Generating INQs (Inquiries) that lead to MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SAOs (Sales Accepted Opportunities), and helping improve our conversion rate of INQ > MQL and MQL > SAO
We also support these objectives (ordered from top to bottom funnel):
Note: Some of the following labels only exist on the Digital Marketing project level.
#digital-marketing: General digital marketing conversation and questions
#integrated-marketing: For the wider Integrated Marketing team, to share and discuss issues, projects, trainings, and resources that connect the Digital, Campaigns, Field, and Partner Marketing departments.
Click here to see channel definitions and where they fit in buyer journey.
The Digital Marketing team’s strategy & execution ultimately leads to filling pipeline, while closely analyzing down-funnel metrics & results in order to influence & optimize top of funnel strategy in a feedback loop.
Who is PMG Digital?
All paid digital campaigns are executed with the help of our digital agency PMG. PMG fees are a percentage of the paid digital spend, so total budgets will include the effective spend with a PMG fee. The only exception is account-centric Paid Display which is handled directly through Demandbase, but PMG still handles regular Paid Display with GDN (Google Display Network) and DV360 (Google Display and Video 360). For GitLab digital initiatives, PMG provides:
GitLab Digital Marketing works directly with PMG within the GitLab Digital Advertising project, which is strictly for Digital Marketing & PMG communication only. To learn how PMG is involved in the paid digital request process, please refer to the Digital Marketing Request Workflow section below.
For more detailed information on our partnership, communication, and invoicing with PMG, please see our PMG handbook page.
Digital Marketing will recommend specific channels based on your campaign goals. The most common type is Paid Social based on robust targeting criteria and successful performance in reach and inquiry volume.
Paid social ads are sponsored ads that we show on social platforms. The three social media platforms that we primarily advertise on are Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn (including LinkedIn InMail & Conversation Ads), and Twitter. LinkedIn is our top platform in general due to its firmographic targeting, allowing us to target more effectively toward specific segments & job criteria.
As people are researching or exploring keywords relevant to GitLab, we used Google AdWords to promote responsive search ads on the Google search engine to drive people to specific GitLab landing pages. We do this by bidding on targeted keywords and phrases based on the assumed intent of the person, triggering the ad relevant to a specific user search query, and leading users to a related landing page that matches that intent.
Display ads are banner ads that we mostly run are through the Google Display Network (GDN). GDN will show banner ads on websites that have Google Adsense set up on their website. There are no specific websites we show banner ads on - we earn the ad space by bidding on placements based on specific targeting criteria such as demographics, topics, and interests. On occasion, we run banner ads on specific websites through direct buys, but this is handled more in the publisher program.
Publisher sponsorships are when we engage a specific publisher in order to purchase placement on their web properties. Generally, we make sure the publisher's website(s) and audience closely match the profile of who we want to advertise to before engaging with the publisher. Sponsorships are less turn key than our other programs - while they require longer planning and execution, heavier lifts in content creation, and manual reporting, the long investment results in more qualified leads that are aligned with our goals & target audience.
The Digital Marketing team has an annual fiscal year budget that must be allocated across quarters & months to align with TOPO goals, seasonality, GTM planning, and sales cycles. While reviewing the overall total budget for the year, we take the Digital Marketing target goals created in the TOPO model, create a bottoms up approach to calculate budgets needed to hit those numbers, then map out budgets for each channel to accommodate segment & regional goals across each quarter. Due to this scientific method of media planning, we discourage major shifts in budget since it would affect the methodology behind these numbers and create a negative impact on our goal tracking.
When reviewing the current year's Paid Digital budget, keep in mind that we list an all-in budget and effective spend.
For more information around our planning strategy with PMG, please refer to the PMG handbook page for a more granular breakdown of our budget line items.
Each paid channel has its own unique design specifications, ad copy character limits, and recommendations for their ad types to ensure ads can run at their optimal performance. If you do not yet have creative assets secured for your campaign, the design team can use this section as their guide when producing your creative.
As mentioned in the Media Planning section, Allocadia is the single source of truth for Digital Marketing's planned and forecasted budget throughout the fiscal year.
Each month's forecast is locked around the middle of the current month, so Digital will confirm planned budgets by this date and also update the forecast based on shifts between certain line items. We monitor the Pipeline X-ray report to find gaps in coverage for specific regions & segments, so if we see a shortage in the current quarter's pipeline, we can strategically reallocate funds to ultimately generate more inquiries & MQLs for the region(s) or segment(s) that need it most. For example, if we are not utilizing our full Publisher budget for the month, we can move the remaining budget into LinkedIn for the Enterprise segment within the APAC region if it's experiencing low pipeline.
Once our monthly plan is locked in Allocadia, Digital will review their tab in the monthly Marketing AvB file for any further changes necessary before the end of the month.
Each quarter's plan is locked in Allocadia at least 2-3 days before the next quarter.
Since our budget is originally planned to accommodate our quarterly goals, we need to reconcile spend with Allocadia every month to make sure we are on pace to spend our planned budget. Since budget is strictly fluid within the quarter, Finance will alert Digital Marketing if we are pacing behind budget for a quarter in case we need to redistribute those funds.
