Ryan Bonnici is the Chief Marketing Officer of G2 Crowd. Prior to joining G2, Bonnici served in key executive-level marketing roles with HubSpot, Salesforce, Microsoft and ExactTarget.
Ryan Bonnici, CMO of G2, discusses the new-school marketing strategies he practices to push through traditional marketing limitations. On this episode of Demand Gen Visionaries, Ryan reflects on the missteps from his past that helped him grow into a more productive demand gen leader, and the marketing tools his growing team at G2 put into practice everyday to scale their company.
“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.”
“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?”
[00:00:00] [00:00:00] Ian: [00:00:00] Welcome to dimension visionaries. I mean Faison CEO of Caspian studios, and I am joined by special guest Ryan. What's going on?
[00:00:11] Ryan: [00:00:11] Hey, Ian. Um, I'm doing well. Thanks. Happy Friday. How are you?
[00:00:15] Ian: [00:00:15] Happy Friday, indeed. It's great to catch up with you. I'm so excited to have you on the show to talk about demand gen let's get into it. How did you get started in your first demand gen type role?
[00:00:27] Ryan: [00:00:27] Well, the first one I really consider is like the one where I wouldn't side a month is probably at exact hogget. So I was the first marketer that they hired on the ground, like full time in Asia, Pacific and globally. And I started in partnerships, marketing, and basically back then for anyone that doesn't know exact target was, you know, a huge email marketing, marketing automation platform for enterprises that was acquired by Salesforce for a few billion, maybe five years ago or something.
[00:00:52] And back then I was brought on to do partnerships. So to essentially work with partners like Adobe, like Microsoft, who had tools [00:01:00] that integrated with exact target suite. And so it was very much about like driving revenue through partners and then that role kind of expanded. And then I was driving revenue for all sources of field marketing partnerships, events.
[00:01:13] So that was probably the one where I like learned them. I say I was running digital, paid and demand gen at Microsoft prior to that. But it wasn't much more digitally focused. And I think I probably didn't learn as much. I was leveraging agencies more. So back then as a lot of those big companies do, as opposed to doing it in house.
[00:01:30] Ian: [00:01:30] So flash forward to today. I think everybody knows about G2 at this point, but for our listeners who don't know, can you tell us a little bit about G2?
[00:01:39] Ryan: [00:01:39] Yeah. So G two is where you go to buy software really simply. Um, you know, we're the world's largest software marketplace. So we have around 6 million buyers coming to our site every month. And that number is growing at like 10 to 20% month over month. It's a really crazy growth in any who essentially we're matching those 6 [00:02:00] million plus buyers every month with approximately, you know, one of the a hundred thousand software products that are listed on our site.
[00:02:07] So we kind of function as like a matchmaker, ultimately right between software buyers and software sellers. And, you know, we've seen obviously quite crazy growth in the last few months, given so many companies now are being forced to digitize and to rely on software more than ever before. So it's been a really fun few months given all of the craziness going on.
[00:02:27] That's my silver lining, I guess.
[00:02:29] Ian: [00:02:29] Is a time where the entire buyer journey is digital. Now it has to be right in a way that you couldn't do it otherwise. So therefore everybody's fired. Journeys is all converging in this kind of digital landscape. Candidly. We were talking about this before we got on that. We're on G2 all the time on our team, because we're looking at different people's companies and who are their competitors and who are the people that they're working with.
[00:02:54] We're buying software all the time. So we're huge fans. Part of the reason we were excited to have you on the show. And [00:03:00] so I want to get into our first segment. So this is called the trust tree. This is where you're in a place of trust. You're honored, you're trusted. And we're going to let you share some deep dark secrets, deep, dark demand, gen secrets.
[00:03:12] So what is your demand gen strategy?
[00:03:15] Ryan: [00:03:15] Great question. I think more strategically, I think of demand gen as you know, the growth leavers for the business. So how do you grow the business? And that really depends on the type of business. So for us at GE to where our marketplace. And so I think if, I guess demand gen maybe a little bit different than most B2B SAS marketers, which is how I've traditionally, always thought of it.
[00:03:38] And now I've had to sort of shift my thinking, but. So it's about driving growth for the company. If I think about this purely from a B2B SAS perspective, it's about 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, right?
[00:03:59] Because [00:04:00] we've built trust and we've built awareness. And so people know who we are before. They're getting into a sales cycle with us. They're kind of, I guess the high level components of demand gen in my world, ultimately, but because we're a marketplace, I almost look at biocide demand. So how do I attract millions and millions of buys every month to our site?
[00:04:16] And then I look at seller sides, side's demand. So how do I convert those 100,000 software products and about 80,000 software companies that are listed on our site? How do I get them leveraging G2 in a freemium capacity so that they're claiming their page on G2 so that they're responding to reviews on G two so that they're, you know, leveraging out freemium products, like buyers intent, where they can see, okay.
[00:04:39] Which companies were looking at your products on G2. And then it's kind of almost like LinkedIn. I forget what that feature is called of like, who has looked at your profile. We kind of have a function like that at G2 for sellers to help them see who has been looking at their products. What have they been comparing them to.
[00:04:55] And so, you know, I really look at kind of that full funnel. Yeah. Say how do I, as a team get more of [00:05:00] those software companies using Jeetu in a freemium capacity. And then how do I get them to raise their hand either for, you know, a request, a demo form or through a contact sales form or for a free kind of buyer intent assessment.
