Marketing Sourced Lead: Where Marketing Has Moved The Needle for Sales

b2b marketing guest interviews Aug 01, 2021

In Conversation with Davinia Khong, Head of Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan of Backbase

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What's your definition of "Marketing Sourced Lead"? For Davinia, it is all about where marketing has moved the needle for Sales. 

Davinia is the Head of Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan of Backbase which provides the leading Engagement Banking platform that empowers banks and other FI to accelerate their digital transformation. She has worked at leading Fortune 500 companies in technology, financial services and professional services industries but decided to go outside of her comfort zone to join a scale-up company around 2 years ago. And she was able to help Backbase generate more than US$1M in active pipeline with one research report!

I got a chance to talk to her and understand more about her strategies, tactics and opinions on running marketing campaigns for Backbase and how she measures the impact that her marketing campaigns bring to the company. 

Let's dive into some of the key learnings I got from our conversation. 


How did your B2B marketer's journey begin? Did you always want to be a B2B marketer even when you were at university? 

Actually, no. So I actually started out studying law and I wish I could do well in it and earn all the big bucks but it just wasn't for me. Then I went into Public Relations instead and at that time I got some chances to work in agencies in both Australia and in London. I was trying to make an effort to make sure I get as much exposure across the spectrum from both B2C to B2B before deciding which area I wanted to focus on. 

In the first six months of my career, I signed up for a formal mentorship program which I was very fortunate to be assigned to the Head of Corporate Communications at Commonwealth Bank of Australia and that really formed my opinion on how I wanted my career to progress. 

I was trying to make sure I would not limit myself just to marketing communication so I would expose myself to the full spectrum of marketing from corporate communication, business development to sales so I can understand the whole end to end experience. Eventually, I specifically wanted to only focus on financial services. 

Then after more than a decade in corporate, I decided to check that aside and joined Backbase, which is a scale-up, computer software company. The atmosphere is very vibrant and they got a very agile way of working. It was really an opportunity for me to kind of creating something from the ground up. 

And if I look back on hindsight, I actually would have loved to spend a few years in B2C agency, because to be honest, what I do in B2B is not very different from what the folks are doing in B2C.


So how are you doing B2B marketing with a B2C approach at Backbase, can you share more? 

I'm oversimplifying this but I see the only difference between B2B and B2C is that our sales journey is longer. In B2C, you've got e-commerce, influencers, more commodity driven, more pricing driven. And in B2B, you have something like a nine months or more than a year sale cycle but the principles of marketing are essentially still the same. So what I try to do is to add a bit more personality and color to some of the B2B campaigns that I do.

For example, if you were launching a luxury handbag, B2C folk will have teasers, they get influencers to post on Instagram, have an event to speak about it, then they do a big launch with all these fancy videos. They would keep that going on for a couple of weeks and then you start seeing all the always-on online paid ads, TV ads, billboards in the shopping malls etc. After a while, they will refresh it every now and again by getting influencers to give reviews and comments on the product so you would see it again. 

If you think about B2B, it's really very much the same. So when I launched any campaign, let's say my IDC thought leadership campaign last year. We did the same thing. We had teasers, videos, events. Then we went into the always-on promotions with online paid ads. It's not very sexy. But if you think about it, we're launching the eBooks the same way a B2C brand would launch their luxury handbag. 

For the product which is the ebook, I package it all nicely with all the visuals, create special sections that speak to certain personas, create universal chapters and lessons and I have people quoting stuff. So that's my product and packaging.

Then I worked with a banker to do a very aspirational out of home video and used it for online paid ads. It also became our teaser video and when we launched it, we also had other videos as well. We launched the ebook, we repurposed it into many different kinds of assets and showcasing them in different variations of chapters. Then we moved it to an always-on approach with online paid ads, videos for YouTube and Google search ads.

So essentially B2B and B2C are not that different. I think B2B marketers really need to shift the way they think. What I realized in B2B was folks were very channel specific like doing one thing but it doesn't tie into anything else. Instead, when you have a pillar asset, you want to make sure all your channels are tied to it and form a more integrated campaign. 


How do you measure your attribution in that sense when you are doing so much across the different channels?  

That is the universal question for all B2B marketers. And I wouldn't say I have figured it out, but I found an approach that works for me.

So the reality is you got to think like a sales person. They're going to create an active opportunity, regardless of whether they got the lead from you or the last touch point of the lead was from marketing such as the client attended your event/webinar. They're only going to remember they reached out to the client, called them or was able to set up a meeting with them. 

So your job as a marketer is to make sure that you map out the customer journey by account. Some people call it ABM. I just call it marketing fundamentals. So for every account you need to do like a quick snapshot of that full sales cycle from prospecting, hunting, discovery down to the pitch and then the closing, the objections handling. 

