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.


Guest Blog Post - Ian Poole - 10 Top Tips to Get the Most Views for Your Videos

With video now becoming a key tactic within B2B marketing strategies, we were delighted to receive a guest blog post from Ian Poole, Editor of Electronics Notes, who shares his top 10 tips for getting the most views for your videos. 

Video content is becoming an ever more popular method of reaching readers and viewers. It can be a very powerful method of connecting with people on the Internet.

Whilst video is a really powerful and useful means of reaching people, it is also very expensive and time consuming to make good videos.

Accordingly, it is absolutely essential that any video that is made has the best chance of reaching as many people as possible. Here we give you ten top tips for enabling your video to gain as many views as possible. These are aimed at videos on YouTube as this is the largest platform, and as it is normally the "Go To" place for video, it is sensible to use it.

As just putting a video onto YouTube does not mean that you will get lots of views - it is necessary to plan the video and make sure that all the right attributes are in place to give it the best chance of succeeding.

Here are a few tips that have worked for me.

Pick the right topic

One of the first decisions in making a video, or even writing a web page is to decide what it is to be about. It is always best to select a topic that people will be interested in - a topic that people will be searching for. If people are not searching for it, then few people will find it.

When trying to push your company agenda, ask yourself how many people will be searching on that - very few is my guess. Instead, think of a topic they will be interested in and subtly add your message into the video. That way you will get very many more views and increase your authority on the web.

My experience is that companies that just push their message are known for that. Whilst you do need to put your company's message over, it can be done in a way that helps the audience rather than one in which it is just marketing. Whilst there are times for marketing only material, if you want to reach more people, it is not often the way to achieve it.

 Use the right keywords

Keywords are still very important on the Internet. It is important to select the right keywords for the topic you want to make the video on. It is possible to use the Google Ad Planner keyword tool to gauge the popularity of the keyword or keyword strong that you are thinking of. The beauty of the Ad Planner Tool is that it suggests other options as well. It is worth spending a little time selecting the right keyword string - looking at what could get good traffic and whether this is the right topic for the video.

Remember that if you opt for something with a very high level of searches, there is likely to be a lot of competition, and you may not rank well. The trick is to select keywords for which there are reasonably high levels of traffic, but little competition. Not easy, but after a little while, it is possible to get a feel for what will work.

The keyword tool is easy to locate - simply search on Google for "Google Ad Planner Keyword Tool."

Make an engaging title

Selecting the title is very important. It should include the keyword string, but still be engaging. Remember that of the keywords that are left, most in the string will have the highest weighting. It can sometimes be a balance between making the title engaging and making it more interesting.

For example, a video looking at Phase-Locked Loops could have a variety of titles. "Understanding Phase-Locked Loops" could be good because it is more approachable than just "Phase Locked Loops", but the word understanding pushes the main keywords slightly away from the left.

A title like "Phase Locked Loop Primer" keeps the main keywords to the left, but makes the title more engaging than just Phase-Locked Loops.

These are very simple examples, but show what can be done.

Have a striking thumbnail

When uploading a video to YouTube, a thumbnail will be created - in fact three are generated and it is possible to select the best. However, it is also possible to upload your own. This is the best option because you can have a "House Style" one. It can be designed to stand out, and also show what the video is about. Although the Electronics Notes video channel is not perfect, we have tried to make the video thumbnails be striking and enticing.

Ensure the video file name includes the keywords

In just the same way that webpages should include the title or at least the keywords, so too should the video filename include the title or keywords.

Some video editing programmes may have their own default filename, but this should be changed to reflect the topic of the video. As the filename is not normally seen, the way it looks is not too important, but placing the keywords in it is important.

Write a good description

Within YouTube there is a space for a written description of the video. This is a great opportunity to give a good description of the video. Although it is difficult to verify exactly, most informed sources recommend a good, well-written description of the video using the main keywords, and having a length of at least 200 to 300 words.

The description is also a good area to include additional links for places where additional information can be found, including, for example, your website homepage and the page where more data can be found on your website.

This will not only drive some traffic to the website, but it also helps by giving inbound links which is good for SEO

Link back to your channel name

In the same way that links to the website and pages on the website are important, the description can similarly be used to promote your video channel. It all helps more people to subscribe to your channel and also look at other videos. Add the link in the description area, possibly after the written description of the video giving a link to the channel name.

Link from your website

It helps to embed the video into a webpage. This will not only get it more views because people viewing the page will want to click on the video, but it will also help raise the ranking of the video. This is quite important when it is first launched. It certainly seems to help the ranking if the video gets a good number of views after it is launched.

Share on social media

Sharing the video immediately it is launched will make a good difference to the ranking of the video and the number of views. Normally it is not possible to spend all day sharing on multiple social media platforms, but select the ones that are most applicable, and share the video URL on them to engage with as many people as possible.

Add end links, etc

One of the capabilities that YouTube has introduced is a capability called "End Links." Using these it is possible to provide links to other videos and also to subscribe to your YouTube channel. It is always good to be able to use these.

If you are going to use end links, it is worth remembering to leave time and space at the end of the video so that these can be incorporated onto the video. When going back to put these on old videos, I have had to cover up some of the graphics, and there was not always sufficient time at the end to show them. It is worth planning this when you make and edit the video.


It is hoped that some of these tips will help gain you considerably more views for your videos. A little planning always helps anyway, and the steps taken here should not add much if any, additional time to the creation of the video, and they should certainly help to gain more views.

Business Mastermind Podcast Interview: Marketing Numbers, Content and Growth through Acquisition

The Business Mastermind Podcast, hosted by Gavin Preston, provides listeners with insights on how to grow your business, covering topics such as marketing, leadership, systems, strategy, scaling, culture, resiliency and mindset.

In one of their most recent podcast episodes, Gavin interviews Mike, Napier’s Managing Director, who discusses the ways in which marketing has changed through lockdown, and how this has allowed for sales specialists to focus in narrowly upon tighter demographics.

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.

Elektronik & Data Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Congratulations to Elektronik & Data, who celebrated its 30th year of delivering content to the electronics industry in Autumn this year. The publication has continued to grow over the years, increasing readership levels, as well as its digital offerings.

Having originally launched its customized newsletters back in 2012,  we were delighted to hear that Elektronik & Data now have over 5200 newsletter subscribers, one of the largest newsletters in Scandinavia, which receives an average open rate of 22.9%, indicating a clear interest from the electronics industry on receiving this format of updates.

We wish Elektronik & Data the best of luck for its future, and may their success continue!

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Indrek Vainu - AlphaBlues

In our latest episode, on Napier’s Marketing B2B Technology Podcast, Mike, Managing Director of Napier, interviews Indrek Vainu, co-founder of AlphaBlues, who discusses why there is a need for chatbots in B2B marketing and shares how AlphaBlues technology helps his clients be successful.

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 Indrek Vainu - AlphaBlues

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Indrek Vainu

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 have Indrek Vainu, from alpha blues, alpha blues promises to deliver conversational AI for the enterprise. So they're delivering chatbots that enable your customers to interact with the website at any time. Welcome to the podcast Indrek.

Indrek: Hi, great to be here.

Mike: Thanks very much for coming on the show. My first question, I have to ask this because I keep hearing from, from my clients, how difficult it is to create usable chatbots for b2b. Do you actually see b2b companies using chatbots successfully?

Indrek: Yeah, that's a great question. So yes, there are companies that are using chatbots in the b2b environment. But you know, touching on the first thing you said, you know, it is somewhat difficult to create good chatbots. Because ultimately, when you think about it, you are creating something equivalent to a digital human being. And that is supposed to understand people's questions, talkback provide intelligent, helpful answers. So sort of that on its own already is, is a challenge for sure. But, you know, there's definitely ways how to do it so that these are helpful for customers and also for the business itself.

