You would want to have a solid foundation if you were building your house.

The same goes for building your demand gen. If it isn’t solid, your revenue returns will be shaky.

Guest Deidre Hudson is the CMO at Payability, a financing solutions company for ecommerce sellers. She breaks down her 4 Pillars of Digital Demand Generation and how you can build up the right: people, processes, programs, and performance for marketing success.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • Who should be your first key hires? 
  • Where do you start your demand gen opportunities? 
  • Which pillar is the most important?

Listen in for these critical insights and more!


Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered. Insider secrets for digital marketing success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.

Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. The topic for today’s episode is four pillars of digital demand generation. Here to speak with me is Deidre Hudson, who is the CMO at Payability. Payability provides flexible financing solutions to ecommerce sellers were accelerated daily payouts and working capital for inventory and marketing. Deidre is a veteran marketer. She has worked across multiple industries and developed an appreciation of the nuances of verticalized markets. She approaches marketing from a holistic sense and champions processes as the unsung hero of marketing. Deidre, welcome to the show.

Deidre Hudson: Steffen, thank you.

Steffen: Before we explore today’s topics, I would like to find out more about you. Tell our listeners a little bit about how you get started in your career, and how did you end up in marketing.

Deidre: I actually wanted to be an accountant. When I was in high school, I became enamored with the field of accounting, and I actually used to write letters to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. And that’s back when they when people actually wrote letters. During my first year in undergrad in accounting, I was putting my way through school working in the marketing department of a nonprofit human rights organization, and I fell in love with marketing. We were doing lots of segmentation analysis, using lots of demographic variables and psychographic variables. And I fell in love with the idea that a row of numbers can indicate a completely different type of person than the second row of numbers. And I switched my major to marketing, and it’s been marketing ever since.

Steffen: Interesting. So it looks like you like numbers.

Deidre: I appreciate, I really, truly appreciate the art and science of marketing. I really love the quantitative data analytics perspective, because it gives you just insights, and it gives you an objective and objective place to start from. And then I love applying creativity to the learnings that we’ve gained from numbers. When I would talk to and mentor, you know, younger people or people who are a bit more junior in the field, I would always say on this particular topic, you know, you don’t use the color red, because your CEO likes the color red. You use the color red, because your data shows that that is going to elicit the types of responses that you want from your target audience. So I really, really appreciate and love the art and science of marketing.

Steffen: Okay, well, today’s topic is four pillars of digital demand generation. Deidre, tell us about the four pillars a little bit.

Deidre: Yeah, my four pillars of digital marketing and demand generation in general, are basically it’s a framework that I established, working across different verticals and working in different areas of marketing. And I built this strategy or this framework based upon these four pillars of people, process, and programs. And it’s based on this idea that digital marketing, demand generation, you know, any kind of performance based marketing is based upon you building out a structure and a framework. And depending upon the level of maturity that a company may be in either of those areas, gives you the starting point for where you focus your efforts. And then you look to continue to build out and to gain maturity and expertise across those areas. 

So I’ll go into a little bit of detail about each one of them. The first one is people. And it’s of course, having the right people in the right roles within the marketing organization. Depending upon you know, the types of marketing that you’re doing, you need to have people that are in those particular roles. So for instance, if you need a you know, an SEM person, or you need someone that’s focused on SEO, or someone that’s focused on just digital marketing, in general, you need to have the right people in place. The second one is one of my favorites, and it’s process. And process is really about how do you get things from point A to point B. 

Now, process is something that you know, I call it the unsung hero, because it seems like it’s boring and it you know, kind of saps creativity, but processes actually are freeing. And it’s a good enabler because it allows you to not do things, to not reinvent the wheel all the time. And eventually, it allows you the space and room to be able to be creative and think about different things and think about doing things in a different way, because you already have tried and trued processes for getting your basic things done. And that’s not to say that you over engineer process. Process is there to serve you not the other way around. So it is something that you need to be aware of and need to, you know, to be constantly aware of that you’re not over engineering it but it is definitely something I think that helps companies to scale and to grow. 