[00:05:11] Or free, or even just like a product feature upgrade requests, which we would call a PQL or product qualified leads. So someone raising their hand in the product. So that might come from, you know, if they are using our freemium buyer intend to see who is looking at their products on G2, you know, after a certain amount of views or a certain number of days of using it, they'll get notifications saying, Hey, if you would like access to the full data set.
[00:05:33] Click here to contact and schedule time to learn more about the product feature. So, yeah, they're, I guess the two components of it growth and of demand generation that I think about. And they're not entirely, they're connected in a lot of ways, but they're also not connected in a lot of ways and she can make it marketplace demand, gen really, really tough, but also really, really fun.
[00:05:52] Ian: [00:05:52] Yeah, it is one of the hardest because you have so many different folks coming in at different times. Levels of [00:06:00] the marketplace that have different levels of sophistication and understanding with technology. And I'm curious as you're kind of building out that structure, did you structure your team certain way to go achieve that?
[00:06:12] You know, when you started at the company, you didn't have the world's biggest marketing team behind you, and now you have some wood behind the arrow, as they say.
[00:06:19] Ryan: [00:06:19] Yeah. Good question. So maybe two things I've mentioned the first is that the other thing that I would want to add. Our marketplace in B2B marketplaces specifically in SAS, B to B, is that they're not typically liquid marketplaces. So for anyone listening that maybe works at a marketplace like an Airbnb or some, or, or a Thumbtack where there's like a live transaction happening for your website, then those two sides, buyers and sellers, it's actually a lot easier to connect the demand.
[00:06:44] Gen engines and traffic then leads to people on the site. And then people on the site leads to, you know, Rooms being booked through Airbnb. And so you can start to kind of connect your buyers and your sellers and measure ROI in a really simple way for us. That's not the case just yet. You know, we are [00:07:00] on our way to getting to a point where people will actually be able to buy software directly through G2.
[00:07:05] I'm working on a few pilots with some really kind of avant garde software companies, some smaller that really want to kind of look at how they can reduce the costs. Of their sales team, because if people are raising their hand and willing to buy at the credit card, they would much prefer to allow them to buy in the way that they want to buy, as opposed to having to force them to buy through it through a sales rep.
[00:07:24] So I just wanted to add that kind of, bit of clarity to your question around sort of my team structure. As a result of this, my team's kind of broken into sort of three. Please. So I, I have almost two, I have essentially two growth teams. So I have a growth team, a team that's focused on how do I grow buyers to the site?
[00:07:40] And then I have a growth team that's focused on how do I grow sellers to the side? And then I have a separate team. That's more of kind of brand focused product marketing, focused, creative focused, calms focused. So I almost view that team as kind of like they build the infrastructure. So they build the identity of G two.
[00:07:56] They run all of, kind of like the websites and the web [00:08:00] pages. They do the web development for all of our assets. They do the copywriting and they then kind of like build that platform for my bio growth team, as well as my seller groups team to then do their magic. And so to your question, I guess, you know, when I did join, there was maybe around five or so marketers.
[00:08:16] On the team and there wasn't really any clear around kind of buyers and sellers. The team initially in those early days was much more focused on sellers, right. And the biocide kind of just was growing organically. And it wasn't really a thing until maybe the year before I joined that organic traffic, it kind of plateaued.
[00:08:32] And that was when they realized, okay, well, 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. And so over that period of time, you know, I guess two years I grew the team from five to about 65 people.
[00:08:48] And so it's pretty evenly split between 20 folks on buyer side growth, 20 folks on seller side growth. And actually that was not as much, I'll be exact, but, um, yeah, it's pretty cool. Let they split [00:09:00] between those teams, probably with leaning a little bit more heavily towards biocycle. That was something that was interesting.
[00:09:05] When I joined actually, when I spoke to sales. When I still speak to them today, one of the biggest things they asked me to continually keep going. One is the buyer side, because they obviously appreciate the revenue that we drive for them. And we drive marketing around 25% of all closed one revenue. So I don't mean to influence, I mean like fully sources it, so like it wouldn't have gone through to sales a little bit BDR at the team.
[00:09:27] If it wasn't for marketing. I don't really care personally that much about influence revenue. I think that's such a fluffy metric in marketing and any who. And so, you know, we still drive a huge portion of their revenue, but the one thing that sales can't do anything to help is to drive more buyers to outside.
[00:09:42] When I heard, when I joined and when I still hear today is, Hey Ryan. Like if you have to choose to focus anywhere, lean more into your buyer team, because as in our site allows us to attract that was just vicariously through the fact that like the people that they want to sell to are already coming to our site.
[00:09:57] Ian: [00:09:57] Yeah, that totally makes sense. And I'm curious [00:10:00] when you hear things like that from. Sales. That almost sounds, I mean, it sounds like it makes sense, but it almost sounds counterintuitive, right? Because those are not the people that sales is trying to wrangle.
[00:10:10] Ryan: [00:10:10] Yeah, that's true. It does sound counterintuitive. And, but I think if you understand that, obviously they can do their own outbound selling. And also, fortunately, I think the other thing that's unique about our marketplaces when we attract buyers to outside a portion of those buyers are also sellers, right?
[00:10:25] So, for example, if I use me as an, as a good example, right, me when I was at HubSpot, in my previous role, I was a seller in that, you know, HubSpot has been a G2 customer for a really, really long time. They're a huge case study of ours. They really lean into G2 and they're all about transparency and listening to their customers and growing from their customers the same time though, while I was a customer sort of seller back then, I would also to your point, go to G2 every other week, because I was looking to buy advertising software or.
