WEKA FACHMEDIEN Announces New Cluster Strategy and Structure

WEKA FACHMEDIEN has shared details of its new cluster strategy, which focuses on targeting specific market segments, with electronics, ICT and Automation clusters. This focus has introduced a leaner organizational structure, with the aim to offer B2B market partners in the electronics, ICT, and automaton industries with 'One face to the customer'.

The ICT cluster strategy was successfully implemented in 2019 with the sales team headed by Eric Weis, offering the relevant channels in the ICT business network with ICT CHANNEL, funkschau, LANline and Smarthouse Pro.  Stefan Adelmann has taken over the position of Director Content ICT, whilst Dr Jörg Schröper continues as Editor-in-Chief of LANline, driving digital formats and events such as Tech Forums and Datacenter Symposia.

The newly created Electronics cluster has Christian Stadler leading the sales team as Sales Director, reporting directly to Marc Adelberg, Director of New Business. This move now means advertisers and industry partners can reach the readers and users of Markt&Technik, Elektronik, DESIGN&ELEKTRONIK, Elektronik automotive, medical design, SmarterWorld and the business network elektroniknet.de with their market communications via just one contact. In this new organizational structure, the core teams consist of Editor-In-Chief and Managing Editor, with Joachim Kroll taking on the role of Editor-in-Chief of Elektronik and Elektronik automotive, in addition to heading DESIGN&ELEKTRONIK; whilst the new position of Director of Content Electronics will be held by Dr. Ingo Kuss, who will also continue as Editor-in-Chief of Markt&Technik.

In the Automation clutter, Tiffany Dinges takes the position of Sales Director, while Andrea Gillhuber will continue as Editor-in-Chief of Computer&AUTOMATION. The "One Face to the Customer" strategy provides advertisers and industry partners with quick access to contacts for print/e-paper, digital platforms, events and virtual exhibitions of the media brands.

We heard rumblings of several editorial layoffs at WEKA last month, and this move to a new structure means we have had to say goodbye to editors such as Frank Riemenschneider, Gerhard Stelzer, Manne Kreuzer and Hagen Lang. It will be interesting to see what further structure changes will be implemented across the WEKA GROUP moving forward and how this will affect the streamlining of any other editorial teams.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Steve Zakur - Solosegment

We are delighted to share the latest interview from Napier’s Marketing B2B Technology Podcast.

In our latest episode, we interview Steve Zakur, CEO & Co-Founder of Solosegment, which provides software that drives engagement and leads with anonymous data and AI.

Find out more about Solosegment and the meaning behind anonymous personalization, by listening to the episode here. 

To stay up to date when a new episode is live, click one of the below links to subscribe:

Transcript: Interview with Steve Zakur - Solosegment

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Steve Zakur

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 the latest edition of marketing b2b technology from Napier. Today, I've got Steve zaika from solo segment. Welcome to the podcast, Steve.

Steve: Thanks very much, Mike.

Mike: Thanks, Steve. So, you co-founded Solosegment, can you tell me about your career journey? And how you got to the point where you decided to found the company?

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. So I've been kind of a technology person by trade for a long time, although I've never written a line of code. You know, I've often been that person who is at the interface of Business and Technology, whether it was back in the days when I worked in finance, I moved into operations. And then in the late 90s, kind of caught the startup bug, I really was excited about the opportunity, especially the way the internet right at that time, was really changing and transforming how business was done and worked for a startup for about two years. And like many startups, that went when essentially nowhere, but I had the good fortune of getting hired by IBM at that point, because this was now late 2000, early 2001. And they were, you know, hoovering up all of these, anybody who could spell.com they wanted to hire and so had the good fortune to get hired at IBM, and then spent 15 years there, in a variety of executive roles, primarily focused on what I like to refer to as fixing broken toys, a lot of work, you know, looking at products, projects, customer relationships that have kind of gone awry, and helping us to write those.

And last couple of years that I was with IBM, I was working in there, I was responsible for their sales and marketing technology. And it was a pretty hefty responsibility. And of course, being an executive, your job is to take the pain that other executives throw at you. So it really gave me a keen sense for, you know, what were the gaps and opportunities, especially with regards to marketing technology. And early in 2016, I was at our Astor Place location, and I was walking through the halls, and I ran into Mike Moran, and Mike, who was one of the cofounders solo segment. He was the guy who hired me went back in November of 2000. And into IBM, we had lost track for about 15 years. And, you know, literally, he was back doing some consulting, we had a chat by the elevator and said, let's have a beer because I've got this idea. And that idea was soul segment, you know, did he had just gotten started with some development of software that that helped improve website search. But it really was that was the starting point. And, you know, a lot of our early conversations before I joined him, were very much focused on this gap, right? This this where the, you know, marketing executives, you know, weren't getting often the value they could out of the existing technology, and how could we bridge that. And so, you know, my journey to solo segment now spending four years building solo segment and from, you know, I guess what you classically think of as a startup into an actual business that operates is, was really focusing on that those gaps that we saw. And honestly, you know, of course, like any good company listening to, you know, your customers and finding, you know, the nuances and the pain so that you can make sure you're addressing what's important to them.

Mike: Amazing. And is the founding team. Are they still with the company?

Steve: Yep, they sure are. Yeah, Tim Peters, the third member of the founding team, Tim is our marketing leader. He's, he's a marketing technology person, as well, has a lot of experience in financial services, hospitality and into the tech industry as well.

Mike: Wow. So you've got the classic sort of CO marketing and technical trio family company. That's cool.

Steve: Yeah, it was. And honestly, that's one of the things that drew me there. I mean, you know, I know that, you know, from my prior experience, you know, that early team is really important in not only the vision, but you know, it's very easy for individuals to make to go astray. But when you have a solid team that you really, that keeps you honest and keeps you focused on the customer value, it's very helpful, but more than anything, you know, we fill each other's blind spots, right. And that really was the benefit. The early benefit was, you know, we all had very unique but distinct points of view on the business opportunity.

Mike: Amazing. I think I've got a blind spot that I need filling so. So the segment describes itself as anonymous personalization. Can you can you just unpack that and explain what you mean by it?

Steve: Yeah, you bet. So I mean, traditional personalization. I mean, it's in the name, right. You know, it's all about understanding something about the person. And so when you look at how personalization technology emerged, and again, this rewinds all the way back to the late 90s. And especially when you think about what Amazon was doing early on, you know, really under Standing patterns and behaviour. And there were lots of other companies that did as well. But Amazon, of course, is an exemplar in many ways. In the consumer space. You know, a lot of effort was put into understanding data about the people. And as marketing technology and marketing processes, embraced digital, almost everything we do focused on the person, everything from how the technology identifies people to cookies related to computers, which are related to people, logins. Now that data gets that first party data get sold as third party data.

So basically, you can buy information about anybody on the planet, that that root of the personal data in personalization is deeply, deeply embedded in how we think about web engagement, right, it's knowing something about you. And then using that information, to help you engage with social conversations that might interest to you to help you find products that might be interesting to you. In the b2b space, it's a little bit different, the challenges were a little bit different. When you look at the profile of a visitor to a b2b website, a very small portion of them are actually identifiable three to 5%. So why is 90 95% of the traffic on identifiable for a variety of reasons. First, often what you're doing at work doesn't relate to what you do in your personal computer, although in COVID, land, right, you know, everything is the same. But but in kind of a traditional view of things, you know, what you're doing in your personal life, or what you're doing your business life are very distinct. So there's not that data trail, that kind of translates really well. So if I'm on Amazon in the morning, buying something, and then I go to work, and now I'm looking at, you know, software vendors website, there's not a lot of interesting data that translates to that. And that that's part of what the leads to that lack of interesting data that's available to b2b marketers. But the other thing, other reason that that that data is not often available is because of the incentives.

In my personal life and my consumer life, there are lots of incentives for me to share information. Part of it is that you know, some object appears on my doorstep when I order it. But the other incentives are, you know, this data is actually I mean, while there are bad actors and whatnot in the marketplace, it's largely being used for good, right, I'm finding the things I want, and being exposed to things that I didn't know I want, but actually suit me very, very well. Anybody who spent any time on YouTube, going down deep into holes on topics of interest knows this. But in the in the business world, the incentives are almost there, almost disincentives, quite frankly, to sharing your information. You're part of it is that, you know, if you do share your information to learn the process, you're going to get harassed by sales reps in an endless nurture campaign in your email inbox. But there's not a lot of trade for value, right? You know, getting a white paper, and then taking on the burden of these endless emails doesn't often seem like a fair trade for value. So prospects, visitors resist that. And that, really, at the core is the challenges. Why anonymous personalization because what anonymous personalization is all about is creating engaging moments without having to know oh, this is Mike. And he's been to this website five times in the past, and he's done these certain activities. It's really in the moment, can you create an engaging experience, based upon not specific data about the person, but general data about the behaviour. And that's what we like to think about as anonymous personalization, engaging experiences that don't require personal knowledge of the person, primarily, because in b2b, it's very hard to get that data. And so why struggle to try and get the data, why not just accept and embrace what you already have, which is nothing and use that anonymous data to create those engaging experiences.

Mike: Interesting. So I mean, just explained to me a little more about what that means. So you're looking at the behaviour, just on one website, and then personalising based on that. So how does it work?

Steve: Yeah, so we have technologies and some of its kind of traditional predictive analytics, there are some machine learning as well as some natural language processing components to it as well. And we're looking at primarily behavioural data. So the two places the behavioural data that we find most interesting are first intent data that you can get out of out of a website's search engine. So while not a lot of people search on b2b websites, those who do give you some interesting information about content and the relationship with content to intent, like what they're interested in, and why they're interested in it. And once you understand that, you can then almost reverse it, right? And so for any piece of content, you know, what its intent is. And so that's the first piece of data that we look at is intent data on the website so that we know when somebody is on a page, you know, we can make a prediction That's if that's the fancy word for in machine learning for a guess, you know, we can make a prediction about what the odds are that somebody has a certain intent for a certain piece of content. And as you might imagine, that, you know, varies by content from content to content. But the other behavioural data we look at is just all of the visitor journeys that have gone on on the website, right, people start in one place, they end in another. And what we're looking for, especially in the longer journeys, the 2345 page journeys, is we're looking for journeys that, you know, lead to some sort of goal achievement. And by understanding those patterns, we can begin to gather with that intent data to, to make some guesses about when you're on a page, what, why you might be there, and what piece of content you might want to see next, right based upon the pattern analysis that the machine is doing. And of course, every time you give the machine some information, the machine makes better predictions going forward. And there's a third piece of data, of course, which is the content itself, we have a natural language processing technology that looks at content, and tries to understand what it's about what his topic is, what industry it might be about, you can imagine a lot of other things that we can discern.

And so when somebody comes to a website, you know, we're immediately the models are immediately running, they're looking at what the person is looking at, looking at how they're looking at it, right, their scroll depth, how they're interacting with the page, but and they're making these predictions of two things, right, based upon the intent based upon the content based upon all the journeys that are similar to this one. What might you be trying to achieve? And what piece of content might you need to see next in order to progress towards that goal?

Mike: And that helps. So I mean, it sounds like there's lots of elements of it, if I look on your website, you've got, you know, effectively four key products identified, can you explain how they work together to produce a solution?

Steve: The are independent, or they can be used independently, they all share a common platform. You know, we're, we sell two products, search box and guide box, they're kind of our two primary products, mostly, because that's how our customers think about web interaction, it's kind of interesting, you know, we we separate searching and behaviour from navigating behaviour. And there's even variations of navigating behaviour, right, we have navigation behaviour, where people are responding to, to campaigns versus navigation behaviour, maybe they're coming in through organic search, or they're just typing a URL coming direct. So there's lots of different types of behaviours. But when you think about how our customers think about the world, often they think about the website in those two areas, right? We have searchers, and we have navigators. And so that's why search box and guide box were delivered, but they all share this common platform. And that is, you know, looking at the behaviours of people on the website, and using data to automatically drive improvement. So let's talk for a moment about searching behaviour. In searching behaviour, you know, one of the key challenges is a and you would think one of the key inputs in the search engines, even though it's not, would be, hey, when somebody has a successful behaviour on a search, we should, you know, take that data and do something with it. And that doesn't often happen, right? A lot of how search engines work are based upon how good the content is. But it very rarely looks at the behaviours after the content. So that's what's unique about search box. And honestly, that's where a lot of our intent data comes from, is we're looking deeply at not only what did somebody search for, and what did somebody click on, but we're looking at the behaviours after the click to really discern, was this a successful interaction or an unsuccessful interaction? And that not only gives us data about searcher success, which you can then feed back to the search engine to give it some, you know, information about which links are the better answers versus which links are the worst answers. But more importantly, that then becomes a data set, were we really understand on a specific company's website? You know, how good is search? And, and are those searchers based upon again, coming back to intent what they intended to achieve achieving that thing?

Mike: Interesting. So you're, you're looking at what people search for, and then you're trying to use that to almost assess the value of different content in different situations? Is that how it's working?

Steve: Yeah, I mean, that's a good way of thinking about it. You know, the search engines are always trying to programmatically evaluate content and discern, you know, what it's about. And that, of course, once this once the search engine knows what it's about, you know, through a variety of techniques that are, you know, very mathematically driven, so I won't go into them too much. But most search engines work that right, right? They look at content, that's called indexing, right? They gather all the content, and then they evaluate that content to try to figure out what it's about. And we take that whole thing the next step further, which is to say, Okay, great, the search engines done that evaluation. It's figured out what this content is about. But now let's add the user feedback into it. Right, let's add customer experience back into it. And it's not just the customer experience while they're on the search engine results page, but it's really the experience after they leave the search engine results page after they make that click and start their journey. You know, was that journey actually successful or not?

Mike: Interesting. And in terms of working this out? I mean, I think you said the AI guesses. I'm sure it's a lot more complicated than that. I mean, can you explain what AI gives you that you couldn't get from something that's more of a programmatic formula type approach?

Steve: Yeah. So, you know, thinking about AI, is one of the ways I like to think about it. And I think it helps marketers think about it is kind of the traditional ways of doing, as you said, programmatic sort of solutions to this problem is very similar to a b testing, right? So you come up with an A and a B ad, and you run them and you see which one performs better. And then you start, you know, the machine would automatically say, you know, what B's doing a lot better, let's promote B. And so that's kind of a traditional way of thinking about those, you have you posit two hypotheses, and you test them, what machine learning allows you to do is to not have to come up with the hypothesis, right? You don't have to come up with the A and the B, you actually come up with a goal, right? So you define, I want more leads. And what the machine is going to do is it's going to come up with the A and the B and the C and the D. And it's just going to constantly try to optimise on that goal versus optimising the two choices you have given it. And so it the same way, when you think about all this journey analytics that goes on, we're compiling all of this information about people and their interactions with a website on a continuous basis.

Now, some of those interactions are very small, right, somebody responds to a campaign and leaves the site a one page visit a bounce. Sometimes they're very short, you know, you look at a lot of these companies. And they are their goal is to get two pages per visit on average, right? So they're very short interactions. But when you can look at the longer interactions, you just have so many of them, that it's hard to, for a human to kind of discern the pattern and choose, you know, which of these two, two pathways are better, right, and the human defines the pathways. So instead, we just tell the machine, you know, we want more downloads, we want more contact forms, we want more whatever. And now the machine knows that those sorts of events are the goals. And it's going to look for the patterns that that lead to the goals. And over time, as somebody comes to the website, it will recognise when somebody is on one of those patterns. And it could be as simple as G everybody who starts on this page, who happens to land on this page has an 80% likelihood that they're going that they're shooting for the contact form, let me nudge this person forward, to try to get him to the contact form, right. So it's that's the kind of predictions that the machines working on. But the the real difference between programmatic ways and machine learning ways is in machine learning, you define the goal. And once you've defined the goal, the machine can figure out the optimal ways towards achieving the goal versus having to draw, you know, for a human to actually have to figure out, well, here's the five ways to the goal, we're going to test let's just figure out which of my five ideas is best.

Mike: Interesting. So, I mean, how does a user use seller segment? It sounds like, you know, there might be this incredibly complicated set up before suddenly the magic happens it? Is it tough, or is it straightforward?

Steve: It's relatively straightforward. I'll say that. And, you know, we're working every day to kind of make it more straightforward. You know, certainly, when, when I was in my role at IBM, you know, one of the deep pain points that we had was time to value. You know, we were a large enterprise, when we bought large enterprise software was often complex to implement. It was often and part of that was by design, by the way, right? Because it's, it's far easier to retain a software, you know, retain an account if you're a software vendor, if it's hard to unplug you. So I think some of that complexity was by design, but but you know, required integrations with systems that, you know, we had, whether it was integrating to the CRM system or fulfilment systems. And so is the time to value was was, you know, one of the biggest struggles that you'd be a year into a contract and you're just getting the most basic function sort of deployed.

And I think that's where, you know, where I started in my role there, you know, getting involved in a lot of what I would refer to as best in class vendors, right, these smaller vendors who were far more agile, their price points were a lot more appealing. Yeah. And, you know, often they didn't require the complexity that that these larger kind of more traditional vendors required. And so that was really our goal, when we were thinking about what type of company do we want to be, you know, we started off with this idea that we don't want to be a company that makes it really hard to manage the data. And that was part of our, you know, focus on anonymous data versus personal data. But the other thing was, you know, we want to make it easy to get started. And so I mean, search box is the easiest product to get started with, because, you know, it gathers all the data via JavaScript, you put a couple of lines of code on the page. And it just begins to, to gather data about what's going on in search and what's going on after search. And that was our first product, by the way. And so that design decision where we said, we're not going to integrate with the technology that our customer uses, whether it's their web analytics, or their search engine, we're going to use JavaScript to capture the data ourselves, that now kind of pervades everything we do, right? What can we do with the JavaScript to make it easier for our customers to adopt, and honestly make it easier for us to get them to value, right that you know, to speed the time to value. So JavaScript is a way that we gather a lot of data, much like any analytics programme does. And we also the second way we gather data is we searched the website like a search engine would so we can index all the content and apply our NLP against those indexes that we created all the content, but we try to make it as easy as possible. And again, having been in large enterprise marketing tech, I get the pain point and the time to value problem. And so that's part of our goal.

Mike: But it sounds like you can load that JavaScript things start happening immediately. And then you obviously need to presumably give some idea of what a conversion is, whether it's a form fill or something, is it is that right?

Steve: Yes and no. So the general processes that JavaScript gets installed, and for some companies, and by the way, some people think when I give these examples, oh, he's talking about the small company had an easy time and a big company had a hard time, it actually doesn't matter on company size, it's often just, you know, the where the Paranoid dial is set out, some some companies said at 11, break it and some companies set it up for but you know, getting that JavaScript deployed, you know, is usually a couple of weeks just because these large companies have processes that they want to go through to, you know, test them and put it on board. And then we usually need some baseline set of data to get both search box and guide box to work. Because all of these learning technologies, you know, just they work they need to learn, right, they need some data set to learn. And while the holy grail is some general model that will work across all businesses in all industries, the reality is it has to learn on the behaviours of each of our clients. So that usually takes about 30 days. And again, it depends on the size of the client and the volume of data. But most of our, our clients are dealing with 10s of 1000s of pages of content and hundreds of 1000s of visits a month. And so we pretty pretty quickly gather enough data, enough head of steam, if you will, enough learning that the models are working within 30 days or so and and that's when the comp plan can begin to really get value from them. Where where the client has some work to do, of course, is getting through all of their processes to deploy, deploy the code, and that they have to make some choices, some of our technology appears on the glass, right that we deliver some sort of user experience. And so they have to decide, you know, share with us their design, standards and whatnot. So we make sure that it looks like something that comes from that company. But you know, again, our goal is always to kind of lower the barrier to getting started, lower the barriers, time to value.

Mike: And it sounds like you're also giving a little bit of consultancy in terms of helping the customer is that right? I mean, it sounds like you're not a classic SAS vendor that you sign up online, and you're on your own.

Steve: Yeah, I mean, you know, we had intended to be that SAS vendor, you know, that was already dead. And by the way, experiences, again, in my career, you know, these large enterprises, they are, they can be high touch. So, you know, they, you know, when I think about all of our client relationships, you know, I know most of my clients, but, you know, we're, you know, I try to make sure that I'm speaking to them fairly frequently. But they're, I mean, the nature of their businesses is they're large and complex. And so, because we have a point of view on, on not only our area of expertise, which is in digital engagement, personalization, sort of technologies, but on how those technologies integrate with the entire marketing processes, you know, you bet our customer success, people definitely, you know, chat with our clients about broader issues. And in some cases, we do some consulting, where they ask us to go deeper than honestly a software vendor might normally but where we have some expertise, we definitely do that.

I mean, I never want to turn away a client who, who we can help extract value, but our core really is, you know, how do we make help the software drive value? Because at the end of the day, you know, my frustration, as an executive was always that, you know, I'd get the PowerPoint and you know, it'd be 102 pages of insight. But how do I then execute that? Right? It's really hard to do so. And what we're we want to focus on is how do we use data to automatically drive improvement, whether that's data that's automatically improving the search experience, or whether it's data automatically helping navigators. But there is far too much content, there are far too many visitors. And there's far too few resources, whether it's money, or people within these origin enterprises to do anything manually. And so, you know, it's funny, we have a dashboard for all our products that shows the value, etc, etc. And our clients rarely use them. And so we knew that like, that was an early feedback point. You know, we knew that sharing data was not the most important thing, right? using that data, in a way to automatically make things better, was a lot better than sharing a dashboard, which gives some overworked marketer more work to do.

Mike: I mean, trade, I mean, obviously, as a company, you're really focused on value. And I guess one of the ways of measuring value is, is in terms of number of leads and cost per lead? Is that the primary way people measure or are there other ways that people look at value from the product?

Steve: Yeah, I think that the folks that, you know, that's those are certainly Top of Mind measures for all of our clients, you know, they are under pressure to deliver mq ELLs, right. That is the that is the ultimate the ultimate point of the exercise. You know, of course, when we're one piece of an integrated stack, in a very complex business, it's hard to do attribution, right, that is the Achilles heel of everything that marketers do, and quite frankly, the marketing technology companies do. So, you know, what we're looking at is well, what are the metrics that lead up to an M qL, that we can contribute to in some meaningful way and measure from an attribution perspective very specifically? So certainly, we're looking at, you know, a lot of those leading metrics, right. So are we getting more engagement and engagement is a fairly complex algorithm, but it basically means are more people staying on the site? are they seeing more content? Are they progressing more towards their goals? Right, so those are, that's our viewpoint is we want to increase the level of engagement with content on the website, where we can measure those goals. And we tend to refer to them as events because I think goal has a very specific meaning, right? A goal is something that a marketer has defined as the point of a campaign, say, or product manager is defined as the on this page, when somebody gets to it, they're going to take this specific action.

One of the things we do when we evaluate the content automatically on our website, is we look for places where people can do stuff, right. So it could be if you had, say, a commerce element, two of our clients have a relatively small portion of commerce on their website, but they have carts and they have checkouts and those sorts of things. So we look for those sorts of events. But the other things that are more common are events, like, you know, download the white paper, or fill out the contact form, or those sorts of things. And so what we're looking for is signals that indicate that one of those events have taken place. And that of course, you know, once we see a signal that an event has taken place, we're then going to try to drive more people who fit that pattern towards that event. But that's really our goal. So as opposed to leads, I think the most thing you the thing you could most likely attribute our technology towards driving is probably contacts, right that people are actually taking some of those events or and sharing their information. So that now there, they can fall into quite frankly, a personalised experience. Right. So now they can fall into a technology which will nurture them with an email campaign or will, you know, prompt a sales rep to make a call?

Mike: Brilliant, nice. That's really clear. And you said earlier, you're talking about, you know, typically having hundreds of 1000s of visits for a typical customer? I mean, can you talk to me about you know, who benefits the most from using solely segment?

Steve: Yeah, so these are generally companies that are kind of later to the digital game, I think that there are a fair amount of companies very mature companies digitally mature, by the way, you know, it's funny how interesting, you know, a company size almost is not a predictor of digital maturity. But it's somewhat related, but not highly related. But, you know, we're talking to a lot of companies who are a little bit later to the digital game, right, that they're, they, you know, didn't get involved early, but they're looking to advance quickly. And, you know, I think one of the frustrations that these companies often face is that you know, they go to some of these law Large integrated vendors. And, you know, they're faced with, you know, six figure seven figure licence fees. And, you know, equally six, figure seven figure integration, installation fees. And of course, you know, months and months to value. And so, so these so these companies that are coming a little bit later to the game, they see that they're a little intimidated, and now they want to think, well, how can I get started without having to take that huge bite.

So those are companies that are very good for us as well, we deal with some large manufacturing companies, some large chemical companies, medical device manufacturers have been very popular now in COVID. But as these companies who are a little bit late to the game and want to accelerate are very good. And generally, the folks we're talking to are, you know, the people who are really at the, at the tip of the spear, you know, all CEOs with their, you know, favourite, you know, people like be right, I want to go talk to the CMO and I want to have a great relationship. But, you know, at the end of the day, the CMOS don't feel the pain as acutely as, say, a senior manager or director of marketing, right, they are, they live where the pain is. And so, you know, we have a lot of conversations with those folks who are wrestling with, you know, yield on their marketing campaigns with, with, you know, just, you know, engagement on the website, you know, they've got a 80% bounce rate, and, you know, every page has a 90% exit rate, you know, so they're, they're really dealing with, you know, trying to create engagement connection with their clients. But we're fairly industry agnostic, but it's really, you know, helping to talk to the folks who really, you know, are at the tip of the spear with regards to the pain and the challenges that the business is facing.

