We are thrilled to present our newest episode of the 2Inspire Interview Series, where we invite entrepreneurs, managers, experts, and creatives from the industry to share their insights, best practices, and stories to help you hyper-grow your online business. So, get inspired by this latest interview.
In this episode, we had the pleasure to chat with Natalie Marcotullio, Head of Growth and Operations at Navattic, where she focuses on helping SaaS companies give their prospects a better buying experience. Natalie has a background in SEO and digital marketing for B2B sales and marketing SaaS, and over the years, her focus has shifted to full-funnel marketing and improving the digital buyer experience. Previously to joining Navattic, Natalie was the Marketing Director and Chief of Staff at Map My Customers, a geospatial sales platform designed to help marketing agents map and share customers’ locations. With her rich experience in SaaS customer experience and onboarding, you can be sure that she has plenty of excellent best practices to share in terms of SaaS growth.
As you can expect, this episode is jam-packed with actionable tips on SaaS growth, including reducing your churn rate by improving your retention strategies, insights on why content and its distribution are key factors in your customer’s journey, key tips on how to track your company’s success and upscale your customer experience gameplan, and when is the right time for a SaaS business to work on a rebranding strategy.
Let’s dive in, and make sure to watch the interview to learn all about these best practices and much more. We can guarantee you will leave with at least one takeaway, so make sure you have a notebook and pen close by!
Check out the full interview below:
Q1: Could you share more about your journey in Marketing? (00:18)
“I’m currently the Head of Growth at a company called Navattic, and we make interactive product demos – essentially try-before-you-buy experiences for software. As far as my background, I’ve always been in B2B SaaS, tech, and I started with SEO and SEM. I’ll always say those are my two loves, self-taught myself that. And then I moved to more of a holistic marketing, these days more focused on growth and whole customer experience. I was actually a customer of Navattic, before moving to Navattic, which made it one of the easiest transitions I’ve ever had in my marketing career. And it was definitely a lot easier. At our old company where I was at, we were selling to an ICP that wasn’t as buyer-friendly, it wasn’t as tech friendly, while now, I’m basically selling to myself. So that’s been an awesome journey and career.”
Q2: What are some tips that shorten the B2B funnel and have better conversion rates? (00:54)
“This is something our customers come to us for a lot. And I think number one is to put more information about your product on your website. It doesn’t have to be an interactive demo, whether that’s a video, screenshots, just more information in general. We also see customers are cutting down the sales cycle and the funnel by using this kind of pre and post demos. So, rather than having to give demos to every single person in the company, you could send them an interactive demo that they could share internally. And that drastically cuts downtime, because not every single person needs to hop on a call.”
Q3: How do product demos help in building and supporting a product-led growth strategy? (01:30)
“If you’re currently sales-led, and you want to go PLG, we kind of frame this as a PLG light. This is a way to start testing it, letting people get hands on with your product without having to pull in your engineering resources, without taking months to a year. From customer interviews, just from talking around, we’ve heard that generally, it takes about six months to two years to go PLG if you are a traditional sales-led motion. And our average implementation time for our customers is about two weeks. So, since we are no code, since we’re already taking just front-end captures of your existing product, it makes it a lot easier to get one of these interactive demos up and running, you can put it on your website, you could send it out, as we mentioned, and see how prospects respond to a little bit more of a PLG motion.”
Q4: What is the best option for SaaS companies and why – a free trial or a product demo? (02:16)
“I don’t know if it’s really an either – or situation, but I can talk about why you might evaluate using both or maybe you would want to place to free trial. Actually, at my past company, what we did is: we had a free trial, and you had to import information in order to see any value. We were a CRM and, you know, without seeing your leads, you’re really not going to get value out of CRM. But the import process was a little time consuming. We ultimately ended up switching to an interactive demo instead, because it required no setup on the end user, so they could instantly see value. They wouldn’t have to set anything up or not worry about getting permissions, and it was also just a lot faster. Rather than them having to wait 14 days to set up a free trial, they could walk through the entire platform and two minutes.”