Mike: Fascinating. So, I mean, obviously, there's a lot of work involved in creating these chatbots, and people are investing the time and clearly getting the benefit. Why do you think there's such a move to put the effort into offering chatbots on b2b websites, rather than perhaps putting the money into some other activity?

Indrek: Yeah, that's a good question. So I think in general, what we're seeing now is, and there's a movement towards how do you actually communicate with your customers? And I think one of the things that has been happening in the background over the past few years is really the rise of messaging apps. So I think, you know, Whatsapp now has 2 billion users messenger has 1.3, or 1.5 billion. And these are huge, right? These are mean huge, huge networks. And they are used so often. I mean, I think people open WhatsApp, 30 times per day on average, right? And why these are used so much is that you, you can reach people, you know, if you want to reach someone, they're in your network, you reach them, and they actually answer you in, you know, a minute in a second, at least an hour or so. and that type of thing that's happening with, you know, person to person communication, actually, the expectations are carrying over also to the business world. So no longer is it sufficient that you have an info@company.com address, you send an email, and you wait for the reply for three or four days, that sort of already is in the past, because the world is more immediate. People want answers quicker. And really the speed of reply, can in many cases, you know, seal the deal or lose that customer to your competitor. So really, really the customer experience is something that comes to matter more and more.

Mike: That's fascinating. And certainly, I think I've seen that trend for more immediacy. So I definitely agree with that. And in terms of creating chatbots, I'm really interested, I mean, you're using AI for your chatbot. I mean, presumably it means that this makes it easier than the old method where people had to effectively forecast all the questions the bot might be asked and then provide the answers. And explain a little bit as to how your system alpha blues works.

Indrek: Yes, sure. So what I could spend hours and days on the topic of how to create a good job but to put it very briefly, what is the central thing you have to solve and then I'll touch upon if you're a business what you have to think about before you create the chatbot. So the central thing you have to solve is that you know it comes no surprise people are different, right? And with that the way that they ask questions is absolutely different. So if I approached let's say a bank or a company and I want to know something, I would ask it in a in a I would phrase it in a way of like, you know XYZ, you would phrase it in a way of ABC and now the computer has to understand that X, Y, Z and ABC are actually the same thing and provide the same answer. And what's difficult with computers is that they don't have inherent knowledge of the world. So they don't understand what things mean. But they're really good at just, you know, cramming things. So they are really good at just, you know, going through a bunch of information, and then finding patterns and saying that, you know, x means this and y means that. So, this is what you have to teach your bot is that if people ask things in literally a million different ways, the answer should always be a. And this is, you know when people talk about chatbots, and sometimes they say that the bot doesn't understand me is that they fail to understand that the way that they ask questions is very different from the way that their peers or colleagues ask questions. And you know, this is the same for if you're looking at Siri, or Alexa or Google Assistant, any of those things is that there is no way that you can ever be able to come up with all the different things that people might ask the bot like, it's literally impossible, right?

So that's the thing, where you start, however, the way around this is that you create a bot. And what we usually suggest companies to do is, you know, think of think of two axes, think of the frequency of things that are asked. So you want to aim for the most frequently asked things, things that are asked like hundreds or thousands of times per month, right? And then think on the second axis, think about the solve ability. So can the machine on its own actually solve it. And we usually, you know, break down solvability into three buckets. You know, bucket number one is that the machine can just private provide an answer without any third party information. bucket number two is that with some API connections, the machine can give you an answer. So for example, you say, you know, I want to reset my password, then you know, the machine is connected to the backend system, and then is able to perform the task. And then bucket number three is something where there's always a need for a human. So let's say a human needs to verify your information from five databases, and then do a cross check with the sixth one, and then you know, off you go, right. And what you actually want to look at is where you have the highest occurrence of topics that fall into buckets, one or two. And these are the things you should automate, because you have a lot of volume. And the machine can solve this on its own. And this is, it sounds relatively simple. But over time, when we work with enterprises, this is what comes up again and again, is that you know, pick your battles carefully, where you actually want to deploy the machine so that it's able to help the user and also able to solve the request on its own. And of course, the things that the machine cannot solve on its own. There's a fall back to a human support agent, and they take over the conversation and helps the user out.

Mike: That fascinating. I mean, how do you as a user of a chatbot, for example, the alpha AI, how do you tell the system to fall back is there are certain questions that automatically fall back to a to a human?

Indrek: Yeah, so how so we have built an end to end our chat automation product, which means that you know, you have the whole interface of building the bot where you want to deploy it either on the website or in your internet or in, you know, Facebook or WhatsApp. You build it to train it, and then you have the also the live chat system where the handover happens. So if the bot cannot help you, it has the conversation over to human agents. The solution works is such that if you come in and you ask us to ask a question, then you ask it in natural language. And what it's able to do is it's able to take the phrase that you asked from the bot, and it's able to match that to its trade database of phrases. So it doesn't need to be an exact match. It can be a partial match. And it sort of has its own confidence scores. So let's say if the bot is 80% confident it gives you an answer. If it's let's say between 30 and 70%, confident it gives you three answers in a way of you know, did you mean a, b or c? And if it's let's say less than 30% confident, then it directs you to a human being. And once the conversation is going, you ask a question the bot is answering. Then at the end of each, each content, each answer or conversation we asked was it helpful? So the user has an explicit way of saying, you know, yes, this was helpful or no, this wasn't helpful. And when they say no, it was not helpful, then is when we connect the user to the customer service agent because you want to solve the issue, you don't want to leave the customer in the dark, saying, you know, hey, we cannot help you sorry. But then what happens is that you connect the user to the right agent, who knows the topic that you want to ask about. And also, who can help you, let's say, you know, speaks English, and German. And if you're a German customer, then that agent can help you, and also in the right type of priority. Because you know, if you're a business, then if somebody comes in and asks about when is your office open, and then another person comes in and says, Hey, I want to order like, I know 10,000 units of your product, then clearly, the second customer is more important for you, because you can actually close a large sale, right, so you want to prioritise also those by relevancy to your business. But the big part of the bots that we see are actually, how do you build a bot to handle the bulk of the incoming messages and the front end, and then if the bot cannot help, then transferring that to the right agent at the right time in the right order priority, so that the people are actually doing just the work that they need to do so a big part of why we started the company in the first place is humans should be doing things they are good at, which is solving difficult problems and creativity. And machines should be doing things that are simple, and things that humans should not waste their time on.

Mike: Fascinating. And I have to ask this question, we're afraid? How often does a visitor type in a question and it hit that 70%? confidence level? So you feel confident enough to? To give a single answer, is there a typical range for your customers?

Indrek: Usually, when the board is built, and the company starts out with a chatbot, they have the bot knows about maybe 50 or 100 topics, because that's the word that they operated. You know, if you think of, if you think of, if you think of the finance world, it's all about, you know, pending payments, when will the transfer? How do you get a credit card, right? If it's like b2b, it's about order tracking, or ordering new supplies or things like that. So, so the world is not, it's not really infinite, it's kind of finite, and you pick those 50 to 100 topics. So there, what you do is, you know, if each topic has related about, I don't know, 20 phrases to it, it's pretty okay to start with, so, you know, you have maybe around thousand 2000 phrases that the bot should know. And then if the world is not infinite in that amount of topics that the board gets asked, then, you know, fairly often you just give the one answer to the customer, of course, you know, then the customer has follow up questions, dialogue. And that's where, you know, the additional training and understanding of context, and those things come in, so that you provide for a fluid conversation. And so we spend a lot of time when actually creating the product where, you know, companies have dedicated bot trainers where they can see how the conversation is going. What was asked when, and then what should that relate to? Because a lot of the things people ask me depend on context and being really able to help them.

Mike: Sure. I'm also interested, you know, you quite often when you get on a website, there's a bar, it doesn't answer your question, it then tries to drop back to a real person, and maybe there's nobody stopping the line, or perhaps they're all busy. How much of an issue is it when the bot tries to drop to a real person, and there's no one available.