[00:10:52] Blogging software or SEO software or employee engagement, survey software. And so [00:11:00] by focusing on buyers, we're still attracting the sellers to our site as well. And so we have really smart kind of automations and popups on our site through chat and through other CTS. That identify if the person is on our site, if they're, if they're a seller prospect, but they're looking at buying software, we'll try and still kind of like flag to them.
[00:11:18] Hey, like we have products that you can actually buy to help you get in front of buyers, just like you are buying right now. So it's a little bit meta, but those sorts of campaigns work really well.
[00:11:29] Ian: [00:11:29] Yeah, that's super fascinating. Definitely. You need to a marketplace, but also I think speaks to the volume of like, having really valuable stuff on your site, right? Like if you're not a marketplace, but you have really valuable things on your site that are a ton of value that it increases, they might not be your exact buying profile, but they could be in the team or they could be someone that could, that could shape that.
[00:11:48] Speaking of the, you know, relationship with sales there, how are you looking at measurement? You said that you don't like influence as a metric.
[00:11:56] Ryan: [00:11:56] We still measure influence. So it's definitely something that I [00:12:00] look at. I just think that. For most marketing teams, I think they over-index on influence and should, over-index more on sourcing revenue for their sales team, because I think when it comes to influence, it's very kind of difficult to really say that, like you were the thing that like drove that.
[00:12:16] So like, again, example of influence my right would be like, you know, if we did a CMO, so we targets CEOs, CMOs, CRS, there are buyers typically. And so if we did a CEO dinner where we had 10 CEOs, some of them might be prospects. Some of them might be customers. The reality is if they're a prospect and they're coming to that event or that, that dinner, they're already in a sales process with us.
[00:12:38] So yeah, marketing's assisting that and helping the sales rep, you know, learn more about that. but at the end of it, the date, I don't think we can say that like they close because of the CEO dinner. Right. That was a very small part of it. And maybe the sales I've learned some crazy insights and then help accelerate the deal.
[00:12:56] And so there are different ways obviously to measure that, but I just think looking at the source [00:13:00] driven you is one of the simplest and cleanest ways to do it. So, speaking of, kind of how we measure it, I mean, I kind of work backwards from how much of community did we close and a quarter. So let's say, you know, we closed a hundred million dollars in a quarter.
[00:13:12] What percentage of those hundred million of the a hundred million in ACV came from marketing? What percentage came from BDRs? What percentage came from sales reps directly? And then I would look even back to the other and say, okay, how much pipeline did each of those sources generate for those teams?
[00:13:27] And we would look at the conversion rate from say, pipeline dollars to close one doors. And then I will even look further back in the funnel. So money am I spending on my marketers that are focused on driving that risk? How much money are we spending on the beach that drive that revenue and how much money are we spending on the AEs that drive to that revenue?
[00:13:45] And what is the most efficient way for us to use our dollars? Is it in more AEs? Is it in a more videos? Is it more marketers? Is it a more paid. So I'd say we take a pretty granular look at this, but I mean, this is always one of those areas that you're constantly improving on. I think.
[00:14:00] [00:13:59] Ian: [00:13:59] Yeah, that's super fascinating. So, and I think that that is the crux of a lot of people. The dinner example is great because Hey, like podcasts, obviously we talked about podcasts a lot. The same sort of ideas. Like, Hey, this person got some insights into how they think about the world, buying decisions, buying behaviors, um, yeah.
[00:14:18] Marketing, put the event together and facilitated that. But like you said, this person was already in the pipeline for things like that. Is that a specific, like, do you bucket those differently in your spend? Do you organize things like those type of like shaping events differently in your demand gen functions?
[00:14:37] Ryan: [00:14:37] We do it at a more detailed level. But I think at the end of the day, when I look at like the high level IEDs, I'm breaking it out. Specifically, cause I'm just trying to get a rough idea of like how much money am I spending on that whole team, the seller growth team and how much ultimately revenue are we generating?
[00:14:53] You know, I think you can use a lot of different tools like CaliberMind or visible or other things to get more kind of like [00:15:00] sort of model of. Attribution, but I think at the end of the day, there's just so many touch points these days in marketing. And, um, I think sometimes you can over-index and they think there's like this Holy grail of attribution that I I'm yet to see any company really have when it comes to influence.
[00:15:18] So yeah, I guess that's kind of my perspective on influence. But the other challenge, I think with influence too, right? Is that so like we've done tons of testing where we will look at like companies that don't come to a CEO dinner as an example, right? Like, do we have a higher close rate of the ones that do come there?
[00:15:36] Is there a, you know, a shorter sales time, do they close at a higher ACV dollar value? And the challenge we always face here is that the person, his willingness to come to that thing kind of there's a selection bias built into it, right. Or the focus try to get to come to it might not come because they like interested in us in the first place.
[00:15:56] And so it's really difficult to actually then work out if the [00:16:00] event itself is driving anything, or if there's a selection bias and that the folks that. Raise their hand to come. We're already going to sign with you in the first place. So I think you can get really detailed with some of these things. I would say that the we're probably not a big enough business yet where we would have that much volume of deals where we would get statistical significance.
[00:16:17] Many of these experiments, you know, I think when I was at Salesforce, we would absolutely be able to get to this well significance, looking at events and influence and pipeline in the room. But unless you're not a multibillion dollar revenue business, I think it's hard to get that kind of a spread of data to really look at the actions.