Q5: What have you found to be the key acquisition channels in SaaS? (03:06)
“I’m a little biased, because this is where my background is. But I think SEO will live forever. Especially because it’s just a level of trust building. Ads and all that are effective, but you kind of know you’re being advertised too. Well, in an article, you have room to develop your brand, to give information, to do thought leadership. And what’s nice about SEO, I guess the good and the bad about SEO, is it takes a while, it takes six months or 12 months to really see the results. So, if you’re one of the first leaders, you have a huge advantage. It’s not like ads, where a competitor could just come in next day, and bid on all your keywords, and then suddenly, they own everything. I always think SEO is going to be there as far as a key channel for SaaS companies.”
Q6: What strategies do you use to encourage renewals and improve retention? (03:54)
“I think one of the best things you can do for retention is getting your customers onboard and implemented, 100% set up correctly, and really walking them through, guide them through. And not just that, such as software, and everything’s implemented and working well, but also that they have a way to track if the software is working well. I think when it comes to testimonials or trying to prove value, as marketers, we can get really frustrated, because we want these data driven testimonials. But we never think about how we can help enable our customers to get there. We can’t just expect them to be able to pull data from our product if we don’t have analytics, or if we don’t have integrations to do so. And one thing that we do is we’ll walk customers through custom integration. And we have a pre-built dashboard with HubSpot and Salesforce. So, we’ll walk them through how to set it up, and then show them this dashboard, and help them make this dashboard. That way we know they have a way to track the success of Navattic, the leads they’re getting, how much leads that lead to MQLs, revenue and all that. Then later, when it comes to renewal time, we can point to that value, we can point directly to those metrics or even for a case study.”
Q7: When should a B2B company start considering a brand redesign? (05:01)
“I think there are a lot of different reasons. We have a lot of customers that come to us and ask about this, and some of the most common cited are big rates, big product release, anything like that. We’re trying to create a new brand refresh, big stir in the market. I think another really important one is, if you’re going after a new audience, or if you are trying to really focus in on one audience and do ICP research. The reason we did ours was because we were really honing down on a specific audience at the time, I realized that we wanted our messaging to be a little too broad and wanted to really focus on them. Another big one, and we’re thinking about another website redesign now, and what we’re thinking about in this direction is where you are in the market, right? Like when we first launched, we were all very new. There space wasn’t as competitive, we were just educating people around product demos and what that meant. Now there are definitely more players in the market. It’s kind of going from innovators to a little more early adopters. So, we got to think about how do we differentiate even more? How do we make it easy, if anyone’s comparing us, to show what we specialize in? I think that kind of where you are in the market and then who you’re going after are two ways to make you think if this a good time for a website redesign.”
Q8: What are some lessons you learned from Navattic’s rebranding process? (06:17)
“I think one big one is, before you even start working on the design and any of that, make sure all of leadership is aligned on goals. And that you know what the main message of this new website is. And we were pretty good about that, the leadership team was awesome for providing their feedback for us, making sure that we all have this aligned mission. But I think I’ve seen so often with website redesigns where you get really far and out to it. And then someone comes in kind of last minute and says, oh, this wasn’t the messaging I was imagining, or this wasn’t our thinking. Just making sure up top, you’re getting all aligned. And that throughout, you’re giving updates, checking in with everyone making sure they’re reviewing it – so that it’s never a surprise to anyone the week before you launch and then you start all over.”
Q9: What are some common mistakes you see B2B SaaS brands make in terms of their buyers’ CX, and how can they address them? (07:06)
“I think the biggest one, and the reason why a lot of customers come to us, is not giving product access early enough. We’re hearing about products where it’s the third, fourth call that you finally get to see it. I think we’ve all been in that buying process, and it’s incredibly frustrating to just want to see if this will work for you, you just want to get a quick understanding about it and have to wait weeks and three to four calls to get there. Our recommendation is always to show the product as fast as possible. Obviously, as we showed it on the website, even if they are videos, screenshots, or anything like that, that can give people an idea of what they’re signing up for.”