Mike: That's interesting. So you're almost coming into people who are, you know, lagging behind and give them giving them a bit of a speed boost to catch up?

Steve: Yes.

Mike: And I'm interested in you talked about bounce rate, you know, people having 80% bounce rate, which I know, in on some sites is the case. So say the segment can really make a difference on that first page in terms of serving the right content, can it?

Steve: Yeah, you bet. You know, I think, and I don't think marketers Think about it this, but certainly lay people think about it like this, or people maybe who aren't marketers, but you know, fans, folks, and all those other people who exist in a corporation, you know, they always think about, somebody comes to our website, and they're coming to the homepage, and they're navigating around. And that's not the way it works at all right? A very small portion, everybody, most people come in sideways, what I like to think of is sideways, or they come in the back door, they come in the side door through the garage, because they're most often, you know, go into Google and doing a search. And, you know, they're landing on some random page on the website. And, you know, for a marketer, you know, we spend a lot of our time and attention on the high value stuff, right. So we spend a lot of time on campaigns, and campaign landing experiences, and, you know, increasing yields there, we spend a lot of time on our top products, we spend a lot of time on this homepage, because the CEO thinks it's important. And so we spend a lot of time on those experiences. And they account for a very, very small fraction of the total visits to the website.

And so, you know, part of the reason that, you know, we focused on this anonymous idea was also because there's so much of the content that's anonymous. When you think about, again, somebody's coming to the website on any random page. And then you draw a histogram that says, you know, lists all the web pages and how many visits they got this month, you know, there are probably 150 pages that got 90% of the traffic. And then there are 15,000 pages, they got two or three visits each. But each one of those visits was important to the person who found it. Now granted, a lot of people get to places that Google sends them that aren't very valuable. But again, whoever came into that page, they only got one or two page views a month, they had a purpose. And of course, nobody creates a bespoke experience on a page that gets one or two page views a month. And so, you know, part of our thought was, if we can provide the ability to somehow figure out somebody's on a page, where can we send them next? That helps you avoid that bounce helps you if that's their second page, avoid the exit, it gets you that continued engagement, right, get to another swing at the plate to use a you know, American baseball term, right? Yeah. So, you know, your swings at the plate are the kind of the things that you want, right? You don't want to strike out, you don't want to get out, right, you want to, you know, have a lot of opportunities as a, as a baseball manager to, you know, get people on the field. And so in the same way, as a marketing manager, you want the opportunity to somehow connect with this person. And so if they're coming to the site, and they're, you know, 80% of them are, you know, bouncing out, then you know, anything you can do to reduce that rate is critical. We had one client, who we've done a couple cases studies on this and really study that deeply. And one client in their first six months of having guide box on the page, they reduced their bounce rate by 12 points. And so, you know, it was a pretty significant opportunity for them to turn those one page visits into at least two page visits. And, you know, again, you know, we're all those successful, absolutely not, but would you like to double your opportunity to engage with somebody? You know, absolutely. Everybody wants that every day?

Mike: Oh, that's an amazing stat. And I think, you know, it's interesting, it sounds like you're almost learning about the visitor from the page they land on, because you're effectively inferring how they got there in terms of search is that, crudely speaking, how the AI is doing it?

Steve: It is, but and it's also inferring, you know, why they're there. And again, it's, you know, we've never really studied to say, you know, how often Is it right? You know, we don't do surveys of people to see if we got in their minds. But you know, but you can look at the data, right? And if you're giving somebody a very smart recommendation about, Oh, you like this content, you know, maybe you'd like to see this next. And that's one of the models that we use is it's kind of it's a content recommendation sort of thing, much like say Amazon does product recommendation, what we're trying to do is offer people really smart alternatives. I mean, when you look at any, any large enterprise, and pretty much any company's website, it's organised, like their organisation chart is organised, not how their customers think about their problems. And so you know, not only do they have many ways off the page, one of our clients we counted, they have 70 ways off their pages, because they show this huge menu. And there's this, you know, right side navigation bar, and there's a left side navigation is hugely confusing user experience. And again, you wouldn't do that for your best products. But there's a lot of other things on your website that you just don't have the time and energy to invest in. And so, with guide box, saying, Here's three options to progress your journey some way, would you like to choose one of these three things that seems really smart? You know, it's a way of creating that engagement that, you know, allows somebody to not be honestly intimidated by all the choice that's before them, and much of that choice being irrelevant to them?

Mike: Well, so the scope, I mean, you know, effectively seller segments, sat there, it's it's customising 10s, of 1000s of pages for hundreds of 1000s of visitors, I've got to ask this question, because I'm sure people listening are wondering, it's terrifyingly expensive, right?

Steve: Actually, it's not if you that is, I mean, that's one of the things that while I'd like to choose to charge people a lot of money and make make a lot of money. You know, it's actually it's pretty modest with regards to marketing technology spend, you know, you're spending, you're not spending millions of dollars. And most folks aren't even spending hundreds of 1000s of dollars right there. You know, it's relatively modest, and it scales honestly, to the size of the enterprise. So, you know, we have companies, and as small as sounds weird, but as small as $300 million, so in revenue, so so we can make the solution scales in a way that makes sense for, you know, most of the large enterprise companies that we deal with, you know, the the thing that we're also working on is a way to scale this down, because the models are driven by data. And so, so you need a fair amount of data, but we're looking at is some alternative algorithms that try to do the same predictions that we do a large enterprise and smaller Sharpe enterprises, but in fact, we have a beta of it running on our website, and I don't know how many pages of content we have, but not not 10s of 1000s, that's for sure. And, and so we're looking at ways to scale this down in a way that still creates that meaningful engagement. Because, you know, at the end of the day, you know, the marketer wants you on the site, they want you progressing towards some goal, they want swings at the plate. And so if we can do that, for companies, the scale of john deere, while at the same time doing it for companies, the scale of solo segment, we think there's that's a tremendous opportunity, we're not quite ready for primetime on that scaled down model. Because there's still some things that we have to figure out how to scale on the back end, because as you would imagine, what we did on our website was a little bespoke, but, you know, we're definitely, we're definitely looking at those models. Because, you know, there we, you know, think there's a great economic opportunity for us, and there's no reason it's just the big guys should get all the value from a, you know, better engagement.

Mike: Well, definitely let us know when you've got a product because I'm sure we'd love to have it on our website as well. That'd be great.

Steve: Sounds good.

Mike: I mean, it does sound amazing, you know, for the cost of, you know, probably two or three really good marketers, you can get this huge amount of personalization, that just would be impractical. If you were trying to do it manually. I mean, you know, I can certainly see the potential in terms of return on investment there. That's great.

Steve: Yeah, you bet. I think that's a great way to think about it. I mean, how many people would Do you have to add to get, you know, engagement on the long tail of people who are coming to your website?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so you've given us a little hint about the future in terms of where you might go? Is there anything else that you feel we should cover? Any anything you'd like to talk about in terms of salary segments? Or something about the technology I've missed?

Steve: Yeah, no, I think I think part of it is, you know, one of the things I think we didn't talk about was a little bit more about, like, why is this the moment to be thinking about anonymous engagement. And, you know, anybody who's an advertising is now trying to figure out what to do now with the death of cookies is kind of the thing that's out there. But with the larger trend is is, you know, people are tired of their data getting stolen and misused. regulators have responded that, by that with GDPR, and the California acts and a lot of others that exist around the world. And, and now the software industry, most notably, the browser industry is acting to, you know, limit the amount of data that browsers will transmit to companies. And so this is, you know, most immediately, folks are freaked out, marketers are freaked out by the fact that ads, the ad business is going to change dramatically. You know, we all we heard Twitter and Facebook already talking about how their ad revenues are going to go down. Well, when ad revenues go down, that means advertisers have less opportunity to engage, right, because that's why they're going down. And so, you know, there are certainly some headwinds and significant headwinds, and I think they're only going to increase over the coming years, with how we're using personal information, and especially when you're a b2b marketer, you know, it's already harder to use personal information. And so, you know, to the extent that companies can they really should be starting to think about, you know, how do they create engaging visitor experiences using data other than personal data, because they're already starting at a deficit, right, they, you know, very small percentage of the visitors that come to these websites are engageable, that we can know something about them. And if it's only going to get more difficult, you know, kind of doubling down on a traditional personalization strategy just seems like folly, because, you know, the regulators aren't going to change the direction, Apple, Google and Firefox aren't going to change their direction. And so I think that the smart marketers are not only addressing kind of the current pain they're seeing, but they're actually starting to think more strategically about how are they going to operate effectively? How are they going to achieve their business objectives? deliver those mq ELLs deliver, you know, more contacts, in a world where personal information is going to be increasingly rare?

Mike: Wow, that's certainly a trend we're seeing. And I know, iOS, for example, a lot of people are freaking out over the privacy there. For for the advertising industry. So I think it's a great point. You know, it really is a time when people need to be thinking about what's next. And, and he gives this opportunity for really effective personalization. Without any kind of privacy issues. That's, that's cool.

Steve: Yeah, indeed.

Mike: So assuming we've got somebody listening who's you know, responsible for a website that's, you know, got several 100,000 visitors, or more a month? I mean, is there any way they can get in contact with you? You're the CEO of the company. I mean, yeah, I suppose there's a way they can get you.

Steve: Yeah, they could definitely get me and my emails probably on the website somewhere, but yeah, I mean, honestly, I could actually just email me directly, Steve@solosegment.com or they could go to the website solosegment.com. Hit me on LinkedIn or Twitter. I'm available in all the normal ways. But yeah, I'd be happy to have conversations and, you know, direct them to the right people in our organisation who can be to the conversation.

Mike: Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast, Steve. Um, there's so much more, we could ask you and find out. All I ask is if you could come back when you do have a product that works with smaller websites, I'd love to talk to you again.

Steve: You bet, Mike. Thanks very much.

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.

Publishing House Fiera Milano Media Acquired by the LSWR Group

Publishing House Fiera Milano Media has been acquired by the LSWR Group, an Italian leader in scientific and professional knowledge, through the Quine publishing house. 

Providing the latest updates and news for engineers, technologists, and IT specialists, the acquisition allows Quine to expand its range of information and professional training, due to Fiera Milano Media's speciality in technical publishing, B2B communication, managerial training, and digital services. The media house's publications in Industrial Automation, Mechanical, Electronics, and ICT sectors will all move to Quine from the 1st March 2020.

The acquisition of the Fiera Milano Media magazines further extends the LSWR Group's activities led by Giorgio Albonetti, which strengthens the group's leadership position in the engineering sector. Giorgio Albonetti, President of LSWR Group commented "The pandemic crisis has accelerated the transformation and evolution of professional skills. The report, 'Future of Jobs by the World Economic Forum' at the end of 2020 reveals that 50% of all employees will need to retrain by 2025 following an increase in technologies, the economic impact of the pandemic, and the increasing in automation. These are the reasons why we believe it is essential to increase training, updating, and quality professional information right away; we believe it is essential to increase our commitment to the evolution of people's professional skills. The skills and assets acquired by Fiera Milano Media help to consolidate Quine's role as a cultural reference in the field of new technologies and technical knowledge".

Marco Zani, CEO of Quine added "Quine constantly increases its commitment to training and communication in the professional field, also qualitatively, with this new acquisition. The portals and magazines expand the already rich offer provided by Quine with products in the Tech, Construction, industrial production, Ho.Re.Ca., and information and communication technologies; the goal is to continue the work done so far by offering increasingly useful and increasingly interesting content to effectively respond to the challenges that the pandemic crisis and digital transformation impose".

Here at Napier, we are always supportive of an acquisition, and we are looking forward to seeing the direction Quine will take the Fiera Milano Media publications in.



WEKA FACHMEDIEN Offers Reader Test Seal

WEKA FACHMEDIEN is offering companies an opportunity to go beyond classic advertising, with the chance to be awarded a 'test seal'.

The company and product are presented in detail via a product presentation and 'reader test' to an interactive target group and shared across all channels, to allow qualified readers and experts to provide an independent test result. The analysis will detail the testers' initial product impressions, and the test seal is rewarded to the company which was most liked by users, as detailed in the WEKA analysis report.

The product test report can be read on the WEKA FACHMEDIEN website when completed, and will also be shared via all channels.

We wish the best of luck to everyone taking part!


Bodo's Power Systems Reveals Virtual Roundtable for March

Bodo's Power Systems has announced a virtual roundtable on wide bandgap power semiconductors which will be held on March 31st 2021.

With wide bandgap power semiconductors, silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), finding their way into more applications, Bodo's magazine will host a 'Bodo's WBG Expert Talk", a virtual roundtable with experts on this topic.

Building on articles already published by Bodo, the event will provide readers with the opportunity to ask the experts questions, either via email in advance or through chat during the live session. Confirmed speakers include experts from companies such as Microchip, Infineon, ROHM, ST Microelectronics, United SiC, Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), and GaN Systems.

At Napier, we think its great to see that there will be such an informative session on this topic, and we look forward to hearing what we are sure will be fantastic feedback from the event.


PCIM Europe 2021 Confirmed as Digital Event

PCIM Europe has been confirmed as a digital event for 2021. Having originally been postponed to the late summer, organizers have now made the decision for the event to be fully digital, due to the ongoing challenges faced by the current pandemic, with the industry reluctant to commit to an on-site event.

PCIM Europe 'digital days' will take place in an online format, across five days from the 3rd-7th May 2021, and will offer suppliers and users the opportunity to expand their knowledge on key developments, and connect with other professionals.

In addition to exhibitor profiles, the conference program will provide a mix of live and on-demand presentations, followed by discussions with the speakers.

Although this is an unsurprising move from organisers, with the future of the pandemic still unclear, it's great to see that a virtual event will go ahead, especially considering that the first PCIM Digital Days last year, was very successful.

To find out more information on the event and how you can attend, please click here. 

A Napier Webinar: Landing Pages: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Here at Napier, we understand that landing pages are a key area of your marketing strategy. If your landing page is not optimised for success, your results can suffer.

Napier recently held a webinar 'Landing Pages: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly', which analyses the layout and content of landing pages used by a variety of B2B technology companies. We address:

  • Our honest opinion of good and bad landing pages
  • Factors that influence landing page performance
  • What makes a landing page generate leads
  • Tips, and tricks for easy landing page fixes
  • How the best companies optimise landing pages

Register to view our webinar on demand by clicking here, and why not get in touch to let us know if our insights helped you.

Napier Webinar: ‘Landing Pages: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ Transcript

Speakers: Mike Maynard

Good afternoon and welcome to our latest Napier webinar. In this webinar, we're going to look at landing pages, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And hopefully I've got everything set up. So it's all going to work now. Apologies for flicking backwards and forwards when we started to make sure all the the content was set up. So what are we going to do? Well, today, we're going to actually look at what makes a great landing page. So we're going to really try and understand not only what landing pages actually are and what their purpose is, but also how we need to make landing pages and what the industry thinks are basic rules of thumb to make good landing pages, we're going to look at what people do in terms of different landing pages. So we'll look at the automation industry, the software industry, will actually look at what some agencies are doing for their landing pages. And we'll also look at the experts, the people who run marketing automation platforms. And what we'll do is we'll try and have a look and work out what these guys are doing and what's good, and what's not. Or, in fact, what's the good, the bad and the ugly. And at the end of the webinar, we'll finish as we always do with five tips. So top five tips for landing page design, based upon, you know, partly best practice, but also a lot about what we've learned during the during the research we did prior to the webinar when we put together the content.

So we're gonna move on and start off by looking at what a landing page is. This is a Wikipedia definition of a landing page. And there's there's a lot to it. But basically, it comes down to what's highlighted in red. And so the first thing is a landing page is a single web page. I guess that's pretty much given away by the fact it's called a landing page. It is just a web page. But the key thing is, is the landing page display, directed sales copy, that's a logical extension of whatever is promoting that page. So an advertisement or search result or a link. And landing pages are generally used for lead generation. So these are the key things from what Wikipedia thinks is one page that fits within a campaign is a logical extension of whatever drives you to that page. And it should be used for lead generation. This is not necessarily what everybody believes in the landing page. And so we will see that the way some people use landing pages is slightly different. And we'll talk about whether that's the right or wrong way to do it in particular, how important it is to generate leads from a landing page. So we tried to do some research on what makes a great landing page. And lots of people on the internet have lots of very strong ideas about what works and what doesn't in landing pages. In fact, there were so many different ideas, we decided to pick out some of the more fun ones. So people recommended having the right sent to the landing page or the appropriate colours, or to include pain or to include pleasure. And these are all genuine recommendations from the web. And I think you know, the truth is, is that, as we'll see, there are some good practices that people should observe for landing pages, particularly when you're trying to focus on lead conversion.

But actually, ultimately, for all the advice on the internet, the great landing pages are the ones that work best. And there are two things really that landing pages need to do the first obviously, if their lead generation tool is to generate high quality leads, so landing pages should maximise the high quality leads. But also, and we'll look at this later on as we go through. Actually there is a real benefit in landing pages, minimising the number of people who register who aren't potential customers. So minimising the time wasters is a secondary thing, but actually, I think an increasingly important thing for great landing pages. And so I mean, in conclusion, you know, we've been out there we've looked at what all the experts say, whether they be marketing companies or marketing automation tools, vendors. And, you know, there are some general best principles, but few people agree on really what defines a great landing page. And so ultimately, we'd suggest that finding the pages that convert your audience, that's what really matters, and that's what is the most important thing for you and for anyone else building landing pages.

Those of you who are Napier clients, I know some Napier clients and some non-clients here, the Napier clients be familiar with our four step process. And our four step process actually works really well when it comes to looking at landing page development. So our four steps to determine focus, deliver and enhance, the first step determine is really to understand the situation. So what's the goal of the landing page? How does it fit into the campaign? What's it trying to achieve? And that's really important, because that then lets you set the metrics against which you're going to measure that landing page. The second step is focus. That's all about the audience and the messaging. So who are you targeting with the landing page? And then what are their motivations? What's driving them? To engage with you and download the content or fill in the form for whatever other reason? And particularly what stage of the customer journey are they likely to be in? Content offers and landing pages are very different for people who are existing customers, when compared with an audience that perhaps isn't familiar with your brand. So in that focus stage, really think about where the person might be in the customer journey. Delivery is obviously about creating the patient that's about following breast best practice. And what I'm trying to show you is that, you know, whilst there are people being very creative and putting a lot of effort into landing pages, actually, you can create fairly straightforward standard landing pages that are very effective without too much effort. And then the last stage in our four step process is enhance. And, you know, clearly, with landing pages, they are very measurable. So definitely measure test and test again, on those landing pages. It's important to remember, though, that, for a lot of b2b companies, the volumes are not huge.

So a lot of our clients are not looking to sell, you know, a vast number of products, as a consumer company would. So quite often, you'll find that the volume of people completing the form is fairly small. And that may not be enough to signify that any difference is statistically significant or not, I'm not going to go into the massive statistical significance. If you want to understand that a bit more, please play about with our tool we have on our website, which is an A B test tool. And it will actually tell you whether the difference is statistically significant or not. Basically, what that means is once it's statistically significant, the difference is probably due to performance actually being drift different, as opposed to just randomness of who goes to which page. And we see quite often people making decisions, when the sample sizes are so small, that actually it's far more likely to be randomness causing a difference in results, that a difference in performance. So, you know, please make sure you understand that when you do testing. And for this reason, we often see people doing different tests over a long period of time over several campaigns. So you may only be able to AB test one thing in each campaign you run, because you're focusing on high value, but relatively low volume form fills. So if you can keep learning from each campaign, the next campaign and the next campaign will be the best. So it's not necessarily keep testing and testing within one campaign, but across all of your campaigns. So this is really the way to approach it is to think about what we're doing today use this determine and focus stage to really understand what we need to do before we build the landing page and then test. From my point of view, where I see problems is where people think that it's all about design hacks, and it's all about using, you know, the right shade of red in the headline, it's not actually poorly planned campaigns will not really benefit from design hacks, they'll still perform poorly. And the only thing that is really going to work is planning the campaign well, and that needs you to think through the goals, the objectives and the audience and the messaging before you start building that landing page. So here's some ideas on what we think are great landing page designs. We've got eight points that we'd like to bring out. I think like everyone else on the internet, everybody's got their own views this is our view. And it's inevitably not that different from some of the other things you'll see. So the first thing and the most important thing is the landing page must fit the flow of the campaign. If you remember the Wikipedia definition, said that it should be related to the ad or the link that drove people to the landing page. This is crucially important and it is Incredibly often forgotten. So we'll see some landing pages today that really don't fit the flow.

The second thing is a great headline. And it's a great headline is one that resonates with your audience. It's interesting that HubSpot did some research A while ago. And they showed the single most important factor on a landing page, in terms of conversion was actually the name they gave to the content that they were offering. And that obviously is driven in the headline as well. So it's really important to make sure that the title of the content and the headline a really compelling clear layout is very important. It's generally a good idea to include bullet points to make it very easy for people to pick out the reasons why they need to download the content, or what they'll get from downloading the content. And typically, landing pages or standard are laid out in two columns, the left hand column, displaying, you know, what the content is about, and the right hand column being the form. And we'll see that used several times going forward this clear, simple, straightforward layout. And we can compare slightly different approaches from different companies. Calls to Action are very important on landing pages. And if we look at calls to action on landing pages, they really need to be calls to action. So don't be subtle or clever, you really need to very directly say, the reason why people need to download or why they need to fill in the form, and then drive them to do that. And we see people using calls to action very effectively in the headlines beneath the body copy above the form, and in particular on the form submission button as well. And here's a useful tip is on the form submission button, we always recommend highlighting what people are getting. So get my white paper now or download my white paper, rather than what they're doing submit my details. So if you emphasise what they're getting, that will typically increase the conversion rate, because psychologically, people are thinking about the benefit they get, rather than the cost in terms of the data they're giving up. The right copy is very important. And this just needs to be very clear and explain what the person will get for filling in the form. Make sure that copy is very direct. And don't make it too long, make sure it's concise. Shorter is always better on my landing page, the whole goal of the landing page is to get people to convert it is not to get people to spend hours reading detailed copy. So all the copies should be directed towards encouraging people to fill that form out. And as part of that, you really need this inescapable why and I guess this is what a lot of people call, you know, highlight the pain on landing pages. But hopefully the product or service that you're promoting through a landing page will actually have something that they solve. So a challenge or a problem that is going to be solved. So really making clear what the problem is and how you solve it. That inescapable Why is very important as part of that copy.

And we found that urgency definitely helps. And that can be as simple as download now or download today. But I think certainly, you know, what you don't want to do is have more laid back copy, it needs to be very enthusiastic copy. And it does need to say, you know, download now fill in the form now. And that, again, will increase landing page conversion rates. And then finally match the form fields to the offers. And this is a really interesting thing is that when we've looked at form fields, and how many fields are on that form, it's not always that shorter is better. And we've actually seen some landing pages convert better when we increase the number of fields. Now typically, most people particularly in b2b, have more fields than the visitor is prepared or keen to fill in. So typically, I would say reducing the number of fields, reducing the information is going to get better conversion rates. But sometimes when you offer a particularly high value piece of content, or you're offering something that's going to involve work, perhaps you're offering, you know, some sort of assessment or you know, an analytic tool for the customer, then actually then where the value is high. putting more formfields in can actually help increase the conversion rates. Because simply asking for an email when you're offering something of high value, it creates dissonance with the landing page visitor, whereas asking for details if you're clearly giving something of value It reinforces that value. And it seems to work. So really work on making the fields match the offer. And again, ultimately, the only way you can be sure about the right number of fields is by testing. So these are ideas that they are, I guess what you call hacks, as I referred to them earlier, so they don't compensate for poorly planned campaigns. So it's really important to make sure you do the planning. But all of these tips will help you. And we'll talk about some of these as we go through and look at different landing pages. So firstly, we need to find some landing pages to look at. And that's actually potentially quite challenging because most companies don't expose the landing pages that they use, they tend to only be accessible through campaigns. But they're fortunate there is an easy way to find landing pages. And that's by viewing Google ads. So here, people are paying ads and directing to a defined landing page that they've chosen. And so I think we can go and have a look and see what some companies are doing in terms of their landing pages for Google ads.

So the first search we did was looking for a 10 kilowatt variable frequency drive. So this is basically electronics that will power a motor. And a variable frequency drive is is an efficient way of doing that. And 10 kilowatts is a relatively low power level. So it's not a particularly difficult or unusual search, pretty common search and automation. And we produced a number of results when we ran the search. Obviously, if you've run any of these searches, now, you may see the same results, you may see slightly different ones. And this is why we've embedded it in the PowerPoint. So we've got the the pages we wanted to see. So if we look at this, there are four companies that appear at the top in the four potential ad spaces for variable speed drives. And so we're going to have a look and see which ones have the best landing page, what we'll do is we'll actually flip between the browser and the PowerPoint, so that you can see the landing page in full otherwise we'd have to truncate it on the presentation. So let's go have a look at who these four companies are and what they've done. So this is the first company, I'm not entirely sure how we pronounce it. But that is a Chinese company offering drives. And you can see, they've just routed to a product page. And this isn't great, because I'm left with a product page that I can scroll down, I'm not really sure even actually whether they make 10 kilowatt drives. I mean, I do know they make variable frequency drives, which is a start. But I don't know if they make the product I want and all the work is being left with me, I've got to do all the work to find out whether it's a Gd 20, or a Gd 350 that I really care about. And clearly, unless I'm experienced and know that different family names, none of these family names are really going to help me in terms of finding products.

