How a Performance Marketer Uses Content to Drive Pipeline: A Conversation with Mark Huber
A brief look at Mark Huber’s LinkedIn will leave you with two thoughts:
- He’s kind of a badass (“Grew ARR at Metadata from $2.5M to $15M with over 75% being marketing-sourced”).
- He’s worked in just about every marketing function out there, from Marketing Ops to Demand Gen to Product Marketing.
These two insights are not mutually exclusive. Working in a host of roles has given Mark a unique perspective on how to get cross-functional marketing results that wow teammates and leadership alike.
His top takeaway: “Content is the lifeblood of the go-to-market (GTM) team.” 🔥
Mark, currently VP of Marketing at UserEvidence, shares his hard-earned lessons (and results) from one mega content project we worked on together at Metadata. Then, he gives us a play-by-play of tactics he uses to make strategic marketing decisions that drive pipeline.
Peek behind the curtain of a content campaign
I asked Mark to walk through a content project we did together. Obviously I knew how the story ends, but I wanted to get a glimpse into his perspective, goals, and approach.
The plan ✍️
Beam is all about expert-driven content—conducting interviews with subject-matter experts (SMEs) or collecting survey data to create original articles that earn a click or share.
When Mark was at Metadata, he wanted to lean into this type of content, too, but with an interesting twist:
“Gong had been using their own data and coming up with data-backed content and insights,” he says. “They nailed that in the sales space, but I hadn’t really seen any MarTech company that did that in the B2B marketing space.”
So Mark and Jason Widup (his former boss and Metadata's VP of Marketing) decided to use insights that people in their ICP and audience would actually find helpful.
“We were trying to punch above our weight class a little bit and show how much ad spend was being run through our platform,” Mark explains.
“Year over year, I think it went from around $15 million the first year I was there, to $42 million in 2022, to then $130 million in 2023—it was huge.”
The results 🤩
Metadata turned to Beam for help planning and executing Mark’s vision.
We rolled up our sleeves to dig into the beefy platform dataset, run interviews with leadership and customers, and help Mark craft a survey that would collect the qualitative insights to contextualize the data.
It was a collaborative effort—meeting weekly to review inputs, ideate on the emerging story and make sure everyone was on the same page. In only 3 months time, we turned the vision, relevant data and qualitative insights into the famous(?) benchmark report.
But we didn’t stop there. In 2022, we produced 6+ articles that expanded on different aspects of the report. Then, as responsible marketers do, we updated both the report and a handful of the follow up articles to reflect the latest 2023 numbers. All together, with charts and other visuals to support, the team had a goldmine of nurture, social, demand gen, and sales fodder.
This project a) helped Metadata position itself as a data leader in the marketing space, and b) became the gift that kept on giving. The success indicators speak for themselves:
Sales loved it.
It gave them a solid resource to share with contacts to push open opportunities forward.
Paid campaigns got a boost.
It gave Metadata the strong content offer they needed for high-performing social campaigns. Mark said, “We always joke that it created enough content for us that if we were to shut off everything else, we would be able to repurpose that report for, I think, somewhere in the 7–9 month range.”
Organic search jumped. According to Mark, “‘B2B paid social benchmark’ was the highest-ranked non-branded organic term for all of Metadata, and it was year over year the highest source of organic traffic for non-branded keywords.”
Metadata also now ranks for hundreds of benchmark keywords (e.g. "average facebook cpc" and "LinkedIn cta") thanks to this same campaign. Just take a look at LinkedIn Ad Benchmarks—it ranks for 50+ keywords on the first page.
Now, even a year after publishing, the follow up articles account for 3.75% of website traffic.
“I think that was the best part about it. I hate publishing SEO content for the sake of publishing SEO content because it's not very good,” Mark says. “But by repurposing that report with you all, we were able to rank for relevant terms by creating really good, relevant content that just had way more substance than your typical SEO post.”
The benchmark report (and its follow-up content) saw incredible results, but it wasn’t just a one-off success story. Let’s take a closer look at Mark’s tried-and-true approach—and how you can replicate it to achieve content gold of your own.
Steal Mark’s playbook for creating captivating content
Achieving results like Mark’s requires creativity, analysis, and well, years of experience. Get a head start on the process by following his go-to tactics for content success.
1. Determine your order of operations
Mark’s approach to content marketing has stayed the same, even as he switched from Head of Brand and Product Marketing at Metadata to his current VP role at UserEvidence.
He lays out his priorities in this order:
- Product marketing
- Content marketing
- Demand generation
“You need to have a solid story and message from product marketing as your foundation first,” Mark explains. “Then, you can take that and turn it into different content pillars.”
Once you have those building blocks in place, then you can focus on demand-gen strategies like paid ad campaigns.
“Everybody wants to generate pipeline and revenue right out of the gate,” Mark says. “But if you don’t have solid product marketing, and you don’t have content, you can’t really ‘math’ your way out of a demand-gen problem.”
2. Work backwards
So, I was curious: If the idea is to start with product marketing, how do you translate that foundational messaging into effective content?
Mark says he starts by asking some questions of his own, like:
- Who are we marketing to, and who is the best fit for our product?
- What are the types of things our target audience continually asks after becoming a customer?
That line of questioning typically leads him to start with bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content around higher-intent themes.
