Cybersecurity Marketing Requires Dedicated Project Management
As enterprise cybersecurity spending increases, more and more vendors are competing for limited attention. How do you blast through all the noise and be heard by those senior level cybersecurity decision makers? What’s the secret to positioning your product as the one and only? There’s no magic recipe or secret ingredient for success. It all comes down to a combination of real world experience in developing a personalized strategy and working with the right team.
Because of the many moving parts involved in a cybersecurity marketing campaign, an effective management “system” must be in place to oversee the process. We’ve often had to pick up the unfinished work of previous agencies who simply didn’t have the capability or the right mindset to ensure a completely frictionless campaign process. And this is why we are a cybersecurity marketing advisory firm, we go above and beyond what any traditional marketing outfit can offer.
Why exactly are we a cybersecurity marketing advisory firm? It may be our access to a community of over 850K senior level cybersecurity decision-makers. Or maybe it’s the fact we work closely with an editorial team that has reported on every single topic in the information security space. Or, perhaps it’s the fact that we engage with more CISOs in a week than most marketers do in a lifetime. Cybersecurity isn’t just our forte. It’s our entire sustenance. You can read more about the content CISOs are consuming in our quarterly CISO Consumption Report.
When you’re dealing with a cybersecurity marketing team behind the scenes, individual contributors may be siloed into their day to day tasks, focused on the optimal execution of their deliverables. A campaign may have experts dedicated to media buying and planning, ad operations, content strategy, and design, just to name a few. All of these contributors are equally important in making sure a campaign runs smoothly. Yet individual members don’t always have a birds-eye view of the campaign’s progress, or insight into impending roadblocks or bottlenecks. As an advisory firm, we understand this issue and ensure it never happens.
Oversight by a cybersecurity campaign manager is what ensures a successful marketing outcome. These individuals monitor the campaign’s progress day to day, and make sure both the vendor and agency are held accountable to their obligations. A high-performing cybersecurity marketing team may be working behind the scenes but this is not enough without a dedicated driver. Unleashing a team’s full horsepower isn’t always about putting the pedal to the metal but careful steering and shifting of the transmission.
Cybersecurity campaign management is about being in control and agile during the often winding road to a project’s completion. A roadmap is necessary, as well as effectively documenting the delivery of various marketing assets and their related milestones. Most importantly, successful cybersecurity marketing campaigns incorporate contingency plans if a detour is needed and know when to stop to refuel. After all, the power of having a campaign roadmap is taking control of your marketing journey.
We felt the need to write from the perspective of a campaign manager and focuses on the 5 core elements needed for success. As we discuss these elements, we’ll point out some dangerous assumptions, common traps to avoid, and insights we have learned while managing thousands of marketing campaigns for cybersecurity vendors.
And to accelerate success, we will also provide 7 useful tips and tricks we utilize every day in our own cybersecurity marketing advisory practice.
Let’s get started!
Understanding the Fundamentals of a Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign
Who is your persona and what do they do?
External and Internal Decision-Makers
The path to purchase of a cybersecurity product or solution is not always linear or determined by one stakeholder. Identified personas, such as: information risk managers, IT security practitioners, information security officers, SOC leadership, Network Operations Managers, and other stakeholders such as fraud prevention, compliance, and audit personnel are crucial participants in the buying process. Considering the many silos within the security organization, every persona will have specific security needs based on job function.
Setting a Specific Target
One of the most important things to do when first beginning a campaign is to set a “persona scope” and determine exactly which cyber-decision-maker(s) will be targeted.
Everyone wants to reach the CISO these days but one must remember that there is a much larger and meaningful decision-maker universe to target. Today’s CISOs rarely make buying decisions and rely heavily on analysis and recommendations by their senior staff. Due to individual persona’s subject matter expertise and specific needs, your marketing messaging has to satisfy their specific requirements and concerns. Having this persona documented ensures a running start in creating and managing all future marketing processes.
Remembering Internal Collaboration
The marketing tone begins at the top. Senior marketing leadership, such as the CMO of the cybersecurity vendor company will be closely involved in selecting the personas to target. It’s important they are not only looped in the process from the very beginning but collaborate on determining targeting criteria.
Getting to the Holy Grail (aka The List)
Achieving success, such as attaining a certain number of leads, means reaching out to a certain volume of targets anticipating a percentage of them will subsequently engage with your messaging. A strategy must be determined to populate such a list utilizing paid, owned, or earned channels of data aggregation.
The proper communication can change a no to yes.
Addressing Pressing Cyber Issues and Problems
Having your target actively engage with your company means providing immediate value. This is when content strategists come into the picture, connecting the needs of the specific persona with a content theme, topic, and format.
