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Sonja Jacob is a passionate B2B marketer and storyteller with a decade of experience building campaigns that move people and drive growth. As former founder of The Cultivated Word, she wrote and produced videos that received millions of views and shares, and was named to the Marketing Sherpa Viral Hall of Fame. She was the first content hire at Zenefits, and prior to that, served in product and content marketing roles at Kissmetrics and HubSpot.

Sonja is currently Director of Marketing at DocSend. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brandeis University. 

She will be live on Nov 7 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which she will answer as many questions as possible.

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  • KR

    Kamil Rextin

    29 days ago #

    Hey Sonja, great to see you here. Two questions:

    Do you have a paid strategy behind all your content? Or since Docusend is such a huge brand, you already have the reach and audience built.

    How does content strategy evolve from somewhere like Mattermark which for all purposes is still relatively new and unknown (very editorial at one point) to Docusend which is more, do I dare say - enterprise focused but with an established brand.

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Hey, Kamil! Thanks for your questions!

      Although I’d love for it to be the case, DocSend isn’t quite a huge brand *yet*! And even if it were right now, paid would still be a part of our strategy for driving content to the right audiences, and amplifying reach. Spending on access to really focused target audiences can be instrumental in your content distribution strategy. And paid acquisition can take many forms across many channels, so it’s crucial that marketers experiment to find what works best. Paid shouldn’t be such a dirty word in content.

      3 Share
      • SJ

        Sonja Jacob

        11 days ago #

        Also, great question about the differences between Mattermark and DocSend’s content strategy.

        Broadly speaking, Mattermark built a very engaged audience around their editorial content targeted at VCs, but when their product pivoted to focus on a sales use case, we needed to develop a new audience. That meant a complete re-boot on content strategy, since sales leaders consume content differently than VCs. That’s why it’s so important not to view content strategy as one size fits all. What worked with one audience usually never works with another.

        At both Mattermark and DocSend, the marketing teams have been tasked with building new audiences from the ground up, and that means digging deeper into exactly who you’re trying to reach with your content (an AE or a VP of Sales?), and testing until you find the content format they find most engaging. The end goal is to build an audience of engaged readers who you can hopefully nurture into paying customers.

        4 Share
  • EF

    Ed Fry

    12 days ago #

    Hi Sonja - thanks for doing this AMA!

    I'm curious how a team like DocSend manages their user and account data across all your systems. From free trial to your named accounts like The New York Times, how do you identify which accounts to work, nurture them across your different tools and teams, and then make sure the way you're talking to NYT and a three-person startup makes sense? How would you solve this problem in another startup?

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      At DocSend, we’re really focused on putting the customer first, whether that’s a three-person startup or a huge media company like the New York Times. We’re fortunate to have such a wide range of customers, but it's challenging for any business to address different companies in a way that makes sense for them and their respective businesses.

      But that's where having a very straight-forward ideal customer profile (ICP) and account-based approach comes into play. We don't want to boil the ocean, we just want to reach the prospects that will be the best fit, and nurture relationships with them. From the marketing team’s perspective, we’re focused on using audience targeting criteria to get the right messages to the people who align with our ideal profile. It focuses our efforts and helps us prioritize marketing activities.

      • SJ

        Sonja Jacob

        11 days ago #

        In my time at HubSpot, I think the biggest lesson I learned is that it doesn't make sense to sell to everybody. As marketers, we have this natural inclination to think more is, well, *more*. But it's not. You've got to focus on the prospects that are actually going to get value from your product, otherwise you're just pushing people through the door that will potentially churn later.

        2 Share
  • RH

    Russ Heddleston

    12 days ago #

    Sonja, thanks for doing this!

    What's your recommendation for how marketing should think about content specifically for the sales team? How do you prioritize requests and measure impact?

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Thanks for the question, Russ!

      Like it or not, most marketing teams end up creating content for the sales process. And, having been on the marketing side of these sales requests, I know there are a ton coming in at all times. But both marketing and sales teams need to do better about tracking the performance and usefulness of the content that's created and shared, otherwise, we risk wasting resources and worse, not giving sales what they need to be successful.

