Make magazine and the Maker Faire are back!

A few weeks ago I wrote about the problems at Maker Media, and suggested that maybe this might be a reflection of companies falling out of love with the maker community.

The good news is that Make is back, but the bad news is that it's now a community. Bad news? Surely it's good to be a community? OK, communities are good, but the decision to ask readers to pay to become community members is simply a reflection that companies aren't going to underwrite the costs.

Corporate memberships are being offered, so hopefully we will see some money from the big companies supporting this great publication and the amazing events, but I can't help feeling we're now past the over-hyping of makers as potential customers.

The Two ingredients of Magical Marketing Automation

Marketing is changing rapidly: just a few years ago it was only the brave pioneers who were running marketing automation systems, yet today the majority of B2B tech companies see automation as one of the pillars of their activities. Despite the widespread adoption of marketing automation, however, I often hear client’s express disappointment at the results they achieve. Why do people pay good money for a tool that often disappoints?

In his excellent book, Disrupted, that describes his time at HubSpot, Dan Lyons meets a salesperson who explains that:

“Some customers buy the software but don’t use it because they are too busy to write a blog. They’re like people who sign up for a gym membership but never go to the gym… And then there are about 10 percent of the customers where it’s absolutely magic”

How do you make sure that you’re one of the companies that is blessed with the “magic”? My experience suggests that it’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Firstly, you need to be in a suitable industry. Marketing automation, and Inbound marketing work best in industries that have high-involvement decisions. In particular it’s decisions where people actively research to seek out information that will help them either choose the best product or (and this is probably the most common case) avoid a career-limiting wrong choice. Most B2B tech markets meet this requirement, and so we’re already half-way there. A bigger challenge, however, is understanding the two ingredients of marketing automation.

The Two Magic Ingredients of Marketing Automation

Like a wizard making a spell, marketing automation magic relies on a potion to be created. This potion needs two vital ingredients.

The first is high-quality publishing. To be successful with your marketing automation campaign, the content you create must be valuable to your target audience. You need to be creating materials that match, or preferably exceed the quality of the information in the trade press.

Of course, this means providing technical information and advice. But publishing isn’t just about the quality of the writing: it’s about making sure you are delivering what the audience wants. Too often we see companies producing expensive content that takes hours to create but doesn’t address the concerns of customers and potential customers. What might be an issue for you, may not be a problem for your customers.

Once you start thinking like a publisher, you’ll be able to forget about the internal pressures and view things from your audience’s point of view. This will help you create great content that resonates with potential customers.

The second magical ingredient is effective nurturing. It’s about guiding customers along a journey at their speed, not yours. It would be great if simply saying “buy X” worked, but for high-involvement decisions, that simply is not the way customers choose.

Great guides move you from one stage of the journey to the next in a way that is so subtle and smooth you barely notice it. Just getting to the next landmark is something that feels easy and realistic, whereas talking about the entire journey can feel terrifying. When you are struggling in a marathon, the best approach is to simply get to the next lamppost, and then the next, rather than thinking “there are only eight miles to go”.

It’s hard to nurture customers effectively. They don’t follow the journey you want them to take. They can stop and go back a stage. They rarely move to being ready to purchase as quickly as you like. Great marketing automation campaigns are rarely the result of a stunningly effective email (magic bullets rarely exist) but are generally a beautiful path created from many small steps forward. This can be very different to thinking like a publisher, where an “Pulitzer-Quality” piece of content might have potential customers flocking to the site.

How to Mix the Two Ingredients to Make Magic

Some magic is created by individuals who have been trained well, whereas others prefer to work in groups. In reality, most great marketing automation magic is created by groups. It’s extremely difficult to generate all the content and rules required for great campaigns without a team, and as I’ve pointed out in this post, publishers and guides think very differently.

It’s definitely hard work to create marketing automation magic, but if you mix the two ingredients correctly, it’s extremely likely that you’ll be in the group that finds magic.

Napier Partnership Streamlines Structure with Peter Bush Communications Merging into Armitage Communications

The Napier Group announced today the merging of Peter Bush Communications into Armitage Communications: forming a specialist high-tech PR and Marketing agency, focussing on industrial automation, engineering and communication.

Since the acquisition of Armitage Communications Ltd by Napier Partnership Limited at the beginning of 2019, the natural synergy between Peter Bush Communications and Armitage Communications has become apparent, due to their non-conflicting clients and focus on similar markets. The merger creates an agency with a team of journalists; electronic and mechanical engineers; and experienced marketing professionals, that offers a vast amount of market insight and knowledge to drive clients’ commercial success.

There will be no change to clients served, and the office and team in Saffron Walden will remain. The merger allows Peter Bush’s existing clients to have access to additional services and resources provided by Armitage Communications as well as those of Napier.

“The merging of Peter Bush Communications into Armitage Communications creates a team with deep understanding and expertise of markets such as industrial automation, communications and electronics/electrical, enabling them to offer deep technical market insight to clients,” commented Mike Maynard, managing director of the Napier Group. “The companies already work together across several clients, and this move will create a strongly integrated agency that will help our clients create and distribute compelling marketing content.”

Napier Partnership’s mission remains providing a comprehensive content development and distribution service  that speeds the process of converting awareness to opportunity for B2B technology companies.

The End of the Tech Marketers Fascination with Makers?

Although I have always questioned the value of the maker market, I was really disappointed to hear the announcement that Maker Media is closing. Make magazine and the Maker Faires have been the peak of the maker movement, and to think that there is a chance that it’s all over is sad. I am hopeful that someone will decide to rescue the publication and the events, but so far no one has stepped forward.

To make things even worse, this isn’t a surprise: a month ago the San Jose Mercury News reported, during the last Maker Faire, that the company was experiencing financial challenges. It looks like these challenges were too great to overcome.

Despite attracting tens of thousands to the last Maker Faire, the numbers just don’t add up for the company. You could choose to blame Microsoft and Autodesk, who have previously supported events but chose not to contribute the last one in Silicon Valley, but perhaps it would be more reasonable to applaud their support in prior years.

We think the reality is that marketers have finally realised that not all makers are potential high-value customers. In fact, most makers are never going to spend lots of money as they are simply pursuing their hobby and have no intention of forming the next unicorn start-up.

For a while makers were the ‘darlings’ of B2B tech marketers. “If Pebble can grow so big, why can’t every maker do the same?” hoped many. The reality is that there were hundreds of reasons why most makers were not going to develop their hobby into a large business, which pretty much can be boiled down to either that they didn’t want to, or that it is simply unbelievably, incredibly hard to start a hardware business and most that try won’t succeed.

It’s not the first time that marketers have looked at the world through rose-tinted spectacles, and I’m sure that there will be other markets in the future that are viewed in the same positive, pinkish glow. The immediate question, however, is whether it’s all over for the maker market. Despite being a bit of a cynic about makers, my answer is an emphatic “NO”.

Yes, marketers got over-enthusiastic about the maker market. Yes, they spent money that they probably won’t get back chasing the “hobbyist makers”, but I still believe that there is part of the maker community that can, and will, create fabulous companies that ship products in high volume.

The challenge is finding these “professional makers” who have an interest in developing ideas commercially and helping them achieve their dreams. They are a very small subset of the total maker community, so sifting them out from the hobbyists and giving them the special attention they deserve will be a challenge for marketers in the coming months. If this is done well, then there is still an opportunity for many companies to serve the hobbyist maker market: despite the low volumes that they buy, this community is only likely to grow, and I am sure a lot of companies will run successful and profitable campaigns to hobbyists by optimising costs.

Will this all be enough to drive someone to rescue Maker Media? Personally, I really hope that it will. I’ve even had a dig down the back of the sofa to see if I could get some funds together, but it looks like my teenage kids might have already found the treasure that I am sure was there.


Goodbye ECN? Advantage Business Marketing Closes

I was really sad to see the news that Advantage Business Marketing has closed. Although this news has yet to be confirmed, the lack of a response from Advantage Business Marketing (ABM) suggest that unfortunately the publisher is closing and with it ECN may disappear. Of course there is still a chance that ECN could be acquired from the ashes of ABM, although now that Arrow has stopped its acquisition frenzy we don’t seem to be overloaded with too many organisations looking to buy an electronics publication.

I would like to relate the situation directly to the electronics market, but in this case, I don’t think I can. Although ECN was a major part of ABM, it probably wasn’t dominant enough to cause the failure of what was a substantial organisation. In fact, ABM position ECN as just one of the “five pillars” – the five publications on which the business had been built.