[00:16:34] Ian: [00:16:34] Okay, let's go to the playbook. This is where we're going to open it up. Your playbook a little bit and talk specifically about tactics. So what are your three uncomfortable tactics that you're like, no matter what they can lop off every piece of my budget, but there's no way these three things are getting cut.
[00:16:53] Ryan: [00:16:53] Yeah, good question. I mean, I'd say probably this is a hard one because my, one of my first ones is like [00:17:00] content essentially is the content team, the team that drives traffic to the site, which then obviously you want to convert that traffic into leads and then convert those leads into pipeline for the sales team.
[00:17:11] Traffic's an interesting one. Cause I just like fully believe at my core that like 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 flip side though.
[00:17:29] The great thing about content is it it's an asset that you own over time, right? So as you create content. That content, as it starts to rank, it doesn't disappear whether you have, right. So I would say that that's like one of those flexible budgets in that, like if a whole content team went on vacation for a month or even three months, a traffic probably wouldn't change all that much because of the fact that, you know, we've already created a little of that content and it takes a while for new content.
[00:17:54] To help impact and drive traffic. So that's a bit of like a catch 22, I guess, first [00:18:00] bucket for me is that like, that's such an important thing. And I always like really build a business case for why we need that team. But in the same token, I think it could all, it's also one of those like budgets that if in a worst case scenario, you could cut it because if it's already done what it needed to do and grow grew traffic, which then drives leads, you could pull it back a little bit for a period of time.
[00:18:19] If you had to, I wouldn't recommend doing that obviously, but if you had to. Um, so that'd be the first one. I think the second one for me of like my non negotiable things is like, I really love leaning into sort of growth marketing and looking at how do we, as a marketing team drive smart behavioral triggers within our product or within our website.
[00:18:39] So, what that means is, you know, you see so many sides that's right. Like SAS companies, doc companies, right? Yeah. It'll have a page where you can cancel your subscriber. And if you do try and cancel it, there's actually a second off where a company is now that literally specialize in how to minimize the canceling by getting you to pause or by getting you to lower your rate or certain, you know, a smaller package.
[00:18:59] Well, [00:19:00] by giving you a promo code to keep you on for longer. That's like obviously a business in its own. Right? What I think the biggest opportunity there outside of doing that, which I never see anyone doing that we do is if someone goes to like a cancellation page on G2 and they don't actually cancel, you'd be surprised.
[00:19:14] Like you should always look at the cookie, right? The users that are going to that page. Because typically, like someone will go to that page before they will cancel. And if they're then comparing you to other competitors, like that's a bit of an indicator to me that, Oh, like there must not be getting something out of the platform.
[00:19:29] So, Hey, that should trigger an email to the account manager or the relationship manager on that account, letting them know that someone in their account was looking at this page and maybe they need to get more interested. Which in that account and learn what's going on more quickly. But yeah, that's just one example.
[00:19:43] I mean, we do behavioral kind of notifications and emails, not just internally, but externally. So if you're a prospective customer of GE too, so we can see from, we have a huge tech stack. So we're using tools like. Caliber mind, metadata, gosh, zoom info. Um, [00:20:00] having a mental blank. Now he literally is about it.
[00:20:02] Doesn't yeah, the tools for like prospecting and for cooking and for understanding who our buyers, how to fill forms progressive before us and everything. And. Um, if we can see that you're match our ideal customer profile and you're viewing maybe a case study or your view, our pricing page or something like that, even if you haven't filled out a form, you've most likely, you know, inquired about software on our site at some point in time.
[00:20:25] So we've most likely cookied you, and we know who you are, whether you've logged in via LinkedIn or Google or something. And so that will be trigger an automated email from the account manager that will, so we will like really quickly. Say, okay. Like this person is from a software company of this size based on all of this behavioral data that we just pulled in from Datanize or ZoomInfo or something else in the backend CRM.
[00:20:47] So then we will shoot off a triggered email to them, or even a push notification on the website that will say, Hey, Ian, notice that you were checking out, you know, some case studies about GTS buyer, intent data, click here to schedule some time to learn more [00:21:00] about it. And so those are firing off in the background for our sales reps, route RMS.
[00:21:05] So that then they're getting meetings booked on their calendar automatically for them, with regards to these sort of behavioral intent signals that these folks are doing on our side. And I think that's just like another group of things that I think most marketing teams don't do a great job of doing, and they're so easy to do.
[00:21:21] And so quick to get up and running those kinds of things. And they're really more of volume. Sorry. They're more about quality. So it's like lower volume, higher quality as opposed to like high volume, low quality. So, you know, we might only book 10 meetings. Awake for those kinds of like tactics, but they're really high quality meetings that have been booked for sales.
[00:21:40] So that's probably like my second bucket. Sorry. I feel like I've been talking for ages.
[00:21:43] Ian: [00:21:43] No, no, no. That's great. I mean, yeah, no, I love it. I have some follow ups on how you're doing that, but let's get into number three.
[00:21:49] Ryan: [00:21:49] So, yeah, number three, I'm not so sure about what that would be. I would say probably the other, like the function marketing, and I probably should have said this. I, this actually is really marketing [00:22:00] analytics and marketing ops because I think that's such an underrated and undervalued team. And. I think I've learned from my mistakes actually with that, not prioritize.
[00:22:08] And that's sometimes I think when you jump in and to take over a marketing team or to lead something from my own experience, I feel like such a drive to like drive results really quickly that in the past I've, over-indexed on running like new growth campaigns and just getting new things out there to prove to the sales team, to prove to my boss, the CEO that I was the right hire.
