In our latest podcast episode, we interview Daan Reijnders, co-founder and CEO of Foleon, a content creation platform where users can create engaging long form content.

As an increasingly bigger portion of the customer journey is done offline, out of the marketeer’s view, the amount of individual investigation prospects do is increasing. Daan discusses how content is a good solution to support that journey and shares his expertise on how to ensure you capture attention and overcome shortening attention spans.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Daan Reijnders – Foleon

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Daan Reijnders

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today.

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I’m joined by Daan Reijnders. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Foleon. Welcome to the podcast, Daan.

Daan: Thanks.

Mike: So, Daan, I mean, you’ve had really quite a varied career. Can you talk to me about, you know, how you’ve got to the point of founding Foleon?

Daan: Yeah, sure. I think everything or direct, right, this little bit digital transformation, right. So when I was to 19, I started my first web design company, building websites, it was more like a big sandbox, where we could play around and learn how working with clients actually works. And later, when I was about 23, an agency asked me to join them and set up their digital arm, they didn’t have any digital services up until then. So I joined that company became partner when I was 25. And within that company, and we were working with working for a couple of customers that digitised our content, more to screen, so it was built for screen. So let’s say the trends transition from print to web, but different types of content and websites. So more magazine kind of content. So initially, we obviously tried Flipboard PDFs, but we wanted to have something that was natively built for screens, and we use technology or flash may be familiar to some of your listeners, but a younger audience will probably not know it. But Flash was not supported by iPhones and iPads. So when the iPad really got traction back in 2011 2012, we were looking for an alternative solution, then flash and html5 and CSS three was the answer, but only supported by a browser Safari. Yeah. So in that migration, we were looking for a solution. And that could help us build digital content. And in a faster way than then having a whole set of designers, digital designers, developers, front end designers, that all together build these, these web publications. So I was looking for a solution that can help me out couldn’t find one. And that’s when I started folding them. So based on our own needs,

Mike: and that’s a great story. I mean, I think, you know, all the best startups come from from a need that you can’t fulfil for yourself. But the interesting thing for me is you’re not based in Silicon Valley. You’re based in the Netherlands and Amsterdam. So how is it creating a marketing technology startup in the Netherlands?

Daan: Yeah, that’s a good question. So I think we’re here called Silicon canals instead of Silicon Valley. But the No, just kidding, it’s, it’s funny that quite some publishing platforms are from the Netherlands. So you have a large company that also has a global footprint called WoodWing, are also based from the Netherlands. And we have a couple of direct competitors, also from the Netherlands. So I think it has to do something with, let’s say, urge to expand abroad, because the Netherlands is such a small country, that if we want to grow, we have to grow outside of Netherlands, we don’t have a big home market, so to speak. And to I think Dutch design is also pretty famous. So Dutch design agencies are also often known outside of the Netherlands.

Mike: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, I think we’re seeing more and more of these startups coming from from Europe. And it’s great that there’s the infrastructure in the Netherlands to support it.

Daan: Yeah, I think, you know, London was obviously together with Berlin, where the two tech hubs of Europe and Amsterdam was lagging a little bit a couple of years ago, and but we really put some emphasis on promoting the Netherlands as a good country for startups. So a lot of expats moved to Amsterdam, and then we have pretty, pretty big ecosystem of larger SAS businesses from the Netherlands.

Mike: Sounds good. So let’s talk about failure in itself, fully insert content creation platform. So I mean, sort of alluded to this, but can you explain what you really mean by a content creation platform?

Daan: Yeah, it’s a good question. If I would explain it to my mother, I would frame it a little bit differently than maybe do a marketing audience. But we are a content creation platform. And that’s a really broad category, right? So email marketing tools, or social media tools, or tools, like Canva are also defined as a content creation platform. So if I were to niche it a little bit, then I would say that folium is a platform where you can create media rich, long form content. So typically, stuff like ebooks, white papers, also Annual Report stuff, magazines, customer magazines, proposals, let’s say long form content that needs to be engaging or persuasive. And that’s what people build in our platform. And we typically replace legacy formats like PDF and PowerPoint by something that is mobile friendly, that is that uses what technology so you can take advantage of tracking personalization, responsiveness, that kind of elements are important to us. And I think what makes folium different than our direct competitors or alternative platforms, adjacent technologies is that we focus very much on the market there so that if even if you don’t have a design background, you should be able to create, let’s say, agency level content in our platform.

