Uncover the Key to Growth: Approaching Marketing Like an Engineer | Episode 43

Receive our monthly blog in your email

Engineers analyze and solve problems using systematic, iterative processes. It’s an approach that avoids making costly assumptions. While many B2B marketers measure data to prove marketing program ROI, often the data doesn’t tell the whole story and can actually hinder the drive for results.

Listen to this episode to hear guest Omer Maman, Vice President of Marketing at HR tech company, Healthee, and the GrowthMode team talk about why it makes sense to dig deeper into your data, especially in situations where the numbers don’t add up – like high lead volumes but missed revenue targets. Hear why approaching your marketing like an engineer by creating hypotheses, validating and making continuous adjustments can lead to uncovering the answers to what marketing programs truly drive the biggest results.

0:00:00 | Introduction
0:01:00 | The engineering mindset in marketing
0:03:11 | Importance of analyzing data beyond surface-level metrics
0:04:40 | Flaws in measuring MQLs and SQLs for marketing success
0:07:18 | Exploring additional data sources for a holistic view of marketing
0:08:55 | Misalignment between marketing and sales with MQLs
0:11:03 | Long-term strategic approach to marketing beyond lead generation
0:11:44 | The need for an omnichannel presence and multiple touchpoints
0:12:42 | The challenge of measuring tactics that can’t easily be measured
0:16:15 | Complexity of marketing and the need for a strong brand
0:18:09 | Considering multiple buyers and influencers in the decision-making process
0:19:23 | Challenges with lead scoring and the importance of real buying intent
0:23:30 | Applying an engineering mindset to marketing strategies
0:27:28 | Conclusion

0:00:01 Jenni: Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You’re listening to The Demand Gen Fix, the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.

0:00:20 Deanna: Hi, Deanna here. As B2B marketers, we’ve been trained to measure everything we can to prove the ROI of our programs. The right data can no doubt be powerful. It can help you make informed decisions around where to invest in marketing and where to pull back on spend. But the reality is it can also be a hindrance to driving real results because sometimes the data just doesn’t tell the whole story and that can create blinders. That is why you’ve got to approach marketing like an engineer to uncover the keys to gaining real traction with your marketing programs. Joining me to talk about this topic is Omer Maman, Vice President of Marketing at HR tech company Healthee. Welcome to the show, Omer.

0:01:00 Omer Maman: Hi, pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

0:01:03 Deanna: Yeah, so let’s talk about your background because I just said we need to think like engineers when it comes to marketing, and you and I recently had a conversation on this very topic.

0:01:14 Omer Maman: Gladly, I’ll just introduce myself. So, I’m Omer. I’m the VP of Marketing here at Healthee. Just a few words about Healthee. At Healthee, we’ve developed an AI platform that basically addresses all the questions that employees might have about their health benefits. Probably I’ll be able to show, or to share with you some examples about my marketing effort at Healthee and how it came out into real marketing outcomes. Just a personal background myself, as you mentioned, I’m an engineer. I graduated the Technion in Israel. If I need to explain what the Technion is, is the equivalent to MIT that the American people familiar with, and then, really quickly, after I graduated the Technion as an industrial engineer, I realized that although I’m very passionate about engineering and technology, I also am looking for something that can blend together with my understanding and passion for business, and people in general, and I would say business oriented role.

0:02:09 Omer Maman:  And that’s why I drew my career from engineering to product management, then product marketing, and then marketing roles in tech companies. As a marketer, I would say engineers mindset, into marketing. Engineers are trained to analyze data all the time, and to identify patterns, and to solve problems systematically. And I say similarly, in marketing, it’s super essential to approach data with a critical mindset. And when I say critical mindset, that we need to look beyond the surface level metrics and ask questions.

0:02:42 Omer Maman: Questions like what trends are emerging right now? What do these patterns suggest about customer behavior? How can we optimize our strategies based on this data? We just launched our new website at Healthee a couple of months ago, and when I built it together with the developers, I said okay, but instead of just, and now that I need to monitor its effectiveness and say okay, instead of just looking at the click through rates, let’s delve into the user behavior on our website.

0:03:11 Omer Maman: Right? Are there any specific pages that lead to more conversions? What are the elements on those pages contribute to higher engagement? How can we shorten the bounce rate per each page? And this kind of analysis can definitely uncover valuable insights for refining our marketing approach and develop a more, I would say, effective and powerful marketing assets.