[00:22:28] And I think, and that's been great, but in the same time, it's probably led me to. To get a few months down the path where I'm like, Oh shit, like I need to build out a more rigorous marketing ops kind of function, a more rigorous marketing analytics function so that I can really inform sales on what I'm seeing happening in the pipeline.
[00:22:44] And I think that helps you be a really strategic partner to sales, because I think the reality is most sales leaders are like number pushes. They're not really good at getting into the weeds of numbers and that's changing for sure over time, but that old school sale. Mostly later, like the car [00:23:00] salesman.
[00:23:00] I think like those folks aren't like data people, they're relational sales reps. And so if you're working with one of those people, I think it's your job as a marketing leader or as a VP of demand gen. And to really be kind of like that driven partner for that other person to really help them understand what's going on in their pipeline, because you know, the amount of pressure on a CRO or a VP of sales is huge.
[00:23:22] And. No, they're so focused on the activity of their team that sometimes I can pull them away from the analytics at times, I think at least in small companies.
[00:23:31] Ian: [00:23:31] Totally. And I think a great piece on that is that, you know, when you have director levels or regional managers or whatever it is that are doing certain things that are really interesting and you can pattern match across region, like that gives the CRO. Some really interesting insights, right? It's like, that's where you're separating yourself from the pack and say like, Hey FYI, like, this is what happening in, in this region or vertical or whatever that you could probably use as a best practice for your other, you know, director level folks. [00:24:00] Do you have shared metrics with sales beyond pipeline?
[00:24:05] Ryan: [00:24:05] The next step. Obviously, if a pipeline to us is it's just closed one ACV. So yeah, we have metrics on closed one ACV as well. Um, cause obviously we don't want to be just generating pipe that doesn't close. That's really the highest level I would say of the metrics that we work on with sales anyways. Um, We have like more subset metrics for specific sales teams.
[00:24:26] So for working with our customer success team, you know, we would be looking at how do we increase the number of integrations that our existing customers have on the G two platform? Because we know if, if you're a Jeetu customer and you integrate G2 with HubSpot or with Marketo or with Salesforce or with LinkedIn match audiences, if you integrate it to like an ABM marketing automation platform.
[00:24:47] A package becomes immediately so much more valuable because those companies now are able to leverage out buyer intent into their existing workflows. And so it makes their lead scoring and their marketing automation 10 times [00:25:00] more effective. So we have more sub level goals with those teams. And ultimately, you know, if we're working with, as customer success team on a metric like that, like integrations, the way we will measure successes, did we reduce churn for those customers that did that integration and did our hypothesis now data.
[00:25:17] Um, and then naturally we have a lot of other metrics of the higher in the funnel before pipeline. So, you know, there's, you know, lead goals as MQL goals, but really they're just like lead indicators and the lag indicator is, you know, pipeline and ACV in my mind.
[00:25:32] Ian: [00:25:32] So in the first piece you talked about content. I'm curious. So. How do you look at building content? And are there particular, like, you know, size of content goals that you have? Like, I think a lot of the times we see people kind of do this one size fits all approach where it's like, well, we want, you know, kind of like the newspaper approach.
[00:25:56] Right? Right. You have a weekly deadline, you have an article week. You have, you know, whatever it is, [00:26:00] Which is not really indicative of like the depth of impact or how important, and, you know, as someone who's built, you know, some of the greatest marketing tools of previous companies, I'm curious, do you have like that favorite piece of content that you like to do?
[00:26:12] Ryan: [00:26:12] I mean, I think I will always be biased into loving building tools. You know, I've had a lot of success there and I think it's fun because it's like interactive content and it just dramatically increases the convert, your lead conversion, right. Because the content is interactive and it's capturing the person's information ideally in the process.
[00:26:30] So I like to think I'll always have a preference to those sorts of things. It's just, they're fewer and further in between those items. The other part of it is that those sorts of tools. Typically don't work well, if you don't already have an established brand and by brand, I kind of mean like a domain authority, because unless you're creating a tool that doesn't exist and there's already demand for it, then yeah.
[00:26:52] You might be fine. Um, but if the product, I mean, most free tools already do exist. There's already some competitors. And so [00:27:00] if you really want to outrank those competitors, and yet you typically why they need to have budget to spend on paid ads or you'll need to have a strong brand and a strong domain authority.
[00:27:08] So that. Google values your site and assumes that your pre is going to be better than the other free tools out there, because you know, the amount of backlinks that you have and the amount of quality content and engagement in your site. So I'll probably always have a defacto prep. So those sorts of things.
[00:27:24] But again, I think that. They're also like less reliable as well. Right? Typically like they take longer to rank because they're typically more difficult to rank for. And so I wouldn't say, like, I have an exact pattern that I look for in terms of like content directly, you know, we measure our content team's success based on the outcomes or traffic and time on site and number of shares the articles get.
[00:27:46] So, no, we don't kind of view it as much. Is that old school sort of newspaper route? We think about it more in terms of like each rider and how much traffic. Does each writer's content generate for G2? You know, so some writers might do more longer form [00:28:00] articles because the content that they're writing, thinking about all the topics that they're writing about just require along the form, they might be really complex things.
[00:28:07] And then on the flip side, if they're more simple things, and yet I may not be as long form, they may be more visual perhaps. So. I think it really kind of depends. I just ultimately look for the team to just thinking about like, 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 that's written about it?