Once the month has ended, PMG will update the accruals sheet with actuals (final invoice amounts) with related invoice numbers, and there is typically a small buffer between estimated accruals & actuals. PMG will email PDF invoices to Digital Marketing and GitLab Accounting, automatically pushing invoices into Coupa for approval. Digital Marketing will verify that invoices are 1:1 match with actuals in the accrual sheet, then approve the invoices in Coupa.
For information on the Financial Planning processes & timelines for Digital Marketing, please follow the Marketing Finance handbook page.
If you would like to request a paid digital marketing promotion in paid search, paid social, paid sponsorships or other paid marketing to support your event, content marketing, webcast, asset, etc. create an issue in the Digital Marketing Project and then follow the Paid Digital Request template.
Because GitLab is now a publicly traded company, our finances are required to be Sarbanes-Oxley compliant. In order to be compliant, each campaign request will need to have an associated purchase order to the campaign prior to launching the campaign. Below is the following workflow in order to obtain a purchase order number and documentation needed to be compliant:
1. Paid Ads (Search, Social, Display)
2. Publisher Engagements (Content Syndication, Hosted Webinars, Lead Generation Packages, and Sponsorships)
We require campaigns to run at least 3-4 weeks (this is typically for event/webcasts promotions) in order to successfully exit the initial “learning phase” for our platforms’ algorithms. The learning phase is the period when the ad delivery system still has a lot to learn about a new campaign. During the learning phase, the delivery system is exploring the best way to deliver your ads - this means performance is less stable and costs are usually worse. Each time an ad is shown, the delivery system learns more about the best people and places to show the ad. The more an ad is shown, the better the delivery system becomes at optimizing the ad’s performance.
LinkedIn is one of our top channels based on targeting capabilities, lead quality and efficient costs across regions & segments. Due to the success in this channel, we have expanded our presence and now utilize certain ad units and features that are specific to LinkedIn advertising only.
The implementation of Lead Gen Forms (LGF) in our LinkedIn sponsored ads has increased our CPI efficiency and reach in the channel. LGFs are native forms that come pre-filled with accurate LinkedIn profile data, and the single-click submit reduces the number of steps before conversion. Digital Marketing uses LGF autoresponders for LinkedIn campaigns, so users receive an automated email once they have subbmited a lead gen form, and the email then takes them to their requested ungated asset in Pathfactory.
Since inquiries are submitted in-app within our LinkedIn ads and not via GitLab owned landing pages, these inquiries are considered offline touchpoints and do not generate the same Bizible touchpoint data as normal inquiries.
The Marketo programs that listen for LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms can be found in the social media content](https://engage-ab.marketo.com/?munchkinId=194-VVC-221#/classic/MF6504A1) folder. Each GTM has it's own program, with different flow steps based on the content utm that trigger the correct autoresponder email. Autoresponder emails need to be created for new assets before launching.
LinkedIn features a powerful selection of targeting criteria that aligns with Demand Gen’s segmentation and GTM plans.
Matched Audiences - covering both company and individual contact lists, Matched Audiences is the most effective tool in reaching specific accounts & contacts through a list upload (typically exported from SFDC or Marketo). Our LinkedIn advertising account usually hits a 90%+ match rate, so ads can reach most users within our target lists. Please note that uploading a new audience list can take 24-48 hours to populate. Firmographic Targeting - using first party & up-to-date firmographic data, we can target audiences based on company size, industry, job titles, skills, seniority, etc. This targeting feature helps us segment based on buyer/user personas and sales segments. LinkedIn Groups & Interests - this type of targeting reaches members who share interests or professional associations by belonging to the same LinkedIn Group, and member interest topics based on actions and engagement with specific content on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn InMail Ads (also known as Message Ads) are static messages delivered directly to LinkedIn member inboxes, creating a personalized ad experience between the user and GitLab. These ads are highly effective for middle-funnel campaigns, targeting specific individuals with custom tailored content relevant to their persona and/or organization. Since many users also have LinkedIn notify their personal or work email address when they have received an InMail, this results in up to 2x higher open rates and click throughs than traditional single email campaigns. Unlike our main paid digital bid type of costs per click, we pay for the message open which generally costs around $1 - $1.50 each. However, when a user shares the ad to other users, those users' opens and clicks are free. As a result, the free sharing feature allows our campaigns to obtain greater reach at a lower cost. This is especially useful in Account Based Marketing campaigns; a manager receiving an InMail to attend an upcoming GitLab webinar can share with other users in their organization. InMail/Message Ads can be used to re-engage and nurture accounts with upcoming events, new content assets, or by simply opening the conversation.