Indrek: So that definitely is an issue from the point of view of the user. So if I'm a user and I, if I'm a user, and I reached out to your company, you know, most likely I have a problem, because I just I don't do it for fun, right? I think that what I'm always saying is that, you know, if a person calls your company, they either love you a lot, or they hate you a lot. Right? And it's mostly the latter. So, you know, you just don't pick up your phone and just call your own telecom companies just for fun, you know, because you have some time, like you're only calling the last resort and that's why chat is good, because it's something that you know, it's so effortless to use, so that you reach out more, you don't just go in the last instance when you're full of rage and you want to bend out right. But coming to the question, so, when the bot is giving an answer. Then of course you want to be as specific with the answer that you can have. But when you transfer to the human, what would we have found over time and also then we built this into our function is that the bot monitor If agents are available, because you don't want to say, Hey, I will connect it to an agent and then saying, well, all agents are busy. So, we've in our solution over the past year built-in as a thing where the bot monitors and pings, yeah. And if agents are available, then only does it do a handover. If agents are not available, then it leaves, essentially, in the chat window, it leaves an option saying, Hey, leave us a message, like put your email and your question and we will come back to you within the next few hours or a few days, right. So you always want to create the user the feeling that somebody is dealing with their problem, and, you know, you have received their problem and you're dealing with it, I think that's from the user point of view. Very, very important.

Mike: I think that's a, that's a great point, actually, you know, if you send an email to a company, you, you always kind of have this feeling that nobody's read the email, whereas giving that feeling that someone's received the message and is dealing with it, I think is a That, to me, is the summary of why you'd want to do this. Is that what your customers are also saying they want to give that feeling of really paying attention to customers?

Indrek: Yeah, I mean, you, you want to be there for them and say, I genuinely care about you as a customer, and I want to help you. So the intent is there to help you. And even if you say, you know, it's gonna take us a little while or, you know, we got your message, and we'll get back to you, we're still working on it, you know, you as a customer, if you think of personally, you know, you feel good, you know, okay, like, that's fine. Somebody is dealing with it, and, and they care. And, you know, this, I think touches upon the thing I was alluding to earlier is that, how do you create customer loyalty in today's age, when everything is available for everyone everywhere? And many products are the same? I mean, you know, they're commodities. So it's really the customer experience that stands out, you know, being there for them quickly. But of course the question for large enterprises, and you know, we work with fine banks and telecom companies is that, you know, great if you have 1000 customers, then you're a small business, that's fine. You can do that. What if you have a millions of customers? How do you make them feel all personalised and special. And this is really hard, right. And this is where these types of automated chatbots come in, where you know, you're able to, you're able to help your customers in a way that they feel that they're being taken care of, they see progress, and ultimately, you're there for them, and generally show you want to help them and you are able to help them. I think this is, in today's day and age, this becomes more and more important as time goes on.

Mike: Perfect. I mean, one of the things that interests me and I don't know if this is true or not, is that there's kind of an I guess it might be a myth that it's younger people who like using chatbots, and older people tend to shy away from them. Do you think that's true? Do you see that reflected in the way Alfredo ironed out for chatter used?

Indrek: So I mean, definitely the younger generation is more accustomed to messaging, right. So you know, WhatsApp, messenger, all those things. But ultimately, it comes down to convenience. So if if you see the chat window, either in your mobile app, or it's available on social media, or it's, it's on your website, and you get help from there, then next time, if you have the same issue, you will go back to the channel that helped you. Of course, you know, phone is not going to go away. AI is not going to take over the world and replace all the customer service staff. I mean, I think this there's so much hype being in that field, that sometimes it feels ridiculous, I think, you know, people are not going to all lose their jobs. Because ultimately, you know, some things you just, you know, you have to call, you want to resolve them with a person they're taking you taking a problem and solving it in real time. I think that's absolutely fine. But you know, the nature of issues that users turned to companies are different. And if you see that, you know, chat is a channel where I always get to reach the support agent or I get an answer from the bot. And that works for me the next time you are very likely to go to go back to it. And you know, this is one of the reasons we're now we're also offering that we can build our chat bots into WhatsApp, because I think you know, if you think about trends, in at least in the b2c context, in in many cases, companies are, you know, users are always quicker to new environments than companies are following them. But if you think of To share volume of, you know, billions of people using WhatsApp, then most likely, you know, your customers are there as well. And if you can be in the environment where they are, most of the time, and you can help them in their environment of choice, instead of pulling them to your own channels and forcing upon them, your own methods of communication, customers appreciate that a lot, because it just takes out all the friction, and they know you're there for them. And it's easy. So. So, you know, I definitely see that, you know, more and more companies are, are coming to WhatsApp are creating their smart solutions, and you know, with that increase their customer loyalty.

Mike: Fascinating. I mean, you said something there that I think is very interesting, you said, you need to help people on the channels they prefer, rather than dragging them to your, your own channel. So you obviously believe it's really important not just to have chat on your website, but also to offer it across social media platforms.

Indrek: Yeah, and of course, it depends what type of business you're running and who your customers are. But you know, if you are going, if you're going the b2c route, then, you know, be there where your customers are, because the, the, the friction, and you know, you might think how we, you know, we, as its digital society are spoiled, so that, you know, making a phone call feels really, really hard sometimes. And, you know, it's not just, you know, you press couple of numbers, and then there's a tone, and you start speaking to someone, so it's, it's not physically hard, but, but there's, I think there's like a mental barrier is that, you know, you don't have to go somewhere, I have to look it up, and most likely, I won't find it, and then I'm disappointed and why and I'm not going to do it. But if you're right there in your app that I use all the time, and I know that you're just like, not like five clicks away, but you're one click away, it is so much easier, it is so much easier. And you know, ultimately, the customers will do things that are easy and simple for them. So for brands to keep up, it makes sense to be where they are. So you know the same thing, like when people move to Facebook, then it took companies a bit of time to see like if this social media is actually something real. I think now in 2020, like, nobody doubts that nobody asked like, should we be there, it's kind of you know, must have that you're there because everybody's there. And I think, you know, and of course, customer preference has changed. So if you're a large company, you know, it's it's sometimes difficult to keep up with all the tiktoks and the snapchats, and the WhatsApp’s, where you have to be, but you know, when you see a platform, becoming a major, major player and a dominant form of communication in that space, I advise companies to take it seriously because it can create them a competitive advantage over their competitors, to be where, you know, they're competitors or not. And I think, you know, if you look at companies with, you know, excellent customer service, like Amazon, then you know, these companies set the expectations for everyone else. And, you know, that becomes also difficult because, you know, you're not just competing against the companies in your own country or in your own city, you know, you are being compared globally with everyone else. So, the US users expectations to service and, and, and answers, immediacy is just growing. And I think, you know, this is something that, you know, we, we, we help companies to deal with. That's, that's

Mike: Very interesting. So I think, I mean, what you're saying is that, even if b2b might be harder to, to manage the same level of interaction on a chatbot actually, people are expecting it because of what they see in their consumer lives. Is that what you're saying?

Indrek: Yeah, absolutely. Because, I mean, your b2b customers are, are humans. And they in their personal life use WhatsApp for messaging anyway. So now they have repetitive orders from you, or they have some, I don't know, it support troubleshooting or, you know, whatever you're providing as a b2b thing, or, you know, they need some quotes. If you provide them as a similar experience that they are used to in their personal communications and somehow they see that oh, like b2b doesn't need to be this clunky hard enterprise thing, but it actually can be also simple then they're like wow, you know, I take simplicity that works any day over the complexity that doesn't work right. So I think you know, also what you see in many of the Enterprise Solutions these days are you know, they you know, slack is enterprise thing but it you know, feels there's like chat right so and so is you know Microsoft Teams, right? So all these solutions, they heavily borrow from the from, you know, the personal space and bring that experience to the enterprise space. Because ultimately, you know, we're all people and we want to get things done. And you know, if you can provide a nice, clean, simple interface, then, you know, that's, that's all. That's amazing.