[00:28:27] So can we do more research so that we can simplify this complex topic to make it easier to understand? Can we identify better metaphors or analogies between what we're talking about and other things that they may understand? Can we write a catchier headline that increases click-throughs. So we kind of just look at how do we really do a little bit better than everyone at each of those different stages of the content creation process and by doing so that then typically helps our content rank faster and drive more traffic more quickly.
[00:28:57] Ian: [00:28:57] You had mentioned some of your [00:29:00] deep tech stack tools in the second piece. And one of the things that you touched on a bunch was kind of like this idea of what I'm calling like website secrets, where it's like there's things that are happening on your website that are so important. Triggers to make sure that sales understands or, you know, other people internally understand.
[00:29:18] I'm curious, like just, how do you view the website? Obviously, you know, website is extremely robust and has a bunch of just amazing stuff by the way, go to dot com to check out the tools and different things. And you really do have amazing content, but I'm curious, like how do you view the website in terms of like those triggers or those little micro moments that can really inform buying behavior?
[00:29:42] Ryan: [00:29:42] That's a hard question to answer because the website serves lots of different people for us. Right. So, you know, when you say informed buying behavior, there's like two sides of that, right? It's like, are they a buyer looking for software on our site or are they a buyer looking through like a G2 product to buy.
[00:30:00] [00:29:59] Ian: [00:29:59] Yeah, like a G2 product to buy.
[00:30:01] Ryan: [00:30:01] Yeah. Sure. So, I mean, so the, I guess the other complexity about business, which I've never faced before is typically marketing owns the end to end website, right? For most companies, when you're in a marketplace business, typically the website, while marketing can help our own sort of, you know, building what it looks like, the field of language and stuff.
[00:30:21] Ultimately the majority of our site lives in an, a product database, right. With our product team, building new categories and. Testing different ways to drive people through the funnel that are buyers. So we like had to kind of go down a bit more of a sub the main route for other pages that refer, you know, like sellers as well as partners and things like that.
[00:30:41] So, you know, we use a lot of different sort of cookies tracking tools on our site to not only personalize the site, but to. Pop up like the right sugar at the right time, based on what we know you've done. So, you know, if you're an existing customer and you come back to our cell microsite, which is so dot com for anyone that wants to check it out, you [00:31:00] might then get a trigger saying, Hey, you know, we noticed like last time you were here, you said, You were checking out this case study, would you like to look at another case study related to this, or, you know, our chat bot will pop up and ask them what they're looking for and try and direct them either to a live chat person or directing them to scheduling a meeting with their account manager.
[00:31:19] You know, I think we take a lot of that profile graph, perfect data, and start to then decide where we want to send you based on who you are and what pages you're looking at on our side.
[00:31:29] Ian: [00:31:29] Final piece of the plays here. What's the play that you ran that got intercepted return for a touchdown. What's your, uh, what's one of the plays that you've run. That was the biggest learning experience.
[00:31:41] Ryan: [00:31:41] That's a good question. Maybe we're not pushing the needle enough, cause I don't feel like we've had many massive sales. I'd probably say, I mean, we don't really, I guess, as a marketing team, my team, well, he doesn't think in a campaign sort of a way that's like almost an intentional part of the way I've built [00:32:00] teams is that I think old school market is a very campaign focused, so like start and stop.
[00:32:05] And I think kind of new school marketers need to think in a much more longer term way because under the, the problem with like start-stop campaigns, is that right? The moment, the marketing's team stops promoting them. They, they just lose all steam, the metrics drop immediately, right? The moment you stop tweeting about them or the moment you stop emailing your database about whatever the campaign is.
[00:32:26] And so that's probably why we don't have as many, maybe the fails per se is because like we're not trained to do these kind of like bandaid solutions for campaigns. We're trying to build campaigns that are year round. If not like just. Evergreen. And so an example of that would be we every year at the start of the year, we launch our best software companies campaign where we it's kind of, I almost think of it as like Glassdoor's best places to work.
[00:32:50] It's like the equivalent for software companies. You know, and so maybe that's yeah, huge campaign for us. Like we kick it off at the start of the year, but it's like a, it's a year long, a [00:33:00] year round thing because we use that to drive, to help buyers find software. But then we use it also to help sellers realize that like, Hey, if they get more reviews on G2, then they'll rank higher in this, in these awards.
[00:33:12] One of the, maybe the learnings from that campaign, which again, not really a failure, but I think it was just, it was an interesting thing. Was that sort of, some of our winners. We put up, we didn't ask them for permission, but because it was really last minute, but we put up like roaming billboards around their cities.
[00:33:28] So if you are a winner and some of the, you know, some of the world's biggest companies were winners, we paid to have huge, like billable trucks, like drive around the city of your headquarters. So they throw a week and you know, so we did this for like Shopify and Ottawa, Canada. I think, I think we did as a male champion in SF.
[00:33:46] And there was a few like bigger companies that we did this for, who also won that were a bit pissed off that like we were using their logo on a billboard. Um, and I guess initially I think sales is a [00:34:00] bit scared because sales doesn't obviously want to piss off their buyer and their customer. One of the people that gave us the feedback, they were annoyed that they weren't number one, I think they were like number two or three.
[00:34:11] And so like our response back to them was like, Hey, get, we understand that you're upset. Maybe like you need to like, get more accustomed to voice G2. So it's to like help us in the long run. But in the short term, I think we were a little bit frayed if we like push the needle a little bit too far. That's kind of maybe one of the biggest lessons.