And inverters UK do a similar thing. So perhaps a less attractive landing page. But here again, we see we've we've got a list of products. And we've got the opportunity to buy online or read more. I mean, unfortunately, with some of these products, we don't even know if the product is at 10 kilowatt drive. So we don't even know if it matches. So buying online is not going to be very helpful here. Because I'm not going to go and buy something, if I've got no idea whether it's the right product. And another company here on softstart, UK who are promoting Delta drives, they have an even more sparse product page. And this reading to product pages is quite common as a landing page. And generally speaking, it's a really bad idea. And you know, I have no idea where there are 200 or 2000, or as cp 2000. Drive is what I'm looking for. And it really doesn't help me it's putting all the work back onto me. And I'm very likely to move back and look for alternative suppliers that are easier to find. This is really not a great landing page again. However, not everybody routes to product pages. We actually have a company here KB who brought you to the homepage. And this is interesting because we've searched for variable speed drives a 10 kilowatt variable speed drive and variable speed drives don't actually appear on the landing page. So we go to their homepage, and we scroll down and it's going to tell me about their trade shows. But it's not actually She's going to tell me about their variable speed drives. So, again, not a great solution routing people to the homepage.

So let's summarise what we learnt here. So the product family landing page, so I'll call it, it's not really a landing page, it's a very lazy approach to doing things like Google ads, all you're doing is routing people to an existing page. And in this particular example, we've got a number of problems. So you know, there's a very weak headline, the layout is kind of confusing, there's an awful lot of links all over the place that I could click on. The copy is poor, it's not optimised for lead gen lead generation. And actually, if you look on the right hand side, I mean, the the hero banner primarily shows products that are not the product I want. And they do have a chat icon. So I mean, there's a potential there, I guess, to generate leads. The top thing is search your products. Well, I've already searched I mean, they should know what products I'm looking for, because they know what I searched. And then it's all down to me to try and understand which products and typically products are organised by product families. But the chances are, if I'm coming to the landing page from a Google ad, or from a LinkedIn ad, or some other web source, I probably am not an expert on the company, fact, I've probably got very little idea or awareness about the company, which is why they're running advertising. And so to then require me to navigate via a set of proprietary product family names is really hard work. And it's not a great way to great experience.

So it's not a great way to create a landing page. And the homepage is even less effective. As I said, it prevents presents content that is not related to our search. There's lots of distractions. And even if we click on the menu, and go and have a look at what they're good in Drive technology, even that doesn't tell me where whether or not they have a 10 kilowatt drive. So I have to start going in and looking and researching. It's, again, it's not a great solution. And it's a really bad experience for customers. So don't route people to the homepage. So we've given the world industry information quite a hard time over their landing pages. So perhaps we ought to either pick on another industry or find an industry that does it better. And so let's look at the software development industry. So static analysis is a general term for software that looks at code and tries to identify issues. We did try and search for a specific version of a static analysis tool. But actually, most of the time when we did that we were returned ads that weren't about static analysis tools. And this is very interesting, because we've actually seen some issues, even with this, these results here of poorly targeted ads. So I certainly think you know, one of the things we've learned is that software industry isn't very good at targeting. Anyway, let's have a quick look at some of the landing pages that we got from this search.

So the first landing page is a landing page here from synopsis. And it's an interesting landing page, I mentioned this two column layout, and you'll start seeing people use it in the software sector. So it appears that the software industry is a little more sophisticated. They are thinking about ways to drive leads and generate leads. And they have a landing page here with a form. That's, you know, using a pretty standard layout, it's a pretty ok, kind of landing page. The only problem is it doesn't really follow the flow. If you look at this, apparently synopsis is a leader for sassed, which is static application security testing, which is actually something that is slightly different from static analysis. So it's not quite the same tool as I was looking for. And it's also somewhat self centered in terms of a headline there. You'll also see there's a lot of different menu options here. If the goal is to get people to download the report, then why are you offering all these menu options, it makes no sense to do that. And it's just distracting from the the form, which is where you want people to concentrate. Parasoft is another company, again, similar layout. So we've got two columns here. Interestingly, they've used bullet points and made the bullet points very, very clear, which is generally a very effective way to increase conversion rates is to highlight what you get. And there's a couple of downsides to this page. I mean, the first is is the headline is anything but compelling. It doesn't actually even tell me What they're offering.

So there's a form, but it just tells me, you know that they make static code analysis tools. It doesn't tell me what it's offering, you have to read the text to do that. And you actually have to go and read the text on the form. And the other problem we see with this particular landing page is that were offered a white paper on how to choose a modern static analysis tool. But on the left hand side, the body copy that we have this paragraph of copy is all about how amazing parasoft is. And so again, in terms of that flow, I'm not sure I'm going to read how amazing parasoft is, and then believe they're offering me a truly independent white paper that that's going to help me choose the right tool, I'm just thinking, they're going to offer me a white paper that tells me choose parasoft, because that's the one we want to sell. And you'll see as a couple of extra foot film fields here. And so they're asking more information, which is likely to reduce the conversion rate, although phone numbers optional. And like synopsis, they've got a very clear message, download white paper on the button. Per force is another company, they're doing almost exactly the same offer as parasoft. So they're offering a white paper on how to choose the best static code analysis. But if you look at this, this is a little bit easier to read, it's a little bit nicer layout, don't have such a huge amount of body copy at the start. And they actually have more fields in their form. But I think this is, you know, possibly the best layout in terms of being something that's compelling and interesting. And again, of course, they're using the standard bullet points there in terms of making it clear as to why you need to download. There's nothing in the way of urgency here other than they've changed the download white paper to download now. So they've got a little bit of urgency with the other two didn't. But it's not really pushing and having clear calls to action. And then lastly, we've got a product here called sahi. Pro. I don't want to talk about this in too much detail. But they're offering a an option for a demo rather than downloading a white paper. So the question is, our people when they first discover your brand, likely to want to demo is the very first thing, or would they like something else? before that? So I don't know. I mean, these guys may be right. They may, they may be experts, but it feels a bit of a lazy landing page. In particular, they've got a completely useless form field here, which is your message. So this form you fill in to request a demo? I'm not sure what the message would be other than Can I have a demo, please. So we've got a completely pointless field in here that we really don't need. And I strongly recommend that they take it out. So let's have a look at a bit of a summary. And we'll also have another little dig at sorry, pro when we look at the the page in more detail.

So,again, we're trying to categorise these landing pages. And this is the independent report or White Paper Type landing page. And I think synopsis you know, did they do an okay job of it. It's not brilliant. It's not. It's not something that's compelling in terms of the offer. But the layouts clean, we could do with fewer menu options to distract us. And also, I guess the question is, you know whether this is the right thing for top of the funnel, and it may, it may well work for static analysis. I'm not sure. But often people want analyst reports once they've shortlisted companies, rather than right at the start. As I mentioned before, you know, unfortunately, it's actually about a slightly different topic, or a very specific form of static analysis. And this is an issue with some of the analyst reports. We see this with clients, where they've spent a lot of money on analysts reports. And I understand that, you know, these things are not cheap. They involve a lot of research, and they are really important to the company. But sometimes they get used a little too broadly. And it doesn't matter how compelling This is. If I want a static analysis tool to evaluate the code I've written for my automotive engine management system. I don't care about stuck in a static application security testing. It's not relevant to me because it's not security I want I'm looking for bugs. So they've pushed this white paper, in my mind to a little bit of a broad audience. And that's a mistake with landing pages is when you think you've got a great content offer. You try and offer it too widely, and then you don't fit that flow. You're not in the middle of the flow that really matters. The parasol font is similar, we're going to call it a white paper.

As I mentioned, you know, one of the issues here is the copy is not great. And the headlines not great, I think there's a lot they could do in terms of tidying up what they've written on the page, making it cleaner and clearer, and less of a marketing puff piece, and much more of a reason to fill in the form. Because ultimately, that's why they're running this campaign is to get people to fill the form. And the other thing as well we see with parasoft, is that parasoft have social media icons on their, on their landing page, I see this quite often, it's not uncommon. I always wonder why they're there. You know, I'm not sure anyone's going to tweet, hey, look, I've just clicked through on a parasoft Google ad, I think it's an unlikely thing to do. And I'm really not entirely sure whether they work or not. If they're rooting people to this page from other sources, maybe it would be more useful. But if you're looking at something that's purely driven by advertising, I'd probably remove those, because again, it's more distraction. And then finally, we've got the Asahi pro one, it's an interesting layout, it's still two cons, it's very broad, very wide. And the other thing as well is actually apart from very poor English in the copy. Once you've read the copy and understand what the product is, you actually work out it's not a static analysis tool. So one of the issues of offering something like a demo, is that if you get people requesting it, but you're not targeting the right audience, you could end up not only wasting their time, but wasting your time. So someone looking for a, you know, a C sought static analysis tool might end up arranging a demo with sorry, broke, because that's the only option they've got. And then very quickly, find in the demo, that they're wasting their time. And it's costing you as a company time to set that demo up. And it's also causing a really terrible experience for that user, who might well want test automation software in the future. But at the moment doesn't. So demos are very interesting and are used widely. And we'll see, particularly with some marketing automation tools, it's a very common offer. But equally, I think you have to be very careful that you don't make the big offer straightaway. Because although it's easy to pick on, you know, someone like sypro, who who've not targeted Well, it is actually very easy to find your ads, reaching an audience that's not quite the one you wanted. And you could end up with these spurious form fills. So that that's really where we are in terms of the software. And so what we'll do is we'll go on, and we'll have a look at marketing automation agencies. So we're not running any Google ads, I mean, but clearly, we're going to marketing automation agencies, these are the experts, these guys are going to be awesome. They gotta be awesome.

Although actually, you'll notice SharpSpring, which isn't a marketing automation agency, is running Google ads against marketing automation agency, which probably isn't great. And those guys should really know because their marketing automation company, and again, you know, maybe it works, maybe it's amazing, but my gut feel is almost certainly SharpSpring is probably not getting great results from this particular search. Because people don't want a platform, they've got to run themselves, they want an agency to do it for them. So these three ads, we're gonna look at two, we're gonna look at the the two agencies. And we won't look at the SharpSpring ad that's not related to agencies. So let's see how good the experts are. Interestingly, and none of these were set up, by the way, they all these searches were done, and put together based on some ideas that came to mind. I wasn't looking for things that didn't work. If I click through to protocol, they send me to their homepage.

These guys are the experts in marketing automation, and they send me to their homepage. And if you look at this, you know, it's not really what I want to see if I'm looking for a marketing automation. I mean, there's a special offer here how to unlock the potential of marketing automation. I don't actually want to unlock it. I want an agency to unlock that for me. And okay, as we scroll down, that there are more relevant calls to action. So here's a speak to a consultant today call to action. And we can scroll down and there's actually a free ebook about what is market automation. So they do have some offers that will route to landing pages that have forms and we can have a look at one of these forms now. By clicking on the E book, and you can see again, a slightly different version on what I call the industry standard sort of two column landing page with the pitch here, and then the form on the right. Interestingly, if you look on the right, they're only asking for first name and email address, which actually I think is very worth worth considering. Because these guys do understand about conversion. And they know when they get to the form, that you actually don't need to get everything first time. Once you've got that email address, you can keep communicating. And you can use progressive profiling, keep asking more questions, to understand more about that person. And interestingly, as well, they've got a download and read button here, really pushing the benefit, you're not just going to download an ebook, you're actually going to get to read it. So really highlighting the benefits side. The other agency that appeared on the Google Ads was a company called clevertouch. And interestingly, again, here, clevertouch don't actually read a specific landing page, they read the page that talks about their Marketo services. Now, the first thing I'd say is that Marketo isn't the only marketing automation system in the world. In fact, you know, the good news is, is SharpSpring told me that when I searched, but also obviously, there's HubSpot, and aliqua, and pardot. And all these other systems. So the first thing you're going to do is you're going to get people coming, looking for a martial Information Agency, that then get routed to a landing page that might immediately turn them off. And it's very interesting. So I think here, you know, clevertouch are being very clear. I mean, they're saying their market. So it's really clear right at the top. And they're prepared to pay for clicks from people who don't use Marketo. Because they clearly feel that marketing automation agency is the right search term for them. So they've, I think, almost deliberately got some dissonance here between the ads, and the search term. And then where they route people to, they do actually mention on the ad their market partner as well. And then if we scroll down the page, we can see that there's lots of different information. There's some social proof with some awards. And also some customers. And then as we get to the bottom, we have the form. And they have a fairly simple form here. And they're asking for a job title, company name. And they're also asking for phone number. So asking for quite a lot. So two very different approaches from agencies that are basically direct competitors. But overall, I didn't really see anything that was particularly different from the software, guys. I mean, you know, all the previous companies, so there was a homepage routing. And there was actually a product page. But what I'd like to see is, you know, really what marketing automation companies do.

So these guys have the best data, they have more data on what works and what doesn't. And they should really know. So we're going to have a look and see what's current best practices. So we did some searches. And one of the things we did was was Have a look at HubSpot very popular marketing automation system. I wonder what competitors say and one of the competitors a company called engagement. It's quite a small company relative to HubSpot. And they have a landing page that I found fascinating. If we look at clarity and compelling copy, they're very direct. It is the best HubSpot alternative apparently. And so they're making it clear what they're doing. Don't buy HubSpot by us. They're also highlighting the pain. And HubSpot has a reputation for being relatively expensive. And you can see here there's a very clear highlight of the difference between the HubSpot cost and the engage PayPal cost. So they are being very, very aggressive in terms of highlighting the pain and how they fix it. And they've also got some great bullet points here, you notice they don't have any body copy at all. It's some headings and bullets. And I think a lot of us marketers, we actually quite like writing we quite like the look of our own copy. And sometimes we should take a step back. This is really quite a compelling landing page. And then lastly, and they only asked for the email address, so they're not asking for anything else other than the email address. These guys know that with marketing automation. Once you have an email address, and you can engage with somebody, you can then start building the lies you don't have to get it all up front.

A similar approach is taken with a company called Active Campaign. Active Campaign, I basically routing to a landing page, very different copy. Again, they don't use bullet points, they just asked for your email address. And both of these are starting free trial. As I mentioned, this is very copy and marketing, very common in marketing automation. We can scroll down and see that they've got, you know, rankings from GT, which is a online ranking site. And then they've got lots of information here about the product. And when we get to the bottom again, we've again got a form. So they've got two forms on the page. And they're looking to get people to sign up and promote that is obviously targeted around getting as many leads as possible. But interestingly, you see, they're trying to ask the questions, answer the questions first. So there's quite a lot of information here. And actually, this may be might be an indication of a landing page where a company is trying not to overdo the, the number of leads and focus on people who really are genuinely interested.

So just to recap what we've seen there. And really, I mean, this is what we call the competitive landing page. So this is the HubSpot versus engaged Bay. And we think it's a great example of a good compelling landing page, where you're looking at comparing yourself against another vendor. The immediate trial, as I said, it's not unusual for software as a service, probably won't work in many other industries. So it's not necessarily something we recommend quite often with, you know, clients we're working with, they're offering, you know, b2b equipment, technical equipment, that can cost a huge amount of money. So free trial is not the way to go. It's much more about providing information. But because of free trial costs engaged by nothing, it clearly makes sense for them to do it. So we kind of dropped a hint on recent landing page trends. And it's interesting to see where some of the other marketing automation companies are going. And our opinion is, is that actually, they're really focused on high quality leads, they're not focused on quantity. And this is interesting, because pretty much all of these marketing automation platform companies, they produce platforms, that will give you pure conversion rate, you know, there were this many form fields for this many pages, and no indication of quality in the standard reporting. And so it's interesting, these guys have worked it out. But maybe they haven't quite fed that back into the tools. So what we're going to look at is look at a couple of, you know, longer content rich pages. And there'll be seen to be split into sections, you'll notice different calls to action, and actually different ways of achieving the call to action as well, that we'll talk about as we go through.

So this example here, which is Active Campaign is a good example, where each different section describes a little bit more about the products. So it's a good example of, of the sort of layout, but we see this with many other vendors. So here's another vendor. So Salesforce, and here you can see Salesforce, creating a landing page that's quite long, that's got a call to action at the top to watch a video, it's got information on Salesforce here, we've then got a guided tour offer, we've got more videos in the tour again. And then we've got to talk to the experts. And then we've got a free trial right at the bottom. So Salesforce have taken the view that actually if people get to the bottom, they're probably interested. And so they're probably at the point where I want to try and convert them to a free trial. But they don't want to do it at the top. So unlike Active Campaign, they're looking at a slightly different approach here. But you notice there's different ways to look at content. So you can view a video or you can talk to experts, or you can have a free trial. And that's mixed on the same page. Now, this is very interesting, because typically, you'll hear a rule saying don't mix calls to action, one call to action per page. But actually, all they're trying to do is get you to engage. And I think it's actually very much the same type of call to action. But for different formats, whether people want to see a video, or talk to a salesperson or try the product themselves. That's what they're offering. So it's the same offer, but for different ways for really to meet the needs of different people who could land on the page. HubSpot also do something similar. Now interestingly, HubSpot leave a few menu options at the top. So a limited number of menu options, not the full website menu. And I can tell you that you know, two years ago HubSpot was telling every agency to take out every menu option from the top it didn't work so they've done some testing and changed their mind. on that, but this is a another uncompetitive landing page. And interestingly here, they're pushing a demo. So we've got a button at the top to get a demo, we then got a button almost immediately get a demo in the middle, we then start talking about why, as we move on, there's a lot of copy here to work through. As we keep going lots of lots of copy, lots of information about the products, and eventually another call to action to get a demo. And clearly, this is, you know, looking to make sure people really understand what they're getting when they when they use HubSpot. And so that was the landing pages that we wanted to cover. I mean, I think it's interesting what we're seeing with some of these content, rich landing pages, they do require an awful lot of effort to create. And I would say that if you're not at the stage, where you're creating, you know, really solid two column, you know, landing pages, and you're targeting multiple landing pages, so that the content on the landing page matches what's driven the person for the landing page, don't try and get into building these content, rich landing pages, they're very time consuming, very expensive. And you're just going to struggle to build enough that work. You know, and HubSpot, literally, for example, has a landing page that looks at how they compare to competitors for all their different major competitors. So they've built multiple long landing pages that are just those competitive ones.

The one thing I would say about some of these longer landing pages, though, is that they're actually very good for SEO most landing pages are terrible for SEO, because we're not trying to put content in to make people read the copy, we're trying to put content in to make people download the form. And so they're not desperately engaging pages from Google's point of view, whereas these longer ones are. So there may be an opportunity to create some here. But as I say, you know, you have to get right. And these more complex landing pages require a lot of testing, because if you're not careful, all you do is you distract the person from the call to action, and you never get a conversion, it's much harder to get to get conversions from here, you've really got to design the page, right? So you need a volume of people coming to that page, and you need time to test it to make sure it works. So our recommendation initially is actually the standard two column for most clients, and for most campaigns, is probably the best and most effective way to create landing pages that will give you the best return on investment.

So what are our top five landing page tips? Well, tip one is to create custom landing pages, don't ever route people to your homepage or a product page, it just isn't a good experience, and create many different custom landing pages so that the experience is as smooth as possible, from whatever search or LinkedIn ad, or even link on your email that you've provided people. The second thing is get the targeting rights. And of course, you know, one of these landing pages I talked about that try and filter out the people who are not really interested, they're important if you've not got the targeting, right, if you have got the targeting perfect, and you're only attracting people or potential customers, just get them to fill the form. And straightaway, there's no need to do any more filtering. And I'd recommend being clear and very direct. And and you'll notice that you know, the people who are the experts, the market automation companies, they're not shy about being brave. They're not British when it comes to landing pages. So be very clear about what you're offering and why people should fill it in, and particularly on the calls to action. And we've talked about getting the why right, you know, and I think the engage Bay landing page where it really highlighted the issue of cost and limitations on HubSpot versus engage Bay. That was a pain point for a lot of companies. And they were very clear about how they solved it by charging a lower price.

So I think getting that pain point, right, the pain point for probably most of the people listening on the call today for everybody will not be price, it'll be something else, but understand what you're solving and make it really clear. And finally, don't ask for too much information. And if you look at the the forms that you get from the market information companies, you know, typically they're just asking for email because they know they can use the tool to then get the other information about that person. And there's also data enrichment tools you can use as well that you can generate information as well. So if you've got an email, you can sometimes look up you know, company name and things like that. And then finally, you know, the bonus tip and if you've sat with us through this whole webinar is probably a bit of a downer, but your audience is unique. Nobody's got the answers. We certainly don't have all the answers. So do test different approaches, I mean, follow best practice, but don't follow it to the point that you're not prepared to try different things. You know, some approaches will work with some audiences, and some will work with others. But, you know, it's really important to test and find out what works with you. And then finally, as a summary, you know, the landing pages take work, I mean, it really does take time to create these landing pages, particularly of creating a significant number. But if you're spending a lot of money driving traffic to your website, through ads, or through social or through email marketing, getting the landing page, right is really the key thing in terms of driving the number of leads you're gonna get. And so the payoff from getting the right landing pages is huge.

So thank you very much for listening. And I'm afraid I'm very aware that we've overrun our 45 minutes. So what I suggest I do is if anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me, Mike at Napier b2b dot com, all post in the chat. And what I do is I will make sure that I reply to everyone and cover all those questions by email. And so if you've posted in the chat, I will get back to you via email. So thank you very much. I really appreciate your time. And hopefully we can work together on landing pages.

MachineBuilding.net Welcomes New Editor

Last year, we shared the news of MachineBuilding.Net 's new ownership, and so we were delighted to receive an announcement from the MachineBuilding.Net's team who are welcoming Brian Wall as their new editor.

Known by many in the industrial sector, Brian began his career as a 'classically trained' journalist before moving into technical and engineering publishing. He has been an editor and feature writer across a number of leading titles including Transport Engineer, Engineering Designer (published on behalf of the Institution of Engineering Designers) and FAST Magazine.

With Google analytics revealing that visitor traffic at the website has more than doubled, and sales revenues having also leapt significantly since the acquisition, it's clear to see it's an exciting time for the publication, and we wish Brian the best of luck in his new role.


Handling and Storage Ceases Publishing

The Handling and Storage Publication in Madrid has announced the decision to cease publishing of the print magazine and associated news portal due to the retirement of long term Director Tomás B. Abascal.

Although we are always sad to see a publication close its doors, we wish Tomas the very best in his retirement.

Napier Named as 'Rising Star' by B2B Marketing and Shortlisted for Elektra Award

It's been a week filled with positive news here at Napier, and we are delighted to share that we have been named as a Rising Star agency in the B2B Marketing UK Agencies Benchmarking report 2021. Ranking as number three on the B2B Marketing UK 'Rising Stars' league table, we also appear in B2B Marketing's top UK agency list and in the fastest-growing 15 agencies.

We are also honoured to have been shortlisted twice for best campaign of the year at the Elektra Awards 2020, with our clients Vicor and Semtech.

It's great to have the hard work of the Napier team recognized and we would like to thank our clients for their continued support.

Electronic Specifier to Host 'The Electronics Industry, COVID, Brexit - what will 2021 Hold?' Webinar

Electronic Specifier has announced a new webinar titled 'The Electronics Industry, COVID, Brexit - what will 2021 hold?'. Due to be held on the 24th March 2021, 2pm GMT, the webinar addresses the unprecedented year we all faced in 2020 and will feature industry experts who will offer their perspective from three different areas of the industry. The experts will take a look back on the last year and how it affected the electronics industry, as well as providing insight into 2021 and what the future may hold. Speakers will include:

  • Adam Fletcher, Chairman of the Electronic Components Supply Network (ECSN) who will provide the perspective of the electronics industry as a whole.
  • Rob Rospedzihowski, President of Sales EMEA of Farnell an Avnet Company who will provide insight from the world of distribution.
  • Mark Davies, Global Head of Sales at Harwin who will provide the point of view of the manufacturer.

At Napier, we are looking forward to what will be a really interesting webinar, and what we are sure will reveal some fantastic perspectives into the current shape of the electronics industry.

To register for the webinar, please click here. 

The Energyst Launches Modern Fleet Publication

The Energyst publication has recently announced the launch of its new EV magazine, Modern Fleet.

With the EV market growing rapidly, Modern Fleet aims to address the issues businesses face in the energy management sphere. With a focus on targeting those responsible for managing fleet and energy infrastructure within an organisation, the publication addresses energy problems that were once a side issue for fleet managers, but which have now come to the fore due to the UK target to have Net Zero emissions by 2050.

The magazine is split into three core areas and covers:

  • The latest electric cars, and development in fuel cell vehicle technology
  • News on charging infrastructure, covering the latest charging kit, apps, maps and standardisation and battery management
  • Energy management including V2G, onsite generation, grid connection and hydrogen supply

At Napier, we are always delighted to receive an announcement of a new publication, and it's great to see that Modern Fleet will address relevant and important issues within the EV market.

To find out more information, and to read the first edition of the magazine, please click here. 

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Chris Newton - Intellimize

In our latest episode on Napier’s Marketing B2B Technology Podcast, we interview Chris Newton, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Intellimize, a website optimization company, that intelligently optimizes each buyer’s path to drive more revenue, and more leads from websites.

Find out more about Intellimize, as well as Chris's insights into why website optimization can have real meaningful impact, by listening to the episode here. 

To stay up to date when a new episode is live, click one of the below links to subscribe:

Transcript: Interview with Chris Newton - Intellimize

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Chris Newton

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 the latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm talking to Chris Newton, who's the vice president of marketing and business development at Intellimize. Welcome to the podcast, Chris.

Chris: Hey, Mike. So happy to be here today. Thanks for inviting me.