Mike: That's great. So a great explanation. And I'm really interested in the business as well. And any business that involves AI typically seems to overhype it, but you seem to have done almost the opposite in saying that, actually, AI is not going to replace everything. So can you talk about a little bit about how to use AI, what it's doing and what that means for the user? And then maybe you know, a little bit about why you don't think that AI is going to make every customer support? Assistant redundant?

Indrek: Yeah. So you know, the first thing we start out with companies is that you don't have to use AI. Right? If you have a soul, if you have a problem, then you can solve it without AI, like, go for it. Right. And you know, when companies start out, I always first tell them that, don't think about AI. Think of the KPIs you have to deliver to your boss or your shareholders. And just think in terms of that. And then if you say, okay, we want to achieve, you know, x has to be greater than five, or we want to reduce costs, or make more revenue or whatever or be more efficient, then, you know, if you see that AI can help you there, you know, definitely try it out. So in our case, the AI comes in, in the product in the natural language understanding.

So you know, the thing I talked about earlier is that if you ask a question, What do you mean? What is the intent behind it? What's the meaning? If I say, hey, how much does it cost? You know, do I refer to a credit card? Do I refer to a, I don't know, a mortgage? You know, what, what does it mean? Right? So, so that's that, that's at the core of it. And you know, we've solved it with an ensemble of different algorithms, because there's no sort of, there's no single one algorithm to rule them all doesn't exist, because, you know, languages are different data sets are different. People ask things differently. So we've, we've sort of created this kind of like a solution that kind of works like Eurovision where you have a dozen algorithms, and they all compete against one another. And the one that, you know, gets the most points wins, right? So it's sort of this day, we have created this competition among them, which is great, because then the best, the best ones prevail. And then you know, you get the answer from, from the bot in terms of, in terms of what's the most relevant thing that we think that the user is asking? Because the just as a side note, you know, understanding humans for humans is hard. But then think how hard it is for machines to understand humans, right? So if we're having a conversation, then you know, if you ask something, then sometimes I might say, Hey, what do you mean by that? Well, if one brain is asking that from the other brain, then you know, you actually, you know, think what, what AI today is, it's a bunch of, I don't know, neural networks running in the cloud. I mean, it's, it's nowhere near the complexity of our biological brain. So we're kind of you know, there's so many magnitudes of difference between intelligence that it's really hard for an iPhone to understand what you want, right? So that's just like, it's just a side note. But, so we create those types of systems where they can intelligently get what you want, and provide you an answer. And then coming, coming to the thing about AI taking over the world, I think it's a good story to sell, it's good to say that now we beat chess or we can play go and you know, all the next thing is we will have all the car self-driving and everybody out of work. But you know, the real world is so much more complex and nuanced. Know, the fact that you can play a game like go or chess that has, you know, it's a, it's like a bound mechanism with its own rules, then, you know, there's no rules in communication are so random and chaotic that to, to do to have the level of intelligence of a human being, we still don't know how the brain even works a little low to replicate it or create something that's smarter than it. So I think we're just sort of kind of, you know, I don't want to say but kind of like monkeys looking at fire, but having no idea like, how it comes about or what it is, right. So and I think he's going to change and we're going to get smarter, but you know, we're ways away from this, you know, Terminator life. So, what we as a company advise is that, you know, have your expectations set, you know, realistically, because ultimately, you know, you want to achieve your KPIs. You know, the CEO of a company doesn't care what do you use, whatever it is, they don't care. They just want to see like revenue going up or down, right?

So, in that regard, you want to provide something that's useful. And also that customers understand what are the current opportunities, but also limitations of the solution. And I think where we see a lot of things happening, actually is how can you make your staff be more efficient. So let's say you have a tonne of simple queries, well, let's give those to computers so that we don't have to waste, you know, hours of our time on simple queries. But let's say we can, we can focus on more complex offers for our customers, or let's say some big customers want like, quotes for our products, or they want support for others things that you know, machines cannot solve. So let's focus on those more complex creative things. And let lets computers do simple things. And I think, you know, they're the gains are really enormous. And I think this is, you know, what, what a lot of companies are focusing on, instead of just saying, hey, like, let's replace humans, you know, one, why should we replace them like think the brains are so genius things, they can do so much more than just simple things? Let's just have computers do simple stuff, and us do more complex stuff and be more efficient.

Mike: Fascinating. That's, that's a really interesting insight into, you know, what you can really achieve with AI rather than maybe some of the more science fiction predictions. And so I'm interested, I mean, it sounds like what you can do is, obviously, if someone wants to deploy a chatbot, they have to think of the questions and how to answer them, but they don't have to think of, you know, the 50 different ways the same question could be answered. So how quickly can people deploy a chatbot using alpha blues technology?

Indrek: So today, when companies approached us, you know, as a preparation, you know, what I always ask them, okay, what was the KPI you want to achieve? You know, what's, what's the, what's the function, what's the use case for the bot, because you can be used for sales or support or external internal support, process efficiency, whatever that may be. If you say, you know, I know, my use case, I want to achieve this, these are the 50 topics that that is that our time being asked, you know, then, you know, getting the bot ops know from our side, you know, it's, you know, the day or so like, it's, you know, we can measure it in hours. The complexity, of course, with large companies comes because they have their own existing systems. If you have to do API integrations, you maybe want to authenticate users, you have to deploy to a certain cloud or on premise environment, you know, those things, then realistically, can of course, take weeks. But other than that, what we also usually advise companies is that, you know, if you have a use case, and you're not really trying to complex, something, like really, really crazy complex, then you know, you can get it up and running in a few weeks, and then the next few weeks, you can test it out. So you know, if you run a project for about three months, then you know, you have your bot, you have tested it out and customers you can assess its, its benefits, and then you can take it from there, because it always makes sense that if you haven't, and I think this goes for all, like all AI projects that companies are doing is that if you really haven't done it before, and you don't know how it's going to go, you know, do a do a pilot, you know, say 345 months, let's, let's take this problem, let's, you know, apply things to it, let's see how it works, we'll measure it, and then we'll see if it works for us. Because it's one thing to read about it in newspapers, and you know, what your competitors and everybody else is doing. But it's another thing to try it in your own environment. And by doing this, these few months, you know, proof of concept or pilot, you know, you get so much smarter, and then maybe you uncovered something that you didn't know before or something works that you didn't expect or things go the way you expected, then you know, perfect, you can just then roll it out. company wide and then get the benefit.

Mike: That's amazing. I mean, I could talk to you for hours on this. But I think that's perfect advice to end on. I guess, you know, the important thing is, if anyone listening to the podcast would like to find out more, how could they get in contact with you and Rick?

Indrek: Yeah, so the easiest is just you can send us an email at Hello@alphablues.com. Or you can go to our website alphablue.com Naturally, we have a chatbot there. So you can interact with the bot, leave your context, and then we will get in touch. So your method of choice, how you want to contact us.

Mike: That's perfect. Thanks so much for being on the podcast. It's been absolutely fascinating. And I'm sure a lot of people have learned not just about chatbots, but also a lot about AI. Thank you very much. Thank you 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.

Power Systems Design Increases Issues for 2021

We were delighted to hear the news that Power Systems Design (PSD)  will be moving to 12 issues for 2021. Traditionally they have had a combined issue for both January/February and for July/August, but next year there will be a separate issue for each month.

As the power industry continues to grow, and with an increasing amount of topics to cover, we think it's great to see a publication go from strength to strength, as PSD increases its number of issues to keep up with the growth of the industry.

To find out more about the new issues and what next years editions will cover, please click here. 

eCommerce Marketing Podcast Interview: B2B Requirements

The eCommerce Marketing Podcast, hosted by Arlen Robinson, provides listeners with advice on strategies from inbound marketing to paid advertising, sharing what strategies marketing experts use to grow their businesses.