When you do that mapping, what you do after is also to identify all the marketing touch points that you were able to record through out that journey. The one-time things that you did and match them alongside the sales opportunities. Then on the other hand, you also map out the always on activities. You may not be able to record precisely how they influence sales opportunities but for me in my world, the CXOs are not going to click, comment or like a lot of these always-on stuff, but they do see it. They do pay attention to it. 

Once you start mapping that out and by having very closed alignments with sales, you can see very clearly where you move the needle. You can see in some accounts where right after that full chunk of engagement moments happened, a lot of velocity and actions started popping up in those accounts. So for me, I care more about where marketing has moved the needle. 

You would know, you got that account to the middle of the funnel. You got that demo, you got that discovery call. You got that opportunity that hit your active opportunity pipeline. It's not the sexy answer. It's not the scalable answer. It's not what MarTech vendors will tell you but this is an approach that works well for my case. 


But B2B got a long sales cycle, so how do you know what you are doing is working in the short term and heading down the right path to drive revenue back to the business? 

So there are what I call leading indicators and lagging indicators. What you are doing may take about six months to nine months to finally show up in the active sales opportunity pipeline. The sale opportunity pipeline would be my lagging indicators. 

So in the meantime, from one to six months, what do I do? I only have my leading indicators and that's why marketers lean in so hard on these so-called leads. The reality is we play in a quality game, not a quantity. So it's more important for me to also look at the search behavior, their share of voice behavior, where they are engaging and downloading things, where they're actually clicking through things.

Making sure that you have an integrated campaign that has both what I call above the line and below the line campaigns. Above the line is a bit challenging but you need more of the wow factor, brand storytelling. On top of that, you have the always-on layer with the online ads and the stuff that you can do on a more regular basis to make sure you're top of mind.

And then you map all those activities by account and over time, I guarantee you, once you look at the active sales opportunity pipeline, you work backwards, you can start seeing where that attribution is. 

It's a lot of work. It's not fun. It's super not scalable. But with that, every conversation you have with sales is just so much more meaningful because that's exactly how sales looks at their accounts. 


Can you tell me a recent campaign that you launched or that you are most proud of? 

I think the one that I'm most proud of is the recent case study ebook, because that is probably the most properly executed full integrated campaign that I did. 

We got on page SEO, off page SEO, technical SEO, down to keyword research, using an influencer for a very aspirational kind of video and joint brand story. It just worked so well with Backbase and it was also something that the market was looking for, which is case studies.

We've had that for about three months now and we are looking at how we can relaunch it and keep it going on for the next half of the year.

And I think that really helped build the pipeline that we have. We have a 3x pipeline target, which is incredible the fact that we could achieve that and we're still maintaining it. It really says that the whole mix of activities we've committed to from last year and this year are truly making an impact.


How did the idea of this case study ebook come about? 

To be honest, it was more of a laziness thing where I didn't want to be creating multiple pieces of case studies that can compete with each other on keywords. I didn't want to create different landing pages that required people to download a single case study. And we also didn't have enough case studies in the region for external communication.

So in our world, clients are quite conservative and it takes a lot of effort for them to say yes to an external case study. But there are different case studies all over the world. So with that in mind, what I did was taking all the case studies we have across the globe, including APAC and find those universal issues or topics and create these universal chapters.

That was when the proof of concept came about. So we did that outline and asked ourselves can this actually work? And then we moved into the prototyping and consultation to see what do the chapters need to look like? What does it need to have in conveyed? And then we came up with a minimum viable product, which is the most basic kind of ebook we could possibly create in this short amount of time and we just launched it.

With that, we made optimizations and improvements on the way like additional resources that could be available externally. And now we are adding very country-specific perspectives from each of the different markets around the world. So it started as a very APAC centric kind of content to become more of a global piece and quite universal. 

You don't need to strive for like a hundred percent perfection because I knew when I launched it, probably some copywriting still needed to be improved even after five or six rounds of copy reviews. But it shouldn't stop you from launching because you can always improve it and update it. If I waited for it to be a globally led effort, the whole year would be gone. 

But it all started with listening to your salespeople, what is it that they're struggling with.


One advice to the upcoming B2B marketers who also want to eventually become a marketing leader in their companies? 

Go for a formal mentoring program. Cause that's what I did. And even where I am, I speak to smarter people all the time like other CMOs who are more progressive. And I'm really fortunate that the CMOs and the marketing leaders in my network have been so generous in teaching me and educating me.

I would also say that maybe do sales for awhile. Cause that's what I did for two years and a half. I did that and I walked in their shoes. And so then you will understand why they behave the way they do, why they think the way they do. And if you don't want to do that, then put in the hard work to join them on all their calls and demos.

Ask them questions, ask them for advice. Don't just throw them leads. 



Connect with Davinia Khong on LinkedIn: 

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