It does leave some worrying questions about the American electronics publications that remain standing. Can they survive? Will niche B2B publishing even survive in the US?

The good news is that some publishers are still more than confident about the future and may even see a smaller field of titles as an opportunity to grow market share. In fact, Julia Stocks, one of the owners of Power Systems Design seemed even more optimistic than ever about PSD’s future when we emailed about the closure of ABM.

Let’s hope that this is an isolated event. With much of the ownership of electronics media in the USA concentrated in the hands of Arrow, we don’t want to see an oligopoly form as competitors shut down. The result of a concentration of media ownership is rarely good,  and competition is something that everyone should welcome as a way to force the electronics media to become even better than it is today.

A Guide to Marketing Middleware

Is your first reaction to this post “Marketing middlewhat?” If so, you’re not alone: most marketers are unaware of what marketing middleware is, and what it can do to simplify their day-to-day marketing operations.

What is Marketing Middleware?

The term “marketing middleware” is something we are using at Napier to describe a class of software that is technically called “integration platforms” or for the cloud-based systems iPaaS (integration platform as a service). We like our name as it’s simple and this software is used in between two different applications to share data: effectively providing “software glue” between two separate systems.

Why Do we Need this Software?

In the past, data tended to be locked into a particular system. Linking different systems was difficult and expensive, and vendors tended to make it extremely difficult to integrate systems from two different vendors in the same market.

In the MarTech (marketing technology) world, this is a particularly bad thing. With marketing sectors such as digital publishing, social media and website technology developing so rapidly, it’s practically impossible for any vendor to provide a tool that is really good at everything you want to do as a marketer. In the old days you’d have to either buy multiple tools and accept that data couldn’t be shared between them, or compromise with a tool that could do most things you needed it to at a just-acceptable level.

The marketing middleware sits between the different systems ensuring data is shared between them, allowing marketing teams to get the best of both worlds: integration of the data and the best-in-class tools.

Why Now? The Rise of the API

Interestingly it turned out that making it difficult to integrate different tools was not a good idea for the software companies that did it. Although there was some element of lock-in, this was more than offset by the need to create integrations because they were demanded by large, important customers or a significant number of smaller users.

So, companies started to make integrations easier by providing an API – an “application programming interface”. An API is a set of clearly defined methods for communicating with a software application or module: for example, allowing the data for a particular contact to be retrieved easily from a CRM package.

Although APIs solve many problems, they don’t actually interface between different martech systems: each API is different and designed specifically for the package. So, to integrate between different systems we need marketing middleware that is able to access data using the APIs used by specific systems. The use of standard integrations simplifies the challenge of integrating between the many different vendors and systems: rather than having to write integrations for every possible combination of tools, the marketing middleware vendors simply write one interface to each system’s API and use the core of their platform to move the data.

The systems also typically have direct interfaces into common databases, allowing access to some databases that don’t have an API.

How Do These Tools Work?

These tools are typically cloud-based applications, which makes sense as they are generally transferring data from one cloud application to another. Often, they will offer a less-common self-hosted version, and most also provide on-premise connectors that allow thee systems to securely access data behind the organisation’s firewall.

To use the systems, you generally just select the connectors you want and then map fields from one system to another. The platforms will process the data, and generally have a simple programming-like language to modify information as required. Some also offer functions such as lookup tables. Once you understand how to code for these systems, integrations can be set up in a matter of minutes or hours, rather than the weeks or months that would be required to write bespoke software to interface between two systems.

Some Leading Marketing Middleware Vendors

There are several companies that provide integration platforms that can be used as glue between marketing software applications. They include:

Zapier – many marketers are already using Zapier to execute simple actions to automate marketing work. Zapier is one of the simpler, and more limited solutions, yet it still provides excellent integration functionality that meets the needs of many marketing teams.

Scribe Online – this has been our favourite platform, partly because they offered an amazingly powerful, low-cost solution for HubSpot. Although this plan is no longer available, Scribe Online still provides extensive capabilities at a reasonable price.

Mulesoft – this is probably the system your IT department would like to use. It’s well-known with a strong market share and provides powerful functionality. Although it has readily available connectors for the major enterprise marketing systems, it perhaps is less well served when looking at other martech vendors.

Dell Boomi – another product that really focusses on the IT department, but Boomi also offers a large range of connectors for various marketing technology applications.

snapLogic – another IT-focussed product, with a limited number of martech connectors. Make sure that you can get the connectors you need off-the-shelf, otherwise you’ll be calling on your IT department to build connectors, which rather misses the point of using marketing middleware.

Jitterbit – a solution that also claims to offer AI capabilities to your integrations. Jitterbit has a large number of martech integrations as standard on its website and also has integration with agile tools such as Jiri, which might be attractive if you use agile marketing techniques.

How Do I Get Started?

Many of these tools offer free trials, so it’s fairly easy to evaluate what they can do for you. Once you are in a subscription, you’ll probably be paying something between $500 and $2000 per month, depending upon how many systems you need to integrate.

Although they are much simpler than writing code, it still takes real expertise to take advantage of marketing middleware. The fastest way to realise all the benefits of these solutions is to contact an agency that has experience of using these platforms to simplify and improve marketing processes. We’d done it, so why not ask Napier how you can use marketing middleware?


Breakout Session 7: Omnichannel Metrics: Can B2B Learn from B2C?

B2B marketers generally have an easier job of measuring omnichannel campaigns. This presentation explained some of the techniques used by leading consumer companies that may give some ideas for omnichannel measurement for B2B.

One example might be looking at advert view ability data. A simple approach would be to measure on-target viewability (the ads that would have been seen by the target audience). A simple compound metric might be the viewable CPM (vCPM). A further step might measure the cost per unique visitor from the target audience or cost per on target contact acquired. Interestingly as the compound metric gets more complex, they often get closer to business goals.

The presenter described two types of metrics: The first, table stakes metrics, for example view ability, clicks, and other simple metrics. These are always useful but only tell part of the story. Compound metrics are much more useful, combining multiple data sources.

A charity case study was presented, where the charity was both prospecting for new doners and retargeting existing donors. Based on CPA and Return on Ad Spend, retargeting worked better than prospecting. If looked at purchase volume and cost per unique user, then prospecting showed better results. So compound metrics can not only deliver more information but may reveal a different story to table stakes metrics.

The presenter gave a number of different ways to measure: for example, measure link between footfall and online. There are also offline attribution: using identifiers such as email to tie sales to online activity. Retailer also track using loyalty cards.

Omnichannel measurement is difficult, but can take simple steps in the right direction. As a B2B marketer it’s interesting to see the range of offline tools available to large advertisers: from cookies and mobile device IDs to tracking the ads seen on a Smart TV using audio recognition, the capabilities were impressive.

Realistically most tech companies don’t have the resources or opportunities to conduct true omnichannel metrics, but the concept of moving from table-stakes to compound metrics is something that we should all be thinking about.

Breakout Session 6: How Marketo Uses Intent Data to Grow Sales

Working out when someone is ready to buy is one of the big challenges for marketers and sales teams. This session at the Adobe Summit explained how Marketo uses data from Bombora to determine intent at an account level for their ABM campaigns.

Marketo has three types of accounts that they track in their marketing automation:

  • Named accounts; selected by the rep. Use Mintigo and determine which accounts look like the good marketo customers. They have ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • Target account: not a primary focus, but in good industries
  • Non-ICP accounts; where there are opportunities in which Marketo doesn’t normally win

They focus their ABM activities and determine intent primarily for the first two categories.

Lead to Revenue Module:

As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts from the summit, an AQL (automatically qualified lead) is the new MQL for Marketo. It has three areas that are analysed to determine whether a contact meets the AQL criteria and cited its demanding requirements as the key reasons why ‘sales likes our leads.’

Firstly, the contact should be a target contact with the correct job title (one of the target titles), a first and last name, a phone number or email and a company name.

If the basic contact data is available, then a behaviour score is calculated based on areas such as email clicks, webinar attendance, visiting Marketo at trade shows and other such engagements with the brand. Assuming the score in this area is enough, the score for the account as a whole is calculated, based on revenue, industry, location and a wide range of other company demographic data. Only if the contact has the required data, and adequate engagement and company scores, does is get passed as an AQL.