0:03:34 Deanna: I love that. And when you think about marketing, it really is about marrying the science and the art of figuring out how to convince prospects to buy from you, right? And a lot of times, unfortunately, people look at marketing as this fluffy position in the organization. We’re creating all this pretty stuff and this content, and the reality is like really good marketers, there’s a science behind it and we’re looking at how the psychology marries into it; what the data is telling us.

0:04:07 Deanna: And I think a smart approach from a marketing standpoint is to look at what is the market telling you, what are the numbers telling you and how do you reverse engineer that to be able to move the needle from a revenue standpoint, but one of the things that I think a lot of organizations end up doing, and have been doing for years, is measuring MQLs and SQLs from a marketing standpoint, right? That’s become the measure of success in marketing over the years.

0:04:40 Deanna: And you and I talked about this previously. There’s a flaw in that because it’s not telling you all of the information and how you’re using those metrics makes a difference. Let’s dig into that. Why doesn’t measuring MQLs and SQLs give me what I need to know?

0:05:00 Omer Maman: I definitely agree with you. The marketing role in the company is not the fluffy one. The marketing is located in the spinal core of a company. It’s one of the most strategic roles in the company that basically defines the go to market, defines the strategy, bring all the, I would say, market dynamic and the knowledge base into the company and develop the plans, the strategic plans of the entire company, the cross functional plans, in order to get better and to penetrate the market and take, I would say, bigger market share as possible.

0:05:33 Omer Maman: We talked about it, about MQL and SQL. MQL and SQL may not give you everything. It’s great for presentation when you need to put something on a slide deck to show the board, and you need to put together like a beautiful graph, that’s great, but then if you want to get to the bottom line, and if we want to get to the conclusion and see, okay, what these numbers tell me, then it requires a more, I would say, deep research and investigation, and basically more questioning about, okay, what’s behind those numbers.

0:06:05 Omer Maman: MQLs and SQLs are important. I’m not saying otherwise, but they don’t provide a complete picture whatsoever, and they also don’t tell anything about the effectiveness of the marketing effort. And I believe that we should need to consider exploring additional layers of data, such as customer feedback, sentiment analysis from social media, even qualitative insights from a customer’s interview. These kinds of sources can definitely offer a more holistic view of your brand, and how it’s perceived in the market, and help you to fine tune your strategies.

0:06:40 Omer Maman: I can give you an example from customer feedback. I learn a lot about what are the exact pain points of my targeted audience. Sometimes I can bring a lot of leads; I can bring a lot of MQLs, but those numbers don’t tell me anything about how can I refine my messaging metrics, for example. What’s the tone of voice that I need to use? What is the exact stage in the customer journey that I need to target with this asset or another one? And this is something that you can learn, not from MQLs and SQLs. This is something that you can learn from other research tools that are available out there.

0:07:18 Deanna: Marketing automation really is where we created lead scores that helped create the MQLs and the SQLs and going down that path, right? So we’ve all been doing that for years. The challenge with it is it’s a generic measurement that doesn’t fit every business because many are using it for the same definition. And the reality is when you’re getting leads, and you’re making them marketing qualified lead, and you’re passing them over to sales for them to evaluate and determine if it’s a sales qualified lead, at the end of the day, I think it’s a good metric to watch, but it’s one lever of many, like you said.

0:07:57 Deanna: And the reality is the true measurement of how well your marketing is working is revenue, right? Like, are you gaining market share? Are you known in the market? Are those deals moving forward? And I think sometimes from a marketing perspective and a sales perspective where that misalignment between the organizations comes in is it starts to feel like a finger pointing game because of the MQLs, right?

0:08:25 Deanna: Because marketing is looking at it and saying, we did our job, we brought a lot of leads to the organization and sales is not moving them forward, and it goes so much deeper than that. It’s unfortunate when the teams start to point fingers at each other and sales is like, your leads are crap and marketing is like, you guys don’t know how to move the deal because the reality is there’s so many factors that go into that, right? And it’s about the quality of the lead, and was there actual buying intent?

0:08:55 Deanna: And I think that’s the flaw in this approach is if you just are looking at MQLS and SQLS, it doesn’t take all things into account. The type of buyers, the type of businesses, the number of influencers involved, all of those things matter, and if you’re not hitting your revenue number, it’s not about getting more leads in the door if those leads aren’t closing. It’s about figuring out, are these really leads?