      We also have a much bigger problem with content used in the sales process. I like to call it the "mystery at the middle of the funnel." Once marketing hands off a lead to sales, there's very little clarity over which content actually drives that prospect deeper into the funnel, and closer to a purchase. Marketers need to take control of this situation by creating a better system for tracking and measuring the performance of content at the middle of the funnel, not just because it'll help sales, but because it'll help marketing. Marketers work hard to drive leads to sales. You can't risk losing them at the middle of the funnel because you have a massive blind spot around engagement.

      3 Share
      • SJ

        Sonja Jacob

        11 days ago #

        Since marketers can easily become deluged by requests for content from sales, I think it’s important that they prioritize those requests based on the impact they have on the sales process. If there’s already a sales content management tool in place, awesome. Make sure it’s connected to Salesforce so you can run reports to see which pieces of content touch the biggest deals, the deals that close the fastest, and so on. Double down on what’s already working not what *might* work.

  • W

    Khayrattee Wasseem

    12 days ago #

    Hi Sonja.

    B2B can be tricky as compared to B2C where you can at least work on "buyer psychology"..etc. So my questions are:
    1) with B2B, how can you growth hack?
    2) with B2B, does social media make sense? If yes what strategy to adopt?
    3) What social platforms you think would perform well for B2B
    4) With respect to organic traffic from SE, what type of content writing would appeal to B2B world to engage + get attention + convert potential Bs to us?

    thank you

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      I’ll be honest, I don’t necessarily think B2C is easier than B2B marketing, and here’s why: Consumer sentiment changes *rapidly*. What’s fresh and new one day is dead the next. Yes, buyer psychology can be leveraged to develop patterns in consumer behavior that help marketers, but I also think that the B2C space is heavily influenced by factors outside the control of the marketer. And that can be super tricky if you’re trying to create sustainable growth as a B2C company.

      In many ways, B2B is a lot more predictable. Businesses don’t go around ripping out technology they’ve invested in every month, quarter, or even year. That's too costly. So you actually have a lot more stability in the B2B space. That said… your questions need answering!

      1. I do think you can hack growth in the B2B space. If any space is poised for disruption, it’s B2B. But it’s going to be on a different timeline because B2B moves at a slower speed than B2C. To me, hacks are a means of finding better, more efficient ways of doing things. And in B2B, there are a ton of marketers who do email marketing the wrong way--they’re pushy, they’re aggressive about a product or a potential sale. I think one huge growth hack in the B2B space is realizing that those buyers are still *humans*. They still need their pain points addressed. It’s a great opportunity to leverage messaging, content, and other marketing activities to make connections with individual buyers that comprise the teams that make purchasing decisions. Maybe it’s not even about B2B vs. B2C, maybe it’s about B2H (business to human)? Food for thought.

      3 Share
      • SJ

        Sonja Jacob

        11 days ago #

        2. Social media in the broad sense of the term has such a bad reputation. I blame that on how we talked about social media from about 2005-2013. Back then, it was a panacea for everything. A jumping off point for “virality”. The thing is, social media only makes sense if you’ve working the right channels (say, LinkedIn for the B2B space) and you’re testing them enough to see the results you want. Definitely makes sense to leverage social media in your paid acq strategy, too. But gone are the days of the network effect. That’ll just have to hang out back in 2010, since that’s when it might’ve worked. The ecosystem is way more sophisticated today.

        3. LinkedIn. Experiment with what you can do with content and video to create a following there, but aim to get that audience back to your own blog or landing pages. Put targeted, high quality content in front of the people who’ve chosen to follow you and your brand.

        It's all about audience building with social media. Look at it as if it were a distribution channel and not a "buzz" or PR tool.

  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    11 days ago #

    Hey Sonja

    What is DocSend's biggest growth challenge currently?
    How are you tackling that?

  • MT

    Manny Tafoya

    11 days ago #

    Hey, Sonja! Can you share an experiment that led to a big win or insight you didn't have before?

  • W

    Khayrattee Wasseem

    12 days ago #

    A last question:
    5) what are your best tips & advice to creating a highly viral video?

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Virality is pretty elusive. And those who say they've had videos "go viral" usually mean they did a good job seeding them across audiences touch points, and also paying for views. This is the domain of big brands that have budgets set aside for this kind of notoriety and media "splash."

      What I'd rather tell people is, make a video that serves a purpose other than to go "viral": Will it explain a fundamental part of your product? Will it be for raising brand awareness?