Driving Contacts to Become AQLs

With many contacts in the database that aren’t AQLs, the question is how marketers can move them to become qualified. Although work can be done to enrich the contact data, nothing can be done to change the account score. The one area that marketers can influence is the behaviour score, by sending content and other offers to engage the contact.

The behaviour score determines the stage in which the contact is in, although contacts that ‘go to sleep’ in the funnel are dealt with differently using reactivation emails with messages similar to ‘we miss you’.

The approach taken by Marketo is content is an investment by the target contact. The later the stage, the more commitment from the contact and therefore the more it will invest in reviewing content. Early stage contacts will receive lighter-weight content such as blogs, cheat sheets and infographics; mid-stage contacts will also be offered eBooks and webinars; and in the late stage you can expect to receive analyst reports and automatically generated sales CTAs (e.g. requests to meet the contact) that Marketo calls ‘accelerators’.

KPIs change for each stage of the funnel, so you are measuring different stages with different metrics.

There are four categories used for nurturing: Reactivation, C-level, key vertical and other (the default category). Not all campaigns, however, are automatic: Marketo also sends lots of batch emails, particularly to the contacts in the mid-stage: For example, live webinars are generally promoted through batch emails because of the need for relevant timing. The goal, however, is to ensure lots of personalised content is sent, or as the presenter put it Marketo, aims to send “very, very relevant emails in the moment”.

Determining Intent at an Account Level

Marketo tracks engagement, which is an element of intent. To get a much better picture of intent, Marketo uses Bombora, a huge publisher network that shares anonymous data about accounts, allowing Bombora and its customers to build a picture of the content that is being consumed on an account level. All you need to do is to define the content categories that indicate intent and then monitor your target accounts to see when the consumption of this content increases (or surges in Bombora’s language).

Marketo had a very simple approach to determining the content categories that matter: It simply gave Bombora a list of the closed customers from the previous six months and looked to see what content they consumed prior to purchasing Marketo. Not surprisingly this included general relevant content, such as marketing automation topics, as well as content about Marketo and its competitors. All it needed to do is monitor the target accounts for surges in consumption of these categories of content, which was achieved using a scoring system, to determine when accounts have intent to purchase.

Intent-Driven Tactics

The intent score correlated well with propensity to purchase, and the accounts showing a surge in relevant content consumption were roughly twice as likely to buy Marketo than a control group. Emails to these contacts also showed a doubling of open rate and click-to-open rate.

The prioritisation by intent allowed a range of different tactics, not just emails. The top 5% were prioritised for immediate follow up by sales. Highly targeted advertising was used as well as emails, and the re-engage campaigns, dubbed ‘wake the dead’ campaigns, were particularly effective when coupled with intent data.

It was interesting to hear how important paid media is for Marketo, and the presenter highlighted how digital advertising has moved from delivering broad reach to a channel that is used for specific targetting of accounts it knows are relevant.

Bombora therefore drives both sales and marketing outbound activities at Marketo. It uses an indicator of when it needs to enrich data about an account: Marketo calls finding contacts in accounts where it doesn’t have any ‘whitespace completion’. Another partner, Merit Direct, is used to add contacts.

Bombora is also used by Marketo to determine intent at existing customers that might be cross-sell candidates, increasing the close rate of upsell campaigns to their existing customers.

The use of intent data hasn’t been without problems. Marketo particularly had issues with performance, with the system sometimes being unable to send data for up to three days due to the amount of data being loaded (Bombora data is deleted and refreshed every week). Although it has a solution to this problem now, it’s nice to know that even the experts have problems!


With an entry-level price of around $50K according to various online reviews, not everyone is going to be able to gather the amount of intent data that Marketo uses. The case study presented in the session, however, emphasises that by using whatever intent data you can get, you will improve your marketing campaigns and close more sales.


Breakout Session 5: Using My Tokens to Save Time

This session was all about using tokens. A token is a variable that you can use across your emails, landing pages and smart campaigns to make your life easier. They could also be called a placeholder or merge tag. Typically, people are familiar with person (contact) tokens and company tokens, but Marketo allows you to create “My Tokens” that exist at either folder or company level and are not contact- or company-specific. Tokens cascade down folders, so they are available to sub-folders. The tokens can be changed in subfolders, but keep the same name for the token, and attach different values: for example, having a footer token that changes content for country folders.

My Tokens are great for reducing typos or consistency errors, so are good to remove mistakes. To create a token, at the program level go to My Tokens, drag a token, then give it a name. Once you have defined it, you can add to your assets – for example to the email subject line. Simple!

One of the key benefits of using tokens, particularly when used across different assets (e.g. landing page, email, etc) is that it’s very quick to make changes to campaigns – e.g. add/remove an exclamation mark from a webinar title.

Tokens are ideal if you use one template over again, removing the time copying and pasting templates. By using tokens in templates, you’ll also be more consistent. So, landing pages for webinars, for example, could consist entirely of tokens. It means that the same template can be used to create consistent webinar landing pages.

It’s not all plain sailing as there are some potential problems that you might encounter using tokens:

  • Cloning campaigns works well, but if you move the asset into different workspaces you can lose the tokens
  • A My Token can’t ever be empty (although doesn’t need default value). If the token is empty you can’t save it
  • Tokens are live across all assets, so typos in tokens can be reproduced on many assets

We also got some nice ideas for using tokens:

  • UTM tracking – e.g. https://{{}}{{my.utmParameters}} – where you just need to define the UTM parameters once and then can have them automatically inserted for each link. One point to note if you are tokenising links, you shouldn’t put the http:// or https:// in the token as Marketo then doesn’t track the link
  • Reuse of email templates or LP templates to replace elements can replace logos, social media, etc. So, a great way to re-use creative templates for multiple clients or brands within an organisation
  • You can use a script token that has the code to achieve complex things such as dynamically changing the language of the footer. Changing the copyright date in footers is also a great use of tokens

The My Tokens are a nice feature in Marketo, and something that would be good to see appearing in other marketing automation platforms.

Breakout Session 4: Diving Down the Funnel with ABM – Marketo Presentation at the Adobe EMEA Summit

This session was one I was really looking forward to attending. Hearing from Marketo about how it runs ABM campaigns. Who better to learn from? Melanie Gipp, a senior marketing manager from Marketo was the speaker who had to try to live up to my high expectations.

Marketo’s recipe for success is plan, engage and measure. In ABM this is translated into shared goals and accounts, focussed engagement and data insights. The session walked us through these three steps, explaining how Marketo builds campaigns using this framework.

Marketo has three key business goals, bookings, deal sizes and win rates. To determine progress in these goals, it uses leading indicators: The pipeline, SQLs, MQLs and AQLs (automated qualified leads). AQLs are a term it developed to indicate that a contact who meets scoring/qualification criteria in the system, but has not had a conversation with sales.

The Marketo customer journey has the following stages:

  • The contact makes an inquiry
  • The Marketo system determines that they are an automated qualified lead
  • The telemarketing team takes the lead, making the contact a telemarketing accepted lead (TAL)
  • The lead then goes through conventional MQL and SQL stages

One point that was made very strongly was the need for precise criteria, clear processes and defined responses to ensure good alignment between sales and marketing.

Determining and Tiering Target Accounts

To run an ABM campaign, you obviously need target accounts. When determining how accounts are dealt with in the ABM campaign, they get scored A-D, based on data such as size, product fit, whether they have a competitor solution and whether the account is of strategic importance. Interestingly, using a competitive solution is an indicator that the company is more likely to buy as they have a mature marketing team and are likely to upgrade.

Marketo then looks to see if it has contacts from that company, and whether those contacts are engaged. If there aren’t engaged contacts, outbound research is conducted to understand the account, the internal structure and identify contacts. Where an account is identified as a target and there are already engaged contacts from the organisation, the sales team immediately reaches out to them to begin building relationships and identifying opportunities.

Inbound accounts are also dealt with based on whether they are a target account or not: If the contact is from a target account, they are ranked as high priority leads.

Personalisation and Tactics

There are three levels of accounts addressed in the Marketo ABM campaign: 20 top targets, 1000 tier 1 and around 2000 tier two accounts. Marketo has a matrix that is used to determine what level of personalisation is received by each of the three tiers. The top 20 accounts get everything. For tier 2, Marketo won’t personalise the website to an account, but maybe will personalise the site to an industry, allowing them to address multiple organisations with the same personalisation.