Mike: And so how do you do that? Is that by creating templates and doing it that way? Or is there another approach to getting consistent good quality?

Daan: Yeah, hopefully, that evolves. So I think the first version of our platform was very much a template driven platform. So we started out with one navigation form 10 templates, and people could just fill out some form fields and hit the preview button, and they saw what they created. So very limited, but very consistent in output, because people were just not able to mess things up. The second version that we launched in 2018, it was more of a drag and drop editor that gives you more visibility in what you’re creating. But at the same same time, it was also a little bit more daring for non designers, because they have so much options with spacings, adding multiple columns, and you know, optimising content for three types of screens is jumping on itself. And with all those designs, options, it was for some customers pretty hard to use the new drag and drop editor. And that’s why we launched the Template Manager. So people can create templates themselves or have their design agency to create a template for them. And they can just start or run off those templates and create something that is that is that has the quality that needs and, and protects your brand, but at the same time, is helping you to create content faster than before.

Mike: Sounds great. I mean, looking at what you’re doing, it seems like you’re almost taking away the need for having a design studio and having web developers create this content is that kind of the idea behind Foleon

Daan: not per se, right. We started as our own internal tools, so to speak for the for our own studios. So we had digital publishers and designers that did not have any coding skills. So I think the first version of folding was a no code platform for designers. And now that we move more towards a no design platform for marketers, and it’s our vision that everyone will be creating content, it’s a little bit the same trend that you see with iPhones with an iPhone, everyone is a photographer, or with HubSpot, everyone is an analyst because you have so much access to the dashboards. So I think it’s, you know, making those technologies available for for regular people. That is a trend that you see in other industries as well. So whether it sits in design or sits in development is everything is is being made so simple that everyone can do it. I think that’s definitely a trend we’re on. I’m not saying that we’re replacing agencies, I see you’re still I think that our co creation between agencies and customers that use our platform. Yeah, and if you can assemble a great publication doesn’t mean you’re able to create amazing content, right? So it’s, it’s still often a collaboration between design, marketing or content creation, and obviously, also distribution strategy. And you also have to be able to interpretate the analytics and learnings you get out of it to improve it. So it’s, it’s it brings up a whole lot more than just being able to create a piece of content.

Mike: Yeah, and it’s interesting you say that, because with our clients, we’ve actually seen folium can create more work for agencies rather than less particularly as we’re not a dev agency. Because there’s less cost involved in the technical creation, then it’s all about the writing of the content and generating that great content. So you know, definitely I’d agree with what you said there.

Daan: Yeah, it’s a it’s always a little bit of a, I don’t want a tension. But the question, right, so what is, what is phobia? And what are replacing? I think, in general, we replace man hours, right? So we don’t replace technology. If you use nowadays, PowerPoint to create an engaging proposal you saved as a PDF, and we don’t really replace PowerPoint and replace the PDF, obviously. But that’s not something that is a budget line item. I think the value is in creating content quicker. And that’s also how we see the world a little bit that people are, are expecting more from content nowadays, right. They expect content to be personalised, they expect content to be accessible at any time. They expect more content, right? A bigger portion of let’s say the customer journey is is done offline or online, at least outside of the vision or the view of the company that sells services or products. So people do more investigation and content is a really good solution to support that customer journey. But that also means that more and more growth has been created. And then saw the need for content is still rising. I think that’s, that’s that’s the enter that we tried to that’s the solution we tried to answer.

Mike: And it’s interesting you say that people are demanding more from content, because I think that that’s very true. And one of the things I see is people looking for more interactivity to improve engagement. So do you wanna talk a little bit about what folium can do, you know, particularly compared to PDS, which basically have no engagement? I mean, how can you get the the audience the reader more engaged?