[00:34:30] I don't know. I think maybe the only other thing that I sort of alluded to before was when I built the TD my index on doers and I didn't index quickly enough on operational analytics folks. And that just hurt me initially, because I had just required me to spend a lot of time delving into reports and building attributional plans.
[00:34:48] When I think having someone support me and dig into that deeper, that's better at that than they would have been key. So that's, they've probably been to some of the key lessons.
[00:34:56] Ian: [00:34:56] Okay, next segment, the dust up. So this [00:35:00] is where you talk about healthy tension, maybe a a dustup that you've had. With someone on the board, someone on the sales team, someone, you know, a competitor, I dunno, any desktop, any, uh, any confrontation where, uh, there's some healthy tension there.
[00:35:15] Ryan: [00:35:15] You know what I mean? I'm like a really direct person. So I feel like in all of my work relationships with people, there's always a bit of tension and I like that, I think. And it's both it's bi-directional and that. We are all pushing each other really hard to really drive innovation. So I love that.
[00:35:33] Maybe I'll add some context, is that, so I am an Enneagram type eight, which is the challenger type. So there's nine Enneagram types. I'm eight, my boss, RC as well. So he, and I just love to challenge each other, like publicly privately. Like we are constantly just like egging each other on and poking to find flaws and whatever the other person is doing in a constructive way.
[00:35:53] Like, it's like a really loving way. But I think there's a ton of things where I will just give him really direct feedback on things that I [00:36:00] thought he didn't do well, and he'll do the same for me. And I think that's how we both grow. And it's taken us probably a while to get comfortable with the feedback because right when someone gives you feedback, that's constructive, your immediate reaction is to like disagree on, to find an excuse.
[00:36:13] So to ask detailed questions and think of a time we've both learned that. The best thing to do in that moment is to thank the person for the feedback and not respond for at least 24 hours. Because like, you need to get some space, you need to like, be able to think about it more and you need to be able to not be reactive when you respond.
[00:36:28] So, yeah, I mean, that's not a, that's, I'd say that's like a really helpful, he kind of like dustiness to use your metaphor. What am I thinking of? What else? You know, I think probably early on as well in the days of GE too. So when I joined and I think you still today GTS this policy of. Everyone that joins G2 has to go through it.
[00:36:47] It's essentially an IQ test and it basically, so, and I think we wouldn't interview anyone though. Wasn't in the 80th percentile. So you had to be basically, you know, in like the top and have kind of intelligence to even [00:37:00] make an interview. Which sounds a little bit elitist and Wade and speaking about it.
[00:37:03] I don't think it's officially an intelligence test, but it's essentially kind of doing the same thing. And that test has shown like really strong, positive correlation to like organizational outcomes for Gito. And I think one of the pushbacks I had for the company early on was that I think that tests serve them really well when they were growing.
[00:37:21] And when we were growing, we were hiring really junior, really smart people, fresh out of college. They didn't really have a track record. Of career work under their belt to be able to showcase for why we should hire them. And so, you know, without having much to go off, like we went off of that as a way to identify, you know, high performance that would drive value.
[00:37:42] And I think, you know, the marketing team was probably like one of the last teams to develop. And so when I joined. I wanted to bring a lot of really experienced, really talented, really growth focused marketers to really help us get to the next level. The existing team was already great, but like to go from five to 65 [00:38:00] really quickly was really challenging.
[00:38:02] And I think there was like a good amount, amount, want a healthy tension whereby early on, I kind of had to say to HR, like, Hey, like, I've interviewed thousands of marketers. Like I've built really effective teams. I don't need an IQ test to help me work this out. This was more so in the early days where I was trying to get a few really key strategic highs into the business.
[00:38:21] So people that already had great jobs, they weren't looking for work. And like the original kind of like mentality was you can't speak to someone or interview them until they have done this test. So can you imagine, like, if someone tried to like poach you from a company that you love and they said, Hey, I want to speak to you about joining G2 before I speak to you though.
[00:38:38] Like, you need to do it like an hour long test. Like I, if someone said that to me, I'd be like, fuck off. Like, I don't fucking care who you are. Like I'm not spending an hour until I know a little bit yeah. About the job. And even if my skill sets are right. And so I think that was like a healthy amount of pushback.
[00:38:53] Yeah, that was maybe another one that I think created a little bit of tension early on. And at the end of the day, I'm really happy that I did push back there. It was [00:39:00] uncomfortable to push back, but, you know, we built a really great team and I think my boss, the CEO, and everyone feels really strongly about the quality of folks that we have.
[00:39:08] And so. That meant that I even had to say no to like some of those folks that we still did have the test and maybe didn't score as highly as we would have needed them to. Traditionally, I still said we're still hiring them. Like the test can be helpful, but it's not going to be like a make or break for me.
[00:39:23] I'm going to ultimately make a decision myself. And I think that's why you hired me, mr. Or mrs. CEO. Like, and that worked out well.
[00:39:30] Ian: [00:39:30] Well, I'll create some healthy tension here and ask you what question do you not get asked very often that you wish you were asked more often?
[00:39:41] Ryan: [00:39:41] That's a tough one. And I didn't know, I talked to lots of folks all the time and I'm. Quite an open book. I think if anything, it's not so much like a question that people don't ask that I think they should ask. It's more like just digging deeper into things. So there's probably been in some stuff here that you and I have talked about that I'm sure [00:40:00] you wanted to know more about you probably haven't done deep or, or on the flip side of you might've thought to yourself, like.