For Marketo’s ABM campaigns, direct mail is a key tactic. It feels this is both simpler than email when you are looking at the issues surrounding privacy and consent; and is more effective, particularly when trying to reach senior, C-level contacts. Not only do they often not read all their emails, Marketo believes that executives are rarely reached through conventional inbound programmes: They don’t tend to sit at the desk and search ‘how do I improve sales alignment?’  By sending truly personalised direct mail pieces they have had good results and use Alyce to automate this process.

Marketo produces great content, so promoting and re-purposing this content is a key element of their ABM activities. In particular, it finds  having content that is targetted at specific personas allows it to reach all the members of the DMU. One interesting tactic is it has taken blog articles and repackaged into a magazine: ‘Fast CMO’. Melanie told us that they have seen ‘amazing results’ from this activity.

Other Funnel Stages

The ABM campaigns don’t just include top of the funnel activities, it  also uses events and paid media to reach people in the middle of the funnel with different tactics to drive greater engagement.

Existing customers are addressed by Marketo’s ABM campaigns, particularly with cross-sell campaigns to increase the range of products used. With the tighter integration of Marketo with the other Adobe marketing tools, it’s likely this will only increase in the future.

Marketo use a ‘multitude of different channels’ in its ABM campaigns, which are illustrated by the slide below. Much of the activity is designed to drive greater personalisation – for example the nurture email sequence aims to drive contacts to a microsite which has very specific personalisation for that individual. Again, Melanie highlighted the rationale of running ABM is to give the company an opportunity to create very personalised engagement.

Data, Data, Data

Data is obviously an important part of ABM campaigns, and here Marketo relies on a large number of partners, such as G2 Crowd to provide intent data, Mintigo to deliver account demographics and Drift for personalised chat. Marketo unsurprisingly pointed to the importance of Bizible for multi-touch attribution (Bizibile is owned by Marketo).

Data was a key theme of the Adobe Summit this year, but you can have too much data. Melanie made a great point about measuring different things at different times: By using the right data at the right time, you get great insights without data overload. The key metrics measured by Marketo for their ABM campaigns are:

Early Stage

  • New contacts
  • New target contacts
  • Opt-ins

Mid Stage

  • Call connects
  • Meetings
  • MQLs

Late Stage

  • Opportunities
  • Pipeline/ARR
  • Revenue won

Marketo’s ABM Take-Aways

As one of the best presentations of the event, it’s hard to summarise all the great information into a few key take-aways. Melanie offered three key things to remember:

  • Agreeing shared goals and accounts with sales
  • Focussed company wide engagement
  • Data and insights both at the lead and company level

What to find out more about ABM and what it can do for you? Check out our ABM page for more information. 

Breakout Session 3: How Alitalia Personalises its Website

One thing I learnt at the Adobe EMEA Summit this year was that B2B marketers can learn a lot from consumer marketers. In an interesting presentation, Alitalia explained how it has improved its business by moving the website from a price-driven sales platform to one that is personalisation-driven. This has enabled them to increase the sales of higher-priced tiers of travel, increasing the profitability of the airline.

Often, I get asked how our clients can customise content for users. Alitalia had a huge list of factors it used when personalising, that should provide some inspiration for any marketer:

Of course, this isn’t easy, Alitalia has a huge amount of content, including 15 different variations of offers, CTAs, etc for each country. It has generated a large amount of rich content that engages website visitors with inspirational images and stories. With a record year for sales in 2018, including 18% increase in revenue, 9% increase in average fare and 30% increase in business class ticket sales from the web; as well as 20% increase in conversion rate when using personalised content and 45% increase in average order value from personalisation, the work has clearly delivered a fantastic ROI!

Breakout Session 2: GDPR and Marketo

GDPR might be the nightmare that won’t go away for marketers. This presentation, however, established the value of good data stewardship, showing examples of how data breaches can impact a business. Anyone who saw the Talk Talk share price graph after their data breach a couple of years ago will not have a problem prioritising security and data management.

The presentation focussed on legitimate interest; although this isn’t perhaps surprising given that most B2B companies are using legitimate interest, which is different from presentations a couple of years ago that would have started with consent. By presenting a definition of legitimate interest, a message linked to the recipient’s job title and/or industry, it should be easy to determine legitimate interest, particularly if there are some simple data enrichment tools.

The first challenge was that, in theory, you should select an audience based upon the content being sent. The solution is obviously to create ‘standard’ segments – e.g. people who we can mail about CCTV products. Of course, Marketo (and other MAPs) will create dynamic lists that are continually updated with contacts that meet the relevant criteria.

One key point was you should really have a job title/job description to  use legitimate interest. The speaker, during his time at Panasonic, also enriched the data including adding information such as SIC codes.

Retention of data is a key challenge that many companies have yet to address. GDPR says you should store data for as short a time as possible. Although this might be several years, it does mean you can’t keep data forever. The recommendation is to set a deletion date for every contact. That data can be updated, whether a contact is created, edited or engages. This then allows a simple deletion run to be executed on a regular (probably quarterly and annually).

The time before deletion should depend upon the source and therefore the reasons for retaining data. The reasons for retaining can be considered with active or passive, and the retention time should be different for each of these. As an example, the retention periods used by the presenter are shown below:

The presentation recommended two dates for expiry: One for the active reasons and one for the passive reasons (i.e. legitimate interest). With the appropriate dates being updated with every interaction triggering an update to the deletion date (in Marketo parlance, this means setting up a listening campaign for each data retention reason to update the deletion date based upon activity).

When deleting contacts, all you need to do is ensure neither of the deletion dates are in the future, and if not, then the contact has ‘expired’. The presenter also looked for emails, meetings or calls logged in the sales teams’ Outlook accounts. This had to be done outside Marketo. If no evidence of sales interaction could be found, the contacts were passed to sales to review: The sales team had 30 days to select the option to stop the contact being removed from all databases.

This approach is an interesting way to ensure old data is purged, and we will be producing a tip sheet to show you how to implement this approach in different marketing automation systems.

Breakout Session 1: Adobe and Marketo – The Roadmap

After being a little disappointed with the lack of mentions for B2B in the opening keynote, I was keen to hear about the future for Marketo as part of Adobe.

Marketo was initially positioned as having three main areas: lead management, attribution and ABM, and a company that started mid-market, moved up, whereas Adobe was the opposite: starting as Enterprise and moving down. The Adobe Experience Platform, the complementary functionality and the Sensei were all positioned as good reasons why Marketo and Adobe are such a good fit. This, and the resources brought by Adobe means that Marketo’s developers can do “more, faster”.

There were two key areas that were discussed. ABM was the first: and presented as something marketers find hard. Sales people, however, have always thought of accounts, so don’t think anything is new. A key point was that if you get ABM wrong, you get it wrong spectacularly: sending healthcare information to an engineering account is obviously very bad.

What’s the goal? Well for ABM, Adobe is aiming to create “the first end-to-end B2B ABM tool”. That’s a pretty big ambition!

One area that Marketo can address with Adobe is accounts where you don’t have a lead: Marketo is bringing in data from LinkedIn, the MS Office Graph and other sources to be able to target accounts. As trailed in the keynote, account-based targeting on LinkedIn will be launched. There are also partnerships with ABM partners such as Demandbase to deliver messages across the internet and and Drift to bring conversational ABM.

Marketo has a reputation for complexity, and the speaker from Marketo didn’t do anything to change this perception; explaining that spelling mistakes in campaigns he runs have to be fixed by the creative team, and requires a Jira ticket. Adobe is going to allow publishing of content directly to Marketo from Creative Cloud, and also the use of the asset manager using AEM. Even if you are not an Adobe Experience Manager customer, you’ll have a lightweight version available as part of Marketo. By simplifying, Adobe hopes to break down the different content silos that currently make Marketo campaigns slower and more cumbersome.

AI was defined as a tool to help marketing teams get to decisions faster in a particular situation. This is a great definition and will be implemented by helping marketers segment audiences and communicate with the right contacts at the right time. As well as identify what content is working and personalise it; determine how to attribute RoI to activities; and finally to create customer journeys, including adaptive journeys.

Perhaps the most useful thing that the acquisition of Marketo by Adobe brings to marketers is the ability to bring data together. A simple example would be trying to understand account-based website traffic: it’s hard with conventional tools to work out whether there is more or less traffic from a particular account or target.The partnership wit Bizzable was cited as particularly important, with the ability to understand ROI across a greater number of channels.