Mike: Thanks so much for coming on. Do you want to give me a little bit of background about your career, you know, what you've been doing in the past? And how it's led to you joining Intellimize?

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I maybe take a little bit of an unusual path to get here. I started as an engineer in college, when flew planes for the Navy for a while, went to business school and somehow ended up in marketing where I have worked at a number of organisations leading marketing, you know, startups Exactly. In the sales compensation space, most recently at Influitive. Prior to Intellimize, were building out customer communities. And excited to come to Intellimize A little over a year ago, I was really drawn to the opportunity by the people that were here, really, the founders are so impressive and, and their leadership and team and vision, I was thinking about who do I want to spend every day with solve problems with and you can really, I guess, optimise your career around the paycheck or how you want to feel every day. And those folks were people I wanted to join this company and build it up with. And the second thing was really about the product itself is unlike anything I'd seen and solved a core problem that I had experienced firsthand as a marketer, which, you know, was so compelling. And so when you see customers getting value out of it, it resonates with you. And you know, I've never seen a Mar tech solution before that was actually showing somebody the incremental dollar value, like what have you done in the last 30 days? How much money is this worth to my organisation? Huge numbers right at the top of the main dashboard, it was really cool. I felt like this was the start of something new. And I wanted to see how I could be part of it. So that's how I ended up at Intellimize and have been here a little over a year, like I said.

Mike: Awesome. So you swapped a fighter jet cockpit for a marketing dashboard? I'm not sure that's a that's necessarily a move up and exciting, is it?

Chris: Well, yeah, it's a different kind of exciting, I guess, or Hey, I was actually flying p3. So we were chasing submarines back when there used to be more submarines to chase. Wow,

Mike: Oh, that's cool. But now you've you've moved into website optimization. I mean, that's not necessarily an area people get too excited about I mean, what why does that excite you? What do you think is, is new and different about it?

Chris: Well, I think marketers spend so much time and money, thinking about, Hey, how are we going to run programmes that reach out to people and we're going to get people to come to the website, and we're going to do ABM campaigns that get people to come to the website, and we're going to do, you know, paid ads and spend all this money to get people to come to our landing pages. And that's good. But like, we're thinking about this all the time, and that I feel like some of the incremental gains that can be had there, you know, maybe harder to come by then what if we just focus on the website and those landing pages, there's a huge opportunity to improve the experience, the engagement, and the conversions on the site, right, there's a meaningful business value. If you get more of the people that are already on your site, to do the things you want them to do to convert in ways you want them to convert, and maybe that's a purchase of something in a shopping cart and checkout. Or maybe it's a sign up for a free trial, or download some content or engage, you know, with a subscription to your newsletter. If you only raise those conversions by a few percentage points, and as our customers have seen, on average, like 46%, can you dramatically drive business results, you can have a real meaningful impact and change what you're doing. So all of those efforts, everything that you're focusing on to get people to the website is now worth a lot more than it was before. So that's why this area is so exciting to me.

Mike: So 46% a huge number. But I mean, traditionally, I guess it's been done by a B testing. And that's, that's a hard grind. I mean, I saw on the website, I think you said this, this is actually something you came up with was this comment, friends don't let friends run A/B tests. I mean, I love the thought of not having to run A/B tests anymore. But can you explain how you optimise without running A/B tests manually?

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I was having a bit of fun with that headline, I have to say, and it's one of a dozen or so that are running on the site. Right now we're of course, optimising and measuring and see what what works and what makes sense. There's a couple other fun ones, you know, you know, stop a B tests and like it's 2012 it's another that I like a lot. You know, there's no experimentation is good, right? And I've spent so much time in my career, probably guilty is the right word to use feeling guilty about not running more AV tests, there's so much work though. And they're so slow, and they're so limiting and what you can actually test. And so it always just kind of got to be a lower priority. And what we're talking about friends, old friends, run a B tests with machine learning, we have a far better way to run a lot more experiments and get a lot more value, it's less work for the marketing team, the results are going to come in faster, the results they're going to end up with, they're going to be better. So you know, I would say anybody's still do AV testing. They're just, they're wasting their time. They're settling for less, you know, that friends can allow it the way I see it, right? So that's how I got with that headline. And I think that, sure, it's meant to be a little bit provocative. People are thinking about, well, I should be doing more experimentation. Absolutely. I don't want to say that's not it. But hey, there's better ways than A/B testing.

Mike: That's, that's awesome. I love the idea of it being faster, better, and also less painful. That sounds great. And so if someone was using a telomeres to optimise, say, their homepage or landing page, how would they go about it? I mean, what's the process? If it's simpler than a B testing? I mean, what are you doing as a marketer?

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. So we, we have a weekly meeting with every one of our customers. So maybe we just start, you know, talking about it from that standpoint. So as we sit down, we've got a conversion rate optimization expert meeting with our client, and we'll talk to them about their, their website or their landing pages. And we'll say, hey, what are what are you experiencing today? What's, you know, what kind of results are you getting? What are you trying to do and, and let's talk about programmes or campaigns or things you might be running that are important context for, you know, some of the messaging and copying might, we might want to test or experiment with instead of what's there on the base site today. And we'll bring in some ideas from things that we've seen work on other sites. So it sort of starts with, you know, some ideation around what we want to get done. And, you know, through that process, we're identifying all these different things we want to test and establishing what are the goals of testing it. And we feed those into the intelligence platform, we actually have web development resources that help people code these things up. So you don't have to rely on you know, your own dev organisation or client team to do that we can, we can make that come to life for you.

And clients, actually, you know, you've met one week, you've picked five ideas that you want to have you on the website, they come back, you know, either before that they can log into the app or the next weekly meeting comes around, you can review it together, and they get to look at in preview mode, what each of these things is going to look like when it comes live on the site. And if they like it, they just click a button. And now it's moved into rotation. And what intelligence does with all these ideas, is we run them in parallel. So even if you had a really simple, you know, Page Setup, where you had four images, and four headlines and four CTAs. And that was the only things you were doing that still 64 different possible page combinations that we can serve up, right. And we will look at the data for visitors that come in, you know, contextual data, behavioural data, maybe there's firmographic, or demographic information that's available about them. And the machine is going to quickly learn with each visitor, each successive visitor to the site, which of these possible page combinations resonate the most, and work the most in terms of driving conversions that are aligned to those goals that you set at the beginning. So the in the simple way is come up with a bunch of ideas to test, let the system run a whole bunch of those in parallel, and serve up the ones that are going to have the biggest impact. And that's the way to think about what we do.

Mike: And so that the system is handling all that complex maths to work out, what's the best combination, rather than testing each thing individually. It's doing simultaneous tests, and then presumably some quite complex number crunching.

Chris: Yeah, so you know, there's, there's a whole category of work that we're used to with A/B testing around, managing those tests and looking for statistical significance and, and waiting for that to play out. And, you know, depending on the traffic to your site, that can take quite a while sometimes you never get good results. If the test if you know, the two things are, are, you know, similar in performance, you never get a clear winner. I think the advantages of our approach are that because we're optimising each and learning with each visitor, we're able to start shifting traffic towards the ones the ideas that are performing better and gaining more value for the organisation. without waiting, we don't have our bar that's quite as high. We don't have to answer what's best for everyone forever. always like, that's what statistical significance is meant to tell you. We're looking for what's best for this group, you know, this micro segment of people that have these characteristics, really with, you know, our average customer, they're testing 177 ideas, 78 million different page combinations is what that turns into. That's more possible segments than there are visitors to the site A lot of times, right? And so how do we decide which of those are the appropriate things to show to the individual that's there, that's what the machines doing for you. And you can't manage that there's no way to scale that if you know where the human A/B testing, there's no way you can run those tests quickly enough, and completely enough to get the comprehensive experimentation at scale that this approach allows us.

Mike: That's fascinating. I mean, you talk about all these tests that people are running simultaneously. I mean, obviously, if you're doing classic AV testing that would require incredible traffic volumes. I mean, presumably, you still need a pretty huge traffic volume for this, or am I wrong?

Chris: Well, I think he probably huge isn't the word. But let's talk numbers a little bit, we'd like to see, you know, a great place for us as if we've got 1000 uniques a page, you know, in a day, or 30,000 a month, maybe if you're measuring monthly, that's a fantastic place for us to start. A lot of great b2b sites that we work with, you know, are in that range, or, you know, you don't necessarily need the huge consumer volumes, consumer site volumes to have this work, it will work with lower volumes than that, and I and some of our customers absolutely are a little bit lower than that just takes a little bit longer. It's always going to be faster than a B testing. I'll be clear about that. But it really may not take as much traffic as you think. But yes, it is helpful to have that baseline 30,000 pageviews a month and up, and that's going to give the machine the kind of the right pace that it needs to learn and understand and make those decisions in a way to drive really great results for your team.

Mike: That's amazing. I mean, 30,000, pageviews is not a huge number for b2b that, you know, you can certainly clearly do things with a traffic level that you know, sometimes you wouldn't get the A B test result until the campaign's done I think.

Chris: Yeah. And like I I said, we're working on on this a little bit we were talking to people about it and and one of the marketers I was talking to she she looked at me she's like never you never like it doesn't get doesn't give you an answer. I don't care how long you wait, like you can't get a result. And that's what we're trying to fight against. How do we help people like that, that have, you know, some traffic get better business results? Now, they can't wait for that test that that may never come through?

Mike: Fascinating. So you think you're an interesting company, actually, because rather than selling marketing technology as a almost a self serve, web based product? You're selling that consultancy, as well? I mean, is that because it's difficult to use? And you need to support customers? Or why don't you provide the consultancy?

Chris: Well, I think we have learned that there are some specific skill side, I don't know that it's overly complex, although certainly the, you know, the web developers, those guys don't find it complex. But for me, it would be pretty complex if I tried to do that. But these are experts that really understand these things, the intricacies of, hey, what's possible with you know, conversion rate optimization, what kind of experiences should we be thinking about what has worked in other situations, like the nuances of how do you optimise a shopping cart to, you know, have that completion step that is, you know, so important to, to make the actual purchase, they're going to have seen some of these things before and bring that kind of expertise.

The reason that we incorporate our offering with both the platform and the services, is we've seen that it drives far better results for our customers, we have this weekly cadence of meetings, there's always new ideas five a week coming into the system is that is the goal that we set with each client. And as the machine has more options, or things that it might test, and, and work with, you're going to get better results. So if you learn this week, hey, we tried these five things, two of them weren't any good. Two of them were pretty good. And, and one was fantastic. Let's take that one. That was fantastic. And let's come up with five new ideas like that. Right. And so it's that, and those are going to take you even beyond where you you got to the week before. And so it's that weekend, week out constant iteration, improvement refinement, like you don't get to the 46%. On the first week, that happens after, you know, we've worked through some cycles and some iterations and learned what is working for different groups and how do we set these things up and understand the types of changes that are really going to make an impact on the site and Because of the way we're able to work with websites, really, everything's up for grabs. And in a lot of ways, we had a recent webinar where Sumo logic as a customer, were talking about things that they were doing on their pricing page, things that they were doing in the nav menu, changing the organisational structure, including pop up CTAs, within the menu, all kinds of different ideas, whatever you think, might make a difference to the customers, and the people that are interacting on your site, and help them find what they need, so that they might convert and the way you hope they do. Those are all things that that we want to talk about and figure out how to test and see if those ideas are actually any good or not.

Mike: That's amazing. I mean, it sounds very much like one of the conclusions, we ran a webinar recently about AI marketing, and we came to the conclusion that AI is not necessarily going to put us all out of a job, but it's gonna make us all much, much better at our jobs. And I think, you know, you've almost got that combination of personal and AI making a superhuman.

Chris: Yeah, I mean, we like to say, I don't know that AI is going to push people out of their job. What I do think is, AI is going to make people much more effective. And we want to marry the humans and the things that they're so good at, with the things that the machine is good at. So that what's the machine good at, it's fantastic attesting all of these things, and looking at all the nuances of the data that are available in the browser that it can use to determine who might see what, and build on that and refine all those ideas. Fantastic. It can run, like I said, you know, millions of page combinations and keep that all straight. People can't do that. But what people can do is come up with the next creative idea, they can write that ad copy. And we don't want to hand over the creative decisions. And that may, you know, to the machine because people are so good at that. But companies have invested a lot to establish these band brands, and they've marketers are creative on how to build on that brand, and how to how to engage their audience. And if I'm marketing to a marketer, something that's maybe slightly cheeky, like friends, don't let friends or an AV test could work well. But that might not be the exact thing I want to try. If I'm, you know, selling to other types of buyers that that don't appreciate that in the same way, right? There might be something else for the persona that we're trying to reach there, that's gonna be different. And that's what the humans bring to it that, you know, the humanity married with with the machine can do that gets us the best result.

Mike: Interesting. And I guess, sometimes you can have the humans having ideas of what would work better? And actually, it turns out that they're wrong. I mean, do you have any, any examples of insights you've had from the system that have been either surprising or, you know, perhaps change the way you approach things?

Chris: Well, I think we're often wrong, a lot of things that we try, don't work. And but you know, one of the things that was kind of most surprising to me is actually, that it's so there aren't a lot of universal truths. Maybe there's a few but a lot of times, things are so different in different situations. We had a one of our customers from RV was speaking Reckitt Benckiser was speaking about the work she's doing with directs and shawls. And she said that, you know, we're dealing with, you know, France, Europe, and the UK, and German markets and different websites for each. And she was saying that pretty much anything that works in the UK, will not work in France doesn't matter. Whatever it is, it's not gonna work. The buyers are different, they look at the site differently, they have different things. And so you have to understand, you may have a hypothesis, that's where you always want to start. But you have to understand that what you think of as best practice or something that's proven, and we just know, this works. And we can apply it in different contexts. And even for the same brand, just changing that regional location, made all the difference in the world. And you can imagine it's even more different from one brand to another, especially when your goals and objectives and the things you're trying to do are, are different than you know than the others might be doing. So that's what's so surprising to me is that there aren't the universal truths. And it was it gets us back to the reason. We like to let the machines figure these things out in each individual specific context, so that we do end up with the best answer for that client.

Mike: That's, that's fascinating. I mean, I think we all search for the magic bullet solution. I think we all know deep down inside, it probably doesn't exist.

Chris: Yeah, always a challenge.

Mike: So one of the things I'm really interested in with the use of AI is that quite often you're looking for conversions in terms of lead generation. And obviously, with b2b it's not just the number of form fields. You It's actually the quality of those form fields. And whether they turn out to be customers. And if they turn out to be customers, maybe how much they spend. I, I'm intrigued to know, how do you deal with that within a system that that's tied into the web? Can you understand value of leads?

Chris: Yeah, that's the that's the thing. So we have the ability to set multiple goals, objectives on, you know, each page on it, you know, for the different experiments that you're running, there can be different things that you're, you're trying to accommodate, accommodate or accomplish on that page. And each one can have its own value. So these things are weighted in different ways. So the high value conversations are more highly prioritised by the system. And there's, you know, some really good examples of customers that are sort of simultaneously increasing quality and decreasing quantity at the same time. one that comes to mind is Looker shared a story like this at the serious decision summit, where they were driving 44%, more sales qualified leads for the sales team, and at the same time decreasing the total quality quantity of leads that were being passed.

So the sales guys were getting more of what they wanted those qualified leads, and less of what they didn't want, you know, the leaves that weren't going to go anywhere. You know, another great example of this is our customer drift on their site. They're their biggest traffic pages that powered by page, everybody sees the drift bot on different sites, and you have the opportunity to click through and see, hey, how is this working? And you can see what's powered by this company draft and what do they do and on that site, they are looking at the data about you and they're able to pull in data from different sources, firmographic data and understand, hey, this is someone that's from a large enterprise, this is someone from a small business, and they can quickly we don't change what happens in that drift bot itself. But we can, there could be multiple ones that are there to serve. And that's in fact, what happens where we can lead someone down the path of for a small business, you know, self service, you know, free trial, if it's a larger company, let's lead you down the path to talk to sales and set up a custom demo for what that might look like there. And so you can, in that case, get those highest quality, highest value, large company leads to the you know, the human sales selling organisation, and at the same time, provide a strong experience for the smaller business that they're able to come in and spend themselves up and figure out, Hey, does this work for me or not? From the self service side?

Mike: Well, it sounds like we're back to the better results with less effort, which is great.

Chris: Well, you have to be this is where, you know, you'd be a little clever, and you think about what's coming and how do we want to divide this and how do we set it up? And then those are the conversations that we have weekend, week out with our, you know, conversion rate experts, and that's how we can help these companies accomplish those goals. Cool.

Mike: I mean, you said that you don't need huge amounts of traffic. But it feels to me that there's a lot of technology behind this product. And also there, there's a lot of manpower. I mean, is this a really expensive technology?

Chris: We always look at the expensive in terms of you know, what's the ROI with every client, we we look at the opportunity, if we are able to increase conversions on this website by some, you know, reasonable percentage, let's just say 10%? Not the, you know, our average that we've seen, but 10%, what does that mean, in terms of a business value, and if we can look at that, and understand and see opportunities for us to work with them and apply this technology in a good way. And it's sure a solid ROI that justifies the business case. And we feel good about working with those folks. I mean, you can only say an investment is expensive. If there's not, you know, a commensurate payback, right. So we're certainly not the, you know, a cheap solution, if you're just looking at the, you know, the price, this is not this is a significant investment, but you're looking for submit, like, game changing, you know, meaningful business results that are going to come out of this. And, and that's why we think the investment is warranted.

You know, the team that pulled this together are the founders of the company used to run, you know, a engineering team at Yahoo with hundreds of people that was doing all the machine learning, driving the content, personalization, when Yahoo was the largest busiest website, on the web. And they've taken those learnings refined them over the years and built this package application that works for smaller volumes for the more flexible cases. And that we're working with using with all these clients that we have today. And it's that kind of unique background and experience and pedigree and understanding, you know, what you can do with hundreds of engineers with machine learning and, and distilling it into the solution we have today. There is a lot of complexity and technology and, you know, learning that's baked into this but that's why we get the results. We do.

Mike: Amazing. And do you see AI actually driving the cost down? I mean, presumably, the AI will be able to do more and more over a period of time. Do you see that? accessibility to AI tools increasing for marketers?

Chris: I think it's possible. But what I see happening faster is we're getting better in the way we're applying AI and driving better and better results from the the technology. So we're looking at how do we take what we're doing today and learn even faster? And and help companies, you know, more quickly identify those highest value leads that we were talking about a minute ago and more quickly achieve the business results that they're going after? And I think, in our case, we're we're a lot more focused in the conversations with our customers of, you know, how far can we push this? How much can we do? How much better results do we get? We don't end up having that conversation about how do you make this cheaper for us? That's not the the focus of where we spend our time.

Mike: So you're really it seems you're really focused on the return rather than the investment side? It's like, how can we boost that return for our customers?

Chris: Oh, yeah. And you know, where else can we use this and drive value we find ourselves. I mentioned it, you know, an example earlier, where we're working in, you know, across multiple brands and multiple countries, that's, you know, sometimes we expand, we'll work with a core demand Gen team, as well as their ABM team and a separate, separate project. And there are ways to apply this, you know, the person that's spending all that money running digital ads to all the get people to these landing pages, that might be a different team that's running the core corporate website. But both are amazing places to deploy this capability. And, you know, if you're sweating, because you spent all these dollars to get people to those landing pages, and you're not really getting that the results you want to see, hey, we'd love to have a conversation about that.

Mike: That's great. I mean, I think, you know, to summarise, I mean, if people are interested in learning a bit more, how would they learn more about untelevised and maybe investigate whether it's right for them?

Chris: Well, first thing I would suggest is, of course, just check out our website and telemachus.com we've got some you know, good content there that will help you understand a little bit more about what we do. There's a nice how it works button, you can click on and that'll take you through, you know, some of the things that we talked about lots of good customer examples there as well. We rely really heavily on to help people understand this, on the examples that are, you know, the great marketers that we get to work with are achieving today. There's an email list you can sign up for to, you know, keep in touch. And of course, if you're serious about talking to sales or moving more quickly, and really investigating the potential for your business, there's, there's the request demo opportunity. And we'll we'll set up something that's customised to what you might need and what you're looking to do.

Mike: So amazing. And this has been fascinating. I could talk for hours actually, there's so many examples you've given that was so interesting, but is there anything you feel I've forgotten to ask or anything else you'd like to tell the listeners?

Chris: Um, no, I think we've covered a whole lot of things I mentioned before a little bit about, you know, the traffic and what's required. So hopefully, that's helpful for people that are thinking if this is a fit for them. I can also say we work primarily with, you know, b2b organisations, a lot of them SAS companies, and e commerce companies today. And, and, you know, so that's where we have the most experience, and then and the best examples where, you know, moving beyond that, but hopefully, that's helpful for people to understand, Hey, is this a fit and, and what would make sense for them in terms of, you know, connecting with us?

Mike: That's great. That's really helpful. I mean, I guess Lastly, if anyone has been interested by what you've said, whether it's about instead of mice or about flying jets, what would be the best way for people to get hold of you or contact you?

Chris: Yeah, I'm just Chris@Intellimize.com. And we'd love to pick up the conversation there.

Mike: Thanks so much, Chris. I really appreciate it. It's been a fascinating half hour. So thank you very much for being a guest on the podcast.

Chris: Thanks a lot, Mike. It's been a lot of fun. Thank you.

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.

ASPENCORE Announces Next-Gen EV & AV Virtual Conference and Expo

ASPENCORE has announced the launch of a new virtual conference, with the 'Roadmap to Next-Gen EV & AV Virtual Conference and Expo' taking place from the 23rd-24th March 2021.

Hosted by EETimes, the virtual conference will provide keynotes, panels and lectures covering the pitfalls and challenges facing new vehicle designs, with the aim to provide vehicle designers with the building blocks to successfully develop power-efficient, advanced EVs with automated features.

The virtual conference will work in similar ways to a live exhibition, featuring a fairground, exhibition hall and conference area. The exhibition, which will feature virtual booths from leading automotive companies will be live from March 23rd at 13.00 CEST, with a live chat tool available to enable visitors to directly contact personnel at the booths.

The technical conference will focus on several topic-specific sessions and will include keynotes about major technical trends, market requirements, and new applications areas; as well as panel discussions with industry experts and technical presentations about products and solutions.

For more information on the speakers to expect, and how you can attend, please click here. 

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Abhi Yadav - Zylotech

In our latest episode on Napier’s Marketing B2B Technology Podcast, we interview Abhi Yadav, Founder & CTO at Zylotech,  who shares his journey to founding Zylotech, and how the platform adds value to present B2B marketers with the ‘full picture’, providing several sets of data to help them truly understand and communicate effectively with their website visitors.

Find out more about Zylotech as well as Abhi's views on how intent data is changing marketing in the future, by listening to the episode here. 

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Transcript: Interview with Abhi Yadav - Zylotech

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Abhi Yadav

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 another episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I've got Abhi Yadav, who is the founder and chief technology officer of Zylotech. Welcome to the podcast, Abhi.

Abhi: Yeah, thank you. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Mike: Great. So this just talking a bit about Zylotech, can you just explain what the company does? And you know, what you're trying to achieve in terms of providing tools to marketing professionals?

Abhi: Sure. So Zylotech is a b2b customer intelligence company. We, we take pride in building this category called CDP customer data platform. Even though we're CDP plus, what we really help is b2b revenue ops team, kind of help with their unifying their data, build a foundation, help with data quality, and helping them with ICP enablement, ABM, and kind of revenue maximizing approach with client data at the right time, right place. That prepared content.

Mike: Fantastic. So, I mean, one thing I'm interested in is how did you get to the point of starting zolo tech, I'm not sure that people start out in their career with, I really want to build a customer data platform. So talk me through your background, because it's very interesting in terms of some of the things you've done.

Abhi: Yeah, no, absolutely. So all my life for almost two decades, I have been, I've been a great champion of customer centricity back then. I'm an engineer, an MBA, call myself as a business nerd. You know, with product focused tech entrepreneurship by AI, I believe, what we try to help with companies is, is how to activate their data and decision into something contextual, for their existing customer. I, you know, in past life, we used to call this customer lifecycle automation. I had, from, you know, from my G days, back then, with many startups, I have tried for this infinite game of customer 360 in terms of helping, you know, revenue team, mostly marketing sales, in kind of fully leveraging their customer data without worrying about, you know, building a whole engineering capability or a data science capability, necessarily more automated fashion. And that's, that's what we've been doing my early life.

Back here in, in, in around 2012. I took a sabbatical, I was still in my 30s, early 30s. So went back to school, did my full time MBA at MIT Sloan. This is also an interesting time because we were pretty intrigued by what Netflix and Pandora rose and Amazons of the world doing is making, you know, customer centricity at a, at a whole new level, and making it very individualized, you know, individualised content, things like that. And that really inspired while I was in the school doing this MBA project, I thought all my life being a data science, data scientist, would be pretty exciting that we bring this in b2b, where things are far more complex, the individual is a moving target, and relationship matters of the individual with the company, you're targeting. The company in itself is pretty complex, when it comes to decision making unit, what you're trying to buy, and what you're trying to sell into. The life stage varies, you know, content varies by individual, if I'm a CMO, I might like to, if I'm trying to buy a technology, I might look at something, you know, which will give me a return on investment, you know, kind of kind of business case around it. But if I'm a I'm a user group, I'm playing up. I'm a team trying to buy a technology solve my day to day grunt problem of data quality, or trying to get a piece of software which will keep my data live or manual And save tonnes of hours of me doing grunt work, you know, I want to, I want to hear some of those things into the appropriate content from a vendor.

