PRNewswire had a traditional approach to marketing that wasn’t serving the company well as the industry evolved online. Campaigns were not targeted, content was very general and everything was done manually.
“We’re in a rapidly changing industry and, with that, the expectations of buyers and their needs are changing,” said Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing at PRNewswire. “We weren’t doing what we needed to do to drive growth for the company.”
The PRNewswire marketing team was using Marketo’s marketing automation software, but the team wasn’t maximizing the tool’s power. “It was really like an email service,” Wincko said.
Beyond that, the company wasn’t tracking any campaign results. “We had no metrics,” Wincko explained. “It translated to a sales team and broader organization that said, ‘What value does marketing really bring? They create collateral and send out emails; they’re almost a support function.’”
PRNewswire worked with Annuitas, a demand generation consulting firm, to institute change across its operations, processes, technology and skill sets. They started with the small-business segment first before tackling it across the company.
The first step was market research into customer segments, personas and defining the stages of the buying process. Next up — what Wincko called stage two — was content. “We started creating content, and the content development process applied to segments, personas and stages,” he said.
Stage three was designing the architectural framework and the technology integration piece. Once that came together, Wincko and his team were able to focus on targeting the company’s prospects and customers. As part of that effort, PRNewswire partnered with Dun & Bradstreet to clean up and augment its database so that it could effectively target decision makers digitally and drive demand.
The team used an omnichannel approach, combining paid ads, search and the company’s own channels, as well as outbound email, PR, social media marketing and the PRNewswire blog, webinars and events. They also added Adobe Analytics to the existing CMS (Clickability) and Marketo technology stack.
Throughout the process, fostering communication between marketing and sales was key. “We really spent a lot of time, effort and resources educating the sales team and providing feedback loops,” Wincko said.
The small-business project worked: Within six months, PRNewswire saw a 12% lift in marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), and the average closed-won rate now ranges from 10% to 11%. “That’s all incremental demand, and we’ve actually shortened the sales cycle by a third,” he said.
PRNewswire is moving on to mid-sized and enterprise organizations. “It’s meant to be a global marketing strategy,” Wincko said.
Tighter coordination between marketing and sales has been a key component, Wincko noted. “I’ve been in organizations before where we generated a ton of leads and never closed them. Our sales team sees a lot of value because they’re getting interactions with buyers that they weren’t getting before.”
Finally, measuring what works and what doesn’t has been crucial. “We’re building out new programs and we are continually optimizing how we are going to market based on analytics,” he said. “Where we invest, what content offers are working and which ones aren’t. We continually assess all of these. It’s an iterative process that will continue forward indefinitely.”