One piece of good news was that, for Marketo customers using paid media, there is not a requirement to sign up to Adobe Advertising Cloud: AdBridge will continue to be supported. Overall, in fact, this session seemed to be aimed at people who, like me, were a little concerned about the focus on B2C in the keynote. Marketo is clearly now only a small part of Adobe, but the good news is that there is no signs of it being abandoned. In fact it’s pretty clear that investment will be increased in the next few years.

Adobe’s European Marketing Summit – Opening Keynote

I’ve taken a couple of days to attend the Adobe EMEA Summit to catch up on what’s happening with Marketo, as well as learn more about the other Adobe marketing products. Here’s the first blog, which looks at what was covered in the opening keynote. As it’s the opening keynote, I’m going to use legacy brands (e.g. Marketo) and will be focussing primarily on the impact to Adobe’s marketing automation customers, which represents most of our clients.

It’s interesting to compare the Adobe event to HubSpot’s Inbound conference. Adobe and HubSpot are pretty different: HubSpot started as a Martech company, while Adobe has effectively grown into marketing, and they have relied on acquisitions to achieve this, particularly buying Marketo and Magento.

The first thing that strikes you is the focus on B2C, rather than B2B. All the big names from the opening keynote are from big consumer brands, including some big names such as the CEO of Illy and the CIO of Unilever, and it was almost 90 minutes before B2B was mentioned. Similarly, the examples cited to illustrate the capabilities were highly skewed to consumers rather than B2B. They are also very focused on size: citing their use by the biggest companies in several consumer categories such as travel.

DDOM: Data-Driven Operating Model

One big mention for Adobe was the use of ‘DDOM’, an abbreviation for their data-driven operating model approach. Clearly with the portfolio of products it has in its marketing cloud, it can deliver great data throughout the customer journey. Not surprisingly we also heard  lots about a ‘renew’ stage of the customer journey; a key part of Adobe’s business model. We saw the discover – try – buy – use – renew customer journey several times in the presentation.

Of course, there were the requisite number of mentions of the importance of privacy, although it’s clear that Adobe, and the attendees, were much more excited about the amount of data that can be collected rather than the amount that isn’t collected. AI, of course,  got a few mentions (Adobe has branded theirs AI Sensei). Although the examples were a little superficial, it’s clear that Sensei has an uncanny ability to select relevant customisations on websites, apps and emails to personalise experiences for each customer.

The Platform, Not the Tools

One thing that became clear was it’s all about the Adobe Experience Platform, rather than individual point products such as Magento and Marketo (it actually took almost 90 minutes before the first mention of the Marketo brand). This is because Adobe is very focussed on the data, rather than the tools, and we were told several times that Adobe was the solution to breaking down marketing data silos. The Open Data Initiative (ODI) also featured prominently in the keynote, showing Adobe is keen to allow data to be shared with other enterprise applications. A great point was made in a discussion about legacy applications: Companies need to take a data-centric, rather than an application-centric point of view. It’s much harder to escape legacy applications than to say this, but clearly now is the time  companies need to invest in better systems to make best use of the most valuable part of their IT infrastructure - data.

Cool Features

There were a few cool features highlighted. The IT geeks will be excited by the ODI support and integrations, but marketers want shinier things. Some of the new features that will grab attention include:

  • The ability to send messages within an app to a customer, driven by a workflow experience cloud
  • The measurement of ‘view throughs’ – identifying customers who see an advert, but don’t click on it
  • The ability to change the content of a mobile app without needing developer support or changing the pp in the App Store, using Adobe Target
  • The AI-driven customisations and recommendations from Adobe’s AI system, Sensei, was impressive and appeared to deliver real benefits rather than simply putting a trendy ‘AI’ badge on the products

E-commerce: Adobe Commerce Cloud (Magento)

With Adobe focussing on data throughout the customer journey, it’s clear that e-commerce is important for them, and so the acquisition of Magento a year ago was a no-brainer. To put it another (rather more professional) way, you must be able to combine transactional and engagement data to measure the impact of marketing on customer acquisition, sales and margin.

I was interested in the comment that ‘the buy button is appearing far earlier in the customer journey’ – this is very true for many B2B tech companies. Whether it’s SaaS vendors who have a much lower cost of entry than old-school shrink-wrapped software or semiconductor vendors whose development boards are so low-cost that they are almost an impulse buy for many engineers. In many ways it’s easier to get that first purchase. Reducing friction to first purchase is certainly something that B2B tech companies should consider, although the message that ‘every experience should be shoppable’ is a B2C concept that simply doesn’t work for most B2B tech companies.

Adobe Marketing Cloud (Marketo)

Marketo was positioned as the leading B2B marketing product, so the Marketo presentation was the first B2B focussed section (after almost two hours of consumer-focussed examples). Steve Lucas, the previous CEO of Marketo, told us of his love of B2B saying that he joined Marketo because it was B2B. Finally!

A key message of the presentation was that B2B and B2C are converging. The first example was, which uses Marketo for its B2B travel booking and other tools for consumers, but the difference between the two sides of the business are blurring.

One fun fact is that there is a partner for every 10 Marketo customers (5000 customers, 550 partners). Not sure what that means, but I thought the ratio was surprisingly heavy on partners.

Account based experience is a new approach, it’s clear that customising the digital experience for each customer and prospect account could be a huge help to companies using ABM: It’s crazy that often the one place where ABM doesn’t have an impact on experience is your own website. There is also the ability to push ads into LinkedIn: something that isn’t possible in other platforms due to the lack of an open API on the LI platform.

Summary of Adobe Opening Keynote

Overall, I think we learnt two things from the opening keynote speakers. Firstly, Adobe is very focussed on building a complete suite of marketing tools, rather than promoting point solutions such as Marketo. Secondly, Adobe believes their biggest opportunities are in B2C, not B2B. Neither of these will be much of a surprise to anyone who viewed the agenda, where the sessions were focussed on the complete platform, not specific products, and there was only a token B2B presentation for each of the breakout sessions.

One thing that won’t come as any surprise to anyone who has looked at marketing technology tools in the last few years was marketing is now about data first. This might not be a lot of fun to people from a creative or PR background, but it’s clear that the largest and most successful companies have already made the transition.

So, what does this mean to B2B technology marketers? Well if you are one of the larger tech companies using Marketo, you’ll probably want to consider buying more Adobe marketing products: Adobe is building an awesome platform that will be hard for very large enterprises to ignore and for smaller tech companies, many of whom use Marketo, nothing is going to change soon.


Check Out the Other Blogs in my Adobe Summit blog series:


Elektronica Magazine Sold to Publisher Elektor International

Publisher Elektor International has recently announced the acquisition of the Dutch magazine Elektronica, which it has purchased from Mybusinessmedia.

The acquisition took place at the beginning of this month with the Elektor International editorial team planning to improve Elektronica’s respective presence in the Dutch industry. Mybusinessmedia will still focus on the upcoming developments in the electronics industry with titles Elektro-Data and

This is an interesting move, as it represents a publisher that is best known for its maker content moving into professional electronics engineering. In many ways, this isn’t surprising as several professional publishers have launched content or publications targeting the super-trendy maker market, and we like the fact that the most influential European maker publication is not standing still: they clearly believe that growth is the best way to defend their position in the maker market.

We look forward to seeing the direction Elektor will take Elektronica and we wish them all the best for the future.

Profiling Stakeholders in an ABM Campaign: Why OrgChartHub is such a Cool Tool

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is one of the hottest topics for B2B technology marketers: Get it right and the results can be almost magical. Since it was pioneered by the ITSMA, ABM has grown in adoption and impact.

The ITSMA developed a seven-step process for ABM:

  1. Knowing what is driving the account
  2. Playing to the client’s needs
  3. Mapping and profiling the stakeholders
  4. Developing targeted value propositions
  5. Planning integrated sales and marketing campaigns
  6. Executing integrated sales and marketing campaigns
  7. Evaluating results and updating plans

Much of this language is familiar to marketers, something that I believe can make us a little too complacent. Specifically, it’s too easy to rush through step three, mapping and profiling the stakeholders.

Today, campaigns are generally based around personas: You might have one for the engineer making the technical decision, another for their boss and another for the purchasing team. They all need to be communicated to in different ways, with different information. With ABM, however, you need to go one level deeper to ensure that you maximise the return your campaign will generate.

