This week on the Demand Gen Visionaries podcast, we sat down with Ryan Bonnici. Ryan rolled in with an impressive resume; Forbes featured him on their 50 Most Influential CMOs list, and he’s worked for big hitter companies like Salesforce, Hubspot, ExactTarget, and now G2.
Simply put, G2 is where you go to buy software. It’s the world’s largest software marketplace that Bonnici referred to as the “matchmaker for buyers and vendors.” G2 has become a trusted platform for evaluating vendors, comparing solutions, and reading customer reviews. They’ve gained massive momentum, with over 6 million buyers coming to their site every month (a stat that is growing rapidly) and hundreds of thousands of software vendor represented on their site.
So what’s the secret to their success? A big part is smart, fast, focused marketing. Tune in to Ryan’s episode and hear how he’s built out G2’s marketing machine. He covers:
How demand gen for a B2B Marketplace differs from that of a B2B SaaS company
How G2 structures their marketing team (fun fact: they grew from 5 to 65 marketers in under 2 years)
Why marketing-sourced pipeline is far more important than marketing influenced pipeline
His 3 uncuttable tactics: Content, growth marketing, and strong analytics
Want to skip ahead to the highlights? Check out these can’t-miss moments.
04:50 – How Demand Gen Works for a B2B Marketplace
As a B2B Marketplace, Ryan looks at 2 main things when it comes to demand gen
1. Buyer side demand: How do we attract millions of buyers every month?
2. Seller side demand: How do we convince software products to use G2 in a freemium capacity (leveraging listing and driving reviews) and then how do we get them to raise their hand (request a demo, fill out a form, contact sales) and convert into paid users?
Ryan explains the difference between a B2B marketplace and a B2C marketplace like Airbnb or Thumbtack
The future of G2 is removing friction and allowing buyers to purchase software directly on G2
09:02 – The Team Breakdown
G2’s marketing team is broken up into 3 parts:
1. Growing buyers
2. Growing sellers
3. Brand, which includes Product Marketing and Creative. This arm is responsible for things like the corporate story and the website; they allow the growth teams to do their magic.
They lean heavily into our buyer team, because the more buyers that browse G2, the more sellers will want to be there
13:31 – The #1 Metric: Marketing-Soured Revenue
Marketing sources 25% of all closed/won revenue
Oftentimes, marketers make the mistake of over-indexing on influence, where they should be over-indexing on revenue sourced for their sales team
Ryan looks at the funnel of revenue, pipeline, and headcount dollars it takes to drive those numbers to prioritize headcount and paid initiatives
18:30 – Ryan's 3 Uncuttable Tactics
Content: Content drives traffic and Ryan believes inbound is a better way of doing business
Growth marketing: If someone matches their ideal customer profile and has shown intent signals, G2 asks “what can we do to make the buying process easier and how can we engage our sales team?”
Marketing analytics and operations: This is such an undervalued team. CMOs or Heads of Demand Gen need to really understand what’s going on in your pipeline in order to be successful.
25:50 – Numbers, numbers, numbers
Ryan shares the primary metrics he cares about: Pipeline and closed/won Annual Contract Value (ACV)
Plus he shares his point of view on other metrics like product adoption, retention, and higher funnel marketing metrics (leads, traffic, time on site, number of social media engagements)
33:30 – What Ryan does–and doesn't–believe in
Start and stop campaigns are old school; the moment marketing stops promoting a specific campaign, they lose all steam
New school marketers need to think bigger picture and longer term
G2 focuses on building evergreen, year-round campaigns
Ryan breaks down their annual “best software companies” campaign, including a billboard stint that got them in a little bit of trouble 😊
He shares his advice for marketing leaders: it’s important to bring in a good marketing analytics and operations pro early on, so you can lift your head up from reporting and help build the vision
37:00 – Famous "Dust Ups"
Ryan’s an 8 on the Enneagram test, which means he loves to challenge others; Ryan believes this is a good thing in the workplace
He shares how he once challenged G2’s hiring processes, and why he believes in providing real-time interview feedback
40:30 – Getting to Know Ryan
Ryan shares what he’d do if he wasn’t a CMO. Would you believe us if we told you one of the roles was Scuba Diver?
Ryan shares his passions, including mental wellness
Last but definitely not least, Ryan tells Ian he may have invented Tik Tok before Tik Tok was a thing
“I think of demand gen differently than most B2B SaaS marketers. How do I generate as much marketing source pipeline for the business as possible? How do I increase our brand awareness and trust? So that pipeline, whether that was through marketing or through sales, flows through the pipe more efficiently."
“We can't just rely on organic word-of-mouth. We need to really try and improve our technical SEO and prove the breadth and depth of the content on our site.”
“Most marketing teams over-index on influence and should over-index more on sourcing revenue for their sales team. You can over-index and they think there's like this holy grail of attribution that I have yet to see any company really have when it comes to influence.”
“I just fully believe at my core that inbound marketing and attracting someone to you and giving them value is just a better way of doing business. It's a much more longer-term way of doing business. It creates a moat around you that the paid can never do.”
"Inbound marketing and providing value is just a better way of doing business. It creates a moat around you that paid can never achieve."
“I just ultimately look for the team to think about not just creating content for content's sake, but if we're going to write something, how can we write it in a way that's better than everyone else. Can we do more research so that we can simplify this complex topic to make it easier to understand? Can we identify better metaphors? Can we write a catchier headline that increases click-throughs? How do we really do it a little bit better than everyone at each of those different stages of the content creation process?”
Ready to hear from more Demand Gen Visionaries? You can find all episodes here.