And so, you know, when we were in school doing this academy project, HubSpot was in our sort of, you know, LA and often used to hear from Brian or manage the whole content marketing boom, and, you know, Todd, it's pretty inspiring. Building content would be cool. This is the future of b2b marketing, and marketing automation and things like that. But then, you know, at some point in time, it boils down to contextual content, you know, sometimes have to dealt with individual, like, who this person is, who's, where is he in the customer lifecycle? You know, what persona is this, you know, what, how we should, you know, connect with them, is to, and that's inspired us, that we should be a data and decision engine, to basically activate some of these content orchestration or campaign or marketing automation tools, where, you know, a b2b marketer, or, or an optics could basically activate some of these appropriate content at appropriate time, you know, very contextual and to the right person at the right time sort of thing.

Mike: Okay, so, so while you're trying to do is you're trying to basically determine what would be the right content for each particular website visitor, for example, as they come on to the web? Is that, is that what you're trying to do?

Abhi: Yeah, and, you know, more appropriately to say, you know, market is always have gone down. But they don't know, when Mike, who just came up on my website, who is Mike, you know, your cmo, you see a potential user potential buyer. You know, what is he looking at? From that context, we try to bring that identity, you know, instead of unbundling that identity, but also kind of, you know, helping Connect dots with respect to what you would call as contextual content to the mind.

Mike: Okay, okay, that that makes sense. So, I mean, I think one of the things people listen to podcasts might be a bit confused about is the difference between different sort of platforms. So you've got your customer database, you've maybe got a marketing automation platform, you've then hear about customer data platforms. And I think, you know, if you go to the xyla, tech website, you start talking about customer intelligence platforms, which is your CDP plus plus, can you just explain those terms? And what each of those particular solutions do? And how they differ

Abhi: Yeah, no, absolutely. So we often use this, you know, framework to explain everyone that if you look, if you, if you have these three DS, you know, data management and decision management and delivery management, you can sort of bundled all kinds of data management orchestration and ableman. Storage, you know, all kinds of those solutions into that data management. Well, decisioning is more the algorithm the models, the AI, the analytics, or, you know, which kind of tells you what's the potential score for churn? What's the prioritisation? Where do I, you know, what do I do when you know, how do I sort of apply something at the right time. And then the delivery is basically the everything to do with sort of activation layer, depending on what's the channel could be a chat bot, it could be an marketing automation tool, it could be your CRM, it could be anything, which helps you kind of activate take an action, you know, the last mile. So if you look at a typical marketing scenario, people have been focused mostly on the lead funnel, all this while being poor getting all kinds of spray and praying, campaign lead gen.

And then when this account-based marketing boom came in, people have started realising the importance of what we call hybrid funnel, or something where you do need to lead but you also need to focus on the accounts you cared for. And we took this, you know, into a more advanced form of what we call as ICP enablement, because in b2b, there's no concept of like customer per se, so we call this as ideal customer profile. So going back to your question, you know, it the customer intelligence platform for us is, is basically one source of data and decision system which Helps unifying first and third party data for the accounts you're going after, so that you could basically do a con prioritization, you could do ABM enablement, you could basically activate all kinds of kind of proactive campaign, then instead of doing reactive marketing, and you get a lead, you got to enrage, you got to do this, you're gonna find out who this person is, and then send the content, this basically helps in kind of automating the marketing automation systems, who has a lot of content, but they just don't know how to segment the data, how to segment an individual how to segment an account, and who may be the relevant account ID relevant time, you know, to basically activate a content. So we're the data and decision engine, we call this as customer intelligence platform, because it helps in, you know, curating your first party data, also in an appropriate set of trusted foundation. You know, we have our own proprietary data where we allocate kind of, when we call them as z IDs, you know, for an appropriate account and individual. So you're not see at any given time, you know, what account Do you have, you know, which are the one net new contacts has just come in? What do you already have in the foundation? Who are anonymous? What do you do with that, since basically, a nice kind of data decision kind of a platform where you can play around with tagging and data quality and, you know, kind of leveraging this data into like, activating, because one other thing was, you know, once you have this unified data, what do you do with it? So, we saw all of this. And that's why we call it as customer intelligence, because it enables insights and identity and intent all at the same time.

Mike: And it sounds like to do this, you're pulling data from an awful lot of different sources, is that right?

Abhi: Yeah, yeah. So it has a pre build, you know, set of connectors and integration with numerous SaaS applications, you know, where could be a CRM, marketing automation, your customer success, customer support desk, you know, apps, things like that. But it also helps you unifying your first party data, wouldn't these apps do also, like third party data providers, you know, potentially an Indian provider, potentially, you know, dnb, or, you know, because all these, all these even third party data vendors have, you know, some part of information where you just need two fields and one field, but then their data model is different than what you're maintaining. So, you know, all of this comes down boils down to not at an integration level situation, but actually at an ID level unification. So unification of people, activities and companies. That's what we enable.

Mike: That's interesting. It sounds like, I don't want to put words in your mouth. But it sounds like you're saying that one of the issues with a lot of marketing technology as it tries to keep you in, you know, that particular products, little island, whereas what you're trying to do is share that data, so that you've got access to all your data sources at once. Is that, is that really what you're trying to get to? 100%?

Abhi: Yes, we think, you know, point based solution, integration is still like a band aid, and you're just, you still have a lot of blind sight of that individual or activity, which may be happening in a different silo. So how about having it all at one place where you would know that, okay, all my 100,000 accounts, or about 1 million contacts of people? that's what that's what my playground is, you know, and how do I prioritise How do I activate it? How do I segment and activate them into campaign that's good. But anytime any new contact of person comes in, I would have a base foundation to know this is a net new person, which has come in and you know, what, what to do with it. So

Mike: that makes sense. Definitely. I'm interested, you mentioned as well that you create some of your own data with these IDs that you associate to contacts. Can you just tell me a little bit more about what you do there?

Abhi: Yeah, yeah. So when we started, we obviously built in integration framework across these third party vendors of data provider, and then we realise this tremendous challenges there because most of these third party data vendors, data is billed for sales and prospecting, but not for reproducibility or not for GDPR compliance. If I'm, if I'm, if I'm on brand, I'm trying to build my first party data Foundation, you know, can I can I be compliant with GDPR? Can I combine with privacy norms at a global scale with each country? So what if I wanted to enrich my first party data with the third party information, and that's where there's a lot of disconnect, you know, with how some of these third party vendors, has managed, you know, information by, you know, company name could be, you know, they're like, five xylo tax in United State, just because we have five offices, and what somebody else had maybe just the legal name, what legal buying company may not be the company will actually making the purchase, maybe just the name on the invoice. So these kind of challenges were there. So we ended up, you know, started creating our own database, we started by account because there's only a given quantity of, you know, longtail accounts, where everyone is kind of after. So we build a global foundation of accounts curated on our sort of, you know, one basic data model, which could be leveraged for unification for this purpose of enrichment, primarily. And similarly, then we started, you know, getting hold of a lot of public information and, you know, getting the same thing done for like, people graph as well. So it's both for people and companies, we have like curated IDs, we don't sell this data like that, we just use it for identity resolution. This is one of our unique differentiation. And it's a trusted ID resolution, where you're not relying on the any particular one source because these are very curated ideas where we we have, you know, have kind of even gone ahead and manually curated this particular entity that this mic is the same mic, and this is his LinkedIn, and this is better. And so kind of real person and real company kind of when, when it comes to unification and Richmond and resolution you have trust, which one do you know rely with while you're building this foundation?

Mike: That's great. That's, that's incredible. See already adding value by the, I guess, building on the third party data sources as well?

Abhi: Yeah, yeah, I guess. Yeah. I mean, most of these, like I said, you know, database is great from a sales prospecting. But, you know, they may have 60 million company and like, I know, 300 million people. But if you're an enterprise, a b2b Enterprise, and 95% of revenue is coming in from 200,000 accounts, what would you do with this 60 million accounts of this database, then it's creating a whole grand exercise for you to build a whole capability to extract what you want, which you know, where diving is, in essence, you need agility, you need trust. So we set a wind and, you know, did it all all by ourselves and this in some way, this also helps them at some point in time, they also want to, you know, still leverage some third party vendor like an internet provider, they can still use rz ID as a unique sort of matching point with some of them. So basically, shorten this whole cycle of one year long building capable p, engineering and data and then doing it yourself. losing a lot of time there.

Mike: I make sense. I, I'm interested to know, when people start working with you, what's the the bit of that data puzzle, then they're most missing? Or they really want to get? I mean, what's the is it, you know, contact data enrichment, or are they looking for something like intent data? Or where are people really looking to move to in terms of the next step with their marketing campaigns?

Abhi: Yeah, yeah, that's a, that's a great question. So what we have done is as a platform, we have, you know, come up with more sort of modular approach, where we obviously help our clients or new companies, a customer kind of onboard on a crawl, walk run strategy as their programme matures internally. So we have companies who have a marketing automation and CRM, and they just don't have a foundation in place, because they've been trying a lot of integration and past with just putting CRM in the front, and then doing all kinds of system integration. But then they realise that Wait a minute, you know, we don't have a data governance framework. We don't We didn't we we just mark it 200,000 accountants, why not build a foundation.

So we help them start off with building this foundation. In certain scenarios. There's also a low touch module or product, we have call enrichment. Where if you're a marketer, and you may be doing an ABM, but you don't have the relevant contacts for the accounts you're targeting. So you may, you know, you could leverage AI enrich product and, you know, start off with his maybe MLS, then how do I get to the decision making unit here, or based on that decision making unit of the product I'm selling, what would be your relevant contacts, you know, this, the contacts I have. So, you know, we help with that intelligence is also as kind of crawl walk run strategy.

And then there is this full blown, you know, kind of what we call CDP platform, which, which has insights module, a whole data operations suite. Because, you know, with b2b marketers, or, you know, lists, and XML files are not going away, even if you have, and foundation bill, you know, you you're doing a lot of digital events, and you're getting a lot of csvs floating around. And every campaign, you you got to, you know, do a lot of scrubbing work, we have a lot of, we have our UI or app, which helps them in kind of running these XML files and kind of dedupe and merging with some of the existing foundation data, help them scrub it in a more automated way. So they save tonnes of hours of work. And, you know, nowadays, when specificly marketing is not so fully resourced, with marketing operations, there's an emerging, you know, new revenue kid on the block, but they're not, you know, you know, kind of resource appropriately. So we fit in pretty well, because we, we help them do this data management governance with, you know, sort of how marketing and sales can understand and connect, instead of like, building an IP capability or building a data science capability. And, you know, cm, a lifecycle is 14 to 16 months, you know, they need to still perform quarter and quarter. So we help them, you know, in kind of making this kind of short-circuited and getting towards more revenue marketing or revenue, customer experience or that kind of thing.

Mike: Perfect. Yeah, that's really interesting. I mean, in terms of data sources, you know, obviously, one of the hot areas at the moment is intent data with, you know, companies offering different types of intent data how, how do you see that changing marketing as we go forward?

Abhi: Yeah, I think intent data is one of the it's been pretty good buzzword for quite some quite many years. Now. I look at it slightly differently. I look at a lot of these third party data vendors as intent signal providers, which is basically just a piece of puzzle, not the entirety. So what do you and and don't take me wrong, there's tremendous value in the signal. But how are you utilising that signal with your first party data is the make and break situation. So we have seen some of our clients, you know, who has built a foundation with us, they leverage these third party intent provider. And we have some partnerships as well. You know, somebody like bombora, tech, Darian, and all that, where you could help, you know, we can help them kind of unify this third party signal with the accounts and with the first party foundation they care for. And that's where the real magic happens because you have this first party engagement data. And then you have third party intent signal combined, which this in that combined form helps you with a con prioritisation, conduct prioritisation, you know, activating appropriate content in the buyers journey, you know, things like that. So, you know, Where, where, what's trending, you know, what, what, in a kind of, in a combined way worse than looking at it in a sort of silo thing, and then, you know, going into that rabbit hole of chasing and then you realising, well, this is just a research exercise with this intense signal. So,

Mike: yeah, absolutely. That's it. It's really interesting. So I think there's, there's still a lot of hype around intent data, but a lot of people are failing to really get the benefit. I think, you know, what you seem to be saying is that actually in send data on its own is not going to solve the problem. You've got to combine it with other data, particularly your own first party data. Is that right?

Abhi: Absolutely. No, absolutely. Thanks for that summary.

Mike: So I'm interested, I mean, the product sounds incredibly powerful. And obviously, it's connecting to, to, you know, a large range of pretty expensive enterprise tools. I mean, what sort of company buys into xyla? tech? Is it really only the largest enterprises that can afford this sort of technology?

Abhi: Well, we have, yeah, I mean, we have from the large enterprise, of course, is our sort of prime focus, but we were seeing increasingly a lot of like mid market, upper mid market companies as well. Companies mostly was getting mature with their marketing operations capability, or their customer success, or customer experience, teams, or the larger bit of audience were, we were our fitment is pretty spot on. Companies are also kind of trying to now focus on product intelligence. And they, they, they want to, you know, focus on retention, and cross sell upsell. And, you know, we're seeing a lot that's happening. And that's driving a lot of need for somebody like us. But yeah, it's mostly around the mid market to enterprise where they have a mature sales operations team and a marketing operations team. And, you know, they want to integrate them well, or they have a mature customer experience team, or, you know, somebody who's just starting, you know, in this pandemic, situation has accelerated a lot of those companies as well, we literally had very less kind of maturity around customer success or marketing ops has been reeling around. So we're seeing pretty good excitement in this mid market space as well.

Mike: Interesting, I was going to ask you about the the impact of the pandemic, actually, because, presumably, that's, that's something where, you know, you can really help because you're, you're very much bridging that gap between marketing and sales and with sales, not able to go out and visit customers, it seems like, you know, sila tech would provide a great opportunity to level up your your marketing activities to drive more sales ultimately.

Abhi: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Not just that we're seeing a lot of, you know, because of this whole job market, changes going on, and company and doing a lot of reorge a lot of these contact information is getting stale. And, you know, companies are more and more getting very account driven. And, you know, ICP driven, ABM is a big, their company is doubling down on that. And, you know, they were trying out with just 100 accounts for ABM, and you know, that they are going out for a global marketing operation style, kind of at a volume. So we're seeing a lot of that, we, we also see that it's not going to go back to where it was, I don't see that's gonna happen pretty soon, even with the medicine out and everything. And but what what has helped in the sort of mindset changes that companies have now, you know, kind of switching gears from a spray and pray marketing approach, where basically, you know, there used to get all kinds of data by all kinds of third party information, put it down in the campaign, and, you know, spray and pray so, and then see what leads happen, which we're seeing increasingly now companies are adapting the approach of, this is my ICP, I got to have a data governance framework, I didn't want to invest on you know, sales and marketing alignment. I want to activate the b2b customer experience kind of lifecycle, digital lifecycle, like some of our clients says, that's, that's some of these are kind of key projects, or this is going pretty mainstream in coming 2021 I see this is going more and more with the, with the with the majority companies.

Mike: That's great. I mean, as someone who used to be an engineer, I love the fact that marketing is becoming much more focused on process rather than, as you say, just on spray and pray or, or perhaps opinions of, you know, what looks good on paper.

Abhi: Yeah, ya know, it, it is. It has come a long way. I think earlier, the focus of marketing was, you know, of course, like you said, you know, creativity content, things like that. Then I saw We all saw that, you know, off democratisation of integrations with iPads, and all kinds of these traditional cdp's, that all kinds of like, Oh, I want to unify, I want to integrate this system and that system. So that became a commoditized. So now you have the data, but you don't know what to do with it. You know, so that's where, you know, these, these kind of more what we call customer intelligence come in place where you, where you have some sort of a governance framework, you know, what this contact is and how it is relevant to me at what time. So it's kind of getting mature from where it started off, it's come a long way. But I'm pretty, pretty psyched and excited about the future and coming here with, you know, more than marketing and revenue marketing and in the works.

Mike: Brilliant. So I'm interested, if anybody's listening, and they're wondering, you know, whether it's right for them, or whether they should start looking into it, what's normally the thing that drives people to come and look at the product, is it the fact they're encountering problems, the fact they're being pushed to deliver better results? Is it just that they've got so many different data sources, they can't integrate, you know, what's driving people to come to the product?

Abhi: I mean, I think the outcome are, for, you know, everyone is kind of working for growth. So if you're a growth driven team, or growth driven marketing team, or growth driven business, you know, and you're, like, struggling with resources around, can't afford a whole CEO of marketing ops centre, and, you know, buy tonnes of data tools, and they want to spend the whole year and kind of building that team and want to get your quarter going, because, you know, retention is getting more and more critical in the b2b world. And so is your customer relationship, you know, customer has been unprecedentedly more demanding and, you know, in because in our subconscious, we still we're all human to human right. So we're still using Netflix, and we're still using Amazon. And, you know, if I'm, if I'm signing up a check a million dollar for my technology provider, I expect bare minimum, I expect that these new new guys and new new account reps keep coming at least recognise me enough that who I am and what I've been doing, and what's my relationship with my brand, your brand. So I think all of this is, is kind of, you know, reeling to the fact that we need to change our mindset quite a bit also with just not looking at as a campaign white policy, but also like, how do I make my business more customer centric when it comes to b2b and, you know, focus on more proactive work then sort of reactive, you know, firefighting daily. So things like that.

Mike: Excellent. And in terms of finding out more is the best place to go to go to the sollatek website.

Abhi: Yeah, that's, that's a good starting point. I would say we have a, you know, the same usual contact form there. But you know, my email id is, I'll be DOD yada, which is a bhi DOD ya da ve at xyla, tech.com. Feel free to write me in now. I'll help you connect with the right person help, you know, what are the unique thing about our businesses? We're all we're a solid team, very passionate trying to make a difference in the b2b customer intelligence world. So we're all pretty passionately committed in try to work with our clients is making them win. That's, that's my personal motive to so happy to help.

Mike: Wow, that's great. So people can contact the founder and the CTO directly if they want information. That's, that's definitely a direct route. Thank you.

Abhi: Absolutely. Yeah.

Mike: I mean, it's been fast that he's been really good. I mean, hopefully, some of our clients and our other listeners will be in contact with you in the future. I really appreciate your time. It's been a great interview. Thank you very much.

Abhi: No, thank you. It was, it was great. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Mike: Thank you.

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.

Electronic Specifier's Podcast Continues to Grow

In May 2020, we reported on Electronic Specifier's new podcast series, which aimed to provide listeners with the latest updates and information about the current progress within the electronics industry, covering a wide range of content, including a look into the current technologies shaping the new world, and reviews from all the top electronics shows.

So we were delighted to hear that the ‘Electronic Specifier Insights’ series, is continuing to grow, with several new podcasts live, covering topics from the Women in Electronics community to the latest from Farnell.

At Napier, we think it's encouraging to see a podcast going from strength to strength, and with the UK still in lockdown, its great see Electronic Specifier continue to use its platform to provide readers and listeners with the latest updates.

Listeners can access the podcast via all major streaming services, or via their website.


SalesPOP Podcast Interview: How Account Based Marketing Helps Close Big Deals

The SalesPOP podcast hosted by John Golden, aims to educate listeners on the latest within B2B Marketing. As part of their expert insights series, they sat down with Mike, Managing Director at Napier, who discusses the benefits of ABM, and how it can help close sales. He also shares how to prepare for tackling and marketing to larger accounts, and the best ways to approach and implement ABM.

Listen to the full interview here, or via your favourite podcast app, and don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know your thoughts.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Joel Harrison - B2B Marketing

In our latest episode on Napier’s Marketing B2B Technology Podcast, we interview Joel Harrison, Editor-in-Chief, who shares the exciting news that B2B Marketing has launched Propolis, an exclusive new digital community for B2B marketers.

Find out more about Propolis as well as Joel's views on the future of publishing and how social media will develop for B2B marketers in the future, by listening to the episode here. 

To stay up to date when a new episode is live, click one of the below links to subscribe:

Transcript: Interview with Joel Harrison - B2B Marketing

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Joel Harrison

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 the latest edition of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I've got john Harrison, from b2b marketing, who's talking about what b2b marketers need, and also how he's evolving the publication and developing some new features. So, without further ado, welcome to the podcast, Joel.

Joel: Thanks, Mike's lovely to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

Mike: Great. Well, I'm before we get into detail. I mean, can you just give some of the readers if they're not familiar with what you do a little bit about yourself, and also about the b2b marketing website?

Joel: Well, b2b marketing, I mean, it's one of those titles for an organisation that makes perfect sense when you publish a magazine because it obviously is your masthead. But then when you take it outside of that, it becomes a generic term. We've been we we launched in the early noughties in 2004, with the aim of recognising celebrating, promoting, encouraging the b2b marketing sector, which at that time, I can remember was seen as something of a sideshow and the kind of correlation to b2c marketing. And, you know, we believe that we're thrilled in that time, it's come on leaps and bounds and is really recognised as a proper series in its own right. And we flatter ourselves, we've been in no small part of that journey that the whole industry has been on. And we've been doing that, over that period by lots of different things. We've done it all around content and events. Initially, it was a magazine, and we've quickly got into events, what a great awards programme award ceremony, it's one of those nights, which is a bit like the 1960s. If you if you couldn't remember it, then you weren't really there. And we do lots of conferences for conferences here. We do training, we produce reports and do webinars podcasts of our own. And we've got a leaders programme where we, where we bring together CMOS marketing directors, heads of marketing, to talk about key issues in a safe space for a number of years. So lots of stuff all around helping marketers to be better and be more successful, more and more better connected around the world of b2b marketing. And, you know, it's kind of been doing it for, dare I say, pushing 20 years now terrifying. Very, very rewarding. I love the industry, it's a great place to work.

Mike: Fantastic. Now, it sounds like you've you've changed what you do quite a lot from you know, starting out, you know, I guess primary is magazine to, to where you are now and understand you're now actually no longer going to publish the magazine and building yourself much more around being an online community. Is that right?

Joel: Yeah, that's right. I mean, we're literally just taking this decision the last matter of weeks. We, you know, our leaders programme, as I said before, has been the core of the business for a while now. But we hadn't redeveloped it from the initial very much since we initially launched it, you know, a number of years back and we're publishing is going publishing is a retrospective term is moving towards online communities, we're seeing much, it's very much a trend happening across marketing as a whole. And it's a great way of actually just formalising we've always already done, if you ever been to our ignite event, all the b2b marketing awards, you know this, because it's a great meeting place for people that you bump into people that you haven't seen for years, and you make opportunities to connect with people that, you know, are going and so we've always provided that facilitation. But what zapnito, the platform building some will allow us to do is to make this to provide that and a whole different level, and provide that most informal stuff, but very formalised connectivity and learning and shared experiences, share perspectives, and producing a whole different type of content as well to feed into that via via this very, very powerful online platform. So we're really excited about it.

As a consequence of that, you know, the magazine is has been a great kind of centre, the business for a long time, information patterns have changed, consumption, people, how they consume information is different. And the media landscape is different. And, you know, the time has come to move on from it. And you know, I have I have a degree of kind of, it's sad, a sad day for me, at least because I've been there all the way through, and I've put my heart and soul into that product. But you know, when the businesses business and when the time comes to move on, you have to do that we are sentimental and look to the future. And that's what we're doing. And we're very excited about the future.

Mike: That sounds fantastic. I mean, how much of this is driven by the challenges of getting print advertising to fund the magazine compared with the opportunity to get online promotion or online income?

Joel: Well, I mean, to be honest with you, my print advertising hasn't funded the magazine for quite a long time. We know we've sold print advertising in it as mostly as part of larger deals, what are our business as a kind of lead generation in terms of kind of the media We sell meat lead generation has been where it's at for a number of years now. And so what typically people buy from us is, is lead generation services in the form of webinars or content creation or content dissemination, roundtables increasingly starting to increase the podcasts as well, that's more brand rather than leads. So the advertising in a magazine was the kind of the icing on the cake, which was inconsistent icing on a cake, if that's not stretching a metaphor. So you know, that that that that model role is has has gone a while ago, and needs to move at the times.

Mike: And that's interesting. So how are you finding the business? Now? I mean, I, one of the things that always amazed me was you were so successful in getting people to pay for subscriptions to access the premium content on the website, something I think a lot of publications that I speak to be marketers target, would love to be able to do. So can you let us into some secrets as to how you did that, and how else you're building your income?

Joel: Well, you know, the membership as, as was was both based around getting the magazine and getting the best content, which is the premium reports that we did, you know, and we weren't able to do that there were other people in the market, both marketing and other sectors that did similar things, and one that always needs to manage procurement leaders in the procurement space were very, very good at this kind of stuff. You know, when we launched, we weren't, we were launched into a market where they were 20 marketing magazine, and we knew that another control circulation magazine wasn't going to make it by itself. So we needed to do something different. And, you know, it was indicated, I think, because of how things have played out, I mean, you know, we've always had to be agile, and have always had to be flexible and responsive. And we had to pretend to not treat content like a commodity, and try and take the high ground, and you have to go to where people find the value. And I think there was a point where reports are very, very valuable. They provide great evidence and comparative information. But this is why we're going with community because that's it's that ability to connect with people in a in a safe space and to share experiences without being inappropriately sold to that is hugely valuable to people. Interesting.

Mike: Yeah. So are you going to keep with premium membership? Or is that something that's going away and you're becoming more of open access site?