The third one is programs, I put that it’s kind of a different order. But the third one is programs and programs are basically the marketing campaigns. How do you reach out to people? How do you connect with people? How do you engage with people and get them to engage with you and your brand? And then of course, performance. How are we measuring success, how are we valuing and how we evaluating the performance of the programs and things that we have done to see if they have actually met our goals?

Steffen: Interesting. Now, as it relates to people, what’s your what’s your approach there? When I, when I looked at your background, it looks like you’ve, you know, Payability is a younger company. Are you going out and hiring usually a team in house? And if so, are you going to look for more junior people that can grow? Are you trying to bring someone in, a heavy hitter that can do a lot? And do you, you kind of start from that point?

Deidre: That’s a great question, and it really depends. You know, as you go into a new role, is, you know, you’re inheriting a team sometimes. Sometimes you have the ability to, you know, build a team from scratch. And most times, you’re working with some kind of hybrid in between. So as far as people are concerned, I really like to understand each person is in and actually where they want to be. I’ve been in situations where, you know, I’ve had a person that was very much more on the creative side, but was kind of, you know, doing things that involve more of, you know, working with spreadsheets, and, you know, working with numbers. And that’s just not a good fit. In most cases, if you have someone that really wants to be creative. So I want to understand where the person is and where they want to be. And making sure that as much as possible, we can try to help that person, do the thing that they enjoy doing, because that’s going to be good for them. And it’s going to be good for the team and good for the company.

Steffen: So how do you build your team? When you when you start somewhere? Is there a person you immediately look for whether you have that already internally, that person or you need to bring that in? Who’s your first go to person?

Deidre: Great question. My first go to person is, depending upon what we have my first go to person, is either someone who has kind of broad range of responsibility over getting things done, you know, that person that’s very intuitive process and is able to get things from point A to point B. Or I look for a person who’s very much into performance, and has the analytical background. Has access to this data has access to how are we measuring success. And depending upon, you know, the company and his team, you may have both those roles there already. Or you may need to bring one of those in. But those kinds of two key people that I look forward first.

Steffen: Okay, so now that you kind of done your your work on the people side, as you mentioned, processes, obviously are important to kind of keeps the company together, make sure that there are repeatable work processes in place that new hires can fall back to. What’s your approach there? When joining a new company or when when building out your demand generation program? Where do you start with processes?

Deidre: The processes I look for. How are we getting things done? Where, are there any points in the process that are broken? And a good example. And this is an example that I think there’s other companies have experienced is that I worked for a company once where we were very big on programs. We had lots of programs, lots of campaigns running, and we didn’t have a lot of processes. And the perfect example is, you know, going to a show, going to a conference, coming back, leads are sitting in Salesforce for a couple of weeks, because there’s been no defined process of what do we do next? 

How do we get those leads to convert into customers. And that’s a perfect example of a company that may be more mature in programs with less mature and process. And then that’s why in that case, we’re building out a process. So building out an events process, building out an SLA with sales or following up on leads. Building out a process for how do we ingest new leads? And how do we evaluate their viability? And how do we get that information over to sales. So, you can look for what’s broken, and then determine how to fix it. I hope that answered the question.

Steffen: What’s your ideal scenario there? Because obviously, you know, from a b2b perspective, what you just talked about, maybe you didn’t mean b2b, but you talked about, you know, leads moving over to to sales. There’s quite often a disconnect happening between the marketing and the sales side. How do you set your journey off so that, that both parties, both departments can be successful?

Deidre: I think that sales and marketing relationship is really important. And it’s something that I’ve spoken about before. It’s something that we continue to work on as an organization. So the way that I’ve tried to typically go about this is just really getting on the same page and really having open and frequent communication with our sales partners, right? So making sure that we both understands very basic or very basic agreement of things like, how do we define a lead, you know, how does sales define it, how does marketing define it. 

That should be the same thing, we should not have different definitions of what’s considered to be a lead. Making sure that we’re kind of funneling information, you know, from the top of the funnel, where marketing is to, to the middle, and the funnel where sales is, and vice versa. So making sure we have that two way flow of communication, because we’re getting different information and kind of seeing different parts of the customer journey at those different places in the funnel. And it really is beneficial if you know we in marketing can understand what’s happening with leads after they’re turned over to sales, and hearing, you know, the things that sales are hearing from talking directly with customers. 

