Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Financial marketplace startup, Neu.Capital, claims cost per acquisition has dropped by 60 per cent and content marketing quality has gone up after implementing an inbound marketing and sales platform.
The company was formed in 2015, and provides an alternative capital marketplace for established mid-sized Australian and New Zealand companies looking to raise debt or equity of up to $100 million. The matchmaking service officially launched in August with six deals live in the platform, two to launch in coming weeks, then several more in January 2017. It also plans to launch in the UK in Q1 next year.
Neu.Capital co-founder, Joshua Khoddami, told CMO lead generation activity had been going on for 14 months. To achieve this, the company set up a number of platforms, including Zoho’s online technology, a proprietary CMS system, Salesforce, Google Analytics and Keywords, Marketo marketing automation, Hootsuite and MailChimp.
While it was a rich suite of tools, several were too large and complex for a business of Neu.Capital’s size. The other problem was the difficulty getting systems to speak to each other, Khoddami said. As a result, the group sought an alternative system to advertise, publish, track and follow-up on potential leads, and implemented HubSpot’s solution at the beginning of the year.
CMS is the one platform Neu.Capital hasn’t migrated to HubSpot, but Khoddami said it’s looking at how to use the vendor’s multinational capability so people can access different sites through the same CMS instance.
Khoddami said the big benefit is having all lead activities in one platform. Importantly, by integrating sales processes, the team also been able to gauge the success of its marketing campaigns, he said. Another big win has been the inbound training program staff have undergone as part of HubSpot certification.
“Most of the team are ex-investment bankers, who are generally good sales people and analytical, but don’t have an inbound marketing background,” Khoddami said. “Putting them through the program without me having to do the training was a big win, especially since they are the ones writing a lot of the content. It’s a niche and specific area of expertise, and we need investment bankers to do the content writing. With the training, they learn how to write towards personas. This creates a team of marketers in the sales team for you.”
In turn, this is helping ensure Neu.Capital’s content marketing efforts are increasingly tailored to the core personas it has identified using the HubSpot platform.
“When we started, we were doing content marketing akin to throwing spaghetti on the wall. That was because people doing the content writing didn’t have marketing background,” Khoddami said. “With HubSpot, you create the personas first, then track their engagement at the persona level in the platform. It made us tailor our content more towards people we were looking to target. We have a large investor network, but we were lacking the ability to generate more leads of companies looking to raise money outside the banks, for example.”
The other thing Khoddami has noticed is that personas become deeper personalities. “We targeted personas that were engaging and bringing us high-quality leads. It has made us much more focused in our content marketing, and given us more insight into what we need to write, such as the need to educate busy CFOs and CEOs about alternative financing,” he said.
In addition, the platform helps marketing identify the types of people being drawn to its content as a result of search and keyword targeting Neu.Capital isn’t targeting.
“Based on what we saw in the one platform, we could make our content more refined,” Khoddami said. “Now we know if we go after companies in a bit of financial distress early, it triggers certain personas in our marketing database that we can help very quickly.”
The results and lessons learned
Since the beginning of the year, Neu.Capital’s cost per acquisition has fallen by 60 per cent, and the number of inbound leads driven to the website has risen by between 60-70 per cent. Having more persona-driven email campaigns has seen EDM engagement rise by 50 per cent.
One lesson Khoddami has learnt along the way is how to balance the numbers-driven approach that arises from using such a platform, with sales activity.
“The sales team can become obsessed with the numbers and leads coming through, and daily reporting is one drawback,” he said. “You can use lead scoring to automate that. I also turned off some notifications and don’t provide full dashboards to everyone, as they spend too much time analysing.”
Another lesson was managing the number of personas generated in the platform. “We’re diligent about keeping these down to seven key personas in terms of the companies we seek out, and four personas on the investor side,” Khoddami said. “We regularly remove personas and make current ones deeper.”
One next step is to better embrace the platform’s lead scoring capabilities, while another is to take advantage of the smart forms HubSpot can generate when combined with a CMS.
“We want more people in the team to be able to sell, and they can’t sell as effectively unless they’re tuned into our marketing as well,” Khoddami said. “I like marketing and sales to be intermingled.
“Another finding was around reporting. I was guilty, like many marketers out there facing the big data movement, of having too many tools, way too much information and overanalysing things. One of the simplest things HubSpot does that I use to engage with my team is the dashboard – it’s a tool allows you to see any employee and how many phonecalls, emails sent, client meetings they’ve had.
“People do look busy and they’re working hard, but they may not be hitting their targets. Looking at the dashboard helps to see why and make tweaks to operational process. Those simple, broad metrics are much more helpful then if you’re trying to do full blown attribution modelling.”