Joel: Ah you did ask that I apologise, I didn't quite cover that in my previous response. I mean, a lot of our content has always been free. On the website, certainly, and we will our existing website, is we're going to revamp it, but it's going to remain fundamentally the same, you'll have to probably be registered to access a bit more of it, but it won't be paid for with the best stuff as as as the moment as is at the moment, we'll be back, we'll be on a separate platform. The platform was called propolis is launching on Monday, on Monday, the 18th of January, it will be you'll be able to see some of it from a taster of it on our main site, but the most of them were behind a paywall. And we're selling deals to people to access that now, and we are selling, it depends on where it's built for client side marketers, you know, agencies are off separate opportunities, more kind of sponsor orientated. And then there's because it's those if the client side community that were really set up to serve the core of those people. So yeah, it's, it's a, it's a different kind of model. But with what we're seeking to sell, now the benefit of the community is your allows you to sell a corporate subscription. So you're able to access this, the CMO, if there is a CMO, the organisation can access and communicate to the audience. And then you can also have different forums to access different levels. So if you're a head of content, for example, there's a place for you and if you're maybe marketing manager, there's more as a place for you as well. And it's geared around levels and also around kind of topic areas as well. So, and we'll be bringing hopefully bringing some of the event stuff in as well, where we kind of extend the life of our events over into those forums. So it's really exciting. And, yeah, it's gonna, it's really transforming us as a business

Mike: That sounds amazing. We're really looking forward to seeing it. Right. And I'm interested to know, you know, you're obviously right at the leading edge of some of the publications, business models. But also you have the challenge of understanding what the trends are in b2b marketing. I mean, can you talk a little bit about how you understand, you know, what people care about? And as you say, you particularly serve the client side, marketer, how do you understand, you know, what questions they're asking so you can provide the answers?

Joel: Well, it's a good, very good question. I mean, we're actually doing a piece of research just now, which we're hoping to launch the results of, very soon is called our annual trend tracker, where we basically ask people about a number of kind of marketing trends or topics and how they ask them to how they prioritise those things against each other. And that actually, that data, the survey just closed, I don't actually have the results. It'll be published in February, and it will be in part of our agency's benchmarking report, so you get to see it there. So that's one way we do it. The other way is more anecdotal. One of the things which we did when, when COVID hit, I took over responsibility for the roundtables we were doing. And actually, we'd had them physically and it was one of those. It's a classic example of how COVID has helped people to innovate and do things more effectively, digitally. And we move the roundtables from being physical things in our office to being digitally. And the response was just fantastic. You know, we got it was so welcome. The attendance went up dramatically, particularly in the early days. Because people we needed a support network, we needed to go to places where they could think of let off steam and, you know, see what other people were having the same problems they were. So talking to senior marketers on a either a group basis or a one to one basis and listening to people, I listened to a lot of conference sessions, because I host a lot conferences, you know, I get a sense of what's going on there.

And I, by the way, I don't want to be snobby about agencies, because, you know, agencies have supported us from the very earliest days, and continue to be key supporters and key components of the industry, absolutely fundamental clouds, the industry, I've got some very, very good friends that are working for b2b agencies that I've known all throughout the time we're doing and some some of them before. And I learned a lot from them. So it's really it's kind of like I see it, in some respects, my job, as editor in chief hasn't changed when, as a magazine editor, it's your job to take an aggregate to listen to disseminate the signal to listen to everything, and to to determine the kind of signal from the noise and understand where the trends are. And, you know, I think I'm reasonably good at. But you know, you have to play you have to try to watch out for your own biases, which is easier said than done sometimes.

Mike: Definitely, I think I'm interested. And I think a lot of people listen to podcasts be interested to know, you know, what do you think of the biggest things that marketers in the b2b space should be thinking about over the next year?

Joel: Well, I think we're still, obviously, very tragically, you know, the pandemic is, is by no means over and was gonna be with us for a long time. And I think that's continuing to shape things as they go, as we go. I think one of the most fascinating and I alluded to earlier on, you know, I think, the last couple of years, the penny dropped, the transformation was no longer an option. But perhaps the urgency thing hadn't come into play, which I think now everyone accepts that, there is no, there is no time we have to do, you cannot transform fast enough, really. So. And I think that's a great opportunity for marketers, and we've seen it so often, some of so many of our members have saying the things they've been able to do, they couldn't do before, because the crisis, frankly, is created an agenda for change and marketing, if played well on the front foot can do that. And agencies benefit from that as well. Because they can they can bring fresh thinking in and so so everyone, everyone benefit from it. And I think I know that, like a lot of your audience is the tech sector. I mean, it's it's fascinating to see, the tech sector seems largely affected by COVID. And which is extraordinary and brilliant news for b2b. So I think you're gonna see a lot more of that, I think you're going to see that they're kind of subject to sales enablement, has absolutely come to the fore, because it is, it's shifted, the balance of power between marketing and sales and marketing is sales are relying on marketing to help them engage with prospects and customers in a way they never have done before. They can't do physical meetings anymore, they need to know how to use content better, how to use digital events better. And so that's that's part of that's, again, accelerated this the kind of shift in power balance or, or greater equilibrium and alignment that probably wasn't there before. So we're gonna see more sales and movement, we're gonna see more focus on digital events as they evolve and content will blow with digital events. I think we're seeing that and that's where can you see is a great way of allowing that. And I think I mean, the the focus the migration towards account based thinking, everything, sales and marketing and everything else in between, you know, that's just it's gonna continue. So lots of trends, and there's others as well. But you know, how long have you got?

Mike: Absolutely. I mean, one of the trends that you talked about I find particularly interesting is the change in the relationship between marketing and sales with, you know, sales, understanding that they need marketing and are getting value from working with marketing. I mean, do you think that's a trend that's gonna continue or Once COVID is over? Do you think we'll end up you know, breaking up with sales and destroying the relationship?

Joel: I think it will. I think it will continue. But we can't take it for granted. And marketing has to continue to work hard to to demonstrate its value and to preempt what sales needs. And it's so fascinating how how long people have been saying that it's been a truism for as long as we run the business, and it will continue. I'm sure it will continue to be the issue, just the dynamics of that relationship and the need has shifted. I think that what seems to change is the point where Mark was wearing Customers raise their hand and acknowledge and make themselves known to salespeople has shifted. And it was a point about seven years ago, when Gartner and CB showed that it was kind of something like two thirds of the way through the buyer journey. The suggestion is kind of shifted onto that at that, you know, 80% of the way through the buyer journey. And so you're seeing now, much more of the trend, much more of the decision being made before they even have raised their hand and therefore you're the spectre of e commerce kind of comes, you know, it looms, which is fascinating. And I learned recently that you can pretty much buy a JCB online, which is fascinating, and also terrifying. If like me, you've got a three year old, who's obsessed with diggers. And I'm never going to show him that page. We can do that. Because otherwise I'll be bankrupt within about 20 minutes. So yeah, it's really it's really, it has really shifted, and I think it's but I think marketing batch report, marketing's got to continue to work to demonstrate to demonstrate the value because think salespeople will more likely to go off and go back to the old ways given the chance.

Mike: Yeah, interesting. I mean, one of the things, I think I've seen is that as this proportion, the customer journey before the customer puts their hand up extends, there's been a more and more reliance on marketing technology and marketing tools. Do you want to comment on that? Because obviously, I mean, b2b marketing does a lot in terms of looking at that marketing technology stack.

Joel: Yeah, there's much more lights on tech. And it's kind of terrifying how much it is. I feel a bit like we're in a, and we'd actually doing some research on that right now, as well. We have our conference called get stacked, which is happening in in March. And that's our annual look at the role of technology, and particularly marketing operations as an enabler of that. So yeah, it's really, it's,I think that there is a growing sense of maturity around it, though. Whereas before, we people were just that there was a kind of a, it was a kind of wild west Gold Rush mentality. I think people think things have calmed down a little bit now. And people are assigned to understand the complexity of it and making more measured decisions. But, you know, the, the tech companies are the best marketers in b2b, and they were still marketers still affected by shiny object syndrome. So there's, you know, there will continue to be decisions made that probably don't stand much scrutiny.

Mike: Fascinating. I think one of the things I like about your get stacked conference, is it's going away from looking at particular point tools as being a solution. And actually talking about the you know, the entire stack you have of marketing technology, is that something you're finding is resonating with people that they now realise that there's no one solution?

Joel: Yeah, I think the notion that one platform by itself is going to be what you need is, I think, is very increasingly recognised is no longer the case. And it is about the infrastructure and is about the stack and the and the, and there's a Adam, the bigger the organisation, the more wastage there is in that. And, yeah, I love this notion of Franken tech, where you have technology that should have been turned off, but somehow is undead, and it was continuing to exist long after anybody really got any value from it. So yeah, that that, you know, as a small business, we took our first marketing operations person on last year and hard to imagine now how we could done without him, because there's just stuff that he knows that he can do that nobody else can. So it's definitely a journey people need to get on to and start scrutinising what you've got, and how best to be best to use it

Mike: Fascinating. I'm just moving on. I mean, obviously, you're morphing into more of a social kind of community rather than being this conventional, you know, single direction publisher. I mean, how do you see social media developing for b2b marketers over the next few years?

Joel: That's a good question. I think it's I feel like it's, you know, it doesn't feel like so long ago to me and possibly to you might be it was the young pretender. And people would kind of arguing about whether it'd be relevant or not. You know, I see now LinkedIn as a utility and Twitter to a certain extent as well, you know, I couldn't do my job without it. I refer to it countless times a day. It's so it's gone into the background. And I don't see any large leaps forward, I see a continual refinement of platforms, of, of usage. You know, I think people are, again, it's a gradual maturation of understanding of what it can do and how to do it. And it's not the be all end all. So is a very, very powerful tool, if used correctly, but the subtleties are sometimes elusive to people. And I think it's as much around the kind of sense of listening rather than the broadcasting that works. That is most of its most effective and as of most value to people.

Mike: Yeah, I definitely agree. I think one of the big challenges is, as marketers, we've kind of been trained to be the ones talking all the time. And actually, that's not necessarily an effective strategy. When you look at something like social.

Joel: I completely agree. Yeah. talk less, listen more, as they say,

Mike: yeah. So I'm interested about the new community. It's, it's fascinating, because b2b marketing has always been a mix between helping people do their jobs, and also helping people develop and grow their careers. I mean, do you have a priority there? Are you do you see yourself more as a, an educational resource or somewhere, that people go to make decisions?

Joel: I mean, both we've learned kind of professional developments definitely been part of our kind of remit. And, you know, training has been a really strong area of the business for the last few years. I think what's interesting is that that is that's been changed, possibly not so positively by COVID. Because we used to run training sessions in the office where people would, would come to our office, you know, 20 people a day, and they'd talk about IBM all day. And it was great, because they got actually part of the value was that collab like collegiate collaboration thing, getting exposed to other people. That doesn't work in digital in the same way. So we're still we're in the process of we're still offering training, it's still successful, but not quite the same way. And we're still trying to figure out how that works. But I think everything we do is a background is about development. You know, and I think there's the the world of training, there's a blurring of boundaries between what is content, what is training, and that will continue to be the case. And we I don't think we've got a satisfactory answer yet. I know. Sometimes it's easier to come up with an answer if you're starting from a green a blank slate. So, you know, ask me again, in six months time, maybe everybody wants to better?

Mike: Yeah, I'd certainly agree with you. And talking to other agencies. I know that, you know, maintaining training, whilst everyone's working remotely is one of the big challenges of COVID and remote working. So I totally understand that. Yeah. In terms of moving forward, I'm really intrigued. You know, you see a lot of b2b marketers, you work with a lot of very senior b2b marketers as well. I mean, do you have any advice on how people can build their career, how they can, you know, grow their knowledge, they become more valuable to their organisations?

Joel: I think I see things I say when I do, I do a lot of incumbency, speaking, so I go to b2b marketing teams, and talk to them about exactly what we're talking about here, but probably more detail around the trends. And the things that I always say to them is, is if you want to build grow as a marketer, you need to, you need to make time to learn always to be basically creatively curious, always make time to learn, and expose yourself to new ideas and new thinking. And it's easier said than done, I struggle with it myself. That's the first thing. The second thing is is to, is to actively engage in, promote yourself and find your voice. Don't be a wallflower. Get involved in communities, get involved in LinkedIn, write blogs, you know, volunteer for things, you know, you get so much out of being proactive and involved with things than you do by by by by just just watching, listening. And it is it requires a mindset change. And if you're British, like me, it's easy to be to be modest to not think you've got anything to offer. But you do and sometimes, saying what you think and having someone disagree with it is the most powerful thing you can do, because you're both learn from that. So get out there, you know, start blogging, start get onto Twitter, it's annoying, and Donald Trump's off it now. So we're all happier. And, and but but it is a great way of promoting yourself. The third thing is, learn the language of business, learn what your boss what your boss needs to know, and what your boss's boss needs to know. Talk about frame what you talk about in the context of their requirements and needs, not just about what you think is important for your career right now. So talk the language of business, and be conversant in that and ready to talk about that. And the last thing is, is what has always been is be passionate, because nobody ever did anything if they weren't passionate about it. And I think if you can't, I think I think it's a wonderful industry to work in. It's never been richer, more dynamic, more exciting, more rewarding. And if you can't be passionate, if you can't feel passionate about it, I appreciate their obstacles at the moment. But if you don't think you're passionate about your job in your profession, then you're probably in the wrong job profession. If you can be passionate, you'll be much better at what you do.

Mike: I think that's fantastic advice. I mean, just one thing I do see with a lot of b2b marketers is that they kind of get very corporate and very cautious. And you must see this with a lot of b2b organise As well, where, frankly, they can become a bit dull. I mean, do you think that's something that organisations need to and are going to fix over the next? You know, few years?

Joel: Yeah, I think there's huge strides being made. Now already. I think if you compare it to the mark the advertising, I say advertising specifically, they used to see in the naughties. I mean, and it was corporate. And it was it been done rung through, rung out through a corporate, often bs machine, shall we say? And it was, you know, let's make the logo bigger. And all of those kind of cliches that was where my advertising and marketing was in an offseason, where it is in 2021 is a world away from that and is humanised so much. And I think and actually, this is something that pandemic again, has accelerated. And I think this is a positive thing. And there have been many positive things to come from Coronavirus, along with the many obviously horrendous and tragic things that happened but but it's broken down one of it's finally kind of banished those last perspectives of b2b being corporate and, and distant and human. And it's, you know, it's all about, it's so much more human, as industry as a profession as a communication style to do the cold corporate advertising these days, just, it's something at the Art now. And so it's coming an awfully long way. And I think there's a much better industry as a consequence.

Mike: That's great. I mean, it's great to hear your your enthusiasm and optimism. And I'm amazed because you've, you've run a publishing business in probably, you know, the 20 years where there's been the most change and probably the most challenges for publishers, and you've morphed into this, this new community focused business that, you know, is really exciting. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. So it's great to see your optimism. So I'd love to ask you, and is there anything else you'd like to tell the listeners that you think would help them move forward in their careers, and provide us with some more of this, this great enthusiasm and optimism,

Joel: I think I just kind of go back to the point I made earlier on, I think it was Winston Churchill that said, never waste a good crisis. And, you know, now is the time to change things, it's gonna be much when things return to normal in inverted commas, whatever that looks like, it'll be harder to do that. So now's the time to change things, be bold, be brave, push yourself. And I'll repeat a day. My wife is a massive David Bowie fan. And I was listening to a lot of the five years on after his death this weekend. And one of the things that he said, which I think actually somebody who I admire very tremendously prime McCready, who's a great b2b marketer says, you know, if you, you need to put yourself slightly outside of your comfort zone. And if you're, and that's the right place to be, because if that's if you're outside of the, if you're just nudging at the edge of what you're comfortable with, then you're gonna grow. If you're just doing what you believe is comfortable and safe. You're not going to grow, you're probably not gonna be anything like as successful as you would be, you know, make mistakes, and embrace those mistakes, and then move on and do something better next time.

You know, I think the time to be safe is this isn't the time to be safe. And if you want to if you're ambitious, then it's definitely time to be safe.

Mike: That's great advice. So if people want to go out and take risks and start engaging with other b2b marketers, I mean, obviously, a great place to go would be the new community. So can you tell people how they can get involved and sign up and engage in that community?

Joel: Well, it is a, you know, it's not open to everybody I'm going to be honest about this year, we are happy to sell membership to it. To talk to you in Sorry, I wouldn't say anything, but to put in contact with the team who can tell you access to it. We know we'd love you to join love to participate in it. There are going to be there eight, it's called propolis, which is a word relating to bees and, and propolis is the resin which bees used to create the hexagonal, hexagonal hives. And within the structure, there are eight different communities run or run by an expert. We have a trainer, someone who knows their stuff, people like Shane reading, for example, are already one of those hives, and the weather like minded people talking about the topics that are relevant into them. So we'd absolutely love to get you involved. If you'd like to understand more about the pricing structure, please contact me, you know, we'd love to be able to offer this for free. But you know, we have a living to earn. And there's a huge amount of value to be derived from from this. So as a hegemon, it costs a lot to run as well. So that's that's the nature of the business. But we are it's definitely we want this to be the home of b2b marketing wants to be a vibrant, dynamic community, which sets the tone for what goes ahead, and we'd love you to be part of it. So please get in contact with me and I'd love to tell you more.

Mike: But that's great. And I think people should look at this as a real investment rather than a cost. You know, and I think particularly you know, if we'd look at some of the UK based marketers, people are perhaps less willing to To invest in future and education and so hopefully, you know, propolis will let you know and encourage more people to do that.

Joel: Yeah, absolutely. And I think if you, you know, and if you don't believe that come to one of our events, even our digital events, we had a call just now with a with a US Agency saying, I've never seen engagement levels, like the ones that you had at your IBM conference last year, you know, and Americans are typically much more gung ho than us kind of wallflower Brits are, and they were knocked out by it. So, you know, that's an indication of the kind of community we're trying to cultivate. And we already have successfully cultivated. So we're looking for more of that, and we hope you can be part of it.

Mike: That's really exciting. We actually had somebody attend the IBM conference as well from Napier. And I know, they came back and they wrote, I think five or six blog posts about it, they were so excited. So I totally agree, the events are great. And if people want to get hold of you, Joe, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Joel: You can tweet me I'm a b2b marketer. I'm at Joel_@b2beditor at Twitter. You can reach me on LinkedIn or you can email me Joelharrison@b2b marketing.net. I'd love to hear from you.

Mike: That's fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Joel. I really appreciate it,

Joel: Absolutely. Welcome. Thanks so much for inviting me.

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.

Napier's Media Page: A Collection of Webinars and Podcasts

In 2020, there was an obvious growth in webinars and podcasts as channels for B2B tech marketers, and like many others, we launched our own podcast and webinar series, to provide B2B marketers with the latest guidance and insights into key marketing trends.

We are delighted to share our Napier media page, which features our full collection of webinars and podcasts, as well as several third-party podcasts featuring our Managing Director Mike, who covers integral and relevant topics to help marketers be successful in B2B marketing.

To view our full collection of webinars and podcasts, please click here, and be sure to check back regularly for new content.

Napier Makes Christmas Charity Donations

2020 was a hard year for us all, but especially for charities that require more funding than ever before to continue with the hard work they undertake, especially during the pandemic.

Last year, for Christmas, Napier decided to make a charitable donation rather than sending client gifts, inviting our clients to vote for their favourite charity out of three selected and our donations were given in proportion to the votes for each charity.

We are delighted to share that we received a fantastic response from our clients, and as such, St. Wilfred's Hospice received a donation of 47%, Médecins Sans Frontières 33% and WWF 20%.

We'd like to thank all our clients who took the time to vote and contribute to Napier's decision.


Business Built Freedom Podcast Interview: Tips to Reach Your Target Audience

The Business Built Freedom Podcast, hosted by Joshua Lewis, invites listeners who are business owners, to discover how they can build a vehicle of wealth and freedom, as Joshua interviews a wide range of experts.

In one of their most recent podcast episodes, Joshua interviews Mike, Napier’s Managing Director, who shares how marketers can break through the virtual barrier and ensure they are reaching the right audience at home.

Listen to the full interview here, or via your favourite podcast app, and don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know your thoughts.

Elektra Awards Extends Deadline to 5th January 2021

The 2020 Elektra Awards has extended its deadline for award entries till the 5th January 2021.

Confirmed as a virtual event taking place next year on Thursday 25th March, organizers have announced the extension to allow companies to revise or submit new entries, for projects or products that were completed between July 2019 and September 2020.

We look forward to attending the awards (virtually!) in 2021 and celebrating the great achievements from the industry.



A Napier Webinar: Uncovering the Truth about Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

Artificial Intelligence is the latest buzzword, but to what extent does AI truly make a difference to your marketing?

Napier recently held a webinar 'Uncovering the truth about Artificial Intelligence in Marketing', which explores the true impact AI has on marketing activities. We address:

  • What marketing tools vendors mean by AI
  • The truth about AI in B2B marketing
  • Examples of marketing tools that use AI
  • How your B2B marketing campaigns can really benefit from AI
  • The future: how AI will change the marketing landscape

Register to view our webinar on demand by clicking here, and why not get in touch to let us know if our insights helped you.

Napier Webinar: ‘Uncovering the Truth about Artificial Intelligence in Marketing’ Transcript

Speakers: Mike Maynard

Hi, and welcome to our latest webinar from Napier, where we're going to talk about the truth about AI in b2b marketing. And so AI is obviously a very hot topic at the moment. But what we want to investigate is in reality, you know, how much impact is AI having a marketing today? And how much impact will it have in the future. So we're trying to skip past some of the marketing claims that we see from some products and look at, you know, actually, what is the real life impact. So hopefully, you'll come away from this webinar, understanding a little bit more about AI, how it can help you today and how it might change b2b marketing in the future.

If we look at the agenda today, we're really going to try and get to the you know, the bottom of what the truth is in terms of AI. So we'll start off looking at the marketing technology landscape, which is clearly a very complex and confusing landscape with lots of different vendors. We're talking about, you know, what AI actually is, and what we mean by AI, there are actually different sorts of AI. And depending on which particular type of AI you are considering, you can take away very different conclusions about how much AI is being used within b2b marketing. We'll talk about the applications of AI. And also the tools that integrate AI today, into their marketing systems will then go on and say, well, could you create your own artificial intelligence, that actually helps you directly with creating b2b campaigns. And within that section, we'll actually talk about somebody who we know who actually did that, very successfully, we'll look to the future, and to find out how AI might change the marketing landscape in the future. And finally, as always, we'll give you some top tips from Napier. This time, it'll talk about how to benefit from AI, both now and in the future.

So this is a massively complicated chart, produced by Chief Mar tech, a website that looks at the marketing technology landscape, they've been looking at the landscape for several years now. And they've gone from, you know, literally a few 100 marketing technology companies to this incredibly complex landscape with 5000 companies and 8000 solutions. So this is a massive increase. So clearly, there's a lot of companies investing a lot of time and effort to building marketing technology tools. And of these companies, very many of them actually are claiming to use AI within their different algorithms. So what we're going to do is take a look at, in reality, how many of these tools actually use AI.

But before we go ahead and talk about that, we need to be clear about our definition of AI. And it can mean very different things. And the two big areas that I'd really put AI into are Firstly, algorithms. So this could be formulae or this could be, you know, logical decision trees. And basically, it's a fixed set of rules to actually optimise a campaign or to do something else as part of your b2b marketing activities. And the key thing about these algorithms is they're programmed by a human. And they'll typically be fairly fixed, or they'll have very limited ability to develop or learn. The other side of AI is machine learning or neural networks, and machine learning is completely different. Now, if we look at machine learning, this is really computers, you know, understanding the world, and then trying to apply rules based upon the understanding they built. So the key thing about machine learning is you need to train the computer with various data sets. But once you've done that, the computer can do things and have insights that a human may not have. So potentially a computer can do more than a human. And this is certainly the most exciting part of AI, although today probably not the majority of where people think AI is being applied.

And then finally, AI can be the specialised or broad you talk about narrow or general AI. So narrow AI tend to be focused around trying to achieve a particular outcome, or perform a particular activity, whereas general AI is basically your howl in 2001. The expert computer you speak to as though it's almost another human. And of course, when we look at Mark marketing and b2b marketing, we are going to focus on narrow AI. So we're gonna focus on AI that's designed to do certain things within the marketing mix.

And if we look at Wikipedia, I mean, Wikipedia says artificial intelligence is an intelligence demonstrated by machines, but it's unlike natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals. And to me, this is interesting. So, um, it's very true that AI isn't quite like humans, animals, intelligence. If we look at you know, the algorithmic type AI formula that have been programmed in, that's not really what we think of intelligence, we think of that as applying rules. and machine learning is very different. It's really pattern matching on a, on a massively complex scale. So machine learning, it can give the impression of being intelligent like a person. But it's still is very different from the way we work. Although the structure of neural networks are somewhat modelled on the structure of the brain,but whatever we do, we're not seeing something that's going to directly replace humans, at least not in the foreseeable future. And I think that's an important point is whichever type of AI we're doing, whether it's broad or narrow, you know, today, we're a long way away from replacing people, we can certainly help people make them more efficient, make them more effective. But I think replacing people is is certainly a long way off.

So let's look at the definition we're going to, to have Oxford languages has a definition, the theory and development of computer systems, able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and translation between languages, we're going to actually take something somewhat like that and apply it to marketing. So our definition is a computer algorithm that can learn from data to produce insights and recommendations specific to the brand or campaign. So what we're saying with AI is that really to add value, the algorithms got to learn, it can't be a pre programmed set of rows.

And it's got to produce things that are specific. So if it's learning from the activities for a particular brand or a particular campaign, it should then be able to produce recommendations that are uniquely beneficial to that brand, or that campaign. And so we're gonna move forward, we will talk a little bit about algorithms.

