This is a written transcript of Revenue Marketing Alliance's AMA with Ilias Tsatalmpasidis.
Can you give us a bit of an intro to what you do and what Superscript is?
Absolutely. I’m Ilias Tsatalmpasidis, Head of Growth at Superscript. Superscript is one of the fastest-growing insurtechs in the UK, and we’re also targeting markets in Europe and in the US.
We have a target of net growth, which means trying to grow our customer base whilst retaining as many as possible for as long as possible. I'm responsible for a multitude of channels to help us achieve that. That includes all the digital marketing channels you can imagine, from paid media to SEO to content, and we're trying to connect them all together. That's why they’re all under my supervision – so there are no silos and we all work very cohesively.
What are your tips for marketing a disruptive B2B product?
First and foremost, play to your strengths. Most of our messages are around the things we can do that others can’t – monthly subscription and the flexibility to add or remove things from your cover. We try to debulk insurance products so people only buy exactly what they need, and this is what we're trying to push with our message.
Our weakness is that we are a much younger provider, which means that we’re up against bigger and more established brands with much bigger brand budgets – the likes of AXA and Direct Line. They’re very strong from an awareness point of view, so we always try to explain why we're different to cut through this challenging environment.
Can you give some examples of the content you create to put that story out there?
All our content is focused on the needs we're answering with our product. For example, right now our customers are dealing with the economic downturn, and we address that in our messaging by highlighting that our product is flexible, so if you don't need a specific type of cover you can remove it, or if you had to lay off some employees, you can dial down the number of employees on your cover and when you hire again, you can add more at no extra cost.
We're always trying to show people the value of our flexibility and how that’s going to benefit them. You know, maybe now you can invest the money you’ve saved in marketing your business rather than paying for insurance you don’t need.
What automation tools do you use?
We mainly use HubSpot because it connects our sales and marketing team’s automations really well. We’ve also connected this nicely with Google ads and the different acquisition platforms we're using.
We build some automations using the HubSpot API, based on our own data lake. We create triggers ourselves, so we can automatically react to specific user touchpoints, but we try to keep it simple and not use too many other platforms. We like to keep everything within HubSpot plus our own customization.
Is that the tool you use to gather feedback from your users? If not, what do you use, and how do you incorporate that into the whole process?
No, we use other third parties to collect feedback, mainly Hotjar. Again, we use their API rather than their predefined design, so it looks more native within the journey. If people are within our quote form, for example, and they don't purchase, we show them little sad faces and happy faces so they can give us some quick feedback. Then, if they're interested, they can fill out a proper feedback form. That’s activated through Hotjar, but it looks like a native experience.
How does feedback between marketing and sales teams look in your experience?
Both teams have been working really closely, especially since we introduced tailored cover for anyone we don't have insurance products for. That initiative has brought us much closer together because now the sales team wants more traffic from industries that we didn't serve before and they need marketing to provide that extra traffic.
Let’s say sales wants marketing to bring them more plumbers. The two teams will work closely to identify why exactly we appeal to that market. In our case, it’s because most insurers don't like dealing with heating as they find it too dangerous, so that’s a gap that we can fill. Thanks to the interaction between sales and marketing, we can identify those kinds of narrow audiences and tailor our ads and content towards them.
The relationship is very beneficial to the sales team as well because the leads marketing sends convert them well and they have high premiums, so they also achieve their sales targets.
It has helped build trust too because now everybody understands that we are all going in the same direction. In the past, there was a lot of, “Marketing does this and sales does that,” and there was no overlap between the two. Now there is an understanding that marketing can drive what sales needs to close the sale and vice versa.
We have a biweekly call now and both teams spend time together. We have common dashboards, and we’ve even started sharing KPIs. We’re aligning our language too: we used to have different definitions for leads and prospects, but now we’re trying to be very consistent in how we name things. It’s been working really, really well.
How did you arrive at those common definitions and KPIs? Was there a big meeting?
No, it was a very collaborative process. We ended up in a meeting where we realized that we were saying the same thing in different ways and that was really confusing, so we started to create some shared definitions. Sometimes marketing had to step back and said, “Okay, if the sales team is using this, we're happy to use this in marketing as well.” It took time to adjust but finding some common ground really helped, and it all happened quite naturally.
It was the same for metrics. In some meetings, we couldn't make sense of the numbers so we had to find a common language there. Now sales understand marketing’s metrics better, especially higher up the funnel, so our work makes more sense to them.
Do you have any tips for larger organizations on how to get to the point where everyone is a big happy family and talks the same language?
Although Superscript is not a huge organization (we were just 60 people a year ago and now we’ve more than doubled to 150), based on my experience in larger companies, I’d take the same approach. It’s all about building trust, getting the right people in the room, and getting everyone to understand that it's in everyone's interest to create alignment.