Once you move to one-to-one ABM, where a single customer or prospect is the focus, these personas become real people. Of course, they will retain the characteristics of their persona – at least, they will do if you got the persona right – but they adopt individual traits that can be just as important as the persona and role.

A persona to a marketer is very different to a sales persona. While marketers consider motivators and behaviour that is implied by the role, sales people are much blunter. You’re likely to hear your sales team refer to the customer’s decision makers as, “He’s great: he loves us. Or "She doesn’t like us, she prefers competitor X and so she is a blocker.” This level of understanding of the individuals within a business is one of the keys to unlocking the magic of ABM.

It’s obvious that people who are championing your organisation with a customer will want very different communications to those that are blockers. ABM gives you the opportunity to customise the communications based, not just on the individual’s persona, but also their opinions about your company.

So how do you deliver customised messages without making everything a time-consuming, manual process? If you are using HubSpot, then OrgChartHub is a fabulous solution, and something that would win our ABM Product of the Year award, if we gave out awards! This simple tool lets you build org charts of your clients and prospects in HubSpot, tag individuals with their sales personas and, providing you are on a paid plan, create smart lists to deliver content – from emails to landing pages – that is customised to that persona. It doesn’t impact the operation of marketing personas, which is a great feature built-in to HubSpot, but rather sits with those personas, allowing you even more granularity and control.

If you’re struggling to get ABM to deliver the results you want and have some good sales insight that can be used in the campaign, then perhaps sales personas are what you need. I’d love to help you enhance your campaign – send me an email and let’s talk.

If We Leave the EU, You Could Lose Your Website Domain!

OK, we are all bored of Brexit, and by the time I have uploaded this post it’s likely that the most likely outcome will have changed (probably several times). There is, however, a potential consequence of Brexit that some marketers may not have considered.

When, or if, the UK leaves the EU, the EU has stated that its regulatory framework for .eu domains will no longer apply to the UK. This means that:

  • If you are British, you will no longer be able to register .EU domains, nor will you be able to renew any existing .EU domain names, irrespective of whether they were registered before the withdrawal date.
  • The Registry (EURid) will be entitled to revoke .eu domain names on its own initiative.
  • UK rights, such as UK trade marks will no longer be effective in an action against bad faith .EU domain name registrations.
  • Agreements between Registrars and Registrants of .EU domain names can no longer effectively designate UK law or a UK court or dispute resolution body.

Now of course this could be overruled by transitional arrangements in a withdrawal agreement, so even if the UK does leave the EU, these events might not come into effect – at least not immediately. I would, however, recommend reading the EURid Brexit notice, just in case.

The Real Problem for UK Businesses

There will, of course, be a few businesses that stand to lose a .eu domain that they are actively promoting. Although this is a major problem for them, with almost all online activities from website to email impacted by the change, realistically most organisations have chosen other TLDs such as .com or

There will also be a grace period of two months, so nothing will change immediately. If you have an EU subsidiary, of course, you can easily overcome the potential issue by simply changing the registration of the domain to be in the name of the EU company: something you should really be doing now.

Losing a domain isn’t the only thing that companies without subsidiaries in the EU should worry about: the change to the impact of having a UK trademark will be keeping many people up at night. If you have a UK trademark, it will be possible for competitors to register a .eu domain for your brand, potentially damaging your reputation. You’ll no longer be able to use the UK trademark to stop them. If this is a concern, registering an EU trademark is the obvious solution, but be aware that this takes time so don’t delay the application!

A Sad Goodbye to Richard Wilson

Napier was saddened to hear the news that Richard Wilson, former editor of Electronics Weekly, passed away this month after battling a long illness.

Richard was a key member of the industry, and one of the loveliest people you could know. Over 20 years, my respect for him as one of the best journalists in the industry simply grew and grew, and he will be dearly missed.

Our thoughts are with Richard’s family and friends at this difficult time.

Why You Need to Think Again About Web CMSs

I was an engineer, so I can honestly say I find website content management systems (CMSs) fascinating. I remember the early days of the web: in fact, I have used Gopher, had a Compuserve account and remember when AOL was [just about] cool. Anyone who can remember these days will agree that it’s so much easier to make information available today than it was in the early days of the internet.

There have been a couple of things that have driven the dizzying improvements to the web: firstly, the availability of easy-to-use hosting services outside of walled gardens such as Compuserve, and secondly the creation of easy-to-use CMSs.

Website CMSs

For those of you who don’t know, a CMS splits the content from the presentation, or in language that non-geeks might use, it lets you add content to a website without having to be a web programming nerd. The introduction of CMSs meant that content could be posted to a corporate site without needing a team of coders to create and upload HTML and CSS. This meant content updates could be done quickly and easily by the people who had the content, rather than the slow and sometimes painful process required by hard-coded HTML sites.

Websites, however, aren’t like word documents. It’s important to have a consistent look throughout a website, so CMSs use templates. Most CMSs, however, had a philosophy of delivering a single chunk of body copy within the template. This is now rarely the case, with background images, widgets and other layout techniques making page layouts much more complex.

A couple of years ago, the solution was custom coding of the CMS. In fact, I’ve written custom WordPress code for a client to insert related case studies and links to content, based on the specifics of each page; as there wasn’t a good way to achieve the same result using pure WordPress at the time. Today, however, everything has changed.

Why You Don’t Need to Customise WordPress

I’m going to talk about WordPress in particular. Partly because our web team uses WordPress and partly because it’s such a good example of what has happened to CMSs. I also see many WordPress sites that used hard coded content blocks in a customised WordPress environment to create a layout with zero flexibility. Note that I’m not talking about the development of themes: here you still need to hard-code to create a custom layout; I’m referring to the customisations that mean you have to fill in several boxes when you create a page, and the coding will then place each block of content in a specific place on the page.

Today I don’t believe there is a need to customise WordPress to create the layout you want. Firstly, the core WordPress editor has switched to Guttenberg: this is a new approach that allows you to place content in multiple blocks, rather than a title and single piece of content. For some websites, this editor is more than enough to allow you to deploy the layout you need.

Some sites, however, require even more complex layouts and functionality. There are a number of plugins – WPBakery is probably the best-known – that give you almost unimaginable control over your content and layout by simply dragging and dropping blocks. It’s really that easy. You don’t need to be a programmer to create a layout with columns, sidebars, background images or even parallax scrolling. The cost of this incredible power is ludicrous: $45. That’s probably less than the cost of the time to publish a single blog post for most enterprises! Oh, and if you’re using a paid-for 3rd-party theme, you’ll likely find that WPBakery is bundled for free!

Despite the fact that these capabilities are now easy to deploy and use, and are very, very cheap, I still see clients struggling with hard-coded custom themes. They’ll typically want to have a slightly different page layout for some new content, and either have to pay for additional custom coding or compromise and use the hard-wired layout that almost meets their needs. It’s crazy to have to compromise with the technology that’s available today.

Break Free of Hard-Coded WordPress Customisation!

The reality is that migration away from a hard-coded layout is really simple and typically very quick. Yet companies struggle with their limited hard-coded systems because it’s what they have always done, and they don’t believe that it’s either possible or easy to migrate to a more modern approach. We disagree! If you want to find out how easy it is to move from a limited theme where you have to ask a web developer every time you want to do something different, simply email me and I’d be happy to talk to you about how we could make your website cheaper, easier to use and more flexible than you ever imagined.

Napier and Armitage: the inside story

Today we announced that we have merged with Armitage Communications, a really exciting development that takes the existing Napier Group (Napier and Peter Bush Communications) to the next stage of our journey and means we can be an even better agency for our clients.

We aren’t perfect… but we’re very, very good

We are always looking for other agencies that can bring new things to the Napier Group. Although we invest a lot of time and money into training, once you realise that perfection is unachievable, the opportunities to combine the best bits of two great organisations becomes very compelling.

What Armitage brings

There are so many things about Armitage that made me want to do the deal, but they can be summarised by three things:

People: the talent in Armitage is truly amazing. I’m blown away by many areas in which they excel, including the quality of their writing; their design and animation; and their marketing automation and database expertise. These skills are basically a reflection of the talented people at Armitage. The team are also nice people. I want to only work with people I like, and the Armitage team are wonderful from David Armitage downwards.

Culture: Armitage has a culture that in many ways is like Napier. They care about doing a good job for the client and are proud of the work they do. They also bring a culture of real creativity that generates some of the best PR concepts I’ve seen. It’s going to be great to be a part of this culture.

