Insights from Katie Colbourne, Global Marketing Director at Basware
Cloud-based accounts payable solution provider Basware has a clear goal: to make it “all just happen”. And one of the people responsible for ensuring that resonates and cascades into campaigns that convert is Katie Colbourne, Global Marketing Director.
Katie’s career started at Toys R Us in above-the-line advertising. But she found her marketing ‘home’ with a move into the B2B tech enterprise space, where she has worked for the fifteen years since. Katie has worked across multiple tech brands, leading multi-channel, multi-country campaigns, in regions from APJ to NA. Today, she leads Basware’s global paid media and acquisition campaigns.
We sat down with Katie to find out what the perfect global demand gen campaign looks like – and how you know you’re getting it right.
How do you prioritise global budgets and ensure all regional stakeholders are happy?
Global budget management requires a holistic look at both worldwide and regional requirements. I often start by aligning larger portions of budget with the higher pipeline goals. But it isn’t always that black and white. Budget allocations need to be stress-tested and adjusted against other factors, for example:
- Is anyone falling behind in their pipeline goals? If so, do they need extra support?
- Who is doing well and perhaps doesn’t need as much focus for now?
- Which markets are less mature and don’t have as much brand awareness? Are there any immediate priorities or opportunities in that market that we need to be aware of? For example, has a key competitor gone under? Or has there been a significant merger or acquisition that could provide an opportunity if customers aren’t happy?
Ultimately, it’s about careful planning – and having the agility to adapt as needed.
What are the cornerstones of leading a successful global demand generation campaign?
Making sure everyone is on the same page is the anchor to success. That starts with ensuring that expectations are set out and understood before any big campaign starts. For example, there’s no point rolling out a marketing campaign if the sales team isn’t aligned. After all, it’s the sales BDRs/SDRs who take on and guide new sales conversations to the next step.
When setting up long-term campaigns, I’ve found over the years that the ones that work best have a steering committee made up of multiple business functions, including PR, brand, sales, BDRs, and customer success. That way, you can ensure every area involved has a voice. It also means that you can get tangible inputs early on, to help you develop the campaign correctly. Insights from customer success teams and requirements from BDRs are crucial to ensuring the team has what they need for customer follow-up and to respond to questions. It’s this input that shapes the messaging – and it helps to anticipate and plan for future needs.
It’s also important to make sure you can still be agile. In my experience, the best way is to hold back a percentage of your budget, so that if you see a struggling market or a message that is not resonating as planned, you can quickly find another way.
How do you know when to pivot a campaign?
If you have a campaign that isn’t garnering engagement, I would wait two-to-three weeks at a minimum before changing it. You need to hold tight until enough eyes have seen the asset for the feedback to be statistically viable. Campaigns take time to build, particularly if it’s a new message – so don’t jump the gun.
I would always recommend tracking typical sales funnel metrics too – like leads, MQLs, opps, pipeline, and ARR. These are standard benchmarks that can be used as leading indicators to determine whether a campaign is resonating. You can track average conversion rates at particular points, to see if something is performing below or above average. But again, I would hold my horses on acting when tracking these. After a new campaign launch, I would wait six-to-eight weeks before expecting metrics further down the sales funnel to start to populate. (Depending on the type of campaign, of course. Some campaigns might garner quicker results – for example, a really personalised ABM approach.)
What are the best measurement techniques you are using?
We’re so fortunate in marketing that everything can be tracked, so there’s really no excuse for not knowing how something is performing. I have always advocated for a combination of soft and hard metrics. Why? Because we need to understand short-term impact with soft metrics, which will lead to long-term equity with harder ones.
Soft metrics are great for giving you an early indication of how a campaign is performing. For example: is engagement high? Are people searching this topic? Are we getting click-throughs? Are people spending time on our site reading more about it…? Of course, we want marketing to be a revenue engine, delivering against hard metrics such as pipeline, opps, and leads. But we shouldn’t discount the higher, top-of-funnel metrics, as they can help to guide our expectations.
Is the MQL metric still valid?
There is an argument within the B2B industry at the moment that says: if you have all the gear, you should have an idea of your actual addressable market at any one time. If that is achieved, marketers won’t be driving or chasing leads that are still in the storytelling/education phase and aren’t already marketing-qualified. Instead, they would pivot to focus on quality over quantity – meaning MQLs, in theory, might become superfluous.
The idea is, by having deeper insights and focus on your addressable market, you can create really focused segments and deliver really pertinent messages. But that doesn’t mean top-of-funnel marketing stops. It has its place and always will (remember what I said before about short-term impact for long-term equity). Rather, it means that marketing can focus more dollars on their top accounts – those who are really in the market – and progressing them through the journey.
Are you using generative AI to enhance your marketing?
I’m personally using – or should I say ‘trialling’ – AI in many ways at the moment, as I learn more about it. What has worked for me so far is using it to add variety and excitement to B2B content. Also for my own social posts. And supporting reporting needs, and more. I’ve found if you take time to understand prompts and different ways to generate what you need, it can really help and give useful content. Do I think at this point that it will take away from people’s jobs? No, not yet. But I definitely think it will play a more integral role moving forward – particularly as everyday AI tools such as ChatGPT start to digest rich media, particularly audio. But time will tell.