4 April 2021
25 Min Read
We all like cases with millions of leads per day with $100 budget. Nothing boosts a marketer’s self-esteem better than a CRM filled with leads. But imagine that there are only 1000 accounts of your potential customers in the whole world. And for each of them there is fierce competition in the world coming on. Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it? It was the same exact challenge that we faced while working with Xena Exchange, where we had to revise our entire philosophy of working with B2B lead generation in the shortest possible period of time and take the path of the Account Based Marketing approach adherents.
Xena Exchange is a crypto derivatives exchange that is based on the following pillars
The target audience of the company includes the world’s top hedge funds and trading companies that are focused on cryptocurrencies. And there are only a handful of them in the whole world – aprox.1000-1500.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that only 70% are presented online, and those that are suitable for cooperation with Xena even less – 60%. That is, we have no more than 1000 companies.
Only you cannot evaluate the work benchmark with Enterprise using categories of retail lead generation. You need to understand that even a simple friendly contact, for example, with the TOP-10 hedge fund of the world is already an excellent traction point. And any conversion into a deal with such a company can be commensurate with the value of thousands of B2C traders.
When the Exchange shifts its paradigm towards working with B2B, it means a complete change in the framework of marketing and sales departments, their interactions and rethinking lead funnels. We won’t be talking about direct selling here. We will only talk about a long cycle of building relationships between founders, gaining trust and nurturing needs. This is especially true in the era of “just another exchange”, which chase hamsters, try to run ridiculous contests, etc. “Who needs B2B? We’d better get some traffic from FB and create a zoo of hamsters for ourselves,” right? Xena, on the other hand, was forward-looking, so conducted a detailed market study and formed a “set of buns” for fat B2B.
We fully supported this approach. The task sounded like an excellent test for us and reason to leave our comfort zone. How did we deal with it and how did we almost ditch the entire campaign with hyper-personalization? Read on!
The main challenge was that Xena is not the biggest player in its arena. At first glance, this was a weakness of the company, which we repositioned using as an advantage.
What were the challenges that we’ve faced?
Have doubts about who your ideal customer really is? Here is a magic pill framework to figure it out
ICP & Buyer Personas description
When the audience is extremely limited, every detail becomes important. We started with a series of long brainstorms with a client. Mixing data from research, previous customer development sessions, and our imagination, we formed several hypotheses on the audience and outreach methods. And then customer development took place 🙂 We conducted a deep interview with 18 existing Xena clients and received written answers from 22 respondents – representatives of the target audience. After this, some hypotheses went to the column “invalid”, and we got 1000 and 1 insight.
Next, based on the company’s triggers, activators and pains, we formed clear hypotheses, which were later used in outreach when creating scripts and creatives.
And then came the most important thing – we conducted a customer development session and received confirmation of our guesses and results of brainstorms.
ICP and Buyer persona
How to become a maestro in strategy development and avoid killing your team, when everything changes?
Once we have identified exactly who we are going to outreach, it’s time to do a mini-analysis and find out where our audience is gathering and how to reach out to it. Our list of tools was no different from the timeless classics, but the application was far from usual outreach
What’s next? We combined our hypotheses on target audience and outreach channels and created a hypotheses board.
As a team with a true startup soul, we loved and knew how to test hypotheses. But! Our data tracking included tracking only baselines. After our “grow up” in working with ABM, we realized that it is important to understand everything here, down to how long the lead has been reading your article. But unfortunately, we will no longer be able to understand what Xen’s case would have been if we had come up with this earlier…
How to find real people who reflect your ICP and deal with all that Excel stuff?
The next step is to create databases. We used criteria from ICP as filters in Crunchbase and LinkedIn, thus getting … voila – 800 companies that fit our goals. Of course, this was facilitated by high-quality manual filtering, on the way to the quality of which we still had to evolve. Therefore, in the beginning, there was a lot of trial and error.
Unlike the classic lead generation process, the lead’s first name, last name, and email address are not enough here. We were looking for many more variables so that each segment of the audience receives a personalized message.Those included non-trivial columns, without which our lead base couldn’t be called a base: personal email, number of connections in LinkedIn, type of LinkedIn Account, previous job (for leads), total employee count, banner, logo (for companies).
In the very beginning, our database consisted of 500 companies and 2220 buyer personas. Thoughts that we won’t be able to find more became our nightmares 🙂 But after turning the whole team into date researchers for a few hours, we found 1000 more relevant companies and approx.3000 decision-makers. Sorry for such an advertising wording, but “Which of them turned into SQL? Find out in 2 minutes” suits this situation best:)
How to persuade Zukerberg to show your FB banner and get to know your prospects before the start of the outreach?
Considering that Facebook is not very fond of crypto and instantly bans every banner that even remotely recalls something related to the crypto world, our goal was simple – to remain in the field of vision of those whom we are going to outreach. That is, even before we sent them messages, they already knew about Xena and understood what the company works on.
We used the social selling approach here as well. Instead of using a text like “Need a reliable partner? Call us”, we sent ad creatives that led to professional articles from Xena representatives. And it worked.
It’s quite obvious that when it comes to ABM there’s no place for counting how many sales a creative brought, but CR on a series of creatives on first touch was 10%, second touch – 18%, third touch – 25% !!! (keep calm, before the third touch, 80% of leads were already familiar with the Xena brand thanks to LinkedIn and Email).
User Journey Map
How to hack the unhackable Linkedin limits and attract the attention of even the busiest CEO in the globe?
At that moment, we thought that everything was under control. After all, LinkedIn was created for lead generation. But … it turned out to be more tricky. We simply underestimated the decision making cycle.