And it’s also important that sales hears from us, you know, what are we seeing, because we have access to, you know, the very performance based marketing tactics and really seeing, you know, really being able to do a lot of things like A/B testing, to see what kind of messaging and positioning that you know, the potential customer is responding to. So having that two way flow of communication is really important and being on the same page in terms of how we define different aspects of the funnel.

Steffen: Yeah, you just talked about anecdotal feedback between sales and marketing. For my experience that quite often, I mean, there’s at least some feedback, but quite often, it doesn’t give enough feedback on for example, you know, which messaging drove a lead that was better or worse, which channel did that which audience etc. How did you use processes to, to establish a more solid feedback loop between sales and marketing, to ensure that what what your side, the marketing side, is doing, gets enough feedback from a sales side so that you can actually feed it back into your media buying side, and therefore improve the quality of lead. The amount of leads, etc?

Deidre: That’s a really good question. And we’re actually embarking on a new campaign now that is going to embed that as part of the process. Part of the process is that we have, you know, just regular huddles with our sales partners. And we do just kind of general sharing of what we’re seeing. We also have dashboards that we share information that we share, so that we can look at data from different ways and kind of look at the same data. But embedding that process into the program, so to speak, is very interesting. Now where we are testing different messaging product that we’re launching, and we’re using our we’re using things like UTM codes, that’s going to attach to the different messaging and positioning that we’re using. 

And we’ve also developed sales scripts that tie into those UTM codes, that tie into that messaging. So that when a lead comes through a particular UTM, the salesperson knows, okay, this is the messaging that was used in the ad that drove that lead. This is the messaging points that that ad spoke to. And these are the keywords or messaging points that I should continue to use as a salesperson throughout that conversation. So that’s something that we’ve actually just launched, I’m very excited to see the results of. But that is one example of how you can carry that throughout, and how you can embed process into that of sharing that information.

Steffen: Yeah, well, obviously sales cycles, which is kind of, obviously also important sales cycles can be short and can be long, right? How, from your perspective, from your perspective, how is the length of the sales cycle, making it more difficult to get a better understanding of what’s working and what is not working? And if it makes things harder? How do you bridge the time between a lead was generated, and hopefully out of the amount of leads that your team created, a sales happens and you get that information back? Which lead actually became a sales or an opportunity?

Deidre: Yeah, that’s a great question. And of course, we find that those longer sales cycles exist in more complex sales, right. Whether it’s buy a committee, and you have a sales cycle that, you know, could span 12 to 18 months. And in those cases, it’s more difficult because you have more people involved, and you have many more touch points. And you really have to have a tightened up process that you are capturing and recording and sharing information in a very systematized and process based way. For us, we have a shorter sales cycle. So we don’t really have to contend with those sort of difficulties. And as I said, this test that we’re launching, I think is going to be a really good indication, you know, whether this particular process as an embedded process works. But yeah, with those longer sales cycles, it makes it much more difficult, and it makes that process and sets limitation of capturing information all the much more important.

Steffen: Yeah, yeah. So we talked a lot about process. Now, let’s move on to program. One of my favorite areas. How do you design your programs? How do you, where do you start development a strategy for your demand gen activities, your digital demand gen activities, which then obviously later on translates into based on your the audience profiles that you’re going after, which channels you’re using to generate demand.

Deidre: Yes, this is one of my favorite areas also, because now we are taking the creative side, we’re taking the art from the of the art and science of marketing. So for me, any campaign, it really starts with holistic planning, you know, looking at, what are the goals? What are we trying to achieve? Why are we trying to achieve that? How are we going to measure it? What tools are we going to need to measure it, you know, just that typical adage of failure to plan is a plan to fail. So looking at this from a very holistic standpoint of being able to take a step back, and really understand the full scope of what is it that we’re trying to achieve? 

