Most organizations have siloed departments — sales, marketing, product, etc.— that collectively drive growth but don’t always interact with each other. With the goal of expanding, a dedicated function orchestrating the various aspects of growth is crucial. But if done incorrectly, growth can lead to implosion and failure. PostFunnel sat down with Hadas Avrech, Growth Manager at Optimove, a smart marketing solution for enterprises (and PostFunnel’s parent company). We’ll dive into the notion of lead nurturing, the jewel in every growth crown.
“At the end of the day, it’s not your product alone that grows your company– it’s the clients who really push the company forward. There are so many good products out there that remain in the dark, simply because they fail to scale up their client base in a consistent manner,” says Hadas.
Before Optimove, Hadas worked as a project manager at a large corporation, where she focused on process optimization. She later left to co-found an independent start up where she led the product and marketing initiatives. She has a BA in economics and business from The Hebrew University and an MBA from Tel Aviv University.
What is the focal point of your role?
“I’m focused on customer and user acquisition, activation, retention, and up-sell. As mentioned, we improve our product based off of customer feedback. So, I’m responsible for everything that has to do with leads: bringing them in, nurturing them, scaling their numbers and improving their quality, in an ever-more automated manner.”
Where is your role located within the company’s structure?
“Growth is a multi-disciplinary function and typically lives at the intersection between product, sales, marketing, and CSM – essentially all customer facing departments. I try to leverage every operation of the marketing department – be it content, campaigns, events etc. – to bring in more leads and enhance their quality. I am basically dedicating my time to working with teams to implement a scalable solution that will improve KPIs across the organization.”
At what stage is it wise for a company to employ a full-time growth-focused function? What factors should be taken into consideration?
“When you’re a new company, you are looking for the right product market fit. You don’t really have clients or even leads. Once the company transforms from the early stage to the growth stage, you’re looking for ways to expand within your own territory and to distinguish yourself. Finally, when the company reaches its maturity stage, the focus is turned to understanding where to invest your best efforts. For example, at this stage, I must decide how to best use my resources, identify the qualified lead, and assess who’s ready to be passed on to sales. So when you’re a new company, you need to ensure that you have the proper product and marketing setting first, and only then you can think of growth. You need to learn how to walk before you start running.
As for factors, it should be a mix between your existing number of clients, your goals, and the number of leads you currently have – the conversion rate between them will yield the number of leads you wish to generate. At the end of the day, we want to direct high-quality leads to functions that can leverage them into closed deals. If I manage to direct hundreds of good leads every week to a sales department that cannot really handle them – I haven’t achieved anything.
On the other hand, beefing up your sales team without expanding your growth mechanism in parallel will also prove to be futile, because what will the sales team work with? These two functions must grow in unison. And don’t forget your marketing team. If you build a supreme lead-nurturing infrastructure without a functioning marketing entity that creates the proper assets and activities that generate the leads, you are also wasting time and money.”
Let’s zoom into what you do on a daily basis.
“I leverage our efforts in various departments (marketing, sales and product), optimize the current processes and scale them to produce an ever-growing number of qualified leads. This is divided into three main fronts: First, I focus on the lead nurturing process- if I have a large pool of leads that I want to review, filter and then hand off to the sales team – how do I do it? I identify the different lifecycle stage of each prospect based on their individual journey and build a communication system to match that specific lifecycle stage.
Seondly, there’s the PPC operation across all platforms, where we want to present people with personalized messages on the right network, at the right time. This is especially important for us considering the fact that our own product is based on smart marketing. Just imagine us displaying a ‘request a demo’ ad to an existing client, it would negate our mission statement.
Lastly, I lead ad hoc projects, which mostly revolve around developing new channels that will enable growth; website personalization, webinars, product tour video, segmented landing pages, etc.”
What are the best practices to acquire leads?
“The absolute best way is to constantly look at the total number of leads you already have and ask yourself: ‘How do I both generate and refine qualified leads at scale?’ And this is a question that’s very difficult to ask when you’re buried under the daily grind, but it’s a must. What you need to do is to constantly talk to people from outside the organization.”
What kind of people?
“Existing customers, prospective customers in their early or late stages of interest, even vendors we work with – we use all of these conversations to get a better understanding of how our company is perceived from the outside. Naturally, some communicate that they require a deeper understanding of our product, and this tells me I need to work on fine-tuning our external messaging. One project that came out of these conversations is creating a product tour: a lead generator that provides viewers with an effective review of our product. By providing a few details, prospects can increase their understanding of who we are and what we do through a 4-minute video. This platform helps us identify leads’ intent and quickly allows us to provide the sales department with more qualified, segmented leads.”
Are you saying that the clearer a company’s messaging and product is, the higher quality leads it will receive?
“Yes, but there’s a caveat – you want to create a balance between transparency and ambiguity. You don’t want to be too specific, because you might lose a lot of leads you may have been able to convert, but at the same time, you don’t want to be too vague, because you’ll generate a ton of worthless leads. In other words, we want a message that resonates with our audience, a message they know is directed to them.
Another means of improving lead quality is through the company’s website personalization. This may not be true for every company, but if your product targets a few different customer segments, like Optimove’s, you should try and personalize your website. Your goal should be to collect as much information as possible about your potentials – the more information, the more personalized experience you can supply. You must take into consideration, however, that measuring the ROI on website personalization is a lot trickier. For us, website personalization is especially important to show customers we can practice what we preach.”
How do you work around that obstacle of website personalization performance measurement?
“I decided that my most measurable and immediate goal is gently nudging someone into requesting a demo. So, I did an A/B test between one group who experienced the personalized website and those who did not and tried to see which group requested more demos. In some of the segments we saw a significant spike in requests. Within the groups who didn’t convert, we tried to look for the motives (some were technical, like low loading speed, and some had to do with relevance). This personalization gives us another layer of insights we can draw.
We’re basically using our website to display and prove our abilities to the prospective client. Take Optimizely for instance – every entrance to their site is basically a demo of their product. Done right, this pushes the potential client down the funnel towards conversion.”
What are the key traits an employer should look for in a prospective candidate for a growth management position?
“I think anyone in a growth function should master these three areas: analytics, acquisition channels and the ability to exercise creativity – not necessarily in that order. I once read, ‘if data is the fuel of growth, then analytics is its engine.’ To be good at your job you must constantly use data analysis to draw actionable insights; there are tons of marketing tools out there, use whatever will help you manipulate and visualize data, like tableau, SQL, Excel and Qlik. You also need to be proficient in the wide range of acquisition channels out there. Obviously, each channel has its own characteristics and you need to know how to leverage each one of them in the most effective manner. Lastly we have creativity, resourcefulness, strategic thinking, and of course, leadership. The latter is particularly important since growth managers must gain support from various departments in order to achieve their goals, in many cases without direct authority.”
Your business’ growth plan shouldn’t be left as the last discussion point at the end of an already long meeting. After creating a growth strategy, the real work of gathering, nurturing and converting leads begins. And it’s a tricky process. Next week, Hadas will share her experience on these issues, including tips, tricks, tools and common mistakes.