It all started well – leads answered, we collected a number of positive replies, but no one bought anything. And that indicated a problem.If talking about numbers, during the first month of outreach we received ~ 30 MQL leads, which perfectly corresponded to our ICP. Half of them were handed out to the Xena team, as communication has gone far beyond the usual interest, but the process didn’t get to a result.
We discovered our mistake a little later. No one makes such decisions in one day – especially if we are talking about a company, but not individuals, and the amount of the transaction is $500,000 +. It’s pretty obvious that one message on LinkedIn is not enough for this.
Turning to more practical outreach methods, we decided to try the native approach (aka social selling). Instead of contacting leads directly, we were sending articles from someone on the Xena team. There were answers, but again there was a lack of deals and our client simply got tired of technical conversations about articles.
So we decided to diversify and add a direct approach. Now prospects knew for sure that they were being offered to buy a product, and, accordingly, only those who really intended to buy it answered.
At the same time, thanks to the competent campaign construction, the number of leads was stable, and the conversion rate skyrocketed, demonstrating a good ROI.
Linkedin & Email orchestration
How to become an omnichannel pro and don’t let any lead slip through your message?
As you’ve already noticed, ABM is not about just sending messages and waiting for what happens. No matter how relevant and wonderful your message on LinkedIn would be, the human ability to lose, forget to reply, or simply avoid LinkedIn is not going anywhere.
Initially, we identified those leads who didn’t leave traces about themselves on LinkedIn and sent them along the shortened funnel “Facebook (5 touches) – Email outreach (3 messages) – Email marketing (regular messages)”. We did the same with leads who have less than 300 LinkedIn connections because, in practice, their activity on LinkedIn is zero.
But with the LinkedIn lovers, we’ve implemented the program “Facebook – LinkedIn – Email outreach – Email marketing”. We segmented those who did not respond to us on LinkedIn, and we were catching up with them through the use of email. Also, with the help of email, we reminded of ourselves to those who have already pleased us with a LinkedIn response but then disappeared in an unknown direction.
Next, we created a message based on an article by one of the Xena team professionals. Then another one, and then another 🙂 The open rate was about 70% and leads repeatedly returned with dozens of questions and/or feedback on articles. A few hours of discussion on those articles after the launch of email marketing became commonplace for the Xena team. Here it is – real social selling.
Narrative approach Email
Message for content marketing
How to sell without selling? (and a small fuck up story:)
“Personalization” is an eternal ode of all ABM specialists. Obviously, the best personalization is a separate series of scripts for each prospect after half an hour of researching the company and lead pages. But this is how you can spend all your best marketing years analyzing the educational institution of another CEO.
We worked with segments. Thanks to the high-quality compilation of the database, we could filter the audience by various criteria and make a custom script chain, for example, for all CFOs or for all UAE representatives before a local conference.
Also, in order to make the path of each user more unique, we used Autopilot, which analyzed the behavioral factors of leads at each stage, redirecting them to the most optimal path.
Fuck up: Let’s be honest – our ambitions went ahead of us here. Dozens of webinars and inspiring ABM cases … Well, we as true marketing gigs, who are ready to stay up all night in order to test a new hypothesis, couldn’t miss an opportunity to try out technologies of the future. Therefore, we took the Hyperrise tool, which allows you to customize videos and images for each lead. We decided to do without test campaigns. And this is what we got
We are grateful to the guys at Xena for choosing the first option 🙂
And yes, of course, we fixed everything with the speed of light.
And finally… How to build relationships that matter?
The work of SDRs is hard. Moving to the standard SDR process has been a tricky process for us, and will probably be the same for anyone looking to convert a lead from one or two posts and are used to the “Take it or leave it” approach. SDR is responsible for need formation. A few months later, those who turned us down after the first contact already began to show interest in the product and started negotiations with Xena representatives regarding further cooperation.
In the beginning, we understood that SDR was necessary for us. That’s it. Everything ended on that stage. We simply left many of the rejected leads alone – a negative response is always a negative response. By the way, with the right SDR process, about half of your outreach leads during the fourth month should come from those who rewarded you with a neutral/negative reply at the start to more hopeful ones. So we realized that we were doing something wrong here.
Just a flow of random ABM thoughts…
The Xena team and our team went through two critical stages at once: for them, it was a stage of scaling, and for us the path from classic outreach to ABM campaigns. And if the common outreach needs to be learned all your life, then ABM outreach will take several lifetimes. When the audience is so poorly represented in the whole world and it is so difficult to reach it, take on the multi touch approach.
We connected many channels, tested a lot of hypotheses, and also conducted a number of audience decomposition sessions. And it was a wonderful collaboration.
Xena continues to grow, which we are extremely happy about. Well, we grew up working on this case, for which we are grateful to the Xena team.
If you are in search of lead generation of investors, “fat” B2B clients, then you can invite us to collaborate, and our team will provide everything you need to achieve your goals. Our team has worked out a lot of complex processes that help to interact with such an audience and gathered unique insights. This means that next time we can achieve even more impressive results.
If you have a highly specialized audience, without which your product cannot survive, then you need tough feedback and real hard work. It is necessary to research the audience, understand it and find all possible ways to get in touch with it. It will no longer be possible to launch traffic for 1000 investors and generate results. In this area, everything works much more complicated. Well, if you need help, information, or a guide, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to work together.
One of the main traits of Solus agency as a team is their passionate involvement mixed with professionalism. Considering that our target audience is very narrow (yeah I won`t stop telling this) I suppose this passion is exactly what helped Solus.Agency to understand our TA and bring us great ROI.
I didn’t expect that an agency we work with – any agency – was going to analyse our audience so deeply. However, now, after having this experience of collaboration with Solus.Agency I can tell that without such involvement it is impossible to achieve great results.