In one of their most recent podcast episodes, Arlen interviews Mike, Napier’s Managing Director, who shares the different marketing channels that B2B businesses need to focus on, and what B2C can learn from the B2B eCommerce cycle.

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.

Svet Elektronike to Publish 300th Issue October 2021

Svet Elektronike has begun preparing a special edition of the magazine, ready to be distributed in October 2021 to mark the celebration of its 300th issue.

Similar to its 200th issue, the magazine will publish this special edition with hardback covers, filled with interesting articles and content from the industry.

It's great to see Svet Elektronike marking this fantastic achievement, especially with a hardback edition that is sure to stay on readers shelves for some time.

Svet Elektronike is currently offering special discounts to advertisers who would like to participate in this special edition. To take advantage of the offers and find out more please email jure04@svet-el.si or contact Napier.

The Client Catching Podcast Interview: How to Win High Value Clients with ABM

The Client Catching Podcast, hosted by Adam King, provides listeners with actionable business development and marketing strategies, ideas and tactics for growing a B2B company.

In one of their most recent podcast episodes, Adam interviews Mike, Napier’s Managing Director, who shares how companies can use ABM to win more high-value clients, and how they can replicate the success Napier has achieved with clients.

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 Confirms Virtual Event for March 2021

We recently wrote about the surprise postponement of the Elektra Awards 2020, which announced that the event would be moved to 2021.

Organisers have now confirmed that the awards will take place on March 25th 2021, as a free virtual event, due to the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 situation.

Existing entries will automatically be entered into the re-scheduled awards, and companies now also have the option to revise or modify existing entries, as well as add additional entries. Companies are also able to enter projects or products which were launched or completed between July 2019 and September 2020; with all final entries having to be submitted by December 17th 2020.

It's great to hear that the awards will be going ahead virtually, and although it will be very different compared to previous years, we are looking forward to hearing about the projects that have made a difference through these challenging times.

For more information on the awards, please view the website here. 

5 Effective Ways you can use Personalization with ABM

In B2B, companies are often faced with a team of decision makers, and a long sales cycle where it is vital to keep a prospect engaged.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) provides companies with a strategy that can support long term business plans and is an approach that uses personalized messages, campaigns and outreach programs to attract and maintain the attention of specific, high-value accounts.

With 56% of marketers strongly agreeing that personalized content is key to ABM success, and 95% of B2B buyers choosing a solution provider that ‘provided ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process’;  it’s more important than ever to ensure you are producing ABM content that is relevant, timely and highly personal.

So how can you make sure you are using personalization effectively in your ABM campaigns?

In this blog, we share 5 effective ways you can apply personalisation to your ABM strategy, to ensure the buyer engages with your content and company.

Define Personas to Develop Core Content

As step one in any marketing campaign, the approach should be no different with ABM; it’s important to define your personas and understand what content will be of interest to each one.

With 72% of consumers in 2019 only engaging with marketing messages that were customized to their specific interests, it's vital to understand the challenges, preferences and interests each persona has. This will allow you to develop your core content in the formats that are right for each persona. For example, one persona might prefer receiving content in short video formats via email or LinkedIn advertising, whereas another persona might prefer an in-depth whitepaper on the same topic or perhaps a more old-school approach with a direct mail gift.

Whatever the preference might be, its important to map this out for each of your personas, and also understand which type of content will resonate the most at each stage of the buyer journey.

Enhance ABM with Storytelling

Your ABM messaging doesn’t need to follow traditional B2B communication. You can use a storytelling approach to showcase your brand and develop a relationship with key individuals from target accounts.

This approach can take on many forms, and storytelling can be portrayed through:

  • Combining product videos with case studies relevant to target accounts needs and pain points
  • Utilizing relevant success stories, and allowing target accounts to relate directly to the business in the case study
  • Highlighting the customer experience the target accounts can expect to have with your business. This can be achieved through customer testimonials which feature real stories about real people’s experiences.
  • Sharing company culture and milestones. You can create a story around your company by humanizing the team behind the brand and providing a unique insight into the way your company works.

Personalize Your ABM Destination

Many companies often forget there is the opportunity to personalize at every stage of your campaign. This includes personalizing your landing pages and website to give prospects a tailored experience.

Personalization can include tailoring content describing experience and expertise based on industry, or tailoring text to talk about the services that interest the prospect the most.

Using platforms such as Webeo, there is also the opportunity to take this one step further and personalize landing pages automatically for specific accounts, which can feature the company’s name, or even the individual target contacts’ name, providing a highly personalized journey for the prospect.

Use Visuals to your Advantage

There’s no reason to stop your personalization at your text copy, you should also use visuals to your advantage. This could be via the ads you run, the images you use on your landing page, or perhaps the creatives that feature in your email.

Swapping out generic imagery for specific visuals can make a big difference in attracting attention, and you can personalize via industry, or even per job role, for example by emphasizing technology if you are targeting a developer, or using images to communicate cost-efficient messages when targeting someone in purchasing.

Take it One Step Further with Video

As prospects interact with your website and ads, there is the opportunity to enhance their experience with your company as you find out more about them.

One way to do this is to use personalised videos within your ABM strategy, which are made specifically for individuals and sent directly into their email inbox, often addressing a pain point and detailing a solution or proposed recommendations to help them.

The fantastic thing about video is that it can be used at each stage of the buyer’s funnel with different levels of personalization. This includes:

  • Stage 1: Awareness – Videos can include simple personalization tokens such as the company’s logo or company name with the aim to connect and generate awareness of your company.
  • Stage 2: Consideration –Videos aims to build trust and engagement, and focus on known pain points or discuss the challenges personalized by specific industry or job roles.
  • Stage 3: Conversion – Videos can provide a great way to close a deal by answering specific questions about cost or features related to the target account or showing custom demos based on the individual’s requirements and interests.


I hope this blog has shed some light on the different approaches you can take to personalise various elements of your ABM activities. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the ABM campaigns we implement for our clients, why not get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Arnaud Pavlik Replaces Didier Girault at ElectroniqueS

Arnaud Pavlik has been appointed as Editor of ElectroniqueS, specifically for the subcontracting and distribution sections of the magazine, replacing Didier Girault who has left the publication to retire.

We look forward to seeing the direction Arnaud will take within the subcontracting and distribution sections of the magazine, and wish Didier a happy retirement.


A Napier Webinar: Is Content Marketing too Good to be True?

Content marketing should be at the centre of any B2B marketing strategy. Without it, marketers would be unable to build trust with their audience, connect with customers, or improve conversions and generate leads.

Yet, only 42% of B2B marketers report that they're effective in their content marketing efforts.

Napier recently held a webinar 'Is Content Marketing too Good to be True?', which explores the reality of content marketing, and how you can implement it successfully for your company. We address:

  • What is content marketing?
  • Examples of good and bad content marketing
  • Overcoming the challenges of content marketing
  • 5 pro tips to lead you to success

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: 'Is Content Marketing too Good to be True?' Transcript

Speakers: Mike Maynard

Hi, welcome to the latest Napier webinar. Today we are going to be talking about content marketing and discussing whether the promises of content marketing are too good to be true. So, if you have any questions, I'd love to hear them. So please do post them in the chat, if you've got any questions and we'll certainly go from there. So we'll start off with content marketing.

You know, one of the questions we often have with clients is, is content marketing really too good to be true. And the problem is, is that what we do is we see a lot of people promising all sorts of things from content marketing. But actually, many clients find that the results of content marketing are not as good as they hoped. So, we're going to talk about why that might be, and also discuss ways that you might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls of content marketing. So here's the agenda for today. We'll start off with just clarify what we mean by content marketing. So we'll clarify the definition and will then give you some examples, some cases where we think people have done a good job with content marketing, and some cases where people have done a bad job. And it's really trying to look at themes as to what works and what doesn't with content marketing. And then we'll go on and talk about the real main part of the webinar and ask whether the promise of content marketing is too good to be true. So, you know, the idea that content marketing will generate leads almost automatically. And does that really happen in real life, we'll have a look at that. We'll obviously find some challenges that people face in content marketing during that section. So, we'll talk a little bit about how to overcome them. And then, as we like to do with our webinars, we'll end the webinar with the Napier five pro tips of how to deliver great content marketing campaigns.