Daan: Yeah. So it’s a combination of a lot of things. But first of all, it’s being able to support modern media format, right. So more and more videos being used in marketing campaigns. And it doesn’t always need to be like a super highly edited content can also be more user generated or company generated video content. But the ability to edit to add that to your content, that’s already a big win the fact that it’s mobile friendly, you can just check it out to every device. That’s, that’s important. We see more and more traffic from mobile still in across the base of our users, but you can also include interactive forms, you can include interactive quizzes, if you have if you have that. So there are a lot of options to to make content more engaging. But what we also see is that people typically spend less time right, so we are all very busy. And attention span is based on a research I recently read is, is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. So the attention span of goldfish is about nine seconds. And of people, it’s nowadays eight. So you really have to catch people with something that is compelling. That is very clear. Right. And so more bite sized content. And I think the format itself forces people to create more bite sized content that is easier to digest more visual, you know, look at Instagram, just swiping to images. That’s what what people expect nowadays from B2B content as well.

Mike: Now, I agree. I mean, you’ve talked a lot about some of the features and failures, obviously incredibly powerful. Does that mean that it’s a product that that’s really priced for the enterprise? Or is it something that’s got broader market appeal?

Daan: Yeah. How shall I answer this one, because the pricing is one of the hardest things, right? It’s every every SAS company struggles with pricing, the best way to pursue pricing is based on value. So what kind of value do you get out of it? So initially, when we started, we had a very much of product lead growth strategy. So customers setting up a trial themselves, converting via credit card, and just got started charts 102 to $400 a month, and people could just create content as much as they like. But at the same time, we saw that there was a big difference in the needs of really large enterprises versus really small, small companies. And then it became harder to kind of map our product roadmap on those on those customers. Because we literally served everyone from one burden company up until EY global. And so it was really hard to determine, Okay, how are we going to price this? What level of support can people expect? How are we going to set up our customer success team? What kind of marketing strategies are we going to going to deploy in order to reach that audience? So we did try to focus more on B2B companies, because they typically create more content. And if you create more content, you get more value out of our platform, because it’s all about the numbers, right? If you if you outsource 10 publications or 10, white papers externally or to your internal design team are you do 100. And you can imagine that if you do 100, you have the benefit of scale. So the more content people create, the more enticed they will get, the more reusability of content they can apply. So the more value they get out of it. And then just it’s also easier to map our roadmap to it. So we invested a lot in integration with marketing automation platforms, no CRMs, like Marketo, and HubSpot, Salesforce. But also with digital asset management platform like binder, or now we just released an integration with Adobe Experience Manager. So that all makes sense.

So we did go up in pricing. It’s always tempting to also set a offering next to it that’s more based on product lead growth, because the platform has such a broad use potential, right? Every company creates content, whether it’s a proposal that you want to make more engaging, or where you want to get more reader insights from or it’s a company presentation, or it’s an annual report. Every industry we can serve and even b2c, right, even even consumers that will create digital photo books or their portfolio or their resume in our platform. That’s also a use case that that is being requested quite often by prospects. So we’re still optimising towards the needs of customers and map that also on our, let’s say to an organisation, but typically, the short answer, sorry for the lengthy answer. The short version is that we We focus more on mid market. So companies between 50 and 5000 employees, where I think our sweet spot is in B2B companies that use us across multiple departments. So if they create content and sales, so presentations, proposals, pitch decks, marketing creates ebooks, white papers, thought leadership content, event content, HR, create staff, magazine, onboarding manuals, resumes, HR handbooks and support great manuals and release notes, updates, product updates, etc. If they use us across multiple teams, I think that’s where free to publish.

Mike: That’s, I mean, that’s amazing. There’s so many applications there and failure. I don’t know, Daanny, is there? Is there an area where folium really, really just shines? Is there an area that it stands out? I mean, obviously, you know, I can see replacing PDF with something better is, is going to apply across a broad base. But But is there a particular market where if somebody’s trying to do something, they’re going to use failure, and then they’re going to fall in love?