What I've seen working well is, instead of trying to solve the whole alignment issue at once, focusing on a very specific project. Let’s say you have a launch coming up – work on how you can align on it really well. If that works, it proves the value of alignment and builds trust between teams. I believe in small steps that are a complete project, rather than just a small step towards a huge project – that would be a lot more difficult. Try to do a small thing in a focused way.
You also want to celebrate and shout out the successes of the other team and give them as much kudos as possible. That will help create a positive environment where people trust each other and want to achieve things together.
We've spoken a lot about how marketing and sales work together, but how does marketing work with the product team in order to develop and expand?
That's a great question. Again, a strong relationship is required for things to work well. I've been in organizations where product thinks that they are the kings of the world, but I think it’s great that organizations tend to become more product-led than they were in the past. Working with product is of paramount importance to have a successful and modern organization.
Whenever we’ve had launches where marketing was involved even before we had designed the product. Now we have started to have marketing people assigned to specific product teams, and we’ve created cross-functional teams that work really well. People feel part of the same cross-departmental work stream, and that has helped immensely.
If you design a product no one wants, it's pointless – regardless of how good it is. Or, if you design a product that people want but it's very expensive to acquire a customer, the economics might never work. Our cross-functional teams keep all of this in mind. Together, we build a case both from a product point of view and from a marketing point of view on how we think we can make a product successful.
We do a lot of factor tests together as well so that even though the product doesn't exist yet, we're able to see how people are going through the funnel and we can estimate the real unit economics of selling a product versus acquiring a customer. From there, we create a case. Sometimes the case might be for cross-selling to existing customers rather than acquiring new customers because we know it's not profitable for us to acquire a customer for that.
Which other teams do you routinely work closely with?
We work very closely with the data team to make sure our data requirements are captured and all of our events are set up to track things as well as possible.
A sub-part of the tech or data team is the machine learning team, and we work closely with them too. We use quite a lot of predictive modeling. We have two models – one is the lifetime premium model and the other is a lead-scoring model, which predicts how well someone is going to convert. In order to work these models, our machine learning team needs to work closely with marketing to understand what we're trying to achieve.
We’ve just started to build models that look at the earliest stages of the funnel and assign value to those interactions. That’s really important for activities like display and video ads – all the kinds of campaigns that don't result in a sale straightaway but mark a milestone early in the funnel. That’s a pretty complex model because it looks at larger pools of people with lower intent.
So yeah, to summarize, we work closely with the tech team, especially the machine learning part of it. We work with the product team too on everything from landing pages to funnel optimization to campaign optimization.
How highly rated is the activity of the marketing team in the eyes of the top people in the organization?
We're pretty lucky as a company in that marketing is valued. We’re always at the table for the most important conversations. Whenever we did funding rounds, marketing was always there to provide our forecasting abilities and show how we can scale in the market. As a growth team, we have our own PnL, so the company needs us in important conversations. We also meet investors because they want to hear firsthand what we're going to do with their money.
All in all, the company values marketing. Marketing isn’t looked at as just a cost center, as it has been historically. I think this has been a general trend ever since digital and revenue marketing have become more of a thing in the last 10 years or so. More and more, marketing is part of important conversations, whether that's at the C-level, investor level, or board level. We’re no longer just the department that does fancy designs.
How did you manage to get into that enviable position?
I can’t take credit for that. I think as an industry, we’ve been doing really well at being transparent and proving the impact of what we're doing. Technology has helped too because now we can measure that impact.
Unfortunately, some of that measurement has gone away over the last few years, which makes things more difficult. We’re seeing walled gardens between Facebook and Google, for instance. We’re also seeing restrictions that are dressed up as being for the protection of customer privacy, but to my mind, they’re just a way for companies to establish themselves more by providing fewer measurement abilities.
But overall, the capabilities that we have right now have helped us to prove our impact, in the same way sales teams have been doing it for years.
What advice would you give someone who is moving into a revenue marketing role?
They should be as transparent as possible, be consistent in their communications, and try to enjoy balancing innovation with consistency.
It’s also important to not forget the basics of marketing – building a story and understanding your customer. I think while we are doing all these innovative things, we sometimes forget there's a customer out there who is going to buy our product. They need to be interested, and you need to be able to tell them why they should buy from you rather than from someone else.
Fundamentally, it’s about remembering the basics plus being innovative, testing, learning, and taking advantage of all the unique capabilities we have nowadays.
What are your top tips for building a great revenue marketing strategy?
Align yourself very closely with the company's strategy. Your campaigns are nothing if they don’t align with the goals of the business, so try to align as much as possible, and try to make it really obvious to people why you're doing everything you do. You’re doing this to acquire more customers. You're doing that to acquire more leads. It all needs to be aligned to the company’s overall goal.
Also, don't forget that at the end of the day, every campaign you're doing is a numbers game. If you're acquiring X amount of people, Y amount of them will convert. You need to know the unit economics, and you need to understand how this is helping you. You need to understand how profitable that is, based on your margins or commission. Then you need to connect all of this together to understand how you can meet your revenue targets.
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