So, what is content marketing? We went to Google the source of all knowledge, to find out what content marketing is. The definition provided by Oxford languages, says that content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material. So, this could be videos, blogs, social media posts, that doesn't explicitly promote a brand, but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. Um, so generally speaking, content marketing is about producing something that isn't necessarily a direct promotional piece. But by the fact you've produced it, you then create demand around your product. And obviously, you know, inherent within this, a lot of this is about sharing the content rather than pushing it out. And so, it requires people, you know, quite often to look for the content, a lot of content marketers talk about SEO and driving people into the content, through optimising things like blog posts. It seems like a great approach, you know, this, this is something where we can create materials that don't have to be too salesy to promotional, and they'll magically help sell our product. So let's have a look and see, you know, whether that's the case and the way we do that is, firstly, by picking out some examples of where people have perhaps done particularly well, or particularly badly, in our opinion in content marketing.

We're going to start off with some of the good pieces of content marketing, and pick some examples that maybe you already know, that illustrate you know, how people can do things either very creatively, or more importantly, in a way that absolutely helps their customers. And this is a thing we'll come back to is content marketing, helping people is an incredibly important element of content marketing This, this, resolving problems or helping people do their job is key to good content marketing. Sometimes, however, you can just be creative. A company called Midwich, they started a campaign where they just started promoting a QR code and didn't say what it was people didn't know, it just created some interest around the QR code. What it did, was the QR code led to their blog. So you can be very creative, very different, and you can spark interest. And people who wouldn't be customers probably wouldn't be exposed. So by definition, you're targeting people who would be relevant to you, as a company, and you're just trying to spark curiosity. And I think, you know, I certainly would be keen on scanning that QR code, if it was a company I was familiar with or buying from, and I just didn't know what it was, there is that level of intrigue, and I think creativity can be a very important part of content marketing. But obviously, ultimately, that blog is only going to work if the content of the blog is valuable to the reader.

Now I think we need to look at, you know, perhaps, you know, some examples of creating value for customers. So, if we look at perhaps, you know, one of the best known content marketing campaigns, Whiteboard Friday, which was created by Moz, they, they're in a market, which is the search engine optimization market, that is very rapidly changing. So, there's a need to keep up with information and understand what's going on, and what you can do is every Friday, you can look at the MAS Whiteboard Friday. And if you do that, every week, you will be up to date, you will be a search engine optimization specialist, who will know most of the information you need to know. So it's great, it pretty much is an ongoing training course. And it will tell you everything behind, you know, search engine optimization from, you know, how ranking factors are created through to how you can use machine learning to improve search engine optimization. So it covers a wide range of topics, it's not a structured course, by any means. They're picking out topics that either speakers are interested in, or alternatively, that are particularly topical. And then they then using these to drive visits to the website. And actually, frankly, a huge number of people working in SEO, use most tools, whether that's purely because of Whiteboard Friday, or partly because of the quality of the tools, hard to say, but Whiteboard Friday has been a key thing. And certainly Rand Fishkin, who founded Moz, he was a key force behind Whiteboard Friday, seen as the face of Moz. And it was a great example of content marketing, working extremely well. Search Engine Optimization actually provides a lot of great examples. So, you don't have to provide content, whether that's a video or a blog post to help people. Sometimes you can provide tools. And a lot of search engine optimization professionals struggle with grouping keywords together. It's a really painful manual process if you do it yourself. So this has been recognized by a lot of companies and they have taken the idea of clustering keywords and built tools to do it. So, they're clustering together, keywords that are related to each other. This massively speeds up the SEO process in the early stages. There's a number of companies that do it. And clearly, what you want to do is have people start using the free tool, and then ultimately migrate through to using your paid offering. And this is exactly what SEO scout is trying to do with their keyword grouping and clustering. So it's a completely free tool. If you Google, it's one of the first results, you start using it, you begin to think this is pretty good. It's working well for me, it's saving time and then you're much more likely to choose to buy the product, the paid product. So, using tools is a great example.

Lastly, sometimes, content marketing is much more about creating the image for your brand. And so if we look at this, where we've seen Dell, for example, working with the Girl Scouts of America to promote STEM education, then this is certainly something that is not only going to raise the profile of Dell, a lot of potential Dell purchases will have children and they may be girls and the Girl Scout organization but also it creates a very positive view of the company. as well. So, they're building blog posts talking about educating people around technology. And educating children around technology, which is great content, people want to understand that, particularly got children, you want to see what's going on. But it's also creating a great image for the company. So what we want to say is there is no one particular approach. For content marketing, it can be a blog post, it can be a video, it could be a tool that people use that has, you know, some software engineering behind it. There are all sorts of content marketing, it's all about finding the right content for your customer.

Now, of course, there's some examples of bad content marketing, and interestingly, this was the easy bit when we looked for examples of bad content marketing, we could have filled multiple webinars with content marketing campaigns, that people within Napier felt weren't great. So, we've tried to look at you know, perhaps some of the mistakes that were perhaps less expected. So, one of them and I know Hannah was particularly keen on this is MailChimp. MailChimp decided to offer video content in a channel called MailChimp presents. And basically, you know, what happens if you sign up that you can be inundated with content from MailChimp, and it's really hard to know what to look at. And it's very hard to find content that's relevant to you, because it's so broad. So MailChimp, great idea, really good execution in terms of the website, just too much content, you know, frankly, trying too hard. So, you know, one of the lessons we can learn from this is that it's not just about volume of content, it's also very much about quality as well. And actually, curating content is as important as creating it. Content needs to be something that is honest and truthful as well.

So Intel, they launched the 11th generation core processors, and they had a press release in a press launch that talks about how amazing these products were. And we had words like unleashed unmatched best in class. And in fact, 18 separate references to the world's best. We also had a rider which was the fine print, which basically said that they may have tweaked the performance test to make their processes look better than any other processor manufacturers. So you've created this content, you've created this expectation, and then you've put in this caveat that, yeah, maybe we've we've cheated a bit, maybe we've pushed a little too far, and we've optimised for our processes, not for anyone else, it could still be that those Intel microprocessors are the best processes for laptops. But the fact that the campaign had so many caveats attached to the performance metrics, actually devalued because a number of commentators pointed to this fine print, and basically highlighted the fact that, you know, you couldn't really trust the claims, because there were so many caveats. If you're going to make claims particularly aggressive, best in the world cap claims, make them clear, make them simple, don't try and, you know, cheat your way to the top, or even appear that you're cheating your way to the top.

The third example is a very interesting one. I'm sure everyone remembers this Tesla cybertruck event, super futuristic truck being launched by Elan musk that, you know, was positioned as basically indestructible. And, of course, Elan broke the windows, the windows, in fact, it can shatter. So they they actually remained pretty much intact. You just had the crazing of the window where the stones attacked. It's an interesting discussion, you know, did this actually raise the profile of the cybertruck? Because all the news outlets, were talking about the failure, which some commentators put out as being a very good thing, or was the fact that maybe the claims about the ruggedness and robustness of the cyber truck, you know, perhaps a little overhyped was that a negative that that was shown up, and it's a really difficult thing to, to pick between the two, the two options. So I think again, with content you know, sometimes content might work for some people, and perhaps doesn't work for others. And certainly, I think, you know, the Elan musk fanboys pretty much didn't care that the window shattered whereas the people who were, you know, anti Tesla, perhaps were the ones who immediately jumped on this as a disaster. I think, you know, ideally, they would have preferred that the rocks bounced off, and the demo worked as intended. But that didn't happen. And probably, you know, ultimately did lead to some question marks about whether other claims around the product were equally questionable.