Timely Format and Channel Per Persona
A thorough persona analysis determines which topic and type of content is most suited for your target audience. More importantly, content must accompany a buyer during their journey and align with their needs. From discovery, to consideration and finally making a purchase decision, a successful campaign considers all these stages when creating effective content.
A personalized content framework is designed to scale and support an ever-changing information security climate. As the vendor’s business goals change, content must be able to quickly adapt. This often means keeping your foundational content loose enough to mold to new features and business scenarios.
Content consumption becomes scientific, a living and breathing organism once it’s released into the world. Attaching metrics to each and every content object and interaction in the campaign creates accountability and accelerates goal attainment. Traffic, views, downloads, conversion %, and lead quality %, are just a few examples of success metrics. These metrics can easily be implemented into an editorial calendar that tracks the release of content on various devices, channels, and platforms.
Enabling sales teams to pinpoint a prospects position means also attaching a scoring methodology to each content piece in the campaign and maintaining an up to date, cumulative value per prospect. An email communication will carry less weight than a demo or a white paper. A prospect with a higher score may be ready for more intimate communications and one-on-one nurtures. Reaching out too soon, on the other hand demonstrates a lack of personalization and proper planning.
Re-purposing and Re-Use
The most efficient campaigns squeeze as much life out of a content piece as possible. For example, developing a 3,000 word white paper on the state of application security is rich enough to repurpose and reuse the core text and imagery in as many as 4 blog posts, 10 social media engagements, 8 email communication narratives, as well as several animated explainer videos. For smaller marketing teams, this is a critical consideration as one can build a strategy to target leads as they move down the funnel with limited resources and time management.
Facilitating an accurate exchange of information
Judgment Day (or week, or month, or quarter!)
The ultimate test of campaign success boils down to capturing useful information in a given period of time. This is one of the most critical components of the campaign, allowing for lead scoring and continuous nurture. Campaigns either live or die at this stage, and it’s when the success of the campaign becomes clearly visible.
Most commonly referred to a “call to action” its architecture and design is the key component to get right in a campaign. Getting those high profile cybersecurity decision makers to progress deeper into your marketing funnel includes many important considerations.
Low Risk/High Reward Engagement
A frictionless experience for your prospect gives them the freedom of selection without having the interference of high-pressure sales tactics. For example, a landing page pop-up should allow you the user to not enter their email and easily proceed viewing other content.
Enforcing a Sense of Immediacy
Incentivizing the transaction by providing a trial, free offer, discount or time-critical offer can accelerate and increase conversion rate for those hesitant to disclose personal information. Providing a free security tool is an excellent way to provide value that can be seen immediately by the prospect.
User Comfort and Experience
Any engagement on your digital properties should not only be low-pressure but easy to complete. Placement of such objects to capture information should be strategically front and center and not be cluttered with too much other information to distract or confuse the user.
Targeted Information Capture
Most importantly, the information that will be captured must be useful for sales teams and content type, geography, business title, and company vertical.
Your content alive in the ecosystem
Connected with Care
Integrated campaigns are often delivered across many different channels, platforms and devices. In paid advertising speak, this may mean deciding the timing and frequency of paid ads. But cybersecurity campaign managers look at the big picture. And in general terms, it’s understanding where your campaigns will live in the digital universe and the important considerations to attach to their creation, management, and success measurement. The most holistic management of the campaign inherently allows equal attention to all forms of communication regardless if it’s managed on company channels like email and blogs or hosted via other-party publishers and asset syndicates.
It’s not that the targeted personae in B2B don’t appreciate advertising, but more specifically that users want the freedom and flexibility to learn about products and services on their own terms. This is why the email channel, for example is such a useful approach since it gives the user the ability to scroll through a list of communications and engage on their own time. Returning to the importance of no-pressure communication, it keeps the ball in their court.
Rarely Does One Size Fit All
Regardless of how well identified and analyzed your persona is, an omni-channel approach guarantees higher success considering the highly subjective nature of one to one interactions. Successful campaign managers in collaboration with content strategists are able to circumvent the highly scattered content channel ecosystem by developing structured content for re-use and repurpose regardless of the device, channel, and platform, focusing .
Keeping your prospects interested.
A strategy should be implemented so your campaign doesn’t jump off a cliff upon completion of all milestones and deliverables. Once contact information is captured and prospect communications are begun, it’s important to regularly take care of your prospects long-term needs and goals and incorporate powerful methods of engagement well into the future. This sometimes means providing timely content related to current events and business problems as well as providing long-form proof of value such as webinars and white papers.