Daan: I hope everyone, but I think the sweet spot is, it’s not per se a segment or an industry. But if companies create a lot of versions of the same content, and they have the need to distinguish themselves from their competition strongly, or if they have like a complex product offering or service offering, that requires quite some explanation and quite some thought leadership content or requires a lot of content to explain what they do. Exactly. That’s, I think, where we see most direction. So industries, like a consultancy firms, where the Big Four is working with our platform, they all have on look and say the same a similar offering, it’s really hard for a someone from the outside determine, Okay, a tax audit, which firm will actually write, they all have the same hourly rate, they all have the same talent, right? They all went to the same university. So how are they going to stand out? So I think if that’s the case, then then we see a lot of traction. And also companies that are a little bit more mature in their content, marketing strategy slash operations. So the maturity level of our customers skills are important, right, if, if you, for example, integrate with HubSpot, and you can retarget people that are that are spending more on your content than someone that just bounced it off to one page, or if you send out proposals, and you get it. And you can see on the personal level, the engagement on how they how they perceive your proposals, then you can get a lot of value out of it. But not every company has a sophisticated marketing automation platform in place, and the roles are set up internally to execute on that. So I think that’s the second part of the sweetspot.

Mike: I can definitely see that. I mean, our interests. I mean, obviously not everybody’s as sophisticated. But I think at this, the more sophisticated and a lot of people now are really focusing on on analytics and data about their content. And the big issue is if you create a PowerPoint or a PDF, there’s nothing. So can you talk a little bit about what phalion does to, to explain to marketers, how people engage with the content and help them understand, you know, which parts of the content their audience loves, and which part maybe isn’t resonating.

But basically, I think it’s two areas. So one is more content performance. So you put a lot of time and effort and money to create content, then it is good to know whether people are engaging with it, whether it’s to to attract another audience, or maybe you want to change the order of content. And when we just started, we had a lot of these learning sessions with customers where we also help them to interpretate the insights. So if you see, for example, people leaving on page two, what does that mean? Can you maybe reach out for the content a little bit or a sandwich, for example, getting your content? Do you want to get up front? Or do you want to get in the middle, so people already see some of your content, get interested, and maybe they’re more willing to fill out that form that lead form in order to continue reading, right? So all those experiments to making the content that’s that’s one part. So you see, where they drop off, you see how much time they spend, right? And people read on average, 250 words per minute. So if you have like a page with 500 words, and people spent on average 10 seconds, then you know that the content was not engaging, at least. So you can start optimising it changing the frequency, right? If it’s a newsletter, for example, or magazine, we had a lot of customers that had like a quarterly magazine that had 40 pages, and now they switch to digital format like ours, and they create 12 shorter versions because the attention span is shorter, which ultimately led to more engagement in the confident self. So that’s one area and the second one is to optimise. Let’s say your your customer journey based on engagement. So if you create a white paper the fill out, fill out a lead form and they get into your database. And you see that the people that left her email address drop out after page one, then you know they’re or not engaged or wrong audience, but at least they don’t deserve a follow up from your sales team, right? So what if you can distinguished people that are highly engaged with your content or read multiple piece of content and you gather all of that in your in your market formation platform, and apply lead scoring and separate, highly engaged out of the lower engaged audience and then have a different follow up based on on that data, then I think you can have more effective marketing. So I think that’s, that’s the second area where we see a lot of value.

Mike: And I love to talk about testing content and iterating. to optimise it, I guess you’ve seen a lot of people create a lot of content on Foleon. And so I’m interested, do you have any tips for marketers as to how they can get that first revision of that content to be more effective? Any ideas of improving quality or engagement?