And more importantly, why are we trying to achieve that. When you’re looking at campaigns, and you’re looking at, you know, who you’re targeting, what was the messaging going to be, that’s really, you know, kind of secondary to trying to just make sure you fully understand the whats and the why of the campaign, first of all. And then with having goals, I think it’s really important to have goals. And sometimes you will have, you know, quantifiable performance, marketing driven goals, like generating revenue or generating a particular number of leads. And then other times, you may have metrics that are geared more around learning. 

You know, you’re just you’re launching a campaign to understand maybe how people are going to respond to different messaging, and your campaign is really based upon gathering learning. So it’s really important to understand your what and your why, so that you can have goals, and then you can take a look of, you know, across that campaign, and make sure that you have the ability to collect the data that you need to measure the goals, to measure the success of the campaign. 

Steffen: Do you have any go to activities, go to channels that you always use when building out demand gen programs?

Deidre: Yeah, that’s a that’s a really interesting question. Because I think that I think that our toolkit has not changed that much, you know, in the past 20 years, and I know that that’s kind of a, you know, a controversial thing to say, but we’re still doing the same things through different ways, right? If you, if you look at kind of, like old school marketing tactics, for instance, it was about word of mouth, it was about relationship building, it was about, you know, out of home and print advertisements, it was basically about trying to be everywhere that your that your audience was, and we’re doing the same thing. So I kind of those are, you know, those are still my go to. My overall goal is, essentially to be every where our sellers are. 

So, where are they right? And how can I get to that? Direct mail is still you know, I think a very valuable tool. Still a very vital tool for us. Retargeting, and retargeting can take on different forms and functions, right? It can be digital retargeting, it can be retargeting using direct mail for people who come to your website and retarget them with the postcard and direct mail. Word of mouth, you know, we still are trying to rely upon word of mouth, we’re doing it in a digital way. So it’s like, you know, if your SaaS company things like G2 and Trustpilot, and building communities and social media. So we’re still trying to accomplish the same things that we did with the old school marketing. So those still remain my go to’s, and it just may be done in a digital fashion, as opposed to, you know, the way we did it 20 years ago.

Steffen: I see, I see.

Deidre: I’m really aging myself now.

Steffen: Now, what’s the importance of SEO and content for demand generation for you?

Deidre: Oh, that’s an exciting topic for us too. We are just embarking on an SEO program, which I’m so excited about. SEO and content marketing are so important because we are trying to, we’re trying to show up in the lives of our target audience, right. We’re trying to be there when they are looking for something, something that we can help them fulfill a need that you can help them fulfill, or something that we can supply them. And as people, you know, our lives are just so busy, we’re so distracted with so many different things. And one of the things that I think that we are just craving is just authenticity, and something that’s real, and something that you know, that I can trust. 

So if I’m searching for something, you know, content or something that’s gonna pop up, and just really be targeted and really relevant and just really answer my question is going to go a much longer way with, you know, generating trust between me and that brand than if I were to just see, you know, just a paid ad that has no relevancy. And of course, this is not from not paid ads. But this is about authenticity and about relevancy. So, that role that SEO and content marketing plays is really being able to forge that authentic and true relationship between you and between your brand and the customer in a way that’s more organic and authentic.

Steffen: Let’s move on to performance. So obviously, you know, you can spend a lot of money, you can have a lot of activities in, you know, in paid media channels in organic channels in offline, online areas. But at the end of the day, you want to measure what works and what doesn’t work so that you can kind of focus on where your money in the future should be spent. What’s your approach to measuring performance in regards to KPIs?

Deidre: I think it’s twofold. I think that you want to measure, you know, kind of all the touch points along the way, to the ultimate goal. But then you also want to be able to measure just particular KPIs, right. So for instance, if we’re running, you know an email marketing campaign, and this is like email marketing 101, right. We’re gonna report on, or we’re gonna measure 10, then delivered and opens and clicks and you know, all those touch points on the way. Now, those are not the metrics, I’m going to report to my CEO, what I’m gonna report to my CEO is going to be the, the actual KPIs. How many leads did this generate, how many new customers did it generate. But I think that in order to get to a way that which you’re constantly refining the, the ultimate KPIs, you need to have those, you know, vanity metrics, so called measured along the way as well, because it was a kind of your, your stepping stone to getting to your, your ultimate goal.