      Logistics aside, if you want to make a video go viral, tell a story:

      1. Start with the problem. What is it that's happening that causes struggle, pain, or just needs improvement?

      2. Tease the promised land. What would the world look like if this problem or pain point went away? How would people benefit, and what could they get done with this problem solved?

      3. Then, tell them how to cross the divide between the old way of doing things, and the new way. Tell them what tools they'll need, and why they need them now.

      4. Conclude with what they risk if they don't make this change.

      5. Remind them of what that promised land looked like, and tell them it's still possible to get there.

      Here's an example where I do this (it has over 1 million views): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6MhAwQ64c0

  • JP

    Jason Peck

    11 days ago #

    Thanks for doing this!

    Noticed you have a signup with LinkedIn option. How is that performing for you all? Are you doing anything interesting with the data that you can grab through LinkedIn?

    Also just a thought but I bet you could get 5-10% improvement in signups if you had a CTA button above the fold on your homepage.

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Hey, Jason!

      Your questions are on point. We're actually making some serious changes to our homepage in the next couple of weeks that should bump that CTA above the fold.

      The LinkedIn sign-up doesn't perform as well as Google, and we've entertained making some additional improvements to that page in the near term. Stay tuned!

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    11 days ago #

    Bonjour Sonja- Thank you for doing this AMA.

    Could you give us some color on DocSend's "aha moments"?
    How do you leverage them for growth?

    Merci!

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Bonjour, Arsene! Thanks for your question.

      DocSend aha moments:

      - When a seller sees engagement on a link he or she sent out in a specific email sequence. Now he/she knows what resonates with a prospect, and can prioritize who they'll follow up with based on last activity. (Not to mention, they can also reach out with a conversation related to the content they've viewed.)

      - When a sales leader can actually get an account-based view of who's engaging with content that's been shared, even if it has been forwarded to other decision-makers not previously a part of the discussion. This account-based approach gives sales far more visibility into the map of the account, and who they need to get on board to drive a purchase.

      - Whenever someone uses one of our most exciting features, Spaces. These are lightweight content deal rooms that sellers can build in minutes and send to prospects. For sales teams with longer sales cycles, Spaces gets everyone on the same page, and provides key metrics to help sales teams own the narrative throughout the sales.

      Aha moments can be gleaned from our user data. We look at our most successful customers to identify their paths to these "aha" moments, and then we focus on driving more people through that same flow. It's sort of like reverse engineering success: we start with the people who are getting the most value out of our product and take steps to send others down that same path. And there are a ton more micro-funnels like this for different outcomes. If you want to drive growth, you have to keep exploiting these micro-funnels and sending more people down the path to a desired outcome.

      4 Share
  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    11 days ago #

    Hey Sonja - so cool to finally have you on!
    You've been on two teams that are content machines (Kissmetrics & HubSpot).
    They had the advantage of being relatively early in the content game.
    If you were to join their teams now, how would you approach your role differently? How would you measurably move the needle on the ROI of content?

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Thank you for having me on, Anuj! This is fun!

      Kissmetrics and HubSpot were serious content machines. Their first-to-market advantage with content really set the stage for how content marketers viewed their roles in other organizations. While I loved working at both companies, I do think that their efficiency as "machines" made it a bit challenging for other companies to implement their own content programs, and be realistic about their success.

      If I were to join those teams again today, I'd focus on where the pain is still the greatest: at the middle of the funnel. I'd be really curious to see how we could apply principles of top of the funnel content marketing to the middle of the sales process, where sellers still struggle to figure out which content to send to prospects. It might be a significantly less sexy problem, but makes a massive impact on sales productivity and efficiency. Fortunately, I'm tackling this problem at DocSend today :)

      3 Share
  • DH

    Dani Hart

    11 days ago #

    Hey Sonja - very excited to have you here!

    What DocSend's North Star Metric?
    How have you managed to rally & align the team around this key metric?

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    11 days ago #

    Hi Amy,

    What tools are you using at DocSend for experimentation & analytics right now?
    Where does your data live?

    What collaboration tools does the team use (assuming you might be using your own product, but what else)?