But in particular, what we're going to look at is where we are today, in terms of the state of AI, as relates to marketing, from the point of view of learning from data, so this is really the machine learning the neural networks. And so our goal today is really to look into whether there's been a huge impact from machine learning on b2b marketing.

So the first thing to say is clearly there is AI in marketing. In fact, there's the marketing artificial intelligence Institute. And that is an institute dedicated to promoting the use of mark of artificial intelligence within marketing. So clearly, there's there's a lot of AI going on lots of marketing technology tools, promoting their AI functionality. And actually, the CMO survey, which has been running for over 10 years, in 2019, show that almost 60% of the respondents say they're using AI today, although the main uses of AI are in personalization of content, and predictive analytics. And in both of those areas, they tend today to be algorithmic type applications. So you might see the computer delivering different content, depending upon, for example, which persona they think somebody belongs to, or which company they belong to, if you're doing reverse IP lookup on the address, or maybe even what pages they visited, but it's a set of rules. It's not necessarily this learning machine that we talked about. So it tends to be simple algorithms today. And I think that's really important. Because although people are using machine learning, really to get on board today, the bar is not very high, to be able to use some of the the tools that are available is relatively straightforward. You know, predictive analytics can be as simple as lead scoring algorithms. So at the very simple level, I think everybody can start using AI in the most basic sense. And actually the more advanced level of machine learning level, as we'll find out, most people in general are not really using machine learning for things that are specific to their campaigns. There are areas where machine learning is being used, but it tends not to be campaign specific. So if you're not using AI today, the message is, you know, get on board, don't think it's too difficult. You can use some very simple approaches to improve your marketing campaigns to reduce the amount of time you spend working on managing the campaigns, and hopefully also to get better results. And we'll talk a little bit about this as we go through.

So let's look at some of the simple examples of AI in marketing. The first one is content creation. And one of the most common things you'll see is email subject line generators, and typically you either give it a benefit or a product or a service. click the Generate subject line and magically you get these amazing AI generated subject lines. And you can see on the right of the slide here, that we've actually tried it. And we've tried it in terms of, you know, learn about marketing, learn about AI marketing. And you can see the first subject line that is suggested actually isn't great grammar, how to take the headache out of learn about AI and marketing.

The others read pretty well. But all of them use a very simple approach where a stock phrase is put in front of whichever benefit you have. So, you know, if we look at the lazy persons way to learn about AI marketing, it could be the lazy persons way to write an email to create great email subject lines, you could put anything at the end there. So although this has been put out as AI, again, it is a very simple, very formulaic approach. And frankly, you know, if you're stuck, it's not a bad place to go for an idea for a subject line. But I can't see this sort of AI replacing copywriters anytime in the future. You know, to me, I think it's going to be sometime before we get things like subject great subject lines written by AI eyes. And one of the things you do see with AI is actually some AI tools that can grade subject lines or give you an indication of which one's likely to perform better. And that might be more useful. But still, it's the actual copywriting still needs a human to write great and innovative subject lights.

Content personalization, one of the key things that was mentioned as a use of AI today, and many tools offer content, personal personalization, that might be your marketing automation tool, it might be a content management system. Or you might have a specialist tool or a plugin that enables content personalization. And most of them are based on fairly standard fairly simple fixed set of rules. So it could be on the persona, the company, the roles, something like that. And actually, you know, from my point of view, the most important thing is the insights that are used to personalise the content, they're generated by humans, they're not generated by the machine that took the tool that you've got, the machine will automatically provide the right content. But it's got to be a human that works out why one persona needs a particular message. And another persona is a different message or a message phrased in a different way. So again, although there's some automation here, it's still very algorithmic, you know, it's very much a formula, if this person is a CEO, then talk about financial benefits. If this person is an engineer, then talk about technical benefits. So it's very different from something that's that's truly autonomously intelligent. And again, you know, it's a great way to get into AI. It's a very basic first step.

But we're still some way away from this, this idea of computers actually running your marketing campaign. And certainly, anyone who's used these content personalization tools, like Martin automation, will now how incredibly effective even the most simple personalization can be. So it's a valuable tool. Even though you know, from our earlier definition of AI being machines learning, typically, most people are not using machine learning tools.

So these are the simple thing is, why don't computers learn? And the answer is, it's actually quite hard to train a computer. If you talk to your friendly data scientist, they'll talk about, you know, building a neural network, and then building a training set. And the training set is the data that's used to basically train that, that algorithm.

And the first question everyone's gonna ask is, you know, how much data Do I need to get a computer to learn? And the answer is, Well, it depends, like many other things, it depends a lot, it depends on how complex the problem is, how much data is coming, and how many answers are coming out. And it obviously depends on how accurate you want the algorithm to be. Actually, if you look at these machine learning algorithms, they will have a certain tolerance for error.

And depending on how much error you're prepared to accept, that will affect you know, perhaps how complex your your network is, or how big your training set is, or both. So there's no real answer in terms of how much data you need. But typically, it's 1000s of data points. And so if you look at, you know, some of your marketing activities, you may not have 1000s of data points, you may not have 1000s of email subject lines you can compare to find out which one's going to be most effective for your audiences, for example, I'm making it even more complicated is that the environment changes. You know, a great example would be that, if I a year ago put the new normal into an email subject line, and that would at least be fairly unique and probably be fairly confusing to people. I mean, today

The new normal seems to be on every other email subject line I receive. And it means something it has context. Now, it didn't have the same context a year ago. So with a continually changing environment, you've got to be careful about going too far back to get the data. So things that change in the environment might be, you know, the way people speak, there might be, for example, means that come in. But also, you might produce new products, new services, or have new markets, all of which will change what works for your audience. So you've got to be very careful about going too far back. And this makes it very hard to build great training sets for b2b marketers, because it's very hard to get enough data that is of sufficient quality.

I mean, so this is the bad news. You know, computers are pretty slow learners. But the good news is, is they're much less likely to jump to the incorrect assumptions that we often make as humans. And the number of times I've seen people look at, you know, email open rates, or click through rates on Pay Per Click ads. And the human immediately jumps and says the one with the highest percentage must be performing better. Whereas the mathematicians will say, No, no, you got to look and see whether it's likely to be randomness, or it's actually likely to be because the ad is performing better. And typically, I find that most people who are not familiar with the idea of statistical significance, they'll actually jump to conclusions well before one ad, or one subject line has proved to be more effective. And quite often, you can keep running the ads for a longer time and over a much longer period, you'll find that their assumption was actually completely incorrect. And that the other subject line in the long term performs well, but the noise from randomness meant that, you know, early on in the campaign, the poorer subject line looked like it was doing better just because, you know, there's a random chance of whether or not someone will open an email. So they don't jump to conclusions. And certainly the data, scientists will make sure that they create the models and the training sets that stop computers jumping to conclusions too quickly. But they are very slow learners. And this makes it very hard to take advantage of machine learning.

And if you look at it, actually, there are a limited number of applications of AI, that really, really make a difference in marketing. And I kind of put them down to three, this this Smart Insights diagram also has kind of, you know, different areas. They look at propensity modelling how likely someone is to buy. that's fundamentally the idea of scoring leads or predictive analysis, it looks at dynamic pricing, something that actually isn't so relevant for b2b. Typically, b2b doesn't use dynamic pricing pricing is fairly consistent, and often negotiated. And finally, predictive customer service. Now, for a lot of b2b companies, they've been using predictive maintenance or predictive customer service for some time, where they're monitoring the performance of a system. And where they can see the system is potentially going to either have reliability problems, or perhaps you know, if you're thinking about a system of a certain capacity, maybe run out of capacity, then the company can preemptively phone the customer, or contact the customer and say, we can see there's going to be a problem. And here's what you need to do to avoid it actually happening. So kind of predictors customer service already exists. In reality, if we look at the applications of AI for b2b, it really forms into three key areas around marketing itself. So that's look alikes. So that's saying, you know, if I know this particular profile of customer, tends to be a good customer for me, then find me similar, similar people who might well be good customers, and people who've used Google ads, for example, would have almost certainly use look alike audiences. For example, you might want to target people who Google believes is similar to the people who visit your website. Very simple use of look alikes great use of AI and something that can be very, very effective.

You can use AI in terms of predicting intent, and that can be as simple as lead scoring. Or it can be a much more complex algorithm that learns particularly on e commerce sites, you know, who's likely to buy and if you buy one product, what other products you're likely to buy

And finally, performance prediction. So this is being able to assess whether a particular campaign is like to perform well or not. And these three areas of AI are all the things that you can actually use now that will use machine learning and help you with your campaigns. But as you can see, they're fairly small elements of the overall campaign. So today, it's very clear the AI is not taking our jobs, it's there to help us. And there's some way to go before AI takes over a whole campaign. Interestingly, marketers also use some other AI applications that are on the face of it completely unrelated to marketing. So natural language understanding is widely used in things like chatbots. And image recognition is widely used in digital asset management systems. And we'll look at some of those in a minute. In one of the next slides.

Interestingly, though, if we think about this, you know, I find that you know, things like look alike audiences or predicting intent, they're probably the least exciting forms of AI. But actually, that's where everyone's getting the biggest benefits. So although the message that AI can do everything, and it can write content, and it can optimise content, it's all true. Actually, the reality is, is very few people get benefit from those. And most people get benefit from rather simpler applications. And again, this is great news. If you've not widely used AI, it's very easy to get on board and get up to speed very quickly, the bar today is is relatively low to, you know, start using AI and benefiting from it.

So firstly, the good news, you're probably already using AI, I've mentioned this before, but pay per click advertising often uses AI. So if you're using Google ads, you might be using smart bidding, which will basically determine how much you pay for an ad, using an AI, you might be using responsive ads, which will actually determine what content is in the ad. So the headline and the description, based upon performance, that's again, using AI, you might be using look alike audiences, or you might be running the Google smart campaign. So all of these can use AI to help your campaigns work better on Google. And it's not just good. I mean, Facebook, as well as another great example that's got some powerful AI and its advertising tools. So very simple way of, you know, using AI is to get on board with Google ads, and to start using some of the ai ai functionality there. And it's interesting, Google's actually motivated to make the AI work really well. Because clearly, the better results you get, the more you're likely to spend with Google. And so it is in Google's interest to make sure these API's really deliver the greatest results, because they believe longer term that will increase your total spend. Now, of course, there is a risk of the commons being affected by this. So with a limited number of searches that are available to bid on, of course, you know, if everybody starts increasing their spend, and the cost per click is going to go up and Google is going to be even happier. They're not just getting more revenue, they get more revenue per click. But either way, you know, once Google releases this, you should be making use of it because it's optimised to give you the best results, not necessarily in the short term to give Google the best results, because Google reckons that your short term gain is their long term benefits.

Chatbots AI, another area where people might be using AI now, we all remember, I think we all call him Clippy, or I believe that Microsoft officially called the little paper clip, clip, clip it and could be used to pop up and say, all sorts of unhelpful things whilst you're trying to create a document. And it was a first attempt at a kind of chat bot, you know, you had effectively buttons to click rather than being able to answer it in natural language. But it was kind of an attempt to provide some level of AI. Now today, what we're seeing is that with web chat widely used, chat bots are becoming more and more common. A lot of enterprises are looking at chat bots. And by the end of this year, Oracle thinks 80% of enterprises will use chat bots. And the reason for this is a lot of inquiries on a website, are actually inquiries that can be dealt with fairly simple, simply, and it can be automated. But obviously what we need is we need to understand natural language. So you know, even asking for a bill for a mobile phone, for example. You know, people could ask, Where is my bill? How much is my bill? What's my bill? And so you need some intelligence to process the way people ask questions and the different ways they can ask questions. And so natural language processing is key. And that's an area where AI really excels. And of course, one of the reasons I really excels Is there a vast training sets of natural language that people can use to train API's.

So we see chat bots becoming better and better as people use them more. And actually, if we look at another big trend is that voice technology particularly Alexa is becoming more and more common and by the end of 2021 it's forecast that 40% of companies will adopt voice technology. So they'll be creating things like Alexa voice skills by the end of next year. And the great thing about this is whether you're writing a chatbot or using Alexa, you don't have to do anything to understand the question. The tool you're using the chat bot tool, or the elixir API does all the difficult work of understanding what the user is asking. And all you have to do is then create a series of simple rules based upon the kinds of questions you get. So it's very, very easy to generate these chat bots and generates voice skills. And it's something I think is going to grow rapidly over the next couple of years.

I mentioned image recognition. This is this is interesting. You know that there are huge data sets available for images. So it's relatively easy to train. AI's to understand images, not only in terms of what's in the image, you know, whether it's a for example, a ski boot, or a stiletto heel, but also to understand things like colour, and even understand facial expressions. So whether someone is happy or angry or frustrated, and the great thing is people building these generic, AI's can then have them applied to your particular image library.

So you can categorise products. And you can also look at sentiment as well in images. And one of the biggest is Google Cloud Vision API, which is an API that allows people to send images to Google, Google then gets information about it from its own AI processing, and then sends it back. A great example of this would be one of our clients censhare. They have a digital asset management system. And they will automatically add more information, more tagging, more data about an image by using the Google Cloud Vision API. So you don't have to worry so much about categorising your products or looking for colours or anything like that. It's all done automatically. And then if you want to have a picture of a blue ski boots, it's then very easy to find one in your digital asset management system. So it's a great tool. censhare, you know, is one of the companies out there doing this, there are a number of others as well. But I strongly recommend people take a look at the white paper that's on the show censhare website that talks about AI and machine learning if they're interested in learning more about AI and content management.

So we've seen some generic applications that help marketers, but ultimately, you know, we want the utopia of like some robot sat there typing into a machine to create our campaigns for us. So are there actually AI applications that really optimise marketing activities rather than more generic ones? Well, yes, there are. And so the first thing to say is that, if we look at account selection, ABM, there's a number of AI systems that really aim to help you find and target the best accounts.

So once you've got an account list, you can use a tool like bombora, this will go out and try and find intent data. So look on the public web, to find information about your target clients. And it will try and identify things that drive sales. So that could be for example, you know, if they hire new people, if they announced new sales, if they perhaps are a startup, they're getting new funding round, all of these things can can be indications of likely intent. And bombora will also look at things people post on social media as well. So you can go a little bit deeper than the very obvious things and look at, you know, what people are posting on whether the sentiment in posts, for example, is a good indicator to a company becoming likely to become a customer.

And there's automated account discovery. So this might be someone like Terminus, where you provide a list of accounts that you want to target, and the system then identify similar accounts. And there's a whole range of different tools that will do this. And depending on how complex you want it to be, you can obviously pick a you know, tool from very simple, you know, simple SIC code type analysis, I'll give you companies with the same SIC code in the same region with the same number of people all the way through to much more complex matching that's available with some of the better tools.

And finally, there's digital behaviour analysis. So and that's really taking, you know, what bombora is doing and looking at some of the contacts you're targeting, and really trying to build a picture of the company and the contacts and it's really trying to look in depth at whether, you know when would be the right time to approach that particular customer. So, the key key suppliers really in this are people like bombora and Terminus, as I mentioned, in fact, Terminus, I think has a deal to take boobers intent data. So it's a relatively small market. And it seems like there are companies really specialising in certain areas, and then partnering to get expertise and others. But this is I think, an area which is going to continue to grow as we look forward to mapping the customer journey is is is really interesting, this is a graphic on the right from a company called path factory.

And they talk about, you know, people coming to your website, first thing they get is a very long form, you have to fill it in, you then get a content asset, that content assets typically not personalised. you hoped they read it, you've then got to get sales to reach out and contact and, you know, clearly past factories view is ultimately this is not a very effective way to do things.

It certainly can work and I know a lot of companies that make it work, but it's it's hard work. So what power factory tries to do is dynamically serve content so that you know, their vision is the right content at the right time. It moves you away from serving PDFs into serving HTML. So you can track things like the time spent engaging on each part of the content, and link that to the ultimate outcome sale or no sale. So you can actually get a lot more information than offering a PDF. And, to me, one of the interesting things is a lot of people don't realise when you offer a PDF, and someone signs up for it, the only thing you know, is that the title of the PDF interested them, you really don't understand whether the content resonated where they found it useful.

Whether even you know, the content related to the the title that you gave the to the piece. So actually, you know, looking at PDFs, you get much less information. And talking to some of our clients, they've they've looked at this, and they've also found that, you know, it's really important to understand what people are looking at a simple datasheet download doesn't necessarily signify interest, there could be lots of reasons that people are downloading data sheets, you know, for example, if you think about semiconductors, people might download the datasheet, because they're doing a PCB layout, not because they're designing a product. And so with data sheets, it's actually really important to consider what part of the datasheet people are reading, in order to get an understanding of how likely they are to buy. And the only way you can do that is break your PDF datasheet up into multiple HTML pages. So this approach is starting to gain interest. And we're starting to see more and more people do it. One of the challenges, of course, is that it's relatively easy to pop up a form and have a PDF behind it, it's much more complex to split that PDF into multiple HTML pages, and then find the right time to gather contact details. So it becomes a much more complex thing to think about. And that's where companies like powerfactory come in, is they try and remove some of that complexity by automating the process. Of course, one of the issues is, is that you're going to have to have a fairly high level of traffic in order to gather data. So path factory can actually serve what's likely to be the right content, it can learn what people are interested in, and serve the content that they're likely to be interested in, content creation is, is another area and actually AI content creation is already proven. So we've seen things from baseball reports to stories about companies, financial reports, all being generated by AI's.

And there's lots and lots of AI content companies. So pasado, you know, is aiming to find out which phrases resonate, that's one of their key key claims. So they're looking to find the phrases that work for your audience. So you can then make sure you use the phrases that work the best phrase, he aims to do more in terms of actually, you know, pure AI powered copywriting. And then you also have products that actually identify content. So rasa.io is a very simple tool. And all it's looking to do is to find related content for newsletters, so you serve it, maybe two or three stories that you've written for your brand. And it finds similar stories to create a larger newsletter that focuses more broadly across the industry.

So it's it's already here, content creation, but there are many, many pitfalls. So the Amazon launch in Sweden is perhaps the the best known of these. And there has been some speculation that actually it was so bad that Amazon maybe did it deliberately to get PR but I'm not sure that's the case, what they did was they did automatic trans translation. And unfortunately, it led to some really bad translations. That might have been confusing, they might have made no sense. Or in the case of this T shirt, with an unfortunate translation of policy, it can occasionally end up with a vulgar product listing.

So it does show that, you know, even Amazon with their power and their resources, their automatic translation that had huge problems. So generating natural language is not as easy as you might hope. But there's a lot of people working on it. And it'll be interesting to see what happens moving forward, as to how quickly we can get AI generated content. To be honest, I think, you know, in the foreseeable future, that AI content will be fairly limited. So if you look at what's happening today, it's producing in natural language text, but from a very fixed input. So in terms of baseball reports, it will just simply talk about, you know, people who scored how many outs they were each, you know, each stage and things like that. So I really don't know about baseball, so I'm probably not the best person to talk about this. But the baseball score does tell you pretty much exactly what happened in terms of the major highlights. So they're just pulling data out of the baseball's score, and then putting it into natural language, to create content without that input with no structure is much, much more difficult. And there again, I think our copywriters can, you know, sit back and relax, because it's unlikely we're going to see copywriters put out of business, when it comes to, you know, writing, you know, real, genuine, innovative copy, maybe product descriptions could be written with AI in the very near future. But I think typically, you know, the kind of long form copywriting that's still going to be written by humans for the foreseeable future prospect engagement is a is a fascinating one.

And typically, this is around follow up emails. So what happens is you have someone download content, or you meet someone at a trade show, and then having to go and converse with them is really painful. If you do it manually, it's very time consuming, you can go to a market automation platform and create an automation. But again, that's quite time consuming. So now there's emerging a number of AI assistants that aim to do this to do the follow up. So they'll send emails that appear to be from real people, following up trying to get someone to respond.

And if you're interested in this, I mean, the great news is, is that you can start a free trial with products like Converse occur, Converse occur.com. And go on to the website, and simply upload contacts, and it will learn for a small data set will actually engage them and follow them up. Now don't get too excited. I mean, the interaction, particularly with a free trial of Converse occur is pretty limited. But if you just want something that's going to automatically send follow up emails, it's actually not a bad solution. So again, you know, taking a bit of the drudgery out of that follow up work by having these automated follow up automations is a really good thing

The next area is understanding engagement. And I think this is a really interesting area because fundamentally what it's doing is it's applying another layer of intelligence over your analytics data. And there's increasingly tools that offer content insights. So it looks at how and when people engage with the content, and ultimately aims to provide smart personalization. So not just personalising based upon the persona, but also maybe personalising, based upon the stage of customer journey that the system believes the website visitors at, based on what else they've looked at.

There's a number of platforms in this area. So I mean, Salesforce recently acquired engage. But also there's other platforms like dynamic yield, monetate, and platforms like that, that are all looking at how people engage with data and trying to build up potential customer journeys. by analysing the analytics of your website. It's a really interesting area. And I think this is a an area that definitely we're going to see some real benefits from in the near future. Again, it's not necessarily generating the content that people are going to engage with, but it's certainly going to help you serve the right information at the right time to visitors. And that is something that we're very close to at the moment and I think these tools are becoming you, almost the point where they can actually dynamically serve the right information. So it's an area that I would certainly watch very closely.

Email optimization is another area that people see, you know, you often hear these rules of thumb for email. So you know, you'll hear the send the email eight in the morning, or send the email just after lunch or don't send it on a Monday or anything else. But actually really optimising email frequency and time is hard, not least, because different countries will have different cultures, and the different parts of countries will have different cultures. So typically, people in the West Coast tend to start work earlier than people on the east coast in America, apart from computer programmers, who tend to start at about 11 o'clock on the west coast and completely mess things up. It's just not that simple. It's not that everybody has the same starting time. And if you want to be top of an inbox, you just need to send up one minute tonight, everyone turns their computer on, that is just not how things work. So even sending it local times is well away from optimising the email send time.

The other thing is frequency. More emails don't necessarily mean more OPT outs, we had a project a while back for a client,where we went from sending a monthly newsletter sending a newsletter every two weeks. And I have to be honest, we were kind of worried that doubling the frequency of the newsletter could actually result in more opt out. So we looked at it very carefully. The reality couldn't have been further from what we expected, though, we actually saw fewer OPT outs per month when we had double the email newsletters than we did when we had the original number. So less than half per newsletter.

So, again, you know, sometimes people actually they prefer to see things more frequently. It's really difficult to optimise this and it requires basically a machine to sit there and look at what works and what doesn't. And so we're seeing a number of tools and seven senses a well known product that aims to detect and act on engagement with email. So it's looking at things like opens, but also looking at whether those emails lead to conversions, and creases. Another important thing is people opening our emails are not necessarily representative of conversions for the email. So it's really important to try and look through that whole customer journey to see what works best when you're sending emails. And some of these tools are now able to do that.

So we've talked a lot about different products that use AI. But what about creating your own? Well, actually, it's really easy. You know, you can go to a service like Google TensorFlow. And if you've got custom data, let's say for example, you've got a custom database for design registrations, where you register every design, track it through and see if it converts, you want to find out what are what are the primary factors, that mean that one particular project is more likely to convert than another, you might need to build your own AI because there might be nothing off the shelf.

And you probably only need a relatively small number of lines of code to do that sort of analysis. So to go from, say, you know, registering a design to wins and looking at the various factors on the designs and how they impact whether or not you win that project. The problem is, although you don't need very many lines of code, you need a data scientist to write them. And you probably need a lot of data as well to do that. But we know I mean, but one client I talked to, he'd worked on a project a while ago where he looked at design registrations to try and understand, you know what meant that design registration was likely to turn into a win.

And they came out with two factors with which, you know, initially may seem a little counterintuitive, because you know, lots of people focus on pricing, and lots of people focus on registering new products and focusing on winning designs for new products. And they actually found that the newer the product, the less likely they were to win the design, and the more focus on pricing. So the more aggressive the pricing they provided, the less likely they were to win. But if you think about it, it is actually pretty obvious because people have familiarity and experience with older products. So it's much easier for them to design in. And furthermore, when you look at pricing, if the company you're working with, so the customer is not worried about pricing, it probably says that you have something unique that they really need. Whereas if they're really really concerned about pricing, then probably there are other competitors who have similar products and so it's going to be harder to win. So unless you're the price leader, probably you know low price might be an indicator that you're less likely to win a design. So it's certainly possible to create these applications. It's very complex, it does need a data scientist, there are actually now freelance data scientists around who will build your models. But you really need to have some level of expertise to know whether you're training the model with sufficient data and things like that. But there's certainly opportunities to build projects around creating AI that is designed specifically for your needs or your databases.

So we've talked a little bit about products available today. And we focus a lot on the fact that there tends to be, you know, fairly straightforward applications of AI. And you can create your own AI, as we've just said, but it's incredibly complicated. But what's the future? Well, in the short term AI isn't taking our jobs. I mean, that's the good news for all the marketeers listening to the webinar is that we've still got, you know, quite a bit of time left, where AI is not going to be able to do everything we do.

You know, ai often has limited capabilities. Sometimes there's very small datasets, that's impossible to train an AI. And so you might have to draw analogies, something a human can do something an AI today finds very difficult. And often there's no data at all, which clearly is very tricky for an AI.