Q10: Is content still king and what are your thoughts on gated versus ungated content? (07:46)
“I think content is king. It’s obviously getting more crowded, but I think that also is making us step up and create better content. What’s nice about the crowded space is that Google is kind of taking us down on really low-quality content. As far as gated versus on gated, I think it really depends on your goal. I know there are some marketers who are heavily con-gated or pro-gating. As a lot of people say, if you’re going to gate make sure it’s valuable enough for an email. So don’t just do a generic blog post. But we get this question a lot from our customers, and what we usually say is: if your goal is lead gen and you have some great information, you’re going follow up with them, or if you have a purpose to use that email, then gate it. Especially if it’s a long piece of content that you have behind that gate, I think people will understand, I just gave up my email, but I’m getting a lot in return. And especially if you can follow up with something relevant to them, then it doesn’t feel as intrusive that they have given your email. On the flip side, if your goal is like educating your leads, if you want higher quality leads, if you’re getting a lot of window shopper pokers and you just want people to have an idea of your product for the sign up for a demo, then we recommend un gating.”
Q11: What are your tips on how to distribute content? (08:59)
“One thing that we’ve been trying recently, and seeing a lot of success with, is we’ll create a piece of content and then get like six to ten really in-depth examples or quotes, or stories. If you’re familiar with HARO (Help a Reporter Out), it’s not like a quick CRO/crow where we don’t really know the person. It’s people we have relationships, sometimes its customers, sometimes partners and getting their take on it. And then that way for one, the blog posts it’s not just our opinion, there are multiple opinions, which I think elevate the blog post. And two, when we go to repost it, when we go to post on social, we make sure to tag everyone and tell our partners or customers that we included them in this blog post. That’s a way for them to also share it with their networks, to get to show how they’ve been spotlighted and some of the great results they’ve seen. And in general, being cross collaborative, elevates the peace and then also elevates the reach you’re going to get.”
Q12: What are your top 3 marketing metrics to track success in B2B SaaS? (09:57)
“Number one is pipeline opportunities, making sure that what we’re doing is bringing in revenue for the company. I think another good one, for as far as brand awareness is sessions and traffic just in general, seeing if there are more people visiting our website. I think pipeline opportunity is the most important, it’s obviously a very bottom of the funnel metric. And if you’re doing something that’s more towards brand awareness, for situations such as I want to get my name out, but I might not necessarily get people to buy right away, measuring off of just MQL or pipeline might make you think that was a failed event, but really, it might have brought a lot of brand awareness. And then third, we do track MQLs, more for just leading metrics, it’s like this is less the most important one. But I think it helps you to know is something did immediately catch interest or not. Obviously, pipeline opportunities are the most important, but it can take a little while for you to understand, is the campaign was successful or if you’re just doing pipeline opportunities.”
Q13: What is an online tool you rely on and can recommend? (10:59)
“This probably shouldn’t be surprising, based off my SEO background, but ahrefs all the way, I absolutely love it. And even if you’re not an SEO, it’s great for competitive research, great for just like market research in general, figuring out what topics people that related to your offering or related to any common themes are looking up. So, it’s my number one favorite tool.”
Q14: Who are some inspirational people you look up to and why? (11:27)
“Yeah, so I think number one for me is any female and B2B SaaS that is a founder. Unfortunately, whenever I go to conferences, or look at the speakers, any B2B founders in SaaS are generally male. And just to name a few, Melanie Fellay of Spekit and Alexa Grabell of Pocus. Seeing what they’ve been able to accomplish, and especially in a more tech male dominated world, just been awesome.”
Q15: What is the best book you’ve read lately? (11:59)
“I did just reread this, but I love Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener. I recommend it for anyone in tech. I’m also from New York, so reading a New Yorker’s perspective on moving to San Francisco and being in the tech world is just really entertaining.”
Q16: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? (12:16)
“I think the best advice I’ve ever received is to always think about who’s giving you the advice. I think it’s so often that we want to listen to all of the advice and everyone has their own perspectives and backgrounds. But just keeping that in mind, especially in marketing, where everyone wants to tell you about the best new campaign they have run or something that’s all so much successful. But always keeping in mind, what was their audience? Why did that work for them? Would that work for me and my audience?”
Stay in the Know!
We hope you have enjoyed this episode as much as we did and found it insightful. Are you ready to put these SaaS actionable tips into practice?
Until our upcoming episode, make sure to check out these previous 2Inspire installments, which will help you take your SaaS business to the next level:
- 2Inspire Series – Interview with Mariah Hay, Chief Experience Officer at Help Scout
- 2Inspire Series – Interview with Jane Portman, Co-Founder of Userlist
- 2Inspire Series – Interview with Kristina Quinones, Director of Growth Marketing at Automattic