Conversation Ads are similar to InMail Ads in terms of placement, costs, and targeting, but instead of a static message, the user is able to engage through a sequence of messages prompted by specific CTA buttons, creating an interactive experience with GitLab. Conversation Ads are delivered directly to the LinkedIn member’s inbox, starting off with an intro message offering a variety of CTA buttons and proceeding through a custom sequence with each button click, resulting in several layers of interactions. LinkedIn reporting features visualization into engagement through the message flow, highlighting which messages & CTAs users found most relevant and where conversation drops off. These CTAs can click through to the next message (“Tell me more”), click out to a relevant landing page (“See case studies”), click out to an event registration page (“Register now”), or open an lead generation form (“Sign up now”). Conversation Ads are essentially a Choose Your Own Adventure interaction that provide target audiences with more options and provide us with more audience insights.
If you are requesting InMail or Conversation Ads, create an issue in the general Paid Digital Request template.
InMail & Conversation Ad campaigns must have a designated sender in order to send messages on behalf of GitLab, putting a friendly face to the company name. The ads displayed in a member’s inbox will appear to be sent from the designated sender, which allows for increased personalization and message relevance to targeted members.
In order for our digital agency PMG to set up sender permissions, they’ll need to send requests to those whom we want to grant sender permissions, which are typically SDRs but can include a variety of titles & teams at GitLab. Since sender requests can only be sent to 1-degree connections, a member of the PMG team will first send a LinkedIn connection request, then the sender request once the connection is approved. When the designated team member receives a request to be a sender on a LinkedIn Messaging campaign, they can approve or reject this request by following the link provided in the email. The GitLab team member can also use this link to manage their sender permissions and see whether they have sender access for a campaign. Once the GitLab team member has accepted their sender permissions to be added as a sender on the account, they will need to notify the Digital Marketing team member by confirming within the campaign issue.
Although Digital Marketing can generate copy, we highly recommend that the sender, another member of the sender’s team, or a PMM generate the copy to be used in messages since they have more insight & context around targeted accounts, user/buyer persona, and/or the promoted content. When creating an InMail or Conversation Ad campaign, the Ad Copy Template doc (included for both ad types in the Paid Digital Request template will be cloned for your specific campaign and used as a collaborative space for the sender to generate messaging and other campaign members to edit where necessary. Conversation Ad copy will be more complex, as it includes several layers of messages and multiple CTA options for each layer. Please note that due to the high volume of messages within a given campaign, LinkedIn restricts replies from the target audience to the sender. If the sender prefers replies, they can include a link to their Calendly or email address in the message. One of the key benefits of InMail & Conversation Ads is that you can personalize copy with macros. Macros allow you to pull a member’s LinkedIn profile data and insert them dynamically into your ad for more personalization. Profile data options include first name, last name, job title, company name, and industry.
InMail Copy Best Practices:
Best performing subject lines often use some of the following keywords:
Additional ways that we can test with message tone of voice:
Conversation Ad Copy Best Practices:
Demand Gen Dashboard in Sisense: This dashboard provides an overview of demand gen campaigns performance, measured by our key performance indicators (KPIs): Inquiries, MQLs, and SDR Accepted. These metrics are pulled using Bizible touchpoints data, while Opportunities, Total IACV$, SAO, Pipeline IACV$, Won Deals count, and Won IACV$ metrics are pulled using the Linear Bizible Attribution Touchpoints model.
PMG Digital Campaign Report: This Data Studio report features all front end digital marketing performance through PMG and can be drilled down to audience, content, region, etc. Only back end performance shown covers Inquiries (total inquiries, cost per inquiry (CPI), and inquiry conversion rates). This report can be filtered by:
PMG Field Marketing Campaign Report: For Field Campaigns only, can be filtered by:
All URLs that are promoted on external sites and through email must use UTM URL tagging to increase the data cleanliness in Google Analytics and ensure marketing campaigns are correctly attributed.
We don't use UTMs for internal links. UTM data sets attribution for visitors, so if we use UTMs on internal links it resets everything when the clicked URL loads. This breaks reporting for paid advertising and organic visitors.
You can access our internal URL tagging tool in Google Sheets. You will also find details in this spreadsheet on what "Campaign Medium" to use for each URL. If you need a new campaign medium, please check with the Digital Marketing Programs team as new mediums will not automatically be attributed correctly.
If you are not sure if a link needs a UTM, please speak with the marketer who is managing your campaign to ensure you are not interrupting the reporting structure they have in place.
UTM construction best practices:
We run digital ads on the following channels:
Because everyone at GitLab works remotely, it makes it difficult to restrict ads from being shown to GitLab team members. In a brick and mortar environment, we can easily block IP addresses to accomplish this. Because everyone at GitLab has a different IP address, and even dynamic IP addresses, there is no way to implement an exclusion rule that would block all GitLab ads to GitLab team members.
If you would not like to see GitLab ads, you are able to opt-out of ads as you see them. Below is the process to remove GitLab ads. Please note that if you use both your personal and work accounts on your devices, you will need to exclude from both your personal and work accounts.
Google Paid Search: When you see a GitLab text ad in Google search engine results
Google Display: When you see a GitLab ad on a third-party website
Facebook: When you see a GitLab ad on Facebook
LinkedIn: When you see a GitLab ad on LinkedIn
Twitter: When you see a GitLab ad on Twitter