Markets: the business reason is that Armitage is a B2B technology agency, just like Napier, but works in slightly different markets. They are much stronger in industrial automation than we are and have an impressive communications practice. There is no point in an agency getting together with another one that has conflicting clients, and this isn’t the case with Armitage.

Napier’s contribution

A company acquisition is always hard for a managing director. It’s easy to run after the new, shiny business and forget about the great organisation you had before. I’m confident this won’t happen as I’m still excited about Napier, even after 18 years. If I was a client, I can honestly say I would hire Napier: perhaps this isn’t surprising, but I’ve always thought of running an agency as being a job where you try to create an agency whose fees you’d happily pay if you were on the other side of the fence.

Like Armitage, Napier has great people and a strong culture. In addition to the complementary markets, we bring expertise in processes and efficiency; an outstanding approach to training and development and loads of experience working in other European countries. Peter Bush Communications has a team with market expertise that is synergistic with Armitage’s markets and I’m sure the two business units will work together closely.

Isn’t this all about size of the business?


Let’s face it, one of the nicest things you can do is to give people jobs. And I would be lying if I said my ego wasn’t massaged just a little by the chance to run a business like Armitage, as well as Napier and PBC. But there have been many other, probably easier, opportunities to grow by acquisition that we’ve had over the last few years and we’ve turned them down. If we were looking for other agencies to get together with just to grow the business, the Napier Group would already be three times the size.

Getting together – it doesn’t matter what size you are, it’s always difficult

I was talking to a client who was involved in multi-billion-dollar acquisitions, who said to me that he felt that size of deal didn’t really impact complexity, and that it might even be easier to negotiate a huge deal because you had a bigger team. He’s a really nice guy, and I don’t for a minute believe he really meant what he said (the deals he worked on have transformed an industry), but there is an element of truth.

Once you start trying to bring two businesses together, you get lawyers involved. While they do a really good job, things are always more difficult, more complex and slower than you ever imagined. We thought that it would take two months to get everything completed and it took more than twice as long. It’s been a nightmare having to keep quiet about something that is so exciting and such good news for so long, and I’m relieved I can finally talk about Armitage publicly.

What happens next?

Fortunately, we have some experience: getting together with Peter Bush Communications was extremely successful and we are looking to repeat the success with Armitage. We’re moving to single systems for our back-office, but initially there will be little change in the way that any of the three companies in the Napier Group work on a day-to-day basis. Each business is rightly proud of their brand, and we want to develop and grow the Armitage brand as part of a strong group of companies. The priority for me, however, is to ensure we share the areas of unique expertise of each of the three businesses with the other two.

From a client point of view, it probably means that very little will change in the short term. Hopefully in the long term we will be able to help you with more projects and have a larger team with an even broader range of skills working for you.

The teams will have an opportunity to work with more colleagues on a wider variety of clients and project. There will also be the chance to learn new skills.

Any other mergers or acquisitions in the pipeline?

As I mentioned before, we’re always looking for other agencies that could make us a better company. So, I certainly wouldn’t rule out another deal in the future. But we’re very picky. Extremely picky! It took us about five years (during which time we said “no” a lot!) to find PBC, and another five to find Armitage, so don’t hold your breath waiting for news of another deal!


If you have any other questions, please do ask me. We’re excited about how getting together can benefit all our clients, and I’m looking forward to lots of interesting conversations over the next few months.

B2B Technology Agencies Napier and Armitage Communications Merge

Napier Partnership Limited announces that it has completed a merger with Armitage Communications Limited, creating a group of three specialised B2B technology agencies comprising Napier, Peter Bush Communications and Armitage Communications.

The three brands bring together an extensive portfolio of clients across a wide range of B2B technologies and industries including semiconductors, industrial automation, software development and communications.

Managing director, Mike Maynard leads the Napier group of companies. Suzy Kenyon takes on the role of director of the electronics practice, while Dave Ingle is director of the industrial automation and IT practice. Armitage Communications’ founder, David Armitage continues to work within the business. He will be driving the strategy for Armitage Communications’ clients.

“Armitage Communications brings a successful and talented team with outstanding content generation expertise and expands our client base and capabilities in the industrial automation and communications sectors,” commented Mike Maynard. “By joining forces, the new organisation becomes one of Europe’s leading B2B technology agencies.”

“Joining Napier is the next step in Armitage Communications’ journey,” said David Armitage. “Napier’s focus on increasing the speed that clients can convert awareness to opportunity, and its extensive marketing automation expertise complements the skills of the Armitage Communications team.”

“All three companies in the group deliver high quality technical campaigns based on deep insight,” added Mike Maynard. “Together they offer a comprehensive range of services including media relations, content generation, media buying, marketing automation, design, animation, video and translation.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Seven B2B Technology Marketing Predictions for 2019

At Napier we used to write predictions for the coming year, but have got out of the habit. This is mainly because everyone writes predictions, but also partly because B2B marketing doesn’t always adopt new trends first: as an industry, we like to use tactics that work rather than simply chase the latest, shiniest idea.

Writing the predictions, and then seeing how wrong we were, was fun. So, we’re re-starting our predictions for 2019. In an industry that avoid the hype, it’s perhaps easier to see the future, but hopefully these predictions will still give you some interesting insight. Here’s what we think will happen in 2019…

ABM Adoption Grows Rapidly

What will happen: Account-based marketing is dramatically more effective than less-targeted marketing tactics and the tools available today make it easy to implement ABM. More and more B2B tech companies will add campaigns that target key accounts or major prospects in 2019.

Why we believe this: Let’s be honest, a lot of mumbo-jumbo is talked about ABM. It really doesn’t have to be that complicated, and often the simpler tactics are the most effective. We think this year companies will realise they don’t need complex campaigns or expensive tools to target specific accounts, and this realisation will drive a massive increase in the use of ABM tactics.

Persona-based Marketing also Grows Quickly

What will happen: Companies that don’t currently use persona-based marketing will adopt it as a way of better targeting their campaigns and tactics. Although many companies already use personas, a surprising number of B2B tech companies are not fully committed to personas, but this will change in 2019.

Why we believe this: Firstly we don’t think ABM is going to kill persona-based marketing (unlike Marketing Land). B2B companies will want their marketing to reach beyond their list of target accounts and persona-based marketing is the most effective way to achieve this.

Personalisation Continues to Increase Rapidly

What will happen: It will be less and less common to interact with a B2B brand and have the same experience as everyone else. Hyper-targeted advertising (including ABM), dynamic content on websites and highly personalised email will be the norm as brands communicate with you on a much more personalised level.

Why we believe this: Frankly it’s not that hard to personalise. Modern tools enable high levels of customisation without much work, making the benefits of a more targeted and personalised approach impossible to ignore.

Picking the “Best” Martech Tool is Less Important

What will happen: Marketing technology (martech) tools will all offer adequate functionality for most users. This means there will be significantly less advantage in picking the best tool, with results more dependent upon the creativity behind the campaign than the tool itself.

Why we believe this: Frankly most marketing tools are pretty fabulous. Generally, you can get 90% of your functionality from any of a number of tools, whether you are looking for social media monitoring or marketing automation. Spending less time worrying about the tools you use and more time on the campaign will be the right approach. Of course, there will be a few exceptions with horrible tools that are painful to use and don’t deliver basic functionality – why not ask us for our list of the tools we wouldn’t touch?

Magazines Don’t Disappear for Most B2B Industries

What will happen: If there isn’t any dramatic macro-economic change – i.e. no major recession – we don’t see print magazines disappearing anywhere in Europe. Revenue will continue to drift online, but publishers will preserve their print offerings.

Why we believe this: It’s pretty clear that magazines are not collapsing. Putting ink on dead trees and then getting people to distribute the information physically seems like something that should have died out, but we can’t see any evidence of it happening. There’s certainly no evidence that people want to read magazines on tablets. So, we just don’t see any decline in print readership or advertising this year, although we do question the long-term future of print in B2B.

Social Media Still Doesn’t Deliver as a Primary Channel

Please be clear – we’re not saying that social isn’t relevant to B2B – it’s an important channel and you ignore it at your peril. In B2C, however, social has overtaken traditional media for many brands: we just don’t see it making that much of an impact in B2B.