[00:40:05] This guy is full of the S he just said something that makes zero sense. I heard 10 buzz words. Does he actually know what he's talking about? And I think like pushing back on me and asking me to like, explain myself further would be my recommendation, not just for you. And it's sort of something that I even do when I'm interviewing candidates, like halfway through my interview, I will let them know what I've liked about the interview so far and what I thought they.
[00:40:30] Failed at, and I'll intentionally tell them that because I want, and I'll say to them, Hey, like you answered this question. I thought the answer was really kind of thin you couldn't explain to me like what the engagement metrics were. And so my assessment of you is that you don't really understand the engagement metrics.
[00:40:47] And then I'll ask like, is my assessment correct? Or, or will you maybe know of us? And would you like to reexplain to me? And that then gives them the opportunity to either change my mind or reinforce my mind.
[00:40:58] Ian: [00:40:58] I remember from interviewing [00:41:00] you in the past that you wanted to be pushed and I just completely failed at because Ben and I should have, should have prepped some real stumper for you.
[00:41:08] Ryan: [00:41:08] I dunno. I think you stumped me a little bit on some of the MarTech stack that we use, to be honest, we use so many fucking tools. It's not funny. And so. I should know more about our entire stack, but I have an amazing bunch of folks under me that manage that in a constantly speaking to new sellers. And luckily, you know, we look at our GT reviews for anything that we're thinking of buying, and that's how we sort of like work out our short list.
[00:41:32] But yeah, I feel like that's probably maybe the one area that I need to improve more on myself that I feel like I've lost a bit of touch in the last few years. Like I'm not as involved in like the weeds of the tools and I've really loved that part of the marketing.
[00:41:45] Ian: [00:41:45] Yeah. I mean, it's insane. There's so many, and they're so good. I mean, there's so many, really, really good founders that are creating just these hyper specific tools. I agree. And so that's why I'm on G two every day. Cause I'm looking at all these tools. Um, okay. [00:42:00] Last segment. Let's get, let's do some quick hits here.
[00:42:02] First question. Quick hits. If you weren't a CMO.
[00:42:08] Ryan: [00:42:08] Oh, good question. I think about this all the time. This is secretly a part. I mean, it just like wishes. I was like living on an Island and was the scuba diving instructor. But I think the, the job that I get most jealous of maybe is probably chief product officers. I mean, I think, I think ultimately I would like to be a CEO, um, and on more boards I'm already on it, but I love, like, I just think I love the, the broad kind of impact the CEO can have in not only driving the direction of the product, the marketing, there's just so many facets to a business.
[00:42:40] But if I had to choose someone under the CEO, I think the chief product officer role just, I think is really fascinating. So many companies, especially software. Marketing can only get you so far, right. If you know, you can have amazing marketing, you can drive people into the funnel and they can buy your product.
[00:42:55] But if the product isn't good enough or it's not evolving fast enough, and you're not innovating [00:43:00] enough, then ultimately, you know, those customers are going to churn. And so. I think product teams are really fascinating to me. And I, I almost think that over time, and I think, you know, with these, with chief growth offices or like growth hacking as a function growing, like you're starting to see kind of like, that's like a team between marketing and between product.
[00:43:20] If you speak to any sort of like growth marketer, they always, I think if their ideal world is like to be their own function, to be a C level chief growth officer officer. But if you speak to many of them, You'll start to realize over time that that actually never worked, because what happened from what I hear anyways, what happens?
[00:43:35] The CMO feels like that chief growth officer is cutting their grass a little bit. The chief product officer feels like this chief growth officer is cutting their grass a little bit. And ultimately the chief growth officer always loses from what I hear. And they either get merged into one of those teams.
[00:43:49] And so. I'm not sure like what that means in the longterm trajectory of those teams. But I think marketing and product could be a more unified team in some businesses, especially [00:44:00] marketplace businesses. I think because marketing drives, demand and demand is so typically reliant on product. So yeah, maybe I'd be a chief product officer and another wife.
[00:44:08] Ian: [00:44:08] I think I'd be a squinting in Sydney and, uh, in a, I don't know, bond died or something. We talked to Australia last time, so, um, okay. Hidden talent or passion.
[00:44:23] Ryan: [00:44:23] Aye. I may have invented tick-tock before tick-tock was a thing. If you ask any of my Instagram followers, I've been doing dumb dance videos on Instagram for a really, really long time. So that's maybe a dumb passion of mine. Um, I don't know what else I'm really passionate about. Like the mental health space actually, and like mental wellness and how we can be more effective at our jobs by working hard, playing hard, but then resting.
[00:44:49] Huh? That's something that maybe some people wouldn't know about me. Yeah. I also like in my spare time, which I feel like I haven't had as much of lately, but I love to cut stuff. Um, [00:45:00] so I love to go on kite surfing trips to the Caribbean or to the Philippines and just go there for a few weeks and just Kaiser every day.
[00:45:07] And it's like my dream vacation pretty much just laying on a beach with a coconut, getting it to then, um, yeah.
[00:45:15] Ian: [00:45:15] Well, Ryan we're at time. That's it. That's all we have for today. Any, uh, any final thoughts everybody should check out dot com. Looking to sell, obviously check that out. Any, uh, anything else to plug?
[00:45:25] Ryan: [00:45:25] No, that's the, I mean, if anyone's heard anything that they want to talk more about, you know, you can hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram. It's just my name, Ryan Benichi is my handle for all those platforms. Thanks again.