    Thanks!
    John

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    11 days ago #

    Thank you for joining us today, Sonja.
    I noticed on the DocSend site that you'll had CTAs for demos but they were pretty buried (like on this page: https://www.docsend.com/features/connect/)
    Why are they so "hidden" and what sorts of leads are they intended for?

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    11 days ago #

    Hi Sonja,

    Just happened to notice that you'll don't have a live chat widget on your site.
    Its so rare to not see these anymore - why don't you'll have one?

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Hey, Tri!

      Actually, we do! We use Drift on our Pricing page right now, and will be rolling out across entire site in the next few weeks.

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    11 days ago #

    Hola, Sonja
    I noticed that you'll use the "reverse" pricing layout with the most expensive to the left and cheapest to the right - I've read some posts that say that this leads to more people picking the cheap/er options because of the psychological anchoring of that layout.
    Was that the result of a test for you?
    Can you talk about any (other) big pricing experiments you'll have tried?

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    11 days ago #

    Hey Sonja
    What about marketing/growth did you learn from Kissmetrics & HubSpot that you've been able to put into practice at DocSend?
    Conversely, what doesn't apply any more?

  • OB

    Oscar Ivan Bonilla Ortiz

    11 days ago #

    Hello Sonja,
    How would you position a Facebook page and what kind of posts would you do? (It's a food fan page).

  • SS

    Sam Sprague

    11 days ago #

    Hey Sonja

    How does Facebook's algo effect the type of content your publish and how you publish it (to maximize engagement)?

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Overall, Facebook isn't a useful channel for distributing B2B content, I've found, especially for our target audiences at DocSend. I think it's super important that you focus on the channels where you're going to find your product's "people" and more often than not, that's going to be LinkedIn for B2B.

      We do run FB Lead Ads, which can be useful for finding hand-raisers and nurturing them into paying customers.

  • PS

    Pedro Sostre

    11 days ago #

    This might be a basic question, but curious on your thoughts... I have a B2B client that has used Adwords almost exclusively to get new customers for 15+ years. In the last 2-3 years, performance has dropped significantly. Is that something you see as an industry trend in general and, if so, what channels are you using to offset the drop?

    Thanks!

  • DF

    Daniel Foreman

    11 days ago #

    Hi Sonja,

    I am considering writing a complete "guide" on a big topic, like Patrick McKenzie does at Stripe:

    https://stripe.com/atlas/guides/starting-sales

    In the same amount of time, I could probably pen 10 shorter blog posts on different topics.

    As a marketer, how should I think about which strategy best?

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Hey, Daniel! Great question.

      If you've decided to write your complete guide based on insights about audience demand for a particular topic, I say go ahead and write your complete guide. But then, make it work harder for you by breaking it up into 10 shorter blog posts related to your big effort. Don't have to make the posts exactly the same (and you shouldn't). So tweak the individual blog posts related to your guide, that way you have ample content to keep driving people back to the valuable guide (which I'm assuming will be gated). This will tie your blog content to higher value content that people are willing to give you their information for.

  • DT

    Duong Thien

    19 days ago #

    Hi Sonja,

    My business is a SaaS service, and i focus on the American and the European. So could you help to suggest some insight of customer in that markets? and what should i do to prepare for pre-launching camp?

    Description about my product below:
    My product is an analytics & mrk automation platform for ecommerce website owners, which helps easy to make informed decisions based on data and optimize conversions without the good knowledge of marketing. Our customer can analyze their ecommerce website without head-scratching installation, with only one click they can have full report with most important KPI (sale funnel, checkout behavior, product peformance etc), and suggest they to make decision base on data, warning when their website have problem, make marketing automation in best practices to increase the sale by using email, popup, pushnotification. Everything is easy, no need to know about html, coding etc

    • SJ

      Sonja Jacob

      11 days ago #

      Hey, Duong! Congratulations on your impending product launch.

      I’d love to share some insights based on those markets, but they’re both very broad. I’d suggest getting hyper-focused on your target audience at the outset, so that you can really tailor your marketing to that group. If you’re successful in engaging them with your marketing efforts, you can reasonably assume expanding to other target markets is possible. Segment, conquer, and grow.

      I think it’s really important for entrepreneurs such as yourself not boil the ocean when it comes to marketing your product. Get specific about where you can really deliver value with your product right now, and exploit that use case in your marketing before seeking broad adoption.

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