What will happen: Well, not very much. Although social is an effective channel for B2B, it doesn’t have the same impact as it does in consumer markets. Although there are a few industries, particularly software development, where social media is important, in most cases engineers don’t share much about their work publicly, meaning that social is rarely one of the top 2-3 marketing channels for any B2B tech company. This isn’t going to change in 2019 (although LinkedIn will see an increase in advertising due to the uptake of ABM).

Why we believe this: With the inevitable desire for secrecy during product development, the difficulty of sharing information about complex systems in bite-sized social media format and the difficult of applying social to B2B technology (would you want to publicly “like” a new M5 fastener?), social is going to struggle to dramatically grow its influence in B2B.

Clicks are No Longer the Most Important Metric

What will happen: There are still a huge number of B2B companies that measure “clicks”, with no reference to quality. This will end in 2019 as companies increase their focus on the impact their marketing has on business results, rather than vanity metrics.

This trend is already well under way, pioneered by companies that offer online sales and so can measure their business impact easily. In 2019 companies that don’t sell primarily through direct ecommerce will adopt goals and metrics that are much more meaningful that traffic generated. The impact will be huge: companies will need to balance quality and quantity of content as well as the sometimes conflicting demands of the SEO consultant and needs of the end user. Thinking more holistically about campaigns will require a much more strategic approach but will generate far greater returns.

Why we believe this: The focus on maximisation of traffic isn’t working. Marketing teams know this and understand that moving conversion rates from 2% to 3% will have a much bigger impact on their business than the last 10% of search engine optimisation. This is going to demand marketing strategies that look across the whole customer journey and optimise for maximum return. Ecommerce and SAAS companies are already there. this year B2B marketers who can’t directly track the impact of their activities on revenue will introduce much smarter metrics to get a better handle on the return their campaigns generate.


We’d love to know what you think 2019 has in store for B2B technology marketers. Have we got it right? Do you think there are other trends we should be watching? Alternatively, perhaps you don’t believe some of our assertions. Whatever you think, why not contact me, tell me what you think and ask me to explain more about how you could benefit from these changes in 2019.


Why Did Napier Invent another Planning Process for Marketing and PR?

We’re very excited about the four-step process we use to develop campaigns for clients. Seriously, even though many other planning processes have been created in the past, we have found that our approach makes a real difference to the quality of the work we deliver.

Our approach uses four steps: DETERMINE, FOCUS, DELIVER and ENHANCE. This blog post explains why we felt the need to create something new, and how we built our process on proven approaches that have been created in the past.

Other Processes for PR and Marketing

There are a large number of different processes that have been created. We wanted something that took a strategic approach, and with its focus on strategy, PR proved to be the best place to look for other approaches.

There are a number of different four-step approaches that are all similar to the Napier process. Often they have cool acronyms, such as John Marston’s RACE (research, action planning, communication, evaluation) or Jerry Hendrix’s ROPE (research, objectives, programming, evaluation)

Perhaps the most well-known of approaches is that described by Ronald D. Smith in his [now sadly out of print] book Strategic Planning for Public Relations. In it, he suggests nine steps, broken into four phases:

  • Phase One: Formative Research
    • Step 1 – Analysing the Situation
    • Step 2 – Analysing the Organisation
    • Step 3 – Analysing the Publics
  • Phase Two: Strategy
    • Step 4 – Establishing Goals and Objectives
    • Step 5 – Formulating Action and Response Strategies
    • Step 6 – Developing the Message Strategy
  • Phase Three: Tactics
    • Step 7 – Selecting Communications Tactics
    • Step 8 – Implementing the Strategic Plan
  • Phase Four: Evaluative Research
    • Step 9 – Evaluating the Strategic Plan

This nine-step approach is more comprehensive than the four step approaches suggested by other people, but it still breaks down into four stages: work out where you are, create a strategy, do the work and then evaluate if you achieved the goals. This is a pretty conventional approach to planning and is also seen in many strategic planning models.

Why Develop a New Marketing Process?

We had a couple of reasons for needing a new process. Firstly we are an agency. We don’t get many clients coming to us saying “let us know in stage two what we are going to get for this budget”. This would be nice, but frankly most of they have pretty clear ideas of what they expect. So, waiting until stage two to set the goals simply isn’t appropriate.

This isn’t saying we will accept goals and metrics from our clients without question. To do that would be avoiding giving our clients honest advice. We believe in a candid relationship with our clients, so we’d rather say up-front whether we think a campaign’s objectives are achievable. Our four-step process lets us make this decision much earlier.

Not only are we different because we’re an agency, we also believe that marketing tools and approaches have changed. The old models are what engineers would call “waterfall planning”: a process where the entire project is planned at the start, then executed and only at the end do you see if you achieved the goals. This simply makes no sense now with modern tools and the proven benefits of agile marketing. To lock yourself into a plan in stage two means you will find it more difficult to optimise the campaign as it progresses.

Why is Napier’s Four-Step Process Different?

It is important to say that our process is very similar in many ways to the existing ideas. Many have been built upon academic research and have been proven over time, and we’re more than happy to give credit to those processes that have come before ours, particularly Smith’s 9-step model that forms the basis of our approach. To deal with the two major challenges, however, we needed to make some changes.

The first major difference is in the first phase or DETERMINE as we call it. Typically, we are starting a project with some defined goals from a client and we need to understand how it will be possible to achieve them. Our DETERMINE stage consists of analysing the situation and the client’s organisation, and then confirming the feasibility of the goals and objectives. At this stage we have some idea of what we need to change to deliver the required results and can quickly say whether the brief is realistic.

Our second step is FOCUS and it’s all about the audience (or publics in Smith’s process). We believe analysing and understanding the audience is vitally important, particularly as modern marketing tools give you the ability to micro-target, even down to an individual (if you don’t know how to do this, then please do ask!).

Another reason to elevate the audience to have their own step is the rise of account-based marketing. ABM target lists are frequently driven by the sales team and therefore we may need to do more work to ensure that our campaign will deliver the business results required in key accounts, as well as changing perceptions and preferences of a wider audience.

During our FOCUS step, we also develop the messaging strategy. Again, it’s the micro-targeting that makes this so important: you need a clear messaging strategy developed before you start creating any campaigns, as the ability to customise the message to personalise the campaign to many different micro-audiences can make a campaign almost impossible to manage unless you have a clear and structured messaging strategy.

Our last two stages are DELIVER and ENHANCE, which very closely resemble phase three and four of Smith’s model. There is, however, one big exception: we’re not running a campaign and then evaluating its success; we are continually evaluating and enhancing its performance. By concentrating on this in an agile-like approach, we optimise campaigns to deliver better results than we could have achieved through planning.

The Napier Four-Step Process


Can Clients Use Napier’s Four-Step Process?

Although we initially developed our process to meet our needs as an agency, it also works well for modern in-house marketing teams. Frequently client teams are also given the goals at the start of a campaign, and the iterative way we deploy DELIVER and ENHANCE allows an agile approach to ensure the campaign delivers the best possible results. Of course, the impact of technology is very much the same for in-house teams as it is for B2B agencies. Although we never intended or expected it to be the case, our four-step process meets the needs of many clients more effectively than previous approaches.

How do I Learn More About Napier’s Four-Step Process?

We would be delighted to talk to you about the way we deploy the Napier four-step marketing process. Contact us and we would be more than happy to have a chat.

If you would like to read more on how our services fit into the four step process, please read our blog

Electronics Weekly - Editor Moves and Other News

This is a summary of all the blog posts we've made about Electronics Weekly up to December 2018.


Elektra site fails

24th June 2006

Yesterday – the deadline for submitting entries for the Reed European Electronics awards (Elektra) – the entry form on the site failed. Perhaps it was due to the large number of people that believe the maxim “if it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done” (although the extension of the deadline for these awards has become a tradition. For those leaving thing late, entries could be submitted by email, and the form is still live at the time of writing.

Win a Copy of ASML'S Architects

Last month we shared a book review on the fabulous book by Rene Raaijmakers. Based on more than 300 hours of interviews, ASML’s Architects is an incredibly entertaining and interesting read that describes the history of ASML and the semiconductor industry as a whole.

From today, the book is now officially released, and we were lucky enough to receive one of the first copies from Rene. This is why we are offering you a chance to win your very own copy of ASML’s Architects through our prize draw!

For a chance to win your own copy of the ASML’s Architects book, fill in our form! A winner will be drawn on the 6th December and we’ll contact you via email if you win.

Good luck!