Having said that, though, AI is going to help us more. And I think, you know, if we look at where people should really be focusing on AI, I certainly think the generic tools, so image and voice recognition, natural language processing for chat bots, all of these tools are now quite mature, and are really ready for you. So if you're not using those technologies for your digital asset management, or to create chat bots, now's the time to start thinking about it. Campaign optimization is another area where, you know, definitely I see people getting benefits. We talked a lot about, you know, the understanding of the journey by looking at what content people view. And by splitting out PDFs into multiple HTML pages. And this campaign optimization, I think, is an area that really is about to hit primetime, it's a real important area to look at. And you might not want to deploy it today, it's still an expensive technology. But in the next few years, I think the costs are going to come down. And we're going to see a lot more people using AI and campaign optimization, particularly in terms of dynamically serving content on the website, to drive people through their customer journey. And finally, performance insights. And I think AI's are going to be able to give indications on performance, whether that be, you know, whether you're likely to win a particular design opportunity, or whether your lead is a high score, or a low score or any of these things. So I think AI is going to help us more and more and taking advantage in these three areas. I think they're the three areas where you're most likely to see benefit in the near future. But just like our client, ABB that talks about cobots, rather than robots, and the foreseeable future, is that that tool is going to be helping not replacing us. And I think you know that the same is true to a large extent in robotics. In most manufacturing environments is acumen and robotics environment. And I think, you know, if we look at marketing, it's going to be an AI and human environment, as well for you know, certainly the next few years.

So finally, how can you take advice, take advantage of AI? You know, we like our top tips at Napier. So, here's our five top tips. And one bonus tip. So the first thing is don't feel we're being left behind. Although people are talking about AI, the actual use of AI is pretty straightforward. So you can get on board very, very quickly without needing to invest a lot in terms of data scientists. And you do need to understand the difference between different AI's between using formulas and algorithms at one end, and machine learning at the other.

I would certainly experiment with simple AI, probably the easiest way to do this is with Google ads. You know, my experience with Google Ads is sometimes the AI stuff is is awesome. It's absolutely brilliant. And you can't get close to it manually. Other times you look at it and you say well, why on earth is that doing so? You know, sometimes we see great results, sometimes not so but certainly experimenting with AI and try to understand how to get the best out of it is really important today.

Keeping up to date is very important. So certainly follow what's going on and try and understand who the new vendors are in the market. Build your data sets. We talked a lot about the need for for large amounts of data to train, machine learning models. And so build your datasets the more data you can build now, the more you'll be able to use AI as those machines learning Tools come on board.

And then finally, and here's our bonus tip. And I'll admit it's entirely self serving. But your agency should understand I should be talking about AI, your agency shouldn't be saying AI is going to replace everything that they do, because that simply isn't the case today. But an AI, an agency that uses AI is going to be a more efficient agency.

So the long and short is, you know, although few organisations are really using heavyweight marketing AI, there are real applications that can be delivered with, you know, very, very small, very reasonable budgets. So it's important not to get left behind to get on board now and start understanding how AI can benefit you.

So that's our overview of AI and b2b marketing. I think it's it's a really optimistic view. You know, already today, there are ways you can make use of simple AI to help you in your work. And looking forward, I think AI is going to become more and more of a benefit to us and more of an assistant. But at the same time, you know, there's no indication that we're all going to be put out of a job. And everyone's going to see the same kind of AI created campaigns for every company, that's just not going to happen in the foreseeable future. So I think it's a very bright future for people are prepared to engage, and to frankly, try a few things. And so now we'll move on and see if anybody has any questions

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Chip House - SharpSpring

We are delighted to share the latest interview from Napier's Marketing B2B Technology podcast.

In this episode, we interview Chip House, CMO at SharpSpring, who discusses why he thinks marketing automation is a revenue growth platform, and why SharpSpring's vision to cross CRM, sales and marketing automation to provide a comprehensive suite of tools will continue to be a major success in the next 5-10 years.

To listen to the interview and to stay up to date when a new episode is live, click one of the below links to subscribe:

Transcript: Interview with Chip House - SharpSpring

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Chip House

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 the latest edition of the Napier, podcast marketing b2b technology. Today, I've got Chip House, who's the chief marketing officer of SharpSpring on the podcast, welcome to the podcast chip.

Chip: Thanks so much for having me, Mike.

Mike: It's great to have you on. So how long have you been at SharpSpring?

Chip: You know, I started during COVID, which is been quite a quite a rush, a very unusual experience. For my memoirs, someday, I'm sure. But, yeah, so about six, seven months, I've been at SharpSpring now, and, you know, I use exactly the type of company that I was really excited to join. I've been in marketing technology, and SAS technology for 2025 years. And you know, more recently, I was I was doing a start up more in the HR space. And I spent some time doing e-commerce also recently, but the bulk of my career has been in, you know, email marketing, digital marketing. And so it's, it's good to be back, I guess, selling marketing technology to marketers and other companies that want to grow.

Mike: Great. And obviously, I mean, sharp springs, one of the better known marketing automation platforms. So what particularly attracted you to marketing automation as a marketer.

Chip: Well, for SharpSpring, specifically for me, Mike, I, you. Yeah, well, like I mentioned, you know, I really, I came from a direct marketing background, really a catalogue marketing, background, and, you know, in it was with a company called Fingerhut Corporation in the late 80s, which at one point was very, very sizable company with 4 million loyal customers that we sold as many things as like Sears or JC Penney's would, via catalogue market, it was a highly targeted, you know, marketing company, highly analytical, and, you know, I, that was an amazing foundation for when I, when I moved into email marketing and having that, you know, knowledge of direct marketing, you know, in targeting and working out segments, and which ones you can profitably send into, and, you know, email marketing just blew my mind in the early 2000s.

For a period of time there, I was working for an e-commerce company, and we were sending emails on behalf of our clients who were software companies trying to drive revenue online. And I was blown away at the power of sending even a simple text based email. And, of course, you know, pretty soon we're doing a B testing, and much more than that would you know, batch and blast, you know, more than many people were doing in the early 2000s. So when I first saw, you know, an HTML editor that allowed a marketer, the tools to build their own visually attractive, you know, a nice nice looking marketing piece. That was kind of my first love with with email marketing. But, you know, over time, obviously, that space got super, super crowded, the company, by the way, I've been mentioned, that I joined was back in 2001, was exact target. And we scaled had an office in London and Australia and Brazil, etc. And we were acquired by Salesforce in 2013. But we were late to the marketing automation game, you know, we and we certainly had, we have had customers that were helping on our platform that were reacting to opens and clicks with follow up emails, but we didn't initially have a very built out b2b, you know, marketing, automation workflows, any sort of lead scoring things that now you think are just sort of table stakes for a marketing automation platform. So we acquired par dot, and that actually helped us get acquired by Salesforce in 2013. And, you know, to be honest, that that about 2010 was my first you know, really introduction into marketing automation and what it could Do with par.so the space like every SAS space has gotten more and more crowded, there's more and more technologies. There's plenty of point solutions. But then you're also seeing some cloud suites. And you know, competitors of ours such as HubSpot, that have sales solutions and marketing automation solutions and have expanded.

So, what attracted me to SharpSpring, specifically, I guess, was the kind of bread the breadth of the vision to, you know, across marketing automation, and sales, automation, and CRM, and to provide that comprehensive suite of tools to small businesses and agencies that, you know, themselves right now are just struggling with, you know, what technology should they choose, and they're there, they have too many different SaaS platforms that they're paying for monthly on the credit card, they can't even keep track of them. And versus a and b, because of that, they're just not that not that effective. So that was a long answer to your question.

Mike: That was a great answer. I mean, you did allude to something that I think kind of a difficult question is, how would you define a marketing automation platform today, because that there appears to be lots of, you know, fuzzy edges around this, this sort of category.

Chip: I think that like, like many things, there might be sort of a fuzzy edge, you know, because we even think, broadly now as our platform as a revenue growth platform, you know, and because I think it's helpful to bring together the purpose and sort of the value proposition and how to how you describe a piece of software. So, you know, I mean, I think, you know, marketing automation, obviously, historically is a suite of tools, to, to manage your leads and prospects with highly personalised and kind of behavioural based intent based communications, and being able to score those prospects, such that you can decide, hey, am I going to market to these people more Am I going to send them on to the sales team, to engage with, and you know, just to understand the, the entire entirety of their journey, so I, you know, so when I, when I think about that, you know, we've built up a platform, right, and it really is a marketing and sales platform that companies run their entire business on, you know, effectively running their entire business on so you'd have the, your customer prospect list and our CRM, and you'd be building, you know, landing pages that integrate with your website to capture leads as they come in, you might have a chat bot, you might be building campaigns on our site, such that you can track them and manage, you know, where they get attributed, we have something called life of the lead, you know, that allows you to see actually how a prospect came into your system and all the communications they've interacted with, across channels over a period of time, you know, and see how they move from prospect to, to lead to customer. So, I mean, I think all of those elements, plus many more, have you and, you know, tracking and analytics over the top, to help you understand what's going on what's working, what's not all of those have become, you know, just almost the price of entry to being part of the marketing automation. You know, top tier.

Mike: You mentioned actually a really interesting feature SharpSpring, I mean, you've got a very full functional CRM, as well as the marketing tools. Whereas, you know, some of the other marketing automation vendors, they pretty much say, well, you're going to use Salesforce, so we'll just integrate with Salesforce. What's the logic behind having that CRM? And does that mean that you then become perhaps less attractive to the Enterprises? Or is it just I don't care for the enterprises?

Chip: Well, I guess, to two part answer to that. I mean, first of all, we do play nice with others, you know, and in the, the age of the API economy, you have to integrate with multiple pieces of software to be effective, especially as you move more up market, you know, so, we do have a Salesforce integration, you know, that a number of our customers use effectively and you know, that's something we'll be investing more in over time. By having our own CRM, you know, essentially our customers are building relationships and being able to manage those relationships between their sales team and their marketing team. So it becomes a very practical it's hardly a leap at all really, you know, once you once you start driving traffic and then being able to, to manage and attribute that data and flow it through the system. And then, you know, we use and run our entire business on SharpSpring as well, right. So we send promotions via SharpSpring and score leads and, you know, manage them with our sales team with the with some sales optimizer call cadences and things like that. So you know, I think CRM is an important component.

Mike: Cool, okay. So you definitely give people the option of, you know, a third party CRM or the SharpSpring. One, it's you're not disadvantaged if you don't use the SharpSpring CRM?

Chip: Correct, yeah. But there are inherent benefits for why we built ours that I kind of touched on that. So yeah.

Mike: And we say do the same thing. I mean, Napier is a SharpSpring partner, and we run our business on SharpSpring. And, and actually, I have to be honest, love the CRM, it works really well.

Chip: So. Right, yeah, very cool. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. Which brings me to another point. I mean, you did mention a agencies earlier on and SharpSpring, you know, feels to me to be the market automation platform that's most focused on working with agencies, you know, some of the other platforms are really very much a direct sale with consultants to support others have some sort of, you know, agency programme, but SharpSpring seems, you know, very focused on working with agencies. And can you tell me why that is why you think that's the right strategy?

Chip: Sure, you know, agencies themselves, you know, many people who started agencies didn't necessarily start an agency to, because they were amazing salespeople, you know, that they, nor that, were they software engineers. And so, we, you know, we've been really attracted to the agency arena, and really built a lot of the platform, around agencies, because of their unique needs. So an agency, like many small businesses themselves is, you know, needs to generate business and move kind of beyond word of mouth, which typical agency focuses on, and builds, build a lead gen practice, potentially hire salespeople. And, you know, so, and right now, like anybody, they're probably struggling with too many point solutions of different pieces of software that they're using poorly, you know, so they themselves need a way to manage the business, you know, via marketing automation.

But with something like SharpSpring it, you know, we've, we've built it such that, you know, they can rebrand it, such that they can, you know, we've got our support team dedicated to, to helping them sell it and resell it and support their, their clients on the platform. And, you know, if you think about many businesses that, you know, choose to pursue marketing automation, it's still Greek to many people, you know, and, or if you're small enough business you might not have might not have the people on staff, you know, that have the expertise or time to learn a platform. And so, you know, by partnering with agencies that learn our platform that gets certified on it, that become very successful with other clients, it becomes a really important multiplier effect, so to speak, for us as a business and yeah, so that the the agencies themselves get a unique benefit out of SharpSpring that they can get with other automation platforms. Plus, it doesn't hurt that we're a fraction of the cost of HubSpot and some of the others.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I was gonna ask you about cost because the cost of a marketing automation platform can be frankly very cheap. You can look at something like an Infusionsoft or you know even even a MailChimp has got basic automation functions. Or it can be incredibly expensive and you know, some of our clients are doing amazing things, but but obviously spending a lot of money I mean, how does a potential customer decide where they sit in that, you know, huge variety of costs? And how much they should look, you know, should be expecting to pay for marketing automation system?

Chip: Um, well, I think you, you need to decide, you know, what's right for your business. And, you know, I think many businesses are at the point, especially if they're just getting into marketing automation, where they simply have to create the discipline around, you know, campaigns and lead generation and lead scoring and be able to manage, you know, leads between a marketing and a sales team. And I would say, Mark, many clients and even agencies of ours, kind of start out not using all the platform, you know, not using all that it can do. And so, I think that that's broadly true for SAS software, everywhere, I think many companies buy software on the promise of what it can do, but don't affect literally bring all of those capabilities to bear. And so you know, we are we've got hundreds of customers, you know, on review sites like kaptara and jeetu crowd that have rated us to as well or better than, you know, HubSpot, and some of our other competitors. So, I would just say, you know, why pay too much for something, you know, when you have the chance to get a very similar type of outcome, which is really important, right, you should buy, I think SAS software based on the outcomes you can achieve. And you can get very similar outcomes with SharpSpring.

Mike: I think that's a great point. I mean, we've, we've used HubSpot in the past, and I have to be honest, I love HubSpot. I think it's a great product. But we moved across to SharpSpring. And there's virtually nothing with it on HubSpot, we can't do on SharpSpring right. And yeah, and you're absolutely right, that the pricing is very attractive to

Chip: Yeah, no question. And, you know, specifically, again, to agencies, you know, it allows them the ability to, to make a margin and create recurring revenue streams, which are, which are difficult to, for some agencies to do that are, you know, my big sort of project work to project work, you know, and always, you know, having to kill what they eat, so to speak, I mean, you know, being able to have some of the benefits of a SAS recurring model, as part of your agency is helpful.

Mike: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, maybe we can move on and talk a little bit about actually using the product, you know, I mean, one of the things I'm interested in is where do you see people getting, you know, really outstanding return on investment from using SharpSpring? Is there a particular part of the tool or a particular approach that works really well?

Chip: Um, you know, it's, I'm trying to decide where to where to start there. I think it's, when I think back to my email, marketing career, and when I when I think back to, well, at any point in my career, you know, the companies, the customers that I worked with that were doing it effectively had a great understanding of the customer journey. And were cognizant about how they were engaging with customers at different ways through the platform. So when I think about, again, I'd mentioned life of the lead before but being able to capitalise effectively, the different segments inside of your platform, and be reactive to the pieces of content that they're engaging with, on your website, the events that you're doing, being able to then segment, your prospects and customers based on the content that they're engaging with, you know, I think we have got a number of different clients that have built some workflows, automated workflows on the platform that make, you know, prospects, you know, feel like they're an individual that's heard, you know, so I think broad broadly, you know, the it's the holistic approach across channels and being reactive to where the customer is in their journey. So I mean, that's typically an approach that works really, really effectively. And it's, it's, you know, with that said, it's interesting how you're seeing commonalities emerge across our agency partners, and, you know, their clients. Many of them are sort of kind of returning to things like, you know, on site optimization. And, you know, one of the tools that we launched earlier in 2020, was chat bots, you know, the ability to instal a chat bot on your website, such that you can engage somebody while they're browsing your website. You know, similar to your familiar things, Mike, like drift and some of the other templates that are out there, right. So it also in our platform has been chatbots. And we are, you know, pleasantly surprised at how well that has been adopted by our partners, and they're using it effectively to kind of kick off, you know, a cold lead into a set of set of journeys with the company.

Mike: I mean, chat bots are very interesting to me, because, you know, we've had quite a few projects around them internally, we've looking at it. And I think the biggest challenge people have is how do you manage and determine where that handover is from a chatbot? To a human, where, particularly if you're not a huge company, you can't put answers to every possible question into the chat bot. So you have to define that handover. Do you have any suggestions as to how people can can do that more effectively?

Chip: You know, I think the, the chat bots that I've seen, and I've interacted with myself, I think they, they work on converting you, you know, and, and so I think, you know, that's how I would advise people, I don't think in the context of a marketing tool on the front of your website, you certainly want to be helpful and route them, if they're an existing customer, to the your support team, or if they're a prospect, you know, figure out how to get them to a sales team. You're not like, unless you're like a knowledge base or something and you're trying to answer endless questions from your, from your chat bot, I think that the main purpose of it is to qualify to triage and to help to get them to the right place as quickly as possible. So I think, you know, with that said, you can be pretty personal, you know, by mapping out the most common scenarios which you learn very quickly, when people begin to engage with you, you know, what are the what are the top 10 reasons people are engaging with us a chat bot, and so it's the type of thing you're not going to nail out of the park, when you start it, for sure. But you're gonna get better over time.

Mike: And it sounds like the customer journey comes back into there about, you know, pushing people down that customer journey, and that really defines when you hand over is where they're at the right stage in that journey.

Chip: Yeah, I think that that is absolutely right. Where when you hand them over and who you hand them over to? Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. And obviously, the chatbot is, is probably, you know, one of the first sort of times where marketers will really use AI, in their marketing campaigns, I'm interested to know, you know, what sort of impact you think AI will have on marketing in the future.

Chip: You know, I, it's interesting, I've seen AI emerging as important in it, and a lot of the SAS suites out there. In many people are engaging with it day to day and don't really notice it. But you know, I think now, I use Google Mail, for example. And, you know, it's suggesting finishes to my sentence. You know, for example, at first was kind of annoying and you weren't used to it. And now you expected it actually makes you a lot more productive and effective. There's a, there's another technology I'm aware of a company called pattern 89 that does predictive AI around the social space. So by scanning all of the Facebook ads in the world and looking for commonalities and Kind of engagement of those different ads can can provide to marketers, best practices for trends and colours and pictures, like how many people they should have in their pictures for their ads, or what colours they should be using, you know, over time, just to take some of the guesswork out a bit for marketers, you know. And, you know, I think that the same opportunity exists and are similar as part of a marketing automation platform, you know, what content is most likely to be engaging, you know, clearly, you know, personalization and dynamic content have gone on for gone been used forever, in email, and marketing automation, and you can do that as well with SharpSpring. But over time, I can see AI being an exciting, exciting layer for marketing automation, because of the predictive aspect of, of what and when and how.

Mike: And, you know, one thing I'm interested in is, obviously, ai tends to need very large training sets. So if you work in a particular market niche, you're never going to have that much data to be able to train up an AI engine, do you think people will be able to apply learnings across much broader industries into theirs? Or do you think there'll be problems in converting? You know, for example, what engineering does in general, through to a very specific aspect of engineering.

Chip: It's a great question, I think there's certainly opportunity to, you know, much like the company I mentioned, that could pull in information from a broad data set and be effective, I think, you know, one of the things with marketing automation, which might be a little bit unique is often you're sort of reacting to an action, you know, you know, once you have the ad itself, you know, the automation is, you know, a set of logic, you know, that's builds on what you learn from, you know, customers over time. And so, the kind of the, the end all be all goal for marketers is to get the, you know, one to one, right content at the right time to the right person. And so, you know, if, if AI can get more information about me specifically, you know, you know, it could be really, really effective. But I think, anyway, I don't know if I answered your question or not, but I think it's a, it's, it's compelling to think about being able to pull in a broader data set without being spooky about it, to the to the end user, because otherwise, I think you can be very effective, interacting with them based on what they've told you and how they've behaviorally interacted with your website, or your advertising or your sales team, etc.

Mike: Brilliant. No, that's, that's really, really interesting. And I think it raises some interesting possibilities, particularly, you know, as you say, about people who can pull a broad data set and then get, you know, general trends about what's happening in the world that that informs marketers.

Chip: Yes. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, I guess until we've got those AI's helping us, we're gonna have to do it our, you know, do it ourselves as marketers, and I'm sure one of the things people would love to know, is what they should avoid doing? What are the kind of, you know, biggest mistakes people make with marketing automation?

Chip: Yeah, I think, me, me, what we, what we've noticed are a couple things, you know, so, so one, I think I already touched down a little bit, which is, you know, using your marketing automation platform, like a batch and blast email platform, you know, because that's not what it's built for, you know, it's not built for, for you to send, you know, non targeted communications to people that you've never engaged with. Right. So that's definitely a no for multiple reasons, including obviously getting spam spammed out and blocked and things like that, but it's also not as effective. I mean, at the end of the day, it is not an effective strategy.

So I think, again, the it takes, it takes planning, it takes a bit of time to do it correctly. And, again, you know, when I think about some of the work we're doing ourselves now, and that I've done with clients historically, you have to write down you have to document your customer journey and understand every stage of it, and understand what their motivations are and what your motivations are, and how you can move those, move those along and Because so you're starting out, plan fully thinking about that, that's from, that's how you determine what content at what stage, you're going to be, you know, using. And, of course, you're going to want to be able to understand how people are getting into your marketing funnel, right. So don't run, don't run campaigns, you know, to your website that you don't have a tracking code on, for example, you know, you build build campaigns, top to bottom as much as possible, so that you're, you're tracking them from the moment the ad is seen and interacted with, and makes its way to your, your website, and then your automation system. So I guess, you know, the answer is use the tools that are there. Because they're pretty amazingly powerful.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think you mentioned earlier about the fact that, that the marketing automation tools, look across that whole customer journey. And to me, you know, what you're saying there is exactly the same thing, you need to make use of the tool across the whole journey, and not use it as a, you know, point tactic for sending out an email blast. But rather think about it as a, a tool to ease people along that journey to becoming a customer.

Chip: Right? Me there's, there's a long period of time where, you know, people are out researching your business, and they're looking at competitors, businesses, and they're trying to decide who they're going to do business with. And so they might visit 20 sites they make it back to your site a few different times, and finally, will, they'll engage with an ad or a download, or they'll come to an event, they'll do that for a period of time, you know, while you're kind of engaging and reacting to them. And, you know, over time, that that continued engagement makes an individual prospect interesting and interesting inside of a CRM or marketing automation platform, because they're, you know, assuming you have lead scoring setup, they're gonna score really well. And you're, then be able to route that lead appropriately. And this is all just before they even become a customer. So, you know, you know, or moved into your official sales funnel, where they're engaging with you, you know, and then post, you know, post interaction. So it really is, it really is being cognizant of the, of the entire journey and being able to, to react to all the stages, really with effective content that's thought through.

Mike: That's great. I mean, there's been so many great tips here. But I, I need to ask you a bit of a cheeky question. I mean, obviously, you know, you were working exact target got acquired by Salesforce. You know, they're an incredible company, you've moved across the sharp spring. Now, what what do you see in sharp spring that convinces you that you're going to be successful over the next, you know, five to 10 years, the longer term competing against, you know, frankly, some very big names in the industry?

Chip: Yeah, no, it's a great question. Like, and there's so much of what I feel here at SharpSpring. You know, we're about a 250 person organization, it feels a little bit like deja vu. I mean, it feels like some of my experience is, you know, growing with other SaaS companies at a similar stage where there's still such a sense of entrepreneurialism and can do and we can build this week, you know, it still feels like the sky, I guess it's kind of a limit. And when you look at the total addressable market, you know, with our, our main market agencies right now is gigantic, just in the US United States alone, but also, obviously, in the UK and out and throughout Europe. And, you know, there's, there's plenty of room for, for different technologies to uniquely solve the needs of different customer segments. So, you know, I think we, as a company, like any company, I'll just say, a generic, gets acquired into a large suite, it's more difficult for them to innovate. Whereas, you know, we're, sort of we're a public company, but we're still pretty scrappy, you know, so there's still, there's still there's still a lot that we can do on our own. It's pretty exciting.

Mike: That sounds great. I mean, we're certainly looking forward to seeing you know, what happens at sharp spring and what features you release going forward? So that's, that's really exciting news to hear that you're proactively doing that.

Chip: Yeah, I think there's is a huge passion for, as you can see, by the breadth of the platform now, but just building out functionality that certainly requested by our customers, but just you know, solving problems for businesses.

Mike: That's great. Well, I really appreciate your time. I know that that you're quite limited for time today. So I appreciate you spending the time to talk to me. Before you go, what's the best way for people to get hold of you? if they have questions about SharpSpring?

Chip: Well if they'd love to learn more about SharpSpring, we actually developed a campaign and the specific URL for specifically for this podcast Mike, which we're eating our own dog food, drink, arrow and champagne. However you describe it, so and it's SharpSpring.com/b2bpodcast. And you can learn more about SharpSpring, certainly in sharpspring.com. But if you go to the /b2bpodcast, you can register to get a demo, and we'll show you the breadth of the platform we'd love to do.

Mike: That's amazing. I think that that's, that'll be great. And I'm sure anyone listening to this would love to, to go and take a look at SharpSpring and try out the link. And thank you so much for being on chip. I really appreciate your time.

Chip: It was really fun, Mike, thank you. Appreciate it. Let's do it again.

Mike: Thanks very much.

Chip: Take care.

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 Napierb2b.com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

Elektronik Informationen and Photonik Close

We were really sad to hear the news that Elektronik Informationen and its sister magazine Photonik has made the decision to close its doors, with readers already receiving the last published issues from the publications.

As a small independent publisher, the decision was made due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting profits, and without an established digital readership, it was not economically feasible to support the high running costs of the print magazines.

It's always tough to see a publication close, and we would like to take this time to thank the full editorial team at Elektronik Informationen and Photonik for their support and cooperation over the years.