How to Set Achievable Goals Without Historical Data

DBT is a data transformation tool for data analysts and engineers. With Directive, they launched their first paid media campaign to make the most out of their yearly conference. They exceeded their growth goals by nearly 2X.

Client Overview

DBT is an open-source command-line tool that helps analysts and engineers transform data in their warehouses. They’re on a mission to lower the technical barrier to transforming raw data into analysis-ready models.

DBT is also a pioneer in the practice of analytics engineering. They support a community of over 25,000 data practitioners committed to changing how data teams work together.

DBT came to Directive looking to start scaling on the right foot as they had never invested in paid media. They relied heavily on word of mouth and referrals to grow their pipeline. While that worked, they knew there was still a largely untapped audience. The DBT team wanted to generate demand and conversions from the rest of their target audience. Find out how we did it in this paid media case study.



over projected goal sign-up volume


under projected goal cost-per-signup


over projected goal conversion rates

Advertising for DBT's Coalesce conference presented an opportunity to show the value of a full-funnel, cross-channel campaign. Utilizing various platforms, mediums, and audience combinations, we were able to reach the right users with the right offers and drastically exceed performance forecasts.

Ben Sottek, Sr. Paid Media Account Strategist at Directive

The Objective

Every year, DBT partners with some of the largest players in the data space at their Coalesce conference. It’s a great initiative to network and generate referral revenue, but there’s room to make more out of their event. We decided to start by optimizing and scaling this channel with a proliferated paid media strategy. By driving signups to the conference through a widened reach, we could grow DBT’s exposure as well as its pipeline.

The Strategy

Generating demand in the tech space is no easy feat. We knew we wouldn’t generate enough impressions and engagement through Google ads. To justify DBT’s new foray into paid advertising, we expanded beyond the usual mediums and channels to maximize impression count and conversions. This expansion included traditional Google ads plus video, display, as well as LinkedIn and Reddit.

How to Set Custom Benchmark Goals

Since DBT had never invested in a paid media strategy, there was no historical data for Directive to use for goal setting. To set accurate benchmarks, we combined multiple sources of data to ensure the goals we set were both reasonable and worth chasing.

First, our team completed a comprehensive client analysis by industry to establish existing performance benchmarks of our work. Then, we compared these to broad-level industry standards. We also used organic conversion rates to give us more context into how DBT’s traffic engages with their site. By collecting all of this information, we were able to set the right goals for our paid media strategy.

How We Set Up a Cross-Medium Google Campaign

Once we set proper goals and benchmarks to aim towards, we tackled the next challenge—our goal conversion. Instead of focusing on traditionally revenue-tied conversions such as leads and meetings booked, our campaign for DBT focused on event sign-ups, a conversion goal that was more aligned with our cross-medium, multi-platform ad campaign strategy.

As a result, we maximized impressions across all Google Ads mediums and reached the sweet spot of impression saturation. We also increased the conversion rate.

How We Maximized LinkedIn & Reddit Impressions

While we specialize in LinkedIn Conversation Ads, this strategy called for a volume play for impressions over a targeted approach. Instead, we leveraged every other type of ad across LinkedIn to maximize placements and saturate the entire platform with impressions.

We also targeted relevant subReddits with qualified audiences like r/bigdata and others. As a result, we were able to dominate the market where it mattered most.

The Results

While this campaign was all about growth, starting on the right foot to generate momentum was just as important. Although DBT lacked historical data, we could track our progress through the achievable, custom goals we set. In the end, we produced significantly more sign-ups and conversions at a much lower cost-per-signup.

Our market saturation strategy successfully launched DBT’s journey into paid media. This outstanding performance proves that if you leverage multiple data sets to establish goals, you have a solid foundation to build on. When it comes to the psychological game of tech demand generation, starting strong and maintaining that momentum is the best way to set your brand up for compounded growth.

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