Steffen: Now, what is important for you as it relates to the KPIs while running campaigns? Obviously, you know, it’s about selecting the right audiences, it’s about which copies are actually working or don’t work. Which KPIs outside of the main KPI which probably is your cost per lead, or cost per opportunity, or cost per sale, are you focusing on in order to dial your campaigns in?

Deidre: We’re focusing on a KPI thats related to costs, we’re also focused on a KPI that’s related to revenue. Marketing, historically has been, you know, has been considered pretty much, you know, a cost center. More that marketing contributes to the bottom line and contributes to revenue. And we need to start measuring that. So we’re looking at, you know of cost. What are our cost per lead, what about cost per qualified leads, but then we also look at what is the revenue that was generated by different channels. So for instance, comparing our cost per lead of leads that were generated through paid media versus direct mail. 

And looking at what the revenue generated from those customers acquired through those channels has been also. Because that directs us, as well, for future spend, right, because we can have a very low CPA, for instance, in one channel, but that channel may also generate low revenue generating customers. And then I may have the converse, you know, on another channel, where it’s a maybe a little bit of a higher CPA, but it generated more revenue. So then that was direct me to say, okay, well, I don’t mind spending a little bit more money for these leads, because you’re gonna end up being higher revenue generators.

Steffen: That makes a lot of sense. Now, you talk about four pillars of digital demand generation, you know, what I’m missing is technology. Are you not considering that as an important area for demand generation or why is it missing in your list?

Deidre: I’m so glad you asked me that question. I think that we have a tendency to kind of go for the shiny new thing. You know, there’s so many different products out there and so many different elements of a marketing tech stack. And these products are exciting, and they promise lots of things, and you have shiny bells and whistles. But at the end of the day, we need to be very intentional about the technology that we bring on. And I think that it’s important to have a deep use case for bringing on new elements in a technology stack. 

Looking at how is it going to fit into our stack? What problem is it going to solve? What are we going to, what resources are we going to need to be able to utilize it? Do we need to hire a new person, do we need to you know, extend training? So I think it’s very important to not to be seduced by the shiny new thing, but to have a very deep use case for how that technology is going to fit into the stack and what role it’s going to play. And more importantly, what problem it will solve for you.

Steffen: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Now, as we’re coming towards the end of our today’s podcast recording, what’s your favorite pillar out of the four and why?

Deidre: I think my favorite pillar is process and it’s because, well, I tend to kind of go to the underdog in most situations. And I think process, as I mentioned, is the unsung hero. But process allows you to build. Process allows you to scale. If I have a situation where I’m constantly reinventing the wheel as I’m trying to ingest leads and convert leads and convert leads over into qualified leads, then that takes up a lot of space and place in my brain and saps my creativity. If I have a process where I know, I’m going to get this lead from point A to point B, and things can just kind of flow into the process. And that frees me up to be creative about other things that I need to be creative about. So I would say the process is definitely, definitely my favorite one.

Steffen: Yeah, and I can totally see why right. For me, it definitely seems to be also one of the most important ones, because for me process is a little bit like the foundation of a house right? If your foundation is not solid, then your house will be wobbly. Worst case scenario it will collapse, right? So.

Deidre: Right. The house analogy, right, if you have a process where you’re using one way to build a wall on the right side and use a totally different way to build a wall on the left side then your house is wobbly, because you haven’t followed the same processes. There’s no consistency, there’s no uniformity.

Steffen: Exactly, exactly. Well, Deidre, thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your thoughts on the four pillars of digital demand generation. Now if people want to find out more about you, and Payability, how can they get in touch?

Deidre: Absolutely. You can always find me on LinkedIn, it’s Deidre Hudson. D e i d r e Hudson. Also, our site is That’s p a y a b i l i t

Steffen: Perfect. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital you can visit us at or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.

Voiceover: Performance Delivered is sponsored by Symphonic Digital. Discover audience focused and data driven digital marketing solutions for small and medium businesses at