So, you can see, there's lots of ways that we can create great content. There are also ways that you can create content that maybe doesn't work. What we're now going to ask is actually content marketing as a tactic does it work, I mean, the promise of content marketing, you create the content, people then come and read the content and suddenly want to buy your product or your service is fantastic. But let's have a look and see, you know, whether it really is true or not. So, the first thing to say is, I'm sorry, but people don't read your content. And there was a study done, it was done back in 2008, which said that typically visitors read only 20% of your webpage. Similar studies have got, you know, vaguely similar results. But, there hasn't been a huge amount of research, this is probably the one that is quoted most often. And I think, you know, most people feel that attention spans have fallen in the last 12 years. So perhaps people are reading less than 20%. So the first thing to say is when you create content, people are not going to read it if it's written content. And that is just human nature, that's not something you're going to change, it is going to be a problem. So you need to make sure you design your content for the people who don't read the whole web page. And we like to call these people the skimmers. So you've got to think about people who are not going to read every word, but just want to pick out the information that's important. The other thing is when we look at traffic, just over a third of traffic on the on the internet, is actually bot traffic is not humans, it's not people reading, it's people wanting to index content, maybe find prices from other companies, things like that. And actually 25% of internet traffic is what imperia in their bad bot report called Bad bots. This is bots trying to steal data, like for example, pricing information. So for a start, we may see traffic, that's not real traffic is not humans. We also create content that's not used. In fact, serious decisions claim that the majority of marketing content is created is never used, which is a brave claim. But we've certainly seen a lot of content created that perhaps hasn't been used as well as it has. And the other thing is, even when you see humans interact, you see someone sharing content on social media, you know, this is amazing. Someone has clearly read your post, they think it's amazing. They're placing their own endorsement by sharing the content. Actually, no, if you look on social media, research shows the majority of links have never been clicked. So the person sharing the content has never actually read the content. And clearly, if the person sharing isn't going to read, then people seeing that share are unlikely to read as well, they may read the headline, but that's about it. So there's lots of reasons not to feel optimistic about content marketing.

But actually, sometimes it works. And we can produce examples, you know, even at Napier, where we've had phone calls, from companies we haven't talked to before, and the marketing manager said to us, you know, I received your email newsletter every month, I find it really useful. I've never really talked to you about anything. But now I need an agency, and we've literally had wins of clients purely through the newsletter without any other internet interaction. So content marketing does sometimes work. But content marketing only works when you do the right things. You know, so the first thing to say is generating content is not the goal. Many people think it's all about, you know, getting content out and particularly about volume of content. It's certainly not the case. There was a study a little while ago that Microsoft did, where they found that in any given year, the majority of their web pages were not actually read by human. So humans only read a minority of the web pages on microsoft.com. So volume is not the key, it's quality. And it's not just quality. It's variety. It's not just white papers, and obviously white papers tend to be the favorite content marketing tool. In business, business tech, but actually a variety of content is really important. And we'll talk a little bit about that later with some recommendations. And lastly, the truth is engagement often is fairly low with content. Quite often you'll create content, and people just won't love it. But what you've got to remember is the purpose is creating some content that's going to help potential customers. And if you create content that will help potential customers, then ultimately, you should be driving new customers through your content. And if you're measuring customers, and not volume of content, you're then able to look at you know, whether you're getting a return on investment, and that really is important.

So how do we create content that really works? You know, we've talked about not just focusing what we shouldn't do, we shouldn't just focus on volume. But there are some, you know, really good guides as to how to create content that will work. And the first thing to remember is, this isn't easy. You've got to produce something that is relevant and relevant for the people you're trying to address your audience your personas, they've got to see it at the right time, they've got to be interested in it. And if it bores them, it really isn't going to work. And to be able to do all that you've got to choose the right format, the right content and the right channel. So, content marketing is tough. And the way to go about it is to think about everything from your customer's point of view. So when we look at the solution, we're looking very much at our personas that we've defined, and also our customer journeys we've developed. So you know, as an example, we have a persona, we talk about a neighbour called new technology Nicola, which reflects a marketer, who is very keen on applying martech to their campaigns. And typically, they're very digitally orientated. And quite often, they're very driven by metrics, so creating content for them is very, very clear. That persona would be very different from a persona, perhaps of a PR manager, who would be much more worried about brand, much less worried about, you know, individual stats, and really concerned about things like messaging. So creating content for these two different people would need to be very different. You also need to make sure you deliver the content at the right time. And the only way to do that is mapping your customer journey. And so again, you know, there's different ways to map in different situations. But if we're trying to reach someone who already knows, Napier, and is actively looking for a PR agency, we need to find very different content to someone who maybe today does all their PR in house. And from our point of view, perhaps may look for an agency at some point in the future, those two stages in the journey could be exactly the same persona, but they require very, very different content. So think about your customer journey. And also think about what you can achieve if you're thinking about the top of the funnel, the very early stage of attracting people, and you're not going to drive sales. Unless you've got an incredibly short sales cycle, all you're going to be able to do is capture content, capture, contact, sorry. Whereas if you're looking at the bottom of the funnel, where people are about to buy, then clearly there is where you need to measure sales. So it's not just the content you create, but also the metrics that need to change depending upon what point in the customer journey you're targeting.

Here's a great example. YouTube videos are amazing, and particularly how to videos are amazing. I can speak from personal experience, because I was desperate last night to find a video that said that told me how to get enough I’d dropped down the inside of a Ford Fiesta door whilst trying to fit a new wing mirror. And I needed that not I couldn't finish the job. YouTube came to my rescue told me how to take apart the door and was absolutely amazing. I mean, the consumer world, there's been so much done in terms of how to videos. And certainly, I think in the b2b world, there is still an opportunity to create more how to videos and prior videos that explain how to achieve things with your product or your service. And the other thing I notice often quoted but it is still very valid is that YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google. And actually, if you're young and you want to know how to do something YouTube is quite often the only search engine people consider. So, you know, creating content that really fixes a problem is great.

You can also help people do things that are inherently complex. So, we can look at calculators this actually is a fairly simple calculator. But you can create complex calculators. So this will allow you to estimate the life of a battery in terms of hours. But actually, we've worked with a project for example, the left you put in the sensor and the microprocessor. And the battery you're going to use, tell it how much you want to communicate how frequently you want to measure, and it will create an estimate of power consumption from that. So, you can create very complex calculators, these calculators can be incredibly, incredibly useful. One of the facts about the Napier website is that in many months, our highest trafficked page is not our homepage, which is quite unusual for website, most websites, it's the homepage. But actually, our highest traffic page is a page, which lets you create SMART goals. And all it's doing is making you fill in some boxes. And then it puts your SMART goal into a sentence. It is really simple. But it is incredibly popular. And clearly a lot of people find value in that. So I think creating calculators is a massively underestimated tool in terms of content marketing. Select to guide a similar thing. And here's an example where one of our clients have the fantastic idea that if somebody wants to develop using artificial intelligence, and they probably haven't done it before, and it's probably new, so they don't just need to know the products. But they'll also need to know information about how to use those products. And, and so we worked with a client, which was fine now using their idea to combine both products and also helpful information. And so people put in the application, what sensors they're using, how they're connecting, to share the data, and the selector guide, or select not only the best boards for use with the project, but will also provide additional information on perhaps how to use the boards or what to do if you want to use Alexa, as your voice recognition system. So adds extra content in there and enhancing your selector guides by adding useful information is a really helpful thing to do.