“Product-led content comes first for us,” Mark says. “I think everyone gets the value proposition, the messaging, the benefits. They get the story, they relate to it, but they want to see that next layer of detail of how the product actually works and the specific use cases it works for.”
Right now, at UserEvidence, Mark’s doing just that. He and his teammates are plotting out a tactical new video series on how they use their own product internally, along with clear step-by-step how-tos, screenshots, and Looms.
“Once we nail that part of the content house, I’ll start to move into the cooler, flashier things like podcasts and media series and all the other good stuff that helps build a brand,” he says.
3. Listen carefully
Even if you know you’re starting with product-led content, you may still struggle to land on a particular format or medium. Should you write blogs? Start a TikTok? Double down on webinars and workshops? The answer is likely not in your brain but rather with your customers.
“Everyone talks about speaking to customers,” he says. “But I push people on this. How often are they actually, though?”
Conduct a handful of customer or buyer interviews upfront to determine where people go for information, why they like it, and what formats they prefer—and let those findings dictate everything else. Let the audience determine the right medium, instead of choosing a format and praying it works.
4. Get buy-in
Before you get started on your content campaign, there's still one important hurdle to clear: you need the A-OK from your C-suite.
Mark has words of wisdom on this front, too.
“The way that I've had the most success is to come to my leadership team with examples of what ‘good’ looks like—from companies they look up to or you've heard them mention,” he says.
He suggests approaching the conversation with something like: ‘Hey, I know you said this is what you are looking for—well, this is what it looks like in the wild. This is the time and effort that it takes to start something like this, and this is how I think I could do it here.’
Another tip? Increase the odds your content idea will land with your boss by proving that it’s what your ideal customer profile (ICP) wants or needs.
Come to the conversation prepared with evidence like:
- LinkedIn comments
- Gong recordings of sales calls
- Conversations you overheard at trade shows
- Quotes from customer interviews
- Customer surveys
The goal is to clarify the ‘why’ behind your content—the intersection between what your customer cares about and how it ties back to your business.
5. Play the long game
Every in-house content marketer knows the feeling of running on the content hamster wheel, churning out content for content’s sake with no clear plan in sight.
Seeing real results requires a well-thought-out, well-executed strategy—and that’s easier when you have a visionary at the helm.
“Evan Huck, our CEO at UserEvidence, wants to build a legitimate brand by way of solid product marketing and content marketing, and knows demand gen is a little bit easier when you have those things in place,” says Mark. “It was music to my ears that he knows that the best way to build trust at scale and relationships with your audience is through really good, value-led content that doesn't always put your company front and center.”
But brand-building content takes a while to show results. What if your leadership team wants to drive pipeline and leads in the short term?
It comes down to striking a balance. Mark suggests you spend 60% of your time on quick wins, and 40% on longer-term stuff with a bigger payout down the road.
6. Look for unconventional success metrics
In collaboration with Beam, Metadata also created a ‘Meta on Metadata’ series. Each piece showed how Metadata employees in different functions—like growth marketing, marketing strategy, and even sales engineering—used the company’s software in their day-to-day.
To gauge the campaign’s success, Mark looked beyond just the traditional key performance indicators (KPIs).
“You can measure content in many ways,” he says. “For me, the full measurement picture is complementing what you can quantify and measure with social proof.”
For example, Metadata celebrated that CS and sales were using the content in their outreach and the positive feedback they heard on Gong recordings of sales calls.
“I think my only regret is I wish I would have done this content series with Beam sooner,” Mark says. “I wasn’t there long enough to see it all the way through. I’ll say that it was very well received internally and externally. And I know that it was starting to generate more pipeline by the time I left.”
7. Avoid shiny object syndrome
If you’ve read my piece about our content experiment, you know how I feel about generative AI. TL;DR: It’s one tool among many, but doesn’t come close to replicating what a qualified writer can do (especially the rockstar freelancers we have here at Beam).
“B2B marketers love shiny tools, and I think AI is the shiniest category of objects in my lifetime working,” he says. “So remember, yes, AI can help, but the tool’s not going to give you the ideas or write for you in the same way that a human can.”
While AI might be the current talk of the (marketing) town, it’s not the only shiny object around. Must-have trends and ‘latest and greatest’ techniques abound, luring content marketers away from their solid content plans with promises of wild success.
Basically, it’s always something. Take community creation, for instance.
“Many people think, ‘Let’s just start our own community.’ Knowing what goes into it, I’d say being an active participant in or a partner in existing communities is a better bet,” Mark says. “You don’t need your own community every single time. I can’t tell you how many Slack channels I’ve logged into and never revisited. A Slack channel is not a community.”
Don’t sleep on strategic content
Creating brilliant content takes an intentional plan and internal advocates from your C-suite and GTM team.
Mark suggests talking to members of your leadership and GTM teams about what their goals are, and in turn, showing them how content will help them get there. In other words, make sure you’re tying content’s impact back to their bigger business outcomes.
“Content is the ammo for all those GTM functions to be successful and do what they need to do,” he says. “If you’re not going to invest in content, 1) you’re shooting yourself in the foot, and 2) it’s going to be that much more difficult for all the other functions to hit the results they want to.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
If you like what you’ve read and want to be a little bit more like Mark (honestly, who doesn’t?), give us a shout. We’re happy to help you create and execute a content plan that creates a positive ripple effect across your org.