0:09:24 Omer Maman: And I will tell you even more than that if we’ll take the more, I would say holistic approach, or just if we’ll talk about it in a higher level of discussion. Talking, or putting in the center the MQLs and the SQLs mean that that’s the only job of the marketing team, to generate leads and create leads for the sales team, and it’s way, way, way beyond that, right? Because MQLs and SQLs don’t tell me anything about the strength of my brand, its effectiveness, how it is being reflected or perceived in the market, how my values are being perceived and reflected in the market.

0:10:01 Omer Maman: Already my existing customers think about my brand. Are they going to be my ambassadors out there? Are they going to refer me to other customers? Yes or no, or bring me more. I would take business opportunities or upsell opportunities. Those cannot be measured by MQL and SQL, and marketing managers or marketing executives should have this kind of wider perception in understanding, okay, we need to generate leads, and to feed the sales team with opportunities and deals and lead generation and demand generation, all that.

0:10:34 Omer Maman: That’s for sure., but if we take the more strategic approach of marketing, we understand there are so many other things and sometimes even more important things because those are some kind of long term investments that need to be handled on the very first day, and have to be monitored differently than just how many leads have you brought in this month, and what is the measurement, or the quality of each and every lead which is super important from revenue standpoint, but if you look at long term and more strategic, we take the more strategic approach, then definitely we need to look, or consider other angles as well.

0:11:13 Deanna: I totally agree. There are various marketing channels that are being leveraged, and if you think about marketing, it’s not like you go out and you do one channel and that’s how you grow your business, typically. So, for example, if you’re just going to go and do mass email blast, good luck. It’s getting harder and harder to get any results from that, right?. Yes, and we’ve all tried that, right? And in desperation, when you need leads and you need to get them in the door, and we found out that doesn’t work.

0:11:44 Deanna: Marketing, really, it’s about layering the tactics, right? And the reality is you need to have this omnichannel presence and show up in all these different places and have all these different touch points. Gartner research last year came out and said that it now takes like 66 touches. I mean, it was insane. If you think about, it’s like, yeah, it’s getting really hard to get people’s attention from a marketing standpoint, but one of the things marketers often get so wrapped up in the quantity of leads, and the requirements that they have to measure things, and prove to their board of directors and their executive team that, hey, the money we’re investing in marketing is paying off and it is helping the business grow to the point that at the end of the day, a lot of times, they skip tactics that can’t easily be measured. And that’s a mistake because the reality is, I always use podcasts as an example,

0:12:42 Deanna: if you have someone that is regularly listening to your podcast and they’re an ideal customer profile, they may not have buying intent today, but they’re listening to you, you’re building that credibility and trust with them, right, but how do you measure the ROI of that because it’s really hard to get good metrics around podcasts. You can look at number of downloads, you don’t know who listens, you don’t know if it’s totally different listeners for every episode.

0:13:11 Deanna: You’re limited on the data that you can see. So if you don’t do that tactic, or some other tactics that are really hard to gauge the ROI on, we see it when we work with organizations where they’ll be like, we did this third party media program and we did all these things and they’re like, yeah, but at the end of the day, it didn’t drive any actual leads. Okay, how do you think having an article over here on HR.com that you’re going to measure the exact leads that came in from that?

0:13:45 Deanna: And do you really think it was one touch point from your brand that made a lead come in the door anyway, right? There’s so many layers to marketing, and I think, sometimes, that gets lost when people are so focused on the metric side of it. And to your point, Omer, you have to think through these other things. Marketing is more than just driving the leads, which is the end game to get to the revenue.

0:14:11 Deanna: If you don’t do all the other stuff before that, you’re not going to get to that point. Because quite frankly, if they don’t know who you are and they’ve never heard of you, they’re never going to buy from you.

0:14:20 Omer Maman: I totally agree with you and I’ll double down on that. And I say that in the last five or ten years, the marketing world, I talked at the beginning about following the trends and understanding what are the emerging trends right now. And it’s not right now. It’s been for ten years that the marketing world is going towards account based marketing. So that even breaks down the generic customer journey into so many other different funnels, especially for businesses like Healthee, that we have such a diverse or infinite opportunities out there because basically every employer that provides health benefits to their employees qualify to our platform, right?

0:15:02 Omer Maman:  So, it creates so many subsegment customer types that you need to understand that you have to really, really analyze and build a dedicated funnel and dedicated customer journey, and understanding what are going to be the stages. How can I qualify, and how can I walk them through this process, and who’s going to walk this process. It’s not just who’s the customer; it’s just who is the decision maker; who should be brought to the table, and where exactly in this journey they are becoming more relevant and more powerful in the decision making metrics.