So, there's lots of ways we can create good content. And ultimately, it's about trust, though, if your audience trust you, then absolutely, your content will be viewed. And this is again, you know, very closely related to my challenges of fixing my son's Ford Fiesta last night, where every time you look at a YouTube video, you also look at the number of views. And a high number of views gives you that feeling of trust and confidence. And you can also build that trust by giving the audience what they need. So helping them out solving their problem giving them the information. When we talked about content marketing at the start, we did say that content marketing was about pre-creating content that doesn't directly sell. And certainly we have consistently found that content that doesn't over promote, absolutely works best. So eliminating that kind of sales pitch is really important. And you need to write for people don't write for SEO, even though SEO is important to drive people to your content, the contents got to work for the people first. So write content for people and the SEO will take care of itself. And finally, it's about content marketing, not content production. Please don't use volume metrics. And where we find people focused on volume, almost always the quality falls. So those are our kind of Five golden rules.

But what we'd like to do is present some tips. So some ideas that hopefully will summarize the webinar and give you some clues as to how you might be able to move forward with a more effective content marketing campaign. So here are five pro tips on content marketing.

So the first thing and hopefully this is not gonna be a surprise. Put yourself in the customers shoes. You've got a plan. You've got to think about personas, you've got to think about the customer journey. And you've got to create the content that customer wants. And most importantly, please don't create content you want, it's very easy to create content you think is important or you think is relevant. Quite often, you'll find your customer doesn't care either because they're not ready, or they don't need that information. So really trying to understand what your customer needs and respond to their needs. Rather than thinking more of an image-based campaign where you put out things you feel, make your brand look better.

The next thing to do is think about return on investment. Now, at Napier, we're really big on focusing on return on investment and ensuring that our clients get value, and also that we get value when we run our own marketing campaigns. So, whenever you're creating content, you need to understand what you're aiming for that content to achieve, and how much that goal is worth to you. So it could be generating new leads, where you might compare the value of a lead with the cost of perhaps going to a trade show, and how many leads you might get at a trade show for a certain amount of cost. Or you might look at, you know potential conversion rates, which we do a lot trying to assess what the likely conversion rate is, once we get people to sign up moving through to becoming customers, and how much they're likely to spend. So always think about return on investment, and that's a great way to focus your time on the things that are going to add the most value.

Perhaps the best tip, and one of the most important is that titles are the key thing. We've already said that most people only read 20% of, of your article. And in fact, a lot of people will only read the headline. But if more interesting HubSpot did some research on content marketing, and they were looking at promoting ebooks. And they looked at all the different factors they could find that they could adjust to try and drive more responses. So more signups for the book. And the single biggest factor was the title of the book, that was the most important thing, it didn't matter what was in the book, and clearly actually shouldn't matter. Because that won't affect conversion, people won't know what's in the book until they've actually converted. But the content and the layout of a landing page, or indeed an email promoting the book was much less important than the actual title of the book. So titles are really important. And definitely we'd recommend a B testing titles whenever you can, whether that be blog titles, or whether that be titles of ebooks. And obviously, that's not always easy to do. But it's something that over a period of time, you should really get a good feel as to what works and what doesn't.

Format really matters. I'm here, I mean, the pro tip is really simple. Take a number of white papers, put them together, call it an ebook, and I guarantee that you will have a higher signup rate than you would have done for any of the white papers. It's very interesting moment, we're finding ebooks that providing a comprehensive guide seem to be the content that people are very keen to sign up to. And it's probably because the quality is consistently good. Whereas, you know, to be honest, there's some poor quality white papers out there. But really think about the best format. And it doesn't have to be written format. Again, you know, if you look at Moz with our whiteboard Fridays, although they do publish the transcript, well, that's mainly for SEO. It's really all about the video. And with them, it's not just about the video. But it's also really about the format of video, it's someone standing in front of a whiteboard. And so it's very consistent, very familiar. And we strongly recommend you experiment with formats and find the right format.

I’ve mentioned skimmers before, and these people aren't going to read all your article, but you've got to love them. So firstly, write something where the length reflects what the reader wants, not what the writer wants. Secondly, accept whatever you do to make your content succinct, people won't read it or they'll skim read it. So you've got to help people find what's important. Wikipedia is a pretty successful website in the general scheme of things. And all Wikipedia articles tend to have a table of contents. And in fact, Table of Contents becoming more and more important as you put longer and more complex web pages up. So whether it's a longer blog post, or whether it's a web page for more information, having a little table of contents at the top will absolutely increase the engagement of readers. The interesting thing as well is not only you helping the reader there, but actually your SEO team will love you because Google also loves table of contents in long articles. So definitely, please think about doing that when you create any content that's more than a scroll or to a web page.

And finally, and here's our bonus tip, we always like to give a bonus tip, be brave. Some of our best content marketing results have been achieved by content that is much more fun, much more playful than normal content. And this ranges from a client that talked about customer service in large enterprises, and related it to their local cheese shop, which got them leads from huge companies. They got a lead from British Gas, the biggest potential customer for them in the UK. But also we've written content that talks about what supercomputing experts can learn from the England managers actually, Roy Hodgson, I don't know if anyone knows, but clearly he was a supercomputing expert. We had a great article about what people could learn from Roy Hodgson's approach to managing England. And it was incredibly successful in the UK, people outside the UK had no clue. They didn't care about Roy Hodgson. So it was, you know, it's the England manager, very focused on particular market, very much fun, and very different from what our client would have normally done. But thinking outside of, you know, normally what you do, and differentiating yourself by being prepared to have a bit more fun and enjoy content a bit more, is a really good idea. So we'd strongly recommend being a little bit brave and trying things that maybe appear to be a little different or a little risky.

So, that's covered, everything I've got in terms of the webinar, I'd be really interested in, if anyone's got any questions, if you'd like to share them in the public chat, that would be ideal.

Okay, I don't think I've got any questions at the moment. But certainly, if anybody would like to contact me, my contact details are on the screen here. So please send me an email, ask me questions. Or simply send me examples of what you think are either really great piece of content marketing, or a terrible content marketing and perhaps we can create some sort of board of the best and the worst that we can share for a bit of fun with the people on the webinar. Thank you very much for listening and look forward to talking to you for the next webinar.


EE Times Launches EE Times Weekend

EE Times has launched EE Times Weekend, a new email newsletter which is distributed every Saturday morning.

As the largest independent engineering resource for design engineers, design managers, technologists and business leaders for nearly 40 years, EE Times has developed EE Times Weekend to bring readers technology and business articles, ideas, reviews and interviews from a slightly different perspective.

Content includes the latest from technology across the industry and also Q&A's with CEO's which feature questions relating to their life and career, providing a more personal outlook than previously seen in EE Times other publications.

With an easy to read layout and engaging visuals, it's great to see the newsletter take a different approach with the content, providing readers with unique and interesting insights on key areas within the industry.

To read previous editions of the newsletter or to subscribe for your own copy, please click here. 



Electronics Weekly Celebrate its 60th Birthday

Congratulations to the team at Electronics Weekly who are celebrating their 60th year.

Founded in 1960, Electronics Weekly has released a special supplement to celebrate this occasion, including the very first edition of Electronics Weekly which was published on 7th September 1960.

Sixty years on, the Electronics Weekly's editorial team has not lost sight of the intentions set out when the publication was founded, with the ambition still in place to support and inform the electronics industry, by sharing the broad developments across the world of electronics, with an emphasis on outstanding developments, applications and trends.

We wish Electronics Weekly the best for the future, and may its success continue for another 60 years and more!





Napier Named as 'The Most Outstanding PR Agency' at The Electronics Industry Awards 2020

We are delighted to share that Napier was named as the winner of 'The Most Outstanding PR Agency' category at the Electronics Industry Awards 2020. 

Announced via a virtual ceremony which took place on Thursday 24th September, the Electronics Industry Awards are based on a public vote, with the whole electronics industry coming together to recognise the outstanding performers, and we feel privileged to have been recognised by the industry.

Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier, commented on Napier's success: "We are thrilled to be named as the ‘The Most Outstanding PR Agency’ at The Electronics Industry Awards. In what can be described as a turbulent year, this award is a great reflection of our hard work, and I'm extremely grateful to our amazing team and wonderful clients."

Congratulations to the whole Napier team!