Daan: It’s hard to say, right? Because it depends strongly on the type of company you’re creating your audience, right? If you create a proposal, for example, versus a ebook, or a white paper, or a customer magazine, or staff magazine, and you would expect different behaviour, right. So if it’s, for example, a staff magazine, you would expect people to read it, from beginning to the end, if it’s more of a catalogue, where people can just browse through and you don’t expect initially to read everything, then you expect different behaviour. But I think in general, people have a shorter attention span nowadays. So in general, it should be bite sized, it should be short, right? So we see the ideal amount of pages, somewhere between six and eight pages for content. And also try to include a lot of visuals in your content or video content imagery. So you need typically more footage for your content, more images, more visuals, and the most important thing is just to test it out. Because you just simply don’t know until you until you distribute it. And then then you can you can you can test it and optimise it do AV testing right or include Hotjar as a solution, where you can see how the engagement on the pages where they look at be very keen on drop off rates on specific pages, you can also optimise the design a lot. So for example, if you have like, if people are on their smartphone, they see a limited amount of the content on that first few, right, so maybe it’s only a header, and an image and a button to scroll down. If they don’t scroll down, we also track a scroll depth tracking, like scrolled up, scroll down defence. So if they don’t scroll down, maybe the answer is just to simply change the button or let the colour stand out more now, but it’s often those small, simple things that people overlook. While looking at the data.

Mike: I think that’s great advice. Thank you. One thing, you know, just moving on, I’m interested in is how do you promote Foleon in you’re in a crowded market. I mean, marketing technology is is crazy in terms of number of vendors. And even as you narrow it down to the content platforms. There’s an awful lot of people doing so many different things. So how do you manage to stand out and get marketers interested in folium? Yeah,

Daan: I don’t know. Maybe you can help me out? No, it’s for Genesis is indeed that it’s a market that is a crowded space, right? More than 1000 vendors are in that known map. And our platform is not per se part of a category, right. So we’re not a CRM or a down like a database management that is an established category that people know off that they need. As I told before, we typically don’t replace software, but we often replace people or man hours or services, whatever. And often people don’t think of a better alternative than for example, a PDF. So they are they some they experience the pain. Sometimes you have a PDF like Oh, I wish I could understand better how this PDF is, is being received by our audience. Or if it’s a proposal that you want to see who is reading a proposal because you simply don’t know it’s you send it out to one person and then it’s like books for you. But it’s not something that people will by default look for for a better alternative. Right. I often give the example of Henry Ford when he when he launched the T Ford the first production car he also said that innovation is you know, if you would have asked 100 mil man, how can I help you do your job better than the majority would say give me a horse that goes twice as fast and no one would ask for a car. So it’s a little bit the same with our platform. So that means that we need to do a lot of different utilisation. So my business card currently doesn’t say CEO but Breacher. So it’s a lot about advocacy and and I think solution marketing is is our best way to do So we tried to produce a lot of content ourselves around the problems that people have, whether it’s called then bottleneck or insight in engagement or doing more effective marketing, or maybe initially, like you mentioned, you also do ABM as, as an agency. So ABM also requires a lot of personalised school then. So that really resonates well with our kind of solution or focusing on companies that use adjacent technology. So if you show bet, or seismic or Terminus or demand base, then you know that you have marketeers that already produce a lot of content. So we try to reach those. So that’s, that’s, that’s our current strategy. And a lot of things is based on content marketing, but also performance based. So we do a lot of LinkedIn advertising, getting in front of the right audience. And then we try to educate them and inspire them. And then we try to introduce them to, for example, let us build your PDF into a folder in like two, three pages to show the power because it’s often harder to explain. It’s easier if you just see it. So we we have that also as part of our marketing strategy to do ask people to send us their PDFs and show them how it can be done better.

Mike: That sounds like a great way to do it. You know, show don’t tell I think is the classic thing that everyone says and I love that. I really appreciate your time, Daan, it’s been great. I’m sure people will be interested to learn more about failure and if they want to learn more or they’ve got questions about anything you’ve said today, what’s the best way to find out about folding and be contacted?

Yeah, you can you can obviously go to and chat with one of our team members. But if they want to reach out to me directly, they can send an email to and Daan with a double A which is typical Dutch name, but yeah, or you can be up on LinkedIn.

Mike: That’s awesome. I hope you’ll you’ll get some inquiry through from this. That’s that’s great to share your your email address. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for all your insights and particularly the you know, the overview of how to improve content, I know people will, will really find that valuable. Thanks very much for being on the podcast.

Thank you so much for inviting me and enjoy the rest of your day.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing B2B Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier B2B dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.