0:15:38 Omer Maman: This brings a lot of complexity. That to me it’s not enough to say, okay, I just generated 200 leads, or I just qualified them with this scoring, or another scoring. It’s more about sit with me and show me that you understand your audience;  you understand how decision are going to be taken in this type of company, in this industry vertical with this and this and this business assumption in the beginning, comparing to the business goal of your own company, comparing the sales cycle of the product that you are expecting and the revenues and so forth.

0:16:15 Omer Maman: The more you delve into the details, the more you understand that there is so much behind those numbers, and I’m saying it as an engineer. There is so much behind those numbers to understand that the world is not flat and things are getting more complicated the more you delve into the details.

0:16:36 Deanna: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’ve got to go deeper in looking at your leads because you can’t assume that quantity equals success, right? At the end of the day, you’ve got to take a more strategic approach to lead scoring and MQLs, SQLs, and all of that. When we look at HR tech buyers, we can look at an example where we’re missing the big picture at times when the focus is solely on MQLs and SQLs. A lot of times if you think about an MQL, it’s one data point and you’ve made that point over as you’re talking about the different things, but let’s just look at the roles involved in the typical HR tech buying process.

0:17:17 Deanna: It’s not one person. In most cases, you’ve got the HR buyer, they’re looking at the employee experience. You’ve got the finance leader, they’re looking at budget, and how do they save money? You may have brokers involved, in the case of Healthee, and other companies that are in the benefit space, and then at the end of the day, let’s not forget in this space, the employees, the end users, make a difference because if you get in there and you sell your product and the adoption rates are really low and the product’s not getting used enough, good luck getting those renewals you need, right? And so you’ve got to take all of those things into account as you think about the big picture and develop the marketing around them. And then you’ve got to think about the types of actions, like how are they engaging with content?

0:18:09 Deanna: Just because someone is reading a lot of your content and engaging on your website, unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in market to buy today. Right. There are different types of activities that as marketers we need to look at instead of saying, well, look at the typical lead score. It builds up over time, the more they engage with content, right? The innate flaw in that is I could come in as someone interested in the topic, and I could engage with 25 pieces of yours and have zero buying intent. And so now, because my lead score went up, I’m a hot lead for sales.

0:18:48 Deanna: I’m getting called, I’m getting emails. They’re like, this person is really interested. Obviously, look at all the content they’ve looked at, but that one missing ingredient is what wastes a ton of time and resources on the sales team, and creates a lot of frustration between sales and marketing because they’re not getting anywhere with those leads, because they aren’t actually real leads yet. Also, you’ve got to look at the fact that there’s multiple buyers or influencers in that process, and if you’ve got one person engaging, you’ve got to look at it more holistically.

0:19:23 Deanna: That’s one of the concepts around ABM, right? Is how do you penetrate that account for all the different people involved with it versus just going after that primary person that’s going to be the point person with the vendor? It’s how do you influence everyone in that process, so that you get to a point where you can start to see is there real buying intent there, and even sometimes some of the marketing actions that are happening, like watching a demo, people are like clear buying intent. Not necessarily, right?

0:19:54 Omer Maman: Right, I agree with you. When you work in a world, or in a business that definitely involves so many people around a decision making table, and you gave the great examples that are super relevant to Healthee, because it’s not just the HR or the finance leaders. Sometimes there is a broker involved. Sometimes these companies also attach to a PEO or a CPA, which are a whole different business or revenue center that with different considerations, with different limitations, even when you talk about integration, so they bring so many other considerations that needs to be taken. So, it’s not just if this product is great for my employees or can save me money, but it’s more about, okay, how we are going to migrate in the data and all these kind of technical questions, but if we put all this aside, when you have so many things to consider, and so many people involved in the decision making, I think one of the most important things to start with is to build a very strong brand.

0:20:52 Omer Maman: There’s a beautiful and super important case study, I watched an interview with former Gong CMO. I believe that everyone knows Gong, and he was asked, “You are a B2B company, why did you spend millions and millions of dollars on commercial on the Super Bowl?”, which is the most expensive investment in marketing. And it made no sense for B2B; usually B2B companies don’t promote themselves in commercials and these kind of events.

