketing podcasts
I get my most strategic work done typically first thing in the morning or late at night after the kids go to bed and the dust settles from the day.
SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software, helping companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system. Their machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. Their end-to-end suite of applications and services enables their customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improves people’s lives.