Timing Is of the Essence
Sales executives will tell you timing is everything and this sometimes means being patient continuing to follow up and also provide the right content and insights throughout the buyer’s journey, sometimes several months into the future. According to research conducted by the RAIN group, it takes an average of 8 touches to generate a conversion. Making those interactions count often differentiates a successful conversion from a prospect losing interest.
Let Your Data do the Talking
In the nurture stage of a campaign, data and analytics become your best friend. The campaign manager oversees the collection of valuable information about the prospect and is able to quickly identify where they are positioned in the marketing journey based on their scoring profile. Armed with this information, a nurture strategy becomes more efficient and allows for a decrease in interactions leading up to a sale. Nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in actual sales opportunities and companies who excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost (DemandGen Report and MarketingSherpa).
7 Tips and Tricks For Successful Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Outcomes
Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Tip 1: Sharing is Caring
Have one centralized repository for work in progress. Content usually goes through multiple iterations before it is complete and ready for release. It’s much safer and efficient to direct all stakeholders to one link with the content updated in real-time. There’s no need to risk having changes being made offline by emailing new versions of the same file.
Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Tip 2: An Agile Plan with Milestones
Provide a project plan from the onset. Establishing clear milestones with dates provides structure for the campaign and enough flexibility to adjust scheduling without having the structure collapse. A campaign is not a house of cards but more of a flexible entity that needs constant fine tuning.
Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Tip 3 : Stepping on Toes a No-No
Define roles of the team. Everyone should know what they are responsible for, obviously. But more importantly, it also should emphasize what they should not be focusing their valuable time on. It’s easy to take charge and begin sending out emails on behalf of another team members or “chipping in” to supposedly catch up on purported “slack.” Unfortunately this can create more harm than good by creating even more delays, duplicate work and miscommunications.
Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Tip 4 : Catch up Regularly
Schedule daily, or weekly meetings with all stakeholders working on the campaign. We’ve seen great success in executing these regular meetings ( mirroring the style of agile project management so popular in the software development community). An example of a daily standup may be: every morning, the entire team meets for ten minutes, one contributor allowed to talk at a time. This makes sure no issues slip through the cracks and the entire team is always on the same page of the campaign. It’s also okay to have a regular meeting every week to dive into more detail if it’s a more appropriate cadence for a slower campaign cycle. The important thing is to respect the regularity of this routine and to never fall behind..
Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Tip 5 : Underpromise to Overdeliver
The simplification of outcomes often leads to the procession of more completed work. With that in mind, campaign essentialism means to cut through all the unnecessary obligations and set them aside as addendums or “back-pocket” add ons. When deliberating on milestones for the project it’s much safer to promise less but get it done as fast as possible. And the items in the back pocket, they can be added on much later as “to do” items if the project ends up going ahead of schedule without any bottlenecks or roadblocks. The worst thing is over promising and delivering even less than the bare minimum expected.
Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Tip 6: Deliver a Mix of Media Offerings to Optimize Engagement
Impactful media entails ’s a mix of realism, relevance, and creativity. Lead Generation is the foundation of marketing initiatives and it’s good to not to immediately narrow the scope to only one type of media offering before performing A/B testing to see if one piece of content truly outperforms other offerings. Team members can have strong opinions about a certain strategy but unless it’s backed up by real-world data, it’s nothing more than an opinion. This is especially important with tighter budgets in place and expectations set for immediate results.
Cybersecurity Marketing Campaign Tip 7: Ensure Process Transparency throughout the Campaign
When someone asks a client if a campaign was successful, it’s more than just the outcome, ie. attaining X number of leads. It’s the marketing process in general and if they’d recommend working with the same advisory firm or agency again for another engagement. Experience management is key, not only on digital channels but in those micro moments when you have a quick question and need to get on the phone. It’s being able to provide answers to questions in a timely manner, have access to marketing documents quickly and provide a transparent view of workflow in progress. Having your marketing function work inside a black box is not only isolating but often leads to dissatisfaction in work quality and lack of trust. This makes it very difficult to build a long-term relationship between an agency and cybersecurity vendor. It takes a lot of effort to build trust, but transparency is a very effective and powerful shortcut to get to a higher relationship level.
Wrapping Up Cybersecurity Marketing Campaigns.
When a campaign is completed, the account manager should conduct an exit interview. Documenting the process is not only crucial for the agency but for the vendor. Discussing what went right and what could be improved in concrete and measurable terms is a definite way to make the next campaign even better and more impactful.
We treat cybersecurity campaigns as an ongoing learning process and the work we deliver leaves a lasting impression. If you’d like to learn more tips feel free to connect with one of our cybersecurity marketing advisors for a consultation.