0:21:24 Omer Maman: And then he thought, for my product, I have so many people around the decision making table, and I wanted them that once I step into the company or to my potential customer, I wanted everyone around the table will already know who Gong is. And I don’t know if it ended up with saying, okay, so you should go and do the commercial in Super Bowl, but just the mindset of start with investing in brand awareness. So, when you have so many people involved, let’s start with the assumption that we want all of them to know who Healthee is, for example.

0:22:01 Omer Maman: And then per each and every one of them, try to analyze and build a structured journey to say, I’ll start with the HR, but then for the second call, I want the finance leader to be involved already. And before the finance leader is going to be involved already, I need to equip them with the relevant numbers because finance care about numbers, right? And then I need to understand when the broker should be looped in.

0:22:26 Omer Maman: And then obviously, as you said, let’s talk about the employees. At the end of the day, they are going to be the users. They are going to be the ones who determine whether to continue with my solution,or they’ll just tell to their HR, okay, you can ditch this solution; we don’t use it. It doesn’t show any value to healthcare concerns, or questions, or anything like that. It gets more complicated when you move forward in the process. but I believe that the start point should be investing tremendously in building a strong and fully recognized brand.

0:23:00 Deanna: Yeah, I agree. So let’s get to the meat of this conversation, like how to think like an engineer when it comes to the marketing, and one of the first things, like when you and I talked previously, that you said is put aside the numbers; take a step back from that, so let’s say you have those MQLs, but you’re not hitting your revenue goals as an organization, and sales is frustrated at saying the quality is not there. Where do you start, and how do you approach it with an engineering mindset?

0:23:30 Omer Maman: The very basic level of any kind of engineering work is starting with the research; understanding your goal, understanding your audience; the structure of how decisions are taken at your potential customer, and then after you build a plan, then you need to validate it, okay. And after you validate it, you launch it, and then you revalidate it, and reevaluate, and optimize it all the time. One thing that is a weak point at many, many companies is that managers usually fall in love with their own plans and their own strategies., so once they launch it, they are so committed to their plans that they forget to maintain this kind of dialogue with the market.

0:24:14 Omer Maman: And this is super important because plans can be very convincing on presentations, and especially when you blend in some third party vendors that will sell you the world, and show you how you’re going to demonstrate a quantum leap in the business opportunities you are creating. If you don’t keep, as I said, the interviews with the customers, the dialogue with the market; if you won’t keep going, and acquire some education, and align with the trends out there, then there is no chance for your plan to work as effective as you want it to be.

0:24:52 Omer Maman: And this kind of cycle works in everything that we do and everything that we develop. No matter if it’s something around engineering or marketing, it’s a process. I graduated in industrial engineering. Industrial engineering, for people who don’t know what that is, it’s all about statistics and processes, and that’s why, logically, it makes tons of sense to me that no matter what I do, I need to form all my marketing initiatives according to this process.

0:25:21 Omer Maman: And one more important thing that you learn as an engineer, and you learn in a very basic phase, a stage at your studies in engineering, they say, if it works, don’t touch. So, if you have something that is already generating you what you expect, and you hit your numbers, and when you evaluate it, don’t change it, because, oh, there’s like something super trending right now out there on social media, or you saw something here that, it’s okay to test things and to evaluate them, but for the processes that already achieving the goals that you are expecting, let them work.

0:26:00 Omer Maman: It works with the engineering, it works with coding, and it also works with marketing.

0:26:06 Deanna: Yeah, I love it. Something you said in our previous conversation that stuck with me. It was, create a hypothesis, validate those results, and then create that ongoing, continuous feedback loop until you find what works. And when you find what works, to your point, lean into it and get as much value out of it as you can and recognize, then when it stops being less effective, because the reality is, marketing is constantly evolving.

0:26:37 Deanna: Buyers and the way they’re willing to engage with vendors is constantly evolving. So, I don’t think there’s any marketing tactic that you can do that will work forever, right? Like, we’re finding that out with lead generation. A lot of the things that worked really well for many years are falling on deaf ears now, and we’re having to reinvent ourselves as marketer., And so, the key takeaway is if you find yourself in a situation where lead volumes are high, but revenue is falling short, take a step back, reassess, and start thinking like an engineer by setting the numbers aside to dig deeper and come up with a game plan. Omer, thank you so much for being on the show. It was great to have you as a guest and get your perspective as a former engineer and current marketer.

0:27:24 Omer Maman: Same feelings here. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.

0:27:28 Jenny: Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus, give us a like. Tell your friends. We’ll see you next time.

Related content

TikTok YouTube LinkedIn Email