Marketo hires search specialist to kick lead gen into high gear

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Jon Miller had an all-too-common business challenge: generating qualified leads for his sales force. The irony here is that Miller is VP-marketing at Marketo, a year-old marketing automation software company with almost no brand awareness.

While Miller knows search engine marketing well (he is a certified Google Expert), he found management of the search strategy was taking too much time.

“I could have arguably managed this all myself, and I did do that [at first],” Miller said. “I didn’t have the time or resources to scale the program to the next level. Managing Google AdWords is a time-consuming activity, and I know what I’m doing. I wanted to double my traffic, and it wasn’t going to happen doing it myself.”

At the same time, Miller was skeptical of search agencies. “A third party will never understand your business as well as you will, and they’re arguably not going to be as passionate about your success as you will,” he said, adding: “There are lots of people who can become experts on Google AdWords, but the key is to find someone who can become an expert on your business as well.”

After speaking with a half dozen SEM agencies based on referrals or by their reputations, Miller chose to enlist Enquiro Search Solutions, an SEM agency with a b-to-b specialty.

“I knew of Enquiro because they have expertise in terms of b-to-b and they’ve published research on how b-to-b buyers use search engines as part of their buying process, and that thought leadership was important to me,” he said.

The solution they came up with for Marketo was to expand the company’s ad groups dramatically. An ad group, a Google term, is a collection of keywords and ads around a theme.

Marketo had 20 ad groups when it signed on with Enquiro; the agency got to work expanding that, creating 80 additional ones. Next, Enquiro used Marketo’s own software to create landing pages to support the new groups.

“They built a dedicated landing page for each ad group,” Miller said. In addition, multiple versions of landing pages were tested to see which worked best. Enquiro also worked with Marketo to manage its keyword bids.

Since the program began in April, Miller has seen 50% more qualified leads at a cost that is 50% lower than when he only had 20 ad groups.

“We target b-to-b companies with a complex sales cycle who spend at least a million dollars a year on marketing,” he said, adding that he looks at every conversion as well.

For example, prospects who simply click on a keyword are not considered conversions. Rather, they must click and then go to the landing page, where they are presented with a form and an offer for a free white paper or product demo.

“If they fill it out, that is a conversion,” Miller said.

The next step with Enquiro will be to further refine keywords through testing and further optimize the landing pages.

“I still am looking for two times to three times more [conversions] than where we are today,” Miller said. “I’m confident we can get there